Boston College stands as the last school in New England with plans to move forward with football in the fall after UMass canceled its season Tuesday.
As the Big Ten and Pac-12 became the first Power Five conferences to cancel football, the Atlantic Coast Conference held firm with its intentions to start the season in September.
The Eagles opened up preseason camp last week after players returned to campus for voluntary workouts in June. With uncertainty about fall sports lingering, the social media hashtag #WeWantToPlay has gained momentum. From quarterback Phil Jurkovec to defensive back Mike Palmer to linebacker Max Richardson to lineman Alec Lindstrom, several Eagles threw their support behind the message that they want to see the season take place.
“We’ve already put in so much work this summer coming back in early [June], putting in the work, quarantining and doing everything that we have to do to play and sacrificing as a team so we can play,” Lindstrom said.
BC has conducted three rounds of testing for COVID-19 since players returned to Chestnut Hill. After reporting one positive test in the first round, it has seen no positive cases in either of the last two.
“We’ve done everything right,” Lindstrom said. “We’ve had zero positive cases in over three weeks, probably even longer. And the coaches and everyone’s doing everything they need to be safe medically. The medical staff, everyone is doing everything we need to, and we just want to play.”
While Lindstrom is a redshirt junior, he pointed to players like Richardson, who returned for his senior season, and senior linemen Ben Petrula and Zion Johnson, whose playing careers come down to this season.
“It’s a big year for everybody, and we feel that we’ll do whatever it takes to play,” Lindstrom said. “We feel safe and it’s fun playing. I love football. It’s what I do and I love it, so I want to do what I love. "
Options on offense
Historically, power football has been embedded in the Eagles’ offensive DNA, and while new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said he didn’t want to abandon that identity, he will look to add to it.
“We don’t ever want to lose the physicality of being able to play power football, but we also want to be able to play wide open and put guys in a position to be successful,” Cignetti said.
Cignetti spent 11 years in the NFL along with runs at the college level with North Carolina, Pitt, and Rutgers. Jurkovec has already noted that Cignetti’s mind is always racing with ideas for the offense.
He’ll have plenty of options to explore. While the Eagles lost A.J. Dillon, David Bailey provides a similar style of smash-mouth rushing. Kobay White, underutilized in three seasons as the primary receiver in a run-heavy offense, is a go-to pass-catcher. Transfer Jaelen Gill offers versatility after coming to the Eagles from Ohio State as a running back-turned-receiver. Receiver Zay Flowers, a year older after flashing the ability to make dynamic plays with his speed as a freshman, will be another weapon at Cignetti’s disposal.
As the Eagles staff installs the offense, Cignetti said he’s building it around the talent on the roster.
“You look at your players because you think players first, not plays,” he said. “Then you’ve got to make sure you design touches for them, whether it’s in the running game, the passing game.
“So when you look at all our perimeter players, we’ve got to make sure we do a good job building the system where they all get their touches and they get a chance to make plays.”
Back to work
After a day off Tuesday, the Eagles returned to practice Wednesday. It was their sixth practice since camp opened. The players ran through the session in pads and helmets without full contact ... Jurkovec connected on passes to receivers Ethon Williams, Flowers, and C.J. Lewis, plus tight ends Hunter Long and Spencer Witter, who made a diving grab ... Jahmin Muse came up with an interception in team work. Marcus Valdez, Kyiev Bennermon, and Shitta Sillah all notched sacks.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.