Boston College turned things around significant strides last season under new leadership from first year head coach Jeff Hafley.
The Eagles underwent an identity shift from their traditional hard-nosed teams predicated on running the football. Hafley transformed the program into a prolific passing offense anchored by Notre Dame transfer Phi Jurkovec.
Clemson hosts Boston College at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 2 because of last season’s modified ACC schedule. And if last year’s barn burner serves as any indication the Eagles will not go down without a fight.
Last meeting: Clemson defeated the Eagles 34-28 at Memorial Stadium last season. D.J. Uiagalelei led the Tigers back from a 28-10 deficit with 1:02 to play in the first half and keep the season alive during Trevor Lawrence’s absence due to virus protocols.
Last season: The Eagles finished last season 6-5 overall and 5-5 in the ACC despite perhaps the most difficult schedule in the conference with matchups against Clemson, North Carolina and Notre Dame. Boston College nearly upset the Tigers and fell 26-22 to the Tar Heels after a failed two-point conversion that would have taken the game to overtime. After a successful campaign the team decided to forgo a bowl bid in light of the pandemic but hopes to build on its success and show more consistency in 2021.
Coaching staff: Boston College is led by Hafley who has put together a solid supporting cast on his coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti completely revamped the Golden Eagles’ offense last season from a ground and pound attack to an aerial assault. Defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu brought significant improvement to a defense that did not live up to BC’s standards showing significant jumps in nearly every defensive category.
Returners: Boston College returns a ton of experience from its 2020 squad led by Jurkovec at quarterback. On the offensive side of the ball the Eagles return their entire offensive line which will be a big help in pass protection.
They also return first-team All-ACC wide receiver Zay Flowers who served as Jurkovec’s primary weapon last year and hauled in a remarkable seven catches for 40 yards or more. Kobay White also returns after missing the entire 2020 season due to a torn ACL. In their offensive shift the running game has become an afterthought so it will be interesting to see what happens at tailback for the Eagles.
On defense BC made progress from an abysmal 2019 season but still has a long way to go. It returns significant experience in the secondary led by Josh DeBerry an honorable for All-ACC and fifth year Brandon Sebastian.
Additions: The Eagles added key pieces to fill holes on the defensive side of the ball. They added a transfer in Jaiden Lars-Woodbey who started 22 games at safety for Florida State who will boost an already experienced secondary. Boston College also brought in Isaiah Graham-Mobley from Temple to fill gaps at the linebacker position.
Subtractions: The biggest losses for the Eagles are also on the defense after Max Richardson and Isaiah McDuffie moved on from the linebacker position. But otherwise, Boston College is in good shape with a host of experience returning.
Key matchups: The marquee matchup between the two teams in October will be Clemson’s secondary and defensive line vs Jurkovec in the passing game. The Irish transfer completed 12-of-24 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers last season which was enough to put them in a pickle. But if the Tigers can shut him down or limit his success it will be in good position at Memorial Stadium this October.