Thursday, November 26, 2020

BC-Louisville preview

While BC has done everything right during the pandemic, this is the first true test of BC and Hafley's ability to juggle and change. This game was on, then rescheduled, then back on again but with a different time and date. In theory it should not be a big deal. The team had more than enough time to turn it back on mentally, but you never know. These are still young, immature players in an unprecedented time.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
There is lots of talk about BC's future uniform and shoe deal. If you don't follow this, Under Armour started breaking their current college deals and are not renewing others. It seems highly unlikely they will renew the BC deal and there is plenty of talk that the current deal might be cut short. Is this part of the college sports revenue model reset? Who knows? But taking one major bidder out of the process ultimately makes any deal (including BC's) less valuable. Hopefully Pat Kraft can make a deal that keeps the revenue close to its current levels. What I really hope for is that whatever partner we select, we see an improvement in the selection and options for BC merchandise. I also wouldn't mind seeing BC increase its presence with all potential licencing partners.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stop the run. Louisville's passing game is not particularly consistent. If we stop their run, we will control the tempo and probably keep them from scoring much.
2. Big plays from Zay. Louisville's D is ok. We probably can't chip away at them, so it will be up to get some big plays, which means Zay needs to break a few.
3. Aggressive game management. Hafley made some gutsy calls against Clemson and Notre Dame. We've been off two weeks and are coming off a loss. I think a few big plays could help the momentum and the confidence of the team.

Gambling Notes
-- Louisville leads the series 7-5
-- BC is 3-0 against the spread vs Louisville the last three years
-- Satterfield is 7-8 in ACC play
The current line is BC-1

Factoid
This is technically Senior Day, but obviously no parents this year.

Scoreboard Watching
If Notre Dame beats UNC, they are probably headed to the ACC Championship Game. I know none of us want to see the Irish do well, but if they go undefeated in the regular season and then lose to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, both teams will likely make the playoffs. Two ACC playoff teams is good for the entire conference.

I hope to see...Jurkovec healthy. As we now know, he separated his shoulder towards the end of the Clemson game and that effected his accuracy against Cuse and Notre Dame. We need him healthy for this game and for the season finale.

BC is in trouble if...we turn the ball over. Louisville is somewhat sloppy. If we just play our usual game, we should get turnovers. We can't help them out by giving any back.

Overall
Despite the layoff and the close point spread, I think this is a good matchup for us. I don't think they can score with us and think we will be opportunistic enough to get a few turnovers. If Jurk is truly healthy, this isn't even close.
Final Score: BC 31, Louisville 21

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Numerous questions heading into the BC Men's Basketball season

The pandemic saved Jim Christian's job. Instead of using the first few days after the ACC Tournament to finalize a decision and set the course for a new hire, the College Basketball world shutdown and the whole college industry followed shortly thereafter. Despite a strong desire from some, BC leadership decided times and finances were too uncertain and decided to keep Christian around for another season. If someone had come in to cover the expense of a coaching change like Wake Forest did, would BC had made a move? Maybe. If an A List coach like John Beilein had real interest, would BC have made a move? Maybe. But those are just "what if"s. Jim Christian is back and our new AD Pat Kraft has to evaluate what he has done and where the program is heading...all while both men try to navigate the uncertainty of another COVID season.

What's new?

Christian primarily rebuilt the roster with various bodies from mid-majors. This gives him depth and versatility. While all the guys would be contributors on mid-level ACC teams, none are program changers. The big new name freshman is DeMarr Langford Jr (his brother Makai Ashton-Langford is one of the transfers mentioned). Langford could be the type of piece that makes a difference. He's local, his father is connected on the AAU scene and he has enough upside to tantalize any ACC team. BC needs Langford Jr to succeed and then find a New England player like him every year.

What can we expect out of Tabbs?

Aside from the transfers and recruits, Wynston Tabbs is another talent infusion. The challenge is no one knows what to expect. Will he be the player he was two years ago? Can he be better? All the gossip has been good. Now we just need to see it on the court and pray he stays healthy.

What are the expectations for the season?

The basketball world expects very little of BC this year. We were picked 14th in the ACC preseason poll. Kenpom has BC as 86th. ESPN's BPI has BC at 87th.  Bracketology has BC out of the tournament. No one expects BC to do anything this year. I guess that helps, in that a .500 year in ACC play might be a good storyline. 

How does COVID factor into the season?

No fans will be at home games (but that doesn't feel new). Any outbreaks will create schedule changes. BC elected to play in a preseason bubble which means we have our toughest non-conference slate in years.

What does Christian have to do to keep his job?

I have no idea and anyone who claims they know is speculating. Pat Kraft worked at a series of basketball schools in Loyola-Chicago, Indiana and Temple. He knows basketball can make a difference to an Athletic Department and University. Kraft has a front row seat to the energy and excitement Hafley brought to the football team. Regardless of some institutional issues, BC Basketball remains an underperforming source of revenue and a missed opportunity to promote the school and engage the alumni. A coaching change can make a difference. Even the Women's program showed that things can get better prior to a new arena or practice facility. 

But regardless of all the reasons there might be to make a change and all the underachieving prior to this year, no one knows what BC can afford. Revenue is down in all areas, including Athletics. I have no idea if BC leadership will have an appetite to make a change this year, especially if Christian and crew exceed the low, low expectations for the year. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The good and bad of the new adjusted schedule

While all of college football has seen their schedules turned upside down, BC has mostly be unaffected...until this week. Because of Miami's COVID outbreak, the final few weeks of ACC Football were rescheduled and pushed BC's home game against Louisville to December 12. There are some good things and bad things about the move, but for BC, it is mostly positive.

The Good...

This give BC some time to recharge. Our next game won't be until December 5 vs Virginia. Hopefully by then Jurkovec shoulder will be in less pain. Also, the various nagging injuries and issues that players' have will have some time to recover. This mini break also gives the coaching staff some time to self scout and figure out what needs work. I assume this will also give them time to implement new things or counters to our current looks and tendencies.

For a team that didn't have spring ball or extended summer work, this can be a bit of catch up. You can work the younger guys in practice. You can try new things.

Finally the break allows extra prep for Virginia and Louisville. Both of these teams are flawed. BC can win both and should expect to win both. A seven win season would be a huge statement for Hafley to the college football world and a big accomplishment for this team.

The Bad...

Two more weeks also means two more weeks of trying to hold off the virus. BC has done an incredible job of keeping the players COVID free. Now you throw in the communal aspects of Thanksgiving and there is an increased chance for a spike. 

I hope the team continues its commitment (and keeps getting lucky) with regards to the virus spread. I also hope that pushing the games back doesn't ultimately lead to their cancellation. The ACC built in this window for COVID issues. But if they happen during the final weeks, BC doesn't have any other areas of the calendar to slot the games.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Game Day: Notre Dame

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Chilly and in the 40s, but dry.

Radio: SiriusXM 194

TV: ABC

Thursday, November 12, 2020

BC-Notre Dame preview

I know it is just a football game and the outside world doesn't really have an impact on the field. I know that if you play enough times, the better teams wins. I know this. You know this. Yet, here we are. If you're a BC fan you and reading this blog, you don't need to know the odds. You don't really follow BC to see us win Championship after Championship, like Alabama or Clemson. You watch and cheer and get invested for moments like this. You bathe yourself in the storylines, the emotion, and the karma of it all. The best Notre Dame team in 25 years, undefeated and coming off a huge win over a No. 1 team, comes to BC. It will be an eerie and empty Alumni due to COVID and 2020. BC will be wearing the Red Bandana uniforms. You know how this ends...let's do it!

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
With BC securing five wins last week, most of the bowl projections have us bowling somewhere. Since most of the bowl will be empty does it really make sense for any of the mid and lower tier bowls to actually take place in their designated location? It is just a TV show at this point. For example, why does the Pinstripe Bowl need to be played in an empty Yankee Stadium and in a shut down New York City. Why not just have all the TV-driven bowls played in domes in easily accessible and COVID friendly locations like Atlanta or Phoenix or in spots in Florida? It is probably safer, cheaper and easier on everyone.

Three Simple Keys
1. Run just enough to keep Notre Dame honest. We need a little running just so that the play action has some effectiveness. Otherwise, ramming the ball Addazio style is a huge mistake. This Notre Dame DL is that good. We need to throw the ball 40+ times.
2. Get back to stripping the ball. I know it is more opportunistic and hard to plan, but the games we've looked best are when we have one guy tackling and the next guy going for the ball. Book is generally careful, so it will have to be attacking the running backs and receivers.
3. Smart football. I am becoming a broken record with regards to penalties, but at this point it is our Achilles' heel.

Gambling Notes
-- Notre Dame leads the series 15-9
-- Notre Dame has won seven in a row.
-- Brian Kelly is 3-0 in Alumni
The current line is BC+13.5

Factoid
Because Boston College elected a white base, Red Bandana uniform, Notre Dame will be wearing their blue jerseys on the road...unless of course, the break out the greens again.

Scoreboard Watching
Louisville vs Virginia. This game means nothing to most of the ACC. However, we still have to play both teams. Holding together a college team is tough during a losing season. It is especially tough during COVID. Everything these guys wanted is gone and now even football feels like drudgery. The loser of this game probably won't have much left in the tank when they play us.

I hope to see...a trick play or two. Hafley tried a short kick against UNC and fake fourth down against Clemson. I hope he has another planned for this weekend. Why not? We are the underdog and those types of plays feed our emotion and their anxiety.

BC is in trouble if...Jurk is off. No one is going to have more emotion than Phil Jurkovec this weekend. He has had a great season and proved the Irish staff wrong. But last week he was a little off on throws and was off on a few late in Clemson. Is it a nagging injury or just rushing? I don't know. But this weekend, he needs to play his best. 

Overall
I will admit this is a bad matchup for us. They are good in the trenches. We are not (this year). We are going to need a lot to go our way. But I think the Clemson hangover is real. I think we can score with them. We force a few turnovers and then win it late with a kick.
Final Score: BC 24, Notre Dame 21

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Game Day: Syracuse

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: In doors, so weather is not an issue. The Carrier Dome does have a new roof. The lighting however still seams the same on TV.

Radio: SiriusXM 385

TV: Regional sports networks. Here are the affiliates.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

BC-Syracuse preview

It is probably too early to put a tag on anything Hafley has done or say "Hafley's teams do..." but so far we seemingly play up (and down) to our opponent. That is great when playing Clemson. Not a good approach when taking on a depleted Syracuse team. The Orange are bad and reeling. BC is coming off a very emotional loss. This is the perfect opponent to set things straight. Let's do this and not take anything for granted.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Babers' contract with Syracuse is just the latest reminder that you don't want to get into expensive long-term contracts with college coaches. In most cases you are only bidding against yourself. But the problem is that the size of the buyout often keeps a school from making a move when one needs to be made. Babers turned one great season into a huge deal. And now that it looks like a fluke, Syracuse can't move on becuase they can't afford his allegedly $17 million buyout. (Like BC, Syracuse is a private school, so they don't have to report the size of the deal.) I am all for giving publicity extensions to reassure recruits, but committing big bucks to anyone is rarely worth it. If Hafely continues to have success, BC should pay him, but not lock themselves into anything that is burdensome.

Three Simple Keys
1. Get Long involved in the game. The deep balls and aggressiveness of last week was good. However, getting the ball to Long is a higher percentage play (in most cases) and helps both the running game and those home run balls we keep attempting.
2. Get pressure with just the front four. We got burned on blitzes last week. Syracuse's QBs are a mess (Culpepper is the likely starter) but they still have an offense designed to get rid of the ball quickly. If we get pressure with just four, there should be lots of chances to get turnovers and very few big plays.
3. Don't forget to runover them if needed. Our running attack isn't as good as last year's. But Cuse is still a mess at stopping the run. If we are struggling in the passing game, just give the ball to Bailey. It worked last year.

Gambling Notes
-- Syracuse leads the all-time series 31-21
-- BC is 5-12 in the Carrier Dome
-- Babers is 2-2 against BC
The current line is BC-14

Factoid
The home team has lost four straight in this series.

Scoreboard Watching
It is all about Clemson vs Notre Dame. Did we expose the Tigers last week? I think we sort of woke them up. I also think they were looking past us a bit. Now they get their shot at Notre Dame. I think they will bury the Irish to make a statement. But Notre Dame needs a strong showing too. The winner will basically control the ACC and probably end up in the playoffs (even if they lose an ACC Championship Game).

I hope to see...BC with less than six penalties. I keep harping on it, but it is ridiculous at this point. BC enters this weekend 101st in fewest penalties per game. We are not talented enough to get away with that.

BC is in trouble if...we turn the ball over. Syracuse is not a good defensive team. We should score at will against them. The only way they stay in the game is if we give them the ball.

Overall
Mentally I have to get over Syracuse being the spoiler of many seasons. Hafley doesn't carry any of that baggage, so we shouldn't either. I think BC has more talent and a more explosive offense. They can't keep up with us and BC win's comfortably.
Final Score: BC 34, Syracuse 21