Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec certainly has a history with Virginia Tech. Jurkovec made a triumphant return from injury last season against the Hokies in BC’s annual Red Bandanna Game, leading the Eagles to a victory in a packed Alumni Stadium that gave the team—and its fanbase—hope for the rest of the season.
But Saturday night’s 27–10 loss against the Hokies in Blacksburg, Va. had almost the exact opposite effect. Jurkovec played one of his most disappointing games as an Eagle—a game that featured a sold-out, 65,000-person crowd in Lane Stadium on ACC Network’s primetime night slot.
Here are three observations from the loss.
Passing Offense Looks Out of Sync
After recording a team-high 15 targets in BC’s Week One loss to Rutgers, wide receiver Zay Flowers had a mere five targets in Saturday’s game. A notable missed opportunity came in the second quarter when Jurkovec failed to see a wide open Flowers darting for the end zone. Even when Jurkovec did find Flowers, his throws were often far from perfect, including an underthrow in the third quarter that forced Flowers to slow down to make the catch after smoking his defender at the line of scrimmage.
Jurkovec committed a similar mistake when he overthrew Jaden Williams on a deep route, eventually resulting in a three-and-out. BC finished the game with nine three-and-outs, largely from a lack of cohesion from the offense as a whole.
A head-scratching interception against Jurkovec on the second play of the game set the tone for the night, as the Hokies only had to march 14 yards to take the lead. Tight end George Takacs, who had four targets Saturday compared to his 12 last week, faced the same fate as Flowers. Hafley’s plea to get receivers Jaelen Gill and Williams more involved didn’t go as planned, as the duo combined for only one more catch Saturday on just two more targets than the previous week.
The entire passing offense looked out of sync and unprepared, bringing into question how effective new offensive coordinator John McNulty’s game plan is. The Eagles only had five plays in the double digits, and the longest was a 49-yard pass catch from Flowers.
Rushing Attack is Nowhere to Be Found
Increased playing time for running back Alec Sinkfield was not enough to help the Eagles’ ground game get back to success after a tough showing against Rutgers. The rushing attack instead took a step back, totaling four net yards. The longest play on the ground was a 14-yard run from Jurkovec. Pat Garwo III rushed 10 times for 15 yards, and Sinkfield netted four yards. The Eagles averaged 0.2 yards per rush Saturday while losing 57 yards on the ground, 37 of which came from sacks.
Much of the ineffectiveness of the run game can be traced back to BC’s offensive line. BC announced before the game that the Eagles would be without starting left tackle Ozzy Trapilo due to injury in a surprise scratch—a major blow to BC’s already thin and inexperienced O-line. Jack Conley replaced Trapilo, but overall, BC’s O-line failed to improve after Week One’s blunder.
BC’s running backs had very little room to run and hardly any gaps to take throughout the game. A stagnant run game puts pressure on the passing offense, which was already struggling, to step up. Jurkovec couldn’t carry the offense, as he faced constant pressure and was sacked five times. The result was 155 total yards of total offense with an O-line that looked as if it was handing out life jackets on the Titanic, doing everything it could to prevent the team from drowning with it.
Defense Held Tough, But It’s Not Enough
While it was far from perfect, the Eagles’ defense provided plenty of opportunities for the offense to get back in the game. BC forced the Hokies to punt seven times, but the offense only garnered 10 points all night. Missed opportunities were a theme, including when Kam Arnold and Jaiden Woodbey stopped the Hokies on a fourth-and-1 try. But what followed was a quick three-and-out from the Eagles that saw Jurkovec get sacked once and throw two incompletions.
It wasn’t all good defensively, though. BC only registered two sacks all night, unable to get in Hokies quarterback Grant Wells’ face. One particular mishap came when BC’s Chibueze Onwuka and Bryce Steele missed a tackle on a third-and-6 when the pocket collapsed. Wells escaped, running for 12 yards and a first down, and Virginia Tech went on to hit a 49-yard field goal.
The low point was a 65-yard touchdown run from Hokies running back Keshawn King after he maneuvered around BC’s defense practically untouched.