Boston College Eagles vs. Pitt Panthers: Three Key Matchups

Rushing Attack vs the Pitt Defense

Its no secret that the Eagles have struggled this season to get their rushing attack going this season. After having one of the leading attacks in the country last year, Frank Cignetti Jr. has opted for a more balanced attack. With the run game sputtering it has left the OC with the reality of putting the offense’s success on the shoulder of sophomore Quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Although the numbers prove that is has been a success, going up against a top defense in Pitt, the Eagles will need a resurgence from their once prominent ground game.

The unit as a whole has been scrutinized and questioned with the offensive line struggling to create holes for the backs. With 4 returning starters on the line from last season it is a concern but one that can most certainly grow with the veteran leadership in the trenches.

Getting the junior running back David Bailey going is going to be key. Coming into the contest averaging 3.4 YPC isn’t strong, and needs to imporve. Pitt boasts what has been argued as the best defensive front in the country, so they are equally threatening on the pass rush as they are on their run defense, so a balanced attack is going to be key for the Eagles to move the football on Saturday.

Head Coach Jeff Hafley commenting on David Bailey, “I know we threw the ball about 90 times last week, but there’s going to be a time when he’s going to get it 30 times and we’re going to need him.”

Secondary vs. Kenny Pickett

The Eagles defense continues to show remarkable improvement both over 2019 and as the season progresses. With their biggest test to date, BC responded last week against Sam Howell with an interception and and forced fumble. But more notably they made second half adjustments that left the UNC Tar Heels quarterback looking uncomfortable in crucial situations.

This week brings another challenge as Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett who is an established veteran in the conference. The senior has looked fantastic this season with over 1,100 yards passing a 6/2 TD/INT rate and a 63% completion rate. The Eagles secondary which has taken a massive step forward with what could be attributed to “The Hafley Effect” will need to continue to make progress in order to slow Pickett down. The defensive unit as a whole is last in the ACC on 3rd down stops. That will need to improve Saturday.

Jaelen Gill vs. Pitt’s Secondary

With the exception of tight end Hunter Long in all three of the Eagle’s games thus far, it has been different receivers who have stepped up in the passing game. With Zay Flower’s explosion against Duke and week 1 and CJ Lewis’s clutch catches in week 3, the question posed for this upcoming matchup is going to be who is next on the docket?

Transfer Jaelen Gill has all the makings to continue to grow as a contributor in this offense. With the weekly progress and the raw athletic ability it is only a matter of time until the sophomore from Ohio breaks out.

Hafley noting “The more the guys know it (the system) and really know it, and don’t have to think, the faster they’re going to play. Hopefully with a guy like him you’ll continue to see him go faster and faster and faster.”

A player like Gill has plenty of speed and being able to react and play at a faster pace will certainly benefit the Eagle’s offense as a whole as they look to fill the void left by graduate receiver Kobay White’s absence.

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