Trust the Process
It seemed almost inevitable that Boston College would play a game like they did last night against Virginia Tech at some point this season. Up to this point Jeff Hafley's Eagles have been the underdog darlings of the ACC. They scrapped together wins against Texas State and Pitt, hung with Top 10 UNC and took care of business against Duke. But watching those games, you could see there were cracks, and that a team on their schedule would expose them. It was VT that ripped it wide open.
New head coach Jeff Hafley has preached patience this year. By all accounts he is ahead of schedule in turning the program around, and shaping it in his vision. He has a dynamic quarterback, Phil Jurkovec who is second in the ACC in passing yards. He has offensive weapons with Zay Flowers and Hunter Long both in the Top 5 in receiving yards in the conference. And he is starting to rebuild the defense, who until last night had been a tough out for opposing offenses.
But then last night happened. How should the program view a loss in which the offense turned the ball over five times, and the defense allowed 350 yards on the ground? Patience.
"Win or lose, I stress the process," Hafley said. "When we turn on the tape, we're going to see some things we did really well. Unfortunately in football, if you make big mistakes like we did, you can't win. We'll watch the tape closely and get better."
The process. A way in which the coaching staff sees the program improving from a .500 club to a contender. This can't be something that happens instantaneously. You can't just snap your fingers and voila! The Eagles are ACC Champions. College football doesn't work that way.
Right now, Hafley is working with what he was given. Certainly he has a lot of talent on that roster, and there are some special players for this staff to work with. But they also have a roster filled with players recruited by the former coaching regime. He has done his best to fill the gaps with graduate transfers, and they haven't even had a chance to bring in a full recruiting class in yet. The players that would best fit his system haven't even stepped on to BC's campus yet.
But if you were to ask Jeff Hafley, that still is not an excuse. He is going to go to continue to work with what he has, game plan around the personnel in front of him, and he will whatever he can to make it work. If you are a believer in what Hafley has done, you know those great moments that have highlighted the past month, will return. It could come back this weekend when the Eagles take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, a team that lost 73-7 this weekend to Clemson.
There will be more bumps in the road. But if "the process" works right, the team will learn and grow from those mistakes. The coaches will be able to identify and fix the problems that caused the blip. Hafley said last night that he is excited to return to practice because he wants to fix all the mistakes they made. It's easy to say that, but we will have to wait to see if his defense tackles better, and the offense holds on to the ball.
It would be great to see the Eagles go 9-2 and battle for the ACC Championship in December. But don't be surprised if the Eagles take another step backwards at some point this season. The losses sting, but good teams build from them. That is all part of the process.
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