Sports, Football, Column

Healy: BC Football Should Accept the Things It Cannot Change and Focus on the Things It Still Can

With a Louisville defender draped over him, quarterback Phil Jurkovec was about to hit the turf for a short loss of yards. Instead, he opted to throw a backward pass, but he missed Pat Garwo III wide, and Louisville jumped on it as the ball rolled back toward Boston College’s end zone—31 yards back, to be exact. 

Jurkovec held his head in his hands as he knelt outside the hash marks—a familiar position for the fifth-year signal caller. He’s been sacked 17 times this season, but he still hasn’t gotten used to operating behind a struggling offensive line. He looked like he was praying, but for what was unclear. A second chance at that play? Fewer injuries to his offensive line? 

Turns out, he was reciting the serenity prayer. For non-Catholics, it goes as follows:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Jurkovec told the media in the postgame press conference he “made a horrible play” on that backward lateral and that he regularly repeats the serenity prayer to keep his mind focused. Jurkovec picked it up from a former teammate at Notre Dame and said he’s continued to recite it at BC.

It’s a pretty apt metaphor for BC football’s 2022 season. 

BC can’t change the fact that it graduated four NFL-caliber offensive linemen, nor that four more offensive linemen have gotten hurt already this season. BC can’t change the fact that it allowed Rutgers to drive 96 yards to the house in the fourth quarter of its season opener, and it can’t change the fact that that drive resulted in a disappointing, one-point loss. 

But BC can change how this season ends up—and it has history to prove that’s possible. After starting last season 4–0, things took a turn for the worse, and BC went 0–4 over its next four games. The Eagles split the last four games of their season, finishing 6–6, a familiar spot for the team.

“It’s hard to put that into words right now—feels like almost three different seasons that we played,” head coach Jeff Hafley said after losing last year’s regular season finale to Wake Forest.

Who’s to say BC can’t do that again, but in reverse? A win over Louisville is a step in the right direction. It’s not the solution to all of BC’s problems, but it could indicate progress.

What spells good news for the Eagles after a narrow win over Louisville on Saturday is that flashes of what went right for the Eagles last season—and what has been missing for BC this season—made a return. 

BC’s defense was electric. Though the Eagles gave up 33 points—the second-most they have this season—BC’s defense held when it needed to. After Jurkovec threw a first-quarter pick, his defense forced a three-and-out. BC’s offense scored on its next drive, and the defense forced a second consecutive punt.

The difference between Saturday’s defense and BC’s defense throughout the rest of the season was that BC was playing with its “hair on fire,” Hafley said. That renewed energy resulted in 13 penalties, but it was a far cry from the seemingly apathetic defense that appeared in BC’s 44–14 loss to Florida State one week prior.

Saturday’s game also marked the return of explosive plays on offense. Deep-ball connections between Jurkovec and receiver Zay Flowers became BC’s hallmark last season, but they’ve been difficult to find on film this year. 

Until Saturday, that is. 

BC’s offense looked reborn. Jurkovec suddenly had more time in the pocket—though he still got sacked three times—which allowed him to take those deep shots that he hasn’t had much opportunity to this year. 

He hit Flowers with a season-long 57-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and he topped his season-long pass again in the third quarter, hitting Flowers for a 69-yard touchdown. 

The Eagles’ offense ended the game with 13 plays of 10 yards or more. BC finished with 320 passing yards and a season-high 150 rushing yards.

It couldn’t have looked more different than the offense that took the field against Virginia Tech that recorded four total rushing yards and 151 passing yards three weeks prior. 

Again, one win over Louisville doesn’t mean BC is out of the woods. The Eagles are still 2–3 with one win in the ACC, after all. 

“We can’t get too high on our highs or too low on our lows,” cornerback Elijah Jones said. 

But, at the very least, it’s a step in the right direction.

“Was it perfect? Probably not,” Hafley said. “But they’re getting better.”

October 2, 2022
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