Boston College dropped a frustrating one to Florida State this Saturday. The Eagles were down 26-3 early in the third quarter and while they battled back to reduce the margin to three, the comeback ultimately fell short. Lots of things went wrong, but the biggest issue was Florida State’s defensive line owning the line of scrimmage and consistently getting pressure on Pihl Jurkovec. There was also some questionable play-calling throughout the game and confusing coaching decisions. Regardless, let’s get into which Eagles distinguished themselves against the Seminoles.
Third Star - Alec Sinkfield: 8 carries, 30 yards (3.8 YPC); 2 kick returns, 59 yards (29.5 YPR)
Honestly, this one was really tough to find. There were not that many great individual performances from Boston College on Saturday. This isn’t to say that everyone played poorly; there were just not many standouts. Therefore, I’ll give Alec Sinkfield this spot due to his contributions to BC’s momentum that sparked the comeback. On paper, Sinkfield’s stats are not that great; if you take away his 21-yard carry and his 45-yard kick return, he only had nine yards rushing on seven carries and one kick return for 14 yards.
But as much as momentum can’t be quantified, Sinkfield’s big plays gave the Eagles much-needed sparks that helped ignite the comeback. His 21-yard carry got BC into the red zone late in the first half, even though they ultimately couldn’t capitalize. More importantly, his big kick return after FSU’s third-quarter touchdown gave the offense a short field, allowing them to score a touchdown to get back in the game. He also helped out as a pass blocker, especially in the second half.
Second Star - Marcus Valdez: 58 snaps, 5 tackles, 5 solos, 2 TFLs, 3 hurries, 1 sack
Another week, another valiant effort from Marcus Valdez. He consistently got pressure on the quarterback and led the team in solo tackles. Valdez only recorded one sack but he was very close to getting at least two more. Unfortunately, either Jordan Travis got rid of the ball just as Valdez arrived or Travis escaped the pocket. Other players on the defensive line occasionally got pressure but more often than not, their inability to get to the quarterback allowed Travis to break contain and make plays outside the pocket.
There’s still one game left, but BC fans should take a moment to appreciate Valdez and his contributions to the team. Despite playing in fewer games with fewer snaps than any of his previous seasons, he will set new career-highs in nearly every statistical category this season. He’s already recorded a new personal best in solo tackles (17), sacks (4.0), and forced fumbles (3); he will most likely break his personal best in TFLs (5.5) next week or in the bowl game, as he currently sits at 5.0. Valdez came to BC as an undersized defensive end that tore up his knee at the beginning of his senior year in high school. But he bulked up and turned himself into a multi-year starter and major contributor for the Eagles.
First Star - Zay Flowers: 6 targets, 3 catches, 92 yards (30.7 YPC), 1 TD
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Zay Flowers’ performance is that it basically only came in two quarters of action. Flowers only received one target in the first half, as Phil Jurkovec did not have much time to set up and throw. He got open with relative consistency but Jurkovec couldn’t get him the ball due to the pressure.
But in the second half, everything changed. Even though the offensive tackles generally had a rough outing, they figured some stuff out in the second half and played significantly better. Because of that change, Jurkovec found Flowers for big gains multiple times. The play of the day in my mind was when Flowers caught the ball underneath and proceeded to break several pairs of ankles on his way to a 40+ yard gain. Earlier in that drive, he also drew a pass interference penalty where he came up gimpy but just a few players later he was weaving his way through the Florida State defense.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete Zay Flowers game without a deep touchdown. On BC’s next drive, Flowers burned his man deep and caught a perfect ball from Jurkovec in stride for a 36-yard touchdown to bring the score to 26-23. On BC’s final drive, Flowers caught a shallow crossing route and turned it upfield for a 12-yard gain. Ultimately, however, he couldn’t come down with Jurkovec’s final throw that got intercepted as both thrower and receiver were getting hit. But that’s not Flowers’ skillset so I won’t ding him too much; furthermore, his body of work from this game kept the Eagles’ offense moving and was the primary contributor to the comeback.