Sports, Column

Dietz: Responding to “Overreaction” and “Not an Overreaction” Takes on BC Football’s Remaining Season

As Boston College football is just past the midpoint of its 2023 season, here is a list of “overreaction” and “not an overreaction” claims about the rest of BC’s year.

Overreaction: BC is going to win out the football season and make the ACC Championship. 

BC hasn’t won out its final four games of the regular season since 2010, and it hasn’t manufactured more than seven wins in a season since 2009. I don’t see this becoming the squad that breaks that trend, even though the Eagles walked into 2023 with the country’s easiest overall schedule

What stands in front of BC is not necessarily tall and mighty, as it faces middle-of-the-road conference squads such as Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and Pittsburgh in its next three games, which are all winnable. But Miami in Week 12 is a different breed that will require an entirely healthy roster, a game plan that BC head coach Jeff Hafley can improvise on the fly, and an all-out defensive effort. 

The Eagles rank second to last in the ACC in interceptions and sacks, and I don’t see these lack of force turnovers squeaking by, considering it’s barely worked against some of the weakest offenses in the country. 

Confidence is thriving in Chestnut Hill. But even Boston College quarterback Thomas Castellanos’ magician-like qualities can’t fully redeem a roster that, with first-round wide receiver Zay Flowers, piled on just three measly wins last season. 

Overreaction: BC will have a 1,000-yard rusher this season. 

At a clip of 673 total rushing yards, Castellanos is definitely the favorite to become the first Eagle to surpass the 1,000 rushing yard–mark since Pat Garwo III tallied 1,045 yards in 2021 to become BC’s 24th 1,000-yard rusher of all time. 

Garwo earned Second Team All-ACC honors that season and did so on the back of accumulating 356 rushing yards in the Eagles’ final four games of the regular season—an average of 89 rushing yards per game as BC’s priority backfield option. Castellanos might be the most talented rusher on the team, but running backs Kye Robichaux and Alex Broome soak in much of the spotlight, too. The pair combined for 196 rushing yards this past week, while Castellanos managed just 45. 

Castellanos needs 327 more rushing yards to eclipse the 1,000 mark. That would entail averaging 81.75 rushing yards per game, not counting a potential bowl game. For the first eight games of the season, the sophomore signal caller averaged 84.13, which is a close difference. But Castellanos will have to face four conference foes to finish the season—not opponents like Northern Illinois, Holy Cross, Army, or UConn.

The Hurricanes, who the Eagles face in the final week of the regular season, currently rank eighth in rushing defense in the nation, while Pittsburgh ranks 47th, Syracuse ranks 78th, and Virginia Tech ranks 80th. The Hokies, however, only give up 150.6 total rushing yards per game. Putting this claim in the “overreaction” column is essentially a means for Castellanos to prove me wrong, but it seems more unlikely than likely. 

Overreaction: Castellanos will have Heisman odds this season.

What Castellanos has done on the Heights is unprecedented, and national recognition is already starting to filter in for the nation’s No. 1 transfer and the country’s top non–running back rusher. But, as a BC football player, Heisman odds work a bit differently in this regard. 

If you take a look at the players with the highest odds for the Heisman as it currently stands, per a plethora of college sports outlets, there isn’t a single player on the list who doesn’t come from a program that is ranked inside the AP Top 25 poll or from a program that was previously ranked this year. In other words, there typically has to be a glow-up stage prior to a standout year in order to be recognized from a school outside the Top 25. Castellanos is still working on his breakout season. 

Clemson running back Will Shipley might be the only anomaly on ESPN’s list at betting odds of +20000, while No. 5 Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. sits atop the top of the list at betting odds of +275 currently. Other than Shipley, the Top 25 label is a ticket into the Heisman position, and Castellanos doesn’t possess the special visitors pass just yet. 

The closest a BC quarterback came to winning the Heisman in the last decade was in 2021, when former quarterback Phil Jurkovec opened the year with 40/1 odds, according to betting sites. Some notable names below him were Anthony Richardson and Jordan Addison—both are current NFL starters. But Castellanos is still very young and in a learning stage of his development. His junior-year campaign could tell a different story. 

Overreaction: Jaedn Skeete will become a top-three wide receiver, in terms of receiving yards, on BC’s roster by the end of the season. 

With just a slick, one-handed grab, freshman wideout Jaedn Skeete put his name on the map. His DeVonta Smith–esque look made him noticeable against the Huskies’ secondary, as his skinny frame and long legs propelled him to his first catches of the year. 

His teammates weren’t surprised that Skeete’s catch and run for 34 yards caused offensive coordinator Steve Shimko to keep the Catholic Memorial product in for the rest of the game. Skete snagged four total receptions for 61 yards in the matchup, which ranked first on BC’s roster. 

While he’s silently making a name for himself among the rest of BC’s products, his overall production in the season is going to be limited due to these final four games, which make up the toughest stretch BC will have to endure all season. 

Teammates Lewis Bond at 437 receiving yards, Joseph Griffin Jr. at 261 receiving yards, Ryan O’Keefe at 235 receiving yards, Jaden Williams at 178 receiving yards, and Dino Tomlin at 168 receiving yards are already well in front of Skeete as well. He would have to string together a series of 100-yard receiving games for this to be possible, and that doesn’t seem realistic in Shimko’s run-heavy approach. In fact, no BC wide receiver will jump into the front seat of this offense anytime soon. 

Not an Overreaction: BC will make a bowl game this season.

BC is well on its way to making a bowl game this season, and it has four shots to capture this feat for the first time since 2021, when the Eagles were selected for the Military Bowl, which got canceled due to COVID-19.

Castellanos, Hafley, and co. don’t just have bowl season set on their horizons. They certainly want to finish with as many wins as possible and could produce as much as nine wins on the year which could potentially land them a place in the ACC Championship. “The Pathis ravaging on X as I write this. 

But, while the ACC Championship is probably out of reach, ESPN gives the Eagles a 75.9 percent chance of reaching the six-win mark and has BC’s final win–loss projection at 6.2–5.8. The Eagles aren’t a favorite in any of their final four games, but their next two games provide the closest margin for grabbing that final win necessary for bowl eligibility. 

Not an Overreaction: BC is going to finish first in the ACC in every rushing category, and will finish top-10 in the FBS in rushing yards per game.

If the season ended today, this claim would almost be true—the only thing the Eagles don’t lead the conference in is yards per attempt at 4.9. But there’s no reason for these stats not to remain a stronghold for BC as the rest of the season unfolds. 

Individually, North Carolina’s Omarion Hampton, a Heisman candidate, and No. 15 Louisville’s Jawhar Jordan rank higher in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game than any BC player. But Castellanos and Robichaux are right behind with 673 and 495, respectively, going back-to-back in the conference rushing leaders. Castellanos and Robichaux are the only pair of Power-5 teammates with multiple 100-yard, two-touchdown games each in addition. 

As an overall team, the Eagles have trounced the rest of their conference in rushing statistics, compiling the No. 1 rank for just about everything. BC leads in overall rushing attempts with 350, overall rushing yards with 1,725, rushing touchdowns with 17, and average yards per game with 215.6. The Eagles currently rank 10th in the nation in rushing yards per game and are the only team in their conference to average more than 200 yards on the ground every week. 

Not an Overreaction: BC will have another first-round draft pick this season—the program’s third in the last three years. 

On the back of these rushing statistics is the offensive line, which is led by no other than the top guard prospect in the ACC and the No. 3 guard prospect overall, according to—Christian Mahogany. 

Mahogany was locked on coming back to BC to reclaim some of his “awe” factor after an ACL tear in 2022, and he has done just about everything in his power to impress. Before the beginning of the 2023 season, I labeled him as BC’s most important player. BC ranked dead last in the FBS in rushing yards per game last season, and it had eight different starting offensive line combinations. Look at where it is now—and don’t just take a glance at Castellanos and Robichaux.

After every game, the skill players are quick to mention the offensive line’s dominance and how easy it is to run behind the core group. Mahogany is at the helm of this front, which has proven to cook up a storm for opposing D-lines and even crashes up linebackers and defensive backs in the secondary levels. 

November 3, 2023