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Three Takeaways From Saturday's Loss to Virginia Tech

Boston College suffered a 40-14 blowout loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday night in Blacksburg. The Eagles are now 3-2 on the season, with a 2-2 conference record. 

It's impossible not to overreact over a margin of loss like this one, but it is important to remember this Virginia Tech team is currently ranked number 19 in the country. Below are three main takeaways from the game, things that BC needs to think about if they want to remain competitive in this transitional year.

1. Turnovers Kill 

Boston College entered Saturday’s contest against Virginia Tech with three total turnovers in their first four games of the season. Ball security was not in Blacksburg on Saturday night, as the Eagles suffered three turnovers halfway through the second quarter, and ended with a total of five on the night. What was most disappointing was how the game started, as Phil Jurkovec had the offense rolling on the first two drives of the game. The first possession was abruptly ended on a fumble by Pat Garwo, while the next BC possession was ended by a Jurkovec fumble at the VT 15. Both of these drives showed a combination of poise and accuracy from Jurkovec, as well as solid rushing from David Bailey and Travis Levy, but were cut short from lackluster ball handling by the Eagles offense. This set the tone for the evening, as the VT defense became accustomed to BC’s offense and took control of the rest of the game. 

2. Translating Production to Points 

Virginia Tech boasts one of the best rushing offenses in the country, and the Boston College rush defense has certainly been of concern over recent years. VT took advantage of the weaker BC rush defense and posted 350 yards on the ground along with four rushing touchdowns, a season high for both yards and touchdowns. VT was able to do what they do well, and punished BC for not adjusting their game plan accordingly. It is difficult for any team to win a game while giving up 350 yards of rushing and four touchdowns. However, VT has a notoriously weaker pass defense, and with the arrival of Phil Jurkovec as our new QB, the BC offense drastically transitioned from being the nation’s top rush offense last year with AJ Dillion to more of an aerial threat with the arm of Jurkovec this year. BC posted 345 passing yards on Saturday night which is the most that VT has allowed this season. Disappointingly, the Eagles were only able to cash in on two touchdowns, exposing the issue of converting offensive production to points on the scoreboard. In a competitive league that has boasted a number of high-scoring shootouts so far this season, it is imperative that this BC offense is able to put up points to stay in contention with the best the ACC has to offer. 

3. Identity

This game against Virginia Tech reminded us all that this is still a transitional year with Hafley at the helm for the first time. BC was 3-1 heading into the game, with the one loss coming against a top-10 ranked UNC squad in a game that felt like the Eagles could have stolen a win. That game alone had left many BC fans, including myself, feeling confident about the team and Hafley early on in the season. At the same time, BC needed a last second field goal to beat a much inferior Texas State team, and, besides the first game of the season against Duke, they have yet to hold their opponent to less than 20 points in a game. In an offense-dominant league such as the ACC, having a weak defense will only cause problems on the field. That is exactly what happened against Virginia Tech. The Eagles endured an inconsistent evening on offense with promising plays here and there, but were plagued by turnovers or missed receptions on too many occasions. While the defense this year has had major improvements from last season (especially with a defensive-minded head coach like Hafley), BC is still on the smaller side and are not up to the physical size or speed of some offensive players in the ACC. They failed to contain the VT QB in the run or pass game, and too many times were a tackle or 3rd-down stop away from getting the BC defense off the field and the ball back in the hands of Phil Jurkevoc and this promising offensive core. 

This team is still trying to find its identity under new leadership. We all knew it was going to take more than the first few games to find our way—it might even take the entire season for that to happen. All we can say right now is that Hafley has this team and this program heading in the right direction.

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