by Richard Hefner
Pitt, coming off an upsetting (both spiritually & physically) loss to NC State is now 3-1, 2-1 in conference play. We will be leaving the cavernous confines of Heinz Field to play our next opponent, the Boston College Eagles. The Eagles 22 – 26 loss to UNC dropped BC to 2-1, 1-1 in conference play with wins over a horrid Duke team (0-4) & a snake bit Texas State team (1-3 with all 3 losses by a total of 13 points). Unlike Pitt’s 1’st 4 games, kickoff is scheduled for a 4:00pm kickoff. The Bad, it is still on the ACCN network.
Boston College is lead by 1’st year HC Jeff Hafley. He replaces Steve Addazio who in his 7 years had a truly mediocre overall 44-44 record & a dismal 22-34 (39.3%) record in conference play. Hafley joins a long list of past Pitt assistant coaches to be hired as a head coach. The last was Josh Conklin now at Wofford in the Southern Conference (SoCon). While the Southern Conference at one time or another had nearly every southern SEC or ACC team as a member, it is now better known for the yearly SoCon weekend where SEC teams play SoCon (& other cupcakes) teams the week before Thanksgiving. To Pitt fans it is better known as the past conference home of “Elon”University.
How was HCJH recruiting in his transitional year (2020) & the preceding 4 classes.
BTW – BC’s 2021 class is ranked #28 with 22 recruits, 1 4-star & a 2.95 avg. star rank.
At first, it looks like HCJH hit a home run with his small but greatly improved star ranking. A 3.00 average star ranking. Four of BC’s total of 9 where 2020 recruits in the “All” important % of recruits with a 5.7 or better Rivals rankings. But like Narduzzi’s 2015 transitional class, all the 5.7 or above committed to Addazio. Hats off to Hafley for keeping them in the fold. (Though it helps that two of the 4, (both OLmen) where from Massachusetts.).
The 95 recruits are the lowest number of any ACC team over that time frame.
No one that I am aware of opted out due to Covid.
BC did have some transfer activity. 9 players entered the portal. One of them decided to return to the fold. More on him later. The greatest loss was QB Anthony Brown. Brown started the 1’st 6 games of the 2019 campaign before injury cut his season short. He transferred to Oregon.
IMO, Hafley keep some of scholarships in his hip pocket for transfers. He ended up with 5, 3 of them were grad transfers. Below is BC’s transfer activity.
BC’s additions to their roster included 3 grad transfers for immediate help on defense. Luc Bequette was a 2019 3’rd team All PAC-12 selection. On offense, BC went with immediate & potential future firepower. Both are 2018 enrollees at their prior schools. BC picked up Ohio State RB Jaelan Gill. The other was noted local Pine-Richland H.S. alum
My Nephew, Neil Walker, Ben DiNucci, QB Phil Jurkovec.
Jurkovec replaces 24/7 unranked QB Dennis Grosel (which is funny itself in that according to Rivals commitment list, BC signed 7 QB’s (excluding Brown) from 2016 – 2019.)
So how has Jurkovec done? Here are his stats for this year:
Here is KP’s QB rating for comparison. Below the NCAA totals are the breakout between OOC & conference games to help out those who always say QB ratings are inflated by OOC games.
Who are the potential “Stars” for NC State based on returning All ACC , Athlon & PFF?
The importance of the above chart is that it shows BC’s strength & the players to watch. It is on offense, especially in the Oline – there are four. Five if you include the TE. Two are preseason All ACC (shown in bold). One is a walk-on. How do you judge a Oline? One is sacks allowed. BC is tied for #65 (of 74) allowing 11 or 3.67/game.
David Bailey, the RB, takes over for departed A.J. Dillon. Baileys numbers for 2020 are: 33 attempts, 112 yards 1TD, 3.4yds/att., 37.3 yds./game. Compare that to his 2019 totals: 148 attempts, 844 yards, 7 TD’s, 5.7yds./att., 64.9 yds/game. Remember, he was the “back-up” RB. Pitt would (you fill in the blank) to have a running back with those 2019 numbers. BC’s running stats so far this season is 88 for 211 yards, 3TD’s, 2.4yds./att., 70.4 yds/game. (That is only .5 yards/game more than Bailey averaged last year.
Koby White, the opt “back in” transfer, was expected to be BC’s top receiving threat. He is out for the season with an ACL injury.
So far this year, BC has attempted 117 passes. They have only run the ball (including sacks) 88 times. If my math is correct (and you can bet your sweet patootie it is) that is a pass/run % of 57.1 to 42.9. Pitt P/R % is 47.7 to 52.3. So which team is pass happy?
The top 3 BC receivers are in order TE (of course a TE) Hunter Long (25 for 270 yards & 1 TD 10.3 yds/rec), WR Zay Flowers (15-243, 1, 16.3 yds/rec), & RB Travis Levy 11-74, 0 TD, 6.73 yds/rec). These 3 players are responsible for 63.8% of all receptions. Let us hope that Pitt does not let the TE run free.
Pitt opens as a 4.5-point favorite. If my preseason projection of 8 wins is to be met, Pitt needs to win. I was not able to watch most of the game, but I did see the 1’st qtr. To me, it seems that the Pitt Dline spent a lot of time reading about the Pitt hype and believing it. It is my belief that the NC State game was a wake-up call for the defense. Kind of like the locals saying that last Saturdays against Virginia was the yearly wake-up call for Clemson.
Pitt wins this one 24 – 20 (As long as that pesky TE is not lost in coverage).