Saturday, November 30, 2013

That hurt

When it became clear that Williams wasn't going to get the stats for the Heisman, his offensive teammates rallied and played a heck of a game. Unfortunately the defensive effort wasn't as good. It has been a great regular season. I guess that's why losing sucks. The fight the guys showed was proof that the team culture has changed. I hope Andre is ok.

I will have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday

In-game comments post: Syracuse

This season has gone by fast. That tends to happen when things are going well. But Heismans and better bowls won't happen if we don't beat Syracuse. Let's hope the guys are ready! Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tweets of the Week

Game Watches: Syracuse

This could be an important day for BC and Andre Williams. Don't you want to watch it fellow BC fans? Local Game Watches are listed below. If your chapter's Watch is not list, put it in the comments section.

Boston Game Watch
Joshua Tree
1316 Commonwealth Avenue
Allston

Chicago Game Watch
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage (Armitage Brown/Purple Line L)
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch
Christie's Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Ave Suite 22
Dallas, Texas

Houston Game Watch
J. Blacks Feel Good Kitchen & Lounge
110 S. Heights Blvd.
Houston

Jersey Shore Game Watch
Molly Maguire’s
132 E. River Road
Rumson, N.J.

Las Vegas Game Watch
Firkin on Paradise
4503 Paradise Road
Las Vegas

New York Game Watch
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Philadelphia Game Watch
Fox and Hound - Center City
1501 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, Penn.

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher’s Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street
Phoenix, Ariz.

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Co.
602 Broadway
San Diego, Calif.

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly’s
2064 Polk St (between Pacific Ave & Broadway St)
San Francisco, Calif.

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19th Street Northwest
Washington, D.C.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Support the BC Hockey Toy Drive Friday Night

The BC Hockey team is hosting its annual Toy Drive this Friday. You can bring the toys to the Holy Cross game. If you cannot make it, the team will also be collecting toys before the UNH game December 6. All toys should be new and unwrapped. The Drive benefits patients at Boston Children's Hospital.

BC-Syracuse preview

We are riding an incredible wave of emotion and positive press. Yet it can all come crashing down with a loss. BC is also in an unusual position of needing to win and needing Andre to get his stats. I hate being dependent on winning a certain way or style points, but in this case it is worth it. Syracuse might be good agaist the run, but I still feel really confident about the game and Williams' Heisman campaign.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
When dealing with the media, you can only set up so many storylines. If a Sports Information Department throws too much at them, a school risks it all being dismissed or unused. The school's efforts have obviously -- and rightfully -- been behind Williams. I hope that the broadcast team also shares Frank Chamberlin's story. The highlight of his career was in the Carrier Dome and he deserves at least a mention this weekend.

Three Simple Keys
1. Getting an early lead. How many times can BC spark a comeback on the ground in the 4th quarter? If we want to win and get Andre his numbers, we need to get up early and establish tempo.
2. Convert on third down. I don't mind running on third down, but to do so we need to be in third and short situations. Either way, BC needs to convert more and keep Syracuse off the field.
3. Don't forget about Willis. Other teams may view him as change of pace, but he is still a very good weapon. Get him touches. Pass to him. It will help Andre indirectly.

Gambling Notes
-- Syracuse is 2-2 in ACC home games
-- BC is 2-3 on the road
-- Syracuse leads the all time series 18-28
The current line is BC-2.5

Factoid
BC has not won two straight at Syracuse since 1969-1971.

Scoreboard Watching
If someone wants to vote for Winston, it doesn't really matter what Andre does. However, McCarron voters might look for a new candidate if Alabama loses. We really need a Auburn win. It wouldn't hurt to see Arizona lose, Texas A&M lose and Ohio State lose.

I hope to see...
The Special Teams not make any mistakes. We've been lucky that the recent spike in Special Teams goofs have not cost us. We need the unit to be clean on Saturday.

BC is in trouble if...
If we can't get offense through the air. Williams is the focus, but he can only do so much. We still need some semblence of a passing game. It helps open things up for the run game and is critical in the redzone.

Bottom Line
We've had good seasons end on a low point with Syracuse before. It is not going to happen this year! Syracuse will load up to stop Williams. It will feel like a slugfest for a half. In the second half BC and Andre breakaway. We win again and Andre earns an invite to New York.
Final Score: BC 27, Syracuse 14

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Heisman Factors Part III: winning an election

This is the third in a series of posts on Andre Williams and the 2013 Heisman. This deals with how the voting patterns work and what Andre needs to happen. Obviously this is all contingent on BC beating Syracuse and Andre having a big day.



There are three sources of Heisman votes. One vote comes from the fans (which doesn't really matter). The 58 past winners also get a vote. This group is also a small block, but I think might help Andre (which I will explain in a minute). The Trophy's winner really comes down to the College Football media. And like our Electoral College, the Heisman vote is not a true popularity contest. If Williams does well enough on the most ballots, he can win.

Among the writers, there are six regions comprised of 145 voters each. The regions are not entirely representative. For example, even though there is more media in the North East and more college football writers in the South, each of those regions still only gets 145 votes. While Far West and Midwest are disproprotionally represented given their media and college football coverage. The Heisman also has a Mid Atlantic region, which includes Andre's home state of Pennsylvania and heart of ACC Country.

The other aspect of the Heisman ballot is that the voters are not asked to pick just one winner. Ballots allow for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice. This is especially important in year like this where there is no consensus and one leading candidate might be left off of numerous ballots.

To get a feel for how the three place balloting distributes votes, look at ESPN's Experts' Ballot. In their last straw poll Williams is second without receiving a first place vote.

Assuming BC beats Syracuse and Andre has a big day, this is what needs to happen for Williams to win:

1. He needs to sweep the North East and Mid Atlantic.
This is his home region and the area where he is most well known. As much as I think Williams can win without getting the majority of 1st place votes across the country, he still needs a strong showing from some block.
2. A lot of voters need to leave Winston entirely off the ballot.
This is where the past winners might impact things. I feel that they along with some writers will not want to reward Winston on the chance that he could still be arrested. If Winston gets many first place votes but is left off just as many ballots, he won't win.
3. Andre needs to be the clear 2nd Choice in all the other regions.
In the South some SEC homers will vote for McCarron while other ACC-inclined might vote for Winston. BC fans should not care how the votes are split, just as long as Andre gets all the second place votes.
4. The national voices need to end the season supporting Andre.
There are many voters who are just paying attention now. That is why the Williams hype is well timed. If people like ESPN and the Heisman Pundit are leading the cheering section by next week, a lot of the other votes will fall in line with the consensus.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

BC needs OT to beat Sacred Heart

I only watched part of the game.  The rest I followed via my phone. Two weeks ago I might have thrown the phone out the window.  Now I just shrug as they let Sacred Heart control most of the action. It was only in the last ten minutes that they tied it. Finally in OT they made some shots, played D, and won.

I don't know what is wrong. People who saw them at MSG said they have not checked out. There is still optimism about Clifford. Yet they keep playing lifeless, directionless basketball. It won't matter if Clifford comes back if they lose to the few cupcakes on the schedule! This team played with a purpose in OT. Where was that defense earlier?

Since this is a time for thanks, I'm thankful they got the win. Now I just hope they don't sleepwalk through the Purdue game next week.

Heisman Factors Part II: the arguments against Andre

This is the second in a series of posts on Andre Williams and the 2013 Heisman. This deals with the arguments other fans and media will make against his candidacy. I don't share these views and think there are counterarguments to each point, but this is what you're going to hear and read over the next two weeks. Obviously this is all contingent on BC beating Syracuse and Andre having a big day.

1. He's on an 8-4 team.
This is a very hollow argument but it is going to be used by Alabama fans. There is no mandate that the Heisman must come from a Top 5 team. It just happens that in the current football climate, the tops teams are most discussed and hence their players are better known. Recent examples of players who weren't on great teams include Tim Tebow (Florida was 9-4 in his Heisman year) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor was 10-3 in his Heisman year). I also hope voters consider BC's losses are to Florida State, Clemson, USC, and UNC. Those four teams are a combined 36-9. There is no WTF among them. If BC beats Syracuse and wins our bowl we will be 9-4 and ranked. Assuming we beat Syracuse, our record should not be an issue.

2. BC hasn't played anyone.
Three weeks ago Jameis Winston was the presumptive favorite having played an ACC schedule. No one brought up a weak conference or Florida State "not playing anyone." So how can this now be an issue for BC and Andre Williams? This is an example of BC not being among the traditional powers, therefore our teams and players have to jump through extra hoops to receive any credit among the wider college football establishment. We saw the same thing when BC made its run in 2007.

3. Williams piled up his stats against weak opponents.
Williams has been pretty consistent. You can't get to 2,000 yards on just a few games. He only has two games under 100 yards and the only one under 50 yards was USC. To outsiders it might seem like he didn't show up for big games. However, anyone who actually watched the games knows that Williams was facing nine and at times 10 men in the box. Both Clemson and USC went all out to stop our run and did have success. Considering BC is still facing those sorts of defensive fronts, Williams recent games are that much more impressive. Everyone knows he's getting the ball and yet BC keeps running it until Williams breaks off a big run.

4. He's only piled up stats because BC keeps giving him the ball.
Williams has a ton of carries. He's 51% of our offense. The critics argument is that any back would get these sorts of stats in Addazio's offense. It is the same logic voters used against Mike Leach's QBs as Heisman contenders despite record breaking stats. I might buy this if Day/Addazio had a history of running backs reaching 2,000 yards. Plus Williams yards per carry and explosive plays show that he's more than just three yards and a cloud of dust. Williams is getting the ball this much not in an effort to pile up stats. He's getting it because it is BC's best chance to win. He kept us in the NM State game and was the key to sparking the Maryland comeback. The stats all came within the course of BC winning.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heisman Factors Part I: other candidates

This is the first in a series of posts on Andre Williams and the 2013 Heisman. The first one deals with other potential winners. Obviously this is all contingent on BC beating Syracuse and Andre having a big day.
 
 
1. A.J. McCarron.
At this point McCarron is the favorite.  His stats are pedestrian and he's not even close to the best player on his team, but he is the biggest name left without a blemish. He is also the quarterback on the No. 1 team in the country. That's usually enough to win in most years. For Williams to pass him we need Alabama to lose. Watching them get crushed in the Iron Bowl against Auburn would be nice but losing the SEC Championship would probably derail McCarron too. WAR EAGLE BC fans!
 
 
2. Jameis Winston.
We would not even be talking about Andre Williams as a candidate if not for Winston's legal problems. I don't even care to speculate on his guilt or innocence and don't even know if any of this is fair.  But I am willing to speculate that the Heisman voters will not vote for Winston because of his issues.  Do you think they want their potential winner arrested prior to the ceremony or right after? This is college football.  The only sport where perception matters and the media is cowardly. I think there is enough uncertainty that Winston won't win this year.
 
 
3. Another, newer Darkhorse.
The biggest threat to Williams might be another guy like Williams.  It could be Jordan Lynch or Clint Chelf or anyone else who might have a really big game this weekend. The other opening for the Darkhorse might be Championship Weekend. BC will be home and Williams will be sitting. A huge game from a borderline candidate could make people forget about Williams.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Maryland

Maryland blew this game. That much was obvious watching it back. I am not trying to discount what the guys did. It was a hard-fought win and plenty of guys stepped up, but Maryland really coughed it up and messed up the clock. But you know who cares? Not us. A few Terps may be crying in their beers, but BC fans will remember this as a wild finish that went our way.

Offense: B-

Rettig's number stunk, but it was a streaky game. Some of his passes were way off early, but later he looked good. When some of his passes sail so far out of bounds, I have to think he's being told to throw it away. Watching the INT, I think he threw that one away too and just didn't see the Safety out there waiting. There was no other explination. At this point, this isn't the season I expected for Rettig, but he's doing enough to help BC win.

Let me get the nitpicking out of the way. Williams isn't always going to adjust when an unexpected hole opens up. He's also not going to make a gang of tacklers miss (and Maryland seemed to wait back for him, so they could contain). But he will pound you. And pound you like no other BC back I can remember. That's what makes these fourth quarter outburst so impressive. I really do think he's worn them down at that point. He's not explosively fast, but he's running harder than the most of the people chasing him. It's awesome to watch. This has been one of the most impressive stretches I can remember for any BC athlete in any BC sport. A lot has to happen for him to win the Heisman (which I will get into this week) but we all owe Williams a "thank you" for being the anchor of this team. Of the other RBs, Willis didn't do much with his limited touches. I would like to see us pass to him more. Sinkovec opened up some good holes.

The Offensive Line is at their best when they are moving. Harris Williams played well. So did Ian White. Gallik screwed up a snap that led to a Maryland TD. He also had some issues with guys darting his gaps on run plays. Vardaro was solid.

I was glad to see Crimmins make some plays. They weren't game breakers, but they were the most he's shown so far this year. Amidon dropped a catchable ball early but made up for it with the huge TD catch. Naples dropped one before getting the big catch later. All the Tight Ends blocked well.

I thought the game was well designed and well called. As much as we stick with the run even when it is unproductive, it does help establish the explosive plays in the second half. I don't know if we are wearing them out or lulling them to sleep but it works. Many of the second half passes were really well designed and well timed. I also loved giving it to Williams even though we were behind and running out of time. He's our best player. A good OC realizes that you've got to get him the ball.

Defense: B

I know the DLine is very thin, but I don't know why they are not making more plays. They weren't bad...just not doing anything to change the game. Wujciak played well and has been coming on of late. He wasn't penetrating but was run stuffing. Edebali was fine. Mihalik had a nice snack and seemed to disrupt some passes. Rudolph didn't fill up the stat sheet but was good in spots.

Daniels was really good again. He's got good speed for big LB. Keyes made some nice plays and looked good rushing off the edge. KPL was active early and then was off the field for stretches. Don't know if he was 100%. Divitto led the team in tackles, but still had some issues missing tackles and in coverage.

It was a shame that Bryce Jones fumbled the punt and got called for pass interference right after, because otherwise he had a strong game. Asprilla dropped a potential INT, but otherwise played well. Sylvia was good. They kept throwing at ALJ. Not sure if that was because they saw something or just because of whom he was covering. He played off and allowed plenty of catches, but didn't make any big mistakes.

Statistically this was one of the better defensive games that BC has played. I didn't love how off we played on some of the WRs, but it worked for the most part. We also did a good job of waiting and containing Brown.

Special Teams: C+

The biggest Special Teams play of the game was obviously the block. Based on the stunt, it looks like BC had it scouted well and had a block on. Or maybe they just lucked out (the snap was low). Either way, it was critical.

Freese nailing the game winner was equally huge.

Everything else on Special Teams was terrible. The fumbled punt. Our punt and kick coverage. Even Willis was contained.

As bad as the returned PAT was, I don't think that was a case of the players not knowing the rules. More likely they didn't even realize it had been caught and returned until it was too late.

Overall: B

We are still dealing with a very small sample size, but I am starting to think Addazio is a good game manager. Part of that is playing the percentages and part of it is playing hunches. Could he be getting lucky? Maybe. But it is working. To me the biggest example of him managing the game well is sticking with Williams in the 4th quarter. Down 11, we kept grinding it out. A coach on cruise control might start passing. But in the case of BC, that actually doesn't make sense. Our running attack is much more efficient and explosive. Then on the second TD, we threw it off of play action. It all worked. I even liked the one attempt with Willis before letting the clock rundown. I know I will nitpick in the future, but for now, I like what Addazio is doing.

The other important head coaching takeaway was not panicking. Players feed off of the emotion of the coach. These guys are clearly buying in, because they didn't fold. That is also a change from recent past.

As I keep writing: BC surpassed most expectations for the season. Credit to Addazio. Now let's keep going.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My kind of lullaby

Let the players sing you to sleep, so you can dream about Andre Williams winning the Heisman.


video

(Thanks to Bob for the video.)

Crazy ending to a crazy game

We are the only team in the country whose two-minute drill purposely involves running in a jumbo package between the tackles. And it actually worked. A little luck was on BC's side as lots of things went wrong and the team nearly gave the game away on a few different occasions. But when down the team put the ball in the hands of its best weapon. Huge, gut-check win. This season has been a lot of fun. Let's keep it going.

As for "Williams for Heisman"... this thing is real. With the whole defense keying on him and the team needing him, he ran for another 263 yards and two TDs. Get him to New York.


I will have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Maryland

We've got six wins, but why stop now? With a strong finish, BC could blow the doors off of most preseason expectations. Maryland will obviously focus on Williams. Can he run them over? Can our D stop Brown? It should be fun. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, November 22, 2013

That's more like it

BC beat Washington exactly how we were supposed to win all our games: 3s, offensive efficiency and descent D. The Huskies are not good but that was BC's best game of this young season. Now the team has to keep it up.

The biggest difference was Rahon. He nailed his 3s and was much more controlled defensively. Magarity also looked better. Of course there were other rotation questions: why didn't Heckmann get more time or Owens?

The team now has to go on a mini run to get back on track. There next game is Tuesday.

Tweets of the Week

Game Watches and D.C. Club information

The Boston College Club of Washington, D.C. chartered a bus and is hosting a tailgate. If you are in the area for the game, check out their site for more details on how you can join their activities. For those around the country, be sure to enjoy the game with your fellow BC fans.


Boston Game Watch
Joshua Tree
1316 Commonwealth Avenue
Allston

Chicago Game Watch
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage (Armitage Brown/Purple Line L)
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch
Christie's Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Ave Suite 22
Dallas, Texas

Houston Game Watch
J. Blacks Feel Good Kitchen & Lounge
110 S. Heights Blvd.
Houston

Las Vegas Game Watch
Firkin on Paradise
4503 Paradise Road
Las Vegas

Los Angeles Game Watch
SmithHouse Tap and Grill
10351 Santa Monica Blvd.
Century City

New York Game Watch
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Philadelphia Game Watch
Fox and Hound - Center City
1501 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, Penn.

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher’s Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street
Phoenix, Ariz.

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Co.
602 Broadway
San Diego, Calif.

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly’s
2064 Polk St (between Pacific Ave & Broadway St)
San Francisco, Calif.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Close game with UConn doesn't hide the problems

BC kept it close with UConn and had a chance to win it late, but couldn't get a 3-pointer off. The close loss doesn't have me feeling any better about the team.

Donahue juggled his minutes and lineups all night and it seemed kind of desperate. I think he is trying to find anything or anyone that sticks. But regardless of who was out there the same issues reoccurred. Poor 3-point shooting, a sluggish start from Hanlan, turnovers, terrible defense, and long stretches of stagnant offense.

The offensive malaise is what surprises me the most. These guys have all played a ton together, yet at times it feels like they don't know where to go with the ball. How is it that the late-arriving Swedish freshman seems to be the only one looking for back door cuts? People hated the Flex, but the beauty of it was that once a guy had been in the system a while, he knew when to look for passes. This should be old hat for all of them now. But then how can you expect things to feel that way when a mainstay like Rahon is now riding the bench? Caudill and Rubin were afterthoughts last year. Now both are getting time. I don't even know where their learning curve should be. It is all so frustrating.

Suddenly Friday's consolation game is a must win. If BC hopes to breathe any life into the season, they have to get over .500 in non-conference games. But this team lacks urgency so I don't know what to expect.

BC-Maryland preview

Both teams are coming off emotional wins. Both are now bowl eligible and yet both still have a lot to prove. I don't mind BC playing with a chip on our shoulder. Hopefully it helps. This could also be the next step in the Williams Heisman campaign. But for that to happen, BC needs to win.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
This is our last ACC game against Maryland and I don't care. If the conference weren't stable or if I feared for BC's future, I might be envious. But now I am not losing sleep over the Terps playing in the Big Ten. I would have preferred them to their replacement Louisville, but it is not the same as losing Florida State, Clemson, or even Duke or North Carolina. I might feel differently in ten years if the NCAA blows up, but for now, I don't envy their program. 

Three Simple Keys
1. Force Brown into mistakes. Although he's not as big as Logan Thomas, C.J. Brown reminds me of the VT QB. Both can makes plays (one with his arm, one with legs) that change a game. And both can be careless. If Brown fumbles or throws INTs, we got this.
2. No fumbles from Williams. The only hint that Williams might be getting tired were the three fumbles last week. We got luck on all three. This week, he has to be careful.
3. Win at the line of scrimmage. This is another obvious comment, but that is where the game will turn. Maryland has some talent in their front seven. If our guys cannot create holes, Williams will be contained.

Gambling Notes
-- BC leads the ACC series 2-6
-- Addazio is 1-3 on the road while coaching BC
-- BC is 4-1 in College Park
The game is currently even money.

Factoid
As I've written before, the coaching world is very small. This week's example: current BC staffers Don Brown and Kevin Lempa both coached at Maryland. While Terps Head Coach Randy Edsall was on Coughlin's BC staff and Maryland LB coach Keith Dudzinski was on Don Brown's staff at UMass.

Scoreboard Watching
Suddenly what happens with Florida State and Idaho impacts BC on multiple fronts. For the ACC to get to teams in the BCS, Florida State has to maintain its No. 2 ranking. How Winston reacts to his off the field issues also impacts the Heisman race.  Williams remains a long shot, but if public and media opinion turn on Winston, Williams could benefit.

I hope to see...
A few more Tight End passes. Despite Parsons dropping a few last week, I don't think we've targeted our Tight Ends enough. They are getting open on the play actions and I think there are plays to be had when we use jumbo packages.

BC is in trouble if...
They somehow stop Williams.Maryland is not strong against the run, so I don't think it will be an issue. But that is the way to beat us now. All are eggs are in that basket. Even with 11 in the box, I don't think we would open up the passing game.

Bottom Line
After last week I feel like BC is on a roll. I also feel like the coaches and players know their strengths. I could see us getting down early in this game yet sticking with the run. Not out of stubbornness, but out of belief that eventually Maryland will wear down and Williams will break a big play. This will be a close game for three quarters and BC will take the lead in the end.
Final Score: BC 28, Maryland 20

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Farrell decommits and other links

At times it would be nice to if coaches could talk about recruits. If Donahue could talk, maybe he could fully explain what is going on with Matt Farrell. He's the below radar basketball recruit who surprised everyone when he announced he had committed to BC. Even when word got out, there were pretty well sourced rumors that Farrell never had a binding offer from BC. What I heard consistently was that it was a preferred walk-on invitation. I don't know if Farrell spun it to the local media or if they never understood. Regardless, he is no longer committed to BC. Farrell says he'll still give BC a chance. I don't really care. Right now Donahue only has one scholarship for this class. He needs to use it on someone who can make a difference right away. Not a project.

The Maxwell Club named Addazio as a finalist for their Coach of the Year award.

The Basketball team will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off next Fall.

The Hartford Courant revisited the UConn-BC basketball rivalry in time for our Thursday game. I love how Jim Calhoun has altered his story on the BC departure. Where is all his bluster about it being a dumb and traitorous?

Maryland -- like every other team we play -- is focused on Andre Williams.

Do you remember Dorien Bryant? If you followed BC recruiting and message boards in the early aughts, you probably recall his recruiting roller coaster. He committed to BC and then had to go to prep school to become eligible. He then recommitted the following recruiting cycle only to spurn BC at the last minute. At the time many felt letting him getaway was a sign that TOB was losing interest in recruiting. Bryant is back in the news now for coming out of the closet. Bryant had relationships while at Purdue but was still uncomfortable coming out while still playing. I wonder if things would have been different at BC.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

They hype begins

Winning the final two regular season games should be BC's priority. But it wouldn't hurt the program to help load up Williams' stats. Coming off two monster games, the media is starting to pay attention.




Adelson notes that Williams is responsible for 49% of BC's offense.

Athlon points out that with a bowl game, Barry Sanders' single season rushing record is within reach.

If Williams puts up another 500 yards in the last two games, I think he will get invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Priorities for Bowl selection

BC became bowl eligible over the weekend. That's a nice accomplishment. However, our bowl history and a stacked year in the ACC means despite being eligible, BC may not get one of the ACC's current bowl slots. There are many scenarios in play from how BC finishes, to the "BC rule" that limits who bowls can select over us, to how many ACC teams make BCS games. Even if we are part of the ACC's current bowl group, there is always a bit of marketing and politics that go into the process.

But just because BC is not in the Driver's Seat doesn't mean we cannot work for what we want. If we are willing to compromise on some things, we can be rewarded with other factors. Other ACC teams might not want to play on certain days or travel to certain cities. Brad Bates has yet to show his cards. We don't know what's important to him. What I hope is that he priortizes things this way:

1. Opponent. We could play a bowl game in Alumni and still have trouble selling tickets. At this point a bowl game is not about where the most BC fans will buy tickets. It is about respect and perception. To help validate this season, BC needs to end it with a win over a name opponent. I don't care if we have to play in Shreveport or the moon, Bates should attempt to find us the best opponent. That doesn't mean highest rated either. Fair or not, BC fans and would rather see us play a team from a BCS conference than a ranked team from a mid-major.
2. Location. Location doesn't matter for the fans. But it does matter for the players. This is their reward. I want a bowl trip to be fun and preferable warm for them. Take the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl as an example. It is played in the Trop against a no-name opponent. It has a terrible corporate name and no history. Yet for the players, it would be reasonably fun. The weather might mean beach or pool time and there is a trip to Busch Gardens. That might not be your idea of fun, but considering the other options for the players, St. Pete is better than Boise.
3. Date. This is the tricky one for schools that have late exam periods. Some programs don't want to hold bowl practices during exams or study periods. I hope this isn't an issue for Bates. We have played on Christmas Day twice. We can work around a December 23 game or one right after Christmas. In fact, I hope he uses our flexibility on the game date to work BC into a more desirable bowl.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thoughts on the first basketball win

The basketball season is very young, but we are already seeing patterns. On Sunday BC once again took a halftime lead without looking great. Once again a bigger team overpowered the guys close to the glass. The difference Sunday was that BC didn't blow their lead and held on for their first victory of the year. I don't know what to make of it all. I don't think the adjustments were the difference. I also don't think it was the return of Lonnie Jackson. Maybe this game it was more about our style prevailing over their style. Since BC converted most of the free throws, made four more 3s than FAU, and played better defense, it worked. Yet BC only won by 3.

Is the team coming together or was this just a game BC was always going to win? We won't find out until the games in Madison Square Garden. I think there were a few clues to how BC should play going forward.

-- Hanlan needs to score 30 a night. With the new rules very few teams can stop him. Having him penetrate over and over might not get others involved, but it is highly efficient.
-- Stick with the man defense for now.  Magarity and Owens saw more minutes and both acquitted themselves well. Both offered a little more energy on the defensive end. At times it was just a matter of moving with your defensive assignment. Huckabee even said that Donahue decided there wouldn't be switches. The team is just going to play the basics and hope it helps.
-- Tipping out rebounds. It is so prevalent on the team it must be taught. I don't love it, but it might be a necessary evil. Tipping the ball to a teammate on the perimeter might create more open looks than fighting for the rebound and resetting the offense.

The energy seemed different Sunday. I think the new blood and Hanlan's assertiveness made a difference. But there are still some huge questions after the 0-3 start. I hope a corner has been turned, but I am in a wait and see mode.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: NC State

The game seemed more tense the first time around. Because we let them hang around a bit or got stagnant in the third quarter, I worried about BC blowing it when watching it live. Watching it back you realize how dominant the team was. A few mistakes kept the game close for long stretches. Williams deserves all the accolades but the offensive line was also outstanding. It was easily their best performance as a unit this year and one of the best games a BC OLine has put together since I've been doing this. BC might appear one dimensional, but when you watch the game again you realize that we are going to be tough to beat in the final two weeks.

Offense A-

Rettig's numbers were pedestrian, but he played well. I counted four drops, including a potential TD, that would have made a difference. He was better on third down and is also doing a better job feeling pressure. His runs weren't pretty but he ran hard and tough (see the two point conversion).

What is left to say about Williams day? He did it all. But what think needs to be pointed out is how much better he's become at seeing the holes and weaving through traffic. In previous years it was all power. Now he finds space too and can avoid the occasional tackle. The only gripe from the day were the fumbles. I don't think he's being careless. I think he's getting so many touches the other team is getting chances to knock it free. Willis showed great burst in his carries. I loved what he did on the delayed draw when the field was spread. I think he can be the feature back next year. Sinkovec played well. We didn't throw to him, but he deserves some of the credit for opening holes for Williams.

Amidon did the little things. The fumble recovery in the endzone was huge and only happened because he hustled and reacted quickly. He did drop a potential TD, but otherwise looked good. Crimmins fumbled his one catch but was ruled down (it looked like a fumble on the replay). Dudeck had one nice grab. Parsons had two catchable balls that he didn't pull in.

I didn't notice any OL issues or errors. It was perfect and dominant. Patchan and White got much of the attention from the TV crew deservedly. They both held their positions and also looked very good when pulling. Patchan's fumble recovery saved a scoring drive. Williams was good. Vardaro was good. Betancourt looked good when we went big.

Our offensive progression over the past few weeks is counterintuitive. We are getting better as we do fewer things and involve fewer players. But I have no problem with that. It may just be a series of powers and counters, but we use different blocking schemes each time. The other team doesn't know where we are going to put our emphasis. They don't know who is going to pull. It is gimmicky but effective. Then add Williams breaking a tackle or two and suddenly we have a series of big plays. When we pass it is low risk

Defense: C+

The defensive line was solid. They aren't changing the game, but they're not getting gashed. Considering how thin they are, I am okay with that. Edabali was the best of the group. He had some big plays. Lifka got more snaps then usual and looked ok. Mihalik was fine. Appiah played a lot but didn't do much good or bad.

The defense sort of went the way the linebackers did. Early in the game KPL was all over the place and making tackles. Later he and Daniels were less active. In the final moments they were making plays again. Divitto missed some tackles -- including Dayes' long play.

ALJ had one of his best games...until he slipped and fell on their late TD. That is two weeks in a row our DBs fell on TDs. But overall I was pleased with ALJ and hope that he's finally fully healthy. Johnson also got more extended time and played well. Simmons was good. Bryce Jones had some nice tackles. Even outside of the fall down, the secondary did allow their share of big plays, but in many of those NC State just made good plays.

Special teams: B

Freese had a solid day. All his field goals were right on target. He muffed his first kickoff, but all the rest were fine. He also kicked one punt low, but we had good coverage.

The kick and punt coverage was very good throughout.

Neither of our kick returns were particularly good or bad. I was disappointed to see Dudeck letting punts roll again.

Overall: B

There have been a few critics of Addazio's postgame celebration -- which included grabbing a microphone and talking to the whole stadium via the PA. I liked it. College Football is an emotional sport and Addazio is an emotional guy. He's sincere. If were losing, this would look amateurish. But if this is what works for him, I welcome it. We all know it is more fun than the alternative.

As far as strategy, we were aggressive at the half even though it didn't lead to points. I worry about overusing Williams, but you cannot fault the results.

Addazio reached one of his stated goals of six wins. Considering where we were, that is a major accomplishment. Now we will see if he can keep the team motivated and focused down the stretch.

Frank Chamberlin 1978-2013


Former Boston College Linebacker Frank Chamberlin lost his battle with cancer Sunday morning. Chamberlin played fullback and eventually linebacker at BC in the 1990s. He was later drafted by Tennessee Titans and played five years in the NFL.

Chamberlin was a key player on the early TOB teams that reestablished the winning culture at BC. In fact Chamberlin's outstanding performance against Syracuse sealed our sixth win in 1999, making BC bowl eligible for the first time under TOB.

I don't know what BC will do to honor Chamberlin, but might I suggest a patch worn during this year's Syracuse game. We are returning to the setting of Frank's greatest moment and we have another 44 leading us to a Bowl game.

During his illness Chamberlin's family set up a donor site to help with the costs of his experimental cancer treatments. I don't know what will come of those donations now, but pay attention to the site as I am sure there will be something established to honor him or help his wife and three daughters.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Don't forget about Dre: Andre Williams belongs among the Heisman Finalists


Of late the Heisman has had two sorts of winners. The first is the MVP of one of the top rated teams. This year that would be Winston or McCarron. Or it goes to a once in a lifetime QB talent who captures the media's imagination late in the season (think "Johnny Football" or RGIII). Running backs from unranked teams haven't come close to the award in years. Might I suggest a change this year because Andre Williams deserves to be invited to New York and depending on how the season plays out, may deserve the Trophy.

Saturday's NC State game was just the latest in Williams' record-shattering season. He ran for 339 yards and that was just a week after running for 295 yards. This is insane. And it is not like he's just breaking off big runs without getting touched or part of some high-powered offense. He is the offense. Each week the opposing defense keys their whole scheme around him and Williams just runs people over. BC has repeatedly faced nine and at times ten guys in the box. It doesn't matter. Williams will grind it out for a few plays and then you know a big one is coming.

The BC offensive line also deserves credit for Williams' performance, but they can only do so much. Williams is the one breaking tackles and running over and away from defenders on the second and third level.

Heisman voters are a fickle bunch. You never know who is going to gain the consensus late. But Williams has earned his spot and if his season continues like this, he is going to run over anyone who doubts him.

Senior carrries the day

All the Seniors deserve credit for the win, but a special mention goes out to Andre Williams.  He carried the team again and broke his own record. As he racks up the yards Williams is becoming a serious Heisman candidate. The team is now bowl eligible and will almost certainly go to a postseason game. This has been a fun season and we still have two more ACC games left!

I will have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: NC State

This is the final home game for Rettig, Amidon, Williams and their fellow seniors. More importantly, it is the team's chance to become bowl eligible. NC State has some issues, but I am sure they will come out fighting. Let's hope our guys are ready to answer. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Game Watches: NC State

This is the last home game and a chance to become bowl eligible. It is also a chance to watch a game with fellow BC fans at a local Game Watch. If your Club is having a watch and it is not listed, add it in the comments.

Atlanta Game Watch
Taco Mac Lindbergh
573 Main St NE
Atlanta

Chicago Game Watch Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage (Armitage Brown/Purple Line L)
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch Christie's Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Ave Suite 22
Dallas, Texas

Houston Game Watch J. Blacks Feel Good Kitchen & Lounge
110 S. Heights Blvd.
Houston

Las Vegas Game Watch Firkin on Paradise
4503 Paradise Road
Las Vegas

New York Game Watch Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Philadelphia Game Watch Fox and Hound - Center City
1501 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, Penn.

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher’s Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street
Phoenix, Ariz.

San Diego Game Watch The Beer Co.
602 Broadway
San Diego, Calif.

San Francisco Game Watch Shanghai Kelly’s
2064 Polk St (between Pacific Ave & Broadway St)
San Francisco, Calif.

Washington, D.C. Game Watch Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19th Street Northwest
Washington, D.C.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wrong team for the wrong time?

I didn't expect this and based on the schedule, I don't think Steve Donahue did, but I am starting to wonder if we have the worst roster for the NCAA's  new style of basketball. We weren't a good defensive team in any year under Donahue, but the general style of play was slower and our guys could make up for any lack of athleticism with hand checking. Now anyone with a quick dribble can get free. And we don't have a shotblocker in the paint to force bad shots or get rebounds.

And things only get worse on offense. We are still getting to the foul line and making a lot of free throws, but we waste too much time swinging the ball around. And don't get me started on the terrible decisions made on kickouts. We would be best having Hanlan drive and drive and drive some more. But then again, we are not well built for this style. We really only have one penetrator. Rahon has a good handle and is willing to go to the basket, but he's still not all that fast. Heckmann can go to the hole in a mismatch. But we could really use a guy like...oh maybe Jordan Daniels.

There are other issues here too. Our second half adjustments. General carelessness with the ball. A lack of intensity or sense of urgency. But I really think the world changed and not only were we not ready, we are not equipped to handle it. The one time we could use a soft schedule to figure out a new approach and new defensive schemes, we are playing the toughest schedule in the country. I usually trust Donahue's ability to adjust but because of the new rules, he's flying blind.

This is not a problem Lonnie Jackson or Dennis Clifford are going to solve. This is major coaching triage. Donahue has to retool his whole offense and defense in about a week. If he doesn't, he's done. I know that might seem harsh, but how can you let him fill the 2015 recruiting class with six or more recruits when the program is struggling like this? I want this to end well. I was really excited about this season. But I have real doubts. Wake up, guys! This is it!

BC-NC State preview

We are so close. So, so close to qualifying for a bowl game. Everything is lined up. We are playing with a lot of confidence. It is Senior Day. NC State is falling apart. Now we have to have the killer instinct. The team has to show it can put a shaken team away. Last week was a test that BC passed. This is just another. Good teams win as favorites at home. Go do it.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)We need more November home games. I know home games are tough Thanksgiving weekend because so many students are off campus. I also know that the game day experience is more comfortable in September. Yet I feel like we give up a huge built in home advantage by not playing more games at Alumni in the late fall. Even now as the conference fills up with northern teams, there are still plenty of potential opponents who would hate to play us in a game with temperatures in the 20s.

Three Simple Keys
1. Bring the pressure on Brandon Mitchell. I know I often write some variant on bringing a blitz each week, but this game things are bit different. Mitchell is back as the starter and lone QB. He missed a big chunk of the season with a broken foot. He's split snaps since he's been back. Now that he is their starter again, I say confuse him, fluster him, do everything you can.
2. Keep passing. Overlooked in Andre Williams' huge day was that our passing game was improved. I know that was partially because we were playing a poor defense, but Rettig had time and found other people besides Amidon. Keep it up.
3. Don't let the punts keep rolling. We are giving up a lot of field position by letting so many punts roll. I know Dudeck muffed his first chance last week, but I still want him fielding the punt returns.

Gambling Notes
-- NC State has lost five straight games
-- NC State is 4-5 against the spread
-- NC State is 1-5 all time in Boston
The current line is BC-7.5

Factoid
There are some quirky parallels in Addazio and Doeren's resumes. Both are in their first year with ACC programs. This is the second head coaching job for both. Both got their starts two years ago at MAC programs.

Scoreboard Watching
UNC-Pitt is probably the most relevant game. While we fight to become bowl eligible it would be nice for the Tar Heels to get another loss.

I hope to see...
The crowd show up for Senior Day ceremonies. These guys have seen the slide of BC football and were there for the rock bottom. It wasn't the four years they were expecting when they signed on to perennial winner Boston College. Yet they've played hard this year and bought into what Addazio was selling. The seniors and their families deserve our thanks and support on Saturday.

BC is in trouble if...
We allow non-offensive touchdowns (pick 6, punt return, etc.). NC State has yet to score more than 20 in an ACC game this year. We cannot give them points. If we do, they might steal the game.

Bottom Line
After last week's frustrating effort, I expect the defense to buckle down. I think we force some turnovers and control most of the game. I expect a decent balance of run and pass in a comfortable if slightly boring victory. The Seniors become bowl eligible and get to leave Alumni as winners.
Final Score: BC 24, NC State 17

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

BC vs Notre Dame...in a Bowl!

Want to make BC fans care about a lower-level bowl? Easy solution: just add the Irish. As Brian pointed out in his projections roundup many of the pundits are slotting BC to play Notre Dame in the Independence Bowl. (Obviously this is all predicated on BC becoming bowl eligible.) If BC wants to cap off its first year under Addazio, the best way to do it would be in a postseason game against Notre Dame.

There are multiple perception problems with the bowls BC typically plays. The destination, the history and the dates are usually undesirable. But the bigger issue for most of our casual fans is the opponent. For every Georgia or USC we played, BC also ended up in games against Colorado State and Toledo. If you play Notre Dame, that is not a problem. Good or bad, the Irish are instant credibility to the typical BC alum and the local media.

When we were good, I bemoaned the Irish-obsession among the casual fans. Now that we're hopefully back on the upswing and still playing in less than capacity home games, I welcome any and all interest BC can get. I think we match up well against Notre Dame this year too. There offense is error-prone and they can be run on. It would probably be a low-scoring slugfest.

Even the most optimistic BC fan will admit a game against Notre Dame in Shreveport on New Year's Eve won't draw many BC fans. But it will do really well in the ratings. Attendance is fairly consistent for the game, so maybe they don't need BC to travel. If ESPN is pushing things as they typically do, a BC-Notre Dame game will be perfect.

The Virginia Tech win was nice and for now serves as Addazio's signature win at BC. We don't need a name-brand opponent to validate this year. But starting a new bowl streak in a new era against our favorite opponent would be a nice way to end 2013.

For those true nuts, here is video of the BC vs Notre Dame in the 1983 Liberty Bowl.







Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Tale of Two Teams TOB Left Behind


This year confirms that coaching still matters, but when you look at NC State's struggles, you have to wonder what happened at NC State while TOB was there. When he left BC, there was a definite structure, consistency and of course a group of players that served as the foundation of the next two division winning teams. Conversely the roster that Dave Doeren inherited after TOB's stay in Raleigh lacks the same level of depth and talent. How did it turn out so differently for a guy like TOB who approaches things the same way? There were a few different factors.

Selling NC State in Ohio
When TOB took over at BC, he made Ohio and specifically Southwest Ohio-Cincinnati a recruiting focal point. He was a Cincinnati guy and over the years filled up his staff with guys who had roots in Ohio. The Cincinnati area had strong Catholic programs that became a natural feeding ground for his teams. We didn't get the state's five star recruits, but he signed plenty of solid three star guys who didn't get Ohio State offers. When Jags took over Nick Larkin, Clif Ramsey, Dejuan Tribble, Matt Tennant, and Alex Albright were just some of the guys who would either be all conference or future NFL players. All came from Ohio. Even though he brought Dana Bible, Don Horton and Jim Bridge with him to NC State, the Midwest guys never had the same level of success recruiting the Buckeye state. I don't know if selling a bigger, southern state school made it tougher to connect with Midwest kids or the staff decided to focus elsewhere, but the NC State roster doesn't have the same level of Cincy talent that BC had.

A Strong batch of New England talent
Regardless of what a coach does, he is still very reliant on local talent. It just so happened that the end of TOB's tenure in BC coincided with a bumper crop of New England prospects. Gosder Cherilus, Jamie Silva, Thomas Claiborne, Mike McLaughlin, and Ron Brace are all guys who probably would have ended up at BC regardless of who had been coach. I don't know if TOB lucked out locally in North Carolina or if you can luck out when there are so many other FBS programs in the state.

Age
Recruiting is a young mans game. Sure there are the recruiting nutjobs (like Addazio) who love to beat the bushes looking for kids, but most coaches really don't like it. And the travel and connecting with younger kids only gets tougher as you get older. When TOB went to NC State, he brought most of his BC staff with him. And most of those guys were old or getting older. Some of them viewed NC State as their reward for all the work at BC. I don't know if they had the same fire or desire to build something or prove themselves. Contrast that with TOB's first BC staff. It was filled with young and hungry guys who were out to prove themselves and find recruits. Five of the guys on TOB's first BC staff went on to be FBS head coaches. He didn't have the same level of coaching talent in Raleigh.

I don't know what else is going on with Doeren and NC State's struggles. As I wrote at the opening, coaching still matters, but I do think other factors impact how a coach succeeds in one place and struggles in another.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Smarting start


Steve Donahue knew he created a very difficult schedule. Like many of his moves, he studied the data and made a decision that went against conventional wisdom. We wouldn't fill up on out of conference cupcakes. Instead BC would play one of the toughest schedules in America and would be rewarded when the Selection Committee gets together to in March. Like some of Donahue's other unconventional decisions that are statistically supported (valuing transition defense over offensive rebounding, valuing a players who can execute a perimeter shooting based offense over raw athleticism) this sort of move takes a brave visionary to embrace and execute. If it works, Donahue looks really smart. Right now, he and the team look lost.

I am not ready to give up on the season. College Basketball can be a tricky sport, especially when you play a high risk, high reward system. BC could easily get hot for a few weeks and shoot everyone out of the building. In prior rears Donahue also did a decent job of adjusting rotations and strategies after early shortcomings were exposed. Magarity looked decent too in limited action, so maybe some of our size and rebounding issues will improve as he gets more time. And as much as the schedule seems foolish now, Donahue is right. If BC has a decent ACC record and a good RPI, we will make the tournament. But to recover and start winning means Donahue and his team figure out all their issues quickly. The schedule is unforgiving.

I am not off the Donahue bandwagon yet. There have been too many glimpses of what we could be to lose faith this early. But I am not someone who thinks he deserves a fifth year if BC struggles with our schedule. I appreciate unconventional approaches but you cannot ignore reality. If a coach cannot translate stats to success on the court, you need to let someone else take over the program. The Miami Heat are one of the least conventional teams in basketball with regard to player positioning, lineup usage and traditional positions and they have won two straight championships. But the Heat won when they married an unconventional approach with the best talent. Donahue has to adjust his approaches to the talent he has brought to BC.

I hope all this handwringing and fire the coach talk seems premature in March. As I've said when Spaz struggled, these seasons are much easier to watch and write about when they are fun. BC fans want Donahue to succeed. This start is disconcerting, but let's see if the guy can paint himself out of the corner.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: New Mexico State

Years from now some BC fans might look at a recap of this game and think that were were in control and running the ball at will. However, that won't capture how tight this game was. Even watching it back, it felt like BC was lucky to leave with the W. We scored 48 but could have scored 60+. Their defense was that bad and our mistakes were costly. But winning can mask a lot of issues. One thing that not hidden was the team's poise. Other BC teams don't win this game. For that, I think we can see this season as a  step forward.

Offense: A-

Rettig had time and it showed. He made some crisp throws. He worked his reads. Even the stuff that doesn't play to his strengths, like throwing on the run and the bootlegs, looked good. My only complaint is that he didn't run the ball. There were huge holes available on his read options.

In a way this offense is perfect for Andre Williams. He's got power and speed. While he has some issues with eluding tacklers and weaving through traffic, when he burst through a tackle or hole, he's gone. This game was textbook and I'm happy that the NFL is taking notice. He carried BC on Saturday. Willis had a few good runs and made a big difference in special teams (see below). On the negative side, Willis did drop a pass thrown his way. Sinkovec made some nice catches.

Amidon's TD was a nice example of him finding a spot and then weaving through traffic into the endzone. Unfortunately he also dropped a catchable 3rd down early and fumbled. Harrison Jackson pulled in a TD but wasn't a factor after he took his big hit. Parsons dropped a catchable ball. Naples showed good speed on his TD. There was one pass that Dudeck caught where he was sort of slow turning and didn't get many yards after the catch. It was a shame because he was wide open when he caught it.

The offensive line was very good. Gallik screwed up one shotgun snap, but also had a very very good game. Vardaro opened up a huge hole for one of Williams early big runs. Patchan ran really well. Harris Williams played well.

Although a few drives stalled out and our third downs weren't great, it is hard to complain about the offensive game. We had over 300 yards rushing and threw the ball efficiently. I still think we are a little too predictable with regards to passing on passing downs and running early in a set of downs. But I feel better about our offense right now than our defense.

Defense: D

The problems with the defense started up front. We are now very thin and spent much of Saturday with just three down limeman, but they didn't make many plays. Wujciak was the best of the bunch. Not sure what was going on with Edebali. He didn't get any pressure and wasn't near many of the running plays. Appiah played a lot without being disruptive.

Daniels was our best linebacker Saturday. The interception was huge but he was also our most consistent tackler. It was an off day for KPL. He had trouble with the read option and stumbled a few times. Divitto also had some trouble wrapping up and in coverage. Keyes was fooled on a few QB exchanges too.

Sylvia went out with an injury and we missed him. There was a lot of confusion in the secondary and plenty of missed tackles. Asprilla made some tackles but also got blown up a bit on some of their bubbles. He also couldn't pull in a sure INT on one of their scoring drives. ALJ missed some tackled. Bryce Jones fell down on a TD. CJ Jones was okay. Williams was very active but also missed his share of tackles.

There has been a healthy debate on Don Brown since the Villanova game. For as much as we love the sacks and "dudes" the defensive stats are not impressive. I have purposely ignored some of the defensive scheme issues because I've been happy with the new approach overall. This was the first game where I felt like we had true defensive failures. There was a lot of confusion and plenty of terrible tackling. Was it fatigue because of the thin air? Was it because we are thin and playing backups? I don't know. But it is on Brown to make sure our vulnerabilities are not so obvious. I also can't figure out why we played so much zone and base defense. Pressure is our signature and yet we weren't aggressive this week. I don't get it.

Special Teams: B

Willis' TD really saved the day. We are on the ropes and he made something out of nothing. There was some good blocking on the right side, but a lot of the success of the play was Willis' speed and the confusion among NM State after Willis stumbled early in the return.

Freese was awesome. I know the altitude helped but he was still very accurate on his kicks. His punts were fine.

Dudeck's muffed return early showed that this wasn't going to be a clean game. I also wondered why we let so many punts roll.

Overall: B-

This game reminded me of our 2004 scare against Ball State. In both cases BC found themselves on the road in a dog fight with a really bad team. It also felt a bit like last year's Army game. The difference between Ball State and Army and now New Mexico State is that this team had a set of plays and some players they could rely on to execute. That may seem like an overly obvious comment, but minimal execution is the difference between bad teams and competent ones.

This team plays with a confidence and enthusiasm that clearly comes from Addazio. We avoided a trap and came out with a win. It sounds simple, but BC fans know that other coaches probably would have lost that game. Now he's got to get the team refocused for the stretch against three peer programs.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A win is a win...I think

It wasn't pretty but it gets us that much closer to where we need to be. Our best players came through and Williams had a career day.

I will brave a second viewing and have grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: New Mexico State

A sign of a well coached and mature team is the ability to take every game and every opponent seriously. New Mexico State is struggling, but this game is important for BC. We need to play well and come out with the win. Let's hope we stay focused. Leave your comments and thoughts below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Not how you want to start a season

One game doesn't make a season...especially one as long as basketball. Yet I feel like BC will look back on this game as a wasted opportunity. It was a chance to get a decent road win and start the season on a positive note. Instead this veteran team looked lost for long stretches and dropped a game in OT to Providence. It is the type of loss that shifts a team from a lock to a bubble. At least that is what I am telling myself. Because the other explanation for the poor performance -- that we are not that good -- means the season will feel even longer. These are my thoughts. Feel free to share yours.

Likes
-- Ryan Anderson's offensive productivity. He got his points within the flow of the game. I also think the new defensive rules will help him. Bigger defenders will have to give him a little more space.
-- Garland Owens looks athletic. He ran well and finished on a nice alley oop. He played a lot of minutes for a freshman and didn't make many mistakes. I hope he can use that to play better D.
-- Tying the game in regulation. The only true bright spot for me was the team's ability to overcome a late deficit and get it to OT. Maybe this was a bad night and they can play that well under pressure if they need to later in the year.

Dislikes
-- Offensive pace. This team is supposed to score over 70 a night. They only crossed that threshold because of OT. On way too many possessions, the guys were slow in the half court. There was no sense of urgency. No sense of purpose with the passes and way too much hesitation. The guys looked like they had never played together. Where is the anticipation of your teammates? Why didn't we drive more when they were crowding the perimeter and why didn't we get more transition points?
-- Turnovers. Too many of those TOs were errors, not great Providence D.
-- 3-point shooting. It is one thing to miss a bunch but even worse to not take more. Wasn't that supposed to be a calling card?

It is only one game but this team needs to regroup quickly. They need to make better decisions, shoot better and not waste so much time and possessions. If they don't this season will be over before we even play an ACC game.

Game Watches: New Mexico State

The good news is that this game is available via ESPN3.com. Originally it was just going to be AggieVision. Some of you also might be able to watch it via a sports package if you get regional networks in the southwest. Otherwise, your best bet might be a Game Watch. If your Watch is not listed, be sure to post the information in the comments section.


Chicago Game Watch
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage (Armitage Brown/Purple Line L)
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch
Christie's Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Ave Suite 22
Dallas, Texas

Houston Game Watch
J. Blacks Feel Good Kitchen & Lounge
110 S. Heights Blvd.
Houston

Las Vegas Game Watch
Firkin on Paradise
4503 Paradise Road
Las Vegas

Los Angeles Game Watch
SmithHouse Tap and Grill
10351 Santa Monica Blvd.
Century City

New York Game Watch
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Philadelphia Game Watch
Fox and Hound - Center City
1501 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, Penn.

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Co.
602 Broadway
San Diego, Calif.

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly’s
2064 Polk St (between Pacific Ave & Broadway St)
San Francisco, Calif.

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19th Street Northwest
Washington, D.C.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, November 07, 2013

BC-New Mexico State preview

Looking ahead is a cliche for a reason. Teams -- especially young ones or ones not used to winning -- can think they are better than they are. We all feel good about BC, but that doesn't mean we can take any game or situation lightly. We don't have the talent or offense to do that. Addazio has pushed all the right buttons this season. Now let's hope he pushes the ones that have the guys ready for anything out in New Mexico.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Spenser Rositano is supposedly done for his season and his career due to repeated head injuries.  At least that is the word among the message boards and blogs. Yet no official word from BC. Rositano is still on the depth chart and some guys are still on the roster who haven't suited up all year. Why not clarify? I will never understand the secretiveness or deception that goes into this stuff. I respect privacy and respect gamesmenship and strategy, but give the fans the respect they deserve and the players their moment to share the news. The gossip gets out their regardless of what BC and Addazio wants. Might as well address it and make sure things are accurate.

Three Simple Keys
1.  Open up the passing game. We don't need to grind it out this week. In fact, grinding it out probably hurts us as it shortens the game and limits possessions. Why keep this close? It only invites NM State back in the game.
2. Contain YAC. Our D created a lot of big plays, but we are still very soft in the passing game. Let's improve that this week in coverage and in tackling.
3. Go back to some of the old stuff. BC does a good job of adding new wrinkles to our plays and formations. The flipside is that you shelve things that worked earlier. I want to save wrinkles for our remaining ACC games and use some of the stuff that worked earlier in the year. Let's see the throwback passes to Parsons. Or how about the quick passes off the read option exchange. Or maybe a bubble screen.


Gambling Notes
-- Addazio has yet to win a road game
-- BC is 1-8 against the spread in our last nine road games
-- New Mexico State is 1-9 in their last ten home games
The current line is BC-24

Factoid
New Mexico will be the 35th  36th state where BC has played a football game. After this game, the remaining states that have not been blessed to host BC will be Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. Of those states left, I think South Dakota is the least likely to ever host BC. All the others either have a FBS team, might host a bowl or has a FCS team that might make the jump.
[CORRECTION: Brian pointed out that we did play Saint Louis in St. Louis.]


Scoreboard Watching
Syracuse-Maryland provides a look at two future opponents, but I am going to pay attention to UVA-UNC. Even if we get to six wins, there may not be enough ACC bowl slots available. It would help our cause if a few more ACC teams lost. Carolina has five losses now. It would be sure nice to see them get to six...and then seven.

I hope to see...
Andre Williams carry the ball less than 20 times. With the way he runs, Williams is probably getting too many touches. I know why we are doing it but that doesn't mean that there isn't risk. We need a healthy Williams to beat NC State, Syracuse and Maryland. Don't overuse him now.

BC is in trouble if...
One of the key players gets injured. I think we will win this game regardless, but a key injury could derail our final stretch.

Bottom Line
We are facing one of the worst teams in college football. Every BCS Conference team they've faced, has crushed the Aggies. I know that BC is coming off a big win. I understand the challenges of winning on the road. Yes, Doug Martin's familiarity with our offensive personnel is a Wild Card. But none of that should really matter. BC has enough power and speed to control this game throughout. I think we play our best game of the year and win going away.
Final Score: BC 38, New Mexico State 13

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

An appreciation for Doug Martin


The obvious storyline to Saturday's game is BC facing its former Offensive Coordinator and now current New Mexico State Head Coach Doug Martin. As much as last season was painful and there are many things the previous staff did that set BC back, I really hold no animosity towards Martin. In fact his short stay was one of the few positives of last year.

There is a mercenary aspect to big time coaching. Few jobs have stability and you go where you are wanted and where there is a healthy pay check. All the guys who joined Spaz's final staff knew that. They all took the job for various professional reasons but I think all knew to rent rather than buy (figuratively). Because of that mentality and because the season went south early on, you heard stories and watched as the coaches started checking out on the season and BC. I never heard that about Martin. In fact, I heard just the opposite.

The offense wasn't much better while Martin was calling the plays, but I think we can fairly say that most of the problems were systemic. The offense was never good under Spaz because of how he managed his staff, his roster and his practices. I think under a different regime and different circumstances Martin might have been a guy who thrived at BC. 

Martin went from one unstable situation to another when he was thrust into the Head Coaching job at New Mexico State. It seems destined for failure. Other than this weekend, I wish him luck in turning it around.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Can we talk about bowls now?

BC sits at 4-4 with four games remaining. We are heavy favorites this weekend against New Mexico State and should be favored against NC State too. We will probably be underdogs against Maryland and Syracuse, but both are winnable games. The six wins needed to become bowl eligible are in sight. While premature, I think we can start talking about bowls. (This is probably a terrible jinx, but many others are assuming we are headed to a bowl too.)

ESPN's ACC crew thinks we will return to the Music City Bowl. SI.com slots BC in the the Music City Bowl also and pairs us off against Georgia (a rematch of the 2001 MCB). Phil Steele predicts BC will face Rice in the Military Bowl. A bit troubling is that Jerry Palm -- who has the best track record -- still has BC out. There is a chance that BC could get to six wins and would not get invited but I don't see that happening. Our TV presence alone makes us more appealing to the fourth tier bowls than some at large from the MAC or Sun Belt.

I hope the Brad Bates is networking with TV and Bowl people so that BC is assured of a spot. With four losses already and a bad travel reputation, we are not getting a tier two bowl invite. That leaves us playing musical chairs for the others. Washington, D.C.'s Military Bowl is the most convenient for our fans and large Alumni base in the Beltway. If we end up there I won't complain. However, my preference is for Music City or the Sun Bowl as both would provide an opponent from a BCS conference.

The best thing about the bowls is the players get a trip and the fans get to watch one more game. For a long time we all took it for granted. I don't think Addazio does. He knows that a bowl would give a certain level of credibility and a few more practices. Now let's go win some games.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Williams' NFL future, NC State gametime and other links

Andre Williams' breakout year is getting attention among NFL scouts. I didn't think Williams had much of a chance to get drafted prior to the season. Running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL. Plus he had never shown any consistency (part of that was scheme and injuries). Now that he has improved his already powerful running, NFL teams are taking notice. As the article states, he hasn't caught many passes. Can he add that element to his game? I also wonder about his pass blocking. And then there are his usage rates. He is carrying the ball a lot and most running backs have only so many hits in them. There is still a lot of football to play, but if he keeps averaging 150 yards a game, someone will draft him on Day 2.

The NC State game will kick off at 12:30 and will be carried on regional sports networks (mostly Fox). Whatever network carried the UNC game in your region is likely to carry this one.

I am all for passion at the game, but agree with the Heights Board on vulgar cheers. You're BC students. Use some wit.

KPL earned All ACC honors for his performance against VT.

HD thinks the Virginia Tech win was a "statement game" for BC and Addazio.