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Boston College Football: Quarterback Preview 2023

Time for the QB1 from Cali to step up

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

As we finish up our preseason previews of Boston College Football’s position groups, it is time to take a look at the most important position in the game: quarterback. For the first time in three years, Phil Jurkovec will no longer be starting behind center on opening day for Boston College after he transferred to Pitt this summer. Emmett Morehead is here, and Hafley is giving him the keys to the offense.

QB1: Emmett Morehead

With the abysmal struggles of last year’s O-line and offense as a whole, perhaps no one struggled more than Phil Jurkovec. After he went down against UConn with a season-ending injury, Emmett Morehead stepped in and gave the offense a spark. All in all last season, he produced 1,254 passing yards to go with 10 touchdowns against six interceptions, with the bulk of his numbers coming in the last four games of the season as the team’s starter. The highlight was of course his clinical two-minute drill to lead BC to a last-gasp victory on the road at #16 NC State, and he threw for over 300 yards against Duke as well as NC State. He showed flashes of major potential, namely via his electric arm, as well as a great connection with a number of returning receivers such as Joe Griffin Jr. and Dino Tomlin. His preview as starter was far from flawless, however. BC went 1-3 in those four starts, including three picks and a 44-0 drubbing against Notre Dame in snowy conditions. He threw two picks against NC State as well, which were products of poor decision-making and easily could have cost BC the game.

Ultimately, there is a lot to like about Morehead and what he brings to Boston College. He’s a prototypical Pro-Style gunslinger — he mentioned Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan as two guys who he watches a lot — and he’s got the physical gifts. At 6’5”, 240 lbs., he looks like he could play TE, and he’s got a live — I mean live — arm. He can make all the throws. Rob Chudzinski’s offense, which will feature a lot of Pro concepts, could be a great fit for Morehead.

Hafley has spent a lot of time talking about Morehead’s leadership and the way he’s established himself in the huddle, and I really like the way Morehead presents himself. He exudes a quiet confidence and believes in his preparation and process, but also seems hungry for more. He’s mentioned multiple times to the media about how much work he puts in outside of team practices, especially with other BC’s wideouts. We saw some of the fruits of the labor towards the end of last season, and I think the experience Morehead got in those four games will be huge in his transition to being the face of the program and QB1 moving forward.

If you look at the last four games of the season, minus Notre Dame, Morehead averaged a 58.3 QBR and a 143.6 RTG. For context, Patrick Mahomes had a 77.6 QBR and a 105.7 RTG last season. Morehead posted some very solid numbers, and although the sample size is tiny, he was also starting for the first time behind a dysfunctional offensive line. Now, it is worth noting that in some ways that offensive line may have actually boosted his production — he was throwing 50 passes a game because the run game was nonexistent — but the point remains that he showed promise. The question is how much has he improved, and can he eliminate the issues he faced?

Of particular concern to me is Morehead’s decision-making and occasional attempts to play the hero. Take a look at the NC State tape; on multiple 4th-down, gotta-have-it scenarios, he is airing the ball out into a contested catch. Now he completed several of them and looks incredible — but I don’t think forcing a long ball when 2 yards will get the job done is a consistent recipe for success. Moreover, some of his picks were really concerning — results of forced passes, panicking under pressure and simple bad reads. Some of that can be chalked up to inexperience, but taking care of the ball is a priority in a BC offense that will often be at a talent disadvantage. I also want to see Morehead stay healthy. When was the last time BC had a QB stay healthy over the full course of a season?

Ultimately, there is a lot we still do not know about Morehead. He has the right attitude, all the physical ingredients are there, and with an actual offensive line he should be asked to do less. But we really are still reading off of four games of tape. There are multiple areas Morehead needs to improve. All eyes are on him now.

QB2 (Probably): Thomas Castellanos

Jeff Hafley quietly dipped into the portal to snag Castellanos, who left UCF after losing a QB competition with incumbent John Rhys Plumlee. Castellanos is a very different type of player than Morehead; he is a true Dual-Threat QB. He is very dangerous and capable with the ball in his hands, whether he is flushed from the pocket on a broken play or on a designed run. While Hafley has not directly come out and named Castellanos QB2, he is the only other guy in the room with any real game experience, and by all accounts he has had his fair share of eye-opening moments in preseason.

I really like his addition for a number of reasons. First, and most importantly, I mentioned earlier how frequently BC seems to lose quarterbacks to injury. Without Castellanos, if Morehead were to go down it would be Peter Delaportas (0 game experience), Matt Rueve (0 game experience), or true freshman Jacobe Robinson behind him. Castellanos, while still relatively inexperienced, is a big upgrade over either of those guys right now. Moreover, dual-threat QBs are much better behind a broken O-line by virtue of their ability to make plays with their legs. Should BC’s offensive line somehow not improve and Morehead really struggles behind them, I think there is a chance that Castellanos would be more productive in the offense. Lastly, I definitely see a world where, even with Morehead as the entrenched QB1 and playing well, Castellanos has his own package in the red zone to give BC’s offense even more unpredictability. We have not seen him play much, but I think there is promise and Castellanos is a good addition to the room.

Further Down the Depth Chart: Peter Delaportas, Matt Rueve, Jacobe Robinson

Peter Delaportas entered the transfer portal this spring, but still appears on the 2023 roster and looks to still be with the team. He was a promising 4-star recruit coming out of high school but has been unable to break through to a larger role while Jurkovec and Morehead stayed above him on the depth chart. Given his pro style of play, he could potentially see the field this season if Morehead goes down and Castellanos’s dual-threat capabilities don’t pan out.

Matt Rueve has been in the program for a number of years, but he has yet to carve himself a role or earn a chance on the field. I think it is highly unlikely he sees the field this year, and if he does something has gone terribly wrong in the QB room.

Jacobe Robinson is also highly unlikely to see the field this season, but this is a result of his age and inexperience rather than a lack of talent. In fact, Hafley has reiterated just how talented the Dual-Threat QB out of Texas really is. He’s big and hugely athletic, he just needs time and development.