Saturday, November 18, 2017

In-game comments post: UConn

We've got UConn at Fenway. It should feel special. I hope it is a blowout. Let's get things back on track.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday picks

Picks in bold

TCU-6 at Texas Tech

Minnesota+7 at Northwestern

Texas+3 at West Virginia

Fresno State-2.5 at Wyoming

UMass+4.5 at BYU

Georgia Tech-6.5 at Duke

Army+2.5 at North Texas

Arizona+2.5 at Oregon

Texas A&M+2.5 at Ole Miss

NC State+1.5 at Wake Forest

Last week I went 7-3. For the season I am 53-53-3.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

BC-UConn preview

This is a layup game. A gimme. A cupcake. I don't care who starts at QB, BC should win with ease. I feel confident. And I know that is the worst feeling to have. We know how this could end. If Addazio does screw it up, there will be Hell to pay with the fans, his new boss and obviously the blogosphere.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I don't know if I will ever change my opinion of UConn. In sports, I have always found them insufferable. Even something like Women's Basketball -- where they have clearly been the best -- they come off like bullies and blowhards. The Big East lawsuits will always serve as a sign that they were the most jealous and petty school in the Northeast. I think Gene D. screwed up a lot of things, but keeping UConn out of the ACC (in favor of Pitt) will always be something for which I thank him.

Three Simple Keys
1. Don't let UConn's QB beat us with his feet. The Huskies made a QB change this week and the new guy Pindell can move. BC can't let him have big plays on the ground.
2. No mistakes from BC's QB. I know Addazio said he needs more than a game manager, but he also can't have someone who kills drives. So no INTs and no fumbles.
3. Get 200 yards from Dillon. If Dillon can pile up big yards, that means good things are happening. It will also help BC's D and control the tempo.

Gambling Notes
-- BC has never lost to UConn
-- Addazio is 1-4 at neutral site games while at BC
-- Addazio is 13-15 coming off a loss while at BC
The current line is BC-21.5

Factoid
This will be BC's 77th game at Fenway Park.

Scoreboard Watching
Louisville could eliminate Syracuse from bowl contention this week and change the dynamic of our game with the Orange.

What I hope to see...
I want to see Levy get more snaps in the backfield. If you are taking Dillon out on passing downs, put in someone who will block well and pick up a late blitzer.

BC is in trouble if...
We allow UConn to score early. They are looking for any sort of momentum. BC can't let that happen. Take their team and the crowd out of it early.

Overall
I know BC is a heavy favorite, but I don't see the game being lopsided on the scoreboard. I think the weather and BC's QB uncertainty lead to Addazio going very conservative. I think we pound the ball and end up with a comfortable but not overwhelming lead.
Final Score: BC 31, UConn 17

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NC State loss didn't seem to impact BC's desirability to bowls

If BC had pulled off the win against NC State and run the table, we might have elevated into a higher level bowl. Now it seems like we are back where we started in the lowest rung of ACC games. Most experts see BC still going to the Pinstripe Bowl (here and here). Detroit is still in the mix. El Paso could happen. I think most BC fans would prefer the Pinstripe. The location -- while cold -- is accessible to a good portion of our fans. Most seemed to enjoy our last game there. Plus it would likely be against a Big Ten team so there is a chance to get a respectable win. But this is not settled. There are a few variables that will impact the ACC bowl pool. Here are some of the unknown issues.

1. Will BC win a sixth game? Without that, we stay home.
2.  Will Syracuse win a sixth game? To do so would involve beating BC. If they beat us Thanksgiving weekend, they will probably take the Pinstripe slot.
3. Will Florida State win a sixth game? They also have to run their table. On name alone, they would probably pass BC in bowl selections?
4. Will Pitt or Duke become bowl eligible? I don't think either would take a Pinstripe slot over BC, but they would become interchangeable on the other ACC games.

I don't think all the ACC teams still alive will make bowls. If they do, then suddenly BC is looking at even lower rung bowls. But now all we can do is take care of our business Saturday. Win that game and BC is going somewhere.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Perry in the mix


In his press conference Monday, Steve Addazio said all options are on the table, including playing true freshman EJ Perry. This should not be a surprise since there have been plenty of signs that the staff was high on Perry. The most basic is that Perry seems to shadow Addazio on the sidelines. There's always the No. 8 just over Addazio's shoulder. The other clue on Perry's standing is that over the past few weeks Meter and Cronin have brought him up on their broadcasts. This weekend all the talk and promise could shift from "what if" to actual playing time.

Some BC fans don't think it is fair or wise to use Perry now with just two games remaining. I don't really think it is the fans' call. Addazio mentioned having a talk with Perry and his parents about playing him now. If he and the Perrys want EJ on the field, why should we care about his redshirt? He can always redshirt again down the road. As much as more time and development helps a career, it doesn't guarantee anything. Look at all the "development" time Darius Wade has had. Does it show on the field? Does Wade's seem more comfortable in the pocket than he did two years ago? Playing now gives Perry a chance to see live action and something beyond practice.

If Perry does prove to be better than Wade and they beat UConn, he suddenly gets a chance to practice with the first team for month of bowl prep. The downside is if Perry struggles and only plays a little bit. Then he has little to show and has to sit another year. But either way if Perry plays now, sitting down the road is almost inevitable. You would have to assume he would want to be in a different eligibility year than Brown so that he could be the starter after Brown uses up his eligibility.

Even with the uncertain QB status, BC remains a heavy favorite over UConn. There is no reason BC should lose this game. Wade seems like the best answer, but I don't want BC to struggle if Perry is ready to go.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Brown out of year; Addazio gets no free pass

Some bad but not unexpected news on the injury front. Anthony Brown is done for the year.


This is unfortunate and very disappointing. While inconsistent and raw, Brown played very well as a Freshman and was a key part of BC's best games. I hope for a speedy and smooth recovery and look forward to him playing again.

HOWEVER...

BC sits at 5-5 with UConn and Syracuse remaining. Win won game and BC goes bowling. Lose both and BC is home with a 5-7 record in Year 5. If Addazio cannot get one win from these two struggling teams, he does not deserve to come back. Injuries are bad luck and BC has been unlucky this year, but a good coach manages games around injuries and a good program builder has an effective plan for his back up quarterback.

Darius Wade is the presumptive starter. Fadule is out for the year too, so I assume true freshman EJ Perry is the backup. I know Addazio wanted to redshirt Perry, but if Wade is not up to the task, I say play Perry now. If he helps beat UConn, then all of a sudden he is starting games as a true freshman and starting a bowl game. He can always redshirt next year if he and his parents want that extra year. But the point remains, Addazio has to pull out all the stops and get BC to a bowl game and finish with a winning record. UConn is terrible. There is no reason BC can't win just by handing it off to Dillon 30+ times.

When Addazio beat FSU, I said he was safe. Now -- because he mismanaged the NC State game -- that breathing room is gone. If he can't get this team ready without Brown, BC needs to make a change.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: NC State

This is the type of game that reinforces my belief that Addazio will never be a great coach. The way he manages and prepares for a game limits his upside. There won't be a season where everything goes way because much like TOB, he will make in game decisions that limit BC's ability to win. This was one of those games. There was plenty of bad luck -- like losing Brown -- but ultimately Addazio's approach cost the team. Watching it back was very frustrating.

Offense: C

I know Wade has not had consistent playing time, but how can his feel for pressure still be so bad? The game should be slowing down for him at this point. Not the other way around. I don't think the staff put him in good position to win, but he looked lost and unsure in the pocket. It was not pretty. Brown was okay before he got hurt. He got greedy on the INT pass. He was running well prior to getting hurt.

Dillon was very good again. Beyond pushing the pile or shrugging off tacklers, he is getting better at finding holes and reading blocks. This will lead to more and more big runs. Hilliman was not as good. If he is going to be in on passing downs, he needs to do a better job blocking. Levy had a nice catch. Maybe he should get a shot on passing downs.

Considering they were going against a great DLine, the Oline played well. They got good push most of the day. The sacks were mostly because Wade didn't get rid of the ball quickly enough or Hilliman didn't help. Lindstrom struggled he most, but also had the toughest assignment.

The WRs and tight ends blocked well. Sweeney had some nice catches. Thadd Smith's run was great. Jeff Smith made a tough catch in traffic. White was okay.

Where was the play calling from the Florida State game? This time it was Dillon, Dillon and then pray the QBs don't screw it up. Most frustrating was that when Wade came in, they didn't adjust to his strengths. Why have him sit in the pocket so many times? Why not do more of what worked against Louisville? And how could he looked so ill prepared? I usually don't want more jet sweeps, but there were so many that could have worked. NC State was not respecting the play and Thadd and Jeff Smith should have gotten more touches. I also don't know what was going on with the final possession, but get into that more in the Addazio section below.

Defense: B

The DLine played well. Allen had a big game. Merritt was also really disruptive. I was surprised by how many times they were blowing over NC State guys or worse getting tackled by a desperate NC State lineman. There should have been about four or five holding calls that weren't called. Ray was good. Smith played well too.

Schwab was great again. He is playing his best football right at the end of his career. He made good tackles and the INT was a nice heads up play. Lamont was really good too. He is reading plays well. Bletzer had some trouble in coverage, but his fumble pick up was nice.

Moore played well before the injury. Denis and Harris both missed some tackles. Yiadom played very well and was acknowledged repeatedly by Huard. Cheevers, Torres and McClary were fine as replacements.

I know the score was okay, but I didn't love the strategy. We brought plenty of pressure -- some as a blitz and some as just the front four. But the blitzing seemed to almost enable Finley. He handled it and converted too many 3rd downs. The D was good, but given the offense it needed to be perfect.

Special Teams: B

Knoll punted very well and placed the ball within the 20.

Walker bobbled on kick return but looked good on another.

The kickoffs were not as good. I assume the cold was an issue. The kick and punt coverage was ok. Not great.

Overall: C-

Aside from not adjusting when Wade went in, here are some of the really questionable approaches.

1. The jump pass from Hilliman. This was Addazio trying to be Urban Meyer and falling flat on his face. The reason is worked with Tim Tebow twice was in part because Tebow was enough of a passer that he could adjust and flip it midair. It also worked because Tebow was enough of a threat that no DBs stayed home. Hilliman is not that same guy. The NC State safety read the play right away and Hilliman never looked like he was trying to run for the first down. It was a terrible play on many levels. I would have preferred a FG, but if the weather had you worried about the FG attempt, why not run it with Dillon? Instead you put in a liability and run a trick play. Ugly and dumb.

2. The clock management before the first half. In general, I am against wasting possessions. However, you could sort of rationalize killing clock when you have your back up in the game. But once Doeren starts using his timeouts, you have to adjust your plan. Addazio didn't. On third down you need to call a bootleg with Wade and tell him don't throw an interception and down throw the ball away. Wade needs to roll, use a few more seconds and hopefully hit an open TE or WR. Instead we ran it right into their DL and let Doeren stop the clock. NC State's ensuing points were the difference and Addazio bungled another two minute situation.

3. Not using Dillon in the final drive. You have three minutes. That is an eternity in college football. Why is your most dynamic player on the bench? There was still time to run Dillon. Also, if he is on the field, NC State is focused on him and maybe that opens up another player or area of the field.

Doeren made some equally head scratching decisions. He nearly gave the game away, only Addazio wouldn't take it from him.

I am frustrated. For a few weeks it looked like we might have enough pieces to overcome Addazio's limitations. Now it doesn't seem that way. He's going to need a lot more talent to overcome how he manages close games.

UConn should be an easy win. If he blows this one, then a coaching change comes back into discussion.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Not so beautiful

During the win streak nearly everything went right. Saturday, a lot went wrong as BC lost a very winnable game against NC State. The spin will be losing Anthony Brown to some sort of knee injury was the major reason for the loss. I disagree. Wade was frustrating coming off the bench, but Addazio did not put him in the best position to succeed. I also don't think Addazio did a great job in the final few minutes.

Dillon had another huge game, but the offense couldn't get enough going to capitalize. Overall the D played well, but there was still some bad tackling and way too many 3rd down conversions.

Now UConn becomes a must win and Addazio must figure out what to do if he is stuck with Wade.

I will have grades and thoughts up late Sunday.

Below is the abbreviated post-game Periscope.

In-game comments post: NC State

Can BC make it four in a row? Let's see. Go BC!

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Basketball beats Maine in opener

Considering how uneven the early season games have been the past few years, BC's easy win against Maine was welcome. Bowman scored 18, while Hawkins scored 15 in his BC debut. The next game is Sunday against South Carolina State. 

Friday picks

Picks in bold.

Temple-3 at Cincinnati

Nebraska+2.5 at Minnesota

Duke-3 at Army

Texas Tech-7.5 at Baylor

Virginia Tech-3 at Georgia Tech

Wake Forest (PK) at Syracuse

Georgia-2 at Auburn

Kentucky+2 at Vanderbilt

Purdue+3.5 at Northwestern

Notre Dame-3 at Miami

Last week I went 6-3-1. For the season I am 46-50-3.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

BC-NC State preview

I've worried about the time off for two weeks. Now we are back to playing football. But will it be the explosive dynamic football BC played during the win steak or will all that momentum be gone? Addazio pulled out "must wins" when he needed them most. This game is not in that category, but it is a good measurement of this team's maturity and skill. NC State is reeling and BC is rested. A good team wins this game.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Some in the North Carolina media are wondering why BC has dominated this series in football (8 wins, 4 losses) since joining the conference. Much of this is luck and timing, but I do think TOB was a big factor. He lost to a really bad NC State team in 2006 with some terrible decisions. Then from 2007 until 2012, it was very important to Gene to beat TOB, so it became important to Jags and Spaz. (Remember Spaz even ran up the score on TOB in 2009. Addazio's dominance over Doeren (3-1) also has a TOB element. Addazio won the first two games when he took over Spaz's roster and Doeren had TOB's former players.

Three Simple Keys
1. Establish the run early. Notre Dame and Clemson both ran on NC State successfully. We should be able to run also. It will really come down to the OLine.
2. Great DB play. Finley is pretty accurate and will dink and dunk us to death if given the chance. We need good tackling. A pick wouldn't hurt either.
3. No mistakes from Brown. NC State will bring pressure. He can't chuck up the ball or take bad sacks.

Gambling Notes
-- Doeren is 1-0 at Alumni
-- BC leads the all time series 9-5
-- Addazio is 3-1 on Senior Day
The current line is BC+3

Factoid
I don't know how much context this needs, but TOB's record at BC (74-45) was dramatically better than his record at NC State (40-35).

Scoreboard Watching
Wake Forest and Syracuse is pretty important to those BC fans who want a Pinstripe Bowl invite. The Orange need to win two out of three to get bowl eligible. Wake can do us a huge favor by beating them this week.

I hope to see...
A big turnout. This weather should be ok. The time slot is not a burden. BC gave the fans a great experience last time on the field. Let's follow it up with a nice showing in the stands.

BC is in trouble if...
There is no pressure on Finley. I don't want to blitz him Don Brown style, but the front four does need to make some plays and collapse the pocket. If Finley has time, he will pick apart BC's D.

Overall
Even before BC's turnaround, I liked our chances in this matchup. If you include how both teams are entering this game, I like it even more. I think BC establishes the run early and breaks NC State's spirit.
Final Score: BC 28, NC State 16

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

I was probably wrong about Bruce Pearl


For years I dreamed of Bruce Pearl returning "home" to his Alma mater as Boston College Head Basketball Coach. I knew it would never happen. First, the timing was never right. When the job opened up after Skinner, I knew Pearl would not take a pay cut to leave Tennessee. When it opened up after Donahue, I knew his NCAA show clause would be a non-starter with BC's Administration. Yet during both of those windows, I would have gladly taken him. I would have overlooked his shady reputation for the chance at him winning big at BC. In hindsight, I realize now how wrong I was. College Basketball is a corrupt cesspool where nearly everyone is dirty, but Bruce Pearl is clearly an elite level rule breaker and his unwillingness to cooperate with Auburn is just another example that he is more trouble than he is worth.

Now I know Pearl has every right to protect himself. His former assistant Chuck Person facing federal charges. If I were Pearl, I wouldn't talk to anyone from the FBI to the NCAA without a lawyer present. However, Auburn is his employer and he is under contract. I am sure there could be some lawyer supervised cooperation that he could contribute. If history is any indicator, he is going to get a big payout when Auburn gets around to firing him. He is probably not going to get another college coaching job in his life. Why not be gracious and cooperative on your way out the door?

As I have written a lot lately, I don't think BC is perfectly clean in all of this. But now I understand how Pearl would never have been welcome as Coach. BC might be place where we look the other way on small issues, but we were never going to let someone like Pearl do his own thing and take down whoever is around him. College coaches tend to be a self-centered bunch, but Pearl is only thinking about Pearl and that hurts all the coaches he employed, players he recruited and the University that paid him. BC is lucky that after he left, he never came back.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

How did BC use the bye week to boost recruiting

Coaches will often say a bye week is as important for recruiting as it is for current player recuperation. Because of the time off, more assistants can hit the road and some of the time usually dedicated to film study can be used to study recruits.

Based on twitter, you can see which prospects got visits and offers last week. There is no real pattern as we have West coast and East coast, recruits for the current class and those who are years away. Take a look:

2019 California Linebacker Spencer Lytle got an offer last week. BC first spotted him at a UCLA camp last summer. He is family friends with Matt Milano, so that certainly helps a defensive recruit see how a player can blossom at BC.

Ron Dayne's son Javian also got an offer last week. He is a prospect for the current recruiting class. It is surprising that a kid in Big Ten country whose dad won the Heisman wouldn't generate more interest.

Rakim Jarrett is a DC-area recruit from the 2020 class. Althought he is two years away, he already has interest from a ton of schools. It will be interesting if BC stays on his radar.

Jordon Morant is another 2020 prospect. I feel a little better about BC keeping in touch with him since we've worked Bergan Catholic hard lately and he will have teammates on campus soon.

Mekhail Sherman is also 2020. I don't know which side of the ball BC is recruiting him. Based on his own profiles, it looks like he expects to play D.

BC is also offering class of 2021 kids -- current high school freshmen.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Report: Landry's status remains in question

Per The Heights, Harold Landry missed practice this weekend and his status for the NC State game remains unknown.

At this point, there is really no reason to play Landry unless he is healthy. Once, his presence drew attention and created opportunities for teammates. Now that he is known to be gimpy, it is not like NC State is changing their gameplan around based on him taking the field. The DLine was pretty good without him last game. If he is not close to 100%, the other options are probably better than an injured Landry this game.

NC State should be a good match up for Landry. They will pass and the QB will stay in the pocket. It would be great for him to be ready. I just hope that he is ready sooner rather than later. I want this senior season to be worth it to him and BC.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

NC State opens as favorite in BC game

If you believe in momentum, you would think that BC would be a home favorite against an NC State team coming off of two losses. That is not what the bookmakers or betting public think. Mot of the major sports books now have NC State as a 3-point favorite.

I don't care about BC being a home underdog. I track spreads as a gauge into what the experts think. There is clearly more respect for BC than there was a month ago. But it is clear NC State's recent losses are not derailing the perception of their season. It will be interesting to see if this spread fluctuates like the Florida State game or if NC State -3 remains.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

BC-NC State game at noon

The ACC released their schedule for next weekend and BC's game with NC State will take place at noon. It will be on ABC or ESPN 2 depending on your region.

This was somewhat expected as NC State lost the past two weeks. This diminished their national appeal. The Wolfpack will still be favored, but they come in reeling.

This game will be the last home game of the season and Senior Day. I hope the fans turnout and show up before the game to support the players. This could be a fun end to an unpredictable season.

Hockey completes sweep of Merrimack

Hockey had its best weekend of the season as it completed a sweep or Merrimack with 2-1 Saturday. The win improved BC to 3-5-1 and 3-1 in Hockey East.

BC plays UConn Tuesday and then has a weekend series with Vermont next weekend.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Sagay to transfer

With the season about to start, BC announced that sophomore G/F Mike Sagay will transfer. Sagay was one of those guys who showed potential but was still very, very raw. As much as I hate losing players with upside, I am taking this transfer as a good sign. If Sagay doesn't think he can get minutes on this team this year, then there is a chance the team is improved. Best of luck to him. He did not announce where he is headed.

Friday picks

Picks in bold

Penn State-10 at Michigan State

Baylor-7.5 at Kansas

Kansas State+3.5 at Texas Tech

Syracuse+7 at Florida State

Georgia State-4 at Georgia Southern

Army+6 at Air Force

Stanford+1 at Washington

Northwestern-2 at Nebraska

Maryland-3 at Rutgers

Iowa State+3.5 at West Virginia

Last week I went 5-5. For the season I am 40-47-2.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Is the bye coming at the wrong time?

BC is the hottest team in the conference. For the first time in years, the offense is clicking. We have a QB who seems to grow in confidence every week. It feels like we could take on Alabama. Instead we have a bye.

Bye weeks can be very helpful. Your players get a chance to get healthy. You also get extra time to prepare for the next opponent. But Addazio's track record with byes is not great. He is 2-9 at BC following a bye week (he was 2-2 off of byes at Temple).

Some of Addazio's struggles are probably less about a bye and more about bad football. In 2015 we didn't beat anyone -- bye, short week, back-to-back road games, etc. But even beyond that, he has not done well. I don't know if it is a focus issue or just dumb luck. My only explanation is that in general Addazio is not some sort of Xs & Os guru, so that extra time doesn't serve his strengths. He's not cooking up some sort of unique twist. But the areas where he excels -- motivating players, getting them to buy in and grind it out, is not served by the time off. The players catching their breathes or losing focus for even a week, is hard to overcome. Who knows? There is no easy way to explain it. The record is the record.

While I don't love the bye placement this season, I think the bigger issue will be who our opponent plays. NC State lost to Notre Dame last week and plays Clemson this week. Those are two tough, emotional games. I like having to play them after they have faced the best. I think it helps our chances as they may be discouraged or beat down.

Unrelated to this actual game is the extra recruiting time the bye provides. Maybe that is the way Addazio overcomes his bye issues:  recruit so much talent that you can't lose.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Moving up computer and human polls and other links

I didn't mention this earlier in the week, but BC keeps climbing the ACC's Power Rankings. That's pretty subjective. But what is a little more interesting is that BC climbed to 40th on the ESPN Football Power Index, which is an ESPN designed objective formula. If we beat NC State, I think we might start receiving votes in the AP Poll. 

The North Carolina media keeps mentioning that BC's backcourt came from the state and was ignored by the local hoops powers. 

BC hosted many local recruits during the Florida State game. Here is what one 2019 WR had to say.

If you haven't already noticed, the ACC is putting up condensed versions of the conference games. It is actually a pretty useful tool if you want to revisit more than just the highlights.

The ACC named Field Hockey players Ymke Rose Gote and Frederique Haverhals the 2017 All Conference Second Team.