The days of Boston College running the ball down your throat and boring you to death with their passing game are over. Jeff Hafley took over a Boston College program known for a strong running game and brought in a passing attack that has utilized the speed available at the skill positions. But, now they’re struggling to run the football. Up is down at BC and it’s very weird to see.
Hafley got some good fortune in year one when Phil Jurkovec not only decided to transfer in from Notre Dame but he also received a waiver to play immediately. Jurkovec is a former 4-star recruit who felt that he deserved a chance to beat out Ian Book but never received that chance. In his time so far at BC, he has made a solid argument that he at least deserved that shot. Jurkovec is slinging the ball around in this pass-heavy offense and he’s making a lot of very nice throws while protecting the football well.
BC has done a good job of utilizing all of Jurkovec’s skills in their new offense. He isn’t a runner but he is mobile enough that you don’t have to protect him too much. That allows them to utilize their Tight Ends and Running Backs in the passing game. Jurkovec does well to find those guys in the short passing game to sustain drives. He also has good arm strength and accuracy down the field. He’s been good this year at hitting his speedy receivers on deep crosses and post routes. While he’s had some consistency issues, Jurkovec has been the reason this offense has been able to put up points this year.
The running game for BC has been a struggle all season for some reason. AJ Dillon has moved on the the Green Bay Packers but it was expected that David Bailey would be able to build off of his 800+ yard season from last year. That hasn’t happened as Bailey is averaging under 4 yards per carry and the offense has only run for 100+ yards twice this year. It’s such a flip from what we’ve seen from this program recently. Bailey and Travis Levy did have a strong game running the ball two games ago against Syracuse, so the ability is still there if Louisville doesn’t show up to play.
The top player in this offense, in my opinion, is Zay Flowers. He is an excellent slot receiver with really good speed and elusiveness. He is the biggest beneficiary of the new staff as he is now used all over the field as opposed to being an option for jet sweeps. Flowers can take the top off of a defense and the scheme does a good job of getting him in advantageous matchups. When you don’t know where he’s going to be, it makes it hard to design coverages to stop him. It also helps BC that they have Jaelen Gill and CJ Lewis to take the pressure off of him. Both of those guys are deep threats as well as guys who can get you first downs. This is a strong group for this offense.
The other key player on the offense is Hunter Long at Tight End. Long leads the nation in yards and catches by a Tight End and he routinely gets 10+ targets a game. Long has good speed which helps him get open against Linebackers and he can run well after the catch. As explosive as Zay Flowers is, Long is the guy that worries me the most as Louisville has had issues defending the middle of the field at times.
The BC Offensive Line has been a strong point for the offense for years. That just isn’t the case this season. They returned four starters but either the scheme or the shuffling of positions has the line playing much more poorly than anyone could have expected. They have given up more sacks but they are throwing the ball a lot more. The big change to me is the amount of negative runs they’ve allowed. This team used to push people around up front but they’ve been beaten to the punch a lot this year which is really surprising to me. UofL has to take advantage with this line struggling to block up the run game.