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BC FOOTBALL

Five things Boston College must do to turn things around after an 0-2 start

Phil Jurkovec struggled against Virginia Tech, in part because he's playing behind a young offensive line. He'll need to make quicker decisions going forward.Matt Gentry/Associated Press

When a Power Five program faces a Football Championship Subdivision opponent, the former has a lot to lose and very little to gain.

This Saturday, however, when Boston College hosts Maine at 7:30 p.m., the Eagles (0-2) do have something to gain — their first win, and the opportunity to get into a rhythm before the competition stiffens.

The Eagles are 29.5-point favorites over the winless Black Bears. So yes, they have a lot to lose, too.

“We’re 0-2,” cornerback Josh DeBerry said. “We have no reason to take anybody lightly, whether it’s Maine or whoever else we play.”

Here are five things that need to happen for the Eagles to get on track:

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Win at least two of the next three

While it’s been a puzzling start to the season, the Eagles have plenty of time to salvage it.

That starts by beating Maine and taking at least one of the following games against Florida State and Louisville. Clemson and Wake Forest await after that, and both will be daunting.

Reaching six-plus wins and becoming bowl eligible is still possible, but heading into the Clemson game 2-3 or 3-2 instead of 1-4 or 0-5 is critical.

“We’re going to get it together,” wide receiver Zay Flowers said. “It’s just tough right now. Once we get through that, we’ll be all right.”

Run the ball effectively

The Eagles have a shockingly low 33 total rushing yards and are averaging 0.61 yards per carry through two games — both of which are last in the nation.

They’re one of three Division 1 teams without a rushing touchdown.

Pat Garwo, who ran for more than 1,000 yards a season ago, has a net of 40 yards, and everyone else has a total of minus-7. Negative plays have haunted the Eagles, as they often find themselves in third-and-long situations that lead to predictable passing plays.

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A young offensive line took a hit when left tackle Ozzy Trapilo missed last week’s loss to Virginia Tech and right guard Kevin Cline left midway through. Head coach Jeff Hafley said Trapilo is day-to-day and Cline is “probably a little further away.”

In the meantime, the Eagles will continue to lean on their healthy starters, plus several players who were initially listed third or fourth on the depth chart. Hafley acknowledged BC has to “get creative” and find ways to run the football.

“Is it all perfect right now? It isn’t. It’s not,” Hafley said. “There’s mistakes. But the effort and toughness, and they’re trying to come together, credit to all of them, that’s what we need to see.”

Build momentum by stopping the run

Hafley was encouraged by what he saw from the defensive line against the Hokies, referring to it as one of the best games the unit has played since he arrived three years ago.

Boston College allowed 3.2 yards per carry and gave the offense a chance.

Through two games, defensive end Donovan Ezeiruaku has the highest run-defense grade of any Power Five player (94.1) per Pro Football Focus.

“While there are things that are certainly frustrating to all of us, and we need to do better, there are also some people and some groups that are playing pretty good football,” Hafley said. “If they can continue to get better and better, the future will be bright.”

Phil Jurkovec needs to make quick, smart decisions

Quarterback Phil Jurkovec has the unenviable task of trying to make something happen without having much time. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

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“With an inexperienced o-line, it forces him to learn how to read pressures quicker and get the ball out,” Flowers said.

That awareness is helpful in spurts. But it’s not a cure-all.

The offense has shown its potential in flashes this season, but consistency has been absent. Jurkovec has three interceptions, and the Eagles have lost the turnover battle in both games.

One strategy is to play up-tempo even more. It worked well against the Hokies, but it is not sustainable throughout an entire game.

“I think you have to play complementary football,” Hafley said. “We have to mix it in. We do. We have to be able to do both.”

Stay patient

The Eagles are the first to admit this start isn’t remotely close to what they expected. Their shortcomings have left them perplexed.

Hafley credited his players for continuing to believe in each other and not pointing fingers. He said many approached him and shared how they can improve their play individually. They all agree the skill level across the roster shouldn’t yield the results it has.

“I’m very surprised,” strong safety Jaiden Woodbey said. “I know we have a lot of talent, so we’ve just got to live up to that potential. I don’t think we’re doing that right now.”

That starts with Maine on Saturday. It wouldn’t be glamorous, but it is necessary for a team searching for stability.


Trevor Hass can be reached at trevor.hass@globe.com.