Sports, Football

Hafley Focuses on the Little Things Ahead of Texas State Game

When it comes to end-ot-the-year standings, a win is a win is a win. It doesn’t matter how many interceptions your team’s quarterback threw, or how many tackles your defense missed, or how many points were on the board, because it all boils down to a check in the “W” column. 

But to Boston College football head coach Jeff Hafley, it does matter. No matter how minute the detail, if something was wrong, it matters. Hafley secured a win in his first ever game as an Eagle on Saturday, but he said during Tuesday’s weekly press conference that both he and the team still have lots to work on. To get better, Hafley said, the work has to start with him. 

“I didn’t coach well enough, and I have to coach the team better on game day,” Hafley said about the 26-6 win over Duke on Saturday. “There’s some stuff that I was very disappointed in myself, some stuff I didn’t see well enough on defense, because I was wrapped up on other things. And there’s some little things I did that I have to coach better.”

The Eagles’ defense held Duke to just one touchdown and forced five turnovers on Saturday. BC’s offense was efficient in moving the chains—notching 20 first downs—but still controlled the time of possession in quarterback Phil Jurkovec’s first collegiate start. 

Even so, Hafley said it’s the little things—such as Jurkovec throwing two interceptions or the Eagles capitalizing on just two out of their five turnovers—that have a tendency to spiral into bigger issues as the season wears on. 

“At the end of the day, we have to win, and however you win, you win,” Hafley said. “But when you sit back, and you watch the tape, and you’re really honest with yourself, you’ve got to look at the little things. And sometimes that’s more important than the result.”

In his debut with the Eagles, Jurkovec threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first BC player since Matt Ryan in 2007 to throw for that many yards and multiple touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes in a single game. Jurkovec was then honored by the Manning Award and the Dave O’Brien Foundation, each honoring the top collegiate quarterbacks of the week. 

Even so, Hafley said he wasn’t satisfied. 

“If you watch the tapes closely, Phil would tell you that there’s so much room for improvement. I mean big-time room for improvement,” Hafley said. “Yeah he made some nice plays, but just like everybody else, if we’re going to continue to win games, he’s got to play better too.”

“I’m happy these guys got the accolades,” Hafley said. “And I really appreciate every text, every phone call and everything that’s positive right now because we won, and that’s what we need to do. But at the end of the day, I don’t even know who we’re playing two weeks from now, and I really am not worried about it. We have so much work to do to get better.”

In addition to Jurkovec’s honors at quarterback, wide receiver Zay Flowers heard his name mentioned in the national media this weekend. Thanks to a career day against Duke, Flowers earned ACC Wide Receiver of the Week honors. His 162-yard performance marked the first 100-yard receiving game for BC since Kobay White notched 121 against Florida State two years ago. 

Hafley said that stalwart receiver White may be out for the remainder of the season after he got ACL surgery on Tuesday, which means that Flowers will step in as the No. 1 Receiver. 

From the QB-WR duo’s combined performance on Saturday, it might seem as though the two have been playing together for years. In reality, Jurkovec—an offseason transfer from Notre Dame—and Flowers—a true sophomore who played mostly backup last year—have only had about a month of practicing live routes together, but Hafley said the shortened schedule hasn’t impacted their connection at all.

The Eagles showed signs of improvement in Saturday’s game, but win or lose, Hafley said, he would have approached this week’s practice in the same way. 

“We were hard on them,” Hafley said about Tuesday’s practice. “I was very honest with them this morning. I told them that we have to play better, and I showed them examples of how we have to play better and when we have to play better.”

Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics

September 24, 2020