Sports, Football

With Consequences of UMass Game in the Rearview, Hafley Focuses on Temple

Though Boston College football loaded a bus home from UMass brandishing an unblemished record and what seemed to be the long-awaited resurgence of the run game, the road home wasn’t without its bumps. 

On the first series of the game, starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec made an early exit, citing an injured wrist, which required surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital on Monday. The Eagles also saw the return of fundamental mistakes that had been absent in BC’s season opener. Penalties, turnovers, and missed tackles may not have cost them the game, but the Eagles took a step back. 

Still, there is more football to be played, and BC head coach Jeff Hafley appears to have no intention to dwell on the past. That is, unless the past includes film that will help his team prepare to take on Temple on the road on Saturday. 

“You kind of watch all of it,” Hafley said of studying film. “You watch the first two [games], you go back and watch last year … and then you watch these first couple games and you really study not just the scheme, but the personnel who’s there right now.”

Just two games into the season, there isn’t much film to watch. Add in the fact that due to COVID-19 protocols, opt-outs from players, transfer rules, suspensions, and injury, the Owls lost 215 man games, which averages out to about 30 missing personnel per game. Temple’s roster will look largely different on this year’s film compared to last year.

But from that film, Hafley took note of dynamic wide receiver Randle Jones, who caught seven passes for a staggering 170 yards and two touchdowns against Akron. Temple receiver Jadan Blue (five receptions, 12 yards) also stuck out to Hafley.

“We’ve got to know where those two are at all times,” Hafley said. 

Tasked with that daunting job will be Deon Jones, who has yet to take a snap for the Eagles this season but who started six games last year and finished with the fourth-most tackles on the Eagles’ roster (42). 

“With Deon today, you can kind of feel it out there getting guys lined up,” Hafley said. “It’s that veteran presence who’s played in our system, so I’m hoping we’ll get to use Deon quite a bit in this game.”

Also returning to practice this week is receiver Jaelen Gill. After transferring from Ohio State prior to the 2020 season, Gill started seven games and racked up 29 receptions for 435 yards and a touchdown. 

A foot injury sidelined Gill for the first two games of the season, but according to Hafley, he has made progress. 

“The good news, which fires me up, was Jalen was running today, so everybody can be pretty excited,” Hafley said. “Jaelen Gill was running for the first time, he’s got a big smile on his face, so I’m hopeful we’ll see him very soon.”

Though Wednesdays are usually a pass game–heavy practice for the Eagles, Hafley said he spent the majority of the day with the defense. But as practice waned, he briefly turned his attention to the offense, just in time to watch backup-turned-starting quarterback Dennis Grosel sling an 80-yard touchdown pass. 

Even with Jurkovec out likely for the remainder of the season, BC’s pass game is still rolling. And with the current single-game passing yardage record holder in the backfield, why shouldn’t it?

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

September 16, 2021
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