The Boston College Eagles’ football season rolls on after a close win over Army with a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Eagles will try to get back above .500 and get one win closer to reaching a bowl game. We asked Josh Brundage at From the Rumble Seat some questions about this weekend’s game against Georgia Tech.
1. Georgia Tech is 3-3 on the season and 2-1 in the ACC with a 14-point win over Wake Forest and a crazy, unbelievable win over Miami after the Hurricanes decided they were too good to kneel. Would you say the season has gone as you expected, or has the team performed better than expected?
So realistically, we were all expecting to be at 3-3ish at this point in the season, but we didn’t expect to get there with a loss at home to Bowling Green and then beating undefeated Miami on the road the next week. So yes and no? We are about where we expected to be record-wise, but we got there in an absolutely crazy way. The team that played Miami looked nothing like the team that lost to Bowling Green the week prior.
The 2023 Yellow Jackets already look far, far more competent on the field than any time under Collins’ tenure. The team fights to the end, isn’t riddled with special teams miscues every game, and actually looks like a competent, P5 team. The team has generally shown improvement week to week, and we get a couple of injured starters back on Saturday with the Jackets coming off of a much-needed bye week.
At this point, and taking into account the previous years, this team finishing at 6-6 and making a bowl will still be doubling the win total of any season under Collins. While 6-6 isn’t glamorous by any means, it would still be a dramatic improvement and show signs of growth under a new coaching staff.
2. Haynes King, a Texas A&M transfer, is in his first year with the Yellow Jackets and ranks 4th in passing yards and 3rd in passing efficiency in the conference. What has his level of play meant to the team and do you think he can reach another level?
For the first time I can remember since the early aughts, I don’t hold my breath every time a Georgia Tech quarterback drops back to pass. The Jackets have a very talented receiving core, and it has been fun to watch them gel as the season has progressed. The offensive line is improving, as Brent Key is Saban’s former O-line coach, but King has been great at scrambling when he needs to.
While King sometimes overthrows receivers, he has been excellent at throwing the ball away and not making stupid decisions. He’s shown a lot of maturity for his age and has been genuinely fun to watch. He did, after all, take the team 75 yards in 2 plays with 26 seconds remaining in the game and no timeouts against Miami to win the game. We will be high off of that win and the resulting Miami schadenfreude for the rest of the year.
3. On the flip side, the defense has allowed over 430 yards of offense per game, which is by far the worst in the ACC. Do you think their poor performance is due to a lack of talent, poor coaching, or a mix of both?
It’s a combination of everything. We were all surprised that Key kept DC Andrew Thacker as a holdover from the Collins staff, but I understand wanting some sense of continuity, and the defense did improve in almost all areas after Collins was let go mid-season. However, that’s not saying much because it couldn’t have possibly gotten worse.
After the loss to Bowling Green, Thacker was demoted to LBs coach, and Kevin Sherrer was promoted to the role. The defense played noticeably better against Miami the following week, so we’ll see if they can maintain that level. If so, we’re talking about a dramatically different ceiling for this team than 6-6 this year.
4. If you were to single out one player on each side of the ball who could completely ruin BC’s day, who would you pick and why?
On offense, the answer is pretty easily Haynes King. He has a 62.3% completion percentage, and a 16 / 6 TD to interception ratio. The Miami game showed how much of a killer he can be, even after some early struggles in the game. To his credit, a lot of that was from the strength of the Miami front 7 against Tech’s overmatched O-line. If King has time to throw on Saturday, it will be a long afternoon for the Eagles.
On defense, DL Kyle Kennard has been everywhere this season. He has 2 forced fumbles, a pick, and 6 sacks here at the midpoint. He always seems to be around the ball or in the opponent’s backfield. Tech has an experienced and talented secondary, so the pass rush getting through to Castellanos will be key to the defense’s success on Saturday.
Now, containing Castellanos when he scrambles is another issue entirely, though.
5. Thomas Castellanos has become a real game-changer for the Eagles at quarterback this season. How do you think the Georgia Tech defense will try to minimize his effectiveness
As a lifelong Georgia Tech fan, there have been 2 things a Yellow Jacket defense consistently struggles with - covering the TE in pass routes and containing mobile QBs.
I would expect to regularly see a LB or DB spy on Castellanos, especially on third down passing situations. Our DBs have enough speed to contain him, but if they’re in man coverage, that doesn’t help much. Our LBs have arguably been the weakest point on the defense, so his scrambling abilities do add some stress to Saturday.
I would hope the Yellow Jackets force the Eagles to pass. I would much rather force Castellanos to hit some big plays down the field with his arm, rather than see him scramble the length of the field for first downs every drive.
6. Looking ahead, the Yellow Jackets have games against UNC, Clemson, and Georgia, all of whom are formidable opponents. What would a successful rest of the season look like for Georgia Tech in light of their difficult schedule?
I think a 6-6 season with a bowl game would certainly be considered a successful season at this point - any wins after that are just gravy. Georgia Tech gave UGA hell in Athens last season and played Clemson tough as well, so anything can happen. I think 7-5 with a win over either Clemson or UGA would be a fantastic season, especially after the last few years of mediocrity. This is the first year I’ve been optimistic about Yellow Jacket football in years.