Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec had free rein to air it out. He threw 56 passes, the most by a BC quarterback at Alumni Stadium since at least 1996. And even though his 37 completions, 313 yards, and two touchdowns nearly brought the Eagles back after falling behind, 14-3, in the first quarter, Hafley said there were plays he missed that could have swung the momentum long before BC’s fourth-quarter rally.
“If you watch the tape, there are some plays — there are some explosive plays out there — that with experience, we could’ve hit a couple of big ones,” Hafley said.
More than the plays the Eagles missed, Hafley was concerned by the mistakes that sabotaged them. The Eagles committed 12 penalties, costing them 110 yards. From false starts to unsportsmanlike conduct, the flags were drive killers at pivotal times.
“Whether it was from the wide receiver room or the offensive line or the quarterback, we just need to do a better job in practice,” Hafley said. “It’s fourth and 1, third and 1 and we’re going backwards . . . It can’t happen. We need to do a better job of cleaning up that procedurally and we will.”
The quiet killer for the Eagles was third-down defense. North Carolina’s first two scoring drives were fueled by four straight third-down conversions to start the game. They converted a fifth before a BC stop, and 7 of 12 overall.
“There’s a lot of conversation between [defensive coordinator] Tem [Lukabu] and I talking about third down,” Hafley said. “If you look early in that game — I think there were like six or seven to start — the coverage was there, we had a guy, had a sack, and we just let him off the hook. I mean, you’re talking about changing the game.”
After having spring practice suspended and returning for voluntary workouts in June after the hiatus, Hafley kept things in perspective.
“We haven’t been together for very long,” he said. “We need to keep focusing on the little things and we will.”
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With BC mostly playing from behind, the running game once again played a lesser role in the offense. The Eagles threw it 56 times and ran it just 19.
BC has leaned more toward the pass this season, throwing it 110 times and running it just 88. Much like two weeks ago against Texas State, when BC went to the air 38 times and ran it 27, Hafley said circumstances dictated the play-calling.
“That wasn’t the plan going in,” Hafley said. “We felt good about the o-line and the backs and we still do. I thought our o-line played well, and I thought our backs played well. They came out and they were being very, very aggressive on defense. I think you could see in the first half, it was pressure and everybody down in the box. So we had to open it up. Then once we opened it up, we found some success and our offense was able to move the football.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at [email protected]