It could always be worse... right?
Boston College opened up its season at home with a demoralizing 22-21 loss to Rutgers on Saturday at Alumni Stadium, and it’s tough to imagine a more disappointing start to a season.
That is, until you look at how Virginia Tech started its season.
The Hokies went on the road to in-state opponent Old Dominion, who not long ago would have been an FCS buy game, and lost. And not only that, it was a loss in new head coach Brent Pry’s first game in charge for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech’s meltdown at ODU included... whatever this was. Honestly, not sure I ever saw a BC team pull something quite this Benny Hill:
There is also the bizarre and troubling story that came out after the fact about Virginia Tech players having items stolen from their lockers at ODU.
So it’s really only a small comfort, but... week one could have been worse.
Now, Boston College and Virginia Tech collide in week two, and both teams are looking at a situation where if you fall to 0-2 the rest of the season looks pretty bleak.
It’s going to be a mental test for both teams to see if they respond to week one by coming out with renewed focus and vigor, or coming out demoralized.
The good news from a BC perspective is that, as always during the Hafley era, the players and coaches have been saying all the right things and generally exuding a positive and productive attitude. Hafley’s post-game comments avoided finger-pointing or excuse-making, which is still refreshing.
The oddsmakers have Virginia Tech as a slight 3.5 point favorite in this game, and both the ESPN Football Power Rankings and the Sagarin Rankings see this as largely a tossup (VT is 68, BC is 70 in this week’s Sagarin rankings).
So this makes the game quite a measuring stick here for both teams early on.
So how are we feeling heading in to week 2? Let’s look at a few areas we’re thinking about going in to the game:
- Passing defense: Virginia Tech struggled to move the ball through the air against ODU, with their transfer QB Grant Wells throwing four interceptions. The BC passing defense, which was outstanding against Rutgers, picking up right where it left off last year, will be licking its chops at the opportunity to shut down another QB and perhaps create turnovers and field position for the offense.
- VT’s running game: On the flip side, Virginia Tech got a strong performance from running back Keshawn King, who ran for 119 yards, while also making three catches, including a receiving touchdown. King was technically considered the third string running back, as injuries kept Malachi Thomas out of the game, and limited Jalen Holston to 5 carries.
Given what’s going to show up on the game film from Rutgers, opponents with any sort of strong rushing attack will certainly be eyeing their opportunities to impose their will on the game, dominate the clock, grind BC down, and avoid going in to the teeth of the Eagles’ strong passing defense.
- BC needs to be able to control the clock: On the offensive side of the ball for BC, all eyes will be on the offensive line, and whether they can help the Eagles establish any sort of running game. With BC preferring to play up-tempo and Phil Jurkovec’s strength on more medium distance passes, the risk of going three and out and continuing to gas their defense is amplified when the Eagles can’t gain positive yardage on the ground.
- Intangibles: As I mentioned earlier, this is going to be a big mental test for both teams to bounce back from last week’s disappointment. An additional challenge for the Eagles is their first road game in a hostile environment. I know it’s not the 90s/00s-era Virginia Tech, but going to Lane Stadium is still an imposing challenge for a young team, and we’ve seen it get the better of BC before. We should know pretty quickly whether the Eagles are ready for the challenge or out of sorts.
Keep it here throughout the week to discuss the game as we move toward a Saturday night primetime tilt in Blacksburg.