Boston College Eagles: CFN College Football Preview 2021

·11 min read

College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Boston College season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Boston College Schedule Analysis
Boston College Eagles Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 6-5 overall, 5-5 in ACC
Head Coach: Jeff Hafley, 2nd year, 6-5
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 48
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 67
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 84

Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: Offense

That’s what you call a pivot. It’s not like Boston College ignored the passing game under former head coach Steve Addazio, but Jeff Hafley quickly changed around the entire tenor of the program immediately.

The Eagles ran 361 times in 2020 under the new regime. There were two fewer games, but the 2019 team ran 659 times.

And in two fewer games, Hafley’s version matched the six-win total of 2019. It all kicked in because …

Phil Jurkovec has settled the quarterback position. The former Notre Dame transfer hit 61% of his passes in the fast-paced offense averaging eight yards per pop, and Dennis Grosel was able to keep on throwing when he had to step in. Now the offense has a year under its belt and the receiving corps Is fantastic.

Zay Flowers blew up in the new passing offense. There might not have been as many big plays down the field, but the volume went up, and Flowers benefitted with a massive 56-catch, 892-yard season with nine touchdowns.

Star TE Hunter Long is done, but the wideouts are there to do even more with Jaelen Gill and CJ Lewis bringing size along with the production.

Give the offensive line a wee bit of credit for surviving through the change. It didn’t do enough for the ground game, but it got the job done when it came to keeping defenses out of the backfield.

Alec Lindstrom is one of the ACC’s best centers, Ben Petrula is one of the top guards, and the rest of the line should be better with everyone expected back. However, there might be some shuffling to get more out of the ground game.

240-pound back David Bailey was supposed to bust out as the new main man, but it didn’t happen and now he’s transferring out. Super-senior Travis Levi is back – he’s a smaller, shiftier back – and Pat Garwo adds a little power. Alec Sinkfield is coming in from West Virginia to be a part of the rotation.

What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Boston College Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: Defense

Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: Defense

Eight starters are expected to be back for a defense that didn’t use a lot of bells and whistles, and it showed. The Eagles didn’t come up with enough tackles for loss, but it generated enough sacks to be okay and wasn’t bad at generating third down stops and taking the ball away.

Now is when defensive coordinator Team Lukabu brings the funk. A high-end linebacker coach, he wasn’t able to do too much in his first year, but now he’s about to get creative, and it starts with getting more out of …

The defensive line. It wasn’t awful, but again, there weren’t enough tackles for loss – and they came mostly from the linebackers – with end Maximilian, Roberts the top pass rusher. He’s gone, and it doesn’t help to lose tackle Luc Bequette and three other linemen to the transfer portal.

Chibueze Onwuka is a smallish, stumpy defensive tackle who came up with 19 tackles, and the hope is for more disruption from Marcus Valdez at one end while getting something out of the transfers coming in.

The linebacking corps is all but starting over with leading tackler Isaiah McDuffie a Green Bay Packer and second-leading tackler Max Richardson also done. Nick DiLucci is the leading returning linebacker and he came up with just 18 stops. That’s why …

The Eagles are almost certainly going with five defensive backs more often than not. That’s where the talent and the experience is with corner Josh DeBerry a solid tackler – he finished third on the team with 44 stops – and safety Jahmin Muse leading the way with three picks. There will be some shuffling, but there are plenty of options to play around with.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Boston College Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best Boston College Eagles Offensive Player

WR Zay Flowers, Jr.
He stepped in as a true freshman and produced right away with 22 catches and three scores, and he added some pop as a runner averaging over seven yards per carry on his 27 tries. And then he got to play in an offense that started to throw the ball a lot more.

The 5-11, 178-pounder ripped up the ACC for 892 yards and nine scores on 56 catches, hitting both Duke and Pitt for 162 yards – with three scores agains the Panthers – and closing out with a monster eight-grab, 180-yard, two-score day in the loss to Virginia. Now he returns as one of the best receivers in the ACC and a weapon to work the entire passing game around.

2. C Alec Lindstrom, Jr.
3. OG Ben Petrula, Sr.
4. QB Phil Jurkovec, Jr.
5. OT Zion Johnson, Sr.


2021 Boston College Football Schedule: Analysis, Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Best Boston College Eagles Defensive Player

CB Josh DeBerry, Jr.
A tough 5-11, 180-pound corner, DeBerry combined forces at one spot and showed off the tackling skills to possibly be used as a safety. The team’s leading returning tackler – he was third on the team with 44 stops – he also broke up six passes and picked off a pass. Now he’ll likely be an All-ACC-caliber star in a strong secondary.

2. S Jahmin Muse, Sr.
3. DE Marcus Valdez, Sr.
4. DE Brandon Barlow, Sr.
5. P Grant Carlson, Sr.

Top Incoming Boston College Eagles Transfer

S Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, Jr.
Temple transfer Isaiah Graham-Mobley might be the most important transfer for a depleted linebacking corps, but Lars-Woodbey should be the biggest talent.

A superstar recruit for Florida State, the 6-0, 225-pound safety missed time hurt, but he made 106 tackles with seven tackles for loss and nine broken up passes in his three years. He’ll likely fit a bit of a hybrid linebacker/defensive back role that allows him to roam and do a little of everything.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Boston College Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Boston College Eagles Biggest Key: Offense

There’s got to be something for the running game. This main mode of transportation will still be through the air, but when the ground attack worked, BC won.

3-0 when running for more than 100 yards and 1-4 when going under 85, it’s more than just about the bulk yards. Yeah, when the Eagles were able to run well they stuck with it and controlled games, but they were also able to rip off enough big yards to make it worthwhile.

After averaging a pathetic 3.1 yards per carry, they have to raise that up to around five yards per pop and get more bang out of their buck. It’s inexcusable to not be able to hit four yards per carry eight times again.

Boston College Eagles Biggest Key: Defense

Get behind the line already. The Eagles generated a paltry 54 tackles for loss and a good chunk of the 25 sacks of production are gone.

Yeah, the coaching staff didn’t get too crazy with the alignments and packages and now they’re about to have some more fun, but it’s a big deal when a defense couldn’t get behind the line as the season went on.

To be fair, the Eagles had the most problems against Clemson and Notre Dame – they were pretty good – but it was all part of the problem for the run defense when it got gouged.

Again, the Tigers and Irish were obviously elite, but it’s no coincidence that those two and Virginia were able to run wild on the BC in the three worst games the D had at getting into the backfield.

Boston College Eagles Key Player To A Successful Season

DT Chibueze Onwuka, Sr.
The line isn’t exactly smallish, but there aren’t any massive Coke machines up front to take up a ton of space. The 5-11, 285-pound Onwuka should work in a rotation with 6-0, 290-pound TJ Rayam to try holding down a defensive front that has to do a whole more to get behind the line. It starts with the anchors being terrific.

Boston College Eagles Key Game To The 2021 Season

NC State, Oct. 16
Unless something crazy happens against Colgate, UMass or Temple, Boston College will be 3-0 before hosting Missouri. The ACC opener at Clemson follows that, and while last year was a whole lot of fun – a close call with the Eagles hanging around in a 34-28 loss – forget about it this time around.

There’s a week off before dealing with NC State at home in a pecking order game before the manageable second half of the season kicks in. Win against the Wolfpack, and all of a sudden the No. 2 spot in the Atlantic isn’t a crazy goal.

Boston College Schedule Analysis

2020 Boston College Eagles Fun Stats

– 1st Quarter Scoring: BC 104 – Opponents 100
– Fumbles: Opponents 17 (lost 12) – BC 13 (lost 6)
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 13-of-16 (81%) – BC 9-of-14 (64%)

NEXT: Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Boston College Eagles College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Just win the games you’re supposed to, and everything will be fine in Year Two under Jeff Hafley.

However, that was part of the issue with the Steve Addazio era. That’s what the Eagles usually did, and it wasn’t enough.

Boston College was a disaster for a few years, bottoming out with a 2-10 2012 season and with a winless ACC run in 2015. It got things right and started cranking out winning seasons again, but it got stuck in a seven-win rut that dipped into a six-win 2019 season, and something needed to change to get back to where it was just over a decade ago.

It’s been forgotten just how good the program was in the 2000s, winning eight games or more from 2000 to 2009 as it went from being a solid Big East staple to a player in the ACC title chase.

So no, expecting Boston College football to be good enough to battle for big things isn’t crazy. It’s asking for too much to win championships as long as Clemson is dominating the world, or if Florida State pulls up out of the nosedive and returns to its former self, but being among the next tier of ACC teams is possible.

Set The Boston College Eagles Regular Season Win Total At … 8

Give anyone and everyone credit if there was any success in the crazy 2020 season. Halfey was able to change around the offensive style in a hurry despite the lack of proper preparation and practice time to get it all working.

Even so, BC was able to win six games by beating the teams it was supposed to and pulling off one good home win over Pitt.

More importantly, it battled with Clemson. It was able to put up 31 on Notre Dame – it was a 14-point loss, but okay, and it hung around with North Carolina in a 26-22 loss.

There were some misfires – the Eagles were rocked by Virginia Tech and the defense went bye-bye against Virginia – but 6-5 was a great first step.

This year, there’s no Notre Dame, no North Carolina, and it helps that there’s no Miami.

There’s Colgate, UMass and Temple. There’s a November with home games against Virginia Tech, Florida State and Wake Forest, and a road date against Georgia Tech.

There’s a trip to Clemson, and dealing with Missouri will be an issue, but there’s a week off to get ready for NC State, and Louisville and Syracuse aren’t bad road games.

There’s just enough missing to lose a few of the 50/50 battles, and just enough there to assume the team can push for eight wins or more if the O clicks a bit better on the ground and the D restocks the shelves at linebacker.

And there’s the coach and the system in place that just might make Boston College a sneaky-great team to watch out for in 2021.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Boston College Schedule Analysis