Boston College Eagles: Stumbles continue in loss to Syracuse

Oct 30, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Jaelen Gill (1) is upended by Syracuse Orange defensive back Darian Chestnut (20) after a catch in the third quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Boston College Eagles wide receiver Jaelen Gill (1) is upended by Syracuse Orange defensive back Darian Chestnut (20) after a catch in the third quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

Ineptitude on offense was the scariest thing from the Boston College Eagles on this Halloween weekend. Glimpses of scaring away the struggles did surface but not nearly enough as the Eagles fell to Syracuse 21-6.

Just as a frightful was a second-half run defense.

Toss in the special teams allowing a punt return for a touchdown and the result is a four-game losing streak for Boston College (4-4, 0-4). It’s the first such occurrence under head coach Jeff Hafley’s tenure and the longest losing streak since Boston College lost eight straight to close out the 2015 season.

Boston College Eagles offense in need of change

Heading into the game, much of the talk centered around quarterback Dennis Grosel. Play hadn’t been spectacular. While at times efficient, there just hadn’t been enough consistency.

All week fans had wondered if a change was going to be made. And there was, with mixed results.

Grosel began the game in stride, connecting on his first two passes and moving the offense. But, as in previous weeks, drives stalled with Grosel just missing on hitting open receivers.

As announced just prior to the game, Hafley was going to find time for true freshman Emmett Morehead to see the field.

Morehead took to the field on Boston College’s first drive of the second quarter, promptly narrowly missing on deep-route connection with Zay Flowers. Two players later, however, Morehead completed his first pass on a well-thrown 44-yard strike to Flowers.

Unfortunately, the passing game again struggled throughout the game as Grosel and Morehead took turns under center. Grosel would finish 9-17 for 93 yards while Morehead was 6-15 for 87 yards.

Each quarterback led the team on a field goal drive, with the Eagles holding a 6-0 lead early in the third quarter.

It’s a tough call who should be the signal caller going forward. At this point, it might be best to give Morehead a go. A full week of practice with the first team could be beneficial. Morehead is pretty raw out there but has excellent arm strength. More time on the field would be especially helpful if he’s being prepped as quarterback of the future.

Helping him, too, would be a running game that continues to be consistent. Pat Garwo III had another fine week with 17 carries for 84 yards. It might be nice to not see him disappear for long stretches. With Alec Sinkfield and Travis Levy, there’s plenty of strong running to go around but unless Garwo was banged up, there’s no reason to not see him for most of the second quarter.

Flowers returned to form with six catches for 116 yards. The Eagles were without tight end Trae Barry, one of a trio of top players who didn’t suit up for Boston College on Saturday.

Boston College Eagles defense not quite stout enough

Top tackler Isaiah Graham-Mobley and cornerback Brandon Sebastian missed the game, meaning stopping the Syracuse (5-4, 2-3) run attack was going to be even harder.

Syracuse found some success in the air early, attacking Sebastian’s replacement JT Thompson. CJ Burton replaced Thompson after those first few drives, helping settle the secondary. So much, in fact, Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader had seven straight incompletions to end the first half.

Passing the ball, however, wasn’t something the Orange needed to do much of in the second-half, thanks to the legs of Sean Tucker and Shrader. Shrader only attempted one pass after halftime, a completion. He did most of his talking on a 48-yard touchdown run, part of a sequence that saw Syracuse score 21 points in a span of 4:53.

Shrader’s run was sandwiched between a 51-yard touchdown run by Tucker and a 66-yard punt return for a score by Courtney Jackson.

Tucker entered the game leading the nation in rushing and he proved why, finishing with 207 yards. It was the big play that hampered Boston College in the run game. Three of Tucker’s carries totaled 129 yards, with the other 23 only garnering 78.

It’s hard to get too mad at the defense, however. They forced a turnover in the first quarter on a hit by Marcus Valdez to Shrader while Syracuse was threatening to score. And when the offense has five 3-and-outs and punts eight times, it’s difficult to find time to regroup.

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Regrouping is exactly what this team will need to do, with a short week on the horizon. Boston College returns home to face Virginia Tech on Friday (11/5). Getting bowl eligible just got that much harder with Saturday’s loss. At this point, simply putting together a complete game would be a step in the right direction.