UVA Opponents Series: Can QB Morehead turn Boston College around?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a 12-part series on Virginia’s opponents compiled by interns Clay Meeks and Harry Farley. The previous four can be found in our football archives

By Harry Farley
JerryRatcliffe.com Correspondent

Photo: Boston College Athletics

The 2022 season was the worst in program history in several years, as Boston College equaled its 3-9 record from 2015. In head coach Jeff Hafley’s third year, the team took a huge step back, allowing the second-most points per game in the ACC (30.3) while scoring the third-lowest points per game in the league (17.8) — practically nothing to write home about.

However, the expectations around the team are low, so getting back to .500 in 2023 would be a huge step in re-establishing Boston College in the conference.

That potential re-establishment is going to start with redshirt sophomore quarterback Emmett Morehead, who took over as starter after Phil Jurkovec suffered a knee injury against UConn in Week 9 of the season. Morehead effectively won the starting job from Jurkovec as he threw for over 1,000 combined yards in the final four games of the season, including a 21-20 upset win over No.16 NC State on the road. 

Morehead will need to focus on limiting turnovers and taking sacks in addition to the strides he has made in the offseason in terms of arm strength and accuracy. He threw six interceptions and took 21 sacks last season in just four starts, while Jurkovec threw eight interceptions and took 25 sacks in his eight starts. If Morehead can develop into a solid college quarterback, BC has the roster potential to win a handful of games this season and spring a few upsets along the way.

One challenge to Morehead’s development will be the loss of a few key offensive pieces, specifically the departure of first team All-ACC wide receiver Zay Flowers to the NFL. The wide receiver group — specifically graduate transfer Ryan O’Keefe — and the offensive line will be the two most important units for Boston College and Morehead in 2023. The offensive line added two transfers in Kyle Hergel (LG) and Logan Taylor (RT). Taylor himself is a transfer from Virginia and started 10 games at left tackle last season for the Cavaliers.

O’Keefe, a transfer from UCF, put up 725 yards and 5 touchdowns on 73 catches in 2022. He is a dynamic speedster and possesses a dangerous deep-ball threat, which could vastly help Morehead and the rest of the Eagles offense. Not only can he catch the ball, but also can rush, throw, return kickoffs, and even play defense. He had 23 carries for 222 yards last season, has thrown two touchdowns in his career, has seven tackles in his career, and has a kickoff return long of 52 yards. Put simply, O’Keefe is one of the more dynamic playmakers Boston College has seen in a long time.

The Eagles fell to Northern Illinois in overtime, 27-24, in the season opener last week, with a struggling Morehead going just 4 for 10 for 30 yards. Backup QB Thomas Castellanos was inserted on the team’s fourth offensive series and engineered two scoring drives to tie the game at 21-apiece. Castellanos finished the game completing 13 of his 28 passes for 138 yards, an interception and the pair of scores.

The rest of the schedule is quite favorable for the Eagles, as they face Holy Cross, Army, and UConn in non-conference play while squaring off against three of the worst teams in the ACC in 2022 in Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. While more challenging opponents like Florida State, Syracuse, and Louisville are also on the schedule, there is opportunity for Boston College to potentially turn things around from 2022.

Boston College Eagles

Saturday, Sept. 30
Alumni Stadium
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Head Coach: Jeff Hafley
2022 W-L Record: 3-9
Conference Record:  2-6 (ACC)
Offensive Starters Returning: 8
Defensive Starters Returning: 5
All Time Record vs. Virginia: 6-1
Last Meeting: Virginia won 43-32, December 5, 2020
Top 6 Players to Watch: WR/KR Ryan O’Keefe, LB Vinny DePalma, DE Donovan Ezeiruaku, QB Emmett Morehead, WR Joseph Griffin Jr., SS Victor Nelson