Boston College football: What a win vs. Duke means for Eagles

On Saturday, Sept. 19, Boston College football pulled ahead in its season opener against Duke to beat the Blue Devils 26-6. After getting over my vastly incorrect prediction of a close game until the end, I decided to analyze this matchup because it can be really telling for the rest of the season. This fall is already set up to be a different one for the Eagles, as they are adjusting to a new coach and new guidelines amidst a global pandemic. I figured we could give them some leeway to adjust to this new type of football season, but they have come out of the gate hot. Let’s look at the best takeaways from this game and see how they may impact the rest of the season.

The First Half

In just 10 plays, the Eagles went 81 yards and scored a touchdown with the extra point, giving them a 7-0 lead off the bat. Rather than continuing to grow this lead, they allowed things to get interesting when Duke made it a close 7-6.

Had BC continued to plow through the game and shut Duke out right off the bat, I do not think I would be as impressed, and I would chalk it up to a difference in skill level between the teams. What is really impressive is after a scare for the entire first half as its play became sloppy, it pulled it together and turn it around completely.

The Second Half

Establishing itself as a potential second-half team for the season, Boston College changed the course of the game when it came back out for the bottom part of the game. Hafley changed the game plan, throwing Duke for a loop, and began throwing the ball more. This proved to be effective, as the Eagles went on to raise their side of the score to 26.

The biggest change in Boston College football’s strategy this season seems to be the turn around in defensive play. After that first half, Duke did not have the opportunity to expand on its six points. Last year, the Eagles struggled on this end, but the addition of defensive transfers Luc Bequette and Deon Jones proved to be an essential part of the program that previous head coach Steve Addazio did not seem to be too concerned about. Hiring Hafley, a defense-obsessed head coach, is exactly what BC needs to compliment its strong offense. In the fourth quarter, Duke only had possession once, which was swiftly ended by an interception.

What this means

If BC keeps this defensive high up for the remainder of the season, the rest of the ACC should start to worry. Rather than simply shooting for a .500 season, BC could contend for a conference title. This cannot just be an opening day spark, this is a combination of strong defense and aggressive offense, and it better continue to show for the rest of the season.