Elliott and Tigers Expecting Fundamentally Sound BC Defense


Boston College is quietly off to a very solid start in year one of the Jeff Hafley era. 

The Eagles are 4-2 overall, including 3-2 in ACC play, in their first year under the former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator. Hafley will bring the Eagles to Memorial Stadium on Saturday at noon as huge underdogs and attempting to break a nine-game losing streak to the Tigers. 

This is a different Boston College team than what fans have become accustomed to seeing over the years. It no longer relies on the run-heavy offense used by former head coach Steve Addazio. 

Hafley has looked to bring more balance to the Eagles offense but through six games they've had issues getting the ground game going as they're averaging less than 100 rushing yards per game. However, he has found a quarterback in Phil Jurkovec who has thrown for more than 1.600 yards so far this season.

On the defensive side of the ball is where the Clemson coaching staff has a little bit of familiarity with Hafley. He was the Buckeyes co-defensive coordinator last season in the Tigers 29-23 Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State, and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott says that game gives the Tigers some insight into how to prepare for the Eagles. 

"In preparation for Ohio State, the first thing that jumped out at you was just how good the corners were, how technically sound they were," Elliott said. "Then it spread throughout the defense. They were very fundamentally sound, they were always in position. They were able to get pressure on the quarterback with four, and then be able to play mostly man coverage, and they play a lot of cover three concepts."

Boston College has picked off six passes this season, and Elliott says one of the biggest improvements he sees on the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles is in the secondary, particularly the play of their corners. 

"Biggest thing for those guys their DB's are very well-coached," Elliott said. "I know that's the position he works with and you can tell they play with a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger. So that's what jumps out at you and you see a lot of that resonate with B.C. right now."

Elliott says other things that stand out are how fundamentally sound they're playing on defense and how similar some of the looks are compared to what the Tigers saw against Ohio State last season in the semifinal round of the College Football Playoff. 

"They're lined up the way they're supposed to be and communicating well," Elliott said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence. They're playing man concepts, zone concepts, so their structure looks very, very similar. And you can see that all those guys that have bought in. They're doing a really good job."