The Virginia Tech Hokies battle the Boston College Eagles on Friday night in Chestnut Hill. For anyone who has followed the history between these two schools, you know Chestnut Hill hasn’t always been kind to the Hokies. The last time the Hokies made the trip north, BC won, 35-28, thanks to several Ryan Willis turnovers.
In the early days of Virginia Tech’s ACC dominance, the Eagles were the Hokies’ top adversary from the ACC Atlantic.
As we prepare for Friday’s game, we spoke with Niraj Patel, the lead football writer over at BC Interruption, our sister site here at SB Nation, covering the Boston College Eagles. We appreciate Niraj’s time, and he gave us some really insightful information about the Eagles.
Follow Niraj on Twitter @niraj_patel7 and BC Interruption @bcinterruption.
It seemed like Boston College was set for a big season with Phil Jurkovec at quarterback. Then, he was injured. How have the Eagles played in Jurkovec’s absence?
Oh to be young and naive. Those were happier days. It’s honestly tough to start. When Jurkovec first went down, there was still general optimism with some really talented offensive weapons, a very talented offensive line, and an average defense with talent on the backend. In his absence though, the offense has been dismal. Starting at quarterback, it’s just not even close. Dennis Grosel proved incapable of letting Zay Flowers be his best self deep. Combine that with much more average line play (way below expectations) and bad play calling, and it’s been honestly a disaster. It’s been a square peg in a round hole in terms of the offensive scheme. Grosel is not Jurkovec, but the play-calling hasn’t reflected that.
Give us a scouting report on Dennis Grosel.
This may be all for naught because I believe we will see true freshman Emmett Morehead at quarterback, so I’ll do both. We saw the first glimpses of Morehead last week against Syracuse. Both quarterbacks produced similar numbers in the end, but Morehead showed a much higher upside, especially given that was his first game of football in about two years. He came on hot, his first completion being a 40+ yard deep pass to Zay Flowers —something that hadn’t been seen since Jurkovec went down. He got shaken up late in the first half, but still played some in the second. He’s big, about 6-6 and a has a strong arm. He stands well in the pocket and played fine. You could tell he was eager at times, but true freshman hasn’t been hit in a while, etc. It’s to be expected.
Grosel on the other hand is the consummate veteran. He’s been the backup for three years and ended up playing each time. He’s put up some good numbers in the past but always limited in a game manager sort of way. He can be mobile, ‘deceptively fast’ for all you playing at home, but overall lacks the big arm. Hafley has not named the starter but the decision has been made to go with one this game.
We know how good Zay Flowers is, but he hasn’t quite had the season many expected. Is that due to Jurkovec’s injury?
Entirely. Flowers is constantly open. And I mean constantly. I wish there was a reel of him being over or under-thrown each week, multiple times a game. He’s a very positive guy, but you can tell the frustration when his hands go to his helmet in disbelief. He finally got over 100 last week with both quarterbacks hitting him (one he adjusted to make a great grab). The offense hasn’t done a good enough job letting him make plays. He’s dynamic with the ball, and he should be fed much more.
Who are other playmakers to watch on B.C.’s offense? You guys usually have a tight end that kills the Hokies.
Trae Barry definitely would be the guy, but he got banged up a few weeks ago and is at best questionable for the game. He’s a freak out there. Pat Garwo has been a solid power back leading the way. Jaelen Gill can be dynamic with the ball, and freshman Jaden Williams can play.
How good is Boston College’s defense?
They’ve played well above their pay grade and are doing quite well. They’ve done a great on third down getting off the field. They’re not going to win games on their own, but they can set up the offense to score. Unfortunately, and I sound like a broken record, that hasn’t come to fruition. They don’t generate pressure up front, but make up for that with timing and patience to cover up gaps. Issues this year have been one quarter a game where holes emerge and give the opposition that explosive play.
What’s your prediction?
Man, I just don’t know. The ACC is such a mess that we can’t keep going winless, right? I’ll take the Eagles at home in an extra special game. Another week of good prep from the freshman —assuming it’s him—should mean a lot. Let’s say 17-14