Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Another candid Addazio press conference

People have been really critical of the QB situation. Just look at some of these quotes:

"...quarterback play has to get better and there are varying different reasons for those things. Some is age, some is not, but that is what we have to get better."

"I'm not sure at this point that either one can handle the whole game."

"Troy - on that last play - he just ran himself to a problem. It was a tremendous pocket. Stand there and deliver the ball! If you don't like it, shiver up and run vertically because all we were trying to do was to get seven more yards to get a field goal, or at least an attempt..."

Those quotes aren't from a message board. They're from Steve Addazio. As much as I question what Addazio is doing, I am always thankful for his candor in these weekly press conferences. Maybe because he's not getting grilled by a horde of SEC local media types. It is probably just Vega, Thompson, and a few student reporters. Maybe he has his guard down. But he admits that he's hoping one of the guys steps up and takes the decision away from him. He shares a story about going to his own defensive staff and getting their opinion. Clearly the staff is struggling with each guy's limitation and as Addazio said the expectations to win now vs developing a player.

Addazio is also candid about his criticism of Special Teams, Hilliman, the OLine and Alston. And I think he does it without really blaming any of the guys or throwing them under the bus. There's nothing here that crosses a line, but it is more than most coaches would say. Or at least more than past BC coaches ever said.

Speaking your mind or playing it close to the vest doesn't matter if we don't win. And we need to win this weekend. If not I think Addazio's press conferences will take a very different tone.

Monday, October 05, 2015

BC-Clemson gets prime time treatment

The ACC announced the kickoff times for October 17 and slotted BC vs Clemson for prime time. The game will start at 7 pm and either be on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

While much of the TV appeal is based on Clemson's hot streak, BC is a big factor in the national prime time slot. Our game against FSU was one of ESPN's highest rated Friday night games.

The ESPN2-ESPNU aspect will be cleared up next week. I think the network is hoping we handle Wake and Clemson doesn't trip up against Georgia Tech.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Second viewing thoughts and grades:Duke

That was brutal to watch back. So much went wrong and we still could have won. So many people and units played well...really well in a losing effort. Usually I find the close calls reassuring. Now I am starting to worry. How are the players going to hold up? They feel the frustration too. You can lose teams in situations like this. We've seen it happen to BC and we've seen other teams go through it. If we just fix a few things, this team could be so, so much better.

Offense: D

Neither Flutie or Smith is a good passer. They both miss open guys and both hold on to the ball too long. Flutie's TD showed he can sit in the pocket and let one go, but the pass was still wobbly. Neither have great awareness of the clock. Flutie might be able to "run more of the offense" but he's still not making good decisions or good plays in the offense. Smith had some nice runs, but made some questionable decisions on handing the ball off in the sweeps (unless he didn't have the green light). The running game is better with Smith.

Outlow was pretty good. I am not sure why he didn't get more touches. Rouse played pretty well. Wofford made a nice catch.

I thought Smith made a nice catch on the TD they called incomplete. His real TD was nice. Alston looked good running but couldn't pull a pass in. Swigert missed one too. Callinan was fine. As a group they did not block well.

The OLine is not the problem. They actually played well this week. There is only so much you can do when the other team is that aggressive loading the box and at the line. Most of the blocking breakdowns came from the Tight Ends and WRs (Sweeney had some issues).

The time to throw stuff against the wall isn't the game. Fitch and Addazio have the luxury of practicing against an elite D. Do that in practice. I know you don't want to be installing new offense at this point in the season, but this playbook was all over the place...especially with Smith. We used basically the Wildcat with the sweeps (but it didn't seem like Smith had the green light to keep it). We used pistol with Smith. How can he be expected to learn anything when we are asking him to do all this other stuff? I think simple would be better for this kid now. And give him more one look rollouts, then he can take off if nothing is there (like the near first down on the 1st and 20). They are not doing Flutie any favors either. While this wasn't a shutout, it was another series of scoreless quarters. This is wholesale failure and not bad luck or young talent. How they are handling the QBs, their shoot from the hip rotation and the overall approach is a failure. But I fear they (Addazio and the Offensive staff) are drowning in so many issues, that they don't recognize the way out. It felt like Smith finally gave it to them as he moved the ball, but then Flutie connected on some passes. So my fear is it will be more of the same.

Defense: B+

Kavalec is back. He made some huge tackles during the goal line stand. Landry looked good and is also making some big plays stopping the run. Abdesmad played well. Gutapfel had one of his better games. Wujciak didn't cram the stat sheet, but played well.

I read a few criticisms of Daniels on the board, but watching it back, I didn't see any issues. He was good in coverage. He made a lot of tackles and had a sack. Milano was good. Strachan and Schwab weren't as productive but didn't have any glaring mistakes.

The stats for the DBs were somewhat deceiving. Most of the Duke yards came against one guy: Johnson. He's big and not as quick, so by putting some of their little guys in the slot, he got a bit exposed. He also got blown up on some tackles. Yiadom had a very good game. They rarely even threw his way and he made some nice plays. Moore was called for PI, but overall played well. Simmons was good.

I want to credit Brown for an adjustment that worked. In the first half Duke had pretty good success with passes over the middle against the safeties and linebackers and we weren't blitzing. Instead of adding more DBs to help pass coverage, Brown used the LBs for more pressure. The extra men and hint of pressure forced Duke into more rushed and in effective passes. The Defense is really the bright spot of the short season so far.

Special Teams: D

Alston is one of our most unique and potentially explosive players. But I am starting to wonder if we need to take him off punt returns. The fumble was brutal.

Lichtenberg's miss wasn't terrible. It was not a gimme. The early screw up was due to a bad snap.

Lichtenberg's kickoffs were fairly short. Was that on purpose or is leg just that short?

Howell's punts were good and so was the punt coverage.

Overall: C-

I am so frustrated with the Offense, the same game issues reoccurring (use of timeouts, clock management, etc) and Special Teams, that I want to give it all an "F," but I can't. We lost, on the road, to a pretty good Duke team by two points. Was there bad coaching? Plenty. Was there some bad luck? Yes. But luck tends to even out and bad coaching is usually punished with a L. I don't think Addazio is a bad coach. But what we are going through now and how he is dealing with it, has me questioning his upside again. It is the first time since he started coaching actual games that I am starting to believe that his challenges will limit what he can do at BC. The good news is that there is still plenty of time and plenty of big games to work this out. Let's hope he starts with Wake Forest.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Feeling blue in Durham

I do think Duke is decent but BC could have and probably should have won that game. Even with QB confusion, really bad Special Teams and bad ref calls, BC had chances to win in the 4th. I am very frustrated.

I will have my grades and second thoughts late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Duke

Throw your real predictions out the window. They've been washed away by the weather. I don't know what to expect from either team except that it will be wet. I will keep telling myself that helps BC...until something doesn't go our way.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday Picks Week 5

Weird weather and big spreads had me looking for ten games I liked. Below are the ones I finally picked. If you're following (purely for entertainment purposes) I am coming off a strong week. We will see if it holds up.

(Picks in bold.) 

Central Florida+2 at Tulane

Pitt+4.5 at Virginia Tech

Iowa+6.5 at Wisconsin

Louisville+4.5 at NC State

FIU+3 at UMass

Alabama+1.5 at Georgia

Ole Miss-7.5 at Florida

New Mexico State+12.5 at New Mexico

Notre Dame+1.5 at Clemson

Oregon-7.5 at Colorado

Last week I was 7-2-1. I am 21-17-2 on the season.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

BC-Duke preview

All seasons have a broken record aspect to them. I feel like this great defense covering the mistakes of an awkward QB rotation will be the theme for weeks to come. Is there any other way it can play out? Take this week for example. Flutie will start and probably get most of the snaps. But is he going to do anything remarkable to win the job permanently in really wet weather? Unlikely. While Smith will get snaps, his limited time also gives him fewer opportunities to show he can do more than run. My fear is that neither will ever play enough to shine and instead it will become which guy makes bigger mistakes.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Addazio talked patience in his media appearances this week and there is also plenty of fan chatter about lowering expectations. I find all of it premature and a little disconcerting. Injuries happen. Having to play young QBs happens. Collectively we had low expectations for Addazio's first two seasons and his teams performed well. Now, in Year 3, why can't we expect him to do well again? We are already have three wins and have one of the best defenses in the country. Even with sloppy QB play, we should compete with every team on our schedule and still finish at .500 or better.

Three Simple Keys
1. Connect on at least three play actions passes. There were so many open WRs last week biting on our runs. Those plays should be there this week. Whoever is QB needs to hit the open men (in stride). It will lead to some huge plays.
2. Let them have the short stuff. In order to avoid our pressure, I think Duke will try to dink and dunk it down the field. I have no problem with that. It makes big plays less likely. Field goals will be iffy in this weather. And I think we are very capable of forcing turnovers on short passes.
3. Redzone scoring. Kicking is always an issue. Heavy wind and rain won't make it easier. BC needs to capitalize with touchdowns any time we get near the endzone.

Gambling Notes
-- Cutcliffe is 1-1 against BC
-- Addazio is 3-3 in October as BC's coach
-- Addazio is 4-4 in ACC road games
The current line is BC+6.5

BC won its only game in Wallace Wade Stadium.

Scoreboard Watching
Notre Dame at Clemson is probably the biggest ACC game of the week and are arguably the two best teams left on our schedule. I am hoping one team exposes the other and gives us hope for our contest later in the season.

I hope to see...
A big Jeff Smith TD run. I know there are plenty of Flutie fans out there. I don't dislike the kid, but I just think Smith is a better fit for everything we are trying to do. If he makes a big play, I think Addazio will roll with him and the offense will finally have some identity. Flutie feels like a square peg in a round hole.

BC is in trouble if...
They give up another non-offensive touchdown. This defense can cover a lot of mistakes but they can't stop points given away on a turnover or Special Teams screw up. If it happens against Duke, it will cost us the game.

Bottom Line
I started off with the broken record analogy...well maybe it applies to bloggers too. I just feel this is the week where we figure it out on offense. I think the OL blocks well, Smith and Rouse cross Duke up on the option stuff and BC controls the tempo and score.
Final Score: BC 17, Duke 9

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hoping for Hurricane Joaquin

BC hasn't been so lucky lately. First Darius Wade broke his ankle and now Jon Hilliman is hurt. We are headed into the Duke game as a touchdown underdog and no idea what either of our QBs can do. But there is hope from an unexpected place: the weather forecast.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the forecast for Durham, North Carolina for Saturday is terrible. There is 100% chance of rain and winds in the teens. If Hurricane Joaquin turns right into North Carolina, the winds could be even worse. I don't take hurricanes lightly, but as long as the players and few fans are safe, I don't mind both teams playing in a downpour.

The weather works both ways. It will be just as tough for BC to move the ball as Duke, but we have less to lose. Our D is tough under normal conditions. In bad weather, we can shut any team down.

The weather can also invite fluky things to happen. If we were the better, more efficient team that would be an issue. But our offense is at the point where something odd might give us a chance.

There is always the chance that the hurricane could turn and not impact North Carolina at all. If that happens, then BC will have to hope for some type of luck.