Excitement is in the air as Boston College hosts Rutgers for Saturday's season opener in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
The Eagles are the only team in the ACC returning a quarterback with 3,000 career passing yards (Phil Jurkovec), a running back with 1,000 rushing yards (Pat Garwo) and a receiver with 1,000 receiving yards (Zay Flowers).
Jurkovec missed seven games last season due to a freak hand injury. He ended the year with just 914 passing yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions but the redshirt senior is still considered to be one of the top signal-callers available in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Third-year head coach Jeff Hafley's club is excited to take on the first challenge.
"With a Big Ten team and a really hard road game (at Virginia Tech) to start the season, I think you (saw) a little more sense of urgency from everyone," Hafley said of the later stages of training camp.
Despite its explosive returning players, there is a new look to BC's offense with coordinator John McNulty and offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in their first seasons.
BC was ranked 28th nationally in total defense in 2021 and returns its top four tacklers from last year's 6-6 team.
Meanwhile, Rutgers has not named a starting quarterback. Senior Noah Vedral's 1,823 passing yards last year were the most by a Scarlet Knight since 2015.
"I think they all had good training camps," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "We're going to do whatever it takes to win. I don't know how many (quarterbacks) you'll see."
Rutgers started 3-0 before finishing 5-8 last year.
The two sides are well-connected despite being separated as Big East rivals in 2004.
Hafley coached under Schiano at Rutgers in 2011 before the two worked together with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the following two years.
Three of Hafley's assistants also spent time at Rutgers.
"There's a lot of good friends on that sideline," Schiano said. "I'm really proud of Jeff. I knew Jeff would be a head coach. ... It will be a little strange because I care about those guys, but when you're playing in a game, you're competing and trying to win."
"I'm sure (seeing Schiano before the game) will be a little emotional for me," Hafley said, "but then we'll put the headsets on, it's time to play. I can't say enough about him."
The Eagles have won 11 straight games in a series that hasn't been contested in Massachusetts since 2004.
--Field Level Media