Boston College tackles job of improving its defensive shortcomings

The improvement the Eagles’ defense has shown through its first five games has been enough for Hafley to start seeing some light.

In 2019, BC’s run defense was 11th in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the pass defense was 14th and dead last. This season, the run defense is 10th, but the pass defense has jumped to fourth best.

“Of course, it’s gonna be a process learning a new defense,” said defensive end Marcus Valdez. “We’ve just been working and we know it’s not going to be easy. We haven’t played our best D yet, and I think when we do play our best, it’s going to be scary.

“We’re in position to make plays right now, but we’re just not making them. So we got to, we got to work on finishing and executing. Defense, we got to execute as a team. And that’s been the focus: execute, finish.”

The Eagles (3-2) will host Georgia Tech on Saturday before traveling to take on No. 1 Clemson on Halloween.

The Eagles’ 40-14 blowout loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday didn’t so much expose some of the issues with BC’s defense as it shined a light on how much it can build on the ways it’s already improved.

“When you’re in it, you have a short-term view, so you don’t really see the long term,” Valdez said. “But the coaches definitely see it. And they let you know.”

After the Hokies ran wild for 350 yards, Eagles defensive line coach Vince Oghobaase had film cut-ups ready for his position group — not just of the Virginia Tech game, but every game.

“He showed us what we’re deficient in as a defensive line, each individual person, what have they done good, what have they done bad,” Valdez said. “And we can see that we have put these certain things on tape — good technique — and we’ve got to be consistent. That’s the only thing that’s going to hold us back from being great.

“We’re making plays here and there and just flashes. But we’re not consistent. When you have the consistency we’ll be a great defense. So we’ve got to keep working. But we’ve definitely put it on tape that we could be a great defense. And there have been flashes, so he’s got to keep up with flashes and eliminate the downfalls like this last game.”

Based on the eye test alone, Hafley knew a large chunk of the yards the Eagles allowed came from missed tackles. But it was even more striking when he actually counted it.

“I think we missed 26 tackles,” Hafley said. “And if you tally up how many times we had the guy in the backfield, and then how many yards after that, it’s not a very pretty number.

“We’re going to coach better and we’re going to get multiple people to the football and make it easier for our players. At the same time, if we have a guy stopped in the backfield, I