Yesterday, my esteemed colleague Will Bagnall made his case for BC to start Emmett Morehead for the rest of the season in place of Dennis Grosel. He brought up some fair arguments, but I’m here to tell you that moving on from Grosel at this point in the season is not the right call. Coach Hafley should stick with Grosel despite his flaws — at least as long as there’s something to play for — simply because the sixth-year veteran gives the Eagles their best chance to win the games ahead.
First off, let’s acknowledge that playing for a bowl is not where any of us pegged our hopes at the start of the year, but it’s where we’re at now. Embrace the sadness! BC hasn’t won a bowl since 2016 and opted not to play in one at all last year to allow the players to finally get to spend time with their families, so getting back to — and winning — a bowl would be something worthwhile for the players this season.
With that in mind, the Eagles are going to need to win two more games out of the next four to get there. ESPN’s FPI gives BC two very winnable coin flips with Virginia Tech and Florida State ahead, plus a couple reasonable upset opportunities against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. There are definitely two wins in there if the Eagles can play well and not make mistakes. This has Grosel written all over it.
Let’s get into the first (and really only) reason that folks are calling for Morehead to be given the reigns: Morehead made one really, really great throw downfield to Zay Flowers for 44 yards. This was good! I’ve been one of the loudest people bemoaning Grosel’s struggles passing downfield this year, so I absolutely understand the cathartic “oh, thank God, at least he can throw a deep ball, let’s just roll with him” mentality after Morehead completed his first career pass halfway down the field.
But... there was nothing built on it from there. The rest of the game, the freshman went just 5 for 14 for 43 yards and didn’t bring any extra mobility that Grosel doesn’t already show on a regular basis to make up for it. No, Grosel didn’t really do all that much more than Morehead did with his time in the game, but you know what did do? He dropped a 40 yard dime to Flowers of his own! If the reason we’re thinking of moving on from Grosel is his inability to throw the deep ball, and he actually completes a really nice deep ball, then maybe his consistency is worth sticking with while BC is still focused on getting wins instead of planning for the future.
One other major factor in choosing to stick with Grosel has to do with the defenses BC will be going up against: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Wake Forest are all in the bottom half of the ACC in rushing yards allowed. There will be much less of a dependency on the BC offense to stretch things down the field in order to open up the ground game going forward. A focus on Garwo, Levy, and Sinkfield with your standard short- and medium- distance Grosel passes sprinkled in there will keep the ball moving.
This week in particular has a couple extra reasons to stick with the veteran. For one, the higher-profile, higher-pressure Friday Night on the Heights is probably not the best time to give a freshman his first full game of play. But moreover, the Virginia Tech passing defense is pretty darn good — 3rd in the ACC — and even if you do think Morehead is the post-Jurkovec future of the offense, putting the freshman into a game where he’s likely to face big pocket pressure and throw a couple picks is a great way to kill his confidence. This is exactly the situation where you’d want to have an experienced QB under center. On top of that, the Virginia Tech offense is just about as bad as ours is. This game is unlikely to come apart at the seams and force whoever is playing quarterback to start chucking the ball — unless you have a freshman turning the ball over early, that is.
I get the desire to find a silver bullet to turn things around, but moving to a freshman quarterback isn’t going to do it. As long as the Eagles are still playing for this season and not next season, Dennis Grosel should be the man making the plays. Morehead’s time may come, but this should be Grosel’s team as long as necessary.