I was fooled. I was the classic victim of over-hyped, meaningless preseason “coach talk.” I had nearly convinced myself that Hafley would bring the program back — only for realization to come crashing down thanks to Rocky Lombardi and the Northern Illinois Huskies.
After a couple days of letting reactions from the game settle, nearly everything that went wrong was relatively predictable. Poor penalties, mental errors such as drops, and a general malaise and not being ready to play are things that we have seen before from Jeff Hafley’s BC teams. What I didn’t see coming? The situation at quarterback.
Let’s flash back to the end of last year's disastrous season. After Jurkovec goes down against UConn, Morehead steps in for the remaining four games — and he produces. Was he the next Tom Brady? Not at all. Yet he had his moments; at different moments he was able to seriously produce and run an offense. He made some “wow” throws, seemed to handle the role well, and by year’s end was the presumptive starter for the 2023 season. That conclusion was further enforced when Jurkovec left for Pitt.
All offseason long, Morehead was championed as the future of Boston College football. He was the starter at the Spring Game, was attending media events, and traveled to ACC Media Day. He practiced with the ones throughout the spring, and during Hafley’s NIU Week media presser, he declared Morehead QB1.
Three drives into the new season, it is UCF transfer Thomas Castellanos stepping into the huddle — which was the gameplan all along. And though BC loses the game, Castellanos plays all but three drives, nearly leading BC to an OT win.
So where do we go from here?
After the loss, Hafley confirmed that Morehead “most definitely” would see the field again this season, and then failed to name a starter as the team heads into Week 2. All signs now point to somewhat of a battle for the job, if not an outright replacement of the guy who was supposed to be the new face of the program. This is not what BC needs; the old saying goes that if you have two QBs you have none. Morehead and Castellanos are very different quarterbacks with very different strengths. The playbook for each, therefore, is at least somewhat different — and if it is not, the coaching staff is oversimplifying the offense to accommodate two QBs instead of maximizing around one. Regardless, all of this simply hamstrings the offense, because as the QB changes so does the role each man needs to play to be successful. It is confusing, and for an offensive that looked anemic and gassed against NIU, it is not what is needed. Experimenting against Holy Cross is risky; if we head into the Florida State game without a true starter we will be demolished (though we will likely be demolished regardless).
So who deserves the job moving forward? Morehead definitely looked jittery and uncomfortable for the three drives he had (and was not helped by his receivers), but he also had very little game time. Castellanos, on the other hand, at times looked electric while also extremely raw. I’ve read a lot of people who think Castellanos needs to start moving forward; I am unsure if I agree. Yes, the throw to Jaden Williams was a dime and yes, his legs are a weapon (that 4th down conversion was absurd) but his interception was awful, and his passing overall was not anything to write home about. He played the whole game minus three drives, and we lost to a MAC team. For a BC program that needs to win now (realistically, if BC had any major ambitions Hafley would’ve been fired after UConn) I think Morehead might be the better option. The power run game was effective, and I think a strong run game that Morehead’s passing game can feed off of is this team’s best chance at success. While he did look ineffective in his three drives, he had a measly 10 pass attempts and was playing essentially knowing he had two drives to save his job. He is better than what he showed on Saturday, and we know because we’ve seen it before.
The issue is that now the world knows that the staff has 0 faith in him. Every time Emmett Morehead steps on the field, he will have Castellanos breathing down his neck if he makes a mistake. I don't see a path forward for him here, and that is entirely Jeff Hafley’s fault. I thought Morehead was poised to take a step forward, and there was enough game film to show he has the talent to compete. I would not go so far to say that if he played the whole NIU game we would have won, but I do think he would have settled in, made some better throws, and perhaps gotten the offense in rhythm. Yet now, I just don’t see how Morehead is given the leash to win the job until Castellanos proves he can’t start or gets injured.
Both QBs are young guys with upside. Maybe the coaching staff saw something in fall camp that has them convinced Castellanos is the answer, and simply hid it from the world (and in doing so screwed over Morehead). Regardless, we don’t know now. I believe Morehead showed enough last season to earn a shot, but he hasn’t. Let’s hope Tommy Castellanos is really that dude.