Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday picks

Here are this week's picks.

Texas A&M-2.5 at Arkansas

NC State+12.5 at Florida State

Army+3 at Tulane

Pitt+9.5 at Georgia Tech

Miami (OH)+1 at Central Michigan

Wake Forest-6 at Appalachian State

Duke-1.5 at UNC

Michigan-10.5 at Purdue

Syracuse+21 at LSU

San Diego State-3 at Air Force

Last week I went 6-3. For the season I am 18-10-1.

Game Watches: Clemson

Here are this week's Game Watches. I hope you all have reason to celebrate.

Chicago Game Watch
Tobacco Road Tap Room
2249 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85020

San Diego Game Watch
Striders 100 J St
San Diego, CA 92101

Thursday, September 21, 2017

BC-Clemson preview

I think my best and worst in-person moments as a BC fan happened at Clemson. The best was watching the 2007 team clinch the division in Death Valley. The worst was two years later when Spaz played purely to keep it close during a multi-hour lightning delay. I won't be there in-person this weekend. I am hoping that I regret not going and BC wins. That would be nice. But deep down I think all I am going to miss is seeing another blowout.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I know all assistant coaching profiles tend to glowing and used to build up a narrative. But even with that understanding, there is a lot to like about Joe Moorhead after reading this feature in SI. I have no idea what Jarmond has in mind if (or when) he needs to replace Addazio, but Moorhead checks many of my boxes. He has game management experience, program management experience, regional familiarity, history at a Jesuit school, and most of all Xs & Os acumen. In coaching changes you tend to emphasize what the new guy has that the old guy was lacking. Addazio is clearly not a good game manager or offensive wiz. Those two areas would be Moorhead's strengths. The concern about a guy like Moorhead would be if he could recruit at a high enough level to compete consistently. I am willing to roll the dice on that issue if the trade off is we have competent coaching and can score consistently. (Now that I've written this, Addazio will probably pull off the biggest upset in BC history this weekend and save his job.)

1. Play like the OLine played last week. The rebound performance of the OL was probably the best thing of the Notre Dame loss. They made Hilliman and Brown look better and BC was able to move the ball. This week this will be tougher. Clemson has arguably the best front seven in the country. Their goal is to get to the QB. If our OL can control the trenches, BC might not win, but it will give me hope for the remaining games on the schedule.
2. Bring pressure again and again and again. The ever increasing shift to read and react is not going well. I know the Brown style aggressiveness has its own risks, but I would rather see us allowing big plays off of getting burned deep rather than missed tackles as guys wait back.
3. Don't allow Bryant to run all over us. Three games and three times the other QB has had a field day running on us. That can't happen this week.

Gambling Notes
-- BC has lost four straight at Clemson
-- Addazio is 0-4 against Clemson
-- Clemson has won six straight in the series
The current line is Clemson+34

Factoid
Since joining the ACC, Addazio is the only BC coach without a win over Clemson. Remember even Spaz beat them once.

Scoreboard Watching
Seeing how a past opponent does sometimes gives you context on your game. For example, Northern Illinois upsetting Nebraska makes BC's win look a little more respectable. This week I will be paying attention to the Notre Dame-Michigan State game. My hunch is that Notre Dame is not that great. But if they whip up on the Spartans, then maybe part of last week's problem was getting an ascending team at the wrong time.

What I hope to see...
Davon Jones make an impact right away on D. I don't mind his move to LB. We need depth there and he's not getting on the field on Offense. I believe he is valuable, so having him sit on the sidelines is useless. I hope he is a natural on D and makes some plays right away.

BC is in trouble if...
We don't score in the high 20s. Addazio can talk up any stat he wants, but scoring remains the only stat that matters. We don't score enough -- ever -- and certainly don't score enough to upset a National Champion. Even if we slow down Clemson, the only way we are winning is by scoring 27+ points.

Overall
I don't think the game will be as close as the first half was against Notre Dame. Instead I just see Clemson building up a gradual lead throughout the game as they answer BC field goals with their own touchdowns. It is not an epic blowout, but still doesn't make anyone feel better.
Final Score: BC 20, Clemson 35

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Banks decommits

At a time when Addazio could use some good news, he got bad instead. New Jersey OLine prospect Khris Banks reopened his recruiting and decommitted from BC. He claims that BC is still in the mix, but that he just feels like he committed too early. Most of the online gurus think he is headed to Rutgers. What is ironic about Banks, is that although he might be the first decommitment of this class, his motivation doesn't seem to be driven by BC's rough start. Rutgers also sits at 1-2 with no real sign of turning a corner.

Some BC friendly folks have floated that BC cooled on Banks and has less need for offensive linemen in this class now that Baker is redshirting. I don't buy that logic at all. If BC likes a guy, they will find a spot for him and squeeze out an underperformer currently on the roster. Who knows? Maybe the staff will stay on him and get him to sign in February.

While Banks' change of heart may be personal, there will be others. Decommits happen in good years. They are more common when things go bad. As much as Addazio is trying to turn things around on the field, I hope he stays vigilant with the recruits. This class was shaping up to be his best. It would be a shame to see it fall apart. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hasselbeck interview helps poke holes in media (and some fans') narrative about BC job

As the game started slipping away from BC on Saturday, Steve Levy and Brian Griese started rolling out the media narrative about how hard it is to win at BC. Many of those points are all familiar to your average BC fan -- "facilities," "Boston being a pro sports town," and of course "admissions and academic challenges." At this point, I am so sick of hearing these things.

Every program in college football has some sort unique challenge. But anyone paying attention would also realize that each job has its own unique benefits. What also frustrates me is that recent BC coaches (and their staffers) have been some of the biggest sources of spreading these talking points. Call me cynical, but most of that is self-serving garbage that the coaches use to lower expectations and make their accomplishments look better. And watch, if and when BC makes a coaching change, you will read many media types and BC fans say "BC is a terrible job and no one will want it." More nonsense.

Fortunately there are some BC-connected folks who know better. Take a look at this interview Tim Hasselbeck did with WEEI. Tim knows that these Power 5 jobs don't grow on trees. There are hundreds of qualified guys who would kill to coach at BC. And even beyond the chance to run your own team, Hasselbeck also reminds everyone that the BC Head Coach makes $2.5 million a year! Even in a world where Alabama's assistant associate long-snapper advisor makes $500k, $2.5 million is a lot of money. Even if you worry about the Greater Boston cost of living, $2.5 million is a lot of money. Plenty of people want and will want Addazio's job. The sharks are already circling. So if we don't make a change or hire another loser, it won't be because of coaching salary or because Boston is a pro town. It will be because our leaders fail to execute...which is a different problem all together.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Notre Dame

In his postgame press conference and comments on Monday, Addazio kept emphasizing how close BC is and how close these games are. After watching it back, I actually agree with him. But where Addazio sees the relative talent as even and a team playing well the majority of the game, I see it as an indictment of everything he's doing. If your team is close and in it, you shouldn't lose 29 points.

Offense: B-

Brown looked much better than last week. Some of his passes were a little behind or a little short (like that early one to Walker) but he made good decisions and overall, made good passes. He stayed poised in the pocket. I think we should let him run a bit. Not because he has speed, but because the plays are there.

Hilliman looked much much better. I know part of it was that he finally had some holes, but he also ran with purpose and got things to the second level. Dillon didn't get as many touches but looked decent.

Callinan played really well. He made some tough catches and also fought for yards. Jeff Smith did not look great and dropped two catchable balls. Thadd Smith got snuffed out on the jet sweeps. White was good. The Tight Ends blocked better, but the false starts were killers.

The OLine looked how they were supposed to look. Petrula got well deserved praise. The right side looked good. They all gave Brown enough time.

What I liked about the Loeffler's adjustment was that we rolled Brown more and used more play action. That helped settle him and gave the WRs space. I know it is ultimately Addazio's call, but I still think we get too conservative in the redzone. The 4th down call was not well executed.

Defense: F

The DLine needs to get better quickly. Landry is being misused and had some plays. I think at this point we need to give him the greenlight and just chase QBs. Dropping into coverage is a waste. Even reading and waiting is not what he does best. He did miss Wimbush on Wimbush's biggest run. Allen had a few tackles but is not making the impact promised in the summer. Ray needs to step up. Merritt had some good plays.

Richardson made some plays earlier but didn't make the stops as the game wore on. Schwab was fine. Bletzer is not playing poorly but he is not closing on enough plays and his speed looks suspect.

The DBs looked good in past coverage. They had problems helping the run. Look at ND's first big play. It came off a Moore missed tackle. Other than that, Moore played well. Yiadom was good. Dennis continues to play well. Harris was active and productive, but we need some game changing plays from him.

I am a Jim Reid fan and defender, but this was bad. It doesn't matter if you stop them on the majority of plays if it falls apart later. I wish we were more aggressive. I wish we would stop messing around with Landry and I wish we knew how do defend a simple zone read. It hurt us in all three games. We will be seeing it until we show we can stop it.

Special Teams: B

Special teams continues to be the lone bright spot. Other than Walker's fumble -- which BC recovered -- everything was good.

Kick offs were strong. Punt coverage good. Knoll is placing the ball well.

Lichtenberg did well.

Overall: F

I obviously spent a lot of time on the sequence before the half, but there is plenty of blame to throw at Addazio. Why does he keep punting from the opponent's territory? Knoll is making the decision seem smart by punting well, but most Pop Warner coaches know that the better move is to go for it. Landry's usage is also looking dumb. Whether he is hurt, you're trying to develop him in other areas or you truly believe you are resting him, the benefits are not showing. Addazio even said that DEs were not the problem on the first three scores. He's implying that even with Landry, Notre Dame still scores. But that is not a given. Landry draws extra attention and forced ND to switch plays. We can't assume anything about what happens if he had been on the field. Even how he used Wade late during the blowout is weird. Why not go for it there? Or give him more throws? What do you have to lose?

BC has many tough games ahead. Most should be competitive. However, if Addazio keeps coaching like he did this week, nothing will be close.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Revisiting the final minutes of the half: Addazio exposed (again)

I haven't had time to watch the game a second time yet, so no grades up until Monday. In the mean time I want to address Addazio's controversial decision to run the clock out at halftime. First I want to remind everyone that Steve Levy and Brian Griese questioned the decision live as it happened. It takes a lot for the TV crew to openly criticize a coach's decision during the game. They usually hedge or help the coach explain it away. This crew did not because it was an indefensible decision.

Second, Addazio's mistake was not just the final drive. The questionable, cowardly and misguided decisions started after Notre Dame scored their second TD to go up 14-10. The Irish kickoff and Walker returns it and ND gets called for a face mask. BC starts at the 40, with 1:57 left and two TOs. Addazio starts with the run, so you already see that he is thinking about killing clock. But Hilliman gets the first down. Addazio then throws and it is a iffy pass to Sweeney incomplete. Now Addazio runs again, killing his own clock. Hilliman only gets four. Third down. Still no use of timeout. If he is so concerned about the "psyche of his freshman QB" why not use a timeout there and get him to the sidelines to talk it over? Does he consider it 4 down territory? Let's see. 3rd down Brown makes a good throw but Walker drops the pass. What does Addazio do on 4th down from ND territory? He punts again. Fortunately for him it is a good punt.

Now the Irish get the ball back at their own 10 with just over a minute left. They run and it looks like Kelly might be chickening out too. But no, Kelly calls a timeout. Maybe because he sees Addazio is playing it conservatively, Kelly then decides to open up. Imagine that? Adjusting your gameplan based on what the other coach is doing?!? From there Wimbush starts chucking it. Deep dangerous passes downfield. They complete a few and miss a near INT. Does Kelly back off? Nope. Wimbush keeps chucking and a tip ball does turn into a BC INT.

Now Addazio has the ball in ND territory. 18 seconds are left and BC has two TOs. 1st play incomplete. Was it a bad throw? Eh. It wasn't sharp but it wasn't terrible either. Not enough to say that Brown is going to make a mistake. Now there are really two aggressive options. A quick out followed by a TO and field goal attempt. Or a Hail Mary into the endzone. Both are difficult to complete. Neither are likely, but you know what is also unlikely to happen? Some sort of turnover that leads to an Irish score. Mathematically, BC has all the advantages! Even if you think Brown can't make the Hail Mary throw, there must be someone who can (Fadule?). Instead, Addazio calls a run, lets the time expire and is content going into the half trailing.

The blowouts are a sign of problems, but you know why Addazio has only one second half comeback and a losing record in close games? Because he cannot manage a close game well. What is most confounding is that he didn't regret anything in the postgame press conference. But what do I know? As I tweeted yesterday, it is not like Addazio has ever seen a Redshirt Freshman QB complete a Hail Mary before the half.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Notre Dame runs all over BC

When you lose by 29 at home to your "rival" in Year 5, there are plenty of problems. Talent and scheme are clearly issues. But I don't think the coach is doing everything he can to win. At least he didn't in this game. At the end of the half following an interception, Addazio called a time killing draw. No pass for the endzone. Nothing creative. Just a conservative dumb play. It sends a message to the players and the fans. It also sends a message to your new boss.

I would say this was a bad loss, but all the blowouts are starting to blend together. I think Addazio is done now. The discussion just shifts to when to fire him and who to hire.

Postgame Periscope below. Thanks for those who joined.

I will have grades and thoughts up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Notre Dame

Once upon a time this was the highpoint of the season. Maybe we the Irish will bring out the best in us again. I just want a win.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday picks

A little better last week. I am going to avoid UMass this week, since I clearly don't have a good handle of their team.

Oklahoma State-13 at Pitt

Northern Illinois+13 at Nebraska

UCLA-3 at Memphis

Tennessee+4 at Florida

Central Michigan+10 at Syracuse

Purdue+7.5 at Missouri

Kansas State-3.5 at Vanderbilt

Georgia Tech-2.5 at Central Florida

Troy-7.5 at New Mexico State

Clemson-3 at Louisville

Last week I went 6-3-1. For the season I am 12-7-1.

Game Watches: Notre Dame

Notre Dame usually brings out the crowds -- even to the Game Watches. I hope it is enjoyable for all. Add your club to the comments section if it is not listed.

Chicago Game Watch
Tobacco Road Tap Room
2249 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Los Angeles Game Watch
2615 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85020

San Diego Game Watch
Striders 100 J St
San Diego, CA 92101

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
James Hoban's Irish Restaurant and Bar
One Dupont Circle, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Notre Dame Week Periscope

Another mid-week Periscope. Short, but interactive. Thanks for the questions.

I spoke a bit about how I think Father Leahy's disinterest in sports is not as big a deal as BC fans make it. I rehashed the Notre Dame interest discussion and how I think there are probably fewer casual Irish fans in Boston these days. They've all become diehard Pats fans the last 20 years. I also talk about how attendance at our games is not the recruiting obstacle some make it out to be.

As always, I appreciate the support and feedback. I will try to do another post-game Periscope after the Notre Dame game.

BC-Notre Dame preview

The losing coach of this game is a dead man. I don't think either will get fired Monday, but the  loser's respective hole would probably be too big to overcome this season. If BC pulls off an upset, the Irish fans will be done with Kelly. It is one thing to lose to good BC teams, but to lose to one that just got waxed by Wake will be hard to rationalize. Addazio needs a big win to change momentum and perception. Winning this week buys him some time this year and gives the fans and team belief that they can win any game on the schedule.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I know it is hard for me to criticize Shaughnessy's BC hit piece considering I also asked if anyone cared about BC-Notre Dame. But one thing Dan overlooked when talking about Boston as a college town, is that you could argue College Football and BC Football is more popular than the Celtics or Bruins. Our TV ratings and the ratings for non-BC games in Boston are generally higher than those teams' regular season ratings. Even in down times, we have larger per game attendance numbers than those too. I understand that the weekly nature of football vs the multi-night nature of basketball and hockey makes it a little bit of apples and oranges. But my point is that football is still king nationally and locally. BC will always be a niche player in Boston, but being the second biggest football program after the Patriots is a big deal. Now we just need to turn that status into more wins and more tickets sold.

Three Simple Keys
1. Hit open receivers. Wake had 0 respect for our passing game and their pass coverage showed it. I predict Notre Dame will do the same thing, only they have better defensive talent than Wake. If BC has open WRs and TEs, we have to get them the ball.
2. Force Turnovers. Notre Dame fumbled twice against Georgia and Wimbush was lucky not to have a INT. BC needs to overwhelm him with different looks and hope the makes mistakes.
3. Play your best players the vast majority of snaps. Addazio explained that he doesn't want Landry playing 70 or 80 snaps a game. Guess what, coach? By switching to an uptempo offense, everyone is going to get stretched thin and play more. I understand that he needs to be fresh and our offense can help by scoring more, but get your best players out on the field at all times.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 14-13 at home as BC's Head Coach
-- BC has lost five straight to the Irish
-- Addazio is 11-13 following a loss as BC's Head Coach
The current line is BC+13.5

Factoid
It has been nine years since BC last beat Notre Dame. (I know the concept of eras is subjective, but that really feels like a different era of BC Football.)

Scoreboard Watching
The only people outside of Virginia who should care about UConn-UVA are BC fans. When I looked at the season, I saw those two teams as probable wins. Now nothing is probable. Perhaps this game will tell us if either team is really a potential win for us.

What I hope to see...
An explosive offensive play. I may be delusional, but I think there is talent on the offensive side of the ball. I think there are multiple guys who are just one block or one missed tackle away from breaking something. It would be nice for that to happen this week.

BC is in trouble if...
Any of the backup QBs play. Wade showed very little last week. While there is plenty of good word of mouth about the young QBs, do you trust any of them to come off the bench and lead a comeback against Notre Dame?

Overall
I really want BC to win this one. I want to see Brian Kelly turn purple. I want some optimism around the program. I want to look forward to Anthony Brown's future. I am trying to talk myself into a victory, but I am just not seeing it. I think BC comes out fired up and keeps it close for a half. I think some offensive mistakes kill momentum and we lose. The loss is close enough that Daz can still talk his growing pains nonsense.
Final Score: BC 14, Notre Dame 20

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

BC Basketball hype pops up amidst ND talk

Wednesday saw a tweet flurry from CBS's Jon Rothstein after sitting in on a BC practice. Combined with other media gossip and there are plenty of College Hoops writers expecting BC to make a big leap this year. Back in the Skinner days, I would take these sorts of leaks as a sure thing. Now, I have my doubts. Even with added talent, I don't know if there is enough for BC to break through and even be a middle of the pack ACC team.

What I did find interesting from Rothstein is the idea that BC might go with positionless basketball



This is not a new concept, just new to BC. Plenty of college and pro teams basically play with wings, big and a ball handler, many of whom can be interchanged. The challenge BC will have is with regards to D. If they put their best five out on the court together, who will guard the other team's big, inside players? Positionless basketball will work against less talented teams, but against the elite teams with size, we better hope BC makes a ton of three-pointers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Do BC fans care about Notre Dame any more?


Notre Dame visited Alumni Stadium for the first time during the fall of my freshmen year (1994). This was less than a year after BC knocked off the then undefeated Irish in South Bend. I don't think there was a bigger game or more campus excitement in my whole time as a student. Notre Dame was still elite and we were still riding the excitement of the Coughlin years. Coughlin successfully leveraged Notre Dame as part of his rebuild. The Catholic aspect and the chance to take down Goliath were easy sells to a fanbase enjoying a post-Flutie football renaissance. Painting Notre Dame as the most important game on the schedule worked so well with fans, recruits and media that BC kept doing it long after Coughlin went to Jacksonville. Now all these years later, I get a sense that BC fans don't care about the game or the rivalry all that much any more.

I don't want to say that the lack of interest is based strictly on BC's current downturn. People cared when we were bad in other years. BC fans still took over the Notre Dame campus in 1997 when TOB's first team was terrible. They still cared when TOB's second team (also a losing one) got stopped on the goal line in the final seconds of the BC-ND game. Even when during Spaz's time, some of the Irish games were intense (remember Gunnell getting in Jimmy Clausen's face?). Yet now I think BC fans have moved on. The Clemson game has become the celebrated road trip to make. Even the causal fan realizes that ACC games are really a better measuring stick for BC's success.

Another reason the game might not mean is much is the lack of frequency. Notre Dame's deal with the ACC actually hurt BC's scheduling. Now instead of playing the Irish annually we will play them about six times every ten years. That keeps Addazio or any future BC coach from using the Irish as a rallying point.

The final reason why BC fans might not care is due to Notre Dame's diminishing brand. I am not trying to be one of those Notre Dame haters. My point is that for years the Irish had a cast of coaches and players that the casual BC fan could identify...and hate. Names like Holtz, Powlus, Jarious Jackson, Davie, Willingham, Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Charlie Weis, Jimmy Clausen and Manti Te'o. Kelly is pretty unlikable, but who else is well-known or stands out? Now with so many games accessible, the NBC deal doesn't bring the same level of notoriety. So until the Irish start either winning again at a high rate, losing in epic fashion or see their players do stupid things, they are just a bunch of gold helmets to most BC fans.

I always hated the BC-obsession with Notre Dame. I felt TOB and the Administration used it as a crutch to excuse other failures. Now I would love to see both teams "return to glory", just so there would be some excitement about the game.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Addazio not making Jarmond's first year any easier


Martin Jarmond went all in on BC's first home game. He greeted tailgaters. He worked the Mods. He supported the players on the Eagle Walk. This should have been a great day. But all his attempts at culture building are going to be overshadowed by what's happening on the field. And once again, BC lost a lopsided game at home. I am sure Jarmond knew he would have to make a decision on Addazio during his first year. I don't know if anyone could have predicted things would turn so sour, so quickly.

Addazio is full of excuses and lacking in solutions. But at this point he can't blame anyone but himself. And the more he loses, the more comparisons to his predecessor become more relevant. Spaziani's ACC record: 13-19. Addazio's ACC record: 10-23. Spaziani's overall winning percentage: .431. Addazio's overall winning percentage: .471. Addazio's next two games are against Notre Dame and Clemson. His winning percentage could slip below Spaziani's soon.

The Offensive ineptitude is Addazio's creation too. Since Ryan Day left and Addazio pridefully said BC would run "his offense," BC has gone through two offensive coordinators, three offensive philosophies, and six starting quarterbacks. In all the ACC games since Day left, Addazio's offense has only scored 21 points once. The execution is terrible and the team seems to have no answer to whatever the other team prepares.

Addazio dug out of a hole last year. This year there is less wiggle room and a new AD who is empowered and not tied to Addazio's history. I would love to see a turnaround, but I am not counting on one.

REMINDER: One week left on Smathers & Branson offer

As a reminder, ATLEagle readers have until September 19 to order Smathers & Branson BC merchandise at a 20% discount. All the products have a great needlepoint look. Beyond belts, there are hats, wallets, and other BC items. The company offers the needlepoint look on a variety of non-BC items too.

Use promo code: BC2017. Apply the code at checkout.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Wake Forest

Watching this game back was sort of like watching it for the first time. As I tweeted and wrote on Saturday, my experience with this internet game was bad. At this point I don't mind the lower production values. That's not the problem it once was. In fact, the picture quality is pretty good. The problem was the delays, buffering and audio inconsistency. Based on feedback, it doesn't seems like I was the only one with a problem and it also doesn't seem like it was just an AT&T problem. The real ACC Network can't get here soon enough.

Offense: F

I am not ready to give up on Anthony Brown, but that was a rough performance. He made bad decisions and bad throws. Ironically, some of the INTs were just bad luck (tipped) but he missed so many wide open guys. He also threw the ball away too many times. He got worse and wasn't really setting himself as the game wore on. All of it is fixable. Let's hope he can shake it off. Wade missed wide open men too. I hoped for a spark, but he did nothing to make any of us think he is the answer.

The OLine looked a little better on the rewatch. They actually opened more holes than they did against NIU. They were also dealing with a crowded box. Petrula had a few snapping issues and got overwhelmed at times, but he had some moments too. Compared to Baker's struggles in the first game, it wasn't a dramatic drop off. Lazard looked rough again. The left side of the line looked better in general than the right. That was where a few of the big runs came.

Jeff Smith dropped a TD pass. A few other passes were okay. We need him to breakoff after the catch. White was good. Sweeney had a drop too. Thadd Smith on the sweeps might be our best chance for a big play and it keeps the opponent honest.

Hilliman still struggled in the run game. There were still too many steps at times. I am also concerned about his pass blocking. His TD catch was nice. Dillon looked good early but then was slowed late as Wake just crowded things. Levy and Jones were used too late.

Scot Loeffler has a reputation as a QB guru. Yet neither QB looked ready to function in this offense. He's had two years to work with both guys, yet it feels like he doesn't know what plays to give them. Or what type of passes would be productive. Wake was daring us to throw and yet we couldn't move the ball with any sort of consistency. When your opponent is going all out in one aspect of the game, it is on the OC to develop a counter.


Defense: C

Landry is getting a lot of attention and it is impacting his game. He really doesn't have as much space to get to the QB. Even as BC moves him around, he is not getting time. Also, I don't love how they are having him read and wait more this year. Allen was better than last week but still needs to do more with his one on ones. Merritt played well. So did Ray.

A few of those long Wolford runs were really on the LBs bad tackling or bad positioning. Richardson had some nice tackles. Schwab was fine. Strachan was more active than last week.

Last week I liked the DB play. This week was a step back. Some bad coverage and poor tackling. As I mentioned in the post-game Periscope, there was one play where Wolford chucked a rainbow, yet our guys were playing so far off it was still a Wake completion.

This was another blowout under Jim Reid's watch. I know some of that was the Offense putting the D in a bad spot, but some of it was due to big plays. I also don't like how we are shifting more and more away from our aggressiveness. Is some of that necessary because of the changing pace of the O? Sure. But this D needs to be aggressive. We are still not scoring big, so we can't afford to let teams march down the field.

Special Teams: B

The punting and punt coverage was good.

Walker tried to make something happen on the returns and looked good.

Lichtenberg converted his chances.

The only real problem was the one kickoff that went out of bounds.

Overall: D


As I have stated, this team is not well managed prior to or during games. That's on the Head Coach. But beyond that, Addazio's postgame press conference pushed buttons among the fanbase. He is either oblivious to his own mistakes or is just rationalizing all the problems away. It is frustrating and doesn't give me hope for a turnaround.

For him to trot out the growing pains cliche in Year 5 is pathetic. This roster is now entirely his. The depth chart is his. The coordinators are his. Injuries happen. Teams have to play young QBs. Those sorts of challenges are not unique to BC. It is Addazio's job to manage those issues. And if you have concerns about your QB's readiness, then perhaps you don't have him throw 40 times a game. If you don't want a true freshman playing Center, then perhaps don't make him the backup. Get someone else ready earlier.

Doubling down on frustration, was his spin on statistics. Is he dumb or does he think we are? "The game was even....blah blah blah." Sure, we might have had similar yardage, but that is because they played off of short fields, returned a TD and were ahead. If you didn't look at the stats, you would not say the game was even. They made fewer mistakes and executed better. That's why they won by 24 points.

Bad games happen. Team's can turn things around. BC did just that last year. I hope he does it again this year. I also hope he stops digging his own holes in the first place.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

BC looks terrible in loss to Wake

Sometimes I try to come up with some newspaper/magazine type headline for the lead of these posts, but today I want to keep it simple. BC looked really, really bad in their loss to Wake. And the season is looking really, really scary. Once again Addazio has dug himself into a huge hole with regards to his offense and his win-loss record. I don't trust him to turn it around. Which means this could be the beginning of the end.

As for the game, after showing promise last week, Brown missed wide open WRs all day. When he wasn't missing them, they were dropping balls or letting them bounce into the hands of Wake DBs. The OLine was a mess too. The once proud D had its moments, but ultimately allowed too many big plays.

I am frustrated, but I actually have hope. Either Addazio turns things around and we pull off an upset or two (unlikely) or we peter out and he is replaced by someone who might help BC get back to being BC.

Below is my post-game Periscope. Thanks to all those who participated. I will have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday night.

In-game comments post: Wake Forest

Wake Forest games lend themselves to drama and weird endings. Maybe this game will join the list.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Friday picks

I went heavy on the ACC teams this week. I also think UMass will bounce back.

Louisville-9 at North Carolina

Iowa-3 at Iowa State

Buffalo+16 at Army

Northwestern-2.5 at Duke

Old Dominion-4 at UMass

Indiana-3 at Virginia

South Carolina+3 at Missouri

Georgia+5 at Notre Dame

Stanford+6 at USC

Utah-2.5 at BYU

Last week I went 6-4. I am 6-4 on the season.

Game Watches: Wake Forest

I didn't hear much about Game Watches this week. If your local BC Club is having one, please add it to the comments section below.

Chicago Game Watch
Tobacco Road Tap Room
2249 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Phoenix Game Watch 
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85020

San Diego Game Watch 
Striders 100 J St
San Diego, CA 92101

Thursday, September 07, 2017

BC-Wake Forest preview

After finishing last season's ACC slate with Wake, the two teams are back at it again. They kick off ACC play at Alumni on Saturday. That means both teams have some familiarity with one another, but are also expecting some new twists. BC will bring a faster pace to this game and Wake has a new Defensive staff. Although it is only Game 2 on the season, this remains critical for Addazio. He needs the momentum and the W heading into the heart of the season.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
This will be Martin Jarmond's first home game as AD. I don't think there will be noticeable changes or any problems since there are enough experienced operations people around to see that everything goes smoothly. I am interested to hear about fan reaction to him and how he mingles with the crowd. I don't think he should be checking IDs at the new beer stand or playing cornhole on among the tailgaters, but I do hope he is visible and engaging. It would mean a lot to the long-time fans.

Three Simple Keys
1. Explosive plays in the running game. Like NIU, Wake will probably crowd the line. If so, BC needs to break through that first level and get some big runs.
2. Bring more pressure. BC was fairly conservative on D last week. This week, I want to see that elite DLine get to the quarterback over and over.
3. Red zone scoring. It was great to convert field goals last week, but we need more drives to get into the end zone. That's on Brown, Loeffler and Addazio.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 10-22 in ACC games at BC
-- Addazio is 14-12 at Alumni
-- Addazio is 3-1 in home openers
Most sites have this game as a pick'em.

Factoid
Addazio's first ACC game as BC head coach was against Wake.

Scoreboard Watching
Auburn-Clemson might not have the same importance as last week's Alabama-FSU game, but it will still be a measuring stick. It is our chance to see how the ACC stacks up against another Power 5 team and our chance to see some of Clemson's new starters.

What I hope to see...
All the running backs get significant touches. There is depth at the position. Let's see what these guys can do. Be creative, Loeffler!

BC is in trouble if...
If we can't get positive plays from the power runs. Even with all the offensive changes, Addazio has staked much of his reputation and BC's personnel on power running between the tackles. It would be a bad sign if we still cannot do it efficiently.

Overall
I think we see real improvement in BC from Week 1 to Week 2. I think the OLine plays better, the D is more aggressive and the mistakes are minimized. I see BC going up early and controlling most of the rest of the way.
Final Score: BC 28, Wake Forest 13

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Midweek Periscope -- Wake Week

Below is a short, midweek Periscope I did Wednesday night. I apologize for the technical problems at the start. The Periscope app kept crashing on me.

Topics covered:
-- Kobay White's debut and what to expect. (Question courtesy of Chris G.)
-- Jim Christian's new assistant
-- Rumored tailgating fees
-- Anthony Brown talk

As always, I appreciate the feedback. I am still trying to find the right day and time for these other than postgame. Would early afternoon on a weekday work?


Christian adds Chris Cheeks to staff

While no one was really sad to see Stan Heath leave, the timing wasn't ideal for Jim Christian to find a top flight replacement. Plus, when factoring in Christian's tenuous job security, finding an elite assistant was going to be hard. Multiple reports say that Christian has found someone and it is veteran basketball assistant Chris Cheeks.

Cheeks comes to BC from Western Kentucky. Prior to that he was at Delaware, but he has also put in time at places like Charlotte, West Virginia and the AAU Circuit. It is the AAU scene where Cheeks might be able to help BC. We need another hunter. Or at least a hunter more hungry than Stan Heath.  

Cheeks ties to the DC-area leads me to believe he has a connection to Spinelli. I hope they like working together and do enough to extend their BC time beyond this season. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: NIU

Because I had the holiday weekend to read reactions to the game before I had the chance to watch it back, I was a bit surprised by the split among the fanbase. Many thought Brown looked good for a RSF. Others saw him as a mess. I am in the former crew. Watching it back, BC's mistakes and missed opportunities were even more noticeable, but I still think there are enough pieces to compete this season.

Offense: B-

Brown made a few bad throws and a few bad decisions, but he also kept his head up and played with maturity. I like his arm strength. What he needs to do now is work his progressions and make better decisions on when to run. There were a few plays when he could have run to daylight but he threw it out of bounds. His whole upside is still unknown, but I think the first game was good.

During the game, I made many comments about Hilliman. In review they probably weren't all fair. But it was fair to say he did not play well. I know it is hard to look great when defenders are at your feet, but the guy hesitates too much, tries to many cuts and is not great in a crowd. He's not elusive or at the Andre Williams level where he can break tackles. He was decent catching the ball but also inconsistent in pass blocking. Dillon looked good in limited action. He ran hard and found holes.

The OL was bad. Aside from the rotations, some of the issues were just poor play. Baker got pushed around and had a bad snap. Lazard struggled. Maybe going from WVU's near stand up style to our power will be a harder adjustment than previously thought. Monteiro was inconsistent. Christ Lindstrom was okay. Schmal was just ok.

Walker's drop set the tone for the game -- near big plays with execution issues. He did have some nice catches later. White looked great and really went up for the ball. I liked the Smith and Smith end arounds. They both ran them well.

Many of our blocking issues can also be pointed at the Tight Ends. When the other team is crowding the box, we need everyone near the line blocking someone. Garrison wiffed a few times. Marten and Sweeney did too.

Some of Loeffler's play calling was good but a lot of it was head scratching. Why did we keep trying the tosses and power runs with Hilliman? NIU was waiting for it and they stopped it most of the time. When you run 92 plays, can't you figure out an alternative to their run stopping earlier? All things considered, the change in offense is refreshing but the inefficiency is too familiar. If you run 90+ plays and are only scoring 23 points, you are not a great offense.

Defense: B-

Much was made of Landry's ho hum stats. I thought he played pretty well when he was on the field. He drew a lot of attention and forced them to run away from him. I thought Allen did not play as well. He really struggled when NIU isolated him on the zone reads. The interior guys were fine.

The LBs were quiet. Each had a big hit or two but their productivity was down. Schwab was the best of the bunch and was ok in pass coverage. Strachan made a big stop but did not have consistent impact throughout the game. Richardson made a big hit early and then disappeared.

Denis had his best game yet. Good coverage and an INT. Harris made some bad plays. Both led to scores. The late hit was dumb but I can live with it. The running with a slow QB instead of stopping him was really dumb. I don't know why they targeted Moore. He missed an INT but played okay. Yiadom was good.

Considering their lack of talent and experience at QB and OLine, I thought we would bring more pressure. I don't know if the new pace of play will force us to be more conservative, but it raised questions on Friday night. Why not put more pressure on? For the most part, when we did, it led to bad throws. I also think there was some general first game sloppiness and confusion. If that doesn't get corrected, then you know it was a coaching issue.

Special Teams: B+

I know making a big deal out of three converted field goals is setting expectations low, but holy cow! BC made three relatively pressure filled FGs! I don't know if Lichtenberg is going to be dead solid perfect all season, but it was a good start.

Schulze-Geisthovel also looked very good. If he is consistently getting touchbacks it will be a huge asset.

Knoll's punts weren't all pretty but they were effective.

I liked what I saw from Glines on the kick returns. He's pretty aggressive and confident. I think he has the potential to break one.


Overall: B-

Addazio made some clear improvements in his game management. He used timeouts well before the half and was also aggressive on 4th downs. But it still came down to a missed FG to win the game a game that never should have been that close. As I mentioned in the previous sections, I understand how the new tempo will require more substitution. But a key point will be not falling apart when your best players are not on the field.

While I found the silence on the QB starter unnecessary, it did not mess things up and he was willing to put the game in Brown's hands. That speaks to his confidence. Now he just needs to fix the mistakes and help this team reach its potential.

Great deal for ATLeagle readers with Smathers & Branson

I am excited to announce that for the next two weeks, Smathers & Branson is offering atleagle readers a 20% discount on their BC products.

I've been wearing a Smathers & Branson BC belt for years. (It might be my favorite BC item.) Their needlepoint design and craftsmanship is unique among typical fan gear. Beyond belts, they also have keychain fobs, sunglass straps, bag tags, wallets, hats, coasters, etc. All needlepoint and with the BC logo. And it is not all just BC stuff. They have plenty of other college and pro teams, and styles and looks that are not sports related. They make great gifts (or just treat yourself). 

Between now and September 19, alteagle readers can receive a 20% discount on all BC items by using the promo code: BC2017. Apply the code at checkout.
I will also show the belt in the next few Periscopes. Get yours soon. 

Monday, September 04, 2017

Checking in on the true freshmen

In the past few years, Addazio has talked about the challenge of using players too early. In his opinion, BC is at its best when it can redshirt most of their players. I don't know if I totally agree with coach. The 5th year transfer rule has changed the dynamic and roster management. But that is topic for a different post. This is about who is playing this year. BC's official stats for the game only listed AJ Dillon and Travis Levy as the freshmen who played. But Alec Lindstrom also saw action as a substitute.

I have no problem with any of those guys playing. If they can help now, get them on the field. This won't be the end either. Addazio said he Petrula was supposed to play too. I am sure he will get in soon.

There will also be guys who redshirt too. And a few of those guys will become long-term impact players. But I believe Addazio needs to play everyone who can make a difference this year. Plan for the future once we get elite dept and don't need any of our true freshmen.

--------

In other news, here are the the general highlights of the game.


Sunday, September 03, 2017

Herzy to IR and other links

On Saturday, the New York Giants placed Mark Herzlich on IR. That means he is ineligible to play for the Giants this season. Once he recovers, he could come off IR, clear waivers and play for another team. But this might be the end of Mark's NFL career. It sounds like the Giants are already planning a post-playing career for him as they want him working with players and still being around. I hope Mark gets one more shot on the field, but if this is it, it was truly a remarkable playing career. When his cancer was first announced, there was real question as to whether his leg would be amputated. Instead he survived, played again in college and then played in the NFL for six seasons. That is amazing. Good luck to Mark on all his future endeavors.

In other NFL news, the Lions picked up Brian Mihalik and the Colts picked up Ian Silberman.

Another remarkable BC athlete's story continues as Boston has declared September 5 as "Pete Frates Day."

The Field Hockey team swept Maryland.

Women's Soccer beat Northeastern.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Perspective on plays per game

During the offseason, I questioned how much Addazio would truly embrace the uptempo philosophy. For the first game he clearly did. BC had 92 total plays in the game. That's a lot in general and it is a ton for BC game. For some perspective, here are some other relevant total plays to show how active and fast BC was:

  • 2016 Leader in Total Plays Average: Baylor -- 88.6 per game
  • 2016 (Addazio Year 4) Boston College Total Plays Average:  67.8
  • BC's Total Plays in QuickLane Bowl: 69
  • 2015 (Addazio Year 3)  Boston College Total Plays Average: 64.8
  • 2014 (Addazio Year 2) Boston College Total Plays Average: 67.8
  • 2013 (Addazio Year 1) Boston College Total Plays Average: 62.0
And a few other BC related Total Plays Average:
  • 2012 (Spaz's Last Year) Boston College Total Plays Average: 70.5 
  • 2009 (Spaz's First Year) Boston College Total Plays Average: 65.1
  • 2008 (Jags with Crane/Davis) Boston College Total Plays Average: 71.8
  • 2007 (Jags with Matt Ryan) Boston College Total Plays Average: 77.9
  • 2006 (TOB's final year at BC) Boston College Total Plays Average: 70.7
It is only one game, but it is a clear departure for BC and Addazio. However, changing for change sake is not what BC needed. We need to make sure the uptempo also includes more scoring. Running 90+ plays and only scoring 23 points will lead to plenty of losses. 

Nothing comes easy in BC's win over NIU

That was a long frustrating way to begin the season. The silver lining is the win and that Anthony Brown showed real potential in his first game. Everything that you feel good about the game also leaves you wondering if Addazio will ever fully deliver. For example, he really committed to the uptempo offense, yet we only scored 23 points and started resting our best defensive players in the 2nd Quarter. Another example: Addazio seemingly adjusted to his game management criticisms and used the clock well at the first half and went for it on 4th down. Yet there was some very stubborn and head scratching play calling. Finally, he has seemed to recruit elite skill players, but our traditional foundation -- the offensive line -- looked sloppy. He has a week to figure it all out.

For now, I am going to use this win to dream about a bright future for Brown and BC Football.

I also did a post-game Periscope. Thanks to all those who interacted. Because of the holiday weekend, I don't know when I will rewatch the game, so grades might not roll out until Tuesday.


Friday, September 01, 2017

In-game comments post: Northern Illinois

Another season and maybe a new era of BC Football starts tonight.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday picks

Here are the ten games I like this weekend:

Navy-9.5 at FAU

Colorado State+3.5 at Colorado

NC State-5 at South Carolina

Michigan-5 at Florida

Temple+18.5 at Notre Dame

UMass-2.5 at Coastal Carolina

Florida State+7.5 at Alabama

Vanderbilt-3 at Middle Tennessee

Texas A&M+3.5 at UCLA

West Virginia+4 at Virginia Tech

Herald thinks Brown will start

From Friday's BC summary. No byline attributed, so there is plenty of hedging:


2. No matter what gametime decision Addazio makes at quarterback, BC will have an inexperienced signal caller under center. A consensus of neutral observers during training camp agreed that redshirt freshman Anthony Brown will get the nod over graduate student Darius Wade.




We will all know shortly. Good luck to both.