1. Ponder was under pressure from South Florida throughout. Is the FSU offensive line still an issue or is Ponder still holding onto the ball too long?
ChantRant: A couple of things put Ponder under the most intense pressure he's had all year. First, our O-Line had by far its worst day of the year. During the off-season they'd worked hard on pass blocking, with noticeable improvement. Ponder had only been sacked four times until the USF game. But the Bulls defense was on a mission and FSU's OL couldn't match their take-no-prisoners performance at BYU.
Second, Ponder's mobility was hampered by a nagging injury from the BYU win, so he just didn't have the mobility to evade the rush and scramble. Result: a QB who's known for his ability to escape the sack became a sitting duck. And late in the game, I believe it hampered his accuracy when throwing.
2. Last year, BC gashed the Florida State defense with a series of running plays. How is the run defense changed?
ChantRant: On the surface, it appears the run defense is more stout. FSU is ranked 37th in that department, allowing only 112 yards per game on the ground. In reality, teams aren't running as much because they're taking advantage of the Noles porous secondary. Florida State's giving up over 295 yards per game through the air, and D-Coordinator Mickey Andrews is ready to go with a youth movement, playing talented but inexperienced freshmen over some upperclassmen.
3. From afar, it seems like the coach in waiting thing is holding the program back. What's your take on these final Bowden years?
ChantRant: Ouch, you would bring that up. Bowden's determination to keep coaching has the Seminole nation sharply divided. There's the loyal core that believes Bobby should coach as long as he likes, even if he drops dead on the sidelines. But a growing majority insist it's past time for him step down, even though they love and respect the colorful old coach for building the program and winning two national championships. There are also rumors of possible problems due to players being confused about who's in charge of what. For a better look at that situation, read the column by Ryan at ChantRant.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
ChantRant: Hate to wimp out, but that depends on which FSU team shows up. Will it be the one that underachieved against USF and Jacksonville State? Or the fired-up bunch of Seminoles who smoked Top 10 BYU in Provo? If they continue the pattern of being up one week and down the next, they'll be ready and cranked for the game at Chestnut Hill (Lord knows they should have a chip on their shoulder after whiffing against South Florida).
Much will depend on the status of QB Christian Ponder. If he's still gimpy and immobile, FSU loses a weapon. Ponder at his best is one of the Noles best rushers. If he's not ready, or unable to be mobile and be an effective passer, we might see his back-up, E.J. Manuel. The redshirt freshman was one of the top QBs recruits in '08, but has played only in mop up action against BYU, plus one running play in the USF game. Manuel has great potential -- and O-Coordinaor Jimbo Fisher is slowly preparing him to be "The Man" -- but who knows if he's ready to go from being the QB-in-waiting to taking the entire offense on his shoulders.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Dr. Saturday took a deeper dive into our box score from the Wake Forest game.
Soccer lost to Siena and continues to slog through the early part of their season.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Games I watched
-- BC-Wake 100% (twice)
-- South Carolina-Ole Miss 50%
-- NC State-Pitt 25%
-- Miami-VT 50%
-- UGA-Arizona State 50%
|25||North Carolina State|
|Last week's ballot|
Jared Dudley talks a lot about BC in this interview.
HD moved BC up her rankings.
Monday, September 28, 2009
ESPN Gameday taking a ton of heat already for going to FSU-BC game. enhances East Coast bias, for sure. would rather c them at LSU/Okl/Cal
I agree that BC hosting Florida State is surprising decision. There have been plenty of better BC games that were ignored by GameDay over the years and there are multiple games that deserve the spotlight more than two unranked ACC teams in early October. Yet talking to two different ESPN folks, I got the story on how GameDay at BC came to be.
1. Problems with the other candidates. This is the main reason. There isn't a can't miss game this weekend. The closest thing to a can't miss is Oklahoma-Miami. However, Miami's loss to VT and their move to LandShark aka Dolphins Stadium hurt their chance. GameDay feared hosting the show in front of an empty parking lot. The SEC matchups were appealing but the thought in Bristol was that they've already done SEC games and will do more in the coming weeks. Washington-Notre Dame was considered until the Huskies lost to Stanford. USC-Cal was also considered but Cal's loss and USC's recent (and likely future) GameDay involvement made it a no go this week.
2. The Mark Herzlich story. ESPN is putting together a feature on Herzy. His story is compelling and his early prognosis is very good. If he returns to play next season, ESPN is out in front of what could be a huge general news story.
3. The economy. It is easier and cheaper for ESPN to pull off the show from Boston (their backyard) than it would be from California or even somewhere in SEC country.
4. It has nothing to do with ESPNBoston.com. Some conspiracy theorists are floating the idea that GameDay is part of ESPN's corporate synergy to promote ESPNBoston.com. I am sure ESPNBoston will be mentioned once or twice during the broadcast, but one ESPNer said to me "ESPN.com boston has little or nothing to do with it [The selection]."
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Dave Shinskie’s 180 was the biggest reason for the win. I’ve been in Tuggle’s corner, but Shinskie was pretty impressive. If we are on the upside of his learning curve, we are going to score often this year. When I log plays, I mark bad plays from the QBs to include bad throws and bad decisions. Shinskie only had five bad plays yesterday. That’s Ryan-esque. The pass to McMichael was beautiful -- a good play fake, it hit him in stride and was right between the zones. Pantale’s TD showed the ability to buy time and make a good decision in chaos. Finally the Larmond throw was an NFL type throw -- plenty of speed and only where Larmond could get it. In addition to his throws Shinskie’s decisions were much better and he ran well when given the chance. Tuggle only got in for one play and it was broken. I feel for the kid, but think he will be on the bench for a while if Shinskie keeps playing this well.
The offensive line played much better. The left side (Castonzo and mostly Richman) were nearly perfect and dominated their match ups. Tennant was good but did have a few mental errors on dumb penalties. Lapham was much better than last week, especially in pass protection. The starter with the most problems was Claiborne. He got blown up on Tuggle’s one play and allowed some pressure on a few other plays. Overall though everyone was better. They didn’t look great pulling and trapping, but thankfully we did very little of it. Instead it was plenty of zone and they executed. The second unit offensive line entered the game together as a group in the second quarter. There was a holding penalty that killed the drive but they looked fine.
That was Josh Haden’s best game. His speed was known prior to his arrival, however, we have all wondered about his vision and feel for the offense. Yesterday he showed great patience in finding the hole and accelerating when it opened. He also made something out of nothing on a few occasions. His pass blocking was good too. Harris had a solid day. Productive but not nearly as explosive as Haden’s day. Obviously the biggest gaffe of Harris’ short BC career was not getting out of bounds on our latest possession. He owned up to the mistake. I think it was him just trying to make a play and thought he would pull up before he got to the sideline. Harris has been a pretty smart player so I don’t expect to sees something like that again.
Like Haden, Justin Jarvis had a breakout day. He showed it all: good hands and good run after the catch. They nullified what would have been a TD but even there he showed he can win in a jump ball situation. Gunnell looked better too. Nothing game breaking but he did a good job holding onto some tough passes and found the soft spots in the zone. Larmond’s TD was great and he beat two defenders. The other WRs did not get involved, but that is more on Shinskie, not the wideouts.
The Tight Ends might be the best part of the team. McMichael’s play was freakish in that he made a great catch and then turned on the wheels. Pantale also looked good. They all blocked well too.
The play calling was better than last week but I still had a few issues. First the good: the return of the running game. We used many more of the zone runs and it showed. Execution was better as was the productivity. This also opened up the play action, which made Shinskie's day easier. I liked the play design of the passing game too. We had deep throws into soft spots of the zone. Outside of the prevent (which I will get to later) the other questionable area was the redzone calls. They were curious in the Tuggle drive and ultra conservative in OT.
The defensive line played well enough but really needs to generate more pass rush. Albright made some nice plays but should be able to beat his man at least one time to get to the QB. Holloway made a few nice plays. Giles was okay inside. Rossi played well. Scafe helped make difference inside but also had a dumb penalty on one of our INTs. Ramella was pretty quiet. Newman made a few nice plays. Ramsey played but didn’t disrupt much.
The LBs had their moments, but were the real reason we gave up nearly 500 yards. First the good, DiSanzo had another strong day and is showing good speed and tackling. Clancy looked better and played well in place of LeGrande. McLaughlin was back, and while he made some big plays, he was also a liability. On Wake’s big 76-yard TD run, he bit and overpursued into a gap and clearly didn’t have the speed to catch the guy. He also got burned in pass coverage with guys running by him in his zone. Kuechly looked good and in my opinion should be the starter until McLaughlin is 100%. Morrissey made some nice plays but also struggled in the pass coverage he let his man get behind him (a no no in the prevent) on Wake’s final TD.
Rollins was only credited with one tackle but had a great day. He made some good deflections and showed good instincts. Fletcher struggled. He bit on play action for Wake’s first big pass and also should have made a play on the final TD. Bowman was okay but also was a factor in Wake’s one big run of the day. We’ve had great success with safeties coming up to make plays, but they also have to be the last line of success. Davis played well. Gause also played well. Johnson had the game saving tackle and also looked good in his other times.
I don’t think the defensive gameplan was the disaster the stats would lead you to believe. I will get into the prevent issue in the “overall section” but consider the following:
-- 76 of Wake’s 142 yards rushing came on one play
-- 166 of Wake’s total yards came in the final two drives and their overtime possession
-- Wake was 6-14 on third down and 0-2 on fourth
-- BC forced three turnovers
Once again we showed a variety of looks. We also blitzed more than people probably realized (seven times at least). We were ready for Wake’s different looks and did a good job on contain. Most of the problems (prior to the fourth) were not schematic but mental.
My problem with the defensive scheme was twofold. One, despite the blitz, we never got serious pressure on Skinner. We have to get more creative or do something on the defensive line.
The second issue was the prevent. I don’t know whose call it is but it was stupid. You’ve contained a QB like Skinner for most of the game. Why invite him to steal the game by playing soft coverage and not varying looks? Skinner’s smart and will find the soft spots if given time. Then with less than two minutes left you don’t mix anything up and also allow Skinner to march right down the field. And you didn’t have your best players on the field?!? I’ve mentioned the McLaughlin-Kuechly issue, but why is Morrissey on the field on the last TD? He’s a nice player, but the game is on the line. Terrible and nearly costly decisions.
Special teams: B
Mostly touchbacks on the kick returns.
Gunnell didn’t do much on the punt returns.
Quigley’s punts were solid as was the coverage.
Spaz deserves credit for the offense regrouping and looking better. As I mentioned, if not for a few mental breakdowns, we contained them on D through three quarters. When we intercepted Skinner with 7:32 left and up 14 the game is over (or should be). Yet we go ultra conservative and invite Wake back in the game. Our first drive post interception went seven yards and took up 2:25. Wake got the ball back on their 33 with 5:07 left. What was accomplished there? There is still plenty of time for them to still make their move! Shinskie gave you no reason to take your foot of the gas. He’d shown the ability to make the hard throws. Why try to eat clock so early? Then they compound the mistake with the prevent on the other end. Wake marches down the field to score. We get the ball back get a first down yet still try to just kill clock. Yes Harris made a mistake but why are we going so conservative? And once again we compound it with listless defense in Wake’s final possession. Even in the OT, our play calling was super conservative. Spaz has seen BC lose enough close games in his time by playing too close to the vest. I was hoping he would be more aggresive. Maybe this will be a much needed wake up call.
This team showed heart for bouncing back from Clemson and holding on when things were falling apart. The division is wide open so I hope our coaching staff plays to win and not just to lose. But as bad as things got, a win is a win and it was about time something went our way.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I'll have more thoughts on rejuvenated offense, the young defense and the interesting game management.
I will be online during the game but will probably not post much. Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Atlanta Game Watch
300 Marietta Street NW
Chicago Game Watch
2721 N. Halsted (Diversey & Halsted)
on the border of Lincoln Park and Lakeview
New York City Game Watch
192 3rd Ave @ 17th
San Francisco Game Watch
2064 Polk St
Herzy's dad tweeted that Mark had a clean CT scan. I don't know how that impacts the long-term prognosis, but it is good news.
Virginia Tech is the latest ACC team to honor Herzy with a cancer fundraiser.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Narrative talking point that you’ll tire of by the end of the game.
“The Eagles and the Deacons both replaced a lot of NFL talent on defense.” I understand how this is an easy theme, but both programs are established enough at this point that they are constantly losing NFL talent and replacing them with new younger, viable ACC competitors. The winner of this game won’t be about who isn’t around. It will be about who steps up. Plus as Spaz has said -- “coaching’s got to count for something.”
Three simple keys
1. Minimize missed assignments on the offensive line. We won’t get anything started offensively if we cannot reduce mistakes on the offensive line. No more ole blocks. No more double teams while letting others run free. No more tripping over one another.
2. Incorporate Tuggle’s running into the scheme (if Tuggle plays). Tuggle looked his best when he was running or rolling out. BC needs to emphasize plays that build on his strengths.
3. Good directional punting from Quigley. Spaz made it clear he is going to play the field position game this year. Quigley really only had one mistake last week and it was costly. Let’s hope he is perfect this week.
-- Jim Grobe is 2-6 in his ACC road openers
-- Grobe hasn’t had a losing September since 2005
-- BC hasn’t lost a Parents Weekend game since 1998
The current line is BC-1.
We have played Wake 16 times yet 12 of those games have been home for BC.
I’ll be paying attention to the Virginia Tech-Miami game. The Hurricanes have looked like the best team in the conference. If they struggle in Blacksburg it will be an indicator that the Hokies are their usual selves and will probably be our most difficult contest.
I hope to see…
A functional quarterback. It looks like a change is coming with Shinskie as the probable starter. I hope extended play gives him what he needs to click. Or maybe Marscovetra will get off the bench and play well. Or even Tuggle. I just want someone to step up.
BC is in trouble if…
The WRs don’t improve. They weren’t the main problem last week, but they were a problem. Wake, like Kent State and Clemson will probably stuff the run. We need to throw and the WRs can’t have the drops they had against Clemson.
As frustrated as we all were last week I don’t think hope is lost. Our defense validated our beliefs that they would be strong. If we can just manufacture some points I think we can win this. I think this will be another close BC-Wake classic with BC holding on for the win.
Final Score: BC 17, Wake Forest 13
Mike McLaughlin is ready to play also and will start at MLB.
Motivation and confusion have been issues for our offensive line.
Here is a link to the podcast I did with the BC Draft guys.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
1. I know it is early but it seems like Skinner is throwing more than ever. Was this due to the flow of the Baylor and Stanford games or is the scheme shifting to a more passing based system?
BSD: I think this might be the flow of the game. In Baylor and Stanford, Wake was down most of the game, so throwing naturally made sense to try and catch up. Coach Grobe has confidence that Riley can throw effectively and manage the game, whether it be through the air or on the ground. The Deacs would like to run more than throw, but really it's on a game by game basis. You could see 40 pass attempts or 50 rushing attempts on any given day.
2. You've lost a lot of defensive talent over the past two seasons. How have the new faces stepped up?
BSD: If you'd have asked me that question immediately after Baylor you would have received a far different answer from now. To be quite honest, I've been pleasantly surprised by the defensive effort since the second half of the Stanford game. The defense seemed to man up and take things personally. I would still like to see more playmakers, but it is not exactly easy to replace guys like AC, Phonz, Chip, Arnoux, Matt Robinson and Kevin Patterson
3. BC fans are glad Sam Swank is finally gone. How has his absence impacted your special teams?
BSD: The thing is, Swank didn't play much of last season, and it showed. So we've been without him for awhile now. The punting coverage is really good, but everything else needs work. That has been a point of emphasis so far and will continue to be. Coach Grobe has shifted around some personnel in the kicking game and only time will tell whether or not it works.
4. What is your prediction for Saturday?
BSD: 14-13 Deacs. Wouldn't be a Wake Forest site if I didn't show a little bias, but I honestly think this will be a tough, well-fought game and really it could come down to whichever team can find the endzone.
With our ND series set to go on hiatus, I strongly encourage all current and future BC students to turn Clemson into the away game destination. It is an easier trip to make, has a better tailgate environment, and in my opinion is a more exciting stadium experience.
I never would have anticipated the benefit of being in the same division as Clemson, but it has been one of the best parts of joining the ACC.
Amazingly the Wake game and Florida State are not sold out. To make things even more bleak, Wake is on Parents' Weekend. In the past Parents' Weekend has been such a slamdunk sellout that we usually played DIAA teams. What's the issue? My guess is that the economy is major factor. Parents and alumni are less likely to travel back to Boston when cutting their personal expenses. I also think the usual buzzkills of donor-based seating and tailgating restrictions are a factor. But some of this is due to the offseason issues and the Spaz hire. I know it is early and Spaz will certainly have time to change this but I think it is clear that there is not much excitement around BC football right now.
After getting bounced from ABC/ESPN broadcast team, Doug Flutie has resurfaced as part of Versus' UFL coverage.
TOB and Matt Ryan still keep in touch.
The soccer team beat Hartford 2-1.
One of the minds behind Courtney Cox's new show Cougar Town is BC guy Kevin Biegel. I don't know him but he was part of my graduating class. Congrats to him. (Guess who is going to be getting a spec script with an Atlanta mailing address!)
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Ron Brace is ready to face Matt Ryan for the first time.
The Florida State game will be televised. However, the kickoff time is still TDB.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Games I watched
BC-Clemson 100% (twice)
Georgia Tech-Miami 75%
Boise-Fresno State 25%
|Last week's ballot|