Monday, October 31, 2005

Blogpoll ballot

BC slipped in both polls (AP, Coaches). In the next few weeks, there should be more movement in the polls as more top teams square off. My blogpoll ballot is below. Note the nod to the little school in New Jersey.

Games I watched:

BC-Virginia Tech 100% (twice)
Georgia-Florida 75%
Maryland-Florida State 25%
UNC-Miami 33%
South Carolina-Tennessee 50%

1. Southern Cal
2. Virginia Tech
3. Texas
4. Alabama
6. Miami (Florida)
7. Louisiana State
8. Ohio State
9. Florida State
10. Penn State
11. Oregon
12. Notre Dame
13. Georgia
14. Florida
15. Wisconsin
16. West Virginia
17. Fresno State
18. Boston College
19. California
20. Louisville
21. Colorado
22. Texas Tech
23. Auburn
24. UTEP
25. Rutgers

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Virginia Tech

Watching this game again wasn’t fun. Special teams was the only group that played well. The defense did not play well -- but still kept us in the game. The offense was frustrating. Virginia Tech is a good team. They deserved to win. We were only going to beat them with our best effort. This wasn’t it.

Offense: C-

This game raised many questions about our offensive line. Are they overrated? I still don’t think so. This was not their usual dominating performance. They didn’t get much push against the smaller Virginia Tech line. But they held their own and they did not miss their assignments. The only sacks came from Miller missing someone and Porter holding the ball too long. Our running game was rarely effective, but that was more from the safeties and linebackers crashing in to clog the holes. The five starters did their job…a B- effort for them, but enough to win.

The receivers also get a pass. Blackmon and Challenger both had touchdowns on their fingertips, but neither pass was well thrown. I am really disappointed with the play of Chris Miller. I thought he would be a step up from Kashetta, but he hasn’t had a complete game since September. If he is catching the ball well -- like this game -- his blocking suffers. Lester did another one of his one-handed stabs at the ball. Why is no one correcting this? Blackmon's TD was nice. No one else really did much of note. How did we go a whole game without getting the ball to Gonzalez? Unbelievable.

The running backs played well…I guess. There was very little for them to do. Most of the runs were stuffed at the line. L.V. had one of the best plays of the night on a screen pass in the first half. We tried throwing to both in the flats -- nothing came of it.

Porter was really bad. When I rewatch these games the second time around I keep a small log in the corner for the quarterback throws. There are four categories. One is for good passes. One is for bad and I also keep a running total of drops and what I call saves. Saves are passes where the receiver bailed Quinton out of a bad throw. This game was unique from Quinton’s regular pattern. He normally has a lot of “saves” and a lot of “drops.” In this game he had just three saves and one drop. So with the majority of his throws on Thursday he was either crisp or really bad. And this inconsistency is killing us. He was really locked in on his safety valves. And Virginia Tech scouted this well. They really crowded the line and made an extra effort to disrupt our slot receivers and tight ends. When these guys couldn’t get off the jams, Porter was stuck. The wide guys were open on these sorts of plays, but they were rarely looked at. As the night wore on Porter really started to press. On our field goal drive, he took off running on third down well before the play developed. He narrowly got the first, but it wasn’t a heads up play. It was a play a sophomore would make -- not a senior.

I am a broken record on who should be starting, but the pass to Marten on third down should’ve sealed it for the coaches. He had Challenger open on the play but he waited and was flushed from the pocket and then inexplicably threw it to one of his lineman! At this point we were still only down two scores and we had 17 minutes left in the game. It really went down hill for him after that. On the next series he waited and waited and was sacked for the first time. He had a so so pass to Sele. And then he dumped to Miller on 3rd and 19 when he had Lester open on the left. Has he lost faith in Lester? Maybe. But if he has, he needs to tell the coaches. Because never looking Lester's way on 3rd and forever is not helping the team or Quinton.

Next series after the missed kick (and we still had a chance at this point) he took a bad sack, threw a bad pass to Lester and then was sacked again when Miller missed his man. Where is Ryan?

The next series was the bad INT. The game was officially out of reach at that point. Ryan finally came in but it was too little, too late.

Now I’ve been somewhat of Bible apologist this year. This game was his worst of the season. We did some things that worked and then never went back to them. Throwing to the flat didn’t work. Screens did. Yet we only ran one screen and threw to the flats repeatedly. The deep go routes led to a touchdown. Why didn’t we try it more? The power sweep and traps had some success. But we kept running draws. It was really confusing and disappointing. Play calling is a mix of what you do well, what you've scouted and what is working during the game. I don’t think we scouted them particularly well and then didn’t go back to the things that worked. When they were jamming our short routes we should have gone away from it. Terrible game from Bible.

Defense: B-

I’ll give Spaz a little more credit than I gave Bible. Just a little. Our defense held them to 23 points. Partly by scheme, partly by hustle, and partly by dumb luck. People were frustrated by our lose, bend but don’t break scheme. We have often used this approach under Spaz. We challenged Vick to stay in the pocket and pick us apart. He did. My frustration came when we didn’t adapt. At what point do they realize -- “Wow. He is a much better passer than his brother.”

Ironically, Vick’s most errant passes came when he was flushed out of the pocket. We sort of realized this and started blitzing more, but their line did a great job picking it up. We also used a good bit of zone blitz. This was really ineffective. We had real breakdowns in coverage. Virginia Tech was going max protect throughout and we had six or more guys in coverage, yet they kept finding the holes.

Virginia Tech gave Kiwi tons of respect. Instead of doubling him, they ran away from him for the whole game. Despite not being 100% he played well. He was covering a lot of ground. He has the size and speed, but his motor might be his biggest asset. The rest of the line did not play well. We depend on them to create pressure. They didn’t. They were more effective stopping the run. Washington and Raji were non factors for long streches.

The starting linebackers played well. Brown was all over the place. Henderson had one of his better games. Toal was a little erratic (he made up for it on special teams). The second team guys were not as effective. They couldn’t stop the run or apply pressure. The coaches must have seen this too, because the second team unit only got spot work instead of their normal long stretches.

The DBs? Eh. They did what they were told. Play lose. And tackle. This was frustrating. Tribble missed a few tackles, but is really coming along with his coverage. When we saw that he could stay with Clowney and the others, why didn’t we adjust and use more tight, man coverage? Williams, Silva and Glasper all had good games tackling. But I still wonder how we have so many holes in our zones.

Special teams: B

This was the surprise of the game. Ayers was great. Our coverage on punts and kickoffs was disciplined and solid. We made our one field goal. Yet this good performance still frustrated me. Why can’t we execute like this every week? I am sure it was a point of emphasis heading into Virginia Tech. Why is it an afterthought the rest of the season? One other point about Special Teams -- Blackmon seems back. He was more aggressive this week than he has been all year. He only broke a few, but I am glad he is making the effort again.

Overall: C

No moral victories for me. We could have stolen this game. Virginia Tech is good, but I don’t think they will win the national championship. Very disappointing. Will we every break through?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Family feud

Notre Dame and Boston College are ending their series. I’ve given my two cents on this many times. I am disappointed that there are only a few games left, but really think it is better for BC. First it will hopefully rid our fans of the all-Irish obsession. By focusing so much time and energy into that game, we’ve lost juice out of other matchups. Our players and coaches got into the act too. It was great beating them four straight and five out of six, but what was the benefit? Flat games against teams we should’ve beaten like Syracuse? We have more than enough hurdles and marquee teams in our conference to focus on without putting all of our chips in the Notre Dame basket.

I am also glad we won’t have to deal with Notre Dame fans any more. I like Charlie Weis and I respect the Irish tradition and lore. I really dislike the way most Irish internet fans act towards BC. I understand that there are jerks all over the web (BC ones included). And BGS and NDNation are two of the best at what they do. But they cater to the “Fredo”-calling, smug nitwits who live to shit on BC. These people claim we are irrelevant, worthless, wannabes and what not, yet obsess about us and our travails on their message boards. If we are so irrelevant, why do they spend so much time discussing us? They claim we turned our back on the Big East. Please. Notre Dame could have saved the Big East a dozen different times. Instead they looked out for Notre Dame. Just like BC looked out for BC.

Hopefully the final four games will be classics and show the good qualities that both schools represent. Then it should be on to bigger and better things…Ever to Excel.

Wins and losses

BC is playing the wrong quarterback. There is a faction of BC fans (and perhaps even a few people on the coaching staff) who ignore this, because they want Quinton Porter to do well. These apologists will blame Dana Bible or Porter’s teammates. I don’t think Bible is perfect and realize that this is a team sport. You win and lose as a team. But I do think a quarterback is responsible for making the offense run. He is responsible for getting the ball to his playmakers. Porter is not doing either. And while it is hard to measure, I do think players respond differently based on their QB.

There are tons of stats that people will throw around trying to defend or bury Porter. I think this one is pretty straight forward:

QuarterbackRecord as starter
Brian St. Pierre17-9
Paul Peterson12-2
Quinton Porter9-7*
Matt Ryan2-1

Why does Quinton get the asterisk? Because he started the Wake Forest game…a game the team won without him. If Matt Ryan didn’t bail him out, his record as a starter is 8-8. That might be good at some schools but it places him well below his predecessors and likely successor. QP is a unique example. He played with the same guys as St. Pierre. The same guys as Peterson. And now the same guys as Ryan. There could be a million excuses why the team plays differently when he is in there. Maybe none of them are his fault. At this point, I don’t care if the team responds better because Matt Ryan has naked pictures of them all. What we are doing now is getting by. We need to put the nice guy out to pasture and play the best quarterback.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bummer Ball

If the Hokie style of play gets the Beamer Ball tag, I'll call this Bummer Ball. Once again BC fans are brought to the final rung only to be knocked down a peg.

The Defense did their part. The special teams did their part. The offense did nothing. A predictable off night for Porter. Unfortunately a bad night for the offensive line too. I'll have more thoughts Friday and second viewing thoughts this weekend.

A Catholic explores Hinduism

Are you there Vishnu? It’s me, Bill.

First let me make something clear. I am catholic, so I am not sure how this praying to Hindu gods thing works. Also, I am not converting and I’ll keep my real prayers with God, Jesus and Mary. I don’t pray for football wins with my God. I’ll leave that to the Notre Dame fans. This is not even a prayer. It is more of an appeal. An appeal for karma.

Now I first asked for karma to strike down Brad Butler after his cheap shot. Reading more about it, I found out that karma doesn’t work that way. It is not so much about punishment (although whatever god had a part in UVA’s 7-5 loss upon Butler’s return to the field is my kind of god). From my hollow research, it seems like Hindu karma means results and circumstances are a culmination of previous acts. Basically, if you’ve done good things, you’ll be in a good place. I can get behind that. So with that understanding, I ask you to use karma to get involved in tonight’s football game.

You see Vishnu, BC is the little catholic school that could. We win some games with some likeable kids but never break into the big time. If we are going on the previous deeds theory, we’ve done enough good to overcome our bad (those pesky gambling scandals) and be in a place for something really big. BC has earned a victory tonight. Use your mojo to help make it happen. Bring balance to the Force! If you get involved, I won’t even eat any read meat tonight. We’re facing a tough team. We need all the help we can get.

Well, I won’t take up any more of your time. I know that gods have more important things to worry about. If karma helps BC win tonight, I’ll know who to thank.

P.S. Do you know if Allah watches football?

Virginia Tech Preview

I am repeating myself by saying this is a big game. Yet like the others, this is a big game. But not in the must win sense like Virginia and Clemson. And not in the Wake Forest get the monkey off your back sense. And not in the we better not screw this up sense like our out of conference games. No…this is big in the way Florida State was big. This is not about staying bowl eligible. This is about breaking through that ceiling. Is this the game that propels BC into a Top 10 finish or another moral victory in a season that ends in a December bowl?

Offense -- What BC will do

I think Derrick Knight still has bruises from our last trip to Blacksburg. I don’t think L.V. or Andre will get 38 carries like Knight did, but it wouldn’t surprise me if their combined carries approach 40. It is pick your poison with the Hokies defense, so I expect BC to take the more conservative route and keep the ball on the ground. The offensive line-defensive line matchup might be the only one where we have the advantage. I also think Bible will limit pass attempts and not put any pressure on Porter.

Offense -- what BC should do

Maryland did not have much success passing against the Hokies. I think we can protect Porter better than they protected Hollenbach, but that doesn’t give me hope that Quinton can make the plays. (I am on record thinking it is a mistake to start him. Hopefully he and the coaches will prove me wrong.) If BC starts it on the ground, I would like to see them mix in some deep passes later in the game. That was part of the formula that lead to our last win in Blacksburg. Their quickness on defense really scares me. I don’t want to see our normal mix of crossing patterns and short routes that can be jumped by their linebackers. If we are going to throw, throw long and into single coverage. Those might get picked off anyway, but at least our wideouts have a chance to make a play on the ball.

Defense -- What BC will do

Our vanilla, bend but don’t break defense seems like it was created just for Virginia Tech. And we have a 1-6 record against the Hokies under TOB to show for it. This year, we’ve seen much more variety, but with Kiwi at less than 100%, I expect Spaz to revert to his standard package -- no blitzing, contain Vick, shut down their run, clog passing lanes.

Defense -- What BC should do

We’ve never had anyone who could effectively shadow a mobile quarterback until this year. Now Vick is in a league by himself, but I still think we should spy him all night. Toal will get the majority of snaps, but Pruitt and Dunbarr can both effectively spell him. Without Kiwi, I don’t think our blitz will be very effective, so I am fine with dropping a lot of guys into zone coverage.

Special Teams -- What BC will and should do

If this game has a Beamer Ball moment, I don’t think BC can recover. I hope the team used the extra time to fix the porous punt protection. I also don’t want to try to “beat them at their own game.” Don’t go for any stupid punt blocks. BC needs to play sound error-free special teams.

Final Prediction:

On paper everything points to a Hokie win. But this is my blog and I am a huge homer, so I’ll say BC pulls it out. The defense is good enough to beat Virginia Tech and if the rest of the units do their part, we can win.

Final Score: BC 24, Va Tech 20.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rah Rahs and the Wah Wahs

Last week the guys at Every Day Should Be Saturday captured the message board dynamic that develops on most college fan sites. Posters tend to gravitate towards a half-full or half-empty mentality. On the BC site, the camps are known as the rah rahs (everything is great) or the wah wahs (the sky is falling). The difference in perspective was never more evident than when someone on Eagle Action posted Stewart Mandel’s response to a BC questions.


"Is there a more overlooked team in college football than Boston College? The Eagles have won 32 games since 2002, including their share over top-25 teams (West Virginia, Virginia Tech and the last Notre Dame team that was supposed to be the second coming), and have won five straight bowl games. What is it going to take for Kiwi and the boys to get the respect that they deserve from the national media (including a certain columnist who issues power rankings on this site)?
-- Matt Fitzpatrick, Brookline, Mass.

Simple -- beat Virginia Tech on Thursday. Those are some nice accomplishments you listed off, Matt, but they don't exactly scream national power. Tom O'Brien is a good coach, but his teams never finished higher than third in the Big East prior to Miami and Virginia Tech's departures last season. Those bowl wins you speak of came against the likes of Colorado State and Toledo. This year's 6-1 team certainly looks like the best of O'Brien's tenure, and a strong record in the loaded ACC would certainly help BC's credibility, but as of now the teams it has beaten are a combined 16-27. All that considered, I'd say a No. 13 ranking in this week's AP poll shows considerable respect, but if it's not enough for your liking, beat the No. 3 team in the country on national television and I don't think you'll be hurting for respect the rest of the season."

On Eagle Action both camps said: "See!?! This is what we have been saying all along."

I fall in between the two groups and agree with my old colleague Stewart. TOB is a pretty good, but not alltime great coach who needs a few big wins.

I would like to think that the outcome of the Virginia Tech game will unite these two disparate message factions into one family of people who believe or don’t. There is peace in Northern Ireland. Can there be peace on the Eagle Action boards?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blog Roundatble Week X+1

After letting a few of us dabble as roundtable hosts, the Michigan bloggers take it back this week. Check out Vijay's blog to read what other bloggers had to say.

1. Name the five teams, other than yours, whose accomplishments you respect / envy the most.

I am not a real grass is always greener type. I like the grass here just fine. Teams I like and respect tend to change over time based on who is playing and who is coaching them. In the spirit of the question, I’ll answer the service academies as 1, 2, 3 in no particular order. Their players don’t match up physically with anyone, yet give gutsy performances every week. Plus the pomp and circumstance at one of their games is something every college football fan should experience in-person once.

4. Northwestern. Their valleys have been deeper than most, which makes their peaks that much more enjoyable. There are plenty of schools with good academic reps that field the occasional competitive team (Stanford, Vanderbilt, Duke, etc.) but no one does it with such pluck. They’re really the one school that doesn’t belong in the Big Ten, yet have a couple conference championships to prove otherwise.

5. Miami. There are many things that they do and have done that are not admirable. But I do admire that they have done it with a different cast of characters and with a series of different head coaches. What other program can boast of winning National Championships under 4 different coaches in a 25 year span.

2. With regard to Question #1, what is the most damaging criticism of your program that you will admit is a legitimate criticism? That is, what negative trait does the most damage to the overall respect level of your program (in your eyes, or to others, interpret as you will).

BC will always lose a game it shouldn’t. There is more to this than the WTF? games. BC’s best seasons have been ruined by losing winnable games at inopportune times. And this is not just a TOB thing. Doug Flutie lost to West Virginia by 1 point his Senior year. The week after beating the 1993 Notre Dame team, BC came back to the Heights and fumbled away a Sugar Bowl trip by losing to West Virginia. Last year, with the outright conference championship in our grasp and a trip to Tempe, BC sleepwalked through the Syracuse game. This season has potential to be something special. However, if we beat Virginia Tech, I am going to be a wreck waiting for the other shoe to drop against UNC, NC State or Maryland.

3. Who do you think is the best player in the history of your program?

Doug Flutie. This is easy as he is the school’s only Heisman winner and part of one of the most famous plays in sports. Unfortunately the Miracle in Miami has overshadowed how good he actually was. There was much more to him than that one play. I would argue that he was one of the five greatest college QBs of all-time. His numbers don’t look that impressive now, but when he graduated he held multiple NCAA offensive records. He helped usher in the passing era and showed that slower, undersized teams could compete by throwing the ball like crazy. It is ironic that the school he helped save now plays a bruising Midwest style of football, while the Big Ten and Big XII have gone pass happy.

News of the day

Kiwi is still questionable. My bet is that he will play.

Thursday nights are big deals.

This Virginia writer doesn’t like our chances.

Josh Beekman’s hometown folks are excited about the game.

Here are the hoops Sean Williams must jump through to get reinstated.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Rooting for laundry”

Virginia Tech is supposedly going to wear a special edition Nike jersey on Thursday night. I anticipate something Oregon-like. Anyone remember the last time an undefeated, Top 5 team wore a special uniform against BC?

Reading the tea leaves

The basketball staff knows how to work the media. If they want something out, they release it to friendly reporters. The latest good news: Tyrese Rice is kicking ass in practice. Now to group him with the other diamonds in the rough is a little unfair. Unlike Bell, Smith and Dudley, he had offers from other big time programs. In the past when news like this came out, the players lived up to the hype. Hopefully Rice will too.

Plenty of basketball news. FOX Sports is worried about the loss of Williams. I think he will be back. Indications are good. Dudley is as cocky as ever. Craig Smith is turning heads. A lot of this was captured by Boston College Blog. (He is my Lloyd Braun.)

Kiwi is not listed on the two deep. Not good. I am still holding out hope.

Finally, put me in the Matt Hayes is a dumb ass camp. I understand that it is tough to follow a lot of teams. If you can’t do it well, you are better off focusing on the teams you actually know. Exhibit A: "That has plagued Porter throughout his career — he tries to use his strong arm to get him out of tough spots." What? Anyone who has followed Quinton knows that arm strength is one of his major weaknesses. If anything, he tries to get out of tough spots with his legs. I would rather read something about another team than read Hayes’ nonsense about my team.

Blogpoll ballot

It was out of sight, out of mind for BC in the polls. There was movement around us, but we stood relatively still. Here are the AP and coaches poll. The Virginia Tech game should provide a big swing in one direction or the other. My blogpoll ballot is below.

Games I watched:

Auburn-LSU 50%
UT-Alabama 50%
Arkansas-UGA 80%
Virginia Tech-Maryland 60%
BYU-Notre Dame 25%

1. Southern Cal
2. Virginia Tech
3. Texas
4. Georgia
5. Alabama
7. Miami (Florida)
8. Louisiana State
9. Boston College
10. Ohio State
11. Florida State
12. Penn State
13. Oregon
14. Notre Dame
15. Wisconsin
16. West Virginia
17. Florida
18. Fresno State
19. California
20. Northwestern
21. Louisville
22. Colorado
23. Texas Tech
24. Auburn
25. UTEP

Sunday, October 23, 2005

“So you’re saying there’s a chance”

Virginia Tech is very good. However, this is not the first year they have started strong. These four seasons give me some hope.

1998. Started 5-0. First loss at home to Temple. Finished 9-3.

2001. Started 6-0. First loss at home to Syracuse. Finished 8-4.

2002. Started 8-0. First loss at home to Pitt. Finished 10-4

2003. Started 6-0. First loss on the road to WVU. Finished 8-5

Guest Bloggers: The Boston Globe

Well they are not really official guest bloggers, but here is what the big names at the Globe had to say about BC.

Best of the rest

Pundits are debating which undefeated team is the best and who deserves to go to the Rose Bowl if more than two teams are perfect. Let the others argue about the unbeatens. I’ll dive into who I think the best one loss, two loss, three loss, four loss, five loss, six loss and winless teams are.

Best One Loss Team: Miami. The 'Canes lost a close one early. If that snap is good, I think they beat Florida State. Since that game, their offense has gotten much better and their defense has held up. They are about to enter another tough stretch. If they win out they’ll be in a BCS game.

Best Two Loss Team: Notre Dame. There are a lot of candidates for this title. The Irish may be getting too much credit for almost beating USC, but I really think they can hang with anyone. Their defense is not championship caliber, but they score in bunches.

Best Three Loss Team: Michigan. Every three-loss team has a stinker in their past. So when I was picking the best three loss team I went with the one that has the most quality wins. Michigan beat a good Penn State team and a pretty good Iowa team. They also handed Michigan State their first loss. Michigan is too good for moral victories, but they can take some solace that all three losses were close.

Best Four Loss Team: Vanderbilt. They’ve lost four in a row. They may not win again this year. But they could be 6-2 right now. They can’t be taken for granted anymore and that is a big step for the Commodores.

Best Five Loss Team: Wake Forest. Now I might be showing my ACC bias here, but Wake is a tough team. Nebraska was the only game they weren’t in. They gave FSU a fight. They should’ve beaten us. I think they’ll pull off another upset before the year is out.

Best Six Loss Team: Army. If you’ve lost six games, you’re pretty bad. There is no getting around it. So I tried to figure out who could scare the most people. My vote -- Army. Ross doesn’t have the talent of some of the other bad teams, but his guys play hard and will improve down the strech.

Best winless Team: Temple. The pickings are slim here. I give Temple the honor because they have a killer schedule. Many teams would be winless if they had to play Miami, Wisconsin, Maryland and Clemson. Once they are officially in the MAC, they’ll start their long turnaround.

Friday, October 21, 2005

BC-Va Tech through the years

While most of the ACC is a blank slate to BC, we have plenty of recent history with Virginia Tech and very little of it is good. TOB was 0-fer against the Hokies until we pulled a major upset in Blacksburg two years ago. After a one-year hiatus, the series resumes as a cross-division “rivalry game.” I don’t think fans of either side see it as a rivalry, but it is the price the schools had to pay for joining the ACC. Like the WTF games, the Virginia Tech series under TOB has a consistent theme -- closer than the scores looked and usually turning on a big Virginia Tech play. Here is a look back at the seven Beamer-O’Brien matchups.

1997. BC 7, Virginia Tech 17.

Despite the loss, this game was very encouraging to BC fans. TOB had the team ready to play. Matt Hasselbeck was banged up, so we had trouble moving the ball, but so did the Hokies. In a sign of things to come Al Clark avoided about three different sackers on a play late in the fourth. Once everyone on the BC defense had tripped over each other, Clark took off for a 42 yard touchdown and put the game away. I think Beamer realized that instead of finding more Druckenmillers, he needed to find more Al Clarks.

1998 BC 0, Virginia Tech 17

This was a gross game. A Thursday nighter and the weather looked like this month. BC moved the ball, but couldn’t punch it in. Once again the game turned on big plays. The Hokies blocked two punts and turned them into scoring drives.

1999. BC 14, Virginia Tech 38

Remember how I said most games were closer than the score looked? This one wasn’t. Against the best Virginia Tech team of anyone’s lifetime, Michael Vick put on a passing show with some deep bombs and their defense shut us down. Given their talent and our return to respectability that year, it was not a huge deflating loss.

2000. BC 34, Virginia Tech 48

This one was deflating. They kept going up and we kept coming back. Vick put on an absolute clinic on the ground. People point to his run against the Vikings as his most dynamic play. In my opinion, his 82-yarder on 3rd and 11 in the fourth quarter of this game will always be his best. In fact, I think it would make my top 5 for most amazing plays I’ve seen on a football field. The guy avoided multiple tackles and changed direction, then took off and still made a few more defenders miss downfield on his way to the endzone.

2001. BC 20, Virginia Tech 34.

Their defense was stifling that night. We only scored once they eased up late in the game. The back breaker came early when they turned a fumble into a quick score.

2002. BC 23, Virginia Tech 28

Another Thursday night game. Another painful result. BC had so many chances in this game that went the wrong way. Knight fumbled into the endzone. VT touchback. BStP threw an INT on the 1. They run it back to midfield. If we come away with any points on those drives, we win. This was before TOB strung a few wins over ranked teams, so people were wondering if we’d every beat a worthy opponent.

2003. BC 34, Virginia Tech 27.

Easily one of my favorite games as BC fan. This was the second game of Paul Peterson’s great run. We were 6-5 and needing every win to keep bowl hopes alive. No one gave us a chance, but Peterson gave us hope. Peterson’s day was up and down, but he showed that he could make big plays when the pressure was on. Derrick Knight was a stud running for 197 yards on 38 carries. This game showed the danger of a QB controversy. Randall started off well. They pulled him as planned to give Marcus Vick some snaps. Vick looked lost. Randle came back in and never got back in the grove.

This week, I expect more of the same. A close game where the Hokies have the edge and the winner is the team that makes the one or two big plays.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Contemplating the controversy

Quinton Porter is starting against Virginia Tech. Not surprising. Very disappointing. Despite my doubts, I wanted Quinton to do well. And he has had his moments this year. But after seeing FSU Part II against Wake, I really feel the coaching staff is making the wrong choice. I don’t claim to have the day-to-day insight into the team or the football knowledge of the staff. I am also heavily biased and lack perspective on the situation. So I tried to take all the possible arguments for starting Porter and see if they add up. Maybe I am missing something?

Reason 1: We (the staff and whole BC community) owe it to Porter

This theory states that the staff owes Quinton the starting job because he is a fifth-year senior who has done everything they asked. Keeping your nose clean, going to class and redshirting per request are admirable. I was even impressed with the way Porter handled getting the hook last week. But it is no excuse for starting. In sports, good guys lose their starting spots everyday. Is it unfortunate? Yes. Is it fair? Probably. The goal is to win and the staff should go with the guy who won the game last week. Not the one who nearly threw it away.

Reason 2: Porter has played better this season

Quinton has played more, but if you look at the stats I wouldn’t say he has played that much better. In fact, I would say Ryan’s poise at Clemson and heroic effort in relief tell a story that the numbers don’t. Porter hasn’t done anything that makes you say “Ryan couldn’t have done that.” On the other hand, we’ve seen Ryan do things we know Quinton cannot do.

Reason 3: We want experience going into Blacksburg

Blacksburg is a tough place to play. Probably our biggest road test this year. Quinton has more experience in general, but in my opinion, Ryan has faced a bigger challenges on the road. Porter’s biggest road win was 2003 against a very bad Penn State team. Ryan just led BC to victory over Clemson in Death Valley last month.

Reason 4: If it ain’t broke…

In sports I often subscribe to this motto. BC is 6-1 and in the Top 15. Who is complaining? Well we wouldn’t be 6-1 without Matt Ryan. I won’t go as far to say that we would’ve beat FSU if he had started, but he did make it interesting at the end there, didn’t he? The ain’t broke concept relies on consistency. Porter has been anything but.

Reason 5: TOB has a system and we have to stick to it

Once he got a few of his recruiting classes in, TOB has groomed a QB to take over as a Junior. That was the plan with Porter. If you stick with the plan, next season is Matt Ryan’s. I would not object to this if it was fool proof. But look at the results. Brian St. Pierre had a strong Junior year but then regressed his Senior season. Porter lost his job as a Junior and redshirted last year. The hope was that he would put it all together this year. So far it seems like much of the same (pretty good games or full meltdown). So maybe the system needs flexibility.

Reason 6: Sends the wrong message to the players/divides the team

I guess it might. But I think most players want to play and want to win. So yes it sends the message that seniority does not trump everything. It also sends the message that we want to win and win now! As for player divides…I can only infer from my limited exposure. It seems that Ryan is very popular. Porter on the other hand was bitching out his teammates on Saturday. I don’t know how the guys take it. In my uniformed opinion, I would say that no one will begrudge Ryan if he is named the starter.

Reason 7: The staff honestly believes Porter gives us the better chance

These guys know a lot more about football than I do. They also have the benefit of seeing these guys grow, practice, progress and interact. Clearly they have a lot more information and insight. Yet, I watch these games like the Zapruder film. Ryan’s last five minutes against Wake were better than anything Porter has done this season. You could see him move through his progressions and make aggressive decisions. Porter can say what he wants about how he played, but anyone watching him could see the problems. If you overlook his reads, his actual throws leave a lot to be desired. Practice play and film room is important, but the game is what counts and everyone could see who gives us the better chance. I don’t doubt the coaches see much more on film than I do. I just think they are ignoring the evidence in favor of the other non-playing issues I’ve already listed.

Reason 8: If Porter struggles, Ryan can come in

I believe Porter will be on a short leash against Virginia Tech. But expecting Ryan to jump off the bench and perform another miracle is asking too much. Quarterbacks are not relief pitchers and Virginia Tech is not Wake Forest. If Porter costs us points, it is unlikely the Hokies will let us back in the game.

I think I’ve covered every rationalization the coaching staff might be using. Their stats are so similar that the more subjective issues are bound to cloud judgment. And college football is not a business. Relationships and bonds are very important, so I am sure it would be hard for TOB and Bible to sit Porter. But the time has come. This could be a special season and it would be a shame to let it slip away with our best quarterback on the sideline.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blame It On The Rain

The excitement of the first ACC season has been tempered by the constant rain in October. Boston College has one of the prettiest campuses in the country…when it is dry. Wet days are miserable, especially around the stadium. Nothing drains well. Here are Old Man’s pictures from last week. Notice the empty garages and flooded fields. It will be colder in November and hopefully less wet.

Offweek primer

Since it is an offweek, the only news is coming out of the official school site.

Jamie Silva earned Player of the Week honors.

Louis Hinnant sat down for a Q&A. He is the first player I’ve seen embrace the Big East. I attribute it to the differences between Big East Basketball and Big East Football. Football lacked tradition, excitement and identity. Big East Basketball had all of that. But I hope Louis realizes that what he is leaving behind is not the conference he knew. The ACC will be everything that the new muddled Big East cannot be.

I don’t spend a lot of energy following recruiting. Just tell me who is coming when the smoke clears. But for those who do, here is a grid the Zman puts together on BC’s targets.

Do you want to learn a little more about College Football and football in general? Read Charlie Weis’ press conference transcripts. This week’s is not even the best example. Most have some wrinkle about coverages or play calling or the differences between college and pros that I did not know. Weis comes off a lot like Parcells (and seems pretty pleased with himself) but you’ve got to admire his openness and his willingness to discuss details and strategies with the press. Most coaches either rebut anything the press brings up or give such generalities (“we have to execute blah blah blah”) that the press conference/coaches show/interview is worthless. I hope this keeps up and would like to see more coaches follow his lead. Most fans and reporters think they know more than the coaches. By subtly working in details, Weis shows he is more than a step ahead and educates the masses. Keep it up, Chuck!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Book your travel now!

I’ve bemoaned many a bowl prediction. They are filled with conflicted assumptions and often ignore things like ticket sales and conference politics.

So here is my service to you -- a lock solid, 100% guarantee bowl prediction from Eagle in Atlanta. Book your travel today!!!*

RoseUSC-TexasI just don’t see either losing. I like Va Tech but think there is too much ground to make up.
FiestaUCLA-Va TechUCLA is a rollercoaster, but if they finish with one-loss to ‘SC it will be hard to keep them out.
SugarWest Virginia-GeorgiaAn Atlanta Sugar Bowl is an easy sellout with an SEC champ, so the Katrina subs take one for the team and host the unappealing Big East champ.
OrangeOhio State-AlabamaBoth of these teams could easily stumble before getting here, but they travel well and should provide a good TV draw.
Capital OnePenn State-AuburnPSU fans will be one of the many claiming they got screwed on the BCS bid.
CottonTexas Tech-LSUMiles goes against his old Big XII foes. Tigers fans worry about the inevitable blown lead.
GatorNotre Dame-Boston CollegeA boy can dream. Either BC or Miami is going to get shafted on Bowl placement. Obviously I am hoping we luck out.
OutbackIowa-Florida This feels awfully Zookish, doesn’t it Florida fans?.
HoustonBaylor-MinnesotaThe extra SEC rep in the BCS makes it hard for the SEC to fill its slot.
LibertyUTEP-Miami (Fla)This is my biggest leap. But I think Miami might go for the bigger payday and a different bowl. Highly unlikely, so book now!
MeinekeClemson-UConnThis should be Rutgers, but I just can’t put any faith in them.
PeachTennessee-FSUNot where either team thought they would finish the season.
IndependenceMizzou-South CarolinaSomeone has to play in this. I don’t think I’ll Tivo it.
SunArizona State-Michigan StateI think both teams will be playing in bigger bowls next year.
Music CityVandy-WisconsinVandy returns to the postseason and gets to travel…across town.
AlamoMichigan-OklahomaFYI Michigan bloggers – there’s no basement in the Alamo.
HolidayNebraska-OregonI was tempted to put Cal, but don’t think they will get invited back two years in a row.
EmeraldOregon State-WyomingWyoming is a nice story. They’ll get killed here.
MPCBoise State-MarylandThe ACC needs to improve their bowl affiliations.
InsightCal-LouisvilleWhen will we stop asking how Louisville blew their BCS chance?
ChampsGeorgia Tech-ColoradoTech returns to Orlando. The Gailey watch continues.
Motor CityNorthwestern-ToledoNorthwestern gets the bottom of the Big Ten slots. It could be worse. They could be at home, like Purdue.
HawaiiFresno State-Southern MissI’d love to see Pat Hill in a Hawaiian shirt.
Fort WorthTexas A&M-TulsaA&M joins the ranks of team asking “how did we end up here?”
Poinsettia Navy-Colorado StateThese low-level bowls love the USNA, especially in a Navy town like San Diego.
Las VegasNevada-TCUNevada happily grabs the open Pac 10 spot.
GMACBowling Green-HoustonSouthern Miss would’ve been the easy call, but sometimes the bowls like variety.
New OrleansArkansas State-UCFThe best thing about this bowl used to be its location. Hopefully the Sun Belt champ will have a winning record.

*Eagle in Atlanta is not responsible for anyone actually buying tickets or booking hotels based on my hair-brained, half-cocked presumptions.

Blogpoll ballot

BC barely budged in the AP poll. There was a slight jump in the coaches. Eagle fans are up in arms as to why Notre Dame, Florida State and Penn State were not penalized more for their losses. My suggestion: get over it. If BC wins, things will take care of themselves. As a voter in the blogpoll, I have new understanding for how the polls move. Writers cannot see every game so national games, national teams and water cooler moments stick out in voters' minds. ND lost the game, but made believers out of a lot of voters. My ballot is below.

Games I watched:
Wake Forest-BC 100% (twice)
USC-Notre Dame 80%
Georgia-Vanderbilt 50%
Florida State-UVA 60%
Clemson-NC State 50%
Florida-LSU 20%

1. Southern Cal
2. Virginia Tech
3. Texas
4. Georgia
5. Alabama
7. Miami (Florida)
8. Louisiana State
9. Boston College
10. Texas Tech
11. Ohio State
12. Florida State
13. Penn State
14. Auburn
15. Oregon
16. Tennessee
17. Notre Dame
18. Wisconsin
19. West Virginia
20. Florida
21. Fresno State
22. TCU
23. Nebraska
24. Michigan State
25. Virginia

Thoughts on Sunday's papers

I didn’t write anything about this yesterday, but I wanted to give kudos to two writers’ work from Sunday.

First Kevin Armstrong wrote a feature on Matt Ryan for the Globe. Kevin was writing for the Heights last year and is now getting bylines in the one of elite papers in the U.S. Not bad. And good job turning this around so quickly.

The other pat on the back goes to Steve Conroy for taking the time to write a QB controversy article. Vega didn’t even get around to mentioning it until Monday’s paper. How can the Globe beat writer ignore the elephant in the room after seeing the starter meltdown and the backup save the day? Vega is a nice guy, but he makes some questionable editorial decisions.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Wake Forest

After watching this a second time, BC was extremely lucky to win this game. In addition to overcoming all the mistakes, Wake played right into our hands by trying to pass repeatedly in the second half. This slowed their offense and gave us plenty of time. The defense and Matt Ryan truly saved the day. Now here are my thoughts and grades.

Offense: C+

This should really be two grades -- one for the players who stepped up (A) and one for the players who are best to forget this game (F). I’ll go unit by unit and start with the highlights.

The offensive line had another solid game. They were forced into pass protecting most of the day, but still played well. The pocket collapsed a few times, but no one got beat repeatedly. I am curious why they rotate Hall and Cherilus, without subbing the rest of the line. Both Hall and Cherilus played well (hopefully one of the writers will ask this in the near future). It looked like Wake’s speed upfront created a little confusion, but really nothing to complain about. Also, great blocking on the limited run plays and on the goal line and short yardages.

L.V. played really well. Although he only gained 60 yards, he proved a nice change of pace in the second half and read his blocks well. His one big loss was late in the game -- the line was pulling and Miller let his man crash by Ross and on to L.V. Callender never got into the flow and wasn’t given much of a chance. We were so far behind there was no time to run.

The receivers were a mixed bag. Gonzalez played great and ran a great route on his TD. He also looked good in his drag routes across the middle. Blackmon didn’t break anything, but was the focus of Wake’s D. He was in tight coverage throughout. Challenger…wow. Great catch at the end. Sele did not get the accolades, but he had a quietly good day. And the pass interference call he drew late in the game was huge. Miller had a mediocre day. The touchdown was somewhat lucky and he dropped a few. It was also not his best day blocking. I love Larry Lester, but he was horrendous yesterday. He is a scrappy kid and a Jersey guy, but not a great wideout. This is a guy who made a great catch in OT against Clemson, but he is just too careless with the ball. In the pregame they showed the highlights of last year’s Wake game -- I forgot his batting balls caused an INT in that game too. He lost the ball last week reaching. He lost one reaching against Pitt in OT last year. The coaches need to correct that or pull him for making mistakes. I am glad he got the touchdown, but his drops were killers and he deserves a demotion.

Bible called a good game. We were behind so he had to come out throwing. He was calling plays that should be comfortable for Porter and went back into the run as soon as we took the lead.

Quinton Porter had one of the worst games imaginable. His stat line was 20 for 41 for 184, 2TDs and 3INTs. He also lost a fumble and got very lucky on one of his TDs. I wanted Porter to do well. He is supposedly a great kid. His post game comments were really classy, but he is not our better quarterback and as a fifth year senior, we can safely say we have seen his best and he is still reverting to bad habits. Now his receivers dropped plenty of balls (eight by my count). That hurts. But by my count he also had five receptions where his receivers made great catches or he got very lucky on a Wake tip (Miller’s TD). In addition to his INTs, he had 10 out and out horrible misses. And anyone watching football for the first time can see his passes are wobbly and slow. But the disconcerting part, is that Bible called plays for his comfort zone and he was still screwing up. We throw the right to left drag constantly and he was never crisp on it. We had Will sit in zones and wait and Quinton was late on throws. He was clearly pressing, because his bad habits were out in full force. He tucked and ran. His footwork got real jittery. He was hopping in the pocket. And worst of all he was telegraphing his passes into coverage. On his second INT, he never looked anywhere. He was going to Will regardless -- and of course Will was in triple coverage. His first and third INTs came off of broken plays -- just like his first against FSU. When things break down he tries to make something happen -- like Peterson. Yet when Peterson did it, either he was more composed or saw the field differently or was just plain old lucky. I don’t know. But when plays break down on Porter, bad things happen. I think it is composure or an intangible. Who knows? I could bury him with other bonehead plays, but he knows he was off. TOB knows he was off. It is time to start Ryan. He came in and his passes were much better. We were throwing routes that Porter doesn’t even try. He was composed instead of flustered. He saved our ass. The two plays that really stood out as to the difference in the quarterbacks was an out pass to Gonzo and the TD to Challenger. Let me explain. BC runs many of the same patterns over and over. One of the staples is two receivers wide left running deep combos. They usually take coverage with them leaving the wideout from the right to drag across the middle. Porter loves throwing to the underneath guy. It is a high percentage completion. Often good for five yards. The big plays are with the down field routes on the left. As soon as Ryan came in we ran the play and Matty went left for a big gain to Gonzo. It is a play Porter hasn’t been making. The other play that stood out was the Challenger TD. Ryan’s read was to the right. He dropped back. Had time. Nothing right. He pumped right to shake the safety and without waiting he threw a beautiful ball left for a TD. Now he got help with a great catch from Challenger. But that is another play that Porter does not make.

No one likes a QB controversy. TOB doesn’t need one. The way to end it is by playing your best player and I think that is Matt Ryan.

Defense: A-

The defense played really, really well. Their backs were against the wall and were shorthanded the entire game. Critiques first. The second unit linebackers had a rough day. They have played really well this whole year, but had trouble defending the option. Fortunately the first unit played most of the day and played well. This game showed what a difference Kiwi makes. Without him, the D-line had trouble getting much penetration. The interior lineman did their best, but Wake ran away from them towards the edges. I also question Spaz a little. He run blitzed the first two downs with success and then only went back to it one more time the rest of the day. Those were my only complaint.

Now for the good stuff. I get on Henderson for his ole tackles, but he made a few huge plays, including a sack of Randolph. Silva is huge. I’ve been a fan since the preseason. However, the guy he replaced in the starting lineup, Anan, had one of his better days. Anan has become a much better tackler. Glasper had a few games savers. Toal was everywhere. Good job by Morris and Akins in relief. But more than anything the team played well as a group. A lot of gang tackles. A lot of composure and they stepped up when the needed two. After we scored to get it to 30-28, they came in and shut down Wake on three straight plays. Raji, Glasper and Silva deserve game balls for that series.

Special teams: C+

Fortunately no field goal attempts. Will and Andre both had long returns that were negated (one fumble, one penalty). The rest of the returns were ho hum. Will made a bad decision on one punt return late in the first half. His letting it bounce cost us 15 yards. I cannot understand what is going on there. Petercuskie signaled something to him. I hope it was not “fair catch.” You’ve got to let your senior return man make those decisions himself. Troost was solid. Ayers had a good day…even with the blocked punt. Watching a second time, it is easy to see what happened. Akins got beat inside and Henderson had already taken off. Regular readers know these sorts of breakdowns are common occurrences. I haven’t noticed if Akins is new to the punt team or just filling in, but regardless, Henderson has got to stay back and help him out. At this point coaching has to be called into question. Either we are not giving them proper instruction or not taking enough time in practice to work on it. We were lucky that the two special teams mistakes were not more costly. Doing that against the Hokies will kill any dreams of an upset.

Overall: B

I really should be critical and give the team a C, but the defense and Matty Ryan played off the charts. We can’t do this again and expect to win. I guess things with Wake had to even out eventually.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Iceman Cometh

These Wake Forest games are taking years off of my life. This was looking like a classic WTF game (special teams mistakes and god-awful quarterback play) but Matty “Ice” Ryan saved the day. We are bowl eligible, still breathing down FSU’s neck in the division, 6-1 heading into Va Tech, and exorcized our Demons with the Deacons. However, we’ve got a quarterback controversy. All things considered, I am happy.

Grade reports and second viewing thoughts on Sunday.

Friday, October 14, 2005

TOB teaser

I apologize. I said I would unveil my “TOB might be the best coach in the history of BC” post this week and it is not up. I’ve been busy and I am still trying to get my arms around all the data and make a clear case for my point of view. My hope is to have it out during one of the long breaks surrounding the Virginia Tech game. In the meantime here are some things to chew on.

-- Of current ACC coaches, TOB is third in wins at his current school.
He is fourth in total wins.

-- TOB has more wins at BC than all of the Big East coaches have at their current schools.

-- TOB has more wins at BC than nine of the coaches in the Pac 10 have at their current schools.

-- TOB has more wins at BC than seven of the current coaches in the Big Ten have at their current schools.

-- TOB has more wins at BC than nine of the current coaches in the Big XII have at their current schools.

-- TOB has more wins at BC than 11 of the coaches in the SEC have at their current school.

Now longevity doesn’t equal greatness, but it is another sign of pretty goodness.

Hoop it up

When Boston College’s basketball season came to an abrupt end last spring, I envisioned the offseason as a time to dissect the team and its upcoming foray into the ACC. Well, the season starts at midnight and I haven’t done much besides lecture Sean Williams. Blame football and life. I promise not to give basketball the short shift this season and will apply some of the stuff I learned from Dean Oliver in my blog. In the meantime here are some primers for the season.

ESPN places us in the Top 10. Fairly accurate preview. However, I don’t think it is getting to the line that leads us to victory. It’s our passing.

Sports Illustrated is not as enthusiastic. We are slotted at 13 in their poll.

As always, read Yoco for his fantastic college basketball news gathering and Kenpom for different looks at the game.

Friday time fillers

Outside of the follow up to the Butler cheap shot, there wasn’t much Boston College football or basketball news this week.

Here are the stories that might be worth your time.

The Charlotte Observer came out with their midseason grades. BC got an A. I would probably give the team a B+.

Is the ACC the best football conference? At the top maybe, but we still lack the depth of the SEC.

Regular readers probably know that Kiwi is not out for Saturday. Here is a nice feature on his replacement Jake Ottolini.

The Globe focused their story on William Troost. This article includes some worrisome details on Ohliger. If the coaches and players are saying this much in the press, then I really think the Ohliger is a headcase. I don’t know if we can trust him for an important kick for the rest of his college career.

The Roanoke Times took a redemption angle on this notebook on Spaziani. I’d be interested to hear more about why he was run out of Virginia. He is not a mastermind, but year in year out he produces solid defenses.

An Eagle Action reader found this TOB interview.

Finally, Sexy Results tipped me off to another BC blogger. This blog has little to nothing to do with BC sports, but his diaries include a lot of names and references to his time in Boston. Good for a few laughs.

Old Man: Photojournalist

BC legend Old Man (the official photographer of Eagle in Atlanta) took a few pictures at last weekend’s game. He was kind enough to share them, but I only got around to posting them today (sorry. busy week). Nothing too exciting, but it does give you a feel for how miserable Alumni and tailgating can be in the rain. Also, check out former BC QB Scott Mutryn chucking the mini-Nerf football around.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wake Forest Preview

No one who plays for or follows Boston College is taking Wake Forest lightly. Last week, the Deacons proved they could move the ball against a good defense. Grobe’s teams always overachieve and have been known to steal a game or two. I’m hoping that this season’s matchup lacks the drama of the last two meetings. Here is how I see it playing out and what I think BC should do.

Offense -- what BC will do

Of the teams that Wake has played, Nebraska and Vanderbilt are the most similar to BC in their style of offense. Nebraska won easily despite not totally clicking on offense. Vandy put up the better numbers, but got into a shoot out with the Deacons. Very telling (I’ll get to that in a minute). I think BC will copy both schools approaches and mix run and pass. Our approach was similar last year, when Peterson passed for more than 300 yards and Brooks and Callender both had big days on the ground.

Offense -- what I think BC should do

As I said, the Nebraska game was telling. While the offense didn’t click the game wasn’t close (partly due to the Blackshirt defense). I don’t want this one close either. Wake is hurting in the secondary. BC needs to come out in its hurry up and put points on the board early through the passing game. Even if we get an early lead, I am hesitant to go to the run. Anything that limits our possessions or keeps the game somewhat close is dangerous. BC needs to score, score and score some more. If you want to get Callender and Whitworth involved, do it through screens. We don’t need a grind it out game against one of the better running teams in the nation (who have stolen games against us the past two seasons).

Defnese -- what BC will do

Now that Randolph is back under center for the Deacons, BC will probably go with its standard mobile quarterback scheme: very little blitzing and overemphasis on contain. This strategy was pretty successful the past two meetings. Yet mental lapses in the secondary led to big plays from the Deacons through the air.

Defense -- what I think BC should do

I am really worried about Wake’s running game. The are averaging 217 rushing yards a game and have put up impressive numbers against some tough defenses. Nebraska had the best success in slowing them down but that was against a different QB. Since Randolph returned the Deacons have been a different team. I would use the run blitz occasionally. I also would like to see the occasional blitz on the quarterback. Kiwi is questionable Saturday (at best), so we cannot rely on the front four to do all the dirty work.

Special teams -- what BC will do and what I think BC should do

After hinting he might give him one more try, TOB just announced that Ohliger is off field goals. I’ll repeat, let Ohliger handle kickoffs. Do not put him out there in any situation where accuracy counts or points are at stake. Especially against Wake Forest! This is the game where it all went bad for him. Would you send Scott Norwood out to kick a game winner against the Giants? There is a reason Bobby Bowden went through so many kickers in the early ‘90s. Once a guy loses it, it is very hard to get back. TOB and staff need to stop trying with Ohliger. His mojo is gone. If Troost doesn’t have much range, then consider everything between the 40 and the 15 four-down territory.

Final Prediction

BC is not going to lose to Wake three years in a row. It would be a seriously deflating blow and the ultimate WTF game. I think the team comes in super focused and overwhelms Wake. Not even giving them a chance. Because if Wake hangs around, I might not be able to watch the fourth quarter.

Final Score: BC 34, Wake 13.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


In the Sporting News College Football Preview, the magazine said “League newcomer Boston College will pull at least one home upset—but also will lose to a conference team it has no business losing to” Everyone loves the big win. It is the annual loss to a team we should beat that is so confounding. BC fans refer to this as the WTF game. We are not the only school who goes through this and we’ve been doing this for decades, but in honor of Wake Forest, a team that put the WF in the What the F--- game, here are the definitive WTF games of TOB’s tenure.

September 6, 1997. BC 21, Temple 28. TOB's first game as a coach was certainly memorable…for all the wrong reasons. BC was up 14-0 early. Temple scored the winning TD late off a big play, on a drive that was kept alive by a special teams error (roughing the kicker) on a day with shaky QB play (MHass threw two INTs). You’ll notice this as a theme here. BTW, I was one of the few thousand in attendance at the Vet.

October 24, 1998. BC 31, Navy 32. Navy scored the winning TD with 1:41 left (sound familiar?) after scoring 22 fourth quarter points. We could’ve won the game, but our kicker hooked it with time expiring (special teams problems: check). Also it should be noted that our QB at the time -- Scott Mutryn -- fumbled the ball late in the fourth ruining an otherwise good day for him. While it might be respectable to lose to Navy now, it was not then. They were in one of their down cycles.

October 9, 1999. BC 14, Temple 24. This was TOB’s break-through year. We were bowl bound. We beat Notre Dame. We won eight. Our only regular season losses were to Miami, Virginia Tech and …Temple. WTF? What happened you ask? Well it involved blowing a 14-point lead with two fumbles and two interceptions. Prior to the game, we were undefeated. The Owls were winless.

2000, 2001, and 2002. No WTF? games. We were 7-5 in 2000, but the five losses all came against decent opponents. 2001 we lost winnable games to Miami, Stanford and Syracuse, but those teams were all bowl bound. The ’01 Miami loss was certainly a stomach punch (Ed Reed’s famous last minute return) but not a true WTF game. 2002 saw mistake filled games and frustrating losses, but they were against the better teams in the conference. At this point I thought TOB had gotten the WTFs out of his system. Not so much.

August 30, 2003. BC 28, Wake Forest 32. Quinton Porter’s first start. Wake went ahead on a 47-yard TD with 1:47 left. BTW, we had a 14-point lead in this game. Porter did not throw an interception but we fumbled three times including one of the most bizarre plays you’ll ever see. Here is how the AP writer described it at the time “…Quinton Porter fumbled the snap, picked the ball up and threw a pass that was batted back at him. Rather than knock the ball down for an incompletion, he caught it and it was jarred loose for a fumble that was recovered by Quintin Williams, ending BC's chances.” Yes that play actually happened. It was later found out that Porter was playing with a concussion and in somewhat of a fog on that fumbleception.

September 25, 2004. BC 14, Wake Forest 17. BC dominated this game. We moved the ball up and down the field but just couldn’t get it into the endzone. No problem, right? Let me give you my thoughts during the game: So what if we have a new freshman kicker. He was highly-touted. Ugh. He really missed the first one. Ouch, that second attempt wasn’t even close. Surely he won’t miss three? He did. I can’t believe we have not put this team away. At least we are still up and time is running out. Do you even want to know how it ended? 40-yard TD pass with a minute left. This one hurt. It was a long drive back from Winston-Salem.

I am sure some will read this and feel I overlooked a few games. My definition was pretty strict -- a bad team we were supposed to beat and losing in an inexplicable manner helped.

Hopefully there is no WTF with Wake this year.

Monday, October 10, 2005

UVA suspends Butler

The University of Virginia suspended Brad Butler one game for his cheap shot on Kiwi. I would've preferred two games, but at least something was done.

The ACC commended UVA on the decision.

There are no winners in this situation, just degrees of losing. The conference looks bad for employing refs who missed the call and for losing control of the game. BC's players lost their cool and Kiwi will probably be sore this week. Butler will carry this with him for the remainder of his college career. In my opinion Al Groh came out as the biggest loser in the situation. First I felt he gave Butler bad advice on dealing with the situation in the postgame. Groh's comments throughout have been disingenuous, showing him to be extremely insensitive, arrogant, and poor at reading people. He claimed not to have seen the play until late Sunday, even though it was shown on the videoboard in the stadium and on numerous TV shows Sunday morning. The play and jawing during the game is a sign that he is either losing control of his team or encouraging this type of behavior. And as Ian said, he has opened the door on his vaunted recruiting pipeline. You can bet that Beamer will exploit this with Virginia high school coaches and players and Charlie Weis and TOB will do the same in New Jersey.

Since the two schools don't play again for a few years, this really should be behind us. The team needs to move on and focus on Wake.

Grade Report: UVA

No fine-tooth comb this week as I was not able to rewatch the game (thanks WSB). Here are my thoughts. I apologize for the delay, but sometimes life and other things get in the way of good blogging.

Offense: B+

After a slow start the line played well. They eventually slowed Long and the rest of the UVA lineman were having trouble getting penetration -- especially in the second half. Trueblood seemed a little off, but I couldn’t go back and confirm my memory. Beekman had one of his better games. Very good movement and was really helping clear interior holes. The unit gave Porter pretty good protection throughout.

I am not a fan of the two running backs system. There are advantages, but we should not be limiting Andre Callender’s carries. Clemson was his gutsiest game. This was his most explosive. On his second long run, he seemed surprised that he was getting that much separation. Can he please start at this point? L.V. was solid. He helped move the pile and kill some clock. He is still not breaking anything long. The Toal experiment is finally working as planned.

The receivers did a good job overall. Larry Lester needs to learn that protecting the ball is more important than getting that extra yard, but that was really my only complaint. There were few drops and I felt the group did a good job helping Porter get back in sync. After struggling against Clemson, Ryan Thompson bounced back with his best performance to date. His late catches were crucial.

Porter probably had his best game of the season given the conditions, the unexpected turn of events and his health. He was rusty early and is still floating passes, but he did a good job of finding the open man within UVA’s loose coverage.

I felt Bible called a good game. UVA was really biting on the play fakes in the second half.

Defense: B

We used our standard package against a mobile quarterback and it worked. However, there was a difference this time and the whole staff needs credit for it. When Hagans took off, we finally had linebackers that were athletic enough to stay with him. In one situation, Pruitt stayed with him step for step.

The guys who played in place of Kiwi and Washington deserve credit. Our front four did a good job of getting penetration. Kevin Akins played very well in place of Williams. Toal missed a few tackles, but I’ll let it go for the other important things he did.

UVA helped our defense with the drops. The D continues to be plagued by stupid penalties. At least they are keeping our opponents out of the endzone.

Special teams: D

The blocked punt was huge. Containing UVA’s returns was also good. Very stupid penalty on the holding call which turned one of their punts into a first down. Ayers had a good day in bad weather. Ohliger…I wish I didn’t see this coming. The kid can’t make a field goal and I hope the staff is done giving him chances. Let him handle kickoffs and send Troost out their for any field goal or PAT. They are lucky Ohliger did not cost us the game and better find a new kicker before next season.

Overall: B

A sloppy game with all units making mistakes. They could’ve won by much more. It shouldn’t take a dirty play to focus. However, the win was big and I am proud of the way everyone rallied around Kiwi.

Blogpoll ballot

Below is my blogpoll ballot. BC continued its babystep climb in both the AP and coaches polls.

Games I watched:
UVA-BC 80%
OU-Texas 25%
Ohio State-Penn State 25%
UGA-UT 25%
Syracuse-UConn 50%
NC State-Georgia Tech 75%

1. Southern Cal
2. Virginia Tech
3. Texas
4. Georgia
5. Florida State
6. Alabama
8. Miami (Florida)
9. Penn State
10. Notre Dame
11. Louisiana State
12. Boston College
13. Texas Tech
14. Florida
15. Louisville
16. Michigan State
17. Oregon
18. Auburn
19. Minnesota
20. Colorado
21. Tennessee
22. Cal
23. Ohio State
24. Wisconsin
25. Baylor

Sunday, October 09, 2005

More fallout from the Butler cheap shot

Here is a longer version of the play with full game context.

As of Sunday afternoon, Groh was still undecided about what he might do to Butler.

TOB is asking the Conference to review the play.

Now, let us look at the two coaches. Groh says a lot of nothing. TOB, whose player was on the receiving end of the cheap shot, takes responsibilty for his players not handling themselves. I guess Groh answered my scumbag question.

Now, I've pimped Sexy Results all week. Sunday, Ian went off on his school. Here is what he said about Butler. "Nationally, we're seen as a team that bullies weak programs, loses every big game we're lucky enough to be in, and worse yet, Brad Butler sealed the deal by going out of his way to cripple not only a future NFL star, but a fucking humanitarian. Joe Sixpack wishes pain on us. And what does Groh say in response? "I don't have any commentary on that. That is up to the officials. I remember plays that determine who won the game." Bullshit. BC's crowd was half-asleep until that shit went down.

If I were Groh, I'd cut Butler from the team. Since I'm not Groh, I hope to see a multi-game suspension. I don't care how much we need him on the line. All I know is that what happened to Kiwi will be talked about a lot, and many are going to assume that his "play to the whistle" tactics are the result of coaching. The face of UVA football is comprised of people like Tiki Barber, Herman Moore and Chris Slade. We pride ourselves on being a classy program, and we were up in arms when Ron New Mexico flipped off the WVU crowd. Butler was on some Cobra Kai shit. You don't think someone like Beamer will bring up this when he's in ma's house trying to recruit their latest DB star away from us?

Read Ian's full rant here.

Cavalier Kai

If you haven't seen the Butler cheap shot, go here.

Now as I said, the ABC affiliate here in Atlanta switched games midway through the second quarter. Fortunately there is a sports bar right down the street. It was packed with people watching other games so we were in the corner with two UVA fans and two other BC fans. I could not hear any of the audio, but saw enough to realize it was flagrant and extremely dangerous. I understand rough play and aggressive play. This was neither. What confuses me most is why would one kid potentially ruin another’s career? They are all at risk out there, and by taking someone out like that, you in turn make yourself a target and are due for some bad karma.

The UVA fans, who we had never met, were equally disgusted. They apologized to us and walked out after the blocked punt. The guy was a coach and said he would never tolerate that. The real question is will Al Groh?

Here were his comments after the game: “I don't have any commentary on that. That is up to the officials. I remember plays that determine who won the game." Well Al, that play fired up our team and led directly to us pounding you for the rest of the half. I’ll give Groh a pass on the comment since it was immediately after the game. But if he doesn’t suspend Butler for at least one game he is a scumbag and a coward. TOB can be frustratingly rigid and stubborn, but the guy will put his beliefs before a W. He suspended his best player, William Green, before facing one of the best teams in the history of college football (the 2001 Miami team). At the time, I was angry. In retrospect, he did the right thing for his team, the program and my alma mater. BC has produced more than its fair share of jerks, but most of them were dealt with or kept in line while at the Heights.

Butler had this to say: "I have no comment on the incident. I was not called for a penalty on that play. In the past I've played hard and to the whistle. I'm more interested in the fact we lost the game…it doesn't have anything to do with me."

Once again, it was after the game and he was probably coached to say that. I hope he privately apologizes, but a public apology would go a long way. I’m Catholic, but I do believe in karma. Hopefully FSU will hang 60 on the ‘Hoos.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Highs and lows all in one win

Miserable weather in Boston. Miserable day for BC fans watching in Atlanta when WSB switched to the Texas-OU game. Miserable day for Ryan Ohliger. Miserable day for the game officials. Miserable day for Kiwi. But a big, big win for BC.

Kiwi’s teammates deserve credit for rallying around him after the dirtiest fucking play I’ve ever seen at the college level. If the Conference and/or Al Groh do not suspend Butler, they should be embarrassed.

I’ll post my review and grade reports Sunday.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Wahoo week news

I didn’t find much link worthy in the Globe or Herald this week. Although Virginia gets more regional coverage than BC, the number of BC-focused articles from Wahoo beat writers was disappointing. Here are the things that are worth your time.

The Sabre does a great job covering UVA sports. Here is their preview of the game. Very thorough and pretty fair.

Guest blogger Sexy Results, is not nearly as optimistic. You can read his preview here. While you are there, peruse his other stuff, even if you don’t know any of the bands.

The Washington Post tells the Kiwi story.

This article on TOB sparked the usual debate on Eagle Action (“he sucks!” “he’s great!). I’ve always been a Switzerland in this conflict. But I am starting to come around to the pretty good/best we’ve ever had side. I’ll post my numbers on him next week.

New Jersey is a recruiting hot bed for both UVA and BC. Here is an article on a few more prospects that might be heading to Chestnut Hill.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blogpoll Roundtable No. 9

Like most media mediums, the blogosphere is filled with a lot of derivative junk. In my opinion the best blogs either cover a niche or have a unique voice and perspective. Boifromtroy’s success can be attributed to his quality analysis, steady flow of content and really unique niche. He is a gay blogger who covers USC and a variety of politics and gay issues in California. You’re not likely to find that combo on Boi is this week’s host of the blogpoll roundtable. Here are my responses to his questions. Check out his blog to read what other blogpollers had to say.

1. Assuming that USC, Texas, Alabama and Virginia Tech all go undefeated at the end of the season, who deserves to play in the Rose Bowl for the BCS Title?

First I don’t think any of the teams will go undefeated. I predict USC losing to ND, Texas losing to Oklahoma, Va Tech losing to Miami and Alabama dropping a few. With all that, I think the question will be which one-loss teams get into the Rose Bowl. As much as it pains me to say it, I think the system will once again punish late losses more than early. My first week in October prediction for the Rose Bowl: Ohio State-Miami.

2. With most of the teams in conference play, which games have the greatest implication in defining the broader BCS picture (at larges, etc.) this year?

Since the BCS started, more than one team has stubbed its toe by losing their respective Conference Championship game. I think all three major Conference Championship games will help clear up the BCS picture this year. In my fantasy world, Florida State, VaTech, Texas, Nebraska, Alabama and Georgia would all enter their final games with perfect records. Imagine the hype.

3. In addition to the BCS Title, the Associated Press, FWAA and several other groups award National Championship Trophies. What award should be given to the winner of the final College Football Blogpoll?

We should commission a trophy by the artist who created this monstrosity.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Virginia Preview

A lot is riding on this game for both teams. And while the schools haven’t faced each other recently, there is enough familiarity between Golden, TOB, Spaz, both Grohs and Petercuskie to making predicting schemes and planning for each other interesting. With that, here are my often off-the-mark predictions on how BC will approach the game and what I think they should do.

Offense -- what BC will do

I have only seen bits of UVA this year, but from the looks of things, it seems like they have a few defensive challenges. Against Maryland, they didn’t seem capable of putting much pressure on Hollenbach or stopping the run. They also have allowed teams to complete a fairly high-percentage of short passes. Do you think Dana Bible is excited? Even if Porter is rusty, I think they will come out with short passes and try to dink and dunk it down the field.

Offense -- what I think BC should do

Why get cute? Virginia just allowed more than 200 yards on the ground. Our line is better than Maryland’s. So even if you assume Golden has made adjustments, I don’t think they can handle our guys upfront (who have dominated every team this season.) BC should pound the ball early. I worry about Porter in this game. I think he’ll try to do too much and prove he is back and better than ever. To me that sounds like a recipe for INTs. Keep the plan simple. Take what they give. Keep it on the ground and if Porter looks iffy, have a quick hook. Ryan proved he is capable.

Defense -- what BC will do

While none were as dynamic as Hagans, BC has faced some mobile quarterbacks the past few years. Wake’s Randolph and WVU’s Marshall were somewhat contained, but their offenses were different from UVAs. Pitt’s offense under Walt Harris with Tyler Palko is probably the closest match among our recent opponents. Against the Panther’s we played pretty conservatively. Very little blitzing, a variety of zones and tried to keep Palko in the pocket. Expect a similar scheme this weekend.

Defense -- what BC should do

Hagans has the potential to burn us, but I say go after him. We’ve had our best success this year when we were applying pressure. And Virginia’s offensive line is hurting. This is risky given the size advantage they have at wideout, but that has been a recurring theme all season. We can’t change to the corner’s height. We can try to put Hagans on his back.

Special teams -- what BC will do and what I think they should do
This part of the preview template has become monotonous. For my sake, let us hope that they play error free special teams.

Final Prediction

Although far from perfect, BC’s performance this season has been predictable. We’ve controlled games we were supposed to control, struggled against FSU and won a hard fought game at Clemson. Even if you overlook the Maryland game, UVA’s efforts have been a little less consistent. They clearly have the talent and the playmakers to beat BC. But which team will show up on Saturday? The one that controlled the Duke game or the one that should’ve put Syracuse away? I’ll go with the consistent team. I think BC wears on UVA early and builds a comfortable cushion in the second half.

Final Score: BC 27, Virginia 14

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Coaching 101s: Is TOB a Welsh Clone?

We are 101 games into the TOB era. I don’t know if many BC fans thought it would last this long. We assumed that BC was a chance for TOB to get some head coaching experience before returning to UVA to take over for his mentor George Welsh. However, things didn’t go as expected. When the Cavaliers’ all-time winningest coach retired, the ‘Hoos looked elsewhere. As Ian recounted, they jumped at the chance to get Al Groh and avoided hiring a George Welsh clone. Is the Welsh Clone assessment fair? Through 101 games it looks pretty reasonable.

Welsh’s first 101 games at Navy 55451
Welsh’s first 101 games at UVA 58412
O’Brien’s first 101 games at BC61400

Al Groh hasn’t coached 101 games at Virginia, but here is his record through his first 101 games as a college head coach:

Groh at UVA and Wake45560

This game is very important for O’Brien. A win and I think we can count on maintaining our Big East level of success in the ACC. Lose and we are scrambling to stay bowl-eligible.

Next week I’ll dive into BC’s place in the college football pecking order and compare TOB’s success to other Boston College coaches.