For just the third time since 1970, Boston College opens a season on Sept. 19 as the Eagles visit Duke to begin the 2020 campaign. The game at Duke marks the beginning of the Jeff Hafley era at BC. Hafley was named the 36th head coach in Boston College history on Dec. 14, 2019.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ACC Regional Sports Networks and locally on NESN. Evan Lepler, Dave Archer and Lindsay Rowley will handle the television broadcast. Coverage on the Boston College Learfield IMG Sports Network begins at 11:30 a.m. with Jon Meterparel, Pete Cronan and Scott Mutryn. Fans can listen to the game locally on WEEI 93.7 FM, nationally on TuneIn and on Sirius channel 134, XM channel 382 and online via SiriusXM channel 973.
• Boston College is 71-48-2 all-time in season openers. The Eagles have won six of the last seven season openers and the Eagles have won 13 of their last 16 opening games of the season.
• Saturday’s opener against the Blue Devils marks the fifth time since BC joined the ACC in 2005 the Eagles will open against a conference foe.
Season Openers Versus ACC Foes
9/1/07 vs. Wake Forest W, 38-28
9/1/12 vs. Miami L, 41-32
9/3/16 vs. Georgia Tech (Dublin, Ireland) L, 17-14
8/31/19 vs. Virginia Tech W, 35-28
• Boston College opens the season on the road for the ninth time since 2000 Sept. 19 at Duke.
• BC has won six consecutive season-openers in true road games at the opponent’s home field with the last loss coming at West Virginia in 2000 (34-14).
• Since 1910, BC is 13-17 in road games to start the season. Since 1996, BC is 8-2 when starting the year on the road.
• Jeff Hafley was named the 36th head coach in Boston College history last December.
• Hafley led a dramatic turnaround in leading the defense for Ohio State in 2019 as the Buckeyes won the Big Ten championship and played in the College Football Playoff.
• A finalist for the Frank Broyles Award and the 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year, Hafley was the architect of a Buckeye defense that ranked first nationally in yards per play (3.9), second nationally in total defense (247.6 yards per game), third nationally in scoring defense (12.5 points per game), third nationally in sacks (3.92 per game), seventh nationally in rushing defense (99.5 yards per game), second nationally in passing yards allowed (148.1 yards per game) and first nationally in red zone defense (64.2%).
• Hafley’s first season in Columbus saw Ohio State jump from 72nd nationally in 2018 to first nationally in 2019 in yards per play.
• Hafley, who will coach his 20th season in 2020, has extensive ties as an elite recruiter during his coaching stops at Pittsburgh and Rutgers. A native of Montvale, N.J., Hafley played four seasons as a wide receiver at Siena College from 1997-2000, graduating cum laude in 2001 with a degree in history. He earned his master’s degree from Albany in 2003.
• Jeff Hafley has yet to announce a starting quarterback for the Duke game. The two candidates vying for the position are Phil Jurkovec and Dennis Grosel. Jurkovec transferred to BC from Notre Dame in January while Grosel started seven games for the Eagles in 2019.
• In six games for the Fighting Irish in 2019, Jurkovec was 12-of-16 passing for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 130 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry as Notre Dame’s backup quarterback.
• Jurkovec finished his prep career as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Pennsylvania history. Selected to participate in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, he was one of four finalists for the Felix “Doc” Blanchard Award, which recognizes a player on the U.S. Army All-American Bowl East roster “who exhibit prowess in the classroom and the field”.
• He finished his career at Pine-Richland High School with 11,144 total yards, 8,202 passing yards, 71 touchdown passes, and 68.4 completion percentage (523-of-765).
• His 11,144 yards, second-best in Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League history, were compiled in only two and a half seasons (missed half of his sophomore year with a thumb injury). He threw for a career-high 3,969 yards in 16 games as a senior in 2017 and his 3,969 passing yards are the third-most in Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League single-season history.
• Grosel played in all 13 games in 2019, starting the last seven under center. The Ohio native threw for 983 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. He threw just three interceptions on the season and was third on the team in rushing with 209 yards.
• Known for having a rich history of offensive linemen, the 2020 Boston College Eagles will again be led by a strong unit up front. Rated by some analysts as having one of the top offensive line units in the country, BC returns four starters from a group last season that ranked eighth nationally in rushing offense (253.2 yards per game) and allowed the fourth-fewest sacks per game in college football (1.00 per game).
• Preseason All-ACC selections Zion Johnson and Ben Petrula spearhead the talented group. Junior center Alec Lindstrom and redshirt sophomore Tyler Vrabel also return as starters. All four players earned All-ACC honors in 2019. In addition, Vrabel was named a Freshman All-American as one of the top freshmen in the country at his position.
• Senior linebacker Max Richardson returns as one of the top linebackers in the country in 2020 after a standout season in 2019. The Georgia native was eighth in the country with 72 solo stops a season ago and led the Eagles with 107 tackles.
• The 107 stops were the most by a BC defender since Ty Schwab in 2017 also totaled 107 tackles.
• He posted a team-high 14.5 TFLs and added 3.5 sacks, two pass break-ups, and one forced fumble in 2019 en route to All-ACC second-team honors.
Leading The Room
• Junior tight end Hunter Long returns as not only one of the ACC’s top tight ends but one of the elite players at his position in the entire country.
• Long was named to the John Mackey Award watch list after earning All-ACC third-team honors last season. The John Mackey Award is given to the collegiate tight end who best exemplifies the play, sportsmanship, academics, and community values of NFL Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey.
• Long led Boston College with 509 receiving yards and 18.2 yards per reception in 2019. He finished the season with 28 receptions and two receiving touchdowns. His 72-yard touchdown reception at Louisville was the longest reception of his career a year ago.
On This Date
• BC is 5-3 all-time on games played on Sept. 19. The Eagles have opened the season four times on this date, going 3-1.
• The last time BC opened the season on Sept. 19, the Eagles came away with a 13-12 victory over Texas A&M in the first game coached at BC by Jack Bicknell.
• BC also started the 1970 campaign with a 28-21 win at Villanova and the 1964 season with a 21-14 victory over No. 9 Syracuse on Sept. 19. The win against the Orange was the first victory against a Top 10 opponent in school history.
• The last time BC played on Sept. 19 was a 25-7 setback at Clemson in 2009. The last victory on this date was a 31-7 win versus Temple in 1998.
• Boston College and Duke meet for the eighth time in series history.
• It marks the first game against the Blue Devils since 2015 in a series that began in 1927. BC leads the series 4-3.
• BC is 2-2 against Duke in ACC games. The Eagles and Blue Devils met as conference foes in 2006 (BC 28-7), 2010 (BC 21-16), 2011 (Duke 20-19) and 2015 (Duke 9-7).
• The game at Duke will be a memorable one for BC defensive line coach Vince Oghobaase.
• Oghobaase began his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant at Duke in 2011, and helped the Blue Devils earn the program’s first bowl game appearance since 1994.
• Oghobaase was a four-year starter as a player at Duke from 2006-09, seeing action in 44 games. He registered 165 tackles during his career, and finished his career ranked sixth in school history in both sacks (14.0) and tackles for loss (36.5).
• During his college career, Oghobaase earned Freshman All-America honors in 2006 and was twice named honorable mention All-ACC (2008-09). He received third-team All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2009.
Last Time at Duke (Oct. 3, 2015)
• Duke needed just three field goals to capture a 9-7 victory in Durham, despite the Eagles holding the Blue Devils scoreless in the second half.
• Freshman Colton Lichtenberg had the chance to give the Eagles the lead with 3:35 to go in the game on a 45-yard field goal, which would have been the longest of his young career, but he could not connect.
• Redshirt freshman Troy Flutie completed a 66-yard touchdown pass to classmate Thadd Smith in the third quarter for BC’s only score and the only score of the second half. It was the longest play from scrimmage of the season for the Eagles and Smith’s first career touchdown.
• The BC defense held the Blue Devils to just nine points and only 33 rushing yards.
Scouting the Blue Devils
• Duke was selected to finish 12th in the ACC in the media’s ACC Preseason Poll. The Blue Devils opened the 2020 season with a 27-13 loss at Notre Dame last week in South Bend.• Duke redshirt junior kick return specialist Damond Philyaw-Johnson was named to the 2020 Preseason All-ACC Team.
• Philyaw-Johnson was voted to the team by 134 credentialed media members. This recognition is one of many for the Blue Devil as he was also tabbed to the Athlon Sports, Phil Steele, Sporting News preseason All-America list.
• A native of Pensacola, Fla., Philyaw-Johnson has compiled 637 all-purpose yards (88 receiving, 549 kickoff return) throughout his career (29.0 avg/g) and is tied with two others for third all-time on Duke’s career kickoff return for TD chart. The 6-1, 170-pound wide receiver matched the NCAA single-game record with two kickoff returns for touchdowns against Wake Forest in 2019. Those two kickoff returns for scores in a single game marked just the second time in ACC history a player achieved the feat.
• David Cutcliffe, the 2013 National Coach of the Year who has earned both ACC and SEC Coach of the Year honors in a distinguished career that includes the mentoring of Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, was named Duke University’s 21st head football coach on December 15, 2007.
• Cutcliffe is 72-78 at Duke and owns an overall head coaching ledger of 116-109. Cutcliffe’s 72 victories in 12 years with the Blue Devils are 62 more than the program’s total in the previous eight seasons (2000-07) combined and 53 more than the program’s total in the previous 11 seasons (1997-2007) combined.
• Chase Brice transferred from Clemson to Duke and earned the starting nod at quarterback in the preseason.
• A native of Grayson, Ga., Brice joined the Duke program in July after graduating from Clemson University, where he helped the Tigers to a three-year (2017-18-19) record of 41-3 with three ACC Championships, three College Football Playoff appearances, and the 2018 National Championship. In 25 career collegiate games, he has completed 82-of-136 (.603) passes for 1,023 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing 30 times for 187 yards and one score.