Thursday, September 21, 2017

BC-Clemson preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Banks decommits

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Notre Dame

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

Offense: B-

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

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

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

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

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

Defense: F

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

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

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

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

Special Teams: B

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

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

Lichtenberg did well.

Overall: F

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

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Notre Dame runs all over BC

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

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

Postgame Periscope below. Thanks for those who joined.

I will have grades and thoughts up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Notre Dame

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

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday picks

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

Oklahoma State-13 at Pitt

Northern Illinois+13 at Nebraska

UCLA-3 at Memphis

Tennessee+4 at Florida

Central Michigan+10 at Syracuse

Purdue+7.5 at Missouri

Kansas State-3.5 at Vanderbilt

Georgia Tech-2.5 at Central Florida

Troy-7.5 at New Mexico State

Clemson-3 at Louisville

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

Game Watches: Notre Dame

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

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

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

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

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

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