Monday, September 22, 2014

Freese cut and other links

After struggling this season, the Lions cut Nate Freese. I am surprised with his struggles considering his accuracy last year. I am sure he will get a second shot at the NFL.

BC Hockey begins the season ranked No. 2 in the Hockey East preseason poll.

Soaring to Glory took a deep dive on the evolution of our run game under Addazio.

Labels: , ,

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Maine

I apologize for the delay in reviewing the game. In a way it wasn't really a second viewing yet wasn't a first time viewing. My ESPN3 was really delayed and out of sync Saturday. I would see an update on the blog or twitter and then see it unfold in the game a few minutes later. It has a bit of a numbing effect. Like when Murphy threw the INT, I couldn't believe it. But 30 seconds or so later when I finally saw it, I was able to process it and watch it in a different manner. I was less angry but more anxious that the game would slip away. Fortunately things settled down and BC took control.

Offense: B+

In the other games I blamed the passing issues on the Wide Receivers more than Murphy. I cannot do that this week. Even when he's not rushed or under pressure some of his passes and decisions are the INT. I think getting him moving is a solution though since it might get him thinking less about mechanics and fundamentals and just getting the ball to the receiver in a catchable spot. The first TD was once again a matter of him making one guy miss and then taking off. He made good reads on the zone reads all day. I was glad Wade got some playing time. Given the circumstances I don't know if you can read much more into it than what we saw with the Spring Game, but his passing motion looked a little tighter.

Welcome to the party, Marcus Outlow! But like Wade, I don't know if we can read as much into his numbers since it was in the second half and while the game was out of reach. I did like getting him involved in the passing game. We need more of that with all the RBs. Hilliman was good. Willis is getting the touches but not the explosive plays. I think he is close to breaking one though. Wolford got a catch. He can be a bigger factor in the passing game if we do more play action.

Alston is considered a WR, but considering how we use him on the jet sweep, it is almost like he's a running back. I would love to see a play fake on the sweep and then a deep pass to him on a wheel route. I am impressed by Bordner's ability to weave and catch the ball in traffic off the shovel pass. He also had a nice run after the catch on the TD. Despite the early drops I think the transition to WR is going well. Dudeck finally got some balls his way. He's not explosive or a big blocker, but at least he's sure handed.

The OLine was good. Our early sluggish issues were not upfront. The Vardaro injury is what you fear in a game like this, but I assume he'll be back shortly. I thought Gallik had another solid game. Rarely do our breakdowns occur in his area.

I felt Day called a good game. There was no new wrinkles and nothing exotic. Our early issues were more about execution than trying to get too cute against Maine. When we needed to take control in the score and the tempo, he went to our bread and butter plays. There was some chirping on the message boards and twitter that we should have passed more, but together we passed more than 20 times in a blowout. I still don't know if he has a good feel for how to use Murphy's arm, but they are getting there.

Defense: B-

I thought the Defensive Line was the most consistent unit of the D. They were ready from the start and didn't make many mistakes. They got good push and stopped the run. Wujciak dominated his matchups. Moore did well. Mihalik was fine.

I don't what happened during the Pitt game, but Keyes has been much better since. He was active and better tackling. Duggan played well in his return. I was glad to see Strachan get extended time. He looked good.

Johnson got more time than usual and made the most of it. Asprilla was fine early.Williams was good. Jones was ok.

Like the offensive scheme, the defense was hardly exotic. We didn't dial up nearly as many looks and blitzes as normal. After Maine's early success and big play, they showed Brown talking to the guys on the sideline. Obviously I don't know what he said, but he wasn't going nuts. Perhaps the calm helped and guys just did their respective jobs. As the game wore on we forced more short series without doing much. The B- is really due to allowing a guy to get that open that early in the game, but other than that and few penalties, it was a solid performance.

Special Teams: B

The kick coverage was just okay. It wasn't as if a bunch of tackles were missed or we had breakdowns like the USC game. But the returns all went a little longer than I would have hoped. I don't know if it is an airtime issue. It is hard to tell from the stream. The punts were fine.

Willis looked strong on our returns. I think he will break one soon as he's getting good speed and making the first guy miss. A bit better blocking and he'll make more miss. Alston didn't get to do much on the punt returns.

The PAT issues continue. I think this is all an after effect of having two kickers (yanks, low kicks, etc). Howell was fine on the FGs.

Overall: B

The biggest takeaway is the win. Did the team come out fired up? No. Did we work out the kinks in the passing game? No. Did the defense avoid mental mistakes? No. But none of that really matters. These games vs FCS teams are pretty useless. Avoid enough mistakes to win. Addazio kept his cool and kept it vanilla on both sides of the ball and that was enough. He also got some extended playing time for the second teamers. Now the key is to turn the sloppy play into a solid week of prep for Colorado State.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Delay in second viewing

Sorry for the delay. It won't get posted Sunday night. I will have it up Monday morning.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

BC gets win despite sloppy start

It was almost cliche watching BC make a few mistakes that allowed Maine to hang around into the second quarter. Fortunately we finally established the run and the defense tightened up and BC ran away with the game 40-10. At this point I am just glad our young team picked up another win. This will give the coaches plenty to focus on.

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

Labels: ,

In-game comments post: Maine

Don't take this game lightly! Maine beat a FBS team last year (ok, it was only UMass). But this will be a good test for our team's focus and maturity. Are they ready to compete every week? Can they handle the comedown off of the USC win? Let's hope so. Leave your thoughts and comments on the game below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 19, 2014

What Not to Wear

With the welcome news that BC will not use the Red Bandana uniforms again this season, the BC Twitterers and BC blogosphere went into overdrive about BC's current and future uniforms. Brian recapped the cross talk and outlined a basic plan I agree with, however, he didn't spend as much time on the "fashion don'ts" as I would have liked. Because if there is one person that BC should be taking fashion tips from, it is a blogger dad in his late 30s who wears about three different things and doesn't have to talk to recruits.

Rule No. 1: No more white pants
It is not even an after Labor Day rule. There is no historical justification for it and I closely associate it with the Gene DeFilippo era. Except for a designated special uniform day, our home pants should always be gold. No exception. On the road, I prefer the gold pants for historic reasons, but will accept the maroon pants (see Rule No. 3).

Rule No. 2: No white stripe helmet
I am okay with the stained glass effect (on a maroon stripe). I liked the wounded warrior helmets. I thought the red bandana helmets were appropriately subtle. I don't mind a solid gold helmet as a throwback. But all variations to the BC helmet should be under clearly defined specialty days. No random usage of the white stripe a.k.a. the 49ers helmet.
One could argue about the fun or early victories associated with the white pants. But the white stripe will always scream Spaz football to me. Do we want that kind of association? I know the history of the maroon stripe is not that old, but it is clean, classic and closely associated with BC Football. Embrace it and use it in most of our games.

Rule No. 3: No in-season variations to the road uniform scheme
My preference for all BC road games is a white jersey and gold pants. I can live with maroon pants. I never want to see the white pants again. But whatever BC does, I just want consistency. Pick a road uniform combo and stick with it for multiple seasons. When people flip on the channel, they should see the uniform and think "that's BC." Use the home games for the gimmicks. On the road you set a tone for the opponents and opposing fans. Establish a look and then go win a bunch of road games.


Tweets of the Week


Game Watches: Maine

It will be hard to match last week's excitement, but hanging with a few BC friends always makes a game more fun. Here are the regional Game Watches. If your Chapter's is not listed, post the information in the comments section.

Atlanta Game Watch
The McCunney House
4210 N Mountain Rd NE
Marietta, GA 30066

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

Dallas Game Watch
Corner Bar
4830 McKinney Ave

Denver Game Watch
The Whittier Pub
2000 E 28th Ave

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

Brazen Fox
13th and 3rd

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.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

BC-Maine preview

This is probably the perfect opponent to follow USC. Even with Mr. Motivation as Head Coach, a comedown is only natural. But if the team starts slow, we have enough talent and size that controlling this game should not be an issue. Like every FCS matchup, you just hope for a nice win and to avoid any injuries or issues.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game) 
The Boston City Council keeps moving forward with their new rules for college athletics. Because Marty Walsh has yet to see the Bill, this is all still grandstanding, but at what point does BC need to get involved to curtail this nonsense? Exploitation and college athletics go hand in hand and that needs to change. However, these local legislators don't have a clue and are not the ones to fix it. I hope it doesn't go much further because then BC and any team we play in Boston will be impacted.

Three Simple Keys
1. Win without trying anything unique. There are plenty of twists BC can use in our offense, especially now that every team will key on the run. Don't use any of those this week. Just beat Maine with a simple vanilla package. 
2. Work out the kinks in the kicking game. I don't want to settle for field goals, but I do hope that whoever is kicking PATs and FGs starts making them.
3. Take control early. Think of how Villanova surprised BC last year or how the drives against UMass stalled out this year. That shouldn't happen this week. BC needs to set the tone early and control throughout.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 6-2 at Alumni
-- Maine was 1-1 vs FBS last season
-- Addazio is 3-0 vs FCS teams
The is no point spread on the major betting sites.

The first three games of the series were played in Maine. Since then all the games have been played in Chestnut Hill.

Scoreboard Watching
Even before the Winston half-game suspension, the FSU-Clemson showdown was critical to our division. How the 'Noles play without Winston will be a decent barometer of how good they are and how good Clemson is.

I hope to see...
The backup Offensive Line play for long stretches. Not only will this mean BC is in control of the game, it will also be a chance for BC to test next year's starters in live game conditions.

BC is in trouble if...
Murphy gets hurt. I don't think losing Murphy would mean we lose the game, but it would be disastrous for the remainder of the season.

Bottom Line
There is always a risk to taking an opponent lightly (just ask USC). But I don't see it this week. It would be one thing if this were even a great Maine team, but this is a Black Bear squad coming off a loss. I think like the UMass game, BC's lines should dominate enough that the contest is never really in doubt. Maybe Maine gets a late garbage TD, but otherwise it is BC all day.
Final Score: BC 35, Maine 10

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Bandbox off Beacon Street

I think it is time to appreciate Alumni Stadium for what it is: the surprising House of Horrors for visiting college football teams. It happened again Saturday night when USC players kept mentioning the stadium in their post-game comments. In this Oral History of the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, the greatest team in college football history admits that there is something flukey about playing at Alumni.

Davenport: It's cold, I don't know if it's the Boston chowder that we eat at the hotel, but we're always just sluggish when we come out.
Randy Shannon (defensive coordinator): It was just ... Boston. Even when I (coached) with Dennis Erickson, it was always the same. For some rhyme or reason, we couldn't figure it out.
Coker: What I really think it was, was perception. We didn't perceive Boston College as being a Florida State or Florida or Penn State or one of those types of schools. Right or wrong, that was the perception.
Curtis Johnson: You never stay near the stadium. The bus ride in, it looks like -- this isn't a knock on their stadium, because it's a great stadium -- but it doesn't appear what you would expect it to be as far as a major college football stadium. It's not like you're going into Florida State. You just don't see it as being, that kind of stadium.

All the key ingredients are there. Teams don't take us seriously. The setting and environment are different from other venues. The weather can be an issue too. Obviously the better BC is, the tougher the game at Alumni can be, but even when we are not as good, something about the Stadium can make a difference.

A few of my pet theories are the proximity of the stands to the benches. In other stadiums the team benches are sometimes 20 yards away and 12 feet down from the nearest seat. At Alumni, the benches are closer to five yards away and fans can lean over the railings and practically touch players. If a favored team is frustrated, I am sure the tension is ratcheted up with BC fans breathing down your neck.

Then there is impact Alumni's design has on the opponents. We know Alumni is closed on both ends with a low upperdeck. This can make the 44,500 seats feel much closer than they actually are. The all aluminum seating also creates louder than expected noise.

In the Miami article TOB champions the weather issue as well. Depending on the opponent and the time of year, New England weather can be a factor in any game at Alumni. Traditionally our September games can be surprisingly hot, our October games are often wet and November games are cold. Sure our players also have to deal with the elements, but when you're on the road and in a dogfight, bad weather doesn't raise spirits.

The USC players talked about the travel. Obviously that is another issue that varies by opponent, but being a long trip never hurts our cause as the home team.

To ever get a national homefield reputation like Blacksburg or Boise, we will need to rattle off some long home win streaks or upset a bunch of ranked teams. But until then, I am happy that our little stadium keeps surprising our opponents.

Labels: ,

Bates tries to build on Saturday's excitement and other links

Brad Bates used his latest "Letter from the AD's Desk" to sell people on coming to the final five home games. It is not a bad idea. Everyone's in a great mood about BC sports and the word of mouth from those who attended the game was great. Not every game will be as special and I think there are many factors in a home attendance issues, but a big one that has been overcome is our competitiveness. BC no longer has a sad sack as coach, so I think some of our fans can start to get excited about the games instead of feeling like they are wasting their time. Bates's focus was on the memories of Saturday night, but his office did add a new face this week. Bates hired Marcus Blossom as Associate Athletics Director for Business and Administration. On the surface this is not a major hire, but it is important for Bates. Even two years into his tenure many of the Athletic Department staff are holdovers. Bates did not clean house when he took over. The fact that so many stayed speaks to Bates' ability to win them over but also their love for working at BC. I expect we will finally see some top-level changes once Bates announces the Master Plan.

The story of Henry Hill fixing BC Basketball games will lead off the latest series of 30 for 30 films.

Brian St. Pierre St. John's team is off to a good start.

Here are the Game Notes and Depth Chart for the Maine Game.

Soccer lost to Harvard.

This article on Barry Gallup's role within BC Football is from last week, but still worth your time to read.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Handling the Crowther relationship with care

This is awesome and I could watch it all day. Addazio does a great job of building to his point and handing it off to the Crowthers. From there Mr. and Mrs. Crowther are charming, sincere and touching as always. They've handled themselves with such class since the moment they were thrust into the spotlight. It was the perfect ending to a week of honor and remembrance of their son.

My concern is news that BC will incorporate the Red Bandanna motif into their uniforms for the remainder of the season. We don't know how or to what extent, but the whole thing gives me pause (like Brian). Welles deserves honor and celebration. Saturday night was perfect. However, if you do something all the time, it makes things less special. And I worry that it also becomes a little exploitative and commercial. Will some on the team be inspired each time they see the Red Bandanna? Of course. But others might start to take it for granted.

I had the similar concerns about exploitation and people missing the point during the Ice Bucket Challenge. And I was probably wrong then. Whatever fears I had of people's motivations, clearly the good aspects of the Challenge far exceeded any social media narcissism that took place. Maybe I am wrong here. Maybe incorporating the Red Bandanna into the uniforms will be done with subtlety and respect. Or maybe I shouldn't worry, because the Crowthers have handled this whole process so well, I am sure they would let BC know when things didn't feel right.

Labels: ,