Friday, November 28, 2014

Tweets of the Week

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Game Watches: Syracuse

There will be a bowl game and some potential opportunities with the Beanpot, but for now this is your last regular season game watch. Join the regulars or go an meet new people. If your local chapter is hosting a game watch, post it in the comments.

Chicago Game Watches
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage Ave
Chicago

Finley Dunne's
3458 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch
Corner Bar
4830 McKinney Ave
Dallas

Denver Game Watch
Whittier Pub
2000 East 28th Ave
Denver

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

Brazen Fox NYC
106 3rd Avenue (at 13th Street)
New York, N.Y.

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, November 27, 2014

Reminder: toy drive starts Friday

The Hockey team's annual Toy Drive starts Friday. Please bring a new unwrapped age appropriate toy to Conte. The drive will continue for the next few weeks for hockey and basketball.

Support the BC Men's Hockey Toy Drive!: http://youtu.be/mViUKvhBVUg

BC-Syracuse preview

Both teams come into this game in the middle of losing streaks. BC's feels a bit better because of how we played against Florida State. But none of that will matter Saturday. Syracuse might seem checked out, but give them a little hope and BC might be in for a dog fight.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Without BC's brutal loss to Syracuse ten years ago, there is no atleagle.com blog. That game crushed me like no other game before or since has. In the days that followed the Globe, Herald and Eagle Action all gave TOB a pass. I couldn't take it and decided I needed to vent. Since then, the blog has changed, BC sports have changed and so have my motivations for blogging. I don't know what the future holds for BC sports or this blog, but I appreciate all the feedback and support I've received over the years. Thank you.    

Three Simple Keys
1. BC needs to run for more than 250 yards. I am less concerned with Murphy running this week. I just want someone to run effectively Saturday. If we get that many yards on the ground this week, we will control the scoring and the tempo.
2. Don't ease up on the blitz. Long is still like a deer in headlights back there. BC cannot back off. Show him every blitz in the book. It will cause confusion with Long and their OLine.
3. Don't let the game come down to field goals. It is unfair to the kickers at this point. We cannot count on any of them. In my mind, anything outside the redzone needs to be four-down territory.

Gambling Notes
-- Syracuse is 10-12 all-time in Boston
-- BC has lost three of its last four to Syracuse
-- BC is 0-3 in ACC homes games this year
The current line is BC-11

Factoid
As you will probably hear during the game, Louie Addazio started his career at Syracuse. He transferred when his dad got the BC job.

Scoreboard Watching
I will be paying attention to all the SEC-ACC matchups. We heard all the Florida State bashing last week. It won't change perception, but it would help the ACC's standing with the Selection Committee if we sweep all the inter-sectional games this weekend.

I hope to see...
The Seniors get a good send off. I've already written about the challenges of playing this weekend. For those that do go, please get into your seats so that you can cheer on this group of Seniors. They were as critical for BC's turnaround as last year's graduating class.

BC is in trouble if...
We turn the ball over. We got lucky against Florida State. Multiple slips and lose balls were picked up by BC. We won't get that lucky again. Murphy needs to be careful with his exchanges and also avoid terrible passes into heavy coverage.

Bottom Line
There is no reason BC should lose this game. I think we overpower them from the start and put a team away for the first time in months. I also think the D holds 'Cuse to a few field goals in the redzone. It is a big win for BC and a nice way for the Senior class to finish their BC careers.
Final Score: BC 28, Syracuse 13

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No Thanks

Reader Matt sent an email regarding Notre Dame's annual Thanksgiving trips to California (rotating between Stanford and USC). I had also been thinking about BC's Thanksgiving games. While we won't copy the Irish's west coast swings, I do think the Irish are on to something. I don't think BC should ever play home games Thanksgiving weekend.

The biggest problem with Thanksgiving weekend is that most students are gone. I know campus is still open and they are welcome to return, but changing flights or rides is always easier said than done. This is a problem every school faces, but for state schools, the majority of the student population is still close. BC -- like Notre Dame -- has students from everywhere. Even if the school made an effort to get students back early for Thanksgiving, it is just not going to happen. To a lesser extent, the holiday also keeps some of our fans from outside Boston from making the trip back. They are shopping or traveling or with family.

We've played away games on Thanksgiving night, but I don't think we can ever host one on Thanksgiving Day. Part of it would be competing with the local high school game rivalries and the inevitable challenge from our Newton neighbors. But even a unique game on Thanksgiving or the occasional Black Friday game doesn't gain much for BC. We have our best attendance on Saturdays. When things are outside the norm, our non-local fans again become an issue.

The ACC rivalry with Syracuse is now locked in stone. We will finish our season with the Orange every year, with games rotating between Syracuse and Chestnut Hill. This is our best hope of overcoming the Thanksgiving challenge. If this becomes a heated rivalry, maybe, just maybe, students, non-local fans and even some bandwagon fans will want to get back for the game. Until then just be glad when we finish the season in Syracuse. It is just one less game where our stadium looks empty on TV.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

1984 team returns and other links

BC will honor Doug Flutie, Gerard Phelan and other members of the 1984 team during the Syracuse game. The game is about the Seniors, but I hope returning stars help attendance.

The Women's Ice Hockey team continued their undefeated streak by defeating Yale Tuesday.

This article on the lack of popularity BC Sports in Boston made the rounds Tuesday. At this point I am beyond caring. BC needs to market better, but winning big is the only way our bandwagon will ever get attention of the local pro sports fans.

A Syracuse blog took a look back on Addazio's relationship with Syracuse and what could have been with their hiring history.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

This week matters


BC needs to win this week. A good coach wins this week. I don't need to rehash our history. No one needs a reminder of facing a struggling Syracuse team late in the season. Addazio's first two years have been better than I expected. But the job is not done. Here is why this game is a must win.

1. It ensures a winning season. Win or lose, BC goes bowling. But bowl games count in the W-L record. A 6-7 season would be losing and a setback. History won't remember the close losses. The narrative will be the losing season. If BC wins this weekend, the worse BC can finish is 7-6. That's not necessarily exciting but it supports the building narrative.

2. It shows that Addazio hasn't lost the team. In college sports, there is a sense of momentum. The guys are young and need direction. This team is on a losing streak. Addazio needs to restore confidence and restore belief. If the guys come out sluggish, it will be on the staff.

3. We are a heavy favorite at home. Our home record this year is disappointing. Some of that is due to who we played at home. But Syracuse is coming in reeling. Good teams have run on them. We should establish the run and put them away. Good teams and good programs win at home, especially as a favorite.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Florida State

Emotionally most losses are easy to watch back. I am usually spent and over things by the time I hit play on my DVR remote. This was different. This game reinforced how close things were. We should have won this game. I am not blaming anyone. The team lost it together, but there were enough plays in all three phases that would have made a difference. If just one of those plays (a field goal, wrapping up Winston, a fumbled exchange) goes our way, we probably win.

Offense: B-

QBs reads are not exclusive to passing. I felt Murphy's reads on the zone option were just okay. He handed off a few times when the DE was crashing and/or unblocked. I also felt he should have kept it a few times when he was left with big holes. His passing was decent. The adjustment on the TD to Phillips was very good.

As a group, the running backs were great. Hilliman ran hard and looked like Montel Harris where he always fell forward another two yards when tackled. Outlow was also really explosive. His run when BC was pinned on the final drive was great. It was an example of making something out of nothing. Willis ran well. Rouse didn't do much, but had a great heads up play on the bad snap. Wofford was good blocking in the power I plus he caught a few.

The OLine was solid too. Although he didn't get called out on TV, I thought Vardaro had the best game. The leftside was really strong. Betancourt played well too. The announcers talked up Kramer and he probably had one of his better games. Gallik was solid and did a decent job with the slick ball.

I haven't mentioned Louie Addazio much this year, but he blocked really well. Bordner played well and provided the key block on Murphy's TD run. Darmstatter made a nice grab. Alston was good and I am glad he finally got the shovel pass inside.


I left talk for the Bordner pass in the overall section. Feel free to skip down there, if you don't want to talk about the other plays. I liked Day's approach. It was run heavy and started with between the tackles and used more counters and sweeps once we had softened them up. My biggest challenge wasn't with the runs. It was not calling enough runs for Murphy. Or giving him some rollout options where his choice is run pass. He's our best player and I feel like he should have had a few more carries.

Defense: B-

Wujciak played really well. He helped collapse the line and slowed things down between the tackles. He is really coming into his own this season. Kavalec and Mihalik were quiet, especially when compared to some of their games earlier in the season. Gutapfel looked good. Adebayo and Landry played fewer snaps and they were fine but not impactful.


It was a weird game for Keyes. I said he would be the key to the pass rush, but they didn't use him like that. He played a lot more coverage while Daniels and Strizak blitzed. He was decent in that role. When he did blitz he drew a holding call. Daniels was okay overall and stopping the run, but couldn't get to Winston. Strizak looked good, but also didn't close as much as we needed on the blitz. Duggan had a limited role.

Brown was really good. The INT was a bit about being in the right place at the right time, but overall he was very active and made a lot of important tackles. Asprilla played well, especially in coverage. Simmons was good. Moore got a little lucky in coverage, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

Don Brown told the announcers that he has to blitz to get pressure. I understand and agree. He did mix it up a bit by using Keyes less (almost like a decoy). It created some pressure on Winston. Just not enough. But once again with the game on the line, the opposing offense moved the ball down the field. It's frustrating, but in this game, it didn't feel like a coaching or scheme issue. It felt like a talent one.

Special Teams: B

Howell's punting was good. His kickoffs were good too. His field goal miss was frustrating, but not terrible. It looked better than some of the other misses we've had this year. The conditions were not great either (just look at what happened to the nation's best kicker Aguayo). Knoll's kick was fine.

Willis had a decent kick return. Alston didn't get to do much on the punt returns. His one return was short and uneventful.

The kick and punt coverage was fine. Considering where it has been and going against Florida State, that was an improvement.

Overall: B-

Let's address the second Bordner pass. This seems like it will be the lasting memory of the game for some and a black mark against Day and/or Addazio. First, any gimmick in that situation is ultimately Daz's call. They clearly worked on it and Addazio is a former play caller. If he didn't like the call he vetoes it. Others feel like the play was too risky given what was on the line. Also, they don't understand the logic of a trick play when BC was successfully moving the ball on the ground. My justification is that we ran it on first down and third down with little success. Running on second could have been a challenge too. Ultimately what happened was an incomplete pass on second down. Would you be upset if Murphy had just thrown an conventional incomplete instead? I didn't love the call and thought the execution was iffy, but it still resulted in Murphy nearly catching the ball. If he brings that in, Daz and Day are heroes.

Overall I thought Addazio managed the game well. We stayed with our plan even as we fall behind. The team was motivated and mostly performed well. You might quibble with waiting on the timeouts during the final Florida State drive but we never stopped them. There is no good time to use a timeout if the other team keeps converting. The use and mix of kickers is less a strategy/management issue and more of a recruiting one. At this point Daz is just trying to mask the problem and use whoever makes sense in the given moment.

It was far from a perfect game or a perfect coaching performance. But Addazio continues to do most of the right things in these sorts of games. Eventually we will start to win more of them.

The bigger issue is we now are in the middle of the predictable losing streak. We need to soundly defeat Syracuse next week to prove the staff's ability to manage a season.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Addazio has the right attitude

It is still too early to tell if Addazio is the guy to break us through our glass ceiling, but at least he gets it. I don't like other people to speak for me, but this time the coach said it perfectly.


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So close yet so far

Instead of writing our own story we helped the Seminoles repeat their story. The defending champions did just enough to win after getting a scare from an underdog. There were a lot of plays that would have made the difference.  I'm frustrated but still proud of the effort.

I will have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

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In-game comments post: Florida State

BC has nothing to lose. Well, almost nothing. If we don't come to play, we lose the chance to end the nation's longest win streak and pull off the biggest BC upset since 1993. I think we can do it. Let's hope the guys in the locker room come ready to play! Leave your comments and thoughts below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

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