In the inimitable words of Aubrey Graham (better known as Drake), if you’re reading this, it’s too late. A once-promising season, one where BC finally looked like a legitimate contender in the ACC, seems so far gone now. After exiting Saturday’s contest against UMass early due to a wrist injury, Boston College’s quarterback Phil Jurkovec is doubtful to play again this season, per Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Jurkovec posted an Instagram story on Monday afternoon displaying his right forearm in a soft cast at Newton Wellesley Hospital.
Obviously, losing Jurkovec puts a major damper on BC fans’ expectations for the season. Many expected him to lead BC’s charge toward finally getting more than seven wins and possibly even challenge Clemson for the Atlantic division crown. Now, Dennis Grosel will take the reins once again. Grosel has plenty of experience in these types of situations, as he relieved BC’s starting quarterbacks in consecutive seasons due to injury. He even indicated as much in the post-game presser, stating that he’s arguably more comfortable coming off the bench.
Now, dear BC fan, I know what you’re thinking: here we go, another 6-6 or 7-5 season; we’re never gonna breakthrough. But listen: you’re gonna thank me later once you finish reading this. This season is not over. Now, can BC challenge Clemson? No, and they probably weren’t going to even if Jurkovec was 100% healthy. But can the Eagles get to eight or maybe even nine wins? I still think it’s within reach. I’ll explain why this season isn’t lost and how it could even help BC in future seasons.
Dennis Grosel Can Keep This Offense Afloat
BC fans obviously know that Dennis Grosel is a serviceable backup. He got the Eagles to a bowl game in 2019 (with the help of AJ Dillon and David Bailey). In 2020, he made a huge clutch conversion against Clemson to keep BC in that game. He also set a new single-game passing yards record in the season finale against Virginia. Now, he also threw three interceptions in that game. But Jason Baum, BC’s Senior Associate AD for Communications, tweeted an illustration of how much better Grosel has played under the new administration.
Grosel obviously lacks the physical talent that makes Phil Jurkovec one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the conference. But he’s an extremely smart player who you know will take care of the football. During the broadcast of the Colgate game, Mark Herzlich said that offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. believes that Grosel knows the offense better than anyone, even himself. He might not be able to sling the ball all over the field like Jurkovec. But Grosel will execute the offensive very efficiently and keep BC in games.
Outside of the scheme, Grosel is also surrounded by tons of talent on offense. He has one of the most experienced and talented offensive lines in the conference and maybe even the country. He’s also surrounded by a bevy of explosive and reliable pass-catchers. The run game finally got going this week but has room to grow. In short, Grosel won’t need to elevate his teammates; they’ll be able to help him look better. Finally, Grosel is extremely confident in himself; his teammates love and respect him. So in big-game, clutch situations, he won’t let them blink.
The ACC is Wide Open (Or Just Bad)
Outside of Clemson, the ACC does not get much respect from the national media. In my opinion, this is more than fair. Clemson has run the Atlantic division for half a decade while the Coastal division is ruled only by anarchy. Historic powerhouses Miami and Florida State have been inconsistent at best, terrible at worst. Many expected North Carolina to challenge for the Coastal division, and they still could. But they’re not the CFP contender people may have thought they were.
The middle of both divisions is a warzone. BC, NC State, Wake Forest, Pitt, and Virginia Tech rise and fall like the tides, cannibalizing each other every year. On the Atlantic side, many expected BC to battle NC State for the second-place spot behind Clemson. Obviously, this prediction most likely hinged on BC’s offense competing at full strength. But BC’s toss-up games are still just that. NC State lost to a mediocre Mississippi State team, Wake Forest has yet to play a legitimate opponent, and Virginia Tech still has questions. Now, BC also has major questions and won’t play a real opponent until next weekend.
Let’s assume BC wins this weekend against Temple, then loses to Missouri and Clemson. Looking at the rest of the schedule, Louisville, Syracuse, and Florida State look like comfortable wins. We’ll throw Georgia Tech in there, too, as they don’t look like the sleeper team many thought they could be. That puts BC at 7-2 already, leaving NC State, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. BC only needs to win one of those games to make it to eight wins. To make things easier, all three of those games are at home. There’s no reason to think BC can’t win at least one of those matchups.
2022 Could Be “THE” Year
Let’s say Boston College does the bare minimum and goes 8-4 and maybe loses their bowl game, finishing at 8-5. Dennis Grosel finally graduates, along with Zion Johnson, Alec Lindstrom, Ben Petrula, and Trae Barry. The defense loses some experienced players as well in Marcus Valdez, Brandon Barlow, TJ Rayam, Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Brandon Sebastian, Jahmin Muse, and Mike Palmer. But it seems like Hafley is trying to get a lot of young guys on defense plenty of playing experience so they’ll be ready to take over in the future.
On offense, the Eagles will still bring back plenty of talent for Jurkovec’s return. Zay Flowers could come back if he wants a full season with Jurk throwing him deep bombs. The rest of the receiver room is extremely deep, even with CJ Lewis and Kobay White finally graduating. Jaden Williams, Jaelen Gill, Ethon Williams, Jehlani Galloway, and Taji Johnson would all be returning. The tight end and running back room will still be solid and deep, with more experience in the system.
On the offensive line, Tyler Vrabel could still come back, and Christian Mahogany would be back at guard. Jack Conley and Drew Kendall are being groomed to replace Ben Petrula and Alec Lindstrom at right tackle and center. Finally, several excellent young recruits could fill in at the other guard spot. Furthermore, the vast majority of these young players will have spent their entire careers under Cignetti and O-line coach Matt Applebaum. Looking down the road, BC’s best offensive line might materialize a year or two from now.
With all these pieces coming together on offense, along with a continuously improving defense, BC’s big year could be in 2022, not 2021, thanks to Jurkovec’s injury. But honestly, BC could have the best of both worlds by breaking the seven-win barrier this year and going even further in the next. Even though Grosel may not inject more life into the offense than Jurkovec, there’s no reason for BC fans to truly panic about this season.