What UVA Football fans need to know about Boston College

boston collegeVegas has installed Virginia as around a touchdown favorite over Boston College heading into this weekend’s pivotal ACC matchup, but, I dunno, I’m not sure I’m seeing it – not a touchdown difference, anyway.

BC (6-4, 5-4 ACC) doesn’t have any really bad losses on its schedule – well, maybe now, in retrospect, the 40-14 beatdown at Virginia Tech on Oct. 17 isn’t looking all that good, considering how the Hokies are free-falling right now.

The narrow 16-13 win over one-win Syracuse last month was almost ugly – actually, even in victory, that’s borderline unacceptable, though, still a win.

You might remember that the Eagles gave #3 Clemson fits, which is to say, led the Tigers in Death Valley in the fourth quarter in a 34-28 loss, which gets your attention even factoring in that Trevor Lawrence didn’t play in that one.

There’s a lot to like about this Boston College team, which is in yet another rebuild under first-year coach Jeff Hafley, who you have to say is doing a good job in Year 1, building around Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec.

Jurkovec (Pro Football Focus grade: 72.0) has thrown for 2,558 yards and 17 TDs, with a 61.1 percent completion rate and 138.7 passer rating.

Jurkovec suffered a shoulder separation in the Clemson game, then was knocked out of last week’s win over Louisville with a left knee injury, but Hafley said today that he expects his QB to be available for Saturday.

He has some weapons in the passing game to go to through the air. Speedster Zay Flowers, a 5’11” sophomore (PFF grade: 68.9), has 48 catches, 712 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, though drops (7) have been an issue.

Big (6’5”, 253-pound) tight end Hunter Long, a redshirt junior (PFF grade: 84.2) has just three drops on 77 targets, and has hauled in a team-high 49 passes for 576 yards and four TDs.

Also watch out for 6’3” redshirt junior CJ Lewis (PFF grade: 66.9), who has 25 catches on 40 targets, with one drop, with five TDs, and averages 16.2 yards per catch.

The run game features bruising 6’0”, 236-pound junior David Bailey (PFF grade: 78.1), who has run for 503 yards and seven TDs, though he’s not exactly going to dazzle you (11 of his 127 runs have been for 10+ yards).

Jurkovec is the guy you need to look for in terms of big runs – 22 of his 58 runs (not including sacks) have been scrambles, and he averages 5.9 yards per rushing play (again, not including sacks), and 14 of his runs have gone for 10+.

Something stands out when you look at offensive line snaps – BC has had six guys take snaps on the line this season, and one of them, redshirt sophomore Finn Dirstine, has been in for a grand total of nine, presumably in goal line.

It’s nothing short of remarkable that the other five guys – tackles Zion Johnson (PFF grade: 76.1) and Tyler Vrabel (PFF grade: 75.8), center Alec Lindstrom (PFF grade: 64.9) and guards Christian Mahogany (PFF grade: 66.8) and Ben Petrula (PFF grade: 62.3) – each have over 700 snaps this season.

The defense is solid, ranking sixth in the ACC in yards allowed (403.6 per game) and fifth in scoring (26.9 points per game).

The pass rush generates 16.3 pressures per game, with defensive ends Shitta Sillah (PFF grade: 58.8) and Max Roberts (PFF grade: 68.5) and linebacker Max Richardson (PFF grade: 60.0) leading the way with four sacks each.

Redshirt junior defensive end Marcus Valdez (PFF grade: 79.5) has just two sacks, but he leads the unit with 31 pressures.

The secondary is anchored by sophomore cornerback Josh DeBerry (PFF grade: 79.9), who has allowed 24 completions in 43 targets in 312 coverage snaps this season, for 261 yards and a TD, with one INT, four pass breakups and a 71.9 NFL passer rating in throws going his way.

Looking at special teams, the placekicker, grad student Aaron Boumehri, is good (PFF grade: 79.8), having converted all 27 of his extra-point tries, and 15 of his 19 field-goal attempts, with two of his misses coming from 50+.

Story by Chris Graham


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