Boston College looks to extend win streak against UConn

The Boston College defense has been playing catchup in a variety of statistical categories except for the most important one.

BC’s three-game win streak can be can be attributed in a large part to the Eagles’ success at getting off the field on third down.

The defense held Georgia Tech to 3-of-11 on third down conversions in last Saturday’s 38-23 victory in an ACC match at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Eagles (4-3, 2-2) will look extend the trend when they host UConn (1-6) in a non-league regional grudge match on Saturday (noon) at Alumni Stadium.

“We spend a lot of time on it and we are trying to throw at lot of different looks at people,” said BC head coach Jeff Hafley. “We are changing it up each week and there are times when we are really aggressive and we bring a lot of pressure.

“We are spending a lot of time looking at protections and breaking things down.”

BC actually had it most impressive day getting the opposing offense off the field on third down in a 31-29 loss to No. 5 Florida State on Sept. 16. The Seminoles’ balanced, high-powered attack was just 1-for-9 on third down.

After suffering every imaginable defensive breakdown in a 56-28 loss at Louisville, the Eagles regrouped the following week at home against Virginia. BC held the Cavs to 3-of-12 on third down in a 27-24 win. The following week at Army, BC held the Cadets to 3-of-10 on third down. In the last three games, BC has held the opposition to 9-of-33 on third down.

“I thought the Florida State game started it pretty well and then we hit that blip at Louisville,” said Hafley. “Virginia was lights out and Army was lights out and last week again. We are trying to make quarterbacks uncomfortable. To win games you’ve got to get off the field on third down.”

The BC pass rush gave Yellow Jackets quarterback Haynes King a severe case of “happy feet” in the second half. BC went into the game with just one interception but recorded three against Tech. Elijah Jones had two while Amari Jackson had a 30-yard pick six.

BC will have a tougher time containing UConn dual threat quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson, a Penn State transfer who missed last season with a knee injury. Roberson has completed 104-of-175 passes for 1,145 yards with eight touchdown and three picks.

“He is effective and accurate and gets rid of the ball really quick,” said Hafley. “He’s athletic and quick on his feet and he has gotten better each week.”

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