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Self Scouting the Opponent: Clemson vs. Boston College

Boston College v Clemson Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

One of the new things the ACC SB Nation blogs are doing this year is a sort of self-scouting series. Each site was asked to provide a season preview-esque update on their team, the idea being that opposing teams could use it as an information dump. Next up on the list is Boston College. A big thanks to Rich at BC Interruption As a note this was written before the season started and is more of a look at what everyone though going into the season. Injuries, performance, and other factors can color just what the team is capable of.

Key Departures:

  • AJ Dillon, running back
  • Anthony Brown, quarterback
  • Jake Burt, tight end
  • John Phillips, offensive guard
  • Tanner Karafa, defensive end

Key Returnees:

  • David Bailey, running back
  • Kobay White, wide receiver
  • Alec Lindstrom, center
  • Zion Johnson, left guard
  • Ben Petrula, right tackle
  • Tyler Vrabel, left tackle
  • Max Richardson, linebacker

Key Additions:

  • Phil Jurkovec, quarterback (transfer from Notre Dame)
  • Luc Bequette, defensive end (transfer from Cal)
  • Jaelen Gill, wide receiver (transfer from Ohio State)
  • Deon Jones, defensive back (transfer from Maryland)
  • Chibueze Onwuka, defensive tackle (transfer from Buffalo)

Brief overview of 2020 team:

2020 marks the beginning of a new era for Boston College football. Steve Addazio guided the Eagles through seven years of exceedingly mediocre football, finishing an even 44-44, and was fired after going 6-6 in 2019. Enter new head coach Jeff Hafley, who spent 2019 as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Ohio State, and was a NFL defensive back coach for seven years prior to that. Hafley has already breathed some life into a program that desperately needed it.

BC came in at 13th in the ACC preseason poll, which seems low. The Eagles shouldn’t regress much on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, AJ Dillon is a Packer now, but David Bailey averaged 5.7 yards per carry in 2019, racking up 844 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns as the number two back. There’s a lot riding on Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec at the quarterback position. Jurkovec was highly regarded coming out of high school, but never found favor in South Bend. He’ll have a pretty solid array of targets, as last year’s top three pass catchers (Hunter Long, Kobay White, and Zay Flowers) return. Hafley also brought receiver Jaelan Gill with him from Ohio State. The strongest unit on the team will be the offensive line, which returns four of five members from last year’s exceptional group.

BC’s defense was the second worst in the ACC in 2019, allowing 32.2 points per game. The Eagles are hoping that Hafley’s secondary expertise will help turn the tide. Transfer defensive tackles Luc Bequette and Chibueze Onwuka should help to shore up the line and help generate a stronger pass rush, while returning linebackers Max Richardson, John Lamot, and Isaiah McDuffie bring plenty of experience.

Overall, Boston College could sneak up on some people in the ACC. Last year’s team was on the younger side, and an impressive wave of incoming transfers should fill some holes. It’s Hafley’s first head coaching job, so there’s plenty of uncertainty, but there’s also an air of optimism that this program hasn’t sniffed in a number of years.

What is your team’s biggest strength?

The offensive line. Left guard Zion Johnson and right tackle Ben Petrula made All-ACC Second Team in 2019, center Alec Lindstrom was third team, and left tackle Tyler Vrabel was an honorable mention.

What is your team’s biggest weakness?

Probably the secondary, which struggled mightily in coverage and tackling in 2019. However, BC fans are desperately hoping that Hafley is truly the defensive back whisperer. Here is Richard Sherman on Hafley: “I’ve had some great defensive back coaches, some great defensive coaches and defensive minds. He is right up there with his preparation and how he breaks down film.”

Who is your team MVP?

Linebacker Max Richardson. The offense should be solid, but if this team is going to exceed expectations, the defense is going to need a big turnaround from last season. Richardson racked up 107 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2019, and he’ll look to continue to lead the Eagles defense in his senior season.