Monday, August 31, 2009

Season Prediction Part I: worst case scenario

For those new to the blog, prior to our first game, I always post three different season predictions. Part 1 (today's edition) takes a look at the worst-case scenario. I will follow with the best case and conclude with my actual forecast. In the TOB days this was a simple task. The past two years were more challenging but fortunately we got to see the upside each season. Given how terrible this offseason has been, we could easily fall into the worst case situation outlined below. But I remain optimistic and think Spaz will keep things from falling apart.


Northeastern.
Win. Regardless of all our problems and issues, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Northeastern is terrible. We will not lose this game.


Kent State. Win. Kent State is better than they were last year. We are probably worse. Yet this game is at Alumni and shouldn't be an issue.



At Clemson.
Loss. Our first real test and we lose. Death Valley is a tough environment for an experienced talented team. Our green guys get a bit overwhelmed by the noise, the heat and Clemson's speed.


Wake Forest.
Loss. Back at home, we keep it close but make too many mistakes against a solid Wake team.


Florida State. Loss. Another hard-fought game. We keep it close with a grind it out scheme but cannot hold off the 'Noles. With this loss, morale starts to drop a bit.


At Virginia Tech. Loss. This game is ugly. We make mistakes on Special Teams and on Offense. The D tries to do their part but it's a long day.


NC State. Win. This is the game that gives everyone a lift. NC State comes in ranked. The media is talking about the mistake BC made in letting TOB walk. Spaz and Tranq pull off a strong gameplan and a few things break our way.


At Notre Dame.
Loss. We come in riding high off of the NC State game. Notre Dame is coming off a loss to USC and looking to rebound. We don't put enough pressure on Jimmy Clausen and he makes some big plays against us.


Central Michigan. Win. This is another nice little surprise as Central Michigan comes in with the better record. Like our 2006 game, we establish a physical dominance early and hang on with opportunistic defense late.


At Virginia. Win A battle of two struggling ACC teams. It is an ugly, low scoring defensive game. We are playing better and hold on for the win.


North Carolina. Loss. Like last season they score in bunches and burn our DBs. We also make plenty of mistakes.


At Maryland. Loss. As usual Maryland moves the ball on Spaz, only this year we don't force any turnovers. Our passing game doesn't click and they stuff our run. We miss out on bowl season.


As I said, I don't think this will happen. This was actually encouraging as it shows that even if the bottom falls out, we can remain competitive.

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Monday link roundup

August is over and the season starts this week. You can almost feel it!


Shinskie wants to play. We will see how or if he performs Tuesday.


This season preview considers Shinskie one of the best stories of the season.


For those looking to get up to speed on the Huskies, check out Northeastern's game notes.


The WSJ performed a study and it found that Matt Ryan is the best looking QB in the NFL. Forbes took a different approach and ranked Matt based on his play.


Another great Xs and Os session from Smart Football via EDSBS.


This Q&A leaves the door open for an extension of the Notre Dame series.


Finally, and this isn't about sports, one of my former BC roommates started a clothing company. If you like classic looks and quality check out Henley & Sloane. They are running a special right now. Gotta support the BC guys.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dissecting the Depth Chart

The depth chart for Northeastern is out! It answered a few questions and raised a few more.


What we now know

-- We will start two freshmen linebackers and a third freshmen will be on the LB two-deep.
-- This is a very young team. There are 57 slots on the chart. 15 are freshmen and 15 are sophomores.
-- Montel Harris is going to get a lot of all purpose yards. He's our No. 1 TB, our No. 1 KR and our No. 2 Punt Returner.
-- Cleary did get the final open offensive line spot at LG. Let's hope this is the start of another great BC lineman's career.
-- Fullback-Tight End...what's the difference? Since we have no experienced or healthy full backs, Anderson and McMichael are listed there on the depth chart. I have no idea how Tranq will use them. I imagine they will still be pass catchers and also used at their previous position interchangeably.
-- Geiser's hurt. Walk on Sean Flaherty will be the long snapper.
-- Alex Albright is back (or at least healthy enough to reclaim his starting spot).

What we don't know

-- How the QB position is going to play out. Tuggle and Marscovetra are both listed as No. 1 on the depth chart. I assume that means both will play. Who gets the first series or how they will split snaps is still unknown. And what happens when Shinskie returns? I am encouraged by the fact that Marscovetra is a Co-No.1 as it probably means we won't be redshirting him.


More to come once Spaz explains this to the media.

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Preseason breakdown: Linebackers

Part VII of the previews. In a season of change this group had the most unexpected upheaval.

Consensus heading into the season
After using a rotation that included Herzy, McLaughlin, Toal, Akins and Francois, this group has some huge shoes to fill physically and emotionally.


Roster Reminders
Returning Starters
None
Backups and Hopefuls
Luke Kuechly
Alexander DiSanzo
Nick Clancy
Darius Bagan
Dominick LeGrande
Mike McLaughlin
Will Thompson
Dan Williams
Mike Morrissey
Jake Sinkovec
Jarick Walker
Andre Lawrence

Chatter

The best "chatter" of the summer has been the play of the young LBs. Everyone is raving about Kuechly and DiSanzo. Clancy was a very good scout player last year. Even Lawrence and Sinkovec (who are both expected to redshirt) have performed well according to second hand reports.

The Real Question
Will any of the more experienced guys finally make the leap? In an ideal world Thompson, Williams and Bagan would all be stepping up right now. Injuries, academics and general disappointment have limited their playing time. In the past McGovern was very good about getting young guys on the field. That didn't happen much last year. They didn't even make significant impacts on special teams. With McLaughlin's return date still unknown, we will need depth. Hopefully some of the more experienced step up their game and show the young guys a thing or two.


My Bold Prediction

At least two LBs will make All ACC Freshman teams. I don't know who but given the playing time ahead and the positive buzz, I think it is safe to say that two will crack the list.


What keeps me up at night?

That McLaughlin comes back late in the season and is never 100%. Expecting a sixth-year medical redshirt is risky. BC and McLaughlin could follow all the right steps and still get a "No" from the NCAA. Because of that fear, people around the program will probably play McLaughlin this year regardless of his health. If he misses more than five games, I would hope BC pushes for a medical redshirt. It would be a shame to see a two year captian go out with an abbreviated season.


Outlook
Like every other portion of these previews, I am very half full about this group. Sure they are green, but the talent, scheme and coaching should hold us through the season. If one or two freshman can step up like past freshmen linebackers (think Toal or Herzy) we'll be okay.

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Preseason breakdown: Special Teams

Part VI of the previews. For this preview I grouped all the special teams folks in one post.


Consensus heading into the season
New regime, new schemes. Under the two previous regimes, the special teams provided endless frustration, plenty of excitement and very little consistency.

Roster Reminders
Returning Starters
Steve Aponavicius
Jack Geiser
Ryan Quigley
Backups and Hopefuls
Nate Freese
Billy Flutie



Chatter
Aponavicius is ahead of Freese on FGs in practice. Considering Freese was brought in to contribute it's somewhat surprising that he is being beaten out by the consistent but limited Aponavicius.

The Real Question
Can the special teams generate as many big plays as we saw last year? Multiple punt blocks, fake field goals and surprise onsides all contributed to big wins. We have no idea if the team will be as aggressive this year. The other question that I didn't even want to ask is whether Jeff Smith can ever reclaim his freshman year form. Smith's speed and upside is so so tantalizing...yet his desire and injuries has meant we've never approached the impact of his 2006 season. Harris or one of the younger guys will probably be our main kick returner, but I hope Smith uses his last season as a showcase for his raw talent.

My Bold Prediction
Rich Gunnell will have more than 200 punt return yards. I don't know if he can pull off another TD, but I think he'll increase his productivity per return and in total.


What keeps me up at night?

An injury to Geiser. We've been spoiled with having a long snapping specialist the past four years. Does anyone remember some of the adventures in snapping we had just a few years ago. Let's hope we find a good backup LS and land a LS recruit.


Outlook

Mike Dawson has never been a special teams coach. That scares me a bit, but I don't expect Special Teams to be a major issue. We know what we've got in each unit and they should all be adequate. Even if they are not as aggressive as Jags/Yano, we have enough young talent that they should be fine.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tuggle on top?

Boston.com is reporting that Tuggle is now No.1 on the depth chart and the likely starter against NU. With Shinskie's status still unknown, Marscovetra is second and Boek third.


This can be a good thing. Tuggle has improved, has a decent arm and should be able to make a play or two happen. Let's hope this is the start of a brilliant career.

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Herzy shirt and other links


You can now buy a SuperFan like Herzy t-shirt. A portion of each sale goes to the American Cancer Society. I love the Eagle with the Herzy eye black.


Credit to All Access for picking up on Quinn redshirting.


Father Monan will serve as the main celebrant at the Kennedy funeral.


I joined the ACCSports.com guys on one of their podcasts.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Blaudschun and I agree on something (sort of)

In a tweet posted early this morning, the Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun asked:
If Pete Carroll can name true freshman Matt Barkely to start for USC, why can't BC do it with Mike Marscovetra who has best arm in camp


In his breakdown on boston.com, he expounded on the QB depth chart a bit. He predicts Shinskie will be the starter, but adds "When he arrived at BC in June, he was almost anointed the starter. Only problem is he hasn't shown anything special, yet."

This lines up with everything I've heard about Shinskie. So why is he getting the benefit of the doubt? Why would Spaz stubbornly try to redshirt Marscovetra if he's the best of the QBs? I am not saying the sky is falling but I will be very disheartened if Spaz doesn't play the best QB now. Redshirting should not be an issue. When you are building for something long term and have an adequate substitute, redshirting makes sense. That may not be the case now. Spaz needs to win and win now. Even with the low expectations around the program, any drop off will be magnified given how we ended the Jags era and our safe hire of Spaz. Don't worry about Marscovetra's eligibilty. Four years from now we will have a different offensive coordinator and perhaps a different head coach. You have three QBs with four years of eligibility now. You have two more QBs coming in next year. Play the best. Win now. Redshirting is a luxury we don't have now. And if Mascovetra struggles as a true freshmen, try something else. Don't get married to the idea of one guy over another. That is very TOBish. Age, pedigree, even practice performance shouldn't make a difference. Whoever does the best under live fire needs to be our QB.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Preseason breakdown: Defensive Backs

Part V of the previews. With this the attention shifts to the defense.

Consensus heading into the season

This is the only area not raising concerns among the faithful. Three of the four starters return and there is good depth around them.

Roster Reminders
Returning Starters
Donnie Fletcher
Roderick Rollins
Wes Davis
Backups and Hopefuls
DeLeon Gause
Dan Mulrooney
Stephen Atkinson
Marcellus Bowman
Donte Elliott
Hampton Hughes
Isaac Johnson
Okechukwu Okoroha
Ugo Okpara

Chatter
Everyone around the team is expecting Marcellus Bowman to have a big year. He emerged last year as a big hitter and playmaker with speed. His INT return against FSU was a thing of beauty. Since then, the hype has only grown. Even Spaz has been singing his praises publicly.

The Real Question
What are we going to do with all of these guys? Former DBs Fox and LeGrande have already been moved to other positions and we still don’t have enough snaps for the depth we have. Look for many of these names on special teams since it is a place where they can contribute. This is a depth chart built for the pass happy Pac 10 or Big XII. Unfortunately we play in the ACC.

My Bold Prediction
We will lead the ACC in interceptions again. With the depleted front seven, teams are more likely to run on us and probably won’t give the secondary as many opportunities to pick off passes. Even with that in mind, I think the ball hawking nature of the secondary will be that much more aggressive this year.

What keeps me up at night?
The big play. While these guys are good, I still fear them getting burnt deep (think NC State and UNC last year). While Bowman and some of the younger safeties have speed, we will still be vulnerable on the deep posts...especially if we are not pressuring the QB.

Outlook
This is the one area we don’t have to worry about. Talent is there. Depth is there. Coaching is there (regardless of how I feel about Siravo as a Recruiting Coordinator, the DBs have been well coached on his watch). These guys have benefitted from great fronts the past few years. Now it is there turn to step up and carry the load.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gene press and other links

Boston Magazine released a feature on Gene. In full disclosure I was interviewed by the writer, however, none of my quotes were used. The only critical voice you find in the piece is Greg Barber. Barber brought up the problem Gene had with Mark Whipple's desire to bring in his own staff. Gene tells Schwartz he only "recommended strongly" some names. I've never really delved into this, but if you don't think Jags got the job initially because of his prior relationship with Gene and his willingness to have Spaz, McGovern and Siravo on his staff then you are wearing blinders. Now, I am sure Gene only "strongly recommended" the staff to Jags too. But none of these guys are dumb. It is just like the real world. If the person hiring strongly recommends something, you make a decision. Do I want this job under these conditions? Whipple wasn't willing to compromise. Jags was. Look who got the job. Are we better for it? So far. Schwartz did a good job given the limited space and angle the magazine wanted to take. Definitely worth the read.


In better news, Herzy is back on campus and remains optimistic about 2010.


A few ACC players think BC is one of the tougher places to play. (Thanks to Brian for the link.)


McLaughlin sounds less optimistic about getting on the field soon. It is not my career but if he isn't ready by October, I would like to see him get a medical redshirt.


Dime checks up on Troy Bell.


Here is the latest on Dominique Davis.

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Preseason breakdown: Tight Ends

Part IV of the previews. This focus now turns to Tight Ends.

Consensus heading into the season
Although Purvis seems like a big loss on paper, the talent at Tight End remains strong and they are expected to be fairly productive.

Roster Reminders
Returning Starters
None
Backups and Hopefuls
Lars Anderson
Jordon McMichael
Chris Pantale
Mike Naples
Alexander Atiyeh

Chatter
Anderson is ready to step up, but most of the chatter is about Pantale. He was a well regarded recruit, played well as a scout teamer and has looked good during the offseason. Jordon McMichael, who has all the tools, will hopefully stay healthy and become the player he was expected to be.

The real question
Can these guys block? In the final TOB-Bible years, our TEs were major liabilities when it came to blocking. Too often in pass protection and in the running game, they allowed an edge guy to either get by or blow the play up.

My Bold Prediction
Last year the TEs accounted for 34 receptions and 2 TDs. I predict they will easily combine for at least 45 catches and score more than 5 TDs. (That might not seem that bold, but percentage wise it would represent a big jump in production in a year after losing Purvis.)

What keeps me up at night?
Injuries. Ideally Naples redshirts and you don’t need to use Atiyeh. But things happen. Given McMichael’s injury history, you could see BC get very thin, very quickly at TE. I also don’t think you see many 2 TE formations.

Outlook
Anderson is a quality ACC TE. His production alone should be enough to fill the position this fall. If McMichael and Pantale step up, TE becomes another area where we will surprise people.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hoops schedule released

BC released the Men's Basketball Schedule. The team will play at least 10 nationally televised games. More will certainly be added if they are top 25 team throughout the season. The toughest stretch is probably early January with road games at Clemson and Duke, home against Maryland and then back on the road against Miami and Virginia Tech.


There is also a tough stretch where we come home from the Island Jam and then play at Providence, at Michigan and then host Miami all within eight days.


This is the most difficult basketball schedule since the current JRs arrived on campus. They should be up for the challenge.

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Spaz Show and other links

I've always felt the BC coach's show was an underutilized marketing opportunity. It seems like the folks in the Athletic Department felt the same way since they are putting on the Spaz Show in front of a live audience. The shows will be taped Mondays at Roggie's. Go out on Mondays, get some wings, talk to the coach and give Meter a hard time.


HD has a rundown of ACC recruiting.


Mr College Football will miss Herzy this year.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Support the Red Bandanna 5k Run/Walk

The family of BC Guy Welles Crowther is holding their annual 5k run/walk fundraiser on Saturday, September 19th. Registration starts at 8a.m. at Gasson Hall and the run starts at 9 am.

For those unfamiliar with Welles' story and the family's cause, you can read about it on their web site. Welles was a four year letterman for BC Lacrosse and died on September 11 trying to get others out of the World Trade Center towers.

For those who cannot attend the race, you can give online via redbandannarun.com.

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Preseason breakdown: Wide Receivers

Part III of the previews. This time I turn my attention to the wide receivers.

Consensus heading into the season

“If a tree falls in the woods…” Because there are serious concerns if BC will even throw the ball this year, no one is really talking about our WRs. It’s unfortunate that much like last year, BC will have a deep and talented WR group that won’t really have a chance to show their stuff.

Roster Reminders
Returning Starters
Rich Gunnell
Backups and Hopefuls
Johnathan Coleman
Billy Flutie
Chris Fox
Justin Jarvis
Colin Larmond, Jr.
Clyde Lee
Ryan Lindsey
Clarence Megwa
Ifeanyi Momah


Chatter
Since many of the names on the roster above committed during the pass-happy Steve Logan-Matt Ryan era, there were some rumblings of discontent and transfers. Fortunately all the guys with upside and talent remained.

The Real Question
We are hearing that Tranq’s schemes are a hybrid of his philosophies, a bit of Logan leftovers and a few adjustments for the talent on the field. That is all well and good when it comes to play design and play calling. The question on my mind is what are the WRs going to be instructed to do once the play breaksdown. Starting with the Paul Peterson days, BC QBs and WRs started becoming much more aggressive and consistent about heading downfield on broken plays. Logan and Ryan went deep with even more regularity. This only made sense since we had smart QBs and decent lines that could provide extra protection. This aggressiveness led to numerous big plays. We didn’t see it as much last year as Crane-Davis were more inclined to run and also lacked the downfield accuracy. I hope to see a few bombs away moments this year because I think our guys have the capability to turn them into TDs.

My bold prediction

This has less to do with the regular season and more to do with next spring but I think Rich Gunnell will be drafted next year. While that might not seem like a big deal, do you realize Kelvin Martin was the last BC wide receiver taken with an NFL draft pick? That was 1987! Now consider all the offensive talent we’ve had since then and the thousands of passes completed yet none of those guys were considered elite talents. Gunnell will hopefully change that as he’s got a good combination of size, speed and hands.

What keeps me up at night
That we ignore this group. Think back to last year against NC State. Crane put up big numbers but much of the credit was due to the WRs who made big plays and pulled in tons of balls. We almost stole the Music City Bowl when Larmond burned the Vandy DBs late in the game. There is talent here. But if we hunker down and only throw 15 times in a game, we’ll let a great pool of guys waste away. Even if the QBs are shaky we need to air it out. In part to keep the opponents’ D honest and in part because we have some playmakers.

Outlook
Perhaps I am being gushing too much about a group of returning players that only caught 94 balls collectively last year. I guess rewatching the ACC Championship Game was a reminder that their productivity was less about talent and more about play calling and QB play. I think they should be able to fill any hole left by Brandon Robinson. I also think the continued maturity and development of Larmond and Momah could pay huge dividends this year.

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Basketball commit and other links

Skinner and company picked up another recruit for their 2010 class in PG Brady Heslip. Heslip is a Canadian with so so offers, but he brings another guard to a team that will be short on them soon.


Sporting News put together a "best of" list for the ACC. Not a bad roundup. In their prediction though the say that BC will go 0-8. SI is almost as dour as they predict a 2-6 conference record with 4-8 overall mark.


Josh Beekman is fighting to hold onto his starting spot in Chicago. His former teammate Gos Cherilus hopes to put all his tools together this season in Detroit.


Two reasons for optimism on the defensive side: the talented DBs and the young LBs.

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Shinskie update (Did Jags or TOB dream about seven cows and not tell us?)



Indulge my biblical reference for a moment:

GENESIS 41:29-31 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.


I received confirmation that Shinskie did break rib(s) and is day-to-day. His status for Northeastern won't be known until much closer to game time. The endless offseason continues. Yet I remain hopeful. Like Egypt after Joseph's dream interpretation, I think we stored up enough pieces to ride through this weird plague.

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Scrimmmage explained a bit (Shinskie got dinged)

The Herald explained why Shinskie snaps were limited Sunday. The former baseball player took a shot in the ribs and didn't return. As we know Boek and Tuggle made the most of his absence.


No update on Shinskie's health.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back to square one

It looks like the QB depth chart is written in pencil. After narrowing in on Shinskie and Marscovetra last week, Spaz et al must of had a change of heart. How else to explain giving more snaps to Tuggle and Boek in Sunday's scrimmage? One theory is that we'll be running more (including some direct snaps) so having a QB who is a threat to run compliments those strategies. Who knows?


What I don't understand is the urge to lock in on one guy before the season. If no one stood out, why not split time amongst the equals? Although I never want to overlook anyone, Northeastern is not very good. We could split time among three QBs and see who steps up in live action. We could potentially do the same against Kent State. Michigan plans to play three QBs in their opener. Ideally you work out the kinks and are ready to go with one guy by the time we head down to Clemson.


We have one more scrimmage to decipher. But I have a feeling we won't know or understand what's best until after Northeastern.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Good news from Herzy and other links

Herzy let the world know via Twitter that he has resumed work outs. There's a long way to go and more procedures ahead, but you have to be encouraged that he has the health, desire and strength the work out.


BC received 9 votes in the AP preseason poll.


Tomahawk Nation posted another detailed breakdown of BC, only this time they looked at the defense. I realize we lost three NFL level talents, but I think TN underestimates the returning group and the new talent coming on board.


Here is a fair preview of the team from a Carolina newspaper.


This is unrelated to sports but a nice story of a BC guy breaking into the burrito biz. Check out their website at Red's All Natural.

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BC whalepantscords

Tucked inside the box from a recent BC Bookstore purchase was the latest BC catalog. Hidden among the latest t-shirts and paraphernalia was an item I had previously overlooked -- BC cords! How come no one told me about this?

Despite my excitement, I am not sure if I'll buy them. Atlanta has a short season for cords and I am not thrilled with black as the only option. But I my change may mind come Christmas time.


Although the bookstore is selling cords, you still need to go to Pennington & Bailes for the original BC pants.

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Preseason Blogpoll Ballot

It is the return of the blogpoll. Brian prefers that we do a public draft of the ballot, and then change it based on debate. You are welcome to debate me in the comments but I am not changing this. After my usual digestion of the preview magazines, the only conference I don't have a good grasp on is the ACC. With extreme parity and flawed teams I could see nearly every team making a run and also see all the alleged conference favorites falling flat on their faces.


For those new to this blog, the blogpoll was established a few years ago to give the bloggers their own version of college football's ranking system. The major difference with our poll is that we announce what games we actually watched, wear our bias on our sleeve and don't have to adhere to any system but our own. In general I tend to reward record and strength of schedule.

On the BC front, this year Eagle All Access joins me and the BCI guys in the poll. I left BC out of my preseason Top 25 and will try my best not to jinx the team if we start strong.

RankTeam
1 Florida
2 Southern Cal
3 Texas
4 Oklahoma
5 Ohio State
6 Mississippi
7 Penn State
8 Oklahoma State
9 LSU
10 Virginia Tech
11 Alabama
12 Oregon
13 TCU
14 Georgia Tech
15 California
16 Michigan State
17 Brigham Young
18 Georgia
19 Utah
20 North Carolina
21 Texas Tech
22 Oregon State
23 Cincinnati
24 Wake Forest
25 Central Michigan

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Friday, August 21, 2009

QBs of the future and other links

Scout continues to improve its BC coverage this time with pieces on our two incoming QBs Josh Bordner and Chase Rettig. With two incoming and four QBs on the roster, I imagine we'll see some more position changes in January.


Wes Davis is the latest guy to sing the praises of Bowman.


Give credit where it is due: Blaudschun is finally treating his blog like a blog and not just a place to put drafts of his Globe stories.


HD admits she might have overlooked a few BC players in her rankings.


Another ACC forecast that has BC at 10 in the conference. I know Rice was a good player, but did these guys not see the other players step up at different moments? What other team has as much returning talent?


If Vitale is saying BC belongs back in the Big East then you know some conference higher ups are actively pushing this agenda. I don't get the media push though. What are they hoping to accomplish? Gene is not looking back. Are they setting the stage for Gene's successor to open talks? Are they hoping BC fans and alumni put pressure on BC to go back? It seems like a lot of wasted effort. (Thanks to Mike for the link.)


As we transition away from a strict zone blocking scheme to more of a hybrid it is interesting to read this recap of the Chow-Carroll issues at USC earlier this decade. Carroll was the one who forced Chow to zone.

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A message from the hoops coaches brought to you by Andy Katz

Ignore Jay Bilas'* dismal predictions in this ESPN piece for a moment and note what Andy Katz wrote in his "Key Players" section:
3. Evan Ravenel, So., Boston College: One of the reasons the Eagles didn't add a single player to their roster was because of the faith they had in Ravenel. He didn't play much last season, but the staff is confident he can develop into a solid contributor if he commits himself to Al Skinner's system. It'll need him to be, since the weakness was frontcourt depth a year ago.


As chronicled here, Andy Katz is pretty plugged into the Skinner staff and his summer leaks have a good track record of coming true. Meaning we can expect to see a big leap in minutes and productivity from Evan Ravenel this year.

*Bilas is actually not the BC hater that some call him. I actually met him at the Final Four in Atlanta a few years ago in a social setting and he had nothing but great things to say about Skinner, BC as a campus, and the staff.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Say cheese" and other links

Hats off to bceagles.com. When I started this blog they occasionally put up fresh content. Now they are producing unique interviews and features daily for the big sports. Today they put up a video of the team's annual "Picture Day." My only gripe is that their partner CBS Sports doesn't offer embedded functionality. Check out the video on bceagles.com. As for the scenes themselves, the guys seem to enjoy it. At least it gives them a much needed break from Camp Spaz. I am also trying to block out the image of McCluskey still wearing the boot.


CBS Sports considers Albright one of the impact players returning this year.


Tomahawk Nation put together a great breakdown of our offense. I don't think people realize that our offense was middle of the pack within the ACC last year. There is a foundation to improve this year, but it will come down to Tranq and the QB.


The Herald is picking up on the freshmen's potential. Also, don't forget about the redshirt guys that will be playing for the first time too. The Milford Daily also wrote a piece about the OLine. Why don't these smaller town papers cover BC more during the season?


BC, BU and FSG held a press conference regarding the outdoor game set for January 8. Fans who go to Mobile for the GMAC bowl should be back to Boston in time!


Although we will probably be a Top 25 team, the basketball version of College Gameday won't be coming to the Heights this season.


Jerry York picked up another verbal.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Second scrimmage and other links

BC held their second scrimmage and it seems like more of the same. The D looks good and the offense struggled. As for the QBs, Shinskie got the most snaps and looked a little more accurate. Marscovetra was ok but also threw a pic.


The smart guys don't get caught up in all the offseason noise with BC. Football Outsiders predicts a 9-3 record and a second place finish in the division. This is easily the most optimistic outlook and has a lot to do with our D remaining strong and the Oline.


The Globe featured Dillon Quinn this morning. It will be interesting to see how he matures this year. He's obviously raw, but Spaz has done a good job rotating in the younger Dlineman. Will McGovern do the same?


Add another "unique" destination to the ACC bowl lineup. The fifth place team will head to El Paso for the Sun Bowl. The Sun Bowl has a nice tradition and offers a Pac 10 opponent. I don't think many BC fans will make the trip to west Texas though.


Buster Sports considers Montel Harris one of the most underrated players in the ACC.


HD thinks Spaz can be coach of the year.


Folks in other media markets continue to focus on Spaz's steady hand.


This is the time of year when hometown papers love to cover their kids. This time it is Castonzo who gets the press.


Despite the media attention, I don't think you'll see BC play UConn as long as Gene is still making the schedules.


Future Eagle Philip Samuelsson has been staying busy this summer.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can the ACC get SEC-type money and other links

Here's a good breakdown of the factors in the new ACC TV deal.


It looks like our running game will be more traditional, less stretch zone stuff.


Have you seen a red Cadillac on campus? It probably belongs to Dave Shinskie.


Despite his holdout, Raji came into Packers camp prepared and should play in their next preseason game.


I thought BC fans would appreciate EDSBS's description of the BC-Notre Dame relationship.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

What to make of Marscovetra

If Michael Marscovetra becomes the BC starter as a true freshman, it will be the latest and most visible example that the recruiting system has holes in it and that there are many factors that go into player evaluation. As a reminder, this was the Jersey guy's pedigree as a high school player:

Scout: 2 star and unranked.
ESPN: 75 rating
Rivals: 2 Star unranked.

Marscovetra did not receive another DIA offer. Even after he committed to BC, no other school entered the picture to lure him away. And it wasn't like he was playing in some obscure, underdeveloped football territory. He played in nothern New Jersey which is probably the most fertile and heavily recruited area in the northeast.


You want to give everyone a chance. You want to say that everyone starts with a blank slate. It is not true. Coaches, fans, recruitniks all anticipate who is going to be a star and who they think will be a bust. That's why Michael Marscovetra's emergence is so unexpected. The true freshman has been the best QB in camp so far. The reason he's not at the top of the depth chart is based on maturity and upside...and probably a little bit on expectations. The coaches didn't expect him to be this good and are probably having doubts. Does a guy like Spaz want to but his future in a unheralded kid who he didn't even recruit? Marscovetra was a Steve Logan flyer. But even Logan and Jags saw him as a backup. They were still going hard after other recruits after Marscovetra verballed.


Maybe this is all about rising to the occasion. While Mascovetra played in New Jersey, his team wasn't very good and neither was the talent around him. It shows in his stats. As a JR he completed 56% of his passes for 1,762 yards with 15TDs and 12 INTs. As a SR in high school he regressed a bit completing 47.6% of his passes for 1,422 yards, 8 TDs and 13 Ints. The reason he got a scholarship from BC was his impressive camp performance in summer 2008. In fact he's played the best football of his life in Boston. That is probably what matters. In a team sport, when the talent around him was finally even, he stood out.


Just because he's playing well doesn't guarantee anything. He's not beating out a Matt Ryan or Doug Flutie. The QB talent around him -- although more heralded -- is still flawed. And Shinskie may still take a big leap in play once he shakes off the rust.


Marscovetra may never play at BC. There is one name ahead of him now and could be two more names above him on the depth chart as early as January. And even if he gets the job, it doesn't mean we have a star. Look around at some of the other true freshman we've faced over the years. But Marscovetra's surprising start offers hope. As much as we think we know how things will play out, we don't know. No one does. That's what makes this all so interesting. For our sake, let's hope Marscovetra continues to exceed the low expectations. We need some good news.

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BC's Mike's blog and other links

Friend and frequent commentor BC Mike has his own blog now. It is draft focused but well worth your time.


The BCI guys joined in on a ACC roundup.


Justin Jarvis is helping the freshman on the team.


We know what happened in our scrimmage. HD has the scoop on what happened around the conference.


Herzy was there for Ron Brace's first NFL preseason game.


NESN finally noticed that we send a lot of QBs to the NFL.


Charlie Davies' impressive play continued this weekend with his new club Sochaux.


BC is talking to Florida TE Neil Basford.


One of BC's top baseball recruits Kevin James is bypassing the Heights and signing with Tampa.


Former Eagle Brian Boyle is back east and now a member of the Rangers.


Chris Crane played about half a quarter in the Colts' most recent scrimmage. He went three for four for 18 yards.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday conversation

This was filmed in the spring and the hosts are not totally up to speed on BC, but there is a few solid minutes of Spaz talking about the job and the team.

[UPDATED: I pulled the embedded video because it kept launching on some browsers. Check it out on your own here.]

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reading too much into the first scrimmage

The first scrimmage shouldn't mean much, but Spaz raised expectations a bit by saying that whoever stood out would be the No. 1 quarterback. Of course, no one stood out. So what does it all mean?

-- If you go by the scrimmage results, Boek and Marscovetra had the better night.
Both have been good so far this summer too. Yet neither moved the ball much. Tuggle and Shinskie are still clearly in the discussion. Nothing has been determined.


-- The defense is going to be good this year.
I know I've just started my previews, but I believe the D will be very good this year and tonight was the another sign of hope. If you remember the D dominated in the scrimmages last year and continued that dominance once the season started.
-- Some of the young talent is ready to step up. In past scrimmages you would see random names pop up and then disappear and never to be heard from again. Yet some of Saturday's names -- like Johnson and Holloway -- have been whispered about enough that you can start predicting big things.

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Media Day roundup

BC held their annual media day Friday. Below are the links and stories of note:




Spaz touched on many topics but this article noted his comments on Montel Harris. Tranq plans on getting Harris and Haden on the field together. Outside of QB, Tranq feels pretty good about his offense.


BCeagles.com coverage included a ton of player photos.


Towards the end of this article Gunnell mentions that the offense looks better than it did last year at this point. Although it is only practice, I think this is a good sign of things to come.


Megwa hurt his hand but shouldn't be out of action long.


In this Q&A Wes Davis talks about his comeback from his spinal injury and how guys on the team all play video games.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Preseason breakdown: Running Backs

Part II of the previews. This time I turn my attention to the running backs.

Consensus heading into the season
BC’s backfield is talented and diverse, but lacking depth. Most expect opposing Defensive Coordinators to loaded up the box to slow BC’s running game. This will put that much more pressure on Haden and Harris.

Roster Reminders

Returning Starters
-- Josh Haden
-- James McCluskey
-- Montel Harris*
Backups and Hopefuls
-- Jeff Smith
-- Sterlin Phifer
-- Rolandan Finch
-- Brendan Deska

*Practically a starter

If we are hit with a rash of injuries, these are some the names that you might see floated as possible RBs: Boek, Mulrooney, Fox.

Chatter

Considering the hype that surrounded his signing, Josh Haden’s freshman year was a bit of a disappointment. He had a series of nagging injuries that slowed his explosiveness. The chatter is that Haden had a good offseason and is ready to take the next step. When healthy, he should be a big play threat.

The Real Question
What will Spaz do with the true freshmen? TOB’s preference was to redshirt whenever he could. Jags felt that if a guy was good enough and ready, that he should be on the field. Spaz has yet to tip his hand on his philosophy. If Haden and Harris stay healthy, there might not be a need to play Phifer or Finch. My guess is that one will play and the other will redshirt.

My bold prediction
None of the RBs will have more than 20 receptions. Haden, Harris and McCluskey all made big plays in the passing game last year. While they may still get the occasional pass thrown their way, Tranquill’s track record at his last stop indicates that throwing to guys coming out of the backfield is not a priority. The most catches for a running back in any of Tranq’s years at UNC was 15. In comparison McCluskey had 19 catches in an abbreviated season last year. Even if Tranq opens it up, no one is going to approach Andre Callendar’s mark of 76 catches in 2007.

What keeps me up at night
Lack of a big back. McCluskey’s lingering injury and Jerry Kelly’s decision to transfer led to the Deska shuffle to offense. Can Deska –- in McCluskey’s absence -- open up holes for the tailbacks? Who will be our goal line solution? With a new QB it would have been nice to have an experienced, big running back as a security blanket.


Outlook
As the season approaches my optimism grows. A major part of that optimism is due to Montel Harris. I didn’t spend much time in this preview writing about Harris but believe he is just what this team needs. Our new No. 2 is a grinder who can make something out of nothing and move the pile. As he matures things should only get better. We may have an issue with the altered running scheme, but I expect Harris to adapt. If Haden stays healthy or Jeff Smith finally “gets it” then we can really surprise people. Anything we get from the freshmen is gravy.


Last year at this time we didn’t know what to expect from our running backs and they proved to be very good. This year –- now that they are known commodities -– let’s hope they exceed expectations again.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Raji signs and other links

BJ Raji is finally a Packer. Terms were not disclosed. He'll be in Green Bay on Friday to sign the deal and get in pads.


Here is an article on the top football prospects in Massachusetts including two who have already committed to BC.


Not much meat in this update from bceagles.com, but it does include more photos.


This is a nice story about Marlotte van den Bergh's t-shirt drive to help children in India.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spaz TV and other links

Most of you probably saw this but here is the Globe's day with Spaz.


Mark your calendar as the long rumored BC-BU hockey game at Fenway will take place January 8. There will be a press conference Thursday to talk about the event.


BCeagles.com didn't post any pictures today, but they did have another practice update. Toal and Raji were also back on campus.


Scafe is ready for a big year.


BC landed another top recruit in Delaware DB C.J. Jones.


Et tu, Carlton? (Thanks to Matt for the link.)


BC soccer put together a good recruiting class. (Thanks to Chris for the link.)


SI doesn't think we will make a bowl. It figures since they ranked us No. 71.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Preseason breakdown: Offensive Line

I am going to take a slightly different format with the position breakdowns. Up first: the offensive line.


Consensus heading into the season
Everyone agrees that the offensive line should be the strength of the team.


Roster Reminders

It is a fairly balanced depth chart.
Returning Starters

-- Thomas Claiborne
-- Anthony Castonzo
-- Rich Lapham
-- Matt Tennant
Backups and Hopefuls
-- Ian White
-- Mark Spinney
-- Nick Halloran
-- Mike Goodman
-- John Wetzel
-- Nathan Richman
-- Emmett Cleary
-- Keith Bourne


Chatter
Everyone wants to know who will fill the LG position and what the latest scheme change will mean for the line. I am not worried about either. Clif Ramsey was all conference last year, but whoever fills his shoes will be bookended by two of the best linemen to come through BC in Tennant and Castonzo. As for the new coach Sean Devine, he's considered a good teacher and has worked the zone scheme before. I think he will keep the OLine U tradition going strong.


Real Question

When will Nathan Richman be healthy? Richman -- one of the favorites to fill the open starter position -- still has a gimpy ankle. It looks like his absence will open the door for...


My bold prediction

Emmett Cleary will start at LG and make the ACC's All Freshman team. Cleary looked a little spotty in the spring game, but there was good buzz about him during his redshirt year. He probably could've played as a true freshman if we had needed him. Say what you will about Jags, but the guy had a good eye for line talent. He thought Cleary could be as good as Castonzo. I am on the bandwagon and think our leftside will dominate this year.


What keeps me up at night

Rich Lapham's consistency and Matt Tennant's shotgun snaps. Lapham improved throughout the year but he was still the unit's weak link. Hopefully his footwork has improved and he's little more focused. Tennat's shotgun snaps were a bit of an issue last year, but I don't think it will be a problem this year since we'll have QBs under center more often this year.


Outlook
This should be the best line in the conference and could be the best in the country. Injuries and newbies could upset the applecart, but I am predicting great success. I think Devine is a promising coach and but how this unit gels will be the first real indicator if my hunch is true.


We'll have plenty of time to worry about other parts of this team, but the offensive line is going to be very, very good.

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New captains and other links

The BC football team elected three captains today. With the honor Mike McLaughlin becomes one of the rare two-year captains. Matt Tennant also got the nod. The surprise election was Rich Gunnell. Hopefully that is a sign the Rich is ready for a big year.


The local papers got into the swing of things. The Herald had an article on Albright and Spaz's adjustment to his new gig. The Globe even got around to posting a story on Castonzo.


BC finalized a two-year basketball series with South Carolina. Adding an SEC team is a great idea for strength of schedule. My only quibble is that South Carolina provides another road game in the Carolinas. That's great for me and other BC fans in the southeast, but if we had played a Pac 10 or Big XII team, BC fans in other parts of the country would have been able to see the guys in person.


Raji remains a holdout in Green Bay. (Thanks to Mike for the link.)


Forbes is getting attention for its new college rankings. This is a potential challenge to US News' more established rankings. BC is in the Top 20 with Forbes.

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F off Brian Bennett

I know many BC fans dislike Heather Dinich, but her colleague and Big East blogger Brian Bennett proved himself to be a pompous dickhead windbag. Here's what happened, Bennett decided to post a mailbag about Big East expansion. With the BE coaches whining about their short schedule it makes sense to address the topic. However the floated mega conference or ACC poaching will never happen. Bennett knows -- or should know -- this. When challenged by a Bob V (occasional photographer for this blog) this is what happened:
Bob V. from Washington, D.C., writes: Did you actually talk to any BC fans? I coordinate all the game watches for BC alumni in DC, and have never, EVER heard anyone express displeasure with the ACC or a desire to return to the Big East. BC's biggest Big East rivals were Miami and Virginia Tech and the Clemson series has been a hugely popular success. Besides that, academically the ACC is a much stronger fit. Why would we want to play Louisville and Cincinnati? This is not the first time you have raised this, and not the first time your column seems completely out of touch with facts and reality.

Brian Bennett: Ah, yes, the storied rivalry that is Boston College vs. Clemson. I bet that gets pretty heated at the ol' office water cooler, because so many BC and Clemson fans work in adjoining cubicles. It's been known to tear families apart. And enjoy your bowl trips to Boise and Nashville, even after you play in that hugely popular ACC title game. That move to the ACC has worked wonders for the Eagles, all right.


So instead of answering Bob's valid question on what BC fans think, he mocks him and brings up the water cooler debate. Excuse me but the water cooler bullshit is one of the lamest straw-men out there. Unless you work in some place in Boston filled with BC grads and alums, there is no water cooler talk about BC football. That doesn't happen if we play Rutgers or West Virginia or Clemson or USC. The ACC wasn't about generating buzz. It was about money and stability and playing in a conference of equals. If Bennett doesn't know this or get this, he's dumb. The fact that he mocked Bob just means he probably put two minutes into his blog post. As for Nashville, Boise, et al bowl nonsense...our bowl situation wouldn't have been any better in the Big East. Turnout for Tampa? The Big East doesn't even have a championship game.


I guess I shouldn't get worked up over this stuff, but Bennett is wasting his time, his platform and his opportunity to do something cool so he can take cheap shots and be an internet tough guy/funny guy. I wish and hope ESPN holds their bloggers to higher standards. Thankfully we have HD.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

First day and other links

It is just practice, but BC played football today! Not much news but some great pics in the link from bceagles.com. The best news was Clarence Megwa playing at full speed.


Surprisingly HD didn't put BC at the bottom of the ACC.


Nothing from the Globe today, but the Herald had two pieces (Thompson stepping up and a general preview). ACC Sports also posted questions facing BC.


The Colts brought Chris Crane back into their camp. (Thanks to Bill for the link.)

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Practice! and other links

By the time most of you read this, BC will officially be practicing football. Thankfully the long summer is over. My coverage has been a little thin, but I hope to pump out some previews this week.


Spaz sounds fairly confident and I was glad to hear from Tranquill. It sounds like it is all about Shinskie.


392 BC athletes made the ACC honor roll.


Chris O'Donnell is ready for football season.


Cherilus held a Q&A with the Globe.


Good call from BC All Access.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Florian loses and other links

Kenny Florian couldn't pull off the upset at UFC 101. He lost in the 4th when Penn got him in a rear-naked choke.


Al is not among the ACC coaches on Twitter, but you can follow assistant Mo Cassara.


Tony Gonzalez is now coaching high school football.


More Quinton Porter updates from Canada.


BC is back in the mix for former Stanford commit Louis Young.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Shinskie makes his ESPN debut and other links

I believe the coaching staff when they say QB competition is open. But they may be tipping their hand a bit by sending David Shinskie on a media tour. Shinskie's story is a good one, but why would BC send him to ESPN if he wasn't expected to do much. (Thanks to Andrew for the link.)


Brandon Robinson is having a good training camp with the Eagles. (Thanks to Justin for the link.)


Surprisingly, BC received 3 votes in the preseason coaches poll.


Raji remains in Green Bay -- unsigned, underappreciated and bored.


Quinton Porter is still the starter in Hamilton.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cleary funeral and other links

Very sad news as funeral services were held for former hockey captain Joe Cleary. He was only 39.


This is a pretty complete preview accept that it doesn't mention Shinskie?!?


The Globe's Mark Blaudschun didn't cover the ACC meetings, but did make it to the Big East event. He and/or the Globe just don't get it...


Check your local listings for Spaz's interview on this Raycom show.


The team from Lost Letterman sent me this blog post from Paul Peterson. I have no confirmation if it is Paul, but whoever wrote the post is pretty adamant in his support for Gene.


Kenny Florian has the mental focus to win Saturday. The Globe even gave the big event coverage.


Although he just stepped foot inside the country, former Eagle Keenan Jourdan joined the Belize National Team.


The Gator Bowl is considering dropping their affiliation with the Big East.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Enough with the Big East stuff and other links

The Big East is holding their annual meetings so it is time for the annual "BC should come back" meme. Forget the argument over whether or not BC is a good fit in the ACC or the lingering bad blood and just look at the financials. Do you think BC would give up money to return to the Big East? Especially with the looming ACC TV contracts? And the idea that Maryland would ever ditch the ACC is laughable.


Dan Mulrooney is healthy and ready to play.


Brian St. Pierre is pushing Matt Leinart for the backup job in Arizona.


Patrick Eaves signed on with Detroit.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Athletic Department's Annual Report and other links

BC Sports put up their Annual Report. Flynn Fund members already received a hard copy last week. It's mostly fluff with feel good stories from current and former athletes. Key takeaways:
-- BC still trails most of the ACC in athletic donations. We need to improve that
-- The trending on fundraising remains positive.
-- There is no shared info on a potential football practice facility.
-- There is a section on Conte Forum but no word on a new Heating/AC system, new seating configuration or improvements to the scoreboard/video screen/in arena ad space.


Atlanta Magazine finally posted their Matt Ryan article online. To read the entire piece you'll need to pay $.99. It's a good article with quotes from his crew in Exton and even has a shrink profiling Matt's perfectness. I cannot say it's worth a buck. I didn't pay since I got to read the hard copy in my dentist's office.


College Football News ranked BC at 48 in their preseason poll.


Good news -- Joe Martinez is set to rejoin the Giants' rotation and has recovered from the line drive he took off his head in April. (Thanks to Steve for the link.)


BC Guy Kenny Florian is in one of the key fights for Saturday's UFC 101.


While Raji continues to hold out, Ron Brace is settling in with the Patriots.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Another BC blog and other links

The ACC has finally jumped into the blogging game. They've hired current students from each school to blog on their site. The lucky BC student blogger is David Auffenberg. Check out David's first work and follow him all season here.


Tim Bulman keeps exceeding expectations in Houston.


Another day, another oddsmaker predicting a rebuilding year.


The PAC 10 commissioner thinks any new ACC-PAC 10 TV network is a few seasons away if it happens.

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What I did this summer by David Shinskie

Our newest Eagle David Shinskie got his first real press as an official member of the BC football program. The Herald's take was pretty lighthearted and positive. It seems that the players have predictably started teasing him about his age. Shinskie's getting back into the flow of playing football and looking forward to getting hit again.


Shinskie even seems pretty open about the true difficulties of his new life -- the lifestyle and the classroom. The baseball lifestyle (sleep in, play at night, drink after the game, crash, repeat) and its endless summer vibe is gone. Now Shinskie has to be up and on the field at 6 AM. He also has to adjust to being a student again. The fact that he's sharing these challenges makes me optimistic. Maybe he does have the personality and maturity to make the most of this opportunity.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Crane cut and other links

Chris Crane's hope to become the next Matt Cassel or even the next Brian St. Pierre hit a bump in the road when the Colts cut him. This doesn't mean he can't catch on somewhere, but he's going to have to really impress at his next stop.


Deep into this article on the Lions, there's a discussion on Cherilus and how his struggles may have been predicted. While Gos' senior season was not his best, I don't think his play was as poor an Joyner describes.


This Clemson blogger is already counting our game as a W for the Tigers.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Spaz speaks

Here are two clips from last week that have now been put up online.


This clip wouldn't embed put here is Spaz chatting up a local reporter.

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