Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday picks

Last week was my first winning weekend of the season. I will keep it moving in the right direction this week.

Picks in bold

Navy-6.5 at SMU

Minnesota+2.5 at Maryland

Notre Dame-7 at Wake Forest

Pitt-3.5 at UNC

South Carolina-2.5 at Vanderbilt

TCU-3 at Texas

Florida-4 at Tennessee

NC State-5 at Marshall

Michigan State-5.5 at Indiana

Stanford-2.5 at Oregon

I went 5-4-1 last week. I am 11-20-1 on the season.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

BC-Purdue preview

Can you call a Big Ten road game, a trap game? That's what this feels like. I know Purdue is 0-3, but they lost their first game by four, their second by one and their last by three. That's bad luck. They could just as easily be 3-0. I hope BC is ready and not taking this for granted.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game) 
This might have been more important in the BC blogging and message board world, than the fanbase at large, but earlier this week The Heights published an article that said Addazio was calling the plays in the beginning of last year before handing it over to Loeffler. Then the O took off. BC -- via Sports Information -- said the article wasn't true and The Heights took it down. I don't know if the contents of the article are true. I can't even link to it now since the Heights pulled it. My bigger concern and complaint is that the Athletic Department even has to fight these sorts of battles with the student newspaper. I am all for accuracy, but too often BC coaches (past and present) are worried about perception and credit. My suggestion to them is to stop paying attention to what is being said and written about them and focus on the players and the game. You work in one of the true objective professions where your success is measured in a public way. Don't get caught up in what the crowd thinks. It is not productive. Just win and watch how little the message boards, blogs and twitter even matter. Don't worry about credit. If you truly want to recognize the difference makers between winning and losing, shine more light on the players. They never get enough credit. I know Sports Information is just doing their job, but come on, let one Heights article fade away and worry about promoting the Purdue game.

Three Simple Keys
1. Be stubborn with the run. I imagine, like everyone else, Purdue is going to sell out to stop the run. BC needs to keep pounding it anyway. Good things will happen and we will break some big plays. I also want to see BC run so they can control the tempo and clock. Last week our D was worn out and tired. Purdue will try the same thing if we don't control the clock.
2. No Special Teams mistakes. This is obvious but still important.
3. The DLine needs to win upfront. I don't care if Purdue runs one play or 100. Our DTs need to step up and keep them from running wild.

Gambling Notes
-- Brohm is 4-5 at home while at Purdue
-- BC is 1-7 on the road against Big Ten schools
-- Addazio is 19-6 in non-conference games at BC
The current line is BC-6.5

Scoreboard Watching
Notre Dame-Wake Forest. I know Addazio praised Wake, but I don't think they are that good. How they play against the Irish will tell us if we beat a good team or got fortunate that mistakes didn't hurt us because Wake was so weak.

Factoid
With the game, BC will have now played 10 of the 14 Big Ten schools. We have yet to play Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

I hope to see... 
Dillon used in the passing game. People will be expecting the play action. Now on his release get him the ball as a pass catcher. It will lead to big plays.

BC is in trouble if...
Zach Allen doesn't have a big game. I know he is the focus of protection, but we still need him to make plays and get them off schedule.

Overall
I think this will be another shootout. I think like last week, BC gets a lead and then it goes back and forth for much of the game. There will be a late turnover that helps BC close it out in the 4th quarter.
Final Score: BC 38, Purdue 30

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

BC adds another basketball recruit

Maryland wing Kamari Williams verballed to BC Wednesday. He's 6'8 and the son of NBA veteran Walt Williams. He seems like a bit of a project but there is a lot to like about his future.

Currently the recruiting services do not list any other major offers for Williams. Supposedly he was considered a strong possibility for UMass and had interest from Power 5s. The BC commitment will likely catch someone's attention and bring in another P5 suitor.

I have no problem with another under the radar recruit who has a famous father. Williams' frame is promising and we will need a player with some positional flexibility. What I also like is that he is from one of Scott Spinelli's primary recruiting areas (DC/Maryland). Spinelli knows the area well and probably has a good understanding of how a player from there will fit in under Christian and where he can take his game.

Welcome to BC Kamari. I hope you have a bright future on the Heights.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Brown hype building

Praise for AJ Dillon is not new. We heard it all summer. Seeing BC in the Top 25 is not unexpected. A good start and the sleeper talk from voters allowed BC to move into the rankings quickly. What is surprising is this early speculation about Anthony Brown. The AP's own hype machine is touting Brown's start in relation to its All-America team! This is a guy who wouldn't have been included in a discussion of the ACC's best preseason QBs. Now he is getting featured by the organization that produces the most prominent All America team in College Football.

Obviously this is very early in the process and probably premature. Even if Brown remains the FBS passing leader, an older or more high profile QB will probably get the call. But for Brown to get this sort of praise this early in the season is a nice surprise. As long as he keeps putting up big numbers and BC keeps winning, the praise will grow. So let's keep it going. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Wake Forest

[First a little bit of an explanation. Through the entire history of the blog, watching BC Football live and then rewatching it was not an issue or a challenge. Even as I had children, their activities tended to be more morning-based. Now increasingly my Saturday afternoons are spent watching (and coaching) their games and following BC on my phone or in the car. My Sundays in the fall are very busy too with volunteer work, leaving even less time to rewatch. I think rewatching is very valuable as a fan and blogger, so I plan to keep it up. However, I don't know if I can plan to regularly pump it out by Sunday night. Thanks for your continued support.]

For as dominant as an offensive performance as that was, the game was far, far from clean and did leave me with concerns. Beyond the Special Teams miscues, the OLine and DLine were not as consistent as they will need to be against elite competition. The conditioning issue -- which was mentioned on the broadcast multiple times -- also should have us and Addazio worried. Given the talent advantage and explosive plays, it never should have been that close. Watching it a second time only confirmed that belief.

Offense: A-

Brown looked even better than he did against UMass and Holy Cross. His deep throws weren't perfect but they were still pretty close. He didn't force things. He also was a little more accurate on his short passes. I would still like to see him running more but depends on his knee.

Dillon ran well. He didn't do anything to top some of his previous highlights, but his runs were solid and explosive. I would like to see him more in the passing game. Levy only got a few snaps.

I know a lot of guys are winning awards this week, but Jeff Smith might be most deserving. His hands have gotten so much better. He runs really well and his speed is impressive. If he stays healthy and teams keep leaving him open, he will have a huge season. White had a nice TD, as did Glines. Sweeney made a great adjustment on his TD. We didn't get the TEs more involved, but probably should have. There were lots of plays available.

The OLine was the most troubling spot. I know it is tough when the opponent sells out to stop the run, but that wasn't the main problem. In straight up powers, the oline looked good. When they had to move -- stretches, traps, counters, -- things broke down a bit. The counter seems to be the best play. The power sweep would seem to be a good idea but it was never very clean during the game. Monteiro seemed to struggle the most when moving or pulling. Schmaal was good. Petrula did a good job with the edge. If teams are going to keep challenging the OLine, they need to be ready for speedy penetration.

My only critique of the Offensive gameplan was too much variety in the run game. We tried a bit of everything and it was hit or miss. I think keeping things simple, especially when you have someone like Dillon, is the best plan. All he needs is one missed tackle and he can score. Loefler needs to focus on what BC does best in the running game and stop messing around with stuff the Oline can't pull off yet.

Defense: B-

Ray had a great game. He still was aggressive late in the game. Allen wasn't as dominant. He was fine. The DTs really struggled. I am not sure how much they were told to hold position against Wake's run game, but they were getting pushed back over and over. Smith got pushed back. Karafa was a step slow. Valdez and Rayam got playing time but didn't disrupt much.

Strachan was pretty active, but also had a few misses. Richardson also got lots of playing time and was ok.

The DBs were the best part of the D. Cheevers took some gambles, but also made plenty of plays. Harris played well. Denis was fine. Sebastian got beat a few times. Torres was good.

I am surprised we still haven't figured Wake out on D. Their approach under Clawson hasn't really changed. But they got lots of push and lots of plays off. We couldn't get them off the field. That's a bad sign. Why not bring more pressure? Or do something to help out the DTs.

Special Teams: B-

Even without the fumble or blocked punt there were still some other Special Teams issues. We missed an extra point. We got lucky on a penalty on one of Wake's long returns.

Overall: B

As Addazio pointed out in the post-game press conference, this team did persevere for the win. Overcoming mistakes and the shifting game times could easily have been a distraction. He deserves credit for that and for building such a talent advantage. But I think having two easy games to start the season was somewhat unnecessary and may have led to the tiredness and sloppy play.

In a way, it was ideal for Addazio in that he got the win, the team showed flashes of greatness, yet he can still keep them humble.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Addazio's post game thoughts

This is BC's best start since 2007 and Addazio seems pretty happy with his team. He like the chemistry and liked how they responded to some adversity. If you read into Addazio's reactions, he thinks this team is very good.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday picks

Last week I went heavy on the road teams. This week is more about the home teams. Let's hope I am trending in the right way.



Rutgers+2.5 at Kansas

Hawaii+7 at Army

Florida State-3.5 at Syracuse

Tulane-4 at UAB

Duke+5 at Baylor

Boise State+2 at Oklahoma State

Ohio+5 at Virginia

Oregon State+4 at Nevada

Mizzou-6 at Purdue

UMass+4 at FIU

I am 6-14 on the season.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

BC survives uneven performance for win at Wake

This was a very prescient tweet during the game.



This game never should have been as close as it was. But special teams mistakes and predictable play calling negated the huge talent advantage. Fortunately talent won out. Lots to like about the game. I just hope Addazio is able to clean up the stuff that hurt BC before we play teams who are our equal.

The good news is that there were enough highlight and Dillon moments that BC will probably be ranked soon.

I will try to have the grades up Saturday (and I will also try to get to the Holy Cross thoughts).

In-game comments post: Wake Forest

And now the season truly begins. This is a critical game under unique circumstances. Let's hope it is memorable for the right reasons.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

BC-Wake Forest preview

This is only the third game and yet this season already feels weird. We are 2-0 without really being tested. There is a bandwagon forming and yet no one truly knows what we have. How could they after playing two really bad teams? Now we have our first real test, our ACC opener, it's a short week, we're on the road and we have a weird start time due to an oncoming hurricane. If you made this up it wouldn't be believable. I am excited to see how BC does and think this game will determine a lot about the season.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Did you notice the online excitement when BC released some new merchandise with the old logo? Or the 40,000 people at Alumni for a Holy Cross game? I think it is fair to say there are plenty of people who love BC's past and history. I don't want to live in the past, but I also think when it comes to schedules, marketing, and building excitement for BC Sports, we need to push our history and identity as much as possible. We are not just some football factory. We are unique in the landscape and should embrace that uniqueness. Our long-time fans clearly have.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stay poised on D. Wake plays up tempo and will use multiple QBs. BC needs to keep it simple and not take too many risks. Given the circumstances, it is almost like playing an option team.
2. Pass as long as possible. My biggest fear with the potential weather issue is BC not airing it out. There have been huge openings in the passing game so far and more are sure to come against Wake. BC needs to hit those opportunities.
3. Second level blocking. One of the things that I don't think we did well in the first two games was dominating on the second level. If teams crowd the box, we need to get push back and release to the next guy. That will create huge runs for any of our RBs.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 1-4 in ACC openers
-- Addazio is 2-2 against Clawson
-- BC leads the series 7-4
The current line is BC-4.5

Factoid
Addazio is undefeated at BB&T Field

Scoreboard Watching
Florida State and Syracuse is the most relevant game to BC this weekend. Are the 'Noles really as bad as they look? Is Syracuse decent? We will find out soon.

What I hope to see...
Win or lose, I don't want to see or hear any excuses about the change in schedule. Is it inconvenient? Sure. But over the years any time BC has a travel issue and loses (NIT years ago, Syracuse years ago with TOB), we never hear the end of it. I don't want to hear excuses this time. Wake has to adjust their schedule too.

BC is in trouble if...
We get in a big hole early. I don't know if we have the offense or a QB who is ready to pull off a double-digit comeback.

Overall
I think despite all the distractions and uncertainty, this is still BC's game. I think it will take BC a while to adjust to playing a real team, but after a sluggish first half, I think BC pounds away and pulls away in the second half.
Final Score: BC 31, Wake Forest 17

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BC-Wake game time moved up

After a few days of speculation, BC, Wake Forest and the ACC announced that kickoff has been moved up to 5:30 pm ET on Thursday. Aside from outright cancelling, this makes the most sense. It will likely still be wet, but less likely to have harsh winds and the heavy rain that a true night game would have had. I think the earlier time favors BC. The stands will likely be empty. The conditions not great, but shouldn't make us one dimensional. The only problem I see is if BC can't get out of North Carolina Thursday night.

Monday, September 10, 2018

It is going to be wet against Wake


Despite the Hurricane scares, I don't foresee ESPN or the ACC rescheduling the BC-Wake game. I think we can play in bad weather, but given our talent advantage, a slick sloppy night helps them more than it helps us.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Post game video roundup

I didn't have time to watch the game back yet, so enjoy these videos for now.




Saturday, September 08, 2018

Holy Cross game goes as expected

It turned into a glorified scrimmage. But I will hold my point that if we are going to do that, it might as well be against Holy Cross. No major problems. No major injuries and lots of experience for the backups.

I will have grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Holy Cross

Rivalry renewed or glorified scrimmage? We will find out shortly.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, September 07, 2018

Friday picks

My picks were horrible last week. I guess I need a preseason to get warmed up. Things turn around this week. I'm going heavy on the road teams. Here you go:

Friday picks

Georgia Tech-3 at South Florida

Arizona+3.5 at Houston

Duke+2.5 at Northwestern

Kansas+3.5 at Central Michigan

Colorado+3 at Nebraska

Iowa State+3.5 at Iowa

UMass+1 at Georgia Southern

Virginia+5 at Indiana

USC+5 at Stanford

Cal+3 at BYU

I am 2-8 on the season.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

BC-Holy Cross preview

Last week was exciting -- the start of a new season. This is more subdued. The tradition with Holy Cross is nice and the excitement about this BC team is palpable, but I don't think we will know anything more about BC after playing a bad FCS team.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game) 
I think Holy Cross' Head Coach Bob Chesney will be a FBS head coach real soon. His track record of success building terrible, low resource programs will be enticing to many schools. If he has even the littlest bit of success in Worcester, it looks like he will leverage that for another job. After Holy Cross, the next step would seem to be either FCS power or FBS bottom dweller. Either way, the guy looks like he is going places.

Three Simple Keys
1. Add some more deep passing for Brown. I don't suspect he will be under much pressure. I would like to see BC attempt more deep passes to build his confidence and put pressure on future opponents to not load the box.
2. Get reps for the young guys. The new redshirt rules are a gift. Use it this game to develop young guys and second teamers.
3. Clean up Special Teams. It should be better than last week.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio has not lost to an FCS school
-- BC leads the all time series 48-31-3
-- BC has won their last three home games against Holy Cross
Because this is a FCS-FBS game, there are no lines on the major sites

Factoid
While Fenway hosted the series for many years, BC also played Holy Cross in Foxboro twice.

Scoreboard watching
Most of the ACC is taking on FCS teams this weekend, so there is not much at stake with regards to the division race. The big game is Clemson-Texas A&M. It would be nice for the Tigers to win in convincing fashion, so that the national perception of the ACC remains strong.

I hope to see...
A viral highlight from Dillon. There was talk after last week about whether Dillon's Heisman hopes were ruined by not padding his stats against UMass. I don't think they were and feel like the middle of the season will determine his chances. However, it wouldn't hurt to get on people's radars now. A nice viral moment would lay the groundwork for a Dillon trophy run.

BC is in trouble if...
As always with these lopsided games, the only real trouble for BC is injury. We will survive this game, but a significant injury could ruin the season.

Overall
This won't be close. As much as I long for a spirited rivalry, this is not the year. BC will crush them and we may even have to speed the clock in the second half.
Final Score: BC 52, Holy Cross 10

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

How did Addazio approach new redshirt rule in Week 1

One of the biggest rule changes this offseason was the new redshirt policy. Players can now play in four games and still use a redshirt. Addazio mentioned in the preseason there were a few ways to test the system based on team needs and expectations for the players. Based on Week 1 it looks like he will play a lot of kids and see who is ready for full time action and who might sit later in the year. Nine true freshmen played against UMass. As a reference point -- last year Addazio only played five true freshmen. (And one of those was using Perry earlier than he wanted.)

Being aggressive with the roster early makes sense to me. If all nine look great and are needed, there is no reason to redshirt them. Ride it out and put the best team you can on the field. If only one or two are exceeding expectations, then you keep playing them and redshirt the others.

The only challenge I can foresee is if one of the players sits and then is needed late in the season (sort of like Perry last year). Then you burn the redshirt and didn't get a full season for the player. That will probably happen eventually, but for now, I think Addazio should keep using young players and see who is ready to help the team. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Which FCS teams should BC play?

One of the common complaints about our schedule is the annual FCS game. Because we are facing a smaller school from a lower division, there is rarely excitement. It is nearly a no win for BC, since the payday is minimal, ticket sales are usually low and there is no respect for the opponent. But these games are not going away. Every college program plays them. Until either TV or the playoff system demands that teams stop playing FCS, these games will continue. While I am all for BC being a leader in college sports, I don't want them to take a stand on this issue. The games might be boring, but they do help us prepare for the season. Even prior to playing FCS schools, BC would schedule a winnable game like this.

If these games aren't going away, then what should the philosophy be in scheduling them? In the past I've been very clear that the games should be either against Catholic schools or New England schools. (Note that BC can't schedule non-scholarship teams like the Ivy League.) Here is that list:

-- Central Connecticut State
-- Bryant
-- Sacred Heart
-- Holy Cross
-- New Hampshire
-- Maine
-- University of San Diego
-- Georgetown (once they add scholarships)
-- Dayton
-- Duquesne
-- Saint Francis
-- Villanova
-- Rhode Island
-- Fordham
-- Bryant
-- Incarnate Word

Now we've played plenty of FCS schools that don't fall into this geographic or cultural territory (like Wagner just a few years ago). And while I understand that schedule is sometimes a game of musical chairs, there is no reason BC should need to schedule beyond this list. Maybe I could see regularly including New York and New Jersey teams, but those become a little harder to justify. I don't want to reach and schedule FCS powers. There is no upside in doing that.

An AD and Football coach shouldn't get in the habit of having to rationalize their schedules, but the Catholic/New England focus is a good talking point. Unless someone has a better philosophy, I suggest we keep the FCS scheduling to those teams.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Why Holy Cross matters

I don't read or hear the conversation as much these days, but BC doesn't really have a rival. The ACC-Notre Dame deal meant we actually play the Irish less. As much as I love some of our ACC matchups, none really earn the rivalry status. We have a nice history and rivalry with BU for hockey and Providence for basketball, but that's not the same. A true college rivalry is formed in football but lives through all sports, and if it is a true rivalry, it bleeds into all aspects of your life with friends and relatives on the other side. BC had something like that for a long time. It was with Holy Cross.

Even explaining this rivalry is a challenge. Half my readers remember it, lived it and know more about it than I do. The other half are still scratching their head at the thought of a heated relationship with Holy Cross. But once upon a time, this was the college football game in New England. Both programs had periods of success. For years games were played at Fenway. Both schools were filled with Catholics from the Boston area. There was a feeling that you knew everyone sitting in the stands, regardless of what team they were rooting for. 

The connection was more than just sports and proximity. Both schools are Jesuit and priests often moved back and forth between the institutions. For a long time both schools also prized athletics. But Holy Cross' size and constantly shifting position on sports changed the rivalry and the school.

Being smaller than BC was always a bit limiting, yet Holy Cross had (and still has a large athletic department). But when the first DIA and DIAA split came, Holy Cross went small and BC stayed large. The additional scholarships and larger stage only made the rivalry more lopsided. As Holy Cross moved to no scholarships, it wasn't even a rivalry anymore. The series ended as it was no longer competitive or fair (with HC having no scholarships). And as the sports connection faded, so did the tightness of the other connections. As both schools became more national and had student bodies from beyond Massachusetts, the familiarity and overlap dwindled too. 

While I know some individual Holy Cross fans who rehash the "would've, should've, could've" aspects of their sports decisions, I don't know how all their alumni feel. It is clear that their leadership values a future in sports and hence the return to scholarships and the return to playing BC. They are a long way away from being competitive, but I do wish them success. I would love for them to become a FCS power and an semi-regular part of our schedule. The nostalgia and association would help both schools and perhaps grow to something new and exciting. Holy Cross was a critical part of BC history. It would be nice to have it as part of our future.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Second viewing thoughts and grades: UMass

I was in my car and following the game on my phone, so by the time I watched the game Saturday night, I was calm and knew BC crushed UMass. Had I watched live, the first quarter might have been a little more tense and upsetting. Watching with the outcome known was very calming and reassuring for the season. Brown had been the big question mark (and he looked pretty good). There were a few spotty areas, but this was the start to the season BC needed.

Offense: A-

Statistically Brown was great. Considering his limited preseason, Brown was great. When you factor in the injury, Brown was great. But his passes were a bit off target. I know his completion percentage was good, but he still threw behind some guys or not exactly where the ball should be. Against a better team he will get burned with that stuff. I thought his decisions were good in the passing game. I think he will need to present himself as a running threat in our more challenging games. With the way UMass was biting on the end arounds/sweeps, there could be huge plays for AB if he fakes the handoff.

I know a lot of people wanted Dillon to pad his stats, but I was fine with his game. He didn't get his usual viral highlight, but the pass catching alone showed major improvement. Levy and Bailey were fine. Jones got the TDs, but we had such a size advantage against UMass, I don't know how much of that was him vs our OLine.

Two of White's catches were beautiful. I felt like Smith could have done more after the catch and handoff -- he had space and just didn't get the right hole. Marten had a career day for him. I was a bit surprised none of the other guys turned their catches into big plays.

The OLine was fine. It is hard to judge this game because of two factors that made the whole area muddled. UMass stiacked the box a lot but also was undersized on the DL. We were winning battles but not exploding because of how their back seven played.

Loeffler called a good game. I think it was good to move Brown around. He needs to get used to rollouts and bootlegs since so many teams are going to focus on our run game. I had no problem with the subs in the second half.

Defense: B+

The only surprising part to me was that our defensive line starters didn't dominate in a more pronounced fashion. Allen was fine, but not speeding by the UMass guys. Smith had a nice INT. Ray was fine.

Strachan is another guy who looked good coming back to action. Jones made some nice plays. DePalma got extended playing time.

Sebastian had the biggest coverage breakdown of the game (the first UMass TD) but was ok after. Denis' INT was nice, as was the runback. Harris was fine. Torres was fine.

This was a very vanilla scheme and that's fine. No need to do anything special unless the opponent and game situation calls for it.

Special Teams: B-

I know you can excuse some of the special team's issues to losing our long snapper (Martin), but there were some other issues too.

We allowed a long kick return. We were not aggressive with our own returns...including punt returns.

Overall: A-

I could get nitpicky about the start or letting UMass get some garbage time points, or hammer Addazio for Special Teams but it was a pretty darn good showing. He had the more talented team and they played that way. It was a relatively vanilla approach, but probably what we needed for the start. And to Addazio's credit, the depth and talent improvement is more obvious in a blowout. The second teamers come on and BC still looks better than their FBS opponent.

Next week should be an even easier game, but I think we can trust Addazio not to screw it up. He certainly didn't screw up this game.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Video roundup

Highlights. 


Addazio's postgame press conference.


BC stomps UMass

It started off a little closer than you like but BC turned it on in the second quarter and never looked back. Great day for AB and everyone else did what they were supposed to do.

More to come tonight and grades up Sunday.

In-game comments post: UMass

It is time. Time for BC Football! Let's have a great year and get off to a great start today.

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