Saturday, October 21, 2017

BC crushes UVA

For the second week in a row, BC's Offense exploded. The difference between last week and this week's win over UVA was that the D stepped up too. BC dominated from the start. The most promising and exciting aspect of the game was seeing other guys make huge plays. Thadd Smith and White both had huge game-changing TDs. UVA was determined to stop Dillon and that opened up so many other things.

Twitter, the message boards and my Periscope were filled with "Addazio safe" talk. This game certainly helps that cause. I don't know how the season will play out and don't take back what I wrote after the Virginia Tech loss, but he is starting to look safe. Win two more and he is coming back. But I am not going to focus on that. Instead I want to enjoy BC winning and playing exciting football.

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

The post-game Periscope is below.

In-game comments post: Virginia

Let's make it two in a row!

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday picks

No context. No spin. Just picks.

Pick in bold.

Air Force-7 at Nevada

Oklahoma State-7 at Texas

Temple+7 at Army

Iowa+1 at Northwestern

Tulsa-6 at UConn

Central Michigan-2.5 at Ball State

Syracuse+17.5 at Miami

Georgia Southern+7 at UMass

Oregon+7 at UCLA

LSU-7.5 at Ole Miss

Last week I went 3-6-1. For the season I am 31-36-2.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

BC-Virginia preview

Last week I asked for something unexpected. We got it. Beyond shaking up the doldrums of the season, it also gave BC and Addazio new life. A much needed bowl berth is still on the table. But to get there, BC needs to finish 3-2 at the worst. Virginia is a favorite, but this is a winnable game. As we know, winning a winnable game doesn't come easy.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Virginia's hiring of Bronco Mendenhall is an interesting test case for BC. Although there are geographic and religious differences, I think BC and Virginia share a similar sports culture, leadership perspective and philosophy. Prior to Mendenhall, Virginia Football had made a lot of hires based on fit and ties to the school. Mendenhall was a true outsider. His first year was rough on and off the field. This year, there seems to be improvement. (I don't know how donors are reacting.) BC has made a lot of recent hires based on fit and ties. The last guy you might call an outsider was Dan Henning. Now as we potentially approach another search, maybe we look to UVA's example and hire someone totally new to BC. Perhaps the risk of the coach not fitting in is worth the upside of being something greater than you've been.

Three Simple Keys
1. Continue to exploit play action. After last week, Virginia will likely load up to stop the run. BC needs to hit the short play action passes to make them pay regardless of whether it is Brown or Wade.
2. Better tackling. I know it is silly and simple, but it has been an issue all season. Virginia lacks some of the game breakers we've seen in other games. No one they have is as elusive as Lamar Jackson, so everyone needs to wrap up.
3. Don't give the ball away. Virginia is not a bunch of ball hawks and don't generate many turnovers. We need to protect and be careful. Don't help them out.

Gambling Notes
-- BC won on it only previous trip to Charlottesville
-- Addazio is 10-12 on the road
-- BC leads the all-time series 5-0
The current line is BC+7

As has been mentioned by Blauds and will probably be worked into the broadcast, Spaz's son is a walk-on at UVA. I have no ill will toward the kid. I just wish his dad had never been our head coach.

Scoreboard Watching
Can one win get us back to watching scoreboards or should I focus on the coaching carousel? How about a little of both? The game I will pay attention to is Penn State vs Michigan. Beyond the interest in two Big Ten powers, I am also interested to see how Moorhead does against Don Brown's defense.

I hope to see...
BC stop the big plays. If we are going to truly be a bend but don't break, then let's start seeing some results.

BC is in trouble if...
We keep missing field goals. They won't all be chip shots like the end of last week. We need to convert some or else the offense will continue to sputter.

I know Virginia is 5-1. I know they have some respectable wins. I know it is on the road. Yet with even all those factors to consider, I think BC can match up well with them. I think it will be a close game where BC's Defense makes the difference. Maybe a late stop to kill a UVA drive. BC sneaks out with renewed vigor and two game win streak.
Final Score: BC 21, Virginia 20

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Re-examining the "lost season"

College Football and the College Football media love narratives. One of the narratives related to Steve Addazio is that 2015 was a "lost season" where he was snake bitten with injuries. The theory is that the season and its record should be graded on a curve. Bill Connelly worked in the idea when talking about "hot seats" in this article. What the media fails to realize with that season is that BC already gave Addazio a mulligan. It did not fire him after the embarrassment. He will be judged primarily on how he does this season. But if the media or BC decision makers do look at 2015, they will realize that history has not been kind to the narrative. Addazio's lost season looks more like a really bad coaching job.

1. The Darius Wade issue. Wade had a season ending leg break in the Florida State game. Losing your starting QB is always a tough blow. But Wade has done nothing since to validate Addazio's decision to build the season around him. Addazio admitted that he did not bring in a transfer and was ready to go with his homegrown QBs (Wade, Flutie and later surprisingly Jeff Smith and John Fadule). Even if Wade stays healthy, does the season become a success? I think Addazio doubts it because he has had numerous chances to put Wade back on the field and hasn't. In hindsight, it seems like Addazio entered the season without a good idea of what he had at QB. That's not good coaching or roster management.

2. BC only won three games despite having the best defense in the country. When one side of the ball is that good, you just have to be competent in other aspects of football to win even a few games. Addazio didn't. A good coach would have done some triage to the roster and offense to put together some sort of simple, winning game plan for a few of the games.

3. BC finished 1-5 in games decided by seven points or less. This speaks to Addazio being a poor game manager and not just unlucky (although luck is a factor in close games). The Wake Forest game was epic mismanagement. The Duke game was too as he kept Flutie in way too long. The Syracuse game also saw BC squander a late tie against a bad Syracuse team with a fired coach. If Addazio flips two of those games and closes out the near upsets of Notre Dame and Louisville, his job is safe now.

4. 2015 was the first sign that Addazio had real issues managing his offensive staff. As I have said, when you are the worst at one aspect of something, it is a complete failure in how you plan, how you practice, how you teach, how you evaluate, and how you work together. We were a complete grab bag of styles and players and approaches. BC started four QBs that year who have little in common other than their uniforms. I don't know what Addazio was trying to be. I don't know if Todd Fitch did either because he was shown the door after the season. Now if that season was just a one-time issue, I would buy into the "lost" narrative. But Addazio has yet to stabilize that side of the ball. Was last week's outburst a turning point? We will see. Right now it looks like an aberration. 

5. Even Spaz didn't have a winless ACC season. And Addazio's only won three ACC games since. That is not lost. That is a pattern. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Takeout pace and how does the D look?

As I wrote, giving up 42 to Louisville was bad. You will not win many games when that happens. Now some -- including some coaches -- might say that when you score 45 and score many of those points quickly, you are bound to give up more points. Even before this scoring outburst, BC was playing faster i.e. uptempo. And there was the belief that the new pace would impact the D. The faster pace was part of the reason for resting players.

But just because BC is playing at a faster pace, doesn't mean that we can't make fair comparisons between different BC defenses. Instead of total D and points allowed -- which are impacted by pace, we can look at yards per play allowed. In this measure, it is about how good you are down to down. Here are the stats of BC's yards allowed per play under Addazio:

-- 2017 yards per play allowed: 74th -- 5.7 per play
-- 2016 yards per play allowed: 26th -- 5.0 per play
-- 2015 yards per play allowed: 5th -- 4.3 per play
-- 2014 yards per play allowed: 33rd -- 5.0 per play
-- 2013 yards per play allowed: 86th -- 5.8 per play

As you can see, the team was most stingy in 2015, when it was near the top of all defensive statistics. Now, I know that you could still claim that pace impacts yards allowed per play. If D has to face more plays, they might still wear down and allow more big plays that skew the numbers. But I think what this does speak to is that the current D is not as good as last year and clearly not even in the same ballpark as the 2015 D.

The remainder of the schedule is not filled with offensive juggernauts, so the stats do have a chance to improve. But by the time we shoot down this argument, we will just be hit with more excuses about injuries.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Regarding the TMZ-Jamall Anderson stuff

TMZ is reporting that former Eagle Jamall Anderson is peddling a video of BC players from the mid-90s drinking and grinding on strippers. Anderson is also promoting a book about his misadventures. I am going to try to keep my inconsistencies and hypocrisy in check for this, but then again this whole things is stupid.

1. BC is not above bad behavior or coloring outside the lines -- then or now. I sort of touched on this when writing about recent NCAA scandals. I am sure there are plenty of embarrassing things, illegal things (real laws and NCAA laws) and academically questionable things going on at BC right now. I have no proof, but I am also not naive. Do I think BC is bending the rules as much as other schools? Probably not. Does that matter? Not really. We like to say we do things the right way, but sometimes if you are arguing degrees of wrongness, you are probably missing the point. "Everyone's doing it" is not an excuse. My hope is that BC one day takes a real leadership position on all these issues, so that the underground nature of all this becomes unnecessary. Also, I want to point out that this doesn't mean athletes are bad apples. I was on campus during the era of this video and saw regular students break rules, cheat, break laws, and even have strippers in the Mods. That doesn't justify anyone's behavior. My point is these sorts of things are not exclusively driven by sports or jock culture.

2. BC's response was perfect. The school told TMZ, "This 22 year old video, which is alleged to have taken place at Boston College, depicts unauthorized and unacceptable behavior that does not reflect the culture of BC or the standards to which our student-athletes are held." 

The player involved was kicked out of school. His head coach was fired. The AD during the time was essentially fired. BC has nothing to explain. We had problems and dealt with them at the appropriate time in the appropriate way.

Now the school should use this as a reminder to make sure it knows what is going on now, but the Andeson stuff is a non-issue.

3. Jamall Anderson has been a problem and desperate for a long time. Anderson has been trying to sell and tell his story for a long time. He did it 20 years ago after BC kicked him out of school. He did it last year when he was trying to sell his memoir. And now he's doing it again as the Pitino scandal churns up salacious NCAA coverage. Most of the other players involved have moved on, are welcome in the BC Football family and are proud alums. Anderson -- who denied everything for years -- was one of only two players that the DA had proof bet against BC. The others were suspended for betting on sports. But the gambling scandal was not Anderson's first discipline issue at BC. He was kicked out of University housing prior to the betting and was a challenge to the coaching staff his entire time.

He claims he is doing this to help young athletes learn. I don't trust his motives and wonder if 22 years later, he has learned everything. I hope TMZ paid him for the video because that's about all that he's got to show for the wasted opportunities.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Louisville

Watching the game back was weird. Watching live I got caught up in the excitement of it all. Watching it with hindsight, you realize that Dillon did most of that damage in the second half! If he had been the focal point from the start her might have rushed for 400 yards. It was a very unique performance. We don't know if this game was a turning point or will just be a footnote. We do know that it was fun to watch.

Offense: A

I don't think this game will cause a QB controversy since neither were perfect. Brown started running more. His passes were off throughout. Wade hit his passes early, but anything that wasn't a quick easy throw was a problem. I am not on the Wade bandwagon yet, but he does deserve credit for coming in and helping the team.

Dillon was really good. The numbers and the highlights tell most of the story, but even on more basic plays, he was pushing for an extra yard or two and he made good cuts. Out running DBs is a great sign. Hilliman's carries weren't that effective. He was good catching the ball. Levy got a few more touches but didn't break anything big.

The Tight Ends -- Sweeney, Martin, Garrison, -- all looked good on those short passes and cutting up field after the catch. Unfortunately the other guys didn't get nearly as many clean passes thrown their way. Brown missed Walker, Smith and White. Wade missed White too. Thadd Smith looked good on the sweeps.

Dillon doesn't have that sort of day without the OLine. Phillips looked good and opened up some holes. Montiero was also good. As a group, all five really got a good push on the Louisville DL.

I thought BC was going to have to pass to win. It turns out I was wrong. Even before Dillon's big runs, it was clear BC was going to try to overpower the Cards. Loeffler also deserves credit for going with the hot hand and for giving Wade some easy throws to get acclimated.

Defense: D

Of the different BC position groups, the DLine was the best. Wyatt Ray had a big INT as he dropped into coverage. Ray Smith helped clog the middle. Merritt was solid. Allen got beat a few times by Jackson and still struggles when he is the read point of the zone option. Landry was tentative and didn't look completely healthy.

The LBs missed a good bit of tackles and were really slow when trying to chase down Louisville's skill guys. Schwab was productive but didn't have his best game. Lamot was just ok.

The DBs got lost, fell or burned too many times. They also saved the game with the strip, fumble and fumble recovery. Moore was the best on Saturday, despite some issues. Denis was fine. Harris didn't look 100%. Yiadom was oky. Cheevers deserves credit for the fumble.

I like Jim Reid. I think he is a good guy and can be a good coordinator. But I am worried that we don't have a solution for the zone read. Jackson is a special player, but every team beats us with it. Allen might be too slow for it. I also am getting frustrated with the big plays. If you are going to blitz less, you better be sound behind it.

Special Teams: B

Walker was very aggressive again and it helped set the tone.

The kickoffs were fine. Knoll punted well.

The coverage was good.

Lichtenberg made the game winner. Congrats. He also missed a FG that could have given BC cushion late. I really hope the misses are temporary or Addazio might need to make a change.

Overall: B+

When you score 45 but only win by three, there are some problems. Our special teams issues and defensive issues mentioned above have been consistent and Addazio has not fixed them. We are more than halfway through the season and not finding real solutions. That is why I am far from confident that this will turn into a win streak.

But for one week, a special day from a special player carried BC to victory. Addazio deserves credit for finding a guy like Dillon and getting him to campus. Now he needs to turn Dillon into a reliable weapon who can perform like that every week.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dillon runs over Louisville

That is why we watch. We watch to see a guy like AJ Dillon breakout on the scene and run over and through Louisville's D. We watch to see Wade come off the bench to make some critical plays. We watch to see BC win on a kick with seconds left. It was a nerve racking ending, but it was certainly worth it.

There were some issues, but I won't harp on that now.

I know some of you fear this type of win will save Addazio's job. Don't focus on that now. Be glad for the players and coaches that bust their asses representing BC. They deserve our support and that was a great win.

The post-game Periscope is below.

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

In-game comments post: Louisville

Clemson pulled off an upset Friday night. Iowa State pulled off a huge upset last week. Why not us? Why not now? Let's go BC!

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday picks

Last week I went 5-5. That should be a disappointment, but with the way I've been picking, it was an improvement. This week there were plenty of home underdogs, which makes things tricky.

Picks in bold

Clemson-23.5 at Syracuse

South Carolina+3.5 at Tennessee

NC State-10.5 at Pitt

Florida State-7.5 at Duke

Rutgers+2.5 at Illinois

Michigan-7 at Indiana

Auburn-7 at LSU

Vanderbilt+3.5 at Ole Miss

Northwestern-3 at Maryland

Virginia-3.5 at North Carolina

Last week I went 5-5. For the season I am 28-30-1.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

BC-Louisville preview

This season needs something unpredictable to happen. My preference would be for that unpredictable thing to be great and benefit BC. But something has got to change (style of play, scheme, attitude, starters, or anything). There is such apathy and boredom surrounding BC Football right now. Last week a ranked Virginia Tech team on a Saturday night couldn't come close to filling Alumni. We enter into these games expecting to lose and seem resigned when it happens. The blowouts and inability to score makes it all that more predictable. Does anyone have any doubt that if Louisville scores more than 21 points, they will win this game?

There was a predictability and stubbornness to the TOB era, but at least some of the games were in doubt. BC pulled off the occasional upset or the occasional second half comeback. With Addazio, we know that if he is not leading at halftime, we are not winning. I've already called for his job. Now I just want something to shake up the season.
What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Are Louisville and BC that different? When the Cardinals' Athletic Department blew up a few weeks ago, it was easy to sit back and justify our losing as more pure than their winning. I am starting to wonder though, should we feel we are doing things the right way? They are winning -- by doing lots of cheating -- but we are losing and still comprising ourselves somewhat. I am pretty sure BC does not use of prostitutes or illegal brides, but I know we make plenty of exceptions for student athletes and accept behavior from coaches we would not accept from normal employees. How much do those degrees of compromise matter?

It is easy to say now we wouldn't make the deal with the Devil. But I want to win. That sort of longing for more was what got Faust too.

Three Simple Keys
1. Attack throw the air and down the field. Louisville's pass D is bad. We need to be aggressive and establish momentum early.
2. Don't allow Jackson to run. I don't know if spying will work. I don't know if that will open up their run game in other ways, but we've been bad against running QBs. We can't let that happen this week.
3. Use the zone read often. There are big plays to be had. Stop worrying about Brown's durability and start worrying about winning games.

Gambling Notes
-- Petrino is 38-6 at home while at Louisville
-- He is 3-0 vs Addazio
-- Louisville has won four straight in the series
The current line is BC+22

BC does not currently have any Kentucky residents on the roster. The Bluegrass state was never a hotbed for BC, but with all the Cincinnati recruiting, we managed to pick up a kid or two from Kentucky over the years. It is probably not a surprise that Louisville does not have any players from Massachusetts or any other part of New England.

Scoreboard Watching
As the season moves on and the losses pile up, what other teams are doing becomes less relevant. What does become relevant are how other "hot seat" coaches perform. Their programs will be our competition for a new coach. I will be paying attention to South Carolina-Tennessee as the Volunteers look like they will have the first pick of the top coaches this time around on the coaching carousel.

I hope to see...
Mike Knoll not have to punt. He's having a great year and has a very good chance of ending up all conference, but if he is not punting, that means BC is scoring...or at least trying to score.

BC is in trouble if...
We can't get big plays. Call them chunk. Call them explosive. Regardless of the term, we need a few big plays, because the methodical drives are not resulting in points.

If you want to call it progress, I think this game will feel a bit like the last week. BC will slow down the Cards, but the game will never be truly in doubt. I think a late score makes the game seem respectable.
Final Score: Louisville 28, BC 20

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Where is the next win coming?

To turn the corner, Addazio will have to start winning. He is quick to point out how tough the schedule has been. He doesn't mention that the remaining schedule is not that favorable to BC. Of the six games left, BC is only favored in one (UConn). What's interesting based on the ESPN ratings is that although the predicted point spreads have shrunk against UVA and Syracuse, the probability of BC winning hasn't moved all that much. BC currently has a 30.8% against Virginia and a 27.8% against Syracuse. If Addazio wants to keep his job, he has to win all three. Would those five combined wins be enough for Jarmond?

At 5-7 with a new AD and a shrinking fanbase, Addazio's future would be a hot topic among those who still care. If he gets to six wins, then BC goes to a bowl game and he is safe for another year. But where would that sixth win come from?

Louisville looks to be BC's toughest remaining opponent. The game is on the road and Louisville's weakness -- pass defense -- is the area where BC is least capable of exploiting something. ESPN only gives BC a 10.8% chance of the upset.

Florida State might be the best chance of an upset. They are struggling and trying to break in their backups. The game is also at Alumni.

Addazio has a good record against NC State, but they look much improved.

Last year, Addazio stopped the bleeding long enough to get to a bowl. This year, I think he has enough talent to do so again. Let's see if he has the team's belief and a game plan sound enough to do it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Beauty" is subjective, winning is not

I didn't want to spend this week lecturing Addazio again about what to say and what not to say. But he keeps using his radio show to defend the team against those who don't know what they're talking about. Hoffses assumes he means BCI and me. I am guessing Addazio also hears the noise from the fans on the message boards, twitter and at Alumni.

While Addazio thinks he's building something beautiful (see the clip below), my concern is that he and his current staff are not capable of delivering on that promise.

I agree with Addazio that the players are developing. I agree that the talent level is improved. But the coaching staff still has to mold that talent into a unit and give that unit a clean gameplan. The gameplan needs to be something they can execute. Since Ryan Day left, Addazio has shown no ability to produce a competent college football offense. You don't have to "know" football to notice a trend:

Boston College's Offensive Efficiency under Addazio
-- Current Offensive Efficiency: 106th
-- 2016 Offensive Efficiency: 117th
-- 2015 Offensive Efficiency: 123rd
-- 2014 Offensive Efficiency: 32nd
-- 2013 Offensive Efficiency: 48th

When you continue to struggle offensively over the course of three seasons, it is a failure. It is not due to youth, injuries or a tough schedule. It is a breakdown in teaching, coaching, planning, and adjusting.

Right now Addazio sits at 2-4. We only have one remaining game where we are currently favored. If he really thinks he can deliver on this team's potential, he can just ignore the critics and win. Go on a run and shut us all up. Trust me, it would make both sides happy. Until then, I suggest he spends less time reading his critics and more time figuring out how to improve his offense.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Class of 2013

Year 5. Year 5. Year 5. BC fans heard that signpost many times in the early days of Addazio. In general, five years is a fair time to judge a coach. In theory, by Year 5, the coach should have the roster he wants, the coaches he wants and the schedule he wants. All the growing pains and adjustments should be over. All the talent should be mature. We know how Addazio is doing. Maybe we should see how the other Power 5 coaches hired in 2013 fared.

Gary Anderson, Wisconsin. Left Wisconsin after two seasons. Just resigned from Oregon State.
-- Record at Wisconsin: 19–7, Big Ten: 13–3
Anderson is an example of how unpredictable these sorts of hires can be. His first two seasons in Madison were great, but he wanted more control, fewer admissions hassles, and a larger budget. He was also a west coast guy who wanted to be back home. That didn't work out as his time at Oregon State was a disaster.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas. Still coaching at Arkansas
-- Record at Arkansas: 27–29; SEC: 10–24
After the chaos following Petrino and his interims, Bielema had a real claim to a rebuild. That is how he excused away his first year. Since then, he's produced a bunch of Daz like seasons (7-6). Right now he is firmly on the hot seat at 0-2 in the SEC.

Dave Doeren, NC State. Still coaching at NC State.
-- Record at NC State: 30–27; ACC: 12–23
The parallels to Addazio are all over this comparison. Both came from the MAC. Both had early success due to a Florida QB transfer. Both had some turnover in their coordinators. Doeren had interest in the BC job -- or at least leveraging BC's interest into a better NC State offer -- but never really got much traction with Bates. He's seemed overmatched at times and made many questionable game management decisions over the years, but right now it seems like he has done the better job rebuilding. It should also be noted that Addazio is 3-1 vs Doeren in the ACC.

Sonny Dykes, Cal. Fired after four seasons. 
-- Record at Cal: 19–30; Pac-12: 10–26
Only one winning season and rubbing people the wrong way got Dykes fired after last year. Cal -- which has all sorts of financial issues in their Athletic Department -- was willing to eat much of his contract just to make a change.

Darrell Hazell, Purdue. Fired midseason in Year 4.
-- Record at Purdue: 9–33; Big Ten: 3–24
Remember when this guy was a hot name and considered the best hire? As we potentially head to a change, it is important to remember that the guy with the best agent or the most friends in the media doesn't always turn out to be the best coach. Hazell was bad from Day 1 and barely won any Big Ten games.

Mark Helfrich, Oregon. Fired after four seasons. 
-- Record at Oregon: 37–16; Pac-12: 24–12
If Addazio inherited a mess, Helfrich inherited the opposite. His roster was talented. His program was considered a national power and Kelly left the most dynamic playbook in college football. Eager to leave his own stamp on the program, Helfrich ditched Kelly's offense. He maintained some success the first two seasons, but Year 3 was a disappointment and Year 4 was a disaster.

Butch Jones, Tennessee. Still coaching at Tennessee.
-- Record at Tennessee: 33–23; SEC: 14–20
Jones seems like a dead man walking in Knoxville. His five win first season was forgiven, but he has yet to break through the nine win ceiling and has upset fans with his offbeat press conferences. Barring an immediate turnaround, Tennessee is going to be looking for a new coach.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech. Still coaching at Texas Tech.
-- Record at Texas Tech:28–27; Big XII: 14–24
I think there are many casual college football fans that assume BC is generally happy with Addazio. Just as I think your typical BC and CFB fan would assume Kingsbury is well regarded at Texas Tech. While he was a breathe of fresh air, the results of his first few seasons were uneven and somewhat uninspiring. A decent start this year has cooled "hot seat" talk.

Mike MacIntyre, Colorado. Still coaching at Colorado.
-- Record at Colorado: 23–34; Pac-12: 10–29
Another guy with a slow rebuild. But last year's 10-win season earned him Coach of the Year awards. Mac had a history with Bates, but never really got on BC's radar. He currently stands at 3-3, however, last year's success has bought him some time.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn. Still coaching at Auburn.
-- Record at Auburn: 40–19, SEC: 21-14
Malzahn started off with a bang and made it to the National Championship game before losing to FSU. Since then, it has been a struggle to recapture that magic and the explosive offense. This year's hot start has probably bought him another year.

Scott Shafer, Syracuse. Fired atfter three seasons.
-- Record at Syracuse:14–23; ACC: 7–17
Timing is everything with these hires. Because Doug Marrone left for the NFL in January, Syracuse was left to scramble for a coach and picked Marrone's DC. I have had many 'Cuse fans tell me that had they made the change during a traditional time period, they probably would have targeted Addazio. By the time Marrone left, Addazio was already locked up at BC. Shafer was abrasive and only had one winning season. The Orange cut their losses. He did however go 2-1 against Addazio.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky. Still coaching at Kentucky.
-- Record at Kentucky: 24–31; SEC: 10–25
I always thought Stoops would have been a good fit at BC, but he was hired at Kentucky before we even got the chance to fire Spaz. It has been a really slow rebuild, but he seems to have things going in the right direction. The Wildcats went to a bowl last year and are currently 5-1.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Virginia Tech

Addazio will spin this until his last breath, but there is no excuse for the continued issues this team has. So much of it is execution. And when you have continued problems with execution, it is because the coaching staff is not teaching and not adapting. This game was more of the same.

Offense: D

I know there were plenty of drops, but Brown is not accurate. He's behind on slants. His downfield stuff is a mixed bag. He is too quick to throw things away. I believe in his future but we are not using him well now. The only bright spot was he did run more. Those plays with his feet will open up other things.

Levy looked good catching the ball. Why not give him more touches? We need someone with a spark. It wasn't Hilliman's best game. He didn't have the holes, but he also didn't make people miss. Dillon was fine and didn't look slowed from last week.

It was a rough game for Sweeney. Drops and false starts. White had a good catch but also needs to pull in anything close. Thadd Smith ran the sweep well. I am so frustrated with Jeff Smith. How is he not better by now or at least have better hands? The other TEs are not even getting targeted.

Petrula got a bad holding call, but was okay. There was a time early when the ESPN crew blamed him for a broken play, but I think it was really Phillips' man who got through. Overall the line was not the problem.

The play calling and game plan was a mess. Start aggressive, go conservative and fall way behind, and then open things up again late. Even if you want to blame Addazio for stuff like that, Loeffler still hasn't managed around Addazio or developed Brown into anything like a starting ACC QB. As a reminder, VT's QB was also young. And you know things are bad when the ESPN crew questions how we use Brown and the touches Hilliman gets over the young guys.

Defense: B

Allen had another great game. I know I was critical of him early in the year, but he has really come on of late. And it is helping Landry too. Merritt was fine. Our DL did a good job of stuffing those dives and powers up the middle.

Schwab played well. Bletzer was put in some tough spots with coverage, but still played pretty well. Lamont struggled a bit and missed some tackles.

The DBs played well at times but also allowed too many big plays. There was some bad tackling and confusion at times. Yiadom's pick was a heads up play. Denis had plenty of tackles, but some misses too. Moore was fine. Harris had some stops and a few misses.

I think Reid put together a decent game plan. They gashed us for some big plays -- which is not new -- but we also contained them for many, many plays. Plus keeping it together when the Offense can't score and keeping them out of the endzone is admirable.

Special Teams: C

Is it time to worry about Lichtenberg? One of the misses could be blamed on awkward snap. Not the other. I hope there is a plan in place if he starts missing again.

Knoll punted well.

The punt and kick coverage was good. In fact, the punt coverage is one of the best units on the team.

Walker's returns were fine. VT wasn't as careless as Central Michigan.

Overall: C-

Do you want to capture Addazio's poor game management in a single play? When we go for it on 4th and 2, there is confusion with alignments. Brown and Sweeney seem to disagree on where Sweeney should be lined up. Now this drive is critical. We need points. It is 4th down. BC still has timeouts. As soon as Addazio sees the confusion, he should be calling timeout! He can't let this play fail and if the primary target is not in the right spot before the snap, it will probably fail. But the coach let's it roll. Brown rolls left and Sweeney is the target. It is sort of a rub route. The pass is a little off and Sweeney's footwork is a bit twisted. Incomplete. What is going on? Does he get lost in the moment? I don't know.

The other infuriating thing was BC's ultra conservative play calling on 3rd and long. Running plays. Dump offs. Short routes. I understand low risk, but you have to take some risk. How does he expect to win if he doesn't ever convert? 3 and out followed by 3 and out. He thinks this is beautiful? He thinks this is a player issue!

The guy will never be more than a 7-6 coach and much worse on down years. I don't expect a change midseason, but I hope Jarmond has seen enough. I know this team has enough talent to get to six wins. I also know that with the way Addazio is coaching them, it won't happen.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Might as well fire Addazio

UPDATE: I just watched Addazio's post-game presser where he said the investment is coming and it will be beautiful. There is no reason to believe him now. I do believe this team has promise, but he has not shown that he can unlock that potential. If he goes 3-9 in Year 5, he does not deserve the chance to unlock that potential. It would just be wasting it.

I am against mid-season firing, but I think we might as well get rid of Addazio. If he is going to approach every game against a ranked team as a "L" why do we need him? The loss to VT was more of the same. We are so conservative -- taking no risks on 3rd down, he either doesn't get it or doesn't believe in his own team.

Anthony Brown shows he has some wheels? But we don't run him much. Wouldn't want to get him hurt! Instead let's have him in the pocket trying to throw accurate passes.  But Brown is not the real problem. Our whole offensive approach is. As Hoffses pointed out, Addazio is averaging 10.6 ppg in his last 19 ACC games. You can't win that way.

I feel for the D. They played well and kept the Hokies out of the endzone. But you can't win when you don't score.

The Post-Game Periscope is below. I will have grades and second thoughts up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Virginia

Virginia Tech at Alumni under the lights! Let's hope it brings out the best in everyone. Go BC!

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, October 06, 2017

Friday picks

Bad to worse...that's how my picks are going. I am hoping for a rebound this week.

Picks in Bold

Boise State-7 at BYU

Temple-2 at East Carolina

Duke+2.5 at Virginia

Pitt+3.5 at Syracuse

West Virginia+13 at TCU

LSU+2.5 at Florida

Miami-3 at Florida State

Notre Dame-15.5 at North Carolina

Alabama-26 at Texas A&M

Michigan State+10 at Michigan

Last week I went 2-8. For the season I am 23-25-1.

Game Watches: Virginia Tech

Night games should make for decent crowds. Below are the game watches for this week. Share your club's information in the comments if it is not included.

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
100 J St
San Diego, CA 92101

Thursday, October 05, 2017

BC-Virginia Tech preview

Last year's Virginia Tech game was an embarrassment. BC was shutout on offense and destroyed on defense. That type of beatdown would usually serve as a motivational tool for a year. (Think of how Coughlin used the 1992 Notre Dame game to motivate the 1993 team.) But the loss almost seems like an afterthought around BC. There's been no talk in the press this week about the game. The fanbase doesn't remark about it because there have been so many blowouts since. Maybe everyone around BC is resigned to the fact that good teams will destroy us. If so, then Jarmond has a real problem.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I love how night games look at Alumni. I don't know if it is the angle of the lights or the usually decent crowds. There is a clarity to the picture on TV that you don't get during day games. I know that night games have their drawbacks for those who actually attend the games. While I sit on my couch 1,000 miles away, some of you have to deal with the colder temperatures or driving far from Boston late at night. But from a pure TV experience, the night games are pretty cool.

Three Simple Keys
1. Dominate on the Offensive Line. That's really the only way we are winning this game. Brown needs time. The RBs need holes. It will all start up front. 
2. Win the turnover battle. I hate these sorts of cliche keys, but with Addazio -- who is so unwilling to take chances -- any possession lost is huge.
3. Landry needs to get two sacks. This isn't just about padding stats. We need him to create enough havoc and get to the QB so that it disrupts their whole offense.

Gambling Notes
-- Virginia Tech leads the series 16-6
-- Addazio has lost two straight to the Hokies
-- Fuente is 6-1 on the road as VT's coach
The current line is BC+16.5

BC has not played Virginia Tech at night in Alumni since 2008

Scoreboard Watching
Florida State-Miami used to be a big deal. Maybe it will be again some day. This year all we should really care about is if Florida State is a mess. They've had some injuries and tough breaks. If they get killed against the 'Canes, maybe there is a chance BC can beat them too.

I hope to see...
Denis get another INT. This might be the type of season where we have to milk any good publicity we get. Denis leading the country in interceptions would be a nice bit of acclaim.

BC is in trouble if...
Virginia Tech scores more than 24. We are not prepared or coached to win a shoot out.

I don't know what to make of this game. There is part of me that believes that BC has enough talent and enough strengths in the right place to pull off an upset. What's frustrating and sad is that I don't trust Addazio to do all the things within the game to make that happen. I think it will play out like many of our recent Power 5 games. BC will be close for the majority of the game and fall apart in the 4th quarter.
Final Score: BC 20, Virginia Tech 31

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Virginia Tech was also unique in how they handled the end of Beamer's career

Since Addazio used Virginia Tech as a model for patience earlier in the week. They were unique in how they gave Frank Beamer more time in the early 1990s than a Power 5 would typically give a coach today. But that was then, this is now. Virginia Tech also broke with college football conventional wisdom with how it handled the end of Beamer's career. Instead of letting their icon hang around too long like Florida State and Penn State did, they put heavy pressure on him to retire when things started slipping.

In Beamer's last four years he went 7-6, 8-5, 7-6, and 7-6. Leadership saw enough. Winningest coach in school history. So what? Six conference titles! What have you done for me lately? Beloved alumni who wanted to see his son or long-time assistant take over. Not gonna happen! Beamer was 68.

Now they still took care of him. He's still visible. Still celebrated and still paid. But that's it. The performance of the football team was too valuable to let it slip into mediocrity.

Addazio's best seasons at BC don't even exceed Beamer's waning days in Blacksburg. Tuesday I told him to stop talking. Now I am suggesting he proceeds more carefully in his examples. Virginia Tech's current leadership wouldn't put up with his results on the field.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Addazio needs to learn to say nothing

Each week Addazio has media responsibilities. The format is pretty predictable. At some point he will get a general question about his upcoming opponent that allows him to riff on that school in pretty much any direction he wants to go. For Virginia Tech, there is clearly something on Addazio's mind. In both his press conference Monday and his radio show, he referenced Virginia Tech's patience with Frank Beamer as the reason for their success today. To the highly cynical it seems like Addazio is shaping the narrative that he needs to return to BC for a 6th year. I am also predicting that as he speaks with the ESPN crew covering the game, he will emphasize the injuries. ESPN will be sure to mention it during the game and probably flash up a helpful graphic. I understand why Addazio is doing this, but he needs to stop. It is only going to make things worse at BC.

I am not telling the coach to stop talking to the media. That is an essential part of the job. Instead, when he does talk to them, whether it is about Virginia Tech or another opponent or Alabama or whatever, just answer in the most banal, empty way. "They've got a great team...", "We've got our hands full...", "We can do it...", "It has been a great week of practice..." , etc. Don't give VT any bulletin board material but also don't do anything to anger your own fans. 

When Addazio talks about Virginia Tech's patience or tells an ESPN crew, who is presumably less familiar with BC, about our injuries, it comes off as self-serving. Down the road, we can talk about whether or not Virginia Tech in the early '90s is a good comparison to current BC (it's not), but Addazio bringing it up has nothing to do with this game or winning this game! He needs to focus on how he is going to beat the Hokies this week. If he is trying to use the media to get a message to fans and recruits, he needs to take a different tone. If you are trying to shape a narrative, have it be that the players are getting better and we can win every game left on the schedule. Don't have it be about patience or struggling in Year 5! 

The injury talk has the same effect. I know he's frustrated with all the injuries. You know who is also frustrated? Every team in the country! Injuries happen everywhere. It is up to the coach to work through them or recruit at such a level that it does not hold the team back. The only loss that you might successfully argue was due to injury was Wake Forest. Since then the Offensive Line backups have played well and the Linebacker backups have been better. Getting blown out by Notre Dame and Clemson can not be explained away by the injury bug. 

Addazio has a new boss and relatively new Sports Information Director. Neither were around for his Year 3 disaster. They might not be aware on how heavily he leaned on injuries as a media narrative then. If you keep using the same excuses, the people paying attention -- the diehard fans -- are going to see through it. And with hindsight, you can start to see that 2015's struggles were not really based on injuries. Addazio had the best D in the country and clearly didn't have the offense ready. He's churned through coordinators and QBs since and still doesn't have the answers. 

Jarmond will have to make a decision on Addazio as the season progresses. I hope he realizes that media narrative does not matter. Winning games does. Addazio needs to stop using the press to preserve his job and instead use all of his energy on turning things around. 

Monday, October 02, 2017

Louisville game time and other links

Following a national television night game against Virginia Tech, BC will take on Louisville on the ACC Regional Network. That's the regional syndication network powered by Raycom. The game starts at 12:20 pm. Whatever local station carried the Raycom games in your market will probably carry it again. The station list will be ready next week.

Zach Allen had his best game of the season. This was one of the notable highlights. 

New Jersey 3 star Elijah McAllister visited during the Central Michigan game. Most see him as a Tight End, but we are recruiting him as a DE and a Landry replacement.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Central Michigan

[UPDATE: Sorry for the chopped copy and typos. I wrote it late Sunday and pushed out a draft instead of the final.]

Addazio thinks his issues are injuries. The reality is that it is offense. This game reinforced that. Addazio waste scoring opportunities and that is a primary reason why these games can be frustrating live and rewatching. This week the place to point was the FG attempts. But there was more than that. Fumbles on potential scoring drives. Bad execution on a few critical plays. If anything, Addazio's recruiting (i.e. superior talent) is what won this game. Not some sort of brilliant game plan or great adjustment.

Offense: B-

They kept it simple for Brown and he was fine. Mostly short passes. He is still not as accurate as we need. There were times when he threw behind guys and they had to stop or adjust. I did appreciate that he was more willing to tuck and run as needed.

Dillon was over 100 yards for the first time. Much of that was behind good holes from the line but he did make a few reads and cuts that were good. Hilliman was productive too. The TDs are a big deal, although it felt like it was less about him making a big play. More like it was his turn on the drive. 

The OLine was good. The only big mistake -- the safety -- seemed more like an unaccounted for corner rushing in. I don't think that was a missed assignment on Montiero. Petrula had a snap issue, but in general played well. There were lots of big holes on the right side.

I don't know why our WRs can't break bigger plays. I guess, I am glad they are showing solid hands and pulling things in, but where are the big runs after the catch? The three main targets -- Sweeney, White and Smith -- were fine but we didn't open things up nor break anything open. Thadd Smith got swallowed up on his one sweep. Sometimes he might need to read and cut up field. 

It seemed like BC wanted to run the ball and given the field position, it made sense. BC never really put Brown at risk and did what it needed to do. But that doesn't mean the Loeffler didn't have some issues. There were some slow developing plays -- the first 4th down, the safety -- that are so frustrating given the time and place of the game. In those moments, execution is primary and we continue to look sloppy. 

Defense: A-

Landry is basically our defensive decoy. I understand moving him around. I don't love the idea of him getting snaps at LB. Anyway, while he is getting all the attention, it enabled the rest of the DL to have their best games. Ray looked good. Allen had some big plays. Ray Smith was solid.

Bletzer keeps playing better than I thought he would. He's blown up that quick pass to the flat multiple times. He's making tackles. Lamont is very active too. New LBs sometimes seem a step behind the play, but Lamont is pursuing with authority. Schwab was good. 

Denis is having a great year. I know many of his INTs are just bad throws that he is waiting on as sort of a center fielder. But he is still tackling well. Still doing well in coverage. Harris was fine. He's active but I still feel like he is also missing some guys too. Yiadom and Moore were both good. 

One thing that bothered me -- and I feel like it is becoming an issue -- was the continued missed tackling. How many times did Central Michigan extend a play when the initial tackler didn't make a stip and no one helped? Reid and Addazio need to fix that issue. Reid didn't need to do much creatively. Central Michigan played that poorly.

Special Teams: B+

The only reason for the lower Special Teams grade was due to the missed field goals. I hope they don't become an issue.

Walker really shined. I know CMU screwed up the punts and coverage, but Walker still made good decisions on fielding them and was very aggressive on the returns. Those returns calmed the O and changed the game.

Knoll was good. The kickoffs were fine. It didn't make a difference but I thought it was interesting that BC elected to kick after the safety instead of punt.

Overall: B-

I hope he learned his lesson on 4th down, but my fear is Addazio did not learn anything. I think he still views game plans as those reserved for powers and those used against weaklings. What he should see on 4th is that good things happened on one of the drives, leading to a score. And on failed attempt, it did not lead to CMU points directly. 

If Dillon is really banged up than keeping him on the field late will be viewed as another mistake. I actually have no quibble with Dillon getting caries late. He's young and the idea is to help him grow and develop. More snaps does that.

Beyond strategy and player usage, the one thing that I do give Addazio credit for is not doing a full panic when Central Michigan got the safety early. When things are going poorly, a moment like that can seem like "here we go again." But it wasn't. Instead the team stuck with the game plan and overpowered Central Michigan.

BC should have scored more. BC should have tackled better. But in the end, they did enough to win. I don't feel better about Addazio, but I hope this serves as a boost to the team.