Tuesday, September 26, 2017

ESPN cutting corners on ACC Network?

The News & Observer is worried about ESPN's announcement that instead of producing the ACC Network from Charlotte (where the SEC Network studios are), the new network will be in ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, CT.  To the typical future viewer, this won't make a difference. Who cares where the talking heads are? Because of the connection and involvement of the conference, there won't be much controversial content and true editorial independence is out the window already. What should matter to fans and the partner schools is ESPN's financials and strategy in the mount of cord cutting battles. 

ESPN is in a battle with Northeast cable companies about surcharges and college networks. The ACC Network deal has mandated payouts to the partner schools. Maybe the production cost cutting is an offset to whatever new, less lucrative deals they may have to cut with cable companies. 

I don't really care where the production originates or what sort of deal ESPN cuts with the cable and satellite companies. I only have three questions. Will I be able to get the ACC Network when it launches? Will the production quality be decent? And will the network finally provide the long-term stability the conference needs? I know the ACC had to make this deal and picking ESPN as a partner was the best option, but it all feels too little, too late. Hopefully I am wrong and the network become a great source of content and revenue for BC and the other schools. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Clemson

This team is better than their record and better than the current point differential. Watching the game again, you can see noticeable improvement in certain units. It shows that the coaches are still coaching and the players are still buying in. And it is not just watching that makes me think that. Monday morning, I talked to a person who sat among the players and coaches' families at Clemson (as a guest of BC). This person is no fan of Addazio. But the relayed message was clear: these families were into it. They were buying in during the game and in good spirits after. Addazio still has his staff and his locker room. That belief as well as the signs of improvement are what Addazio needs to save the season. Yet, I still don't trust him. The guy might be doing the right things behind the scenes, but he is giving these games away. He is terrible as a game manager. I don't know if we deserve to be 3-1 or 2-2 right now, but I do know the scores don't measure this team's potential. All they measure is that their head coach is inept in planning and execution of game strategy.

Offense: D

Brown did not play all that well. He had time and still made some bad throws and questionable decisions. He misses guys and is not being aggressive enough with some of his downfield looks. I know part of it could be coaching. Maybe they fear him forcing too much. But when he has the time he did against an elite D, he needs to make better throws.

I thought Dillon looked okay. He hits the hole hard and pushes the defense for another yard or two. In a game like this we needed him to either run over someone or make a few more guys miss. Hilliman was more decisive and looked okay in the passing game.

The Tight Ends blocked better and it made a difference. We even used them as H-backs at times.

If you want to bank on one reason for optimism, it is the OLine. They are getting better every week. Petrula is playing beyond his years. Lindstrom had his best game of the season. The left side did a good job opening holes and giving Brown time. Even Lazard looked better.

Smith had a nice long catch but most were short gainers. We need him to start shaking tacklers or something. White played well and hustled with good run after the catch. Sweeney was good.

I thought the game plan was bad. You are basically controlling the best front seven in the conference and you can't get first downs? Why not take more chances? Why not get the ball to guys who might actually break something open like Smith or White? When you dedicate so much time to running, there is going to be play action opportunities. We just didn't do enough of that. You can't beat elite teams when you only score seven points. I blame Addazio for most of that, but Loeffler shares some of the burden since we are still having trouble scoring on his watch.

Defense: C-

Landry played better. He let Bryant escapes a few times but overall was very disruptive and drew a lot of attention. Something remains off with Allen. He seems slowers. Merritt looked fine. Rayam looked okay as he got more time. Ray had some nice tackles. Ray Smith did a good job up the middle.

Bletzer had his best game and blew up multiple plays. Schwab was fine. Richardson was fine. Lamont looked good getting extensive playing time.

The DBs as a group were very good. Denis made multiple plays and had an INT. Harris still looks just okay and missed a few tackles. I don't know why he is not having the impact expected. Moore played well. Yiadom played well. Torres made a tackle.

Addazio said that the goal was to get Clemson to work it down the field. But what I appreciate is that we still brought pressure on occasion and got to the QB. The tackling wasn't great. The scheme was fine. My biggest problem is that we can't seem to stop the opposing QB from running on us. We've got to get that fixed.

Special Teams: B 

Mike Knoll might make first team all ACC. The only thing that frustrates me is that his good punts are helping rationalize Addazio's poor decisions.

The punt coverage has been good. Considering Clemson's play makers and the number of times we punted, only allowing one big return was good (and of course Knoll made the tackle).

Walker is being aggressive in his returns. I do think he will break something soon.

Colton Lichtenberg hit his only chance off the post. It was frustrating but not a terrible shank.

Overall: D

Things were going according to Addazio's plan right up until they didn't. I've belabored how antiquated his approach is and how he is a bad game manager. No need to rehash. One day it will work, but not against great teams with competent coaches. I am beyond frustrated. The only reason that another blowout didn't earn an F is because there is some noticeable improvement in certain units and some of the guys are playing their hearts out.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Another Sunday spent shooting down Addazio's logic

I did not have time to watch the game back on Sunday, so grades will have to wait until Monday. In the meantime, here is another post on Addazio's losing logic...

I don't know what statistics and probability charts Addazio believes in but he could spend Monday talking about the correlation between winning and field position. And use that stat to justify punting from Clemson territory five times on Saturday. Aside from the correlation/causation issue with that, I will counter with the only statistics that truly matters are points. BC only scored seven and that was because Addazio was content to punt away possession rather than risk giving Clemson better field position. You cannot beat anyone -- let alone a Top 5 team on the road -- only scoring seven points.

After I tweeted about the bad logic of punting there were a few responses that also pointed me towards some data. One was a good series on expected value given location. In laymen's terms, what that means is that every yard has an EV for scoring. Know what has a terrible EV? Punting from anywhere. Punting waves the white flag and keeps BC from scoring.

The other problem with punting when not scoring is that BC's Defense does not employ Spaz's old bend-but-don't-break. When you play a base D like Spaz's old squads, forcing a QB to go 95 yards without making a mistake had some statistical validity. While not exactly Don Brown, BC is still aggressive on D. That aggressiveness is in place whether we have a team pinned back or if we are in our own territory. So a big play can happen and will probably lead to an opponent's score. I like the aggressive D and don't wish to go back. But I wish our Head Coach adjusted his O to the new reality. He needs to score and forget about field position.

Here are some other stats or facts that will frustrate BC fans:

-- BC is currently 115 in Punts per Offensive Score at 2.8.
-- Mike Knoll is second in most punts with 33.
-- Addazio still only has one second half comeback while coach at BC.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Addazio goes conservative, still gets blown out

There are many questions about BC Football right now and very few answers. One answer we did learn Saturday was that Steve Addazio learned nothing last week against Notre Dame. Faced with the decision to play aggressively and upset a heavy favorite, he once again played not to lose and punted repeatedly from Clemson territory. It kept the game close for a while, but it also handcuffed his own offense. And in the end it didn't make a difference. Clemson crushed BC again.

I am not giving up on the season, but I don't see another ACC win on the schedule. All the potential toss-ups don't look that way anymore.

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

In-game comments post: Clemson

Can BC bounce back? Can we make it interesting? Can we avoid a blowout? I hope so.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday picks

Here are this week's picks.

Texas A&M-2.5 at Arkansas

NC State+12.5 at Florida State

Army+3 at Tulane

Pitt+9.5 at Georgia Tech

Miami (OH)+1 at Central Michigan

Wake Forest-6 at Appalachian State

Duke-1.5 at UNC

Michigan-10.5 at Purdue

Syracuse+21 at LSU

San Diego State-3 at Air Force

Last week I went 6-3. For the season I am 18-10-1.

Game Watches: Clemson

Here are this week's Game Watches. I hope you all have reason to celebrate.

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

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

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.