Sunday, July 22, 2018

Lessons from Last Chance U Season 3

I just finished up the latest season of Netflix's Last Chance U and highly recommend any football fans watches. The primary focus has moved to Independence Community College in Kansas, but there is still a lot to learn about college football as it applies to BC. (There is also an epilogue on the main personalities from Season 1 and Season 2.) Here are some of my takeaways. SPOILERS AHEAD.

We don't know everything about some "elite" recruits 

One of the featured players is former Florida State QB Malik Henry. If someone like Henry ever signed with BC, the fanbase would flip out and assume that Henry would be on his way to winning four Heismans at BC and a few National Championships. Yet watching this guy play, you wonder how anyone -- including Florida State -- thought he would be so good. I think with someone like Henry, the hype starts early, perpetuates itself and no one ever stops to ask if the kid is really a great player. He's pretty thin and smallish, so you wonder if he could ever take a pounding. Based on the game action, neither his arm nor his legs seems special. Finally he is a royal pain in the ass who assumes he is great and smarter than everyone. As he hopped around high schools (four in total), how did no one realize he was a fraud? How did Jimbo Fisher not realize he would be a challenge? I think Addazio leans on "character" a bit much when he talks about BC. But I do think BC's emphasis on a player coming to camp, and being around the staff a lot, has value. You can start to find out what these kids are really like and who is just hype and ego.

Talent > coaching

Like the previous seasons, you start to see how great talent can cover up a lot of mistakes and make coaches look good. Independence's Coach Jason Brown admits as much throughout the doc. It is chaos on the sidelines and the practices appear very disorganized. Brown is futzing around with all sorts of administrative stuff (like pizza and uniforms) and yet they are still winning. They even overcome all sorts of infighting among the coaches, the players, and the coaches vs players. I want smart, organized, and stable coaches. But shows like this remind me that most champions are winning with talent more than they are winning with great coaching.

Still no BC presence

Last year's background clip of a BC game remains as close was we've gotten to the Netflix series. None of the players are in the BC mix. An assistant from New Mexico State (who works with Spaz and Doug Martin) shows up to recruit, but that's about it. That is probably for the best. Although they've moved from Mississippi to Kansas, the typical JUCO player remains such a bad fit for BC, that I have no problem with Addazio avoiding that route.

Friday, July 20, 2018

See the press conferences

There is still not a lot coming out of the ACC Media Days. (Maybe Saturday?) Here is video of Addazio, Sweeney and Allen talking to the press.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Addazio doesn't say much in press conference

At this point I don't expect Steve Addazio to create some sort of controversy or get the College Football world's attention like Larry Fedora did. However, I wouldn't mind a little insight into the team or some specifics for the fans. If the opening press conference was any indication, we are not getting much out o the ACC Media Days. The biggest news -- which we already knew -- was that Brown was back and will be cleared by the time practices start in August.

Otherwise it was generic talk about team chemistry. There was an answer to a weird question about teams adjusting to the weather. He reiterated his desire to play good D and run the ball. Addazio also talked a little about his history with Paul Pasqualoni. But that was it. Very little about what's going on in football. Nothing on the uptick in recruiting. He didn't even get a chance to talk up facilities.

On Friday most of the one on one interview content will seep out. Hopefully he said something in those sessions that give us an idea of what to expect, how this year will be different and how he is dealing with the expectations.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ACC Network focus of Day 1 of ACC Media Days

During his state of the conference press conference John Swofford spent much of his time on the ACC Network. The few big takeaways were that the conference is going to put ACC Matchups on the Network right away in 2019. The opening weekend ACC game is rumored to be BC-Virginia Tech. I don't know if we should be honored or worried about being first.

Swofford also shared how far behind financially the ACC revenues are compared to the SEC and Big Ten. The Network should shrink that gap a bit.

Carriage is the final and most important issue. Who cares about the ACC Network if no one can see it. Swofford claims ESPN is going to leverage its other assets to force the cable and satellite providers' hands. ESPN seems pretty protective and fearful of cord cutting, so I don't know how much hardball they will play. I am hoping that if the major carriers don't open up the season with the network, that fans will have other access points.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Thoughts on Connelly's BC preview

SB Nation's Bill Connelly posted his annual, thorough and statistically based BC preview. It is well worth the read and he is pretty optimistic about BC's future. However, he doesn't see BC breaking through its seven-win ceiling this year. I agree with most of what Connelly writes with the exception of these few things.

His optimism about the Offense
I don't think the midseason explosion we saw in the offense last year was an aberration, but I also don't think it will be the new norm. If you look at what Addazio and Loeffler have accomplished together and apart, they are rarely producing elite, efficient offenses. There are a few spikes, but more often than not (including last year) they are in the lower third of college offenses. I think we be better with Dillon and an healthy line. I do expect more from Brown. Yet I don't think we will ever be a Top 30 offense. Talent can change things, but Addazio (and Loeffler's) track record says that the way they prepare, teach and manage has a clear ceiling.

His worries about depth
Connelly mentions a few times that if BC "stays healthy..." with an emphasis on the D. I am not worried about our depth. To his credit Addazio has upgraded the talent level and seemingly every replacement the past two years has been nearly as good as the guy who was starting. Avoiding injuries is important but I can't see any player changing the course of the season. We lost Landry for most of last year and still played well on that side of the ball.

His view of the schedule
He worries that BC could start out hot and play well but would still suffer due to the difficulty of the final stretch of the schedule. I don't share his fear. Only Clemson has established a consistency that makes their game a longshot. All the other teams have been beaten recently (Louisville, FSU) or have some significant new challenges (new coach, new coordinator, new QB). They are plenty of winnable games in the second portion of the schedule.

Monday, July 16, 2018

We are getting closer

Lots of sites and blogs have countdowns to the season. Today's from IMG was pretty good.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Sean Marshall back trying to win for Frates

If you have followed Sean Marshall's summer ball experiences the past two years, you know he puts teams together to honor his friend Pete Frates and raise money for ALS. He's back again this summer to honor Frates, more ALS patients and to win it all. The update is above. Good luck to his team!