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Three players, two matchups, and one prediction for Virginia football at Boston College

Previewing Sunday’s matchup between the Eagles and the Cavaliers.

NC State v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

As you probably know, the Virginia Cavaliers are 0-4. They aren’t good, but at least these last three weeks have all been relatively close games. The Wahoos haven’t been blown out. The Maryland game looks like a blowout, but was a one possession game in the fourth quarter. It feels like they’re close to getting a win. Just need to catch a few breaks.

Going on the road is often not a great way to end a losing streak. However, going on the road to face a struggling team can be a good way to end a losing streak. Sometimes there’s less pressure on the road.

The Boston College Eagles are 1-3, so better than Virginia. But their win was against FCS Holy Cross. They are also coming off a 56-28 drubbing from Louisville. They fell behind 28-0 in the 2nd quarter. They simply could not get a stop. The Cardinals scored a TD on their first SEVEN drives.

The Eagles are favored by three at home, which means these teams are rated similarly. PFF agrees. The Wahoos are ranked 94th, while BC is ranked 98th. Should be another close one.

Game Time: Saturday, Sept 30, 2:00PM Eastern
TV: CW Network
Streaming: CW

Three Players To Watch

QB Thomas Castellanos

The Eagles’ QB is a transfer from UCF after a huge high school career in Georgia. He’s just 5’10” 196, but had an offer from FSU. He lasted just one season, and five games at UCF before transferring to BC this year.

But he didn’t even enter the season as the starter. Emmett Morehead took over last year as a freshman due to injury and played pretty well. But after he struggled on two early drives against NIU, he was replaced. Don’t forget, last year’s team first round pick Zay Flowers at WR. That makes things easy on a QB. Morehead doesn’t have the running ability that Castellanos has, and that completely changes the dynamic of their offense.

He is a true dual threat QB. He leads the team in rushing and averages over 5 yards per carry. In their near upset of FSU, Castellanos threw for 305 yards and a TD, adding 52 yards and a TD on the ground.

You might argue this is more of a desperation heave than anything else. But it’s also a jump throw of almost 40 yards that is right on target.

This one is a very bad throw into triple coverage. On both plays, he’s under immense pressure and just flings it downfield. The Wahoos have not been able to pressure opposing QBs, which is a big part of why the defense has been so much worse than last season. Gotta get pressure on Castellanos if they want to win this game.

RDE Donovan Ezeiruaku

The Eagles play a fairly basic 4-3 defense. The DEs are expected to be the pass rushers. Ezeiruaku led the team last year with 14.5 TFLs and 8.5 sacks. He also had three forced fumbles. Here’s one:

The Eagles don’t blitz much, so they need to get pressure from those DEs. This season, Ezeiruaku has 1 TFL and 0 sacks. He played, but just has not been able to generate negative plays. As a team, they are dead last in the nation in TFLs. And not much higher than that in sacks. It’s awfully hard to get stops if you can’t force negative plays.

Since he lines up exclusively on the right, he’ll be going against McKale Boley, who is Virginia’s best pass blocker. Keeping him from getting going will be a big factor in this game.

WR Lewis Bond

Bond isn’t even listed as a starter on the depth chart, though he has started three of the four games. He leads the team in receiving and in touchdowns.

Bond had two TDs last week, though with the Eagles falling behind 28-0 in the second quarter, most of the second half was a mere formality. Still, he has big play potential and the Virginia secondary has been prone to giving up big plays in the passing game.

Two Key Matchups

Virginia OL vs Boston College DL

Yeah. Again. The Hoos still can’t run the ball. At all. They rank 125th in the nation in rush offense. They were better in pass blocking last week, allowing just two sacks and scoring their highest grade of the season per PFF (barely a passing grade). Run blocking has been awful, and it’s putting the offense in bad situations.

It’s the reason Tony Elliott was unwilling to go for it on fourth down. He just isn’t confident he can pick up a yard. Or three yards. Is he too cautious? Yes. But, they simply can’t run the ball. Very bad in short yardage. Virginia ranks 128th at just 2.2 yards per carry. Yes, that includes sacks, but that’s just very bad.

As noted above, the Eagles don’t bring extra pass rushers very much. Almost all of the pass rush comes from the DEs. The DTs are more run stoppers, led by 315 lb NT Cam Horsley.

Virginia WRs vs Boston College’s Secondary

Considering how bad the running game has been for the Hoos, it’s all the more impressive that they have the 51st ranked passing offense. They rank 72nd in passing efficiency, even with all of Colandrea’s INTs. Because the rank 23rd in yards per reception. This WR corps is making plays.

Obviously, a lot of that is Malik Washington, who is seventh in the nation in receiving. There have been a lot of big plays, but BC’s defense is all about avoiding big plays. The Virginia WRs may have to settle for more underneath routes.

This is where we’ll discuss the elephant in the room. According to Tony Elliott, Tony Muskett will start this game. The true freshman Colandrea has excited fans over the past few weeks with improvisation and lots of big plays. For both teams. Muskett may not be the sexy pick at QB, but he might give the Hoos a better chance to win. (He also might not, who knows?)

One Prediction

This game matches up two mediocre offenses with two bad defenses. The Eagles can run the ball, mostly with Castellanos. That gives them an edge. Plus they’re at home. Plus, close games come down to special teams, and we know Virginia is very bad at special teams. PFF ranks Virginia 113th in the nation in special teams.

On the road, can’t stop the run, bad special teams. Sounds like Virginia will fall to 0-5.

Prediction: Eagles 28, Wahoos 20