Northern Illinois, Boston College seek fresh starts after rough 2022

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After posting identical 3-9 records last year, Boston College and Northern Illinois look for a fresh start in Saturday’s season opener in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The Eagles bring 74 percent of their overall 2022 production into the program’s 125th season. Fourth-year coach Jeff Hafley believes his team has a talented roster that is ready to improve on a disappointing effort last season.

“There was more competition regarding the depth chart than we’ve ever had,” Hafley said. “We’ve had some guys during this camp that moved ahead, but then a week later the other guy jumps. … I think the competition brought out the best in a lot of people.”

A new starting quarterback leads the way for BC in Emmett Morehead, who was one of only three true or redshirt freshmen nationally to put together multiple games of at least 325 passing yards and three touchdowns in 2022.

The loss of preseason All-American guard Christian Mahogany (torn ACL) was compounded by injuries across the offensive line throughout last season, forcing the Eagles to use nine different starting combinations.

Graduate student Jack Conley was the only player to start all 12 games, playing four positions.

“The memories of not having the same O-line for nine straight weeks, hopefully it’ll never happen again in the history of football,” Hafley said.

With BC’s all-time leading receiver Zay Flowers now set to play on Sundays, look for Ryan O’Keefe to make an impact. The transfer was a two-time All-American Athletic Conference pick at UCF.

NIU lost four of its final five games of 2022 but does return eight starters on offense.

Quarterback Rocky Lombardi was injured in the third game last season, while 2021 All-MAC receiver and kick returner Trayvon Rudolph went down in preseason camp.

“Similar to us a year ago, (BC) dealt with some injuries that hurt their team a little bit,” Huskies coach Thomas Hammock said. “It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us. It’s about continuing to get better. … I think if we can play a team game and complement one another, we’re going to improve as a football team.”

The Huskies have six veterans back from an offensive line that allowed just 12 sacks in as many games last year.

–Field Level Media

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