Sports, Football, Athletics

Reinforcements, QB1, and Moving On: A Recap of BC’s Eight and Ninth Practices

Another week, another Boston College football update. This week, the Eagles participated in practices eight and nine, fresh off of their first scrimmage that took place on March 25.  

“I think we’re trending in the right direction right now,” BC head coach Jeff Hafley said. “Guys are working hard, coming together as a team. I like where we’re at.”

Hafley said that the Eagles have been focusing on refining their run game with their collection of different backs behind an almost healthy offensive line.

“We ran the ball really well,” Hafley said. “Offensive line looked really good. It was really encouraging walking out of here on Saturday. And the backs look good—multiple guys. But, you can tell the offense wanted to focus on running the ball. We threw it pretty well, but we didn’t throw as much, we came out and ran the ball well.”

The Eagles are progressively moving forward. On Tuesday they practiced red-zone situations and on Thursday they practiced low red-zone situations. Fresh off Pro Day last Friday, there’s a lot to catch up on regarding BC. Here are three takeaways from the week.

Out With The Old and In With the New

Offensive linemen Finn Dirstine entered the transfer portal on Monday after spending five seasons in Chestnut Hill. The Acton, Mass. native missed seven games of the 2022 season with an injured shoulder.

“Not a surprise at all,” Halfey said on Dirstine transferring. “Finn was done here playing. We had great conversations. You know, we mutually—it was time. I hope he finds a place. Finn’s a great kid. Hope he can stay healthy and play. Great person, tough. And I’ll do my best to help him find a spot to play.”

Newcomer Kyle Hergel has seen his workload increase on the line with Christian Mahogany, who worked into some drills on Tuesday, still not doing full team-work yet. Hergel has been taking occasional snaps at center, away from his usual spot at guard.

“We’re moving guys around,” Hafley said. “And I mean, he’s a guy that has the ability to play center and guard so I think it’s good for his own future. He’s definitely right in the thick of the guard spot. But you got to have a backup center. And for Kyle’s own sake, looking in his future, you gotta have some versatility.”

Hergel also emphasized how important running the ball this year will be, especially after BC’s struggles in the run game last year.

“I think the more we play with each other, the better it’s gonna get,” Hergel said. “Being able to get reps with each other and it just looks better every time you work with each other.

The fit is a perfect one on the Heights, according to Hergel, who praised Hafley and noted that the fourth-year head coach was a major reason why he decided to transfer to BC. 

“It’s a pleasure to learn from him everyday,” Hergel said. 

QB1 Gaining Respect 

Presumed starting quarterback Emmett Morehead has been receiving praise from teammates and coaches for his leadership and ability throughout the spring season, and those sentiments continued this past week, highlighted by Morehead throwing to Zay Flowers on BC’s Pro Day on April 24. 

“Zay asked Emmett to throw to him,” Hafley said. “He’s got a comfort level with him. And that was really nice of Emmett to do. Because he threw a lot in practice and then he had practice the next day, and he warmed up and he threw it and he did a really good job.”

With Morehead going into a full season taking on the starting position for the first time in his collegiate career, getting in front of all 32 teams proved to me a valuable experience—especially so considering Morehead’s stellar performance.  

“Definitely will help him,” Hafley said. “You know, not only for people to get eyes on him, but just to go through that.”

Morehead’s leadership, however, is not limited to the offense. Countless members of the Eagles’ defense have applauded Morehead, including junior linebacker Bryce Steele.

“I always knew he had the potential,” Steele said. “He has a really, really, really strong arm. He’s learning how to, you know, maneuver through defenses and everything. So, you know, we’re just out here trying to make each other better.” 

BC offensive coordinator Steve Shimko offered an anecdote from quarterback Jacobe Robinson’s thoughts on Morehead.

“He said to me, ‘I learned a lot from him by just the way he approaches everything and he’s the first one in the last one to leave. He asks me more questions than anyone on the offense because he’s striving for perfection,’” Shimko said.

Forgetting About Last Season 

Shimko spoke with the media for the first time on Tuesday, outlining his and associate head coach Rob Chudzinski’s—a former NFL head coach for the Cleveland Browns—roles on the team. 

“I am coaching the quarterback, so I kind of have a good feel, good sense for what they are looking for and what they want and how they like to hear things and say things and the plays they like,” Shimko said. “And then coach Chudzinski has all the experience in the world. I mean, I’m the luckiest coordinator in the country.”

Shimko emphasized how it’s a full team effort in regards to the offense, not just his or Chudzinski’s. He also said that in order to fix BC’s run game, he has been implementing different formations and variations of personnel, and the players have responded well to the new scheme.

“The amount of volume that they’re able to handle right now, it’s really, really remarkable, especially the fact that it’s completely new terminology and a new system,” Shimko said.

When asked about improvements to BC’s run game, Shimko said he is confident in their ability to improve that aspect of the Eagles’ offense, but echoed that nobody wants to talk about last season’s struggles.

“There was a lot of different reasons why the run game struggled last year,” Shimko said. “We’re not going to talk about last year, we just want to focus on this coming year.”

Steele also sees this new season as a new opportunity, as he senses a completely different vibe from top to bottom compared to last year.

“Most definitely a new mindset,” Steele said. “It’s just us forgetting about last season and moving on. It’s a start to a new season. So that’s where we really got to hone in and focus on.”

April 2, 2023