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Banter: A Talented Boston College Football Team is Yearning to Break Free!

Can the coaches step up to help them?

Boston College vs Florida State University Set Number: X164430

Curtis: Well that game was certainly a whirlwind. Are we feeling more optimistic or just frustrated with the team at this point?

Niraj: When you put it like that, I have to say more frustrated. Even when so many things go right, the things very much in our control go wrong. It just reinforces the fact that it will never come together and be beautiful, to reference a Daz-ism. The preparation has been so bad that if it ever does turn out to be a clean game, I now expect the team would be incapable of anything else because they would have spent their whole week on edge about that. Despite all those penalties, getting the ball back down 2 with over 4 minutes to go was agony and BC in a nutshell. All the momentum, the feeling in the air, and the get the play calls wrong, and they’re chasing yards. Sigh. At the very least, I am optimistic we can make our way closer to the middle of the conference.

Arthur: So I think the way I’d describe my feelings would be that I’m bullish on the team but bearish on the coaching. I am immensely impressed by Thomas Castellanos. He put together a master class. To the credit of the coaches, it feels like the game plan suited him better this week, but he showed off a strong arm as well as a solid ground attack. I think I was really critical of him last week (perhaps a little too harsh) but I cannot say enough positive things about Castellanos this week. I’m very impressed. I also am impressed by Kye Robichaux. Dude is a tank. I think he adds another dimension to a strong offense.

The receivers seemed to have improved, the line is solid, and honestly the defense stepped up in big situations. I think I feel very good about the talent level of the Eagles. But then the negatives. Eighteen penalties is just an absurd number, and that’s after Jeff Hafley made it a point that discipline needed to be a focal point. Just an absurdity of procedural penalties that need to be fixed. And noise is a ridiculous excuse for whatever it’s worth.

So in other words I think Hafley is absolutely right that this is an immensely talented team. We may have one of the best QBs in a while at the Heights in Castellanos. We have a much improved offensive line protecting him. The backfield is solid, and the receivers are improving, and the defense is showing signs of life. Yet mistakes after mistakes that are inexcusable keep happening and given the talent level it’s hard not to levy that on the coaching staff.

Kieran: Yep I think Arthur nailed it there. There were certainly some good signs from the Eagles on Saturday. But holy moly guys, the penalties…it’s kind of hard to believe there were so many called. And they actually had a chance to get the ball back at the end of the game but a facemask penalty spoiled their chances. Castellanos showed more positive signs, as did the receivers and backs, although I am not sold on the defense. Honestly, this team is confusing to me right now and I’m not sure what team we’ll see out there week to week.

Curtis: Totally agree that this team is talented and being held back by the coaching staff. I do think Florida State was sleepwalking in this game once they went up 31-10, but still BC showed some serious guts by doing what they did. Given what they’ve shown in the past, I really don’t have much confidence that the coaches will be able to rein in the mistakes, penalties, etc. But I would love to be proved wrong. This team, with the schedule they have, can win a good chunk of games if they can clean up the mistakes. That’s really the only way Hafley can prove to me that he deserves to keep his job.

Arthur: I think that’s the thing. Clearly the talent is there, and the schedule is not anything too taxing, to put it lightly, but no one on that team makes me feel confident they’ll put it all together. And if they do, what is even a measure of success?

Curran: This FSU result is probably the single worst outcome that could’ve happened. I think this team’s ceiling is extremely limited under Hafley. No one held any expectations for us going into this game. The one thing Hafley promised was a focus on penalties, yet because of some late magic and fight from this clearly talented squad, Hafley’s complete failure to address penalties isn’t the focus of the conversation. His lack of coaching experience and his inability to instill some discipline are problems I just don’t see going away.

Now, Castellanos is a player. The O line looks legit. We do have talent, and Kam Arnold was right in saying that we have the ability to beat any team left on our schedule. But BC also chronically plays down to the level of competition; I think it is highly unlikely we put together a performance like the one from this past Saturday with any kind of consistency. So at the end of the day, I am just confused and frustrated, and I firmly think Hafley needs to go.

Arthur: Yeah I think that’s the one I feel sure of, and I think we’ve been circling this drain for a year and a half but it’s clear. With the schedule the Eagles have and the talent on the team, this should be a high win season, and I’m bumfuzzled as to why BC is 1-2 right now. It feels like there’s a ceiling like Curran said, which is a shame because there is a lot of potential. I can’t get over the fact that BC has a legit QB for the first time in I don’t know how long, I think Tyler Murphy was the last time I felt settled by the QB situation, and yet we’re here.

Curran: Yea. He needs to continue to improve and stay healthy, but he has definitely had his moments. I will say, this team — especially offense — has a number of young pieces to build around. The O line has improved tremendously, and three of the starters are only juniors or sophomores. The WR room has guys like Joe Griffin, Lewis Bond (what a revelation he has been) and Jaden Williams with multiple years of eligibility while there are pieces in the RB room with time to grow.

Arthur: And give Hafley credit, those are all his guys at this point so he has the ability to bring in talent. But development and performance continues to be a nagging issue. And discipline. Oh my goodness the discipline.

Curran: Very true. He has done a good job identifying talent and team needs (last year’s O-line being the massive asterisk). Yet he just hasn’t proved he can actually coach at this level. How absurd is it that after his most emotional, angry presser in four years, his team goes on to literally set a new school record for penalties?

Curtis: While it is disappointing that the team regressed on penalties after Hafley’s fired up press conference, I think the bigger takeaway should be how much the team responded to his attitude. Clearly they need to work on discipline, but that doesn’t get solved in one week. I think it’s a promising sign that the team came out on Saturday and played the best football they’ve played in a while. I’m going to do a little waiting on the penalty aspect, because my hope is that some more time with Castellanos at the helm will help get things under control on offense at least. Of course, the whole charade with Morehead as QB1 to start the season is a big failure that led to these miscommunications in the first place. Something that really shouldn’t be happening in year 4.

Arthur: The broadcast mentioned a possible issue with Castellanos’ cadence which I think has merit. But that shouldn’t be an issue week 3.

Curtis: What I’m saying is that the cadence wouldn’t have been such an issue if Castellanos was QB1 at the start.

Arthur: Oh 100%. I still think it shouldn’t be an issue even in spite of that. But you’re absolutely right.

Curran: I do remember Drew Kendall mentioning the switch to Castellanos’ clap cadence has been a process. It just needs to get cleaned up rapidly. This team could win a good amount of games if they get out of their own way.

Curtis: So what’s the expectation for this week against Louisville? The Cardinals are 3-0 with wins over Georgia Tech and Indiana. They’re expected to be middle of the pack in the ACC this season, and received 1 vote in the latest AP poll.

Arthur: First road game of the year! ESPN says BC wins in 12% of simulations and Louisville wins in 88%. I don’t think the difference is that stark, the ability to BC to play well is there. But this is going to be a tough game on the road. I’m going to choose to be optimistic and say we’ll see BC hang around.

Kieran: I think this will be an interesting test for BC. On one hand, Louisville seems to be formidable on both side of the ball, and if BC’s penalty issues come back, I think Louisville should win comfortably. On the other hand, Louisville did have trouble with Georgia Tech, and if Thomas Castellanos can keep building on his success this season, I could see BC making a game of it. Ultimately I think the game will come down to BC’s ability to cut down on penalties, and how the defense plays against what can be a potent Louisville offense. I agree with Arthur that BC will stick around, but I’ll pick Louisville to win, 30-17.

Curran: I think it could definitely be close. It all depends on which BC team shows up: the one that got beat by NIU and deserved to lose against Holy Cross, or the team that probably should have beat FSU? I’m not sure how this team will handle the road environment. Louisville is far from unbeatable.

Curtis: I think I’m on the same page as all of you. Louisville is definitely beatable, and if the same team shows up as last week I think they can do it. But it’s their first road game and this has been an inconsistent squad, so this all seems too unpredictable.