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Three Stars: Georgia Tech

A chalky lineup from BC's 41-30 victory

Third Star - Jaiden Woodbey: 68 snaps, 7 tackles, 2 solos, 2 pressures (1 hurry, 1 QB hit), 4 targets, 3 catches allowed, 7 yards allowed, 1 interception

Boston College brought in several transfers this offseason to help bolster a relatively young defense. The most marquee was Jaiden Woodbey, a former four-star recruit and a safety-linebacker hybrid from Florida State. Woodbey did not play as much as expected early in the season, splitting time with veteran Jahmin Muse. But with Muse missing time to injury, Woodbey found himself playing much more. Since then, he’s become vital playmaking part of this defense.

Against the Yellow Jackets, Woodbey continued to make significant plays all over the field in a variety of ways. He tied for second on the team in total tackles, he pressured the quarterback twice, and he recorded a huge interception deep in the red zone. Woodbey only allowed an average of 2.3 yards per reception. In a secondary dealing with injuries to multiple starters, Woodbey has been a steadying force on the backend.

Furthermore, Woodbey seemingly brings a different attitude and swagger to the defense. His positive energy and confidence have helped lift this defense in key moments. Woodbey brings back memories of players like Dominique Williams and Will Harris, who set the tone for the entire defense. He’s seemingly meshed very well with his new teammates, as evidenced by his frequent presence in the postgame locker room victory dances. Luckily for BC, Woodbey has plenty of eligibility left so he should be a fixture on this defense for years to come.

Second Star - Josh DeBerry: 48 snaps, 10 tackles, 5 solos, 2 TFLs, 2 pressure (1 hurry, 1 QB hit), 2 targets, 1 catch allowed, 7 yards allowed

As great as Woodbey has been, Josh DeBerry has been unquestionably the best member of this secondary, especially over the last few weeks. As BC’s primary slot defender, DeBerry is around the ball a lot, allowing him to make plays in all facets of the game. He only allowed one catch on two targets and only let it go for seven yards. Typically, a cornerback leading a team in tackles is somewhat concerning, as it usually implies that the ball is getting into the second and third level of the defense. But in DeBerry’s case, it simply indicates how flexible of a player he is. He led the team in total tackles this week and finished tied for second in solo tackles. He also added two tackles for loss and two pressures.

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Some are trying to find a comparison for DeBerry, as BC has put many good defensive backs into the NFL recently. The issue is that BC’s slot defenders from years’ past have been undersized defenders with limited roles (Hamp Cheevers, Taj-Amir Torres, etc.). But even the safeties who played in the slot are generally too big (Justin Simmons, John Johnson III, Will Harris, etc.). He could be a combination of Johnson and Lukas Denis, but is a much more willing and competent tackler. Regardless, at this point in his trajectory, DeBerry looks like he will be the highest drafted Boston College defensive back since Will Harris in 2019. If he keeps playing like this, there’s a good chance he declares this offseason.

With all that being said, DeBerry suffered an injury late in the game against Georgia Tech. He walked off the field but it looked like a decently serious arm injury. Highly-touted true freshman CJ Burton filled in at nickel, despite lacking an experience playing in the slot. Hopefully DeBerry is okay because the injuries are mounting for the Eagles in the secondary. Against a resurgent Florida State and an explosive Wake Forest, the Eagles can ill afford losing anyone else on the backend.

First Star - Phil Jurkovec: 12 completions, 19 attempts (63.2%), 310 yards (16.3 YPA, 25.8 YPC), 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 12 first downs, 228.2 passer rating (college) 141.9 passer rating (NFL), 99.2 QBR; 7 carries, 70 yards, 3 TDs, 4 first downs.

Typically, when analyzing a game, one must look beyond the stats and the box score. Numbers alone usually do not present a full or accurate picture of the game. However, every once in a while, numbers are all you need. That was the case for Phil Jurkovec this week. Jurkovec put together an incredible performance, arguably his best in a Boston College uniform. Last week, it was clear that he was not fully reacclimated to the football field, given that he hadn’t played in nearly two months. This week, Jurkovec was the engine for the entire offense, whether by picking up huge gains on the ground or throwing the ball all over the field.

As a passer, you could not ask much more from Jurkovec. Every single one of his completions went for a first down. This is remarkable but somewhat explained by his average depth of target, which was 19.2, the highest of his career. 14 of his 19 passes were thrown beyond 10 yards downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, it was tied for the 21st best overall performance by a starting quarterback this season. His QBR, an ESPN metric meant to be more comprehensive than passer rating, was only .8 points away from a perfect 100.

As great as Jurkovec threw the ball, he was arguably even better as a runner. He looked incredibly smooth as a runner, making defenders miss and also running through them. His three rushing touchdowns are the most by a BC quarterback in a single game in this century, perhaps ever? Jurkovec might be the Eagles’ best running quarterback since Tyler Murphy, and very possibly their best overall QB since Matt Ryan. If he continues to play like this, he will certainly cement himself as one of the best Eagles’ quarterbacks of all time.