Sunday, November 29, 2015

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Syracuse

Saturday was a mixed bag. Some players finished the season strong and played like they cared. Others didn't. It happens when there is little at stake. What's frustrating is that like so many other games this year, BC could have and probably should have won this game.

Offense: C-

Jeff Smith wasn't as bad as his passing stats indicated. He wasn't good through the air, but the INTs were not bad decisions...just somewhat unlucky. Wofford and Robinson dropped catchable balls. And a few were purposely thrown away. His running was his best of the year. He finally kept the ball on more options and it led to a few longer drives. If Daz follows through on his plan to change the offense, then this was probably Smith's last start. I still think the kid has potential. He and BC didn't find it this year.

Tyler Rouse ran hard and made some nice cuts. Willis only played sparingly. Wofford blocked well enough and missed a pass that came his way. Wilson got one touch.

Robinson looked bad. I know he's new to the position, but there is no excuse for so many drops. Smith caught the only pass that counted. Callinan blocked well but also got called for a penalty. So did Dudeck. The Tight Ends didn't catch anything either, but the Burke, Sweeney combo blocked better than Tight Ends have all season.

The Offensive Line was really inconsistent. One play they would look good. The next it looked like they would get Smith killed. Monteiro looked good on the run plays. He missed on a few pass plays. Harris Williams had his best game of the season. Bowen struggled. Baker had some good moments. It was his assignment that tipped the second INT.

The passing game was a mess, the blocking, the catching and Smith's throws. But I feel like if we had used this offense -- Pistol with heavy read option -- all year, we win six games. That may sound silly in a loss, but I feel that sort of commitment would have sprung bigger plays from Smith and might have opened other things. How fitting that Fitch called his best game in our season finale and we still lost.

Defense: C+

Landry and Abdesmad had great games. Wujciak and Gutapfel did not. Those two guys have been huge difference makers all year. Saturday Wujciak looked a step slow and got pushed around. Gutapfel made some mistakes and missed tackles. Kavalec was okay. Moore missed a tackle. Ray got in some action.

Milano was very good. Yet if he makes the INT late, we go to OT. Daniels played well enough. Strachan had a few issues in coverage but was fine.

Simmons played well. Yiadom looked back to his preinjury form. Johnson was just ok. McClary was fine. Harris was ok.

Because Syracuse does a lot of funky stuff (lots of old school options and pitches), you have to play back. Brown didn't get super aggressive and I feel like it cost us. We should have put more pressure on. That was not a good offense and we allowed them to move the ball too freely.

Special Teams: C+

Walker was one of the bright spots of the season. I look forward to him returning kicks next year. We've also been very good in our blocking on returns.

I was glad to see Lichtenberg make a field goal. What was up with the kicks out of bounds? Both were costly.

Howell was fine. As was the punt coverage. We didn't return any punts, but Smith handled them without issue.

Overall: D

Some might wonder, why the lower overall grade when each unit rated higher. No one unit played all that well on Saturday, but all playing poorly leads to another bad grade for Addazio. Most frustrating was his willingness to eat yet another possession before the half. I was also frustrated he didn't use his timeouts earlier on the final drive, but the way Cuse moved the ball meant it didn't matter.

Losing another close game is bad luck but also bad coaching.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


During the offseason Steve Addazio will surely talk about injuries and bad luck. This team was also young. And next year things will get better. More games close games will break BC's way. Young players will improve. New players will emerge. But none of that excuses how bad this season went, including Saturday. Total offensive ineptitude, haphazard execution, questionable 3rd decisions, stupid penalties, and wasting huge opportunities.

This was BC's first winless conference season. The longest losing streak since 1978. The W-L record is masked by two wins that BC bought against FCS cupcakes.

Addazio has a lot to fix this year. When the offense is this bad, it is not purely a talent or age issue. The whole approach and the coaching shares the blame.

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

In-game comments post: Syracuse

This is our last game of BC Football for a long time. Let's enjoy it.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Picks Week 13

Championship games near, so this is my last chance to cherry pick my selections. I went heavy on the rivalries.

Virginia Tech-3.5 at Virginia

Ohio State-1 at Michigan

Georgia-4 at Georgia Tech

Cincinnati+1.5 at East Carolina

Duke-4 at Wake Forest

North Carolina-5.5 at NC State


Ole Miss-1 at Mississippi State

Florida-3 at Florida State

Notre Dame+4 at Stanford

Last week I was 6-4. I am 64-53-3 on the season.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

BC-Syracuse preview

One day this game will have juice. It is not this year. Even if the Orange rally around Shafer, do you think BC fans are going to get emotional about this loss? I view it as a must win, but to the rest of the college football world doesn't care and few of either teams fans do. Hopefully in the near future both teams come into this game with something on the line.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
A few Addazio critics are pointing out the similarities between Shafer's record and Addazio's. To me it is not a fair comparison. Syracuse hired Shafer to continue Marrone's success. BC hired Addazio for a rebuild. Addazio's win percentage is not following the ideal path of a traditional rebuild, but he still deserves more time to see this out.

Three Simple Keys
1. Win the turnover battle.  The turnover battle didn't determine the winner last week, but with Syracuse's Offense it probably will. BC cannot cough it up and make things easier for the Orange.
2. Get 200 yards on the ground. If Smith get the majority of the snaps, then this becomes vital. BC needs to move the ball.
3. Build a lead. We've lost enough close games this year, plus we lost a close game in a our last trip to the Carrier Dome. Don't let this come down to the last possession. That's why BC cannot led Syracuse ride the emotional wave.

Gambling Notes
-- Shafer is 1-1 against BC
-- BC has never gone winless in conference play
-- BC is 3-11 in the Carrier Dome
The current line is BC-3

BC has not lost eight in a row since 1978.

Scoreboard Watching
Am I the only one curious to see how Notre Dame responds to their struggles against us? We probably did enough to keep them out of the Playoff, but a big win over Stanford might help them rise back up into the Top 4.

I hope to see...
BC shutout Syracuse. Think of what this season would have been like without the Defense. I would like to see them go out on top.

BC is in trouble if...
If they come out flat. I don't gather that Shafer is beloved, but you never want to let them ride the emotion of his last game.

I've called this a must win, but I do think BC will win. I think Syracuse will lose whatever emotion they have early in the game and the BC defense will control. Then Smith and Fadule do enough to get BC comfortably ahead.
Final Score: BC 21, Syracuse 10

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

All coaches should rent

A few days ago I was exchanging emails with a long-time and frustrated BC fan. I had to remind the fan that all of this is fluid. Every once in a while a school locks onto a Beamer type, but very few coaches end up being lifers. Just look at the ACC landscape. 

Clemson -- Dabo Swinney, 8th season
Duke -- David Cutcliffe, 8th season
Georgia Tech -- Paul Johnson, 8th season
Florida State -- Jimbo Fisher, 6th season
Virginia -- Mike London, 6th season
North Carolina -- Larry Fedora, 4th season
NC State -- Dave Doeren, 3rd season
Boston College -- Steve Addazio, 3rd season
Louisville -- Bobby Petrino, 2nd season
Wake Forest -- Dave Clawson, 2nd season
Pitt -- Pat Narduzzi, 1st season
Miami  -- will hire a new coach
Virginia Tech  -- will hire a new coach
Syracuse  -- will hire a new coach

Assuming Virginia fires Mike London soon, Addazio will have been around longer than half the coaches in the conference. And that is after just three years. Of the coaches with more seniority, who has the potential for real staying power? Maybe Swinney. Johnson is rubbing a lot of Georgia Tech fans the wrong way. Age and health will catch up with Cutcliffe. Fisher flirts with enough SEC and NFL jobs to know that he's looking beyond Tallahassee. Fedora could also be in the mix for the LSU job.

If you lost faith in Addazio this year, take the long term view. He will either bounce back next year, or he is probably not long for BC. And even if his ceiling is low, he's not going to be here in much beyond five or six years anyway. That's just the nature of the sport. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Syracuse is a must win

Steve Addazio is not on the hot seat, but he must win this weekend. Syracuse just fired their head coach and is a bad, bad team. They have no reason to play. We have the best defense in the country. There is no reason we cannot overcome their emotion and win. 

Winning just one game won't change the course of this season, but it will avoid a complete rock bottom. If Addazio loses, he will have led BC through its first winless conference season, and only one win over a FBS team. It would be arguably as bad as Spaz's worst season and arguably BC's worst year since the '70s.

Plus the inability to scrap together or even luck into a win would speak to a bigger problem. BC is young. BC is flawed. BC will be better next year. But if Addazio can't even do enough schematically to fall into a win -- with the best BC defense in decades -- then he has bigger issues than QB and Offensive line.

This season is lost. We all understand that. But give us some hope. Give the people (fans, recruits, current players) something to look forward to. Addazio must win this weekend or else the offseason will be that much longer.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Notre Dame

That didn't feel like a three-point loss. Did any BC fan trust us to comeback once the Irish got up? Watching the game back just reinforced the point. The energy, the playcalling and even Notre Dame's reaction never turned. As frustrated as we are, I can only guess what some players are thinking.

Offense: C-

Fadule was ok. He's a fighter and looks good at times, but this was the first game where he seemed confused. There were clearly some runs (Williams was downfield blocking, as was Callinan) where Fadule dropped back to pass. He also had clock issues and timing the snap on the jet sweep. Addazio also got on him for some run pass/decisions. His passing wasn't particularly crisp and had trouble with blitzes. Smith looked good and ran with more purpose. His passing was good too. My only real issue was that he screwed up a snap again.

Rouse was fine but better receiving than rushing. Willis ran hard but did not break anything big. Same sort of feel from Wilson. What they all did though was help the play action and the Smith runs later.

This is a different game without the drop from Thadd Smith and less so with the Robinson drop. Those mistakes are killers, but also lead me to wonder why we didn't throw more. I know the QBs are not great passers, but there were open plays out there. Callinan had some really nice catches, including the TD. Sweeney's one grab was nice. Dudeck was fine as the emergency outlet, but when is he ever going to break a tackle? Addazio struggled blocking again.

Although Flutie got on them, the OLine wasn't their worst. Bowen did not play well and Williams struggled a bit, but I thought Baker looked good and moved well. Monteiro played well.

Put aside who is making the QB call for a moment and just look at some of the unintended byproducts. Snap issues. Wasted timeouts. General execution issues with regards to blocking and catching. Timing issues on timing plays (the sweep). This is happening in Week 11. I also don't understand why there wasn't more passing. Plenty of big plays were there. But Notre Dame knew if they stopped the run, they would stop BC. But even with a focus on stopping the run, BC got good run productivity from the QBs.

Defense: B

One of the reasons ND was able to move the ball was the Defensive Line. Each guy had some big plays, but in general they weren't at their best. Abdesmad made the most plays. Wujciak was contained for the most part. Landry missed big on an option. Kavalec was ok. Gutapel helped tip on of the INTs.

If the DLine was not their best, the LBs were. The most impressive play was Strachan and Milano blowing up ND's read option. Daniels also made some nice plays. He was very disruptive in the backfield. Strachan also did well when forced into coverage.

Simmons had a heck of a game. He made heads up plays all over the field. He tackled well too. McClary was tested the most and did ok -- despite the penalty. Johnson played well. Harris looked okay, but he missed a few tackles.

I thought we would blitz more against ND. But we didn't and that allowed them to pass a lot. We were fortunate that we turned the ball over so often. So Brown doesn't get a thumbs up for the scheme, but the players stripping the ball is all part of the package.

Special Teams: C

Lots of Special Teams mistakes to ruin the good stuff. Alston muffed a critical punt and we were lucky the D got the ball back. The penalty on the blocked kick was also bad. Sailing a kick off out of bounds was also bad.

Walker looked good. The punt coverage was good. And we made a field goal!!!

I didn't mind the fake punt. I just wish it had been executed better.

Overall: C+

Addazio said the plan was to play both Quarterbacks. That's fine, but the timing and the in and out still seemed so haphazard. As mentioned above, the rotation seemed to impact execution again. Addazio also deserves a little scorn for the unsportsmanlike penalty. This is a guy who preaches smart football and avoiding mistakes. Yet here he goes getting a 15-yard penalty when we are behind? If a player did that, he would be livid. Beyond the game, this is dumb because it was an ACC crew. Do you think Addazio is getting a reputation among officials? How is that going to pay off in the future?

We lost a close game against a top team. That is not the end of the world. But he gets a C+ because he's ineffective at fixing our issues in-season and keeps making the same mistakes.