As the Eagles head into their bye week, we are taking a look at where Boston College stand halfway through their season. First we are going to take a look at the offense:
Six games through the 2023 season, two things about BC’s offense have become very clear: Boston College has its quarterback of the present and the future in Thomas Castellanos, and the O-line is consistently the best-performing unit on BC’s roster. Those two factors are hugely important, and are crucial reasons why BC has tied last year’s wins record with six games still to play. Castellanos has shown playmaking ability with both his arm (1,165 passing yards, 10 TDs) and especially with his legs (FBS-leading 500 QB rush yards, 7 TDs). His scrambling ability has extended plays and kept the offense on the field, has been crucial to staying in front of the chains while picking up some key fourth downs. Seemingly every time BC faces third or forth and short, everyone on the field knows Castellanos is getting the call — and yet despite BC leading all FBS schools in 4th down attempts, has converted at a above-average rate. His passing ability is definitely more raw, but he has the arm talent to make the throws and he has flashed some big-play ability through the air.
The offensive line is a huge reason why Castellanos has been so effective on the ground and in the air. The starting five (from left to right) of Logan Taylor, Kyle Hergel, Drew Kendall, Christian Mahogany and Ozzy Trapilo has been very, very good. In brief cameos due to injury, guys like Jude Bowry and Jack Conley have been serviceable as well. The group may not be elite, but with the stable of playmakers BC has anything above last year’s level would be a relief. Matt Applebaum, in his return to the Heights, has done a great job in coaching the unit. Castellanos often has plenty of time in the pocket, and especially in run-blocking the O-line has been effective. The Eagles are averaging 189 rushing yards per game, good for 34th in the country. The consistency of the run game — whether it be Pat Garwo, Kye Robichaux or Alex Broome toting the rock — has been a reliable offensive weapon for Hafley. It is encouraging to see.
Lastly, the emergence of Lewis Bond as a reliable playmaker in the WR room has been huge for the Eagles. He provides Castellanos with a good security blanket, is BC’s best guy for picking up yards after the catch, and — most importantly — has a knack for finding the end zone. He has 5 touchdowns on the season already. The rest of the WR room is coming along — Ryan O’Keefe was really coming into his own before that scary neck injury (thankfully he seems to be ok and hoping to return this season) but guys like Joe Griffin Jr. and Jaden Williams will be needed to step up in the second half.
Now, make no mistake — I still consider this season, so far, to be a disappointment. In Year Four, Hafley needed to be better than 3-3 with this light of a schedule, and the issues that have plagued his team have consistently reappeared, suggesting to me that they won’t be fixed while Hafley is still coach. Number one on the list is inconsistency, and I think this shows up in several different ways on game day. Boston College never seems ready to play. We always seem to take several drives on offense to settle into the game. We are nearly always losing at halftime. Secondly, when we do show up ready to go from kickoff, we cannot play a full sixty minutes. Against ACC bottom-feeder UVA, the offense did not start to get going until the second half. Same with FSU. It never really got going against NIU. Against Army, the offense (and defense) started excellently before the wheels almost came all the off in the second half. I have yet to see this offense consistently play for a full game. Castellanos said the team wants to average 30-40 points a game; they only broke 30 once — scoring 31 against FCS Holy Cross.
The second major issue I see with BC so far is self-inflicted wounds. Seemingly every week, the Eagles find new ways to make winning difficult. The first few weeks of the season, it was penalties, and this came to a head with the program-record 18 against FSU. Obviously, the “what if” game could go on forever, but all those penalties certainly affected the outcome of the game. Against Virginia, BC committed four turnovers (two Castellanos picks and two fumbles). There is always something, and it always seems to be something within the Eagles’ control. Castellanos has been more loose with his ball security recently, and that has been concerning. I am hoping that his struggles, which have largely come as a result of inexperience and forcing the play, will be mitigated as he continues to settle into the offense. The penalties seem to have been mostly addressed in the O-line room. But these are just symptoms; the theme of self-inflicted wounds — regardless of the form in which they appear — need to be addressed in the building of the culture of the team. It tangibly costs the program wins.
Boston College’s offense has promise. It has pieces to be good, and with Castellanos behind the solid O-line we have a wild card who needs experience but is undoubtedly a weapon. The wideouts need to be better. They need to catch the ball consistently, and Castellanos needs to find them on time and in rhythm. The running game should be fine; Ozzy Trapilo missed the Army game but is expected back after the bye. BC has a lot of winnable games on their schedule. We do not play another ranked team until Miami on Black Friday to end the season. We need to show improvement. My prediction for this season is a 6-6 finish, but if the offense cleans itself up and starts living up to its potential it could be higher.