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Three Up, Three Down: Rutgers 22, Boston College 21

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Boston College Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Listen, it’s not easy to try to come up with a list of positives after losing to Rutgers in excruciating fashion in week one. But we’ll do our best.

Looking at the good and the bad from a difficult opener at Alumni Stadium...

Three Up:

1 - Zay Flowers.

Zay was electric on Saturday, showing gamebreaking ability and getting to the point where we were screaming for BC to just get the ball in his hands in any way possible.

Ten catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns only kind of scratches the surface on the display he put on.

The first touchdown catch was simply great catching ability, reeling this one in in difficult fashion:

The second touchdown catch demonstrated his speed and athleticism with this nice run after the catch to score. He also had the vision here to see that with the afterburners on he had a route to the end zone:

Flowers has game-breaking ability, the likes of which we haven’t seen out of the WR position at BC in a long time.

But surely there’s more than just Zay we can point to as a positive from this one, right?...

2 - The pass defense picked up where it left off.

Slight asterisk here just given that Rutgers was rotating between its second and third choice QBs, but it was an impressive game defensively particularly against the pass, where BC held Rutgers to 13-of-22 for just 110 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. They also got to the QB for three sacks.

Overall it was a great day for the defense right up until that disastrous final drive (other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...).

Rutgers’ first two touchdowns came by way of a big play for the first score, and then off of Jurkovec’s fumble inside BC’s own 10 yard line that essentially gifted Rutgers a score.

Other than that the defense looked really very good... for 52 minutes.

OK, what else we got for positives?

3 - The earth did not get swallowed by the sun.

Just because we know it’s going to happen eventually doesn’t mean we can’t be glad it didn’t happen already.

On to the negatives...

Three down:

1 - Defeat in the trenches.

The most obvious concern here, well-trod in all these posts/comments since the game, is the play of the offensive line. The hope was they’d look OK and could improve from there; after week one the hope is to just see them shape up toward ‘okay’... and that Jurkovec doesn’t take too many big early hits to the point where there’s a health risk.

Jurkovec was sacked four times, pressured many other times, and the run simply was wildly ineffective other than a few times when they got the ball in Zay Flowers’ hands for rushing plays. Garwo, a huge positive from 2021, was neutralized (48 yards).

On the other side of the ball, when the game was on the line, Rutgers was able to boss around BC in the trenches on a long clock-draining drive to win the game - the kind of thing that’s just so disspiriting to see happen. Great BC teams have generally been built from the trenches out - there’s a lot of work to do to get this year’s team to that level.

2 - The short passing game was not an effective alternative to the run.

BC might have been able to get away with their inability to establish the run if they were better able to take advantage of some of the short passing plays that were available, and could dink-and-dunk Rutgers to control the clock a bit and reliably move the ball.

Unfortunately, this appeared to be the weak spot for Jurkovec - not sure if it was rust or if this is just a weakness in his game, but he had some inaccurate throws on short passes and missed a number of opportunities to hit open receivers a couple of yards down field for nice little gains and YAC opportunities.

Pat Garwo had a nice 22 yard scamper after a short reception in the first quarter on a pass with nice touch on it, and he he had a ton of open field around him; the play was there pretty much all day because Rutgers knew they didn’t have to defend it much.

If the Eagles are going to win a road game on Saturday they’re going to either need the run game or the short passing game to be a factor; this past Saturday they weren’t able to do either, and that played a critical role in BC’s inability to see out a game they led for most of the way.

3 - Whatever the heck those final minutes were, including more clock concerns.

This is a bit of redundancy, because the big issues in the final minutes were: 1) Rutgers doing a masterful job of grinding the clock to the point where BC had very little time to respond with a final drive, and; 2) the offensive line getting lit up for back to back sacks in absolute crunch time with the clock winding down, effectively ending the game.

Then of course there was the (probably academic) clock management issue of the punt that basically ended the game, which Grant covered in detail on Saturday. The game was likely already lost at that point, so it’s not a huge deal, but you really don’t like to see these clock issues come up... especially after BC had already burnt a timeout earlier in the half. Those things usually come back to haunt you and in this one it very much did.

I understand the argument that BC’s best chance at that point was a Rutgers turnover or a punt block, but I’m not sure I agree that playing for that had a better chance of, say, trying to find Zay ten yards down field and hoping he could scamper another five.

But this was ultimately small potatoes compared to the bigger issues. Lots of things about football are complicated, but this piece is simple: If you can’t run, and you can’t stop the run, you’re not going on any run.

We’ll need to see progress in the trenches on at least one side of the ball this Saturday to feel better about the ACC season to come.