Saturday, September 24, 2016

That was that

It certainly wasn't the most crisp or quality game, but it was a win. Who knows what to make of any of it? The only silver lining was the extended time for the backups.

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

In-game comments post: Wagner

This game shouldn't be interesting. Yet I know that just by thinking (and writing) that way invites all sorts of jinxes. I want to see a dominant performance that starts to erase the problems of last week. We can do this!

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

End of the Week Rant: I don't care what happens with the National Anthem at Alumni Saturday

I am surprised. I thought the National Anthem protest would be just another short trend in our short attention span culture. However, it seems like each week brings new athletes into the mix. Most of the focus has been on professional athletes, but more college athletes are getting involved. Saturday will be BC's first home football game. Something may happen. Something may not. I don't really care either way.

If a player wants to protest, I am okay with that. If no one does, I don't care (or take it as sign of character of our team). If Addazio weighs in, I wish him the best. But his college coaching peir group hasn't been the most eloquent or intelligent on the subject.

I don't even care what BC fans do during the Anthem. Given how many fans regularly miss the opening kickoff, the Anthem is the least of our worries.

My indifference is not about not caring about our country, my pride in being an American, or my understanding on racial equality. It is more my position on a lot of things that get people fired up on either side. We get so caught up in the hot button issue of the day and showing our solidarity with one side or the other, that we miss the big underlying issues and do little to solve any of them. Solving these issues takes time and answering hard questions. Ranting about the hot button issue of the day is easy. I use ranting about sports as my distraction from the real life. On real issues, I struggle to find a way that I can make a difference beyond kneeling or ranting or tweeting or liking something on Facebook. Regardless of what happens at Alumni, how people react to the Anthem is not really a problem...or at least, not my problem.

Friday picks

My picks have been terrible so far this season. If I want to finish above .500, I've got to start getting some right. Maybe this is the week.

(Picks in bold.)

USC+2.5 at Utah

Florida State-5.5 at South Florida

Wisconsin+4.5 at Michigan State

Central Michigan-3 at Virginia 

Syracuse+3 at UConn

LSU-3.5 at Auburn

Louisiana Tech+4.5 at Middle Tennessee State

Stanford-3 at UCLA

Arkansas+6 at Texas A&M

Air Force-4.5 at Utah State

Last week I was 2-7-1. For the season I am 9-19-2.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

BC-Wagner preview

This might be the worst type of game to follow up on last week's disaster. This is such a mismatch, that there is little to nothing we or the staff can learn. I don't even think the guaranteed "W" will boost the team's confidence. They know this is a purchased win. Even if we dominate and Virginia Tech will be on everyone's mind until we beat an ACC team.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Win their win last week, North Dakota State has now won six straight road games vs FBS teams. Five of the six have been Power 5 teams. I hate the annual FCS game, but thankfully our administrators know how to schedule true cupcakes. I harp on our overly soft scheduling, but I promise that I would bash the administration even more if they couldn't even schedule a guaranteed win without screwing it up.


Three Simple Keys
1. Get some confidence back in the passing game. Things looked good against UMass. There were even some bright spots at the beginning of the Virginia Tech game. Then Towles started rushing things and chucking it out of bounds. Use this game to get back to what worked.
2. Play the backups. We saw some of the backups get in during the final minutes in Blacksburg. This week needs even more. I want to see everyone who is not redshirting. You never know who will step up.
3. Bring the pressure on D. Like the Offense, I want this game to be a tune up. While I don't want BC to give away all their upcoming wrinkles, I do want them to reestablish an aggressive mindset.

Gambling Notes
-- BC has never lost to an FCS team since they started rescheduling these games in the 2000s
-- Wagner is 0-4 all time vs FBS teams
-- Addazio is 2-1 in home openers
The major sports books are not putting a line on this game.

Factoid
This is only the second New York City school BC has faced in Football. Fordham is the other. I was surprised to find that even back in the day we never played Columbia or St. John's.

Scoreboard Watching
Syracuse plays UConn this weekend. Both are future opponents and most of us considered future wins. Playing each other gives us an indicator of which team we should fear more.

I hope to see...
No one get seriously hurt. The last thing we need in this game is to lose a key player.

BC is in trouble if...
BC can't be in trouble in this game. If we some how screw this up, Bates gets fired Saturday night and Addazio should be fired Sunday morning.

Overall
I expect this to be like last year's Howard game. BC will just overwhelm them with size and speed. It won't be close and it won't tell us anything.
Final Score: BC 49, Howard 7

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How safe is Addazio?

After last week, it didn't take long for some BC fans to build FireDaz.com. At this point I am not onboard with a coaching change and think that Addazio is relatively safe. Unless we go winless in the ACC again, I don't see Brad Bates making a change. 

Some frustrated BC fans will claim that the money owed to Addazio makes him too expensive to fire. That's not the issue. BC has to view the contract as a sunk cost and every miserable season that he is kept on would lead to lost Football revenue, harder fundraising and fewer applications. It becomes too expensive to keep losing, despite what he might still be owed. 

But money won't be the primary factor. I think it is more about Bates' power or lack there of. Because it was his first and most high-profile move, Bates is tied to Addazio. And he hasn't accomplished enough at BC to be viewed as anything other than the guy who hired Addazio and Christian. Bates benefits by giving Addazio more time. If, and only if, Addazio turns things around, will Bates earn back the trust with fans and BC leadership. If Addazio continues to struggle, no one around BC will want Bates searching for another coach.

If Addazio can't win more this year, I think it will be Bates who is fired (or not renewed, however you want to view it). It would then be up to Bates replacement to evaluate Addazio after five years and set the new direction for BC Football. 

So get used to Addazio. I think he's going to be around another year or longer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What was that?

Last week I highlighted good offensive playcalling and play design. This week is the opposite. This was only one play, but I feel it captures many of the problems of the day and is an example of what Addazio explained away as things getting too complicated.

In my opinion, the best college offenses keep things as simple as possible. Variations, counters and new wrinkles are built on the foundation of what works. Because of the relative inexperience of all college players, the limitation on practice reps, and the challenge of trying new things, being a different offense week to week is nearly impossible. That was my frustration last year. We kept trying all sorts of things and none of it worked. It is all more frustrating because of what Day (and Addazio) did in Daz's first two years at BC was so brilliant. But that is another post for another time.

Here is the play. BC just got the ball back and it is early in the 2nd Quarter. This is first down. It is an empty backfield. Once they realize the backfield is empty, VT crowds the line and shows blitz.

The leftside of the Oline are trying quick cutblocks. For this to work, they need to execute well and Towles has to get rid of the ball quickly. 

Both guys miss and Towles is waiting. For what, I don't know. It looks like he's looking to his left, however, there is no separation. He has options to the right, but either doesn't trust them or is so locked on getting it away to the pressure side that he doesn't even look. He probably sees the total cluster that the cut blocks were too. 
The cut blocks were terrible and two defenders are coming right at Towles. Although there is space to the right, he doesn't run. Instead he launches the ball right at the VT DLinemen. They swat it and the play is over. 2nd and 10.

Now this is just one play in a terrible game. Who cares? Well BC was already down at this point but there was plenty of time to play. Instead of trying something that worked earlier in the season or early in the game, BC comes out with an empty backfield. This is my first issue. Second there was the Pop Warner sloppy cut blocks. This is not something BC has done much this year or in recent years. That leads me to believe they don't spend a ton of time practicing it. So either two things happened for this play to make the gameplan. They either didn't practice enough so that the OL could cut blockin their sleep OR they did practice it a lot and the linemen still couldn't pull it off (therefore wasting valuable practice time). Neither answer is good. I hope they didn't practice it much and were just rolling the dice. If they did practice it well enough to make the gameplan and that is how the guys blocked, then we have bigger issues.

While Towles is a 5th year, he is still new to this Offense and facing Bud Foster. Why not keep things simple for him. Tell him to take off if the play breaks down or the cuts don't work.

Addazio mentioned getting back to basics. That's good, because we need to find what works. Save the cut blocking, five wide stuff once we can block, pass and run.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Addazio sounds like Jimbo Fisher

"I'm mad. I'm pissed off at myself. I'm pissed off at my coaches. But ranting and raving won't do anything."

-- Jimbo Fisher

With a day of reflection after his team got thrashed, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher pointed most of the blame back at himself and his staff. Steve Addazio did the same thing. Even if neither believes it, taking the blame is the smart decision.

When a guy misses a kick or the D allows a key conversion in a close game, you can point to that one moment. When you lose by 49, there are no such moments. Losing like that speaks to huge issues. And since there are so many issues, the Head Coach has to take the blame. He approved the gameplan. He picked and empowered the staff and he recruited most of the players.

Addazio also spoke to the failure of the scheme. He thinks they made things too complex and slowed the players down. They weren't reacting. They were overthinking. I don't know if this was the main issue, but it is consistent with the formations on Offense. On D, we were less aggressive.

We won't know much about Addazio's fixes until after Wagner and Buffalo. Hopefully he won't have to explain away another disaster.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Virginia Tech

During the game it felt like the Offense was the big problem and everything else fell apart later. That wasn't the case. The D was making mistakes from the start and had no answer for VT's new offense. There was no pressure and they made us do things we don't do well (zone). I don't feel good about the team right now. Mostly because of the coaching, but also because of how the players reacted during the game.

Offense: F

Towles looked terrible. His passing was rough and his decision making worse. He gave up on plays way too early. Why is he so quick to throw it out of bounds? If the guys are not open, tuck it and run! We actually moved the ball a bit when he was outside the pocket. Wade got his first real ACC action of the year. He wasn't allowed to do much and what he did, didn't impress. He's not a great runner.

VT was waiting on the run, but Hilliman has got to make at least one guy miss. Or run over a guy or two. When he doesn't break something, his touches become worthless. Rouse and Willis weren't given much to do within the Offense.

The OLine wasn't the problem, but they weren't good. Too many penalties and too many mistakes. The guys who struggled were Schmal, Lowery and Montiero.

The WRs had a rough day. Walker's fumble was huge and in replay you saw that it wasn't some big hit. There was a glancing blow and the ball got loose. Smith didn't make enough plays. Sweeney dropped a near TD. As a group their blocking wasn't great either.

Things looked okay early. Loeffler spread things about and got Towles on the move. But as BC fell behind, we seemed to abandon that idea and go through an awkward mix of big and spread. None of it worked. When things are falling apart like that, I pray that the OC can put some simple series of plays in to calm the team and move the ball just a bit. Clearly Loeffler doesn't think like me. We had nothing that we could execute under pressure.

Defense: F

The problems on defense started up front. Virginia Tech ran to the edges and negated much of our strength inside. But as a group these guys did not control the line. Where was Gutapfel? He usually gets good penetration. Landry lost contain a few times on scoring drives. Kavalec was very active but also got pushed around on the line. Ray made a play, but also missed some tackles.

This was the worst game of Milano's time at BC. He missed too many tackles, looked less aggressive and struggled covering their slot guys and RBs in the passing game. Strachan and Schwab were not great either. None of the guys made plays or disrupted like they did the first two weeks. Because of the score Bletzer got more playing time and looked ok.

McClary got called for Pass Interference twice, but I thought he played better than most of the DBs. He made the play on balls, he just got too handsy with their WRs. Johnson and Harris missed some tackles. Moore and Yiadom -- who were both great last year -- struggled in coverage.

Beyond the missed tackles, we had some scheme issues. BC rarely blitzed and couldn't get pressure with the front four. We played a lot of zone and they picked it apart. They also really made our LBs look bad in coverage. Maybe the UMass and Georgia Tech gave the staff a false sense of what the team can do. We need to start blitzing more soon. It is what this program was built to do.

Special Teams: C

I felt bad for Max Richardson being called for a block in the back on Willis' return. It was a borderline call and would have changed the mood of the game.

The punts were decent and the coverage was okay considering how many times BC kicked it away!

Overall: F

Good programs and good coaches are occasionally on the wrong end of an ass kicking. Look at Florida State this weekend. When I went back through BC's history, Notre Dame pounding Coughlin nears the top of the list of worst defeats. It is forgivable. But how you handle it in the game and after is what really matters.

I thought Addazio should have done more during the game. Why not try to score on fourth down? Why not go with Wade earlier? Why not air it out? Find a spark. Find a new answer. Don't just mail in the game. That sort of attitude teaches the team nothing and provides no helpful data to the coaches.

I don't think this team is as bad as the score. But I think the Addazio version of BC Football is on life support. If he is truly going to build a winner here, he needs to salvage this season and avoid further embarrassment. He's let games slip away, but at least BC fought in those games. If BC can't even keep things close, then we've entered lame duck mode.

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Virginia Tech

During the game it felt like the Offense was the big problem and everything else fell apart later. That wasn't the case. The D was making mistakes from the start and had no answer for VT's new offense. There was no pressure and they made us do things we don't do well (zone). I don't feel good about the team right now. Mostly because of the coaching, but also because of how the players reacted during the game.

Offense: F

Towles looked terrible. His passing was rough and his decision making worse. He gave up on plays way too early. Why is he so quick to throw it out of bounds? If the guys are not open, tuck it and run! We actually moved the ball a bit when he was outside the pocket. Wade got his first real ACC action of the year. He wasn't allowed to do much and what he did, didn't impress. He's not a great runner.

VT was waiting on the run, but Hilliman has got to make at least one guy miss. Or run over a guy or two. When he doesn't break something, his touches become worthless. Rouse and Willis weren't given much to do within the Offense.

The OLine wasn't the problem, but they weren't good. Too many penalties and too many mistakes. The guys who struggled were Schmal, Lowery and Montiero.

The WRs had a rough day. Walker's fumble was huge and in replay you saw that it wasn't some big hit. There was a glancing blow and the ball got loose. Smith didn't make enough plays. Sweeney dropped a near TD. As a group their blocking wasn't great either.

Things looked okay early. Loeffler spread things about and got Towles on the move. But as BC fell behind, we seemed to abandon that idea and go through an awkward mix of big and spread. None of it worked. When things are falling apart like that, I pray that the OC can put some simple series of plays in to calm the team and move the ball just a bit. Clearly Loeffler doesn't think like me. We had nothing that we could execute under pressure.

Defense: F

The problems on defense started up front. Virginia Tech ran to the edges and negated much of our strength inside. But as a group these guys did not control the line. Where was Gutapfel? He usually gets good penetration. Landry lost contain a few times on scoring drives. Kavalec was very active but also got pushed around on the line. Ray made a play, but also missed some tackles.

This was the worst game of Milano's time at BC. He missed too many tackles, looked less aggressive and struggled covering their slot guys and RBs in the passing game. Strachan and Schwab were not great either. None of the guys made plays or disrupted like they did the first two weeks. Because of the score Bletzer got more playing time and looked ok.

McClary got called for Pass Interference twice, but I thought he played better than most of the DBs. He made the play on balls, he just got too handsy with their WRs. Johnson and Harris missed some tackles. Moore and Yiadom -- who were both great last year -- struggled in coverage.

Beyond the missed tackles, we had some scheme issues. BC rarely blitzed and couldn't get pressure with the front four. We played a lot of zone and they picked it apart. They also really made our LBs look bad in coverage. Maybe the UMass and Georgia Tech gave the staff a false sense of what the team can do. We need to start blitzing more soon. IT is what this program was built to do.

Special Teams: C

I felt bad for Max Richardson being called for a block in the back on Willis' return. It was a borderline call and would have changed the mood of the game.

The punts were decent and the coverage was okay considering how many times BC kicked it away!

Overall: F

Good programs and good coaches are occasionally on the wrong end of an ass kicking. Look at Florida State this weekend. When I went back through BC's history, Notre Dame pounding Coughlin nears the top of the list of worst defeats. It is forgivable. But how you handle it in the game and after is what really matters.

I thought Addazio should have done more during the game. Why not try to score on fourth down? Why not go with Wade earlier? Why not air it out? Find a spark. Find a new answer. Don't just mail in the game. That sort of attitude teaches the team nothing and provides no helpful data to the coaches.

I don't think this team is as bad as the score. But I think the Addazio version of BC Football is on life support. If he is truly going to build a winner here, he needs to salvage this season and avoid further embarrassment. He's let games slip away, but at least BC fought in those games. If BC can't even keep things close, then we've entered lame duck mode.