Sports, Football, Fall

Notebook: Jurkovec’s Shortfalls Plague Eagles in 44–14 Loss at Florida State

When it comes to evaluating quarterback Phil Jurkovec, his struggles haven’t all been a result of poor offensive line play through four games. Across Boston College football’s three losses on the season—including two conference losses—Jurkovec has thrown a combined five touchdowns and five interceptions on 53-of-92 passing, good for a 57.6 completion percentage.

While head coach Jeff Hafley expressed his commitment to stick with the signal caller who returned onto the Heights for a third year, Saturday night’s loss to Florida State was an all-out disaster—though it wasn’t all Jurkovec and the offense’s fault. The Seminoles went on a fiery tirade in the first half, scoring 31 unanswered points, and defeated the Eagles 44–14.  

Here are three observations from the loss. 

Jurkovec Displays Shaky Decision Making

Following an interception on BC’s first offensive drive of the game, Jurkovec hung his head as he trotted back to his sideline and motioned for his top target, Zay Flowers, to have a chat. Jurkovec had made an errant throw on a poor decision and hadn’t committed to his receiver’s route, even though Flowers had beaten Florida State’s defensive back Omarion Cooper in the flat. 

Flowers stuck his release off the line of scrimmage and made a cut to an open spot on the field. But when Flowers planted his foot off the cut, the ball was already sailing two yards behind him—a classic read for defensive backs in zone coverage. Cooper made a good play on the football. On the third-and-6 play, Jurkovec had a clean pocket, his primary read was open, and time was in his hands. He made a mistake. 

Later in the game, Jurkovec was under pressure on another third-and-long play, and another inaccurate throw filtered into the hands of the other team. This time, Florida State’s Greedy Vance came up with the pick. The pass was seemingly intended for Flowers, but Jaelen Gill was also running up the seam. 

Florida State went with an all-out blitz, dropping a single linebacker in coverage, and Jurkovec knew he was going to get hit. Instead of ducking for safety, he threw a wobbler on his back foot, and Florida State took it away with ease.

Special Teams Were Less Than Special 

As Seminole fans bellowed their “war chant,” and kick returner Trey Benson received the opening kickoff in the center of the field on the 7-yard line, the beatdown was about to begin. Florida State’s kick return squad was teeming with aggressive blocks as Benson took the first sign of game action to the house. He crossed over the 20-yard line, found a seam at the 40, and broke into the open field. 

In his postgame press conference, Hafley discussed his defenders’ poor tackling, especially on special teams. Lewis Bond, the last man standing in Benson’s way, exhibited Hafley’s concerns brilliantly. As Benson neared the goaline, Bond reached out an arm, but Benson stiff-armed him and threw him off the tackle, never giving BC’s defense a chance. The 79,560 fans in attendance went into an uproar that shut down all hopes of an Eagles’ comeback right from the start of the game. 

Things on special teams didn’t get much better for BC. Though Danny Longman has plenty of on-field experience—considering how much BC has punted this year—and proven he can consistently punt 40-plus yards down the field, the containment of Seminole punt and kick returners was dreadful all night long. BC ranks 129th in the FBS in kickoff return defense and 58th in punt return defense. 

Backups Don’t Back Down

If there’s anything that went right for BC in Tallahassee, it was Hafley’s decision to let a handful of bench players see live-action stints, especially quarterback Emmett Morehead. 

Morehead, a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman, is a promising up-and-comer for the Eagles. Morehead completed his first pass on a 7-yard connection with wide receiver Dino Tomlin early in the fourth quarter. He finished his brief appearance with 35 yards and a touchdown on 50 percent completion. Morehead threw the first touchdown pass of his career to Joseph Griffin Jr. with just under one minute to play. 

Redshirt freshman Xavier Coleman registered the most individual rushing yards for BC with 44, and back-up tight end Spencer Witter caught Jurkovec’s longest throw of the night for 22 yards. True freshman Alex Broome saw action, too, grabbing Jurkovec’s sole touchdown pass of the night. 

September 25, 2022