Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Football 2007 In Review: Top Surprises

This is part 1 of my annual year in review. Here are the top surprises. Many players stepped up and a few others will be acknowledged in next sections but these three particularly performed beyond the preseason expectations.

1. Ryan Poles. Poles' great start was one of the early highlights of the season. I am not sure if it was the coaching change, scheme change or just old-fashioned maturity, but a guy who had been wildly inconsistent and never played to his potential looked fantastic to start the season. He was moving well and dominating his assignments. He’d be giving Ryan an extra second on a roll out on one play and then leading Callender down the field on the next. Watching it all finally click was exhilarating. The abrupt end of his year and college career was equally sad. Poles’ Achilles tendon turned into the OLine’s Achilles heel. After he went down our screens and running game were not as effective. I hope he is able to recover and make an NFL roster. If he plays like he did this fall, he can be an NFL lineman.

2. Taji Morris. Morris is another guy who had bounced around for five years. First he’s a DB, then a Running Back and then back to Corner. The only consistent thing about his career was minimal playing time. That changed this year. Thrust into the starting spot opposite Tribble, Morris played much better than I expected. He proved to be good in run support and a good tackler (a big requirement for Corners in our scheme). He never became an All-ACC, shutdown type, but in every good year you need some guys to play better than they ever have. Morris exemplified that.

3. Rich Gunnell. If this had been written before the bowl game, I probably would have featured someone else. But Gunnell deserves credit for the Champs Bowl and his growing playmaking skills. Early in the season he dropped a few balls and I thought he’d be just another in a long line of adequate BC WRs. However, the second half of the year saw him blossom into a sure-handed and smart wideout. His adjustments were noted in the Champs broadcast, but his same smarts paid dividends in the Clemson game. Rich also showed surprising speed and strength. Gunnell’s emergence, along with the return of Robinson and Purvis give me hope that whoever is throwing the ball for us next season may put up some good numbers.

Honorable mention for biggest surprises: Matt Tennant, Nick Rossi, and James McCluskey. A year ago, few BC fans would have predicted how well these guys would play given their history or limited experience.


Big Jack Krack said...

udjzpcbI completely agree about these comments - especially Ryan Poles. I really felt bad for this player, and I hope he makes a complete recovery and gets his shot at the pros, if that's what he wants. The OL really struggled without him.

I think Cherilus was simply miscast as a tackle, because he was a much better guard - this was due to overall lack of depth on the OL I guess. I think the line played their hearts out - it was a very difficult year for them. It will be fun to watch Castonzo and Tennant mature. I hope Mike Goodman from Miami stays true to his word, and signs with Coach Jags - he could start as a true Freshman. Patrick Neumann from NJ looks good. They could help Ramsey, Tennant and Castonzo, as well as the newer players waiting in the wings.

Gunnell was great coming down the stretch. I'm glad that Morris was able to proudly end his career - hopefully it will help him with his job networking in the future.

I agree about the honorable mentions.

While I don't have the exact dates, our schedule for next season is:

at Wake
at NC State
at FSU
Ga. Tech
at UNC
Va. Tech

at Kent State (Cleveland)
Rhode Island
Notre Dame

Hopefully our defense will keep us in these early games, while we get the offense working. When was the last time we talked about relying on our strong defense? I think our defensive line is going to be really tough next year (with good depth), and our LB's will be very strong - I can't wait to see Toal play with Herzy. We have talent in the DB corps.

I'll be flying to Beantown for some of the "home" games and I'll be able to go to Wake, NC State and UNC

ORDEagle said...

Two things from Peter King's TMMQB column - one very postive, one a little scary. He has Jeremy Trueblood as his all-pro right tackle. Quite an accomplishment. Second, he is speculating that Jags could be on Parcell's radar in Miami as a head coach!

Say it anin't so!

Big Jack Krack said...

Hello ordeagle:

I have always disliked Bill Parcells. Hopefully Jags would never want to work for such a guy.

I continue to believe he will stay at BC - but what do I know?

Kevin said...

I doubt with the recent failures of high-profile college coaches turned pro (Petrino, Spurrier, Saban, etc.) that the Dolphins will be seriously looking at Jags. I think non-BC fans are not yet convinced that BC's successes this year are attributed to Jags and not because of a great senior class.

John said...

I agree. This years success was due to TOB....go after him and leave Jags alone.

ClassO10 said...

I would have to say another pleasant surprise was Brady Smith. Considering his past troubles, it was nice to see him have such a good year. He did a really nice job filling the void at DT left by Raji and helping to anchor that solid run D.

Big Jack Krack said...


I agree about Smith - was just waiting for Bill's next installment to see his analysis.

Big Jack Krack said...

Hello Bill and fellow BC Football fans:

Sorry to be posting more than my share today. "Just doodling and thinking that" (I have borrowed this from a long ago departed Boston Sportswriter) the Offensive Line for next season will be such a key to our success or failure.

I'd like to see some analysis of these guys in the coming months - the young untested ones coming up look great on paper - what do we really know about them? I have not listed weights, because I think the coaching staff wants leaner, more athletic, etc. At times this season, however,I longed for the 325 lb guys so we wouldn't get completely run over.

Offensive Line

Starters Returning - Three (3)

Anthony Costanzo Soph OT 6-7
Cliff Ramsey Sr OT 6-6
Matt Tennant Jr C 6-4

Reserves - Seven (7)

Patrick Sheil Jr OT 6-6
John Elliot Soph or Rsf OL 6-4
Carlos Huggins SR OT 6-6
Rich Lapham Soph OL 6-8
Nathan Richman Soph or Rsf OL 6-6
Nick Schepis Soph or Rsf OL 6-4
Mark Spinney Soph or Rsf OL 6-4

Recruits - Three (3) at least

Mike Goodman Fr OL 6-5
Patrick Neumann Fr OL 6-6
Emmett Cleary FR OL 6-5


Will Thomas Claiborne remain on the defensive line?

Big Jack Krack said...

One Final Cooment - and good night.

The ACC needs to drop the Humanitarian/Boise/Blue Field/16 degrees at kickoff bowl - seriously! Give us a break!

Big Jack Krack said...


sanjoseeagle said...

I'm actually okay with Boise. It's a crummy bowl, no question, so travel rep and attendance are going to have little to no effect on who gets invited. They're going to be happy with whomever comes. At least you can combo a trip to Boise with a ski vacation to Sun Valley. What would my family do as tourists in Jaxsonville?

Matthew said...

I might throw AC into at least honorable mention talk.... i don't think there is anyone that expected the all around performance that we got for the majority of the year.

Anonymous said...

Peter King on Mike&Mike just said Jagodzinski is one of the dark horses for one of the NFL jobs this offseason. Went out of his way to say that his name is heating up.

ATL_eagle said...

Matthew: I've got AC on another upcoming list.

Vincent said...

Cam Cameron was jost fired in Miami. Jags rumers are heating up. What do you think? If he does go to Miami you think Logan will be the next BC head coach and does Jags draft Ryan at #1?

Big Jack Krack said...

Hello sanjoseagle:

You're right about Jacksonville.

I have heard if you go to Boise you will have fun. Ga Tech disappointed me this year with their uneven effort. Losing that game makes the ACC look bad.

I guess I can reconsider my statement.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Jags to FL is a longshot. I love Jags, but I think for him to truely be a flight risk, he's going to have to prove in he can wn with his own players (including recruit, handle adversity, etc.). With that as a framework, I can't really see him entertaining thoughts of leaving for at least 3-4 more seasons.