Sports, Football

Ahead of Georgia Tech, Hafley’s Game Plan is All About Process and Progress

In what’s been an unexpected season for a number of reasons—a conference-only schedule, no spring ball, and head coach Jeff Hafley’s success in his first year, to name a few—Boston College football has done its best to stay on the right path. Even with an anomalous double-digit loss to then-No. 23 Virginia Tech in the rearview mirror, Hafley is sticking to his guns. 

“The process is right,” Hafley said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “And I know we didn’t play well enough, but I’m very confident in the process, and we’re going to get better.”

To Hafley and his team, “the process” spans anything from game-day protocols to COVID-19 guidelines to tackling drills. By sticking to and trusting fully in the process, Hafley said he has no doubt that the team will improve. 

Last week’s loss to Virginia Tech came down to missteps in the Eagles’ fundamentals. Tackling, which hasn’t been a problem in previous games, suddenly surfaced as a major gap in the Eagles’ defense. Hafley said he thinks the team missed a total of 26 tackles, including plenty of missed opportunities in the backfield. 

During Tuesday’s press conference, Hafley addressed the fact that starting a style of offense that’s entirely new to most members of the team has been a difficult transition. But even so, he said, following the process he has laid out will “lay the foundation” for major change over this season and for years to come. 

“That’s why I think what you’re going to see [is] progress,” Hafley said. “I think you’ll see stuff start to click: I believe the run game will start to click, and I believe we’ll get better at throwing the football. But offense is about reps. It’s about experience. It’s about jelling.”

Perhaps the biggest detriment BC has seen in terms of experience on offense is the loss of veteran wide receiver Kobay White. White led the team last year with 29 catches and totaled 460 receiving yards and five touchdowns, but he had to sit this season out after having surgery on his ACL. 

Though less experienced receivers such as Zay Flowers, CJ Lewis, Jaelen Gill, and Jehlani Galloway have stepped up in White’s absence, Hafley said BC’s pass-heavy offense could benefit from a more experienced wideout. 

“He was kind of like that common factor—knew where to line up, kind of told guys what was going on,” Hafley said of White. “He was the veteran in the room. And if you think about the way our offense is going right now, the way Phil [Jurkovec] can keep things alive. …I’ve got a feeling he would’ve had a ton of production.” 

As BC prepares to take on Georgia Tech this weekend, the Eagles will look to build on the success they’ve had with their younger receivers. The Yellow Jackets’ pass defense is currently ranked No. 68 (out of 77) in the nation in pass yards allowed per game. They’re ranked last in the ACC in pass defense. BC currently sits at No. 2 in pass offense, behind only Clemson, which put up 73 points in a blowout against Georgia Tech last weekend. 

But according to Hafley, the stats don’t tell the full story.

“You try not to get caught up in that,” Hafley said about looking at statistics. “You try to watch the film and then see what they look like and base it off what the tape looks like. Right now, I’ll glance at [them], see what they say, and then I’ll watch the film to see if it ties in together.”

Hafley said he has a ton of respect for the staff and players at Georgia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets will be formidable opponents. But even so, Hafley said the Eagles have to continue to focus on themselves and what they can control. 

“I think the most important thing for us this week is to improve,” Hafley said. “I’m excited to see us put together a full game.”

Featured Image by Matt Gentry / Roanoke Times via ACC Media

October 20, 2020