BC looks to continue winning ways at Georgia Tech

The Boston College Eagles need to pick up where they left off.

BC entered the bye week with consecutive victories over Virginia and Army to improve to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. Both games were back-and-forth struggles that were closed out by the defense late in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles will look to even their record in conference play when they travel to Atlanta to engage the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-1) at venerable Bobby Dodd Stadium.

BC needs three wins in the last six games, five in the ACC and a regional home match against UConn, to attain bowl eligibility for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. After finishing 3-9 last season, playing a game in late December at a neutral site means a lot to the program.

“We talked at 1-3 that we have to get back to 3-3 at the bye and that was really important for us as a staff to think about,” said BC head coach Jeff Hafley during his weekly press briefing at the Yawkey center on Monday.

“For the players, they can’t think ahead like that. If you are going to compete in a game you’ve got to pour everything into it and we did that against (Virginia and Army). Certainly, after the last two weeks we are playing better football and then with the bye week, there are a lot of things we have to get better at coaching and executing.”

Hafley and the BC coordinators and assistant coaches used the free weekend to hit the road recruiting the next freshman football class. Hafley focused primarily on the local crop of candidates and he expects this will be his smallest recruiting class since taking over in 2020.

“We were really spread out, we had guys in the Northeast and guys seeing committed kids wherever they are in the country,” said Hafley. “This will be a smaller recruiting class.”

No Doubting Thomas

Thomas Castellanos’ emergence as one of the most versatile and dangerous dual threat quarterbacks in the ACC has altered how opposing defensive coordinators game plan for BC.

“You have to imagine now teams are going to have to bring an extra guy in the box when you have a quarterback who can run the way he has run,” said Hafley. “But it’s not like we are playing wildcat, he can throw the ball.

“He can throw it from in the pocket, he can throw it on boot(leg) type plays and he can sprint out. If you bring guys up, we have guys that can run by you. I think you are going to see him take off throwing the ball in the next weeks.”

After six appearances and five starts, Castellanos has satisfied the passing component of playing the position in a Power-5 Conference. The sophomore transfer from Central Florida has completed 87-of-152 passes for 1,143 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has completed passes for 35 or more yards to five different receivers with a long of 52.

Castellanos is the Eagles’ leading rusher with 500 net yards on 98 carries for a 5.1 average and seven touchdowns. In the deteriorating weather conditions at West Point on Oct. 7, Castellanos rushed for 142 net yards on 31 carries with a long of 20 and four touchdowns.

“I’ve learned a lot about how the game has been going along and it’s been going really good,” said Castellanos. “I feel like I’ve been growing game in and game out and not just as a quarterback but as a leader of this team.”

O’Keefe on the Mend

Hafley said injured wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe has been making progress in his recovery but is unlikely to dress against the Rambling Wreck.

O’Keefe suffered an immobilizing neck injury at 14:07 of the fourth quarter of BC’s 27-24 victory over Virginia at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 30. O’Keefe was awaiting a wide receiver screen pass on the BC 33 when he was violently set upon by Cavaliers’ cornerback Malcolm Greene. He was taken from the field on a stretcher and transported to Mass. General Hospital where he was released the next day.

“Ryan is getting closer and I think the key to that is making sure he is comfortable,” said Hafley. “He is going to meet with the doctors again but he is running and he looks fast and I think he is really close. But he’s got to be ready to do it, that is not something we are going to push him to do.”

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