Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dabo tempts fate with Clemsoning rant

After the week we just had, BC could use some football karma to come our way. Could it be Dabo Swinney provided it with his rant about "Clemsoning" (above)? For Dabo's sake, he should have just brushed it off, but coaches are so thinskinned, he had to make a point about it. Please, oh please, Football Gods, please let this sort of rant come back to bite him this weekend. The little Catholic school in Boston would greatly appreciate it.

The reality is that Clemson is great right now. They are doing everything right and taking care of business. I have never been more wrong about a coach than I was about Swinney and still think Addazio should use Swinney as his role model.

I hope is a few years we are where Clemson is, but this weekend, I hope for a full on Clemsoning.

Monday, October 12, 2015

UConn series confirmed

The long speculated series with UConn is on the books. With that BC's 2016 schedule is basically complete (the FCS opponent is rumored to be Wagner.)

Enough time has passed that BC seems ready to move on from the historical animosity with UConn. The only remaining figure in the drama is Father Leahy and I doubt old lawsuits are keeping him up at night.

For those who are disappointed that BC did not schedule a bigger potential opponent, what did you really expect at this point? Bates and Addazio are scheduling wins and this one has the bonus of being cheap and easily spun. They can tell the media and fans they are trying to build New England football.

I don't hate the game. We have to play someone and if we are not playing anyone interesting, we might as well play someone close.

Addazio will pick one QB

Nothing is settled, but it will be. Addazio promises.

Picking a guy is the right first step. Building a gameplan around that one guy is the second step. Scoring a point is the final step.

The bigger question is will Addazio really ride with one guy if things go wrong?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Wake Forest

Addazio, and some of his apologists, are blaming inexperience and/or execution for the utter cluster of the final five minutes. I've heard and read "this team is only three plays away from being 5-1." Anyone who says that in defense of Saturday is missing the big picture. I hope Addazio is smart enough to see beyond that nonsense. The reality is that if you play in enough close games, luck and randomness is amplified and things are not always going to go your way. Addazio is 6-7 at BC in close games (decided by seven points or less) and 1-2 in close games this year. Because he is not preparing this team well and because he is not pressing every in-game opportunity, BC is finding itself in close games. Play enough of those close games and some are going to go blow up in your face. Even if we had miraculously scored a TD in the final minute, the final score would have been 7-3. BC is -- and was -- more than four points better than Wake. The reason the game was close is because Steve Addazio's management during the week and during the game.

But injuries...and fumbles...and missed kicks...blah, blah, blah.
Everything that went wrong on Saturday comes back to how things were handled in the offseason, how things have been handled since Wade's injury, and how Daz managed the game Saturday.
1. The confusion on the final possession. If Smith is getting all the snaps during the week, then the team has more time to practice two minute drills/late-game situations. That's on Daz. If Daz doesn't insist on huddling and then follow it with a run up the middle, that one play doesn't eat all the time. That's on Daz. If Daz has just a more basic understanding of time and the clock he wouldn't assume anything about getting a second play off after a run in under 29 seconds. That's on Daz.
2. Not having more timeouts. The first TO of the second half was burned when he was yo-yo-ing Flutie in. That's on Daz. Playing one QB cuts down on burned timeouts and probably cuts down on some of the false starts that plagued the team on Saturday.
3. Flutie fumbling trying to push for the first down. Why are we even putting him in that situation? He's "more experienced" in what? He's played about as much as Smith in live game action. If anything putting him in there in a pressure-packed situation when he is trying to prove he is the "Man" will lead to mistakes like that.
4. The missed field goals. Last season ended with a missed field goal. Addazio fired his Special Teams Coach. He's had months to find anyone who can hit a chip shot. Not having a reliable kicker also kept playing for Overtime off the table. Without a reliable kicker OT would have probably ended in a loss too, but the Defense might have stopped Wake altogether.
5. The inability to score. Wade's injury, the young OL, the QB rotation, the new play caller, Hilliman, Spaz's recruits, bad luck, etc. It all matters. But every team deals with similar stuff. BC's inability to score is a wholesale failure in approach and practice. First, Daz's preferred style of clock eating and conservatism is going to lead to low scores. You are shortening the game and limiting chances to score. I have no problem shortening the game when we are less talented (FSU, Clemson) or ahead. But in a game where you have a talent advantage or need to score, you cannot be so deliberate. This is not my theory or my discovery. It is now a proven, much reviewed football game theory. Daz is shooting himself in the foot there. Second, when things fall apart, good coaches regroup. During the week they go back to basics and figure out what CAN the team do and build from there. It looks like BC did that a bit (read option with Smith) but Addazio and/or Fitch didn't have the confidence to stick with it. Third, it seems like Addazio doesn't know what he wants to do offensively. His first two years BC played power, with spread principles, with a run first mentality. It was a mix of old Florida, Stanford and a little bit of Chip Kelly thrown in. It wasn't dominant, but it was unconventional enough and successful enough for BC to win. Even as the personnel changed from Year 1 to Year 2, the approach, play calling and philosophy didn't. I don't know if Day kept it all glued together or Addazio and Fitch have overreacted to every injury or every freshmen mistake, but we are not using the mix we had in Year 1 and Year 2. The OL is not as great yet, but that is not the problem. The Tight Ends and WRs are not blocking well (that's coaching). We wasted numerous snaps on a QB who is not a running threat (Flutie) and hasn't shown he can be a passer to take advantage of the other team's aggressiveness. We are not playing to our roster's strengths, we are not coaching up the young guys and we abandoned what worked for Year 1 and Year 2 for a "throw shit against the wall" approach. That is why we are not scoring.

Offense: F

Neither QB was good, but Smith was better. His running threat opens other plays. His passes aren't great but are sharper and have more zip. I don't think "knowing the offense" is really his problem. I think his decisions reading the defense in passing situations are. On a short out to an open guy, he can zip it. When he rolled in the redzone, he hesitated. Ironically when he rolls, his passes get worse. I don't know if he is waiting for the guys to get wide open or is just been told to throw it where it cannot be picked, but he's better passing from the pocket. His running is good and he would have had two running TDs if not for bad downfield blocking by his teammmates. I feel for Flutie. I wish his last name was Jones, so there wouldn't be so much baggage with this issue. He's not fast enough to make something out of broken plays. His passes are not any better than Smith's. (They are arguably worse.) His decision making on passes and using the clock is not great.

Gowins looked really good. The fumble wasn't a freshman mistake. The Wake kid made a perfect tackle and placed his helmet right on the ball. Outlow was a bit of a disappointment. He didn't block well and got tripped up in traffic a bit. Rouse was okay. No idea what he was doing on the last play. Wofford played well.

The Offensive Line wasn't bad but they were inconsistent. Hendren noticeably made some mistakes. Harris screwed up and fell down a few times. The interior in general got beat a bit by Wake crashing the gaps. Lindstrom struggled too. Baker played well. Bowen was fine.

Callinan made some great catches. Even the one that was called back. He blocked well. Addazio did not block all that well. Alston did not play well. The first INT was on him. Smith was okay, but he is not a good blocker either. Jackson didn't pull in the one pass thrown his way.

Who deserves the blame for our Offense is up for debate. From what I know, Addazio sets the vision and agenda and Fitch calls the plays. I have no idea who is making the Flutie/Smith call in-game but the changing mid drive is moronic. Other than the Smith/Flutie issues, my biggest play calling gripe is calling as many passes as we do. The play action doesn't work because neither QB is willing or confident enough to come out of the fake and make a throw. And then the play breaks down. I also hate the traditional pass plays because we don't pass block well yet.

Defense: A

Abdesmad had his best game in years. He showed more speed than we've seen from him. Wujciak dominated again and is headed towards an All Conference season. Kavalec had another strong game. Gutapfel and Landry were both fine.

The Linebackers were outstanding. Easily their best game as group. Daniels was all over the place. Strachan's INT was a great athletic play. Milano played really well. The forced fumble at the end was amazing. Schwab looked good.

The DBs weren't really tested. Wofford only passed 25 times and many were way off and non-issues. A few of Wake's big passes were coverage breakdowns, not guys getting beat. Moore did lose a tough battle on a long pass, but was pretty good. Johnson made a nice play on the INT. Simmons looked good.

Brown called a great game. The Defense is playing on such a high level that Brown doesn't even need to blitz that much. Just the hint of the blitz often does enough to screw up the other team. And we get plenty of pressure when we need it.

Special Teams: F

Walker looked good on returns. Alston showed more aggressiveness, but still let some punts roll too far. Nothing else needs to be said about the place kicking. Howell is gimpy still. His punts were a mixed bag.

Overall: D

The only thing keeping the whole game from an "F" was the Defense.

Writing after a game like that can lead to overreaction, but I hold with my belief that Addazio is not going to be a special coach at BC. If this is how he is managing the rough spots and this is how he is preparing BC for tight games, he will never do enough for us to break through. You can win with Addazio's mismanaged games if you have an overwhelming talent advantage. BC will never have that. So for BC to have a ACC winning season, we will need peak BC-level talent and a coach who will make all the right in game calls.

For now I think Addazio will be TOBish. To his credit, the BC-era TOB would have a bounce back game after one like this. Can Addazio? I will have more on what Addazio needs to do this year and going forward in posts this week.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What a complete waste

I am not saying "fire Addazio" but today confirmed that he is not a great coach. Great coaches don't screw up games to that degree. And great coaches don't have whole units of the team (offense and special teams) this mismanaged in Year 3. That was the second time BC was shutout in three ACC games. When you cannot score (in the third year of a program) it is not just a quarterback issue. It is an issue in play calling. It is an issue in coaching your own players. It is an issue in evaluating your roster. It is an issue in how you practice in season. It is an issue in how you prepare all offseason. We miss Ryan Day more than anyone could have predicted. Addazio needs to seriously rethink everything on offense and doing that midseason is a bad place to be.

What is all the more frustrating is that this might be the best BC defense in 20 years. But it is all wasted.

When Addazio was hired I thought he might be an emotional TOB and that he would have a similar ceiling to TOB. Now that I know he's not doing anything special at BC, I hope he still can win as often as TOB did.

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

In-game comments post: Wake Forest

Wake games often bring out some nail biting moments. I hope today is different. We need the offense to step up and I think they can and will.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

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.