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Syracuse ended its three-game losing streak last week against Virginia Tech after Garrett Shrader threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Damien Alford late in the fourth quarter. With the win, SU improved to 4-4 on the season and sits just two wins away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.
Next, the Orange will face Boston College on Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome. The Eagles are 4-3 after losing 28-14 against Louisville last week. BC is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division without a conference win, and it has lost three straight games.
Here’s everything to know about Boston College ahead of its visit to Syracuse on Saturday:
Syracuse leads 31-22.
Last time they played
The Eagles visited the Carrier Dome last November and came out with a tight, 16-13 win. It was a game of field goals, as Andre Szmyt kicked two field goals and BC kicker Aaron Boumerhi made three. Boumerhi’s last field goal of the game came with just over two minutes remaining and stretched Boston College’s lead to two possessions.
Syracuse responded with an Aaron Hackett touchdown reception from JaCobian Morgan with only 21 seconds left in the game. It wasn’t enough, though, and the Orange lost their fifth straight game. Morgan — then a true freshman — made his first start at quarterback after coming off the bench against Wake Forest the week before. Morgan made one touchdown and an interception on 30 passing attempts, and he threw for 188 yards. SU’s offensive line struggled, allowing four sacks.
BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec had nine incompletions on 29 attempts and threw for 208 yards, and he made a 20-yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers just before halftime. Running back David Bailey took 25 handoffs for 127 yards, and Boston College’s running game allowed it to control the ball for nearly 39 minutes of the game.
The SU offense had a hard time moving the ball, and punter Nolan Cooney was forced to punt the ball five times, including one that went 63 yards. Sean Tucker ran 11 times for a total of 52 yards, and Morgan frequently looked to Taj Harris on passing attempts. Harris hauled in seven catches for 61 yards. The Orange went on to lose their last three games of the season, including their 30-0 loss against Louisville.
The Boston College report
Jurkovec returned this season as starting quarterback, but he suffered a hand injury at the start of the season. Second-year head coach Jeff Hafley replaced him with senior Dennis Grosel, who has posted a mostly-mediocre statline so far this season. Grosel has a 58.3% completion percentage and has more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six). He also only averages 6.4 yards per completion, leading to some speculation BC might move to one of its backups after losing the last three games.
Hafley said earlier this week that he has “made a decision” about the starting quarterback position, but his decision won’t be revealed until Saturday.
“I feel good with the quarterback situation,” Hafley said. “I’ve made a decision, which I’ve thought about really hard. And I watched a lot of tape myself and then obviously with the staff. And we’ve made a decision. And we feel really good about it, and the team knows about it.”
Outside of their poor passing attack, the Eagles have found success handing the ball off to Pat Garwo III this season. Garwo ranks fourth in the ACC with 605 rushing yards, and he averages over six yards per carry. The 5-foot-8 sophomore showed his speed when he broke a 67-yard touchdown run against Missouri, and he is one of BC’s top offensive options.
Boston College’s offense has struggled this season, ranking 11th in the ACC in points per game and 12th in yards per game. The Eagles’ poor play offensively resembles Syracuse’s previous two opponents, Clemson and Virginia Tech, who are still the two lowest-ranked offensive units in the conference.
But BC has performed well defensively. It has held opponents to less than 21 points per game, and it is in the top five in the ACC for holding opponents. The unit is the top passing defense in the conference, allowing only 189.6 yards through the air per game. Hafley came to Boston College last year after working as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator in 2019. He has also coached defenses at Pitt and Rutgers, as well as for three NFL teams.
How Syracuse beats Boston College
To pick up its fifth win of the season on Saturday, SU will want to once again rely heavily on Shrader and Tucker in its running game. Shrader hasn’t performed particularly well throwing the ball this season, but Tucker has posted at least 100 rushing yards in six straight games and Shrader accounted for five touchdowns — including three on the ground last week.
When Syracuse has strayed from running the ball, it hasn’t produced points on offense. Against Clemson, Shrader threw a season-high 37 times and the Orange only posted 14 points. Against BC, head coach Dino Babers should continue to emphasize giving the ball to Tucker at least 20 times and allow Shrader to make decisions on when to scramble or keep the ball on option reads.
Defensively, Syracuse needs to get pressure on Grosel — or whoever Hafley starts at quarterback — and force him out of the pocket. Grosel has only 65 rushing yards this season and hasn’t shown to be an effective runner. SU’s front six, led by Cody Roscoe and Mikel Jones, needs to force pressure and not let Grosel sit and throw the ball.
Stat to know: 8
Boston College has recorded the fewest number of sacks (eight) in the ACC this season. While still posting strong defensive numbers, the Eagles haven’t been effective at getting after the quarterback. This should bode well for Shrader and Syracuse’s offensive line, which has been forced to move around lineman due to injuries. Josh Illoa filled in for Airon Servais at center against Virginia Tech, and Illoa had several miscommunications with Shrader, Babers said.
Player to watch: Zay Flowers, wide receiver
Flowers scored that 20-yard touchdown against Syracuse last season, and he has been BC’s top option in the passing game this season. He was an All-ACC first team selection last season after ranking second in the league in receiving yards. So far this season, Flowers leads the Eagles with 395 receiving yards, but he has only two touchdowns. Without an effective quarterback, the Eagles have had a hard time getting the ball to Flowers. But if the Orange are without top cornerback Garrett Williams due to his unknown injury, guarding Flowers could be problematic on Saturday.
The post Opponent Preview: Everything to know about Boston College appeared first on The Daily Orange.