Time Is Precious With Last Three Games For The Team

November is typically a busy month in the college football season. After finalizing contenders for the national championship and conference titles in October, the year enters its final month with a number of teams competing for postseason bowl games. Others, once left to die, creep back into title consideration, but the majority fight for the best invitation possible.

Any other year, Boston College would find itself among this group vying for a better invitation to bowling. The Eagles would need a win or two in November to qualify for the postseason, and their success would dictate talks about possible targets and likely opponents. In the 22 years since the turn of the century, BC secured their bowl spot on 15 separate occasions prior to last week, and only a select few years participated in the final game without contesting at least one bowl game.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, the 2022 season was destined to spark that conversation after last week’s 38-31 loss to Duke left them ineligible for the first time since 2015 with a 2-7 aggregate record. It was the latest in a string of disappointing results this year, but with three games remaining at Fish Field House, the focus remained on Saturday’s upcoming matchup against No. 16 NC State rather than like the year without one Journey at Christmas time would end a neutral site game.

“We had a really good start to the week,” said the head coach Jeff Hafley. “The guys are really convincing with their attitude and their energy. you had fun [on Tuesday], which is really good to see. They’re working and I’m excited to see what else we can do for the rest of the week.”

Bowl ineligibility is an uncomfortable position for teams that lack dressing room cohesion, as losses tend to cause rifts between position groups and players. Attitudes geared towards pointing the finger bubble to the surface, and coaches waste a team’s efforts on the perception that there is nothing worth striving for.

BC hasn’t experienced that problem in its locker room, and the Eagles are preparing to play their last three games with the same carefree attitude usually reserved for a bowl game. Each of these games is essentially his bowl, and the experimental schemes normally reserved for the postseason practices and games at neutral venues are now part of the lexicon of a weekly practice, especially for the younger players currently developing.

“Regardless of whether we’re at home or on the road, we stay in a hotel,” Hafley said, “and it’s always a really good time to be together. They are at the hotel together and we eat all our meals together. We see play play just talk have team meetings where I talk sometimes the players talk sometimes the other coaches talk I never want to take these for granted as this is the only time of the week when it’s just us there are.”

Soccer players are bred to prepare for the next game, but saying “Father Time is undefeated” outlines how a sporting version of the reaper eventually claims everyone’s career. No one – not even Tom Brady – can play forever, and each week is one less minute or hour dripping from the sand that never stops ticking. There will be other players, but the individuals themselves must appreciate this time for its limited atmosphere, even if it doesn’t feel that way in every moment that is considered current.

Regardless of a team’s record, these moments are too precious to squander, and BC understands how those moments, that final night of learning or preparing, teach individuals about life. The bonds forged behind closed doors last long after the stadium lights are turned off, and they also form the core for the squads for future seasons. This culture is especially present when the crowds are away, and it builds the continuity that every coach wants to establish before discussing a team’s win-loss records.

“From the moment you arrive at the hotel until kick-off, it’s just us,” Hafley said, “and when it’s all done you’re going to miss those moments and take advantage of them. It was me. On some teams you meet and meet and meet and the guys have their headphones on or look at their phones. For me, we’re done when we get to this hotel. There are small meetings but the guys are talking and playing games, enjoying their coaches and the fellowship. It’s really important to build up, especially with the young people that we have.

BC go into Saturday with a 2-7 record and advanced analysis is all but certain that the nationally-led Wolfpack will leave Carter Finley Stadium with a win. None of that is guaranteed, but if the Eagles are going to upset opponents over the past three weeks, it’s going to be down to their ability to stand together as a cohesive team, able to enjoy the moment and work together as a unit to enhance.

“It’s not just about the younger guys doing well because they did well,” Hafley said. “Important is [a guy like] Zay flowers play like him, and if you watch the movie and watch him block in a game, he blocks through the whistle. That says [something] to everyone who’ll be watching him prepare for the draft, but it sends a message to Joe Griffin and all the younger guys when things aren’t going well. Some guys projected as first- or second-round picks would opt out and not play, but Zay is playing harder than he’s played all year.

“That’s what I think of when someone asks me if the team needs to be motivated,” he said. “It motivates me and I know things are going well and I’m really disappointed and need to do a better job. But when I see these guys play as hard as they played, guys like Zay that don’t really need to [to go full speed], that motivates me. I can’t wait to continue coaching her and trying to make her better.”

Boston College meets ranked 16th NC State at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on Saturday. The game can be seen on national television via the ACC network with streaming on ESPN’s online app platform.

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