Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday picks

Last week was better but still did nothing for my season record. This week I went heavy on the home teams.

(Picks in bold.)

Stanford+3 at Washington

Texas+3 at Oklahoma State

UCF+3.5 at East Carolina

Virginia+4 at Duke

Ohio-3 at Miami of Ohio

Minnesota+3 at Penn State

Tulane-3 at UMass

Oklahoma-3.5 at TCU

Louisville-3 at Clemson

Oregon-2 at Washington State

Last week I was 5-5. For the season I am 14-24-2.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

BC-Buffalo preview

Based on his media conference call Monday, Addazio is very confident right now. I don't know if he is trying to send a message to the fans and media or his own team, or if he really believes it. Either way, that confidence should carry over to the game this week. The matchup is not as lopsided as Wagner, but there is little reason to think BC cannot win this game handily.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Buffalo has a few Canadians on their roster. That makes sense given their location. BC used to have a consistent Canadian presence on our roster. Not now. That seems like a wasted opportunity. Get on that Addazio! They play more than Hockey up there!

Three Simple Keys
1. Try uptempo and passing first. This is BC's last tune up before playing Clemson. Towles and the passing game has been inconsistent at best. Use this game to try new things and win the game in the air. If Clemson loads the box next week, BC needs to have faith in the passing game.
2. No defensive breakdowns. I still cannot believe we let Wagner score an offensive touchdown. Like the UMass score, it came out of a broken play. Hopefully the defense tightens things up this week.
3. A big game from the Linebackers. They were quiet last week. Let's hope they are active and productive this week.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio has not won two games in a row since last September
-- Leipold is 0-1 against Power 5 teams
-- BC leads the series 6-2
The current line is BC-17.5

BC has played Buffalo eight times. All the games have been at Alumni.

Scoreboard Watching
Louisville-Clemson will probably determine which team wins the Division and hence the whole conference.

I hope to see...
A highly motivated team. They obviously threw in the towel at Virginia Tech and came out flat against Wagner. That doesn't happen to good teams or teams that believe in their coach and themselves.

BC is in trouble if...
They can't get anything going on Offense. They cannot put themselves in a close game.

I just don't see BC losing this game. Despite my desire for passing, I think they come out running and never stop. Maybe Buffalo gets cheap score, but this game won't be a problem.
Final Score: BC 35, Buffalo 6

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I am still not worried about Addazio's recruiting

Michigan has come poaching for two of BC's defensive verbals. One is DE Kwity Paye and the other is DB Brandon Sebastian. Both sound very excited about the Wolverines and both had a prior relationship with former BC and current Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown. It would be unfortunate to lose either, but it is all part of the game. It is no different than Addazio poaching former Temple or Florida guys for BC or Brown bringing over UConn transfers when he came to BC. I am sure Addazio will work hard to keep the guys in the fold and poach other school's verbals to backfill. Recruiting is not really about one or two players. It is a volume business and Addazio has shown good instincts in that regard. If you aim for a big class every year, your hit rate doesn't have to be as high. With or without Paye and Sebastian, I think Addazio will bring in another large group of freshmen and 5th year seniors.

At this point recruiting is not going to be what undoes Addazio. Talent isn't BC's issue (as evidenced by all the close games). How we use the talent and how we develop the talent is. In fact, recruiting might be Addazio's only way to save himself. If he wants to win consistently, he's going to need to up his recruiting so that BC's talent is superior enough to overcome his ultra conservative game management.

It is good that other programs are coming after our kids. It is validation of BC's staff assesments and makes our group work a little harder on the recruiting trail. I am sure they can negatively recruit against Michigan just like Michigan is doing to us ("how long will Harbaugh be there?" or "you know Harbaugh has a history of pulling offers right near Signing Day?"). Our talent will be fine. Now if Addazio can just find the right guys for the Xs & Os.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More college football dominoes: strange Big XII expansion news

Long story short, the Big XII Expansion is a big mess. Oklahoma doesn't want it and that may be enough to kill the whole effort. That's great news for the ACC and BC.

No promotion of UConn and UMass
Our nearest football neighbors, UConn and UMass, are both hoping to improve their football standings. If there is no Big XII expansion, UConn remains a mid-major in football in the American Athletic Conference. UMass wants to join the AAC, but if a UConn or Cincinnati doesn't join the Big XII, there is less likely to be a backfill slot for the Minutemen in the AAC. It is petty of me to want to keep those schools in their respective places, but I do think it helps BC. We already battle elite schools for the best prospects in New England. We don't need added local competition from the two state universities. Remaining the only Power 5 program in the area is one of our slight advantages.

The ACC is okay
As long as the Big XII continues flip flopping and infighting, the ACC looks better. We are less likely to get poached and remain a good landing spot for Texas (due to their shared deal with ESPN). That position means we will get more slots in the playoff and have more bargaining power in the playoff discussion. If the Power 5 ever becomes the Power 4, the ACC is in a good position.

BC has a host of challenges and needs to decide many things related to athletics, but for now it is nice to know that conferences issues are not one of our challenges.

Monday, September 26, 2016

What the Coaching Carousel means for BC

The College Football Coaching Carousel got off to an early start with a National Championship coach biting the dust just four games into the season. But LSU is just the first domino. USC could make a change. Maybe even Notre Dame. I don't think nor -- at this point -- want a change at BC, but what happens elsewhere will impact our team. It will also serve as a reminder of how precious these jobs are and how fluid power is within the ACC.

Coaching Changes among our opponents
Right now it feels like the best BC can finish in its own division is 4th place. FSU, Clemson and Louisville have the talent and coaching that we cannot match. But none of that is permanent. Both Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Petrino are prime targets for LSU. Fisher could also pursue NFL opportunities if he wanted to go to the next level. Two years from now, it is highly unlikely that both will still be coaching in the Atlantic Division. Despite their geographic and institutional advantages, neither program is guaranteed to make a good hire or keep winning at their current pace. (Remember the last time Louisville replaced Petrino?) Dabo Swinney seems well entrenched at Clemson, but don't think that he wouldn't go home to Alabama at his first opportunity. Saban is 64. He's not going to keep this pace forever.

All of that instability is good for BC. Our last great run coincided with a downturn at FSU and an extended mediocre period from Clemson. It can and will happen again. We just have to make sure we have our own house in order.

Even the bottom of our division could turn over. Wake appears to be a surprise team. If they keep it up, Dave Clawson will be up for openings. When he leaves, Wake can go back to being Wake.

Always a buyer's market
Just because BC hasn't hired a great coach in a while doesn't mean that we are not constantly one great hire away. All schools are. These jobs are few and the candidate pool is many. Even with all our challenges, there will be dozens of guys wanting their shot or a second chance at BC. Think of how many coaches who have spurned our interest who would die for the job now (Al Golden?). Dan Henning, Tom O'Brien, Jeff Jagodzinski, Frank Spaziani and Steve Addazio have all taken BC to bowl games. None of those guys are Hall of Fame coaches. There are plenty of college coaches with healthy egos and strong work ethics who will think "if those guys could do it, so can I."

I don't want a change now, because I don't trust BC's current process for finding a new coach, but I don't think we will be a permanent bottom dweller in College Football. No program should be. A head coach just needs to find each program's inherent advantages and build on them.

Finding the right coach is hard. Look how long Michigan struggled until landing Harbaugh. Or Alabama until Saban. Look at Nebraska's slow slide from dominance since Osborne retired.

BC can and will be great again. Probably not under Addazio, but the coaching carousel serves as a great reminder that we will be making changes sooner rather than later.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Wagner

I've always handed out grades in these recaps, but now I am trying something different: Pass/Fail. This game sort of felt like one of those pass/fail classes from back in the day. All BC had to do was avoid a major screwup. They did, so they get a Pass. I will still nitpick a bit, but how can you judge the OLine in a game like this? How can you judge the play calling when running base stuff dominated? There was little to learn from any of this. I am just glad no one got hurt.

Offense: PASS

I don't think Towles played all that well (considering the circumstances) and was very surprised by how critical the broadcast crew was of his performance. It was true that he missed wide open guys and many of his passes were not crisp. But even with those problems, I see why he is starting. His deep throws are effortless and he's pretty athletic for a big guy. If we can figure out what works, he can help us win games. Wade looked really good. He made quick, accurate throws. Even though it was only garbage time, I feel better about him as a backup.

Other than Wade, Davon Jones benefited the most from this game. Is there any reason to think he can't do that against a real opponent? Maybe he should be getting more touches. Hilliman had a lot of stats, but I thought he was just okay.

Walker made some tough catches. Smith's TD was nice. We should be stretching the field with him more often.

The OL...there isn't much I can say. No glaring errors or consistent problems. They opened holes and gave Towles time.

As Addazio promised, things were simpler. That was primarily because of the opponent, but maybe it benefited the OLine and the QB.

Defense: PASS

Landry had a big game and was just too fast for any of the guys in front of him. Kavalec was also pretty active early. The DTs weren't as disruptive.

The only problem I had with the Linebackers were on Wagner's only TD. All got sucked in and not one waited for the cutback. Plus no one ran him down. That was disappointing. The rest of the time they weren't really in the action. We didn't blitz with any and they were more patient the few times Wagner ran.

The DBs were fine. They played off and tackled well. Nothing stupid nor anything that you can really complain about.

I give Reid another Pass. Once again the one score was off of a broken play. I don't know how you address that, but I am sure they will. We didn't do anything exotic or bring all that much pressure.

Special Teams: PASS

Rouse looked really good. As in, he might be the best punt returner we've had in a decade. He's looked reliable and he's been aggressive. If this continues, he might be a real weapon.

Knoll's punts were fine.

Other than their one long run, the kick coverage was fine.

Overall: PASS

The one awkward thing that stood out to me was the announcing crew sharing a comment that Addazio wanted to play "fast." What does fast mean to Addazio? We rarely play up tempo. He loves to huddle. The clock has been an issue. I don't know. I would love to see BC play faster, but I don't know if Addazio defines it the same way I do.

BC came out a bit flat. I don't know if it was the opponent or lack of crowd, but it wasn't good. Addazio should have had them fired up. In the end it didn't matter. The team rallied and won. We will see if he can build on this.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

That was that

It certainly wasn't the most crisp or quality game, but it was a win. Who knows what to make of any of it? The only silver lining was the extended time for the backups.

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

In-game comments post: Wagner

This game shouldn't be interesting. Yet I know that just by thinking (and writing) that way invites all sorts of jinxes. I want to see a dominant performance that starts to erase the problems of last week. We can do this!

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