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Boston College 45, UMass 28: Seven reasons for optimism after a topsy-turvy day

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NCAA Football: Colgate at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday’s 45-28 win over UMass was not the cleanest performance, and it left plenty to feel rightly concerned about. But let’s wrap the weekend with some optimism, and focus on seven things to feel positively about after the win:

BC established the running game

If there’s one thing that ended up being unsatisfying in last week’s blowout win over Colgate, it was the run game, which averaged under three yards a carry even against an FCS opponent. It was a different story this week. And though, yes, it’s only UMass, you could see from watching Pat Garwo that he’s shifty and tough and has the ability to break for yardage even when it looks like he’s going to get bottled up.

While Garwo was the star in the backfield, Alec Sinkfield and Travis Levy also had strong plays on the ground, both scoring touchdowns and showing that they, too, will be factors in the running game for BC.

If BC stays healthy, we know they are going to be able to throw the ball - but adding in a strong running game would be huge in ACC play.

We hopefully (knock on wood) escaped the worst on injuries, and Grosel can still play

The seven-ish minutes when Phil Jurkovec was out, Zay Flowers went out, and UMass scored to cut BC’s lead to 14-7 were extremely unpleasant.

But from there the news got at least a little better: Zay Flowers returned and seemed no worse for the wear, making a nice big catch on the last drive of the game to help seal the final result.

Jurkovec was listed as “questionable” and according to Hafley was going to get x-rays, which isn’t great, but the injury wasn’t bad enough to fully knock him out or keep him off the sideline and Hafley did try to sound an optimistic note after the game.

We should know more very soon about the prognosis on Jurkovec.

If it’s just a minor injury, it’s also good to know that Dennis Grosel can still manage the game effectively, and that BC has a winnable game coming up should they need to ease Jurkovec back in.

Two of the factors that helped UMass put up bunch of points — penalties and a horrendous special teams mistake — are correctable

There’s no denying the fact that it’s not great to give up four touchdowns to a UMass offense that struggled to move the ball basically for the entirety of Walt Bell’s tenure with the Minutemen.

That being said, a lot of what gifted UMass points is highly correctable. BC committed 11 penalties for 99 yards, including seeming befuddled by Brady Olson’s snap count and jumping offsides four times.

They also allowed UMass to execute the “our best play is defensive pass interference” play on a few drives to keep them alive, including a bizarre drive late in the third quarter in which UMass made it all the way into the red zone without racking up a positive yardage offensive play, due to some offsides penalties and a pass interference. That drive ultimately led to a UMass touchdown.

And then of course there was the Travis Levy fumble on a punt return that gifted UMass the ball inside the BC 5 — but that was a combination of a very good punt (seriously, that was *boomed*) catching Levy off guard, and just a mistake that is easily correctible of trying to haul it in while backpedaling rather than letting it go into the end zone, or even letting it go and sit inside the 5.

Levy is a veteran at this point with BC and a good player, and he will surely watch that on film and be able to correct that. And he proved his worth on special teams not long after that play, busting a long kickoff return for a touchdown.

BC has largely been a disciplined team under Jeff Hafley so until proven otherwise we can hopefully chalk those issues up to the weird air in the Berkshires and look for them to be corrected next weekend.

Credit where it’s due: This was UMass’s Super Bowl - and Brady Olson played very well

It’s tough to overstate how important putting up some kind of performance was for UMass and Walt Bell after last season’s weird, all-road, 0-4 year; this was their first game in two years with fans, and a game that fires up their fanbase like no other. UMass responded and played really hard in all phases of the game, and you absolutely have to give them credit for their effort and their energy, even after they went down 14-0 and 28-7. They kept battling.

In addition to the energy UMass brought, you also had to be impressed by true freshman QB Brady Olson, who this past spring was playing Massachusetts high school football, and was thrown into the fire in his first career start and played quite well.

A three-star recruit, Olson had an offer from Georgia Tech and from some FCS powers, but chose to stay close to home to play at UMass - and he looks like he has the potential to really help UMass improve on offense.

If he plays the way he did against BC, Olson will help UMass look much more potent on offense this season.

Hafley knows how to coach defense - just ask Ohio State fans

At this stage in the BC rebuild/reload everyone knows the offense is ahead of the defense in terms of depth and implementation of Jeff Hafley’s vision, and that showed over the course of the game, especially in the second half as UMass began to move the ball.

But ultimately you have to have faith in Hafley’s ability to coach up the defense - that’s his bread and butter and how he earned his way to a head coaching job.

A quick Twitter search reveals how much Ohio State fans miss Hafley, especially after they took one on the chin yesterday against Oregon.

Our friends over at Land Grant Holy Land are begging for a new defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes.

Hafley came in with a reputation as an expert on the defensive side of the ball, so if he can combine that with what we’re seeing on offense right now it will... shall we say... come together and be beautiful?

Six extra points and a field goal

Plenty to fix up on special teams this week, but BC’s Danny Longman went 6-for-6 on extra points, and also hit a 27-yard field goal.

Small things, to be sure, but the kinds of small things that can easily make the difference in a game against the likes of Missouri in just two weeks.

The lack of updates on Bouhmeri make you worry about his availability for the forthcoming meat of the schedule, so being able to at least count on XPs and chip shots would be nice; being able to hit longer field goals would be a great tool in the toolbox, but the chip shots are a necessity.

Another week to work on it

While you never want to take any game lightly, BC will once again go into a game next week expected to win, with Temple up next.

This means Hafley and the staff will have another full week to work on cleaning up penalties, special teams mistakes, and the defense before business starts to really pick up.