Saturday, October 17, 2020

Ugly football but still optimistic

The fact that as BC's turnovers piled up, I still felt we could win is a huge sign of progress. But it was not to be as for the first time Hafley lost decisively as BC's coach. Turnovers are frustrating all the time, but especially on a night when BC moved the ball. The maligned OLine looked better but our RBs couldn't hold onto the ball and Jurk got careless a few times. But I still believe we are on the right track. It is up to Hafley to reset and get things fixed. I think he will.

Game Day Info: Virginia Tech

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: The game will start in the 50s and drop to the 40s. This is our coldest game of the season so far.

Radio: SiriusXM 382

TV: The ACC Network.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

BC-Virginia Tech preview

I understand that is is very, very early in the Hafley era. I also know he will have to prove a lot as he brings in his own players, adjusts to a normal year, adjusts to teams getting a feel for how he coaches, and many other hurdles. But I am pretty confident he is the best and most aggressive game manager we've had in my time as a BC fan. Jags was aggressive but it always felt like he was going with his gut and sort of a gambler, where Hafley seems more analytical. The fact that we've been in close games nearly every week and continue to push to score instead of being conservative is a huge change. The fact that we can run a two minute drill is a huge change. But most important is that the sidelines don't seem chaotic during crunch time. Think of how manic Addazio and his crew were during the final minute against Wake years ago. That's not happening now and I think BC will win more just because of that approach. This week won't be the typical trip to Blacksburg, but that even-handed, smart approach should make a difference.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Every week BC previews their uniform combo on social media and BC twitter (including me) weighs in on the latest look. This year has been heavy on the throwbacks. I have stated this in multiple places, but for the record let me say that I strongly prefer the throwbacks to our current uniform. However, I would like to see a full uniform refresh that has aspects of the throwback but looks most like the '90s BC uniform. There are plenty of rumors that a new look is coming. Hopefully it makes everyone happy...and has a single helmet stripe!

Three Simple Keys
1. Slow down their running game. It really is that simple. Our D has been good enough in bend but don't break mode. This week will be more about stopping the run on first and second down.
2. More production from Lamot. Because we've played so much nickle, Lamot hasn't been on the field as much. With VT being run first, that might change. Hopefully that means more support for McDuffie and Richardson.
3. Other guys in the passing game. It is nice that VT has to focus on Long and Flowers. That means other guys should have lots of opportunities. We could use big plays from Lewis, Gill and even Levy and Bailey.

Gambling Notes
-- Virginia Tech leads the series 18-10
-- Fuente is 34-20 at Lane Stadium
-- BC has never won three in a row in this series
The current line is BC+12

Factoid
Henning, Jags, and Addazio each won on their first trips to Blacksburg. TOB and Spaz did not.

Scoreboard Watching
I am curious to see how Louisville does with Notre Dame. I think the Irish are very overrated, however, Louisville has been a major dissapointment. Can they regroup against Notre Dame? Can someone show the Irish are not a Top 5 team? We face both and I think both of their records are decieving. It should be interesting to see if they play a close game.

I hope to see...continued great punting from Carlson. Obviously, I truly hope we never punt, but if we do, I trust Carlson. He's been very good so far this season.

BC is in trouble if...the offensive line continues its uneven play. Hafley addressed it after the game and with the media. He says we are just a few plays here and there from looking great. I hope he is right, because the breakdowns and misses put way too much pressure on Jurk to escape or throw into bad situations.

Overall
I don't get what the oddsmakers see. Is Virginia Tech good? Probably. But I think we are good too and have proven that we play to the level of our opponent (for better or worse). I think this is a back and forth game with lots of passing. I think a few turnovers go BC's way and we hold on to win.
Final Score: BC 31, Virginia Tech 27

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Enjoying the roller coaster ride

Close games are not good for your health or your W-L record. But after three weeks of tense, back and forth games, I am thrilled that BC beat Pitt to improve to 3-1. But like our other close games, the big picture is still very encouraging. We have plenty of areas to improve (penalties, OL execution, Jurkovec's decision making) but we are still winning. The winning is coming from areas that have been much harder for BC to fix in previous administrations (in-game adjustments, aggressive play calling, late game execution).

The other thing that is great about a coaching change, is that there is always some guy who was overlooked or misused by the previous regime, who blossoms. For BC that is Zay Flowers. He had a huge day and made numerous unbelievable catches. 

There is still a lot of football left to play this year, but this first month of games has provided lots of hope and promise and wins...and that's all we wanted.  

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Game Day: Pitt

No comments this year. 

What you need to know

Weather: Mid '60s with no chance to rain. Another perfect football day

Radio: SiriusXM 193 

TV: The ACC Network. If you don't have the ACC Network, perhaps get a temporary login for Hulu+ or Youtube TV.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

BC-Pitt preview

We just played Pitt in November, yet BC Football and the world has changed dramatically since then. My fear at the time was gutting out that win might have saved Addazio. We know it didn't and instead led to the welcome change in leadership. This Pitt game is unlikely to provide any sort of capstone or turning point, however, it should be fun and winnable, which is all we can ask for at this time. 

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
While winning is primary, I think how this season is playing out should be good for Hafley and BC's recruiting. Stadiums are empty everywhere so using the "no fans" argument against us is negated for now. Hafley is getting a ton of positive media coverage, especially after last week's impromptu rant after the Long injury. The student life is still not back to normal, but BC is providing a more traditional college experience than most. If the team wins, the BC sales pitch will look that much better.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stops on 3rd down. Last week was beyond frustrating. The whole point of a bend but don't break D is not to allow long 3rd down conversions. Pickett is a good QB. If you give him time, he will find someone open. They need to bring him down.
2. Go deep more. The ease in which Jurkovec can fling it is probably something we haven't had since Shinskie. The late TD called back that Long caught was just a rope. We need to challenge donwfield more. The explosive plays can be backbreakers for Pitt.
3. Stay aggressive in Special Teams. The short kickoff didn't work, but the idea was good. I think we need to keep trying things like that, especially as an underdog.

Gambling Notes
-- Pitt leads the all time series 17-14
-- Pitt is 8-7 all time in Alumni
-- Narduzzi is 14-12 following a loss
The current line is BC+6

Factoid
This is the first time we've played Pitt in back to back years since the Big East days.

Scoreboard Watching
The only ACC game that matters -- other than ours -- is Miami-Clemson. Are the 'Canes back (again)? This season is already unpredictable. Who knows what the playoff will bring. The ACC will likely have at least one team in it, but if Miami proves to be great, maybe two can get in.

I hope to see...BC establish some sort of run game. I am not Addazio but I do think not running more is hurting the offense. So much would open up if we had believable play action. I also think Bailey is too much of an asset not to use.

BC is in trouble if...we are down going into the 4th Quarter. As much as I embrace the feeling of always being in the game, digging out of a hole game after game is not good for anyone. BC came up short last week. Let's not have that again.

Overall
I think this is a relatively low scoring defensive game. I think BC gets lucky with some turnovers to stall Pitt drives. I think instead of trying to comeback, this week we get ahead and hold on to the win.
Final Score: BC 21, Pitt 14

Saturday, October 03, 2020

An encouraging loss

I don't like to fallback on "moral victories" but I will say this: I am a happy BC fan right now. We've played three games which I would call B/B- ball and are 2-1, including a near upset of a Top 20 team. And most exciting was once again, I never thought BC was out of the game and in the final moments I thought they were going to win. It is nice to feel that way.

There were still plenty of problems. Too many stupid penalties. Still way too much confusion up front and issues with the OLine. Jurk still has some bad decisions, including holding onto the ball too long and missing open guys. But I will say Hafley managed the game well and more than just the clock and timeouts, he also pushed the right emotional buttons. These are still young players who need those wake up calls.

I will try to have more in the coming days, but I feel real good about the season and the program.

Game Day: North Carolina

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Mid '60s, no rain

Radio: SiriusXM 193

TV: ABC

Thursday, October 01, 2020

BC-North Carolina Preview

I don't know if we can consider last week magic. If you take your BC colored glasses off, it was more of a case of escaping with a win after a sloppy day. But those are the types of wins that often lead to a special season. You need some luck. You need some growing pains. And you need a little bonding among the players and coaches. The emotions of last week will be gone by kickoff, but maybe the learning and luck will still be there. We need both to pull off the upset.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I don't know how plugged in the regular readers are to what's happening on campus, but BC is generally making more restrictions related to COVID. Based on their moves, I don't know if we will see students at sporting events any time soon. I also don't know what new and returning students even think of the BC experience right now. Going to and covering BC sports were big parts of my experience. I feel for those who miss it. I hope they realize how special this Hafley season might be. Even though they can't be in Alumni, being around it still might provide some great memories.

Three Simple Keys
1. Figure out the run game. We've done a lot on the ground so far and it has been a mixed bag. The basic stretch looked good. Some of the counter trey stuff was a mess. I liked Jurk running. I didn't like the direct handoff stuff to Levy. My suggestion is keep it easy to manage with some zones and option reads. Everything else can be put on the backburner for now.
2. Help the DBs in the red zone. Leaving Sebastion or any of the corners out on an island is dangerous. We don't have that level of talent there right now. Either give them more help or bring so much pressure that the passing is off.
3. Get back to stripping the ball out. Hafley said it was a priority. That showed against Duke. Last week the guys weren't seemingly as active. This week they need those takeaways.

Gambling Notes
-- UNC leads the series 2-5
-- UNC has won two in a row
-- North Carolina is 1-1 at Alumni
The current line is BC+13.5

Factoid
Mack Brown has coached more than 300 games, but this will be his first trip to Alumni as a coach.

Scoreboard Watching
Clemson v Virginia will be interesting. We all know Clemson is great and will probably be our toughest game. However, ending the season with UVA will also be tough. Seeing how the 'Hoos handle Clemson might give us an idea of just how tough.

I hope to see...better tackling. This might seem like silly thing to harp on, especially with how COVID put limitations on spring ball and game prep, but there were plenty of missed tackles against Texas State. The game shouldn't have been as close as it was. If BC makes five more tackles, half those drives end without even getting into BC territory.

BC is in trouble if...Jurkovec holds the ball too long. While the OLine has been very inconsistent, many of the sacks are also on Jurkovec for holding onto the ball too long and not throwing it away. He can't keep taking drive killing sacks.

Overall
This game will be tough. We looked out of sorts last week and certainly not capable of hanging with one of the better teams in the ACC. But my hope is the wakeup call from last week leads to a cleaner, better game this week. I think this goes back and forth and BC holds on to win another close game at home.
Final Score: BC 28, UNC 24