Sports, Football

Hafley Addresses Non-Conference Competition Ahead of Mizzou

Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz let it be known on Tuesday that playing Boston College football in Chestnut Hill is not his ideal matchup. Drinkwitz said he’d rather play a regional game that might provide a bit more rivalry, or that would put on a better show for recruits. 

“I don’t know the last time Missouri signed a kid from the great state of Massachusetts,” he said in a press conference

In one of BC head coach Jeff Hafley’s press conferences on Wednesday, though, he had the opposite sentiment. 

“If he really didn’t want to come to Boston, he should have called me up and asked me, and I would have gotten on a plane and flew out to Missouri to play,” Hafley said. “I don’t care where we play, I don’t. The football season for me is about getting our team games, getting better every day, and having a great time doing it with each other.”

After playing three non-conference matchups in the Northeast to open its season, two of which were on the road, BC will return to Alumni Stadium on Saturday for its first bout with an SEC opponent at home since 1987. 

“I don’t think about what conference we’re playing against,” Hafley said on Tuesday. “Missouri’s a good team, they’re really well-coached, they’re very talented. It doesn’t matter what conference they play in to us.”

All three of BC’s season-opening games have been against opponents from different conferences, but one thing that has stayed consistent in that time has been the Eagles’ success on special teams. 

Through three games, BC is averaging 61 return yards per kickoff. Granted, 67 of those total yards came from Travis Levy’s game-opening kickoff return against Temple, but BC has found success in its return men all season. Another 96 came on a Levy kickoff return against UMass. Punter Grant Carlson has also averaged 45.11 yards per punt across three games, and the Eagles are a perfect 2–for–2 from field goal range.

“I think it’s how hard and the mindset we coach them with,” Hafley said. “And [BC special teams] coach [Matt] Thurin pushes them. … He’s got these guys playing at a high level. We’re trying to be as aggressive as we can.”

Hafley said his eye is on Mizzou running back Tyler Badie ahead of the matchup. With 345 rush yards and three touchdowns on the ground, Badie is averaging 115 yards per game and leads the Tigers’ offense. He also leads the team in reception, averaging 47.33 receiving yards per game. 

“[Badie] is the best back we’ve played,” Hafley said. “He’s dynamic. And their O-line’s very good. A lot of experience, a lot of older guys, and [Badie]’s explosive.”

Hafley and his defensive-minded team will look to contain Badie in front of a home crowd for Parents’ Weekend. After playing in front of a high-energy crowd during Week One, Hafley said he has high expectations for the Week Four crowd. 

“To all the students: Come early. Tailgate early,” Hafley said. “If you don’t want to wake up early, then don’t go to bed. Just come out right from the night before and be loud, because we need you.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

September 22, 2021