The last time Boston College football posted a winning record in ACC play, it was the year that Georgia Tech beat Clemson for the conference title running the triple option. If that fact isn’t enough to tell you that it was a long time ago, the year was 2009, and Frank Spaziani was in his first year as a head coach. Luke Kuechly was just a freshman, and the Eagles went 5-3 in ACC play.
Now, more than a decade later, first-year head coach Jeff Hafley and his squad are in position to end an 11-year drought by finishing over .500 in the conference.
“If we could finish 6-4 in the ACC, it would be a nice way to send out the seniors, good momentum going into the offseason, and just a lot to build off of,” Hafley said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “Regardless, I’m already proud of the guys and how they’ve fought.”
Currently sitting at 5-4 in the conference, BC will take on Virginia on Saturday for the Eagles’ season finale, yet the game will be anything but a rollover for the Eagles. The Cavaliers are currently on a three-game winning streak after upsetting then-No. 15 North Carolina on Halloween.
Plus, Virginia has a dual-threat quarterback in its back pocket in Brennan Armstrong. Mobile quarterbacks have been a weak spot for BC all season long, and the Eagles will have to slow Armstrong down if they want to achieve a victory in their season finale.
“We need to get him down in the open field,” Hafley said of Armstrong. “We’re still missing tackles. Schematically, we’ve gotten better. We’re getting more hats to the ball when it involves a quarterback run game. I think we’ve adjusted. … It’s definitely how people are trying to attack us now.”
With another round of testing in the books, Hafley reported that the team has still had zero positive tests since early June. The Eagles’ success in stopping the spread of COVID-19 within the program has been one of their greatest victories all year, according to Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“In a short amount of time, I think their staff has done a really nice job, and they have their players prepared and manage COVID effectively with the help of their administration and the University,” Mendenhall said in a press conference earlier this week.
Hafley echoed Mendenhall’s statement, but Hafley assigned credit to his team, the BC students, and University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. for their role in keeping the campus safe.
A potential worry for the Eagles ahead of Saturday’s game is the health of quarterback Phil Jurkovec and running back David Bailey, who both left last week’s game against Louisville with injuries. Hafley noted that they are both doing well and that he is “hopeful” that they’ll both play in this weekend’s game.
The game against Virginia has a lot riding on it. With the one-year anniversary of Hafley’s hiring coming up in two weeks, the young coach is still proving himself to the ACC and wider football community. He said that he respects and looks up to Mendenhall, and that Virginia is a very well coached team.
But even with the higher stakes of this game—the last of the year with a winning finish in the ACC—Hafley said he feels “no pressure, but excitement.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff