Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday Picks Week 6

There were plenty of big spreads this week. In general, I try to avoid them. If the spread is 40 something points, you're then trying to guess whether or not the favorite is going to take it easy. Too much risk.

My hot streak continued last week. We'll see if it keeps going this week. Wish me luck...purely for entertainment purposes!

(Picks in bold.) 

NC State+3 at Virginia Tech

Oklahoma-17 at Texas

Tulane+15 at Temple

Syracuse+1.5 at South Florida

Northwestern+7.5 at Michigan

Wisconsin+1 at Nebraska

Oklahoma State+6.5 at West Virginia

TCU-10 at Kansas State

Miami+7.5 at Florida State

Cal+8 at Utah

Last week I was 8-2. I am 29-19-2 on the season.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

BC-Wake Forest preview

Addazio says he is waiting for one of the QBs to step up. He wants one guy to show him something more...something different from the other guy. BC fans want a sign too. We want to see that Addazio can adapt and can handle rough patches and can win the games he is supposed to win. Despite our offensive struggles, BC is favorite this week. If Addazio is a very good coach, he takes care of business at home. If we lose, we will have more questions than just who should be the next QB.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I don't want to keep going back to the Duke game, but there was a little wrinkle that I failed to mention that shows their coaches are doing a good job. If you recall after every questionable catch that went their way, Duke quickly ran to the line to start the next play. We see something similar with every NFL team. You don't see that urgency as often in college. Maybe because tempo is already part of most team's game plans. Maybe because the NFL has had replay longer. But I found it interesting that Duke reacted how they did. It showed that their players have good situational awareness and good sideline communications.

Three Simple Keys
1. Continue to stretch the field with deep throws. Despite their tendency to hang, flutter and miss their target, I still want Smith and Flutie attempting big throws downfield. Every once in a while you'll hit a big TD and at a minimum, you will keep their Safeties honest. I don't trust Flutie or Smith enough to pull off lots of short passes in heavy traffic.
2. Turn anything between the 50 and the Wake 25 into 4-down territory. Addazio can rationalize this ten different ways, but this is one area where the statistics show he's being too conservative. We can't make long field goals. We have an outstanding D. Every possession in that area should play call as if we are going for it. Run on third down if needed.
3. Get better blocking from the Tight Ends and Wide Receivers. There has been a lot of criticism of the OLine, but the biggest drop off between the first two year and this one is between the blocking of the WRs and Tight Ends. On other teams that might not be a big deal. For us, it is. We depend on those guys to engage the Linebackers and DBs who are crashing the line when we run.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 12-6 at home
-- Addazio last started 0-3 in ACC play in 2013
-- Wake if 1-4 at Alumni as a member of the ACC
The current line is BC-7.5

BC has scored only one touchdown in ACC play.

Scoreboard Watching
On Friday night, NC State travels to Virginia Tech. Aside from watching two future opponents and potentially the last days of Beamer Ball, I am also interested to see how VT manufactures offense. It hasn't been pretty for their OC Scot Loeffler. Prior to calling plays for Beamer, Loeffler coached under Daz at Temple.

I hope to see...
Sherman Alston get back in the groove. Addazio mentioned players pressing and it looks like that is an issue with Alston. He can be so dynamic. We just need to find him the right situations.

BC is in trouble if...
We don't score at least 20 points. 20 points seems pretty arbitrary on my part, especially given how good the Defense is. But I think that barrier represents a comfortable enough margin for BC to control and win the game. If we keep slogging along in low-scoring battles, every mistake is magnified and someone will steal at game at Alumni.

Bottom Line
Neither QB pulls away from the other, but they both look much better. BC also gets its first defensive touchdown of the year and mostly keeps Wake in check all day.
Final Score: BC 24, Wake 13

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Looking back on what could have been: former BC coaching candidates

Having just faced David Cutcliffe and heading into a game against Dave Clawson, I thought it might be time to look back at what could have been. Both guys were very friendly with Gene Defilippo and were considered in 2006 when TOB left. And since we're going back, I thought we might as well examine Al Golden and Mike London too. (It always feels like the ACC is littered with guys who talked to BC about the job.)

David Cutcliffe
Of all the guys listed in this, Cutcliffe probably advanced the least in the process. I think his age, the lack of New England or even northeast ties, his health and his persona kept him from being considered strongly. After TOB, I think everyone wanted someone a little more passionate and a little more high energy. Cutcliffe is not as dry and reserved as TOB, but he is not rah rah type. I never wanted him and would have been livid if we had hired him. Yet maybe that was a mistake. He's exceeded everyone's expectations at Duke and turned them into a viable, somewhat consistent football program. Imagine what he might have done in Matt Ryan's final year or with someone like Chase Rettig? Since he was a Gene crony, Spaz probably would have stayed on as DC. In retrospect, that might have been pretty formidable. Even though our Whale Pants booster crowd might not have taken to a southerner like Cutcliffe as head coach, the guy is a devout Catholic (supposedly attends Mass daily). Maybe it would have worked.

Dave Clawson
I had never heard of Dave Clawson until the BC job opened up. His candidacy (and much of his career) was directly tied to Gene D. At the time, he was head coach at Richmond. While successful there, he had yet to coach at the DIA level. The jump to BC would have been massive and a real question mark in recruiting. Aside from his relationship with Gene, what Clawson did have in his favor was a track record of building good teams. First at Fordham and then at Richmond. That success continued at Bowling Green. Will he turn Wake into a winner? Who knows? But I don't think BC missed anything. Unlike Cutcliffe, who was more of Gene's peer, Clawson was Gene's mentee. That style of management blew up with Jags. It probably would have with Clawson as well.

Mike London
London was a serious candidate when Spaz got the job. A year later he got the UVA job. They've been very patient with him and he is still well under .500. I don't think BC would have had as much patience. At the time I preferred London to Spaz. In retrospect, he probably would have failed here too. I don't even know if he would have won as many games as Spaz did (London's winning percentage is below Spaz's). London is and was a better recruiter than Spaz, so the bottom might not have been as low, but there still would have been multiple bad, frustrating seasons.

Al Golden
For a guy who put so much planning into his career progressions, Al Golden's timing with BC has always been bad. Unlike the other guys, he was a candidate after TOB, Jags and Spaz. Now that the Miami fans are fed up, it looks like Al probably should have left when BC came calling after firing Spaz. Even if it meant a pay cut, it would have gotten him out of the mess he's been dealing with in South Florida. Of all the guys on the list, I think Al has the most in common with Addazio. They are both intense rah rah guys. Both are passionate about recruiting. And both are guys who raise a lot of questions with their game management. If we had hired Golden instead of Addazio, I think we would probably be a in a very similar situation: a lot of young talent, but questions on if the coach can take the team to the next level.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Another candid Addazio press conference

People have been really critical of the QB situation. Just look at some of these quotes:

"...quarterback play has to get better and there are varying different reasons for those things. Some is age, some is not, but that is what we have to get better."

"I'm not sure at this point that either one can handle the whole game."

"Troy - on that last play - he just ran himself to a problem. It was a tremendous pocket. Stand there and deliver the ball! If you don't like it, shiver up and run vertically because all we were trying to do was to get seven more yards to get a field goal, or at least an attempt..."

Those quotes aren't from a message board. They're from Steve Addazio. As much as I question what Addazio is doing, I am always thankful for his candor in these weekly press conferences. Maybe because he's not getting grilled by a horde of SEC local media types. It is probably just Vega, Thompson, and a few student reporters. Maybe he has his guard down. But he admits that he's hoping one of the guys steps up and takes the decision away from him. He shares a story about going to his own defensive staff and getting their opinion. Clearly the staff is struggling with each guy's limitation and as Addazio said the expectations to win now vs developing a player.

Addazio is also candid about his criticism of Special Teams, Hilliman, the OLine and Alston. And I think he does it without really blaming any of the guys or throwing them under the bus. There's nothing here that crosses a line, but it is more than most coaches would say. Or at least more than past BC coaches ever said.

Speaking your mind or playing it close to the vest doesn't matter if we don't win. And we need to win this weekend. If not I think Addazio's press conferences will take a very different tone.

Monday, October 05, 2015

BC-Clemson gets prime time treatment

The ACC announced the kickoff times for October 17 and slotted BC vs Clemson for prime time. The game will start at 7 pm and either be on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

While much of the TV appeal is based on Clemson's hot streak, BC is a big factor in the national prime time slot. Our game against FSU was one of ESPN's highest rated Friday night games.

The ESPN2-ESPNU aspect will be cleared up next week. I think the network is hoping we handle Wake and Clemson doesn't trip up against Georgia Tech.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Second viewing thoughts and grades:Duke

That was brutal to watch back. So much went wrong and we still could have won. So many people and units played well...really well in a losing effort. Usually I find the close calls reassuring. Now I am starting to worry. How are the players going to hold up? They feel the frustration too. You can lose teams in situations like this. We've seen it happen to BC and we've seen other teams go through it. If we just fix a few things, this team could be so, so much better.

Offense: D

Neither Flutie or Smith is a good passer. They both miss open guys and both hold on to the ball too long. Flutie's TD showed he can sit in the pocket and let one go, but the pass was still wobbly. Neither have great awareness of the clock. Flutie might be able to "run more of the offense" but he's still not making good decisions or good plays in the offense. Smith had some nice runs, but made some questionable decisions on handing the ball off in the sweeps (unless he didn't have the green light). The running game is better with Smith.

Outlow was pretty good. I am not sure why he didn't get more touches. Rouse played pretty well. Wofford made a nice catch.

I thought Smith made a nice catch on the TD they called incomplete. His real TD was nice. Alston looked good running but couldn't pull a pass in. Swigert missed one too. Callinan was fine. As a group they did not block well.

The OLine is not the problem. They actually played well this week. There is only so much you can do when the other team is that aggressive loading the box and at the line. Most of the blocking breakdowns came from the Tight Ends and WRs (Sweeney had some issues).

The time to throw stuff against the wall isn't the game. Fitch and Addazio have the luxury of practicing against an elite D. Do that in practice. I know you don't want to be installing new offense at this point in the season, but this playbook was all over the place...especially with Smith. We used basically the Wildcat with the sweeps (but it didn't seem like Smith had the green light to keep it). We used pistol with Smith. How can he be expected to learn anything when we are asking him to do all this other stuff? I think simple would be better for this kid now. And give him more one look rollouts, then he can take off if nothing is there (like the near first down on the 1st and 20). They are not doing Flutie any favors either. While this wasn't a shutout, it was another series of scoreless quarters. This is wholesale failure and not bad luck or young talent. How they are handling the QBs, their shoot from the hip rotation and the overall approach is a failure. But I fear they (Addazio and the Offensive staff) are drowning in so many issues, that they don't recognize the way out. It felt like Smith finally gave it to them as he moved the ball, but then Flutie connected on some passes. So my fear is it will be more of the same.

Defense: B+

Kavalec is back. He made some huge tackles during the goal line stand. Landry looked good and is also making some big plays stopping the run. Abdesmad played well. Gutapfel had one of his better games. Wujciak didn't cram the stat sheet, but played well.

I read a few criticisms of Daniels on the board, but watching it back, I didn't see any issues. He was good in coverage. He made a lot of tackles and had a sack. Milano was good. Strachan and Schwab weren't as productive but didn't have any glaring mistakes.

The stats for the DBs were somewhat deceiving. Most of the Duke yards came against one guy: Johnson. He's big and not as quick, so by putting some of their little guys in the slot, he got a bit exposed. He also got blown up on some tackles. Yiadom had a very good game. They rarely even threw his way and he made some nice plays. Moore was called for PI, but overall played well. Simmons was good.

I want to credit Brown for an adjustment that worked. In the first half Duke had pretty good success with passes over the middle against the safeties and linebackers and we weren't blitzing. Instead of adding more DBs to help pass coverage, Brown used the LBs for more pressure. The extra men and hint of pressure forced Duke into more rushed and in effective passes. The Defense is really the bright spot of the short season so far.

Special Teams: D

Alston is one of our most unique and potentially explosive players. But I am starting to wonder if we need to take him off punt returns. The fumble was brutal.

Lichtenberg's miss wasn't terrible. It was not a gimme. The early screw up was due to a bad snap.

Lichtenberg's kickoffs were fairly short. Was that on purpose or is leg just that short?

Howell's punts were good and so was the punt coverage.

Overall: C-

I am so frustrated with the Offense, the same game issues reoccurring (use of timeouts, clock management, etc) and Special Teams, that I want to give it all an "F," but I can't. We lost, on the road, to a pretty good Duke team by two points. Was there bad coaching? Plenty. Was there some bad luck? Yes. But luck tends to even out and bad coaching is usually punished with a L. I don't think Addazio is a bad coach. But what we are going through now and how he is dealing with it, has me questioning his upside again. It is the first time since he started coaching actual games that I am starting to believe that his challenges will limit what he can do at BC. The good news is that there is still plenty of time and plenty of big games to work this out. Let's hope he starts with Wake Forest.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Feeling blue in Durham

I do think Duke is decent but BC could have and probably should have won that game. Even with QB confusion, really bad Special Teams and bad ref calls, BC had chances to win in the 4th. I am very frustrated.

I will have my grades and second thoughts late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Duke

Throw your real predictions out the window. They've been washed away by the weather. I don't know what to expect from either team except that it will be wet. I will keep telling myself that helps BC...until something doesn't go our way.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.