Sports, Football

Notebook: Jurkovec Flashes, Eagles Grind Down Virginia Tech

With quarterback Phil Jurkovec making a surprise start, the atmosphere of the Red Bandanna Game, and a porous Virginia Tech defense, Boston College football’s clash with the Hokies had all the makings for a high-flying, redemption performance for the Eagles. But when the Eagles took the field, it was anything but high flying. BC notched a solid, much-needed win, but instead of the pass-happy offense that Jurkovec had frequented in his first game this season, BC ground the Hokies into the earth with three yards and a cloud of dust. Here are three takeaways from the 17–3 victory, BC’s first this season in ACC play:

Duct Tape

The Eagles have struggled to protect the quarterback over the last couple weeks with Tyler Vrabel battling injuries and Jack Conley struggling in his stead. The Eagles had given up 15 sacks in ACC play prior to facing Virginia Tech. BC tried a new offensive line combination by moving Zion Johnson to left tackle and slotting in freshman Ozzy Trapilo at left guard. The change paid dividends, as BC did not give up a sack and Jurkovec was largely kept clean in the backfield. With the pass blocking stabilized and the run game churning along, BC may have finally found a feasible option to hold the line together through Vrabel’s recovery time and allow the group to reach its considerable potential. 

The defense has also continued to perform well despite mounting injuries. Brandon Sebastian and Isaiah Graham-Mobley—two of BC’s best players on that side of the ball—were both out after missing the Syracuse game as well. With Jason Maitre and Jahmin Muse out for the season, the Eagles are missing much of their normal talent on the back end, particularly in the secondary, but BC entirely stifled the Hokies’ passing attack. In his first substantial action as a college quarterback, taking over for an injured Braxton Burmeister, Knox Kadum threw just 73 yards on 7-of-16 passing.

A Flair for the Dramatic

Jurkovec was far from his best on Friday. His timing was uneven, his arm strength looked off, and the coaching staff justly compensated with a run-dominated game plan. Still, he did not need many dropback opportunities to show BC fans flashes of the big play potential that has been a constant facet of his Heights tenure. 

After Dennis Grosel alternated between underthrowing and overthrowing a wide-open Zay Flowers for six weeks in Jurkovec’s absence, Jurkovec uncorked a perfect deep ball to Flowers on BC’s opening drive of the second half.

The impressive throw through contact was a welcome sign for a BC’s offense that has lacked any long play ability, as well as for Jurkovec himself given his poor touch on a pair of deep ball attempts earlier in the game. One went for a pick, which Jaelen Gill knocked loose for a fumble, and Jurkovec dove on it.

Even for a quarterback whose knack for the spectacular has become commonplace, the effort to follow his interception and dive on the fumble was a new level for Jurkovec. After making impressive plays both on defense and through the air, Jurkovec showed off his legs as well, spinning his way through nearly the entire Hokies’ lineup to pick up a key first down in the fourth quarter.

Keeping it Conservative

BC’s game plan was a dream scenario for any old-school football fan. Even former BC head coach Steve Addazio might have looked at BC’s run-pass splits and said that they could have mixed in a couple runs. With a weak Virginia Tech rush defense and Jurkovec coming back from injury, the Eagles opted to put the entire game on the legs of Pat Garwo III. His final statline doesn’t jump off the page—he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry on his 30 attempts, though he racked up 116 yards—but the consistent small gains were enough for BC to move the chains and control the game. BC’s two first-half scoring drives ran over 15 minutes off the clock between them as the Eagles dragged the game into a slugfest.

Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff

November 6, 2021

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