Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Should we freak out about the Falzon stuff?


The New England basketball scene got a little controversial Tuesday when worded leaked out that BC was no longer recruiting Aaron Falzon. The problem came when Falzon, his family and his coach found out via Twitter instead of hearing directly from BC. Jim Christian and his staff can not publicly talk about recruits or explain why or how it happened, but through the backchannel rumormill, it is being said they told Falzon first. Yet his family and coach dispute the sequence. The only thing that most observers can agree on is that it wasn't handled well and now Christian has pissed off a local recruit at a regional power (Northfield Mount Hermon).

I don't care who Jim Christian recruits. If he thinks Falzon is not a great fit for his system and prefers Markus McDuffie as a power forward, that's fine. Christian -- not me -- has to coach the guys. But the problem comes in perception and execution. Despite not having a great recruiting reputation, Christian said winning in the ACC takes talent. He hired two ace recruiters for his staff. Now before they've even started practicing, there are questions about how this staff is working together and if Christian can close the guys Murphy and Spinelli serve up.

Although Christian hasn't thrown Donahue under the bus in publicly, he has made it clear to those close to the program that he has a different recruiting philosophy than our former coach. Falzon -- with his long range for a big man -- might have been the perfect Donahue player. Maybe he would have been lost at BC under Christian. That's fine. The staff certainly did their homework on him. However, they need to get better at communicating to recruits and they better hope that this didn't piss off Josh Sharma and that they close on McDuffie. It wouldn't hurt if McDuffie proves to be a better player than Falzon.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

When will the SuperFans grads change the BC Fan culture?


Michigan's attendance issues remain news in the college football world, but this article on Deadspin highlighted something that I think is important to BC Football. The article delves into the supply-demand relationship for sports, but slipped in this regarding student tickets:
"Current students are not that important [to ticket sales], per se," said Dan Rascher, a sports management professor at the University of San Francisco. "But you're trying to turn those current students into former students who are still fans decades later. You want students, when they become alumni, to have that attachment and come back for the games, and that's what's concerning athletic departments."

Despite some issues with basketball and the fairweather nature of any group of fans, BC's has a strong student section for Football. The SuperFans have made supporting BC Football cool for 16 years. However, I don't know if that SuperFan culture has carried over enough to when the SuperFans become Alumni. Now I know the caveats:  the Spaz's years dampened enthusiasm, recent grads move out of New England, recent grads are broke, etc. But even students who endured the Spaz years still have enough high points (bowls, GameDay, Luke Kuechly) to grow the attachment referenced in the Michigan piece.

I think it is that attachment that is missing from all of the pre-SuperFan Alumni. I know a large portion of loyal, older fans were turned off by the DBS, but I think for decades there was a detachment to BC sports. The Flutie runs or the Coughlin moments had a lightning in the bottle feel but otherwise there was an overriding cynicism to our fanbase. Or at least that I what I felt when I first arrived at BC in the mid-90s. The football games were social and the game was really secondary. So when the diehards were driven away, the casual fans didn't backfill because of the detachment.

The oldest SuperFans are creeping towards 40. Even with conflicts like kids or geography, the largest portion of these SuperGrads should still live in the northeast and still have BC in their blood. I know that BC keeps creating opportunities for young alums (GOLD). That's good. Now we just need a few more classes to graduate and then maybe we will have enough people that we can finally fill Alumni consistently. Winning wouldn't hurt either.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Colorado State

The whole game had a sense of dread. Allowing them to score and then missing our chance to score before the half. Needing an endzone INT to kill one of their drives. Nearly losing the football a few times. It just felt like things could fall apart at anytime. So of course we lost. Watching it back was even worse. We should have won. We didn't play our best yet we still had a lead the majority of the game. As Daz said, we make one stop on 4th and 12 on a short field and it is over. This was tough and how we respond will say more about our coaching staff than it will about our players.

Offense: C-

The biggest point of discussion on Murphy's play seems to be the INT. He admitted that in the redzone he has to be more careful. But if Callinan doesn't fall over that is probably not an INT. My bigger concern was Murphy's decisions on the the options. There were some big holes that he didn't exploit. The passing game was better. He made some bad throws and some forced throws, but he was also better throwing from the pocket. We are going to live and die with him, so I will accept the mistakes as long as he is winning with big plays. We didn't have enough this week.

The running backs as a group were good. Hilliman ran hard and made some big plays. He's still not great in traffic or making guys miss. Willis looked good and probably needs more touches. Outlow's catch was pretty. He probably needs to get more touches. Wofford was fine.

The Offensive Line was not great. The holes weren't as big. The push wasn't as strong. And of course things got worse late. Bowen got blown up on the final play. Gallik was the best of the group again. He moved well too. Silberman was better. Kramer was ok.

Bordner is really coming around. He's good in space. His hands are improving and he can start to win the one on one battles. I have no idea why Alston didn't get touches but he needs to be more than a decoy. Dudeck looked really good over the middle. Crimmins was better. As I already pointed out Callinan's fall led to an INT. McClary caught the only pass sent his way. One of the issues in our running game is the Tight Ends. They are not blocking as well as last year's crew did.

I am a big fan of the shifting and a big fan of the power/spread combo. We even used a Maryland formation (which has three backs in the I behind Murphy). However all that window dressing doesn't mean anything if the D is not confused. I don't know what Colorado State saw, but they decided not to make too many adjustments to our shifting. They also were patient with our run game. They didn't crash the options over and over and instead waited for us to get frustrated. That is probably what other teams will do now. It is up to Ryan Day to think of new wrinkles. As for this game, I think the offense did enough to win. Two long drives came away scoreless based off of player mistakes, not play calls. As I said with Murphy my biggest issue is that we need more option and more reads with Murphy keeping it. Even when the opponent is giving you something -- like the pass -- you still need to be patient with what works best. We should have had more runs with Murphy.

Defense: D+

If the Defensive Line played their best game against USC, this was probably their worst. No great push. Not enough big plays and some guys getting pushed around. Statistically Kavalec had the best day, but his tackles weren't important in the scheme of things and he didn't have the great plays like he did against USC. Mihalik was the most disruptive and had a sack, but I felt like he could and should have closed on a few other occasions. Wujciak was good in the first half but didn't get the same push in the second half. Abdesmad is getting pushed around. I don't know if he lost speed or power or both, but the guy is either not 100% physically or not showing the same fight he did last year (before the injury). Moore looked okay and maybe should be getting more snaps.

The LBs were not good at all. Daniels had the best game and did make some big plays late, but even he missed some tackles and got burned during coverage breakdowns. Duggan got pushed around. Keyes penetrated a bit -- which makes a difference -- but couldn't close himself. Also, his ability to get past the line seemed to all come in the second quarter. Plus he missed tackles. Strizak wasn't as productive as he was earlier in the season.  

Despite the other guys making more tackles and INTs, I thought Asprilla was the most consistent Saturday. When he tackled he brought guys down and he had good pass breakups and coverage. Jones made a nice play on his INT but also missed some tackles. Simmons was all over the place. He played well, but also missed too. Williams INT came right to him.

Coordinators are easy to pick on. Neither coordinator had a great day, but I feel like Brown's schemes and calls cost us more Saturday. BC couldn't get enough pressure on Grayson and he was rarely confused by the scheme. There offensive line also knew where the breaks were coming. And when they weren't getting picked up, they were getting beat with crossing routes and screens. When they needed a stop at the end, they couldn't get CSU off the field. But plays and schemes can be beaten. Players miss tackles, but the continued confusion in the secondary cannot. That's coaching. The last play was broken and a guy got wide open in the corner. But that wasn't the only example. There were plenty of missed assignments. Brown and his assistants need to clean that up.

Special Teams: D+

We've had bad kickers before and still won. There are workarounds, but you just have to be ready and prepare for them. Workaroud No. 1 is the long squibs on kickoffs. The problem there was that the tackling was still only ok. The second workaround is that you cannot take any field goal for granted and are in probable 4-down territory unless it is a chip shot. That miss at the end of the half would have made a difference. From now on Daz needs to press more in the two-minute drill, because a kick is not automatic.

Willis was fine on the kick returns. I don't think the blocking is good enough or consistent enough for him to break a big one.

They only punted once, so you cannot read too much into that unit. Our punting, however, was very inconsistent.

Overall: C-

You could rationalize most of last year's losses to tough breaks or falling to a better roster. This wasn't the case. CSU has some nice players, but overall they are not that talented and their staff is still relatively new to their program. This was a case of BC losing a game they should have won. There weren't glaring game management issues to pin on Daz nor did it seem like the initial gameplan was unsound. Where things fell apart were the adjustments. As I wrote above, those adjustment issues fall on the coordinators, but it also falls on Daz. I don't want him micromanaging in-game, but he's also got to take control.  It is a fine line, but that is one of the reasons we hired an experienced Head Coach. Ideally he should have that feel now.

This wasn't a confidence shaking loss. In fact I still feel good about the season and about Daz. However, we've now been exposed. Every team we face now has an answer for how to deal with our blitzing and to a certain extent how to deal with Murphy. It is up to Daz to get together with his staff and figure out counters to their counters. Daz confirmed he can recruit. We always knew he could do the motivational stuff. The question was always the Xs and Os. I hope he has the answers.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Giving it away

I thought the Pitt game would be the one to haunt us. This was worse. There is plenty of blame to go around: terrible special teams, bad tackling and an offense that cannot afford to make mistakes. Daz has a lot to work on and now we've lost our win cushion in the road to bowl eligibility.

I'll have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

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In-game comments post: Colorado State

This won't provide the highs of USC nor will it generate the "ehhs" of Maine. Instead this game represents a great opportunity for BC to close the month out with a win and prepare for the rest of the ACC slate. Let's make it a good one! Leave your thoughts and comments below. 


You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Tweets of the Week

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Game Watches: Colorado State

Because this is an ACC game but not the "ACC Game of the Week" the coverage varies from region to region. In New England it is on NESN. In the New York area it is on MSG+ and everywhere else seems to be on a regional Fox affiliate. Ofcourse if you cannot get coverage locally, you can always join your fellow BC fans at a Game Watch. If your local watch is not listed, be sure to post a message in the comments.


Chicago Game Watch
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage (Armitage Brown/Purple Line L)
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch
Corner Bar
4830 McKinney Ave
Dallas

Denver Game Watch
The Whittier Pub
2000 E 28th Ave
Denver

New York City Game Watches
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

American Whiskey
30th Street between 7th and 8th Ave

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street
Phoenix

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Company
602 Broadway St.
San Diego

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's
2064 Polk St.
San Francisco

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19th Street Northwest
Washington, D.C.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

BC-Colorado State preview

A few of you emailed me worried that BC and BC's fans are taking Colorado State lightly. I don't see it. Last week was a clear wake up call that BC cannot just go out and beat anyone. And that was against Maine. This is a solid, well-coached CSU team. This is a huge game for them and their conference. If BC doesn't take this game seriously, then they are in for a rude awakening Saturday.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game) 
I remember how happy I was the last time we played and beat Colorado State. It had been a transition year and at times that season it looked like things might fall apart. However, Paul Peterson took over late in the campaign and BC rode a wave of momentum into the bowl game. At the time I thought maybe TOB could build something or get us to the next level. We know how that ended. Now over ten years later we are watching what Addazio can do during a transitional year. The circumstances are different, but here is Colorado State again. A win might not leave me as happy as the San Fran Bowl did years ago, but it would be another victory for Addazio in a year where many thought wins would be hard to come by.

Three Simple Keys
1. Don't give up the big play in pass defense. I don't miss Spaz's bend but don't break philosophy, but it might be what we need this weekend. CSU will throw it. The key is to keep the guys in front of you and make them go the whole length of the field.
2. Get Alston involved in the passing game. The Jet Sweep is known at this point. But we can add wrinkles -- a screen or a wheel route off the playfake. I don't care, but I think he is our best playmaker. He needs more touches.
3. Avoid the killer turnovers. No turnovers are good, but last week the INT led to Maine's early success on offense. If we make a mistake this week, just do it where it won't cost us a score or allow them to score.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 6-1 out of conference as the head coach at BC
-- McElwain is 3-9 on the road
-- McElwain is 3-2 against BCS member teams
The current line is BC-9

Factoid
Both head coaches were former Offensive Coordinators in the SEC.

Scoreboard Watching
After dodging a bullet, it will be interesting to see how Florida State comes out against NC State. I am also curious to see how NC State responds to the big stage. They couldn't put away the cupcakes on their schedule. Can they hang with the 'Noles?

I hope to see...
The Tight Ends involved in the passing game. I don't think it is critical to winning, but a game against CSU is a perfect time to add a new wrinkle. When we do pass to a Tight End, he will be wide open.

BC is in trouble if...
We need to score on the final drive with only a minute or two left. I am not afraid of deficits and I think we can score fast. But if we have to drive 80 yards in a two minute drill type situation, I don't know if we can win. Our passing game and our kicking game will cost us one game this year. I don't want it to be this one.

Bottom Line
Though the atmosphere and expectations are different, I think this game will feel and play out a bit like USC. BC will establish the run and get plenty of sacks, while CSU has to pass to catch up. I think we lead throughout but never really put them away.
Final Score: BC 28, CSU 17

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meter and Christian and other links

BC posted the highlights of Meter's interview with Jim Christian. He's not especially charismatic, but I think Christian handles himself well in these sorts of things. He has a quiet confidence that reminds me of Skinner.

The Heights posted a great Q&A with Chris Herren. The Herren story is well known at this point, but when he shares the BC portion of his saga, he still tends to just note his injury and failed drugs tests. This interview goes a little deeper and gets more specific about his time at the Heights. Good job by the interviewer Connor Mellas. It is interesting how younger BC folks view Herren. His legend has grown in part due to his struggles and his recovery in the spotlight. As someone who started at BC at the same time, Herren was always a "what could have been" to me. But he flamed out and was an afterthought during the final good JOB years.

Former BC Basketball assistant Bonzie Colson decided to get back into coaching at New Bedford High School. I actually applaud Colson for not using his son Bonzie II to get a college job. He probably could have packaged himself with Bonzie II at some mid-major. Instead Bonzie II is freshman at Notre Dame while his dad is back working high school games.

BCI uncovered New Mexico State still listing BC as one of their 2015 opponents. I still have my doubts that it happens. I just think NM State would rather buy us out than give up paydates at Florida and Ole Miss.

BC leads a weird note on Ivan Maisel's "Three Point Stance." I don't think anyone is surprised by BC's struggles in the passing game, least of all Addazio. I think Daz just wants improvement.

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