Saturday, November 18, 2017

Boring but bowl bound

BC came out flat, but in the end it did not matter. BC trounced UConn at Fenway. Dillon made up for Wade's uneven performance. Hilliman also had his best game of the season. After a rough start, the D also adjusted. The score should have been even more one-sided, but BC couldn't convert extra points and UConn got some garbage points late in the game.

Beyond the game, the big issues of note were freshman EJ Perry playing and BC locking up a bowl bid. I will have more on both issues this week.

I will be traveling so I don't know if I will have the grades up Sunday night. I will have something up. Stay tuned.

Below is my Post-game Periscope.

In-game comments post: UConn

We've got UConn at Fenway. It should feel special. I hope it is a blowout. Let's get things back on track.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday picks

Picks in bold

TCU-6 at Texas Tech

Minnesota+7 at Northwestern

Texas+3 at West Virginia

Fresno State-2.5 at Wyoming

UMass+4.5 at BYU

Georgia Tech-6.5 at Duke

Army+2.5 at North Texas

Arizona+2.5 at Oregon

Texas A&M+2.5 at Ole Miss

NC State+1.5 at Wake Forest

Last week I went 7-3. For the season I am 53-53-3.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

BC-UConn preview

This is a layup game. A gimme. A cupcake. I don't care who starts at QB, BC should win with ease. I feel confident. And I know that is the worst feeling to have. We know how this could end. If Addazio does screw it up, there will be Hell to pay with the fans, his new boss and obviously the blogosphere.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I don't know if I will ever change my opinion of UConn. In sports, I have always found them insufferable. Even something like Women's Basketball -- where they have clearly been the best -- they come off like bullies and blowhards. The Big East lawsuits will always serve as a sign that they were the most jealous and petty school in the Northeast. I think Gene D. screwed up a lot of things, but keeping UConn out of the ACC (in favor of Pitt) will always be something for which I thank him.

Three Simple Keys
1. Don't let UConn's QB beat us with his feet. The Huskies made a QB change this week and the new guy Pindell can move. BC can't let him have big plays on the ground.
2. No mistakes from BC's QB. I know Addazio said he needs more than a game manager, but he also can't have someone who kills drives. So no INTs and no fumbles.
3. Get 200 yards from Dillon. If Dillon can pile up big yards, that means good things are happening. It will also help BC's D and control the tempo.

Gambling Notes
-- BC has never lost to UConn
-- Addazio is 1-4 at neutral site games while at BC
-- Addazio is 13-15 coming off a loss while at BC
The current line is BC-21.5

This will be BC's 77th game at Fenway Park.

Scoreboard Watching
Louisville could eliminate Syracuse from bowl contention this week and change the dynamic of our game with the Orange.

What I hope to see...
I want to see Levy get more snaps in the backfield. If you are taking Dillon out on passing downs, put in someone who will block well and pick up a late blitzer.

BC is in trouble if...
We allow UConn to score early. They are looking for any sort of momentum. BC can't let that happen. Take their team and the crowd out of it early.

I know BC is a heavy favorite, but I don't see the game being lopsided on the scoreboard. I think the weather and BC's QB uncertainty lead to Addazio going very conservative. I think we pound the ball and end up with a comfortable but not overwhelming lead.
Final Score: BC 31, UConn 17

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NC State loss didn't seem to impact BC's desirability to bowls

If BC had pulled off the win against NC State and run the table, we might have elevated into a higher level bowl. Now it seems like we are back where we started in the lowest rung of ACC games. Most experts see BC still going to the Pinstripe Bowl (here and here). Detroit is still in the mix. El Paso could happen. I think most BC fans would prefer the Pinstripe. The location -- while cold -- is accessible to a good portion of our fans. Most seemed to enjoy our last game there. Plus it would likely be against a Big Ten team so there is a chance to get a respectable win. But this is not settled. There are a few variables that will impact the ACC bowl pool. Here are some of the unknown issues.

1. Will BC win a sixth game? Without that, we stay home.
2.  Will Syracuse win a sixth game? To do so would involve beating BC. If they beat us Thanksgiving weekend, they will probably take the Pinstripe slot.
3. Will Florida State win a sixth game? They also have to run their table. On name alone, they would probably pass BC in bowl selections?
4. Will Pitt or Duke become bowl eligible? I don't think either would take a Pinstripe slot over BC, but they would become interchangeable on the other ACC games.

I don't think all the ACC teams still alive will make bowls. If they do, then suddenly BC is looking at even lower rung bowls. But now all we can do is take care of our business Saturday. Win that game and BC is going somewhere.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Perry in the mix

In his press conference Monday, Steve Addazio said all options are on the table, including playing true freshman EJ Perry. This should not be a surprise since there have been plenty of signs that the staff was high on Perry. The most basic is that Perry seems to shadow Addazio on the sidelines. There's always the No. 8 just over Addazio's shoulder. The other clue on Perry's standing is that over the past few weeks Meter and Cronin have brought him up on their broadcasts. This weekend all the talk and promise could shift from "what if" to actual playing time.

Some BC fans don't think it is fair or wise to use Perry now with just two games remaining. I don't really think it is the fans' call. Addazio mentioned having a talk with Perry and his parents about playing him now. If he and the Perrys want EJ on the field, why should we care about his redshirt? He can always redshirt again down the road. As much as more time and development helps a career, it doesn't guarantee anything. Look at all the "development" time Darius Wade has had. Does it show on the field? Does Wade's seem more comfortable in the pocket than he did two years ago? Playing now gives Perry a chance to see live action and something beyond practice.

If Perry does prove to be better than Wade and they beat UConn, he suddenly gets a chance to practice with the first team for month of bowl prep. The downside is if Perry struggles and only plays a little bit. Then he has little to show and has to sit another year. But either way if Perry plays now, sitting down the road is almost inevitable. You would have to assume he would want to be in a different eligibility year than Brown so that he could be the starter after Brown uses up his eligibility.

Even with the uncertain QB status, BC remains a heavy favorite over UConn. There is no reason BC should lose this game. Wade seems like the best answer, but I don't want BC to struggle if Perry is ready to go.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Brown out of year; Addazio gets no free pass

Some bad but not unexpected news on the injury front. Anthony Brown is done for the year.

This is unfortunate and very disappointing. While inconsistent and raw, Brown played very well as a Freshman and was a key part of BC's best games. I hope for a speedy and smooth recovery and look forward to him playing again.


BC sits at 5-5 with UConn and Syracuse remaining. Win won game and BC goes bowling. Lose both and BC is home with a 5-7 record in Year 5. If Addazio cannot get one win from these two struggling teams, he does not deserve to come back. Injuries are bad luck and BC has been unlucky this year, but a good coach manages games around injuries and a good program builder has an effective plan for his back up quarterback.

Darius Wade is the presumptive starter. Fadule is out for the year too, so I assume true freshman EJ Perry is the backup. I know Addazio wanted to redshirt Perry, but if Wade is not up to the task, I say play Perry now. If he helps beat UConn, then all of a sudden he is starting games as a true freshman and starting a bowl game. He can always redshirt next year if he and his parents want that extra year. But the point remains, Addazio has to pull out all the stops and get BC to a bowl game and finish with a winning record. UConn is terrible. There is no reason BC can't win just by handing it off to Dillon 30+ times.

When Addazio beat FSU, I said he was safe. Now -- because he mismanaged the NC State game -- that breathing room is gone. If he can't get this team ready without Brown, BC needs to make a change.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Second viewing thoughts and grades: NC State

This is the type of game that reinforces my belief that Addazio will never be a great coach. The way he manages and prepares for a game limits his upside. There won't be a season where everything goes way because much like TOB, he will make in game decisions that limit BC's ability to win. This was one of those games. There was plenty of bad luck -- like losing Brown -- but ultimately Addazio's approach cost the team. Watching it back was very frustrating.

Offense: C

I know Wade has not had consistent playing time, but how can his feel for pressure still be so bad? The game should be slowing down for him at this point. Not the other way around. I don't think the staff put him in good position to win, but he looked lost and unsure in the pocket. It was not pretty. Brown was okay before he got hurt. He got greedy on the INT pass. He was running well prior to getting hurt.

Dillon was very good again. Beyond pushing the pile or shrugging off tacklers, he is getting better at finding holes and reading blocks. This will lead to more and more big runs. Hilliman was not as good. If he is going to be in on passing downs, he needs to do a better job blocking. Levy had a nice catch. Maybe he should get a shot on passing downs.

Considering they were going against a great DLine, the Oline played well. They got good push most of the day. The sacks were mostly because Wade didn't get rid of the ball quickly enough or Hilliman didn't help. Lindstrom struggled he most, but also had the toughest assignment.

The WRs and tight ends blocked well. Sweeney had some nice catches. Thadd Smith's run was great. Jeff Smith made a tough catch in traffic. White was okay.

Where was the play calling from the Florida State game? This time it was Dillon, Dillon and then pray the QBs don't screw it up. Most frustrating was that when Wade came in, they didn't adjust to his strengths. Why have him sit in the pocket so many times? Why not do more of what worked against Louisville? And how could he looked so ill prepared? I usually don't want more jet sweeps, but there were so many that could have worked. NC State was not respecting the play and Thadd and Jeff Smith should have gotten more touches. I also don't know what was going on with the final possession, but get into that more in the Addazio section below.

Defense: B

The DLine played well. Allen had a big game. Merritt was also really disruptive. I was surprised by how many times they were blowing over NC State guys or worse getting tackled by a desperate NC State lineman. There should have been about four or five holding calls that weren't called. Ray was good. Smith played well too.

Schwab was great again. He is playing his best football right at the end of his career. He made good tackles and the INT was a nice heads up play. Lamont was really good too. He is reading plays well. Bletzer had some trouble in coverage, but his fumble pick up was nice.

Moore played well before the injury. Denis and Harris both missed some tackles. Yiadom played very well and was acknowledged repeatedly by Huard. Cheevers, Torres and McClary were fine as replacements.

I know the score was okay, but I didn't love the strategy. We brought plenty of pressure -- some as a blitz and some as just the front four. But the blitzing seemed to almost enable Finley. He handled it and converted too many 3rd downs. The D was good, but given the offense it needed to be perfect.

Special Teams: B

Knoll punted very well and placed the ball within the 20.

Walker bobbled on kick return but looked good on another.

The kickoffs were not as good. I assume the cold was an issue. The kick and punt coverage was ok. Not great.

Overall: C-

Aside from not adjusting when Wade went in, here are some of the really questionable approaches.

1. The jump pass from Hilliman. This was Addazio trying to be Urban Meyer and falling flat on his face. The reason is worked with Tim Tebow twice was in part because Tebow was enough of a passer that he could adjust and flip it midair. It also worked because Tebow was enough of a threat that no DBs stayed home. Hilliman is not that same guy. The NC State safety read the play right away and Hilliman never looked like he was trying to run for the first down. It was a terrible play on many levels. I would have preferred a FG, but if the weather had you worried about the FG attempt, why not run it with Dillon? Instead you put in a liability and run a trick play. Ugly and dumb.

2. The clock management before the first half. In general, I am against wasting possessions. However, you could sort of rationalize killing clock when you have your back up in the game. But once Doeren starts using his timeouts, you have to adjust your plan. Addazio didn't. On third down you need to call a bootleg with Wade and tell him don't throw an interception and down throw the ball away. Wade needs to roll, use a few more seconds and hopefully hit an open TE or WR. Instead we ran it right into their DL and let Doeren stop the clock. NC State's ensuing points were the difference and Addazio bungled another two minute situation.

3. Not using Dillon in the final drive. You have three minutes. That is an eternity in college football. Why is your most dynamic player on the bench? There was still time to run Dillon. Also, if he is on the field, NC State is focused on him and maybe that opens up another player or area of the field.

Doeren made some equally head scratching decisions. He nearly gave the game away, only Addazio wouldn't take it from him.

I am frustrated. For a few weeks it looked like we might have enough pieces to overcome Addazio's limitations. Now it doesn't seem that way. He's going to need a lot more talent to overcome how he manages close games.

UConn should be an easy win. If he blows this one, then a coaching change comes back into discussion.