4 takeaways as BC football caps arrive in spring and anticipate the season

College Sports

A healthy Phil Jurkovec is ready for a big year.

Phil Jurkovec is back for another season with the Eagles. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

After a disappointing 6-6 season marred by injury and filled with “what ifs”, the Boston College football team is still looking for its first eight-game winning campaign since 2009.

Eagles are the first to admit that last year didn’t go as planned. With much of their core returning, including standout quarterback Phil Jurkovec and elite receiver Zay Flowers, they’re finally hoping to make the leap they’ve collectively coveted for some time.

“The year didn’t go the way we would have liked last year, and everyone knows that,” tight end Joey Luchetti said. “Everyone knows we have a lot more talent than our record shows. It’s never about confidence. We’re all very confident here.

BC held 14 spring training sessions and capped the action with the Jay McGillis Memorial Spring Game Saturday at Alumni Stadium. For those keeping score at home, the Boston team beat the Eagles, 22-10, in a game that provided a small window into what that team could look like next season.

Here’s a look at how spring went and what to expect in the future:

Phil Jurkovec looks healthy.

Jurkovec, who broke a bone in his throwing hand in Game 2 of the season against UMass, ended up appearing in just six of 12 games and never fully regained his momentum as of 2020.

“Last year was a lost season,” Jurkovec said. “That’s how I see it. I came back for the last games, but I really wasn’t 100%. I can’t wait to be at this year and find success again.

He looked smooth and comfortable in the spring game, rushing and finding Xavier Coleman for a 47-yard touchdown in the first quarter and also making several other solid throws. All Spring Game performance should be taken lightly, but the performance was largely encouraging. If he stays healthy, Jurkovec has a chance to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Head coach Jeff Hafley credited the redshirt senior with becoming even more of a leader this season. Jurkovec said he knew he would have a chance of being drafted but wanted to come back for another year to improve, gain more experience and come back on a high after a disappointing streak.

“I think that motivates him,” Hafley said. “I hope that’s the case. In the first quarter of that second game, when he got injured, he wasn’t 100 per cent for the rest of the season. To get a fresh start and be in good health, I think he should be excited.

He has many elite weapons around him.

Jurkovec has many throwing weapons, including flowers, who had 44 catches for 746 yards and five touchdowns a season ago. Hafley, new offensive coordinator John McNulty, Jurkovec and of course Flowers himself all think those numbers can be even higher.

McNulty has made it clear that the players are more important than the plan, and he wants to do everything in his power to get Flowers the ball and let him go wild.

Jaelen Gill, Jaden Williams, Taji Johnson, Lewis Bond, Dante Reynolds and Dino Tomlin (yes, Mike Tomlin’s son), among others, will also be in the game at wide receiver. Luchetti, Notre Dame trades George Takacs and Spencer Witter should contribute on the tight end.

Pat Garwo, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last year, returns as one of the ACC’s top guards, and Alec Sinkfield and Coleman will also participate. The Eagles, who finished last in the ACC in yards per game (350) and 11th in points per game (24.7) have a chance to prove it was a fluke and an injury.

“I feel like Phil and I, and the whole attack, haven’t been able to show what we can really do,” Flowers said on the ACC network show spring game. “It made us want to come out even more this year and put on a show for everyone and show that we’re more than an average team.”

The offensive line is eager to prove they belong.

One area to watch for the Eagles is their offensive line, as they lose potential first-rounder Zion Johnson as well as extremely reliable starters Alec Lindstrom, Ben Petrula and Tyler Vrabel.

The only returning full-time starter is Christian Mahogany, who willingly takes on a leadership role in a relatively inexperienced unit eager to earn respect. Fellow lineman Jack Conley said he was convinced Mahogany was the best goaltender in the country and that “you’d think he was an alien” based on how he moves from point A to point A. point b.

Don’t expect him to score a touchdown and spark a barrel stand celebration every game – it was probably a one-time deal in the spring game – but expect him to make life extremely difficult for other teams.

“I think Christian will be one of the best offensive linemen in the whole country next year,” Hafley said. “I’m really excited for this. He sort of took over some leadership roles, which is cool to see. A lot of the older guys in this room who left were leaders, and now it’s his turn.

With enthusiastic freshman offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in the lead, the Eagles will rely on redshirt second Ozzy Trapilo, redshirt senior Finn Dirstine, redshirt rookie Drew Kendall, junior in red shirt Mahogany and red shirt junior Jack Conley.

“A lot of people doubt us as a group of five,” Conley said. “They say we won’t be the same. We think we are going to be better. There’s no reason we can’t be the best O-line in America. There are not any. We have all the parts.

The defense is coming back full of playmakers.

The Eagles, who allowed the Fewest passing yards (173.5) and third-fewest points (22.2) in the ACC last season, have many key returns on the defensive side of the ball.

Hafley, a secondary specialist, helped the Eagles become one of the best in the country in this area. Defensive backs Josh DeBerry, Jaiden Woodbey, CJ Burton, Jason Maitre and Elijah Jones all have plenty of experience and should be one of the best groups in the country. They proudly call secondary “the jungle”.

“It gets dangerous in the jungle” Woodbey said on Saturday. “You have to be careful when you go into the jungle. There are lots of animals. We all have to be animals on the ground. And I feel like this jungle, I feel like we embody it.

With defensive end Marcus Valdez, defensive tackle Chibueze Onwuka, defensive tackle Cam Horsley, defensive end Shitta Sillah, linebacker Kam Arnold, linebacker Vinny DePalma and linebacker Bryce Steele all part of the equation, the Eagles have experience everywhere. Other names to know include Donovan Ezeiruaku, Izaiah Henderson, Khris Banks, Ty Clemons, Neto Okpala, Jaylen Blackwell and Amari Jackson.

They will miss Brandon Sebastian, Mike Palmer, Isaiah Graham-Mobley and Brandon Barlow, among others, but they are confident they have the pieces to fill the void.

“A lot of guys who turn into vets are younger guys,” Ezeiruaku said. “That happens.”