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Boston College Football Banter: Recapping Colgate and Looking Ahead to UMass

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

Curtis: It’s going to be very tough to wait about 3 weeks for the next BC game at Alumni Stadium. Saturday gave me so much joy and emotions that I haven’t felt in a long while! Beatdowns of UMass and Temple may tide me over well enough, though.

Will: If only we could beat down on Colorado State. But Temple is the next best thing.

Grant: First things first: Decent enough win for everyone this week against Colgate?
For me it was about as positive as you could hope for given the opponent. Really nice to get the shutout. Early offensive struggles faded away pretty quickly into a smooth ride for the rest of the game. Would like to have escaped without any injuries (Boumerhi :( ) but hopefully one of the others on the roster can pick up the slack (Connor Lytton, the freshman who I believe kicked our last couple extra points, was a pretty highly regarded recruit).

Curtis: Yes, the slow start had me worried for a bit, but of course they just had to shake off the rust and the passing game looked great after the first quarter. The rushing attack does concern me though, as the RBs were barely able to rack up 100 yards. Not sure if that was part of the game-plan from Hafley, but it was tough seeing Sinkfield, Levy, and Coleman not get much going past the line of scrimmage at times.

Will: I noticed the running game too. I wonder if Hafley is trying to spread the ball around. I doubt that Jurkovec being our leading rusher is part of our offensive game-plans going forward. Also just 2 sacks against Colgate is, well, I’m not sure about concerning but I’d have hoped for more. I know they didn’t throw it a lot.

Grant: Yeah I would have liked to not have our star quarterback grabbing his side after a big hit on a designed run on the second play of the game against, you know... Colgate.

Will: That tends to raise the blood pressure.

Grant: The lack of sacks wasn’t great. I didn’t pay attention to how many people we rushed with, though, and how we’re going to attack the QB is probably one of the main things you’d like to keep under wraps early.

Will: That is a good point. They may not have wanted to show too much on film.

Peter: For a hot second I thought this was a deja vu moment for the Eagles with us classically playing down to our opponent’s level early on. I was getting a little bit nervous but was able to convince myself to keep watching in the hopes that they would settle into a groove and ease into a lopsided victory. My hopes clearly came true as they were able to cover their ridiculous spread and cruise to an expected victory. Unfortunately, a missed PAT just seems like it was par for the course lol.

Curtis: Will we be seeing much of this team’s true capabilities until the end of the month against Mizzou? I can’t imagine they’ll be throwing the whole playbook at UMass or Temple either, so we may have to wait a while to see what this team truly is game-planning for.

Grant: Probably not, but the schedule sets up really nicely. Slightly tougher opponent each week, you can start throwing more and more out there. It’s good. Another reason why we really need to take advantage of what we have this year.

Joe: It’s worth looking at these three weeks basically the way you’d look at your favorite NFL team’s preseason — they aren’t totally worthless, particularly when analyzing positional battles, taking a look at new players’ athleticism, seeing some early trends, etc. But you can’t really put much stock in how the results will stack up to actual games.

Grant: That’s definitely true Joe, especially with the gradual strengthening of the opponents. A positive trajectory week to week will actually mean something.

Niraj: Joe’s preseason comment is spot on. Could see the team try and focus on different parts of their offense and continue to hammer out the lingering positional battles over these first three games

Joe: Not to get too off topic from breaking down Colgate, but one thing that is semi-interesting this week, I know that Daz was, in his own words, “big on the geographical details,” and would likely treat this game as a “rivalry” in the sense that there’s not going to be any going easy late in the game or with the playbook. I have no idea if Hafley has the kind of mental context to care to treat this as a “rivalry,” in which you’d expect BC to continue laying the wood even if they have a big lead.
Selfishly, I would like to see BC lay 100 on UMass, but it probably makes sense to keep it at about 60% and continue the slow buildup, haha.

Arthur: Frankly I don’t want to see their full capabilities. Why show your hand against a team like UMass?

Joe: I know... I know. But it’s “the battle for the Bay State!”

Arthur: I would like to see them get better at moving the offense since I do think Mizzou will be a shootout but there is no reason to show their hand right now.

Curtis: Hafley did say in his press conference that he ran up the score a bit on Colgate not as a disrespect to them, but because he wanted to make sure all of his players saw action, namely Kobay White. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again.

Joe: Right - I do think there’s a difference between “getting guys meaningful reps” and “running up the score.” I doubt you’ll see BC just go into the handoff up the middle offense at any point no matter what the score is, especially when/if the backups come in, since you’ll want to get a stronger sense of what they’re capable of.
I’m just saying, if BC is up, like, 56-0, and pulled off a flea-flicker or something for a touchdown, that would be really mean, and unwise to show off the play, but I would laugh.

Arthur: Oh it’d be hilarious, but also probably not the strategic thing to do.

Curtis: What surprised me about that line of thinking though is that Jurkovec was still in the game for about 3.5 quarters against Colgate. I wonder if we’ll see him in that long against UMass and Temple if those are similar blowouts? You’d think getting Grosel some more early season reps would be a priority to prepare for a worst-case Jurkovec injury scenario.

Joe: Frankly, I think the length of time Jurkovec was left in there speaks a bit to dissatisfaction with some of the early drives and drops, and wanting to keep building that confidence in the offense. It’s great to have Grosel there, but ultimately, the “best case scenarios” we are all dreaming of for this year all involve Jurkovec being a top-tier ACC QB - if he gets hurt, we have bigger problems. I think Hafley didn’t want to take Jurk out until he felt like it was a complete, solid day’s work. What would be nice is if we have that feeling by halftime against the Minutemen.

Will: Would you guys accept a smaller blowout if BC took the same approach to the running game? Really give the back as many carries as possible?

Joe: I would, although to be honest, I fully expect BC to be able to slice up UMass on the ground for pretty easy touchdowns too. They were statistically pretty abysmal in every area last season, but they really, really couldn’t stop the run.

Niraj: Lowkey, Hafley may have even kept them in for sheer entertainment value. By all accounts, Alumni was packed and the excitement of it being the first game in front of fans could have played a part. Errant Jurkovec run aside, I don’t think he was at much higher risk of injury.

Arthur: In a different year perhaps Temple would have necessitated more attention, but the reality is that BC has a really good opportunity to iron out some of those kinks. For what it’s worth, that time also means that Jurkovec doesn’t have to—and probably shouldn’t—play a full game. I’m firmly on team he should have been taken out. I don’t care how low the risk was on the field—and I’m not sure if I agree with Niraj on the level of risk—there’s zero risk on the sideline, and there’s time to iron this stuff out.
I don’t even think it’s a Grosel getting reps issue, as serviceable a backup as he is, if Jurkovec gets hurt you can forget about all the program’s aspirations for this year, and it’d be foolish to fool around too much with that.

Grant: Yes. And that ties into the whole “got shaken up on a designed run on play #2” thing as well.
For what it’s worth, I thought Grosel looked pleasantly solid in his limited time. I don’t have his numbers handy, but he looked sharp on the eyeball test. Not that it really matters for the long-term goals of the season. But definitely nice to have. Yeah, 5 for 6 plus a 12 yard scamper. Solid in limited work.

Arthur: I mean I can be happy with Grosel as a backup but also not want to have to use him, that doesn’t seem contradictory right?

Grant: Ha not at all. I guess it’s just nice to have the confidence that he shouldn’t have any problems handling more extended work against UMass without giving us a heart attack.

Will: No question our ceiling is lower with Grosel. In some ways these weeks before the Mizzou game will be tough because they are tune up games so I feel like it’s easy to overthink these things.

Arthur: I mean that’s a good cautionary point. Obviously BC is a remarkable favorite, but UMass is a team that is probably bent on an upset so BC needs to take the game seriously and the focal point should be getting the win. With that said, this is the time to work out kinks, and I’d much rather BC work on that now than, say, against Clemson. With that said anyone who says BC is going to lose to UMass is someone you probably shouldn’t be listening to. I mean, realistically.

Grant: I’d also say “let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” but... we aren’t losing to UMass. We can pump the brakes a bit next week on the This Is Barely A Scrimmage stuff haha.

Curtis: This is a program we beat in 2018 by a score of 55-21 after all. With Anthony Brown at QB! BC has gotten a lot better since then, while UMass has gotten worse. I don’t think it’s cocky to chalk this game up to a W before it happens, because anything else would be a major upset.

Arthur: Well, we kind of talked about it, but realistically what can we expect from this week? UMass didn’t exactly impress last week against Pitt, is there anything that makes you think that the result isn’t going to be exactly what we think it will be?

Will: If the team just completely loses focus. However, I believe UMass hardly has the firepower to blow BC out.

Curtis: As each week progresses and each opponent gets a little bit more difficult, I’d just like to be reassured that BC’s defense can continue to hold up. I’m concerned about the defensive line, and UMass seems to be a rush-heavy offense this year, so it will be a good low-level test. Keeping UMass at 14 points or less is my expectation, and hopefully under 100 yards rushing.

Joe: As we start to wrap up this discussion - who is one guy you are focused on seeing the results from this weekend? I’ll start with Danny Longman... if The Boom is going to be out for a few weeks, it would be really nice to know that we will be able to at least reliably hit extra points in ACC play. I think we are all plenty haunted by what we saw during the Daz years with “the kick game” and would rather not see that cost us games again. Given that it is UMass, he should have plenty of opportunities to kick extra points.

Arthur: Aw man you took a good one, Joe. Shitta Sillah had a phenomenal game against Colgate, and could be a great contributor to a defense that could very well be the difference between this team being good and great. I’d love to see his contributions continue in Amherst.

Joe: The great thing about evaluating special teams even in a game like this is that kicking a ball is kicking a ball, you know?

Curtis: I’m curious to see how Kobay White’s development progresses. Against Colgate they just sort of threw him in on the last couple drives with only Grosel throwing to him. I want to see more of him working with Jurkovec and see how well he plays coming back from his injury.

Grant: I’ll piggyback off what Joe said, though not exactly with Longman but rather who exactly will come away with the job. Longman did get the first team work, going 4 of 5 on PATs with the lone FG, but freshman Connor Lytton was out there for the last two PATs. He was a highly regarded recruit — ranked #4 nationally at his position, according to 24/7 — and missed PATs are going to be a road to a pretty quick hook with a talented freshman waiting in the wings.

Arthur: You could hear a collective groan across the BC fanbase when Longman missed that PAT, although it’s unclear if it was because of the miss or the “Danny Doink” comment from Mark Herzlich.

Grant: Hahaha the DISRESPECT! Come on, Herzy!

Arthur: Final score predictions? Give me 60-0 Birds

Joe: 56-7. A perfect 8 for 8 on extra points. Postgame headline: Western Masskicking.

Curtis: 47-10 Eagles

Grant: I’m not going as far as 60-0 hahaha... UMass isn’t Colgate. I think we get a few moments of “hey this isn’t perfect and I’m concerned now” that inevitably come with not attaining total perfection against someone bad. I also think Jurkovec plays a little less and we run more, burning the clock more quickly. But I do think it ends up being a reasonably fine 42-10 BC final.