Monday, October 24, 2016

BC's Louisville game time on hold as Jackson Heisman campaign heats up

The ACC's TV partners are "holding" the TV slots for the weekend of November 5. The only game released from the schedule is UVA-Wake, which got the 3 pm Regional Cable game. All the other games are up in the air, including the BC-Louisville game. Now given that Louisville will probably be a 20 points or more favorite, why would ESPN wait to hold that game? Lamar Jackson. After blowing away NC State, he's back in the driver seat for the Heisman. And if he keeps lighting up scoreboards, his games will take on a must see element. I know ESPN wouldn't root against BC, but all they have to do is look at what Clemson did to us. You know the idea of Jackson hanging 60 or more would be great afternoon fodder.

There is a viral nature to Jackson too. He's been trending during all of Louisville's games. In fact, BCDee's tweet about him was picked up by Raycom and run at the bottom of the screen during our game with Syracuse.

I really don't want to get embarrassed again. Maybe we can use it as motivation. If BC shuts him down and pulls off an upset, the Heisman campaign is over. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Syracuse

Watching it back, I realized that I've lost all faith in Addazio. It is not something new that happened in this game. It is about my feelings watching and following it live and then the fresh look that came by watching it back. As the game happened live, I never felt like we were going to win. I was just waiting for the next screw up or next head scratching decision. Watching it back on Sunday (a little more dispassionately) I realized BC was in this game throughout. So why did if feel like such a lost cause live? Because I have lost faith in Addazio. I don't know what he is going to do from here. I don't know what I am going to do from here either. I will tell myself we have a chance, but my heart clearly doesn't believe it.

Offense: C-

I think Wade should start next week. It is not that he was a revelation in the final quarter, but his passes were a little more accurate. And a few more reps in live action might make the difference. Towles' throws and decisions were bad again. He waits too long in the pocket, he throws too high, he runs when he shouldn't and tries to throw when he should run. The best part of his game was the TD. It is too bad it has taken us this long to use him more in the read option.

Jones ran well. He is tough to take down and has a good little burst. The stiff arms are nice too. Rouse didn't get that many touches. Willis had a real nice run called back because of a penalty. Wolford dropped an easy catch.

The INT off of Walker's bobble was brutal. How do those things even happen? Maybe that is the cursed endzone since that is also where Ed Reed took back the ball 15 years ago. Walker looked good on the sweeps. Callinan caught some nice passes but also got whistled for holding on a first down. Wade's last throw was a bit high, but he needs to pull that down. Sweeney dropped some and also didn't get the best passes.

The Offensive Line did not play well. Syracuse got too much pressure with just a four man front. The blocking was inconsistent and no one was getting to the second level. Lindstrom and Monteiro had the roughest game.

The sweeps and end arounds are a good adjustment but also a huge lack of faith in the QB. It is one thing when we did it in Addazio's first two years and we were using elements of Oregon's playbook. Now we are supposedly "Pro Style" and still doing it. But Loeffler has to do it. It is the only way to punish the Defense for crowding the box. We can't pass successfully against it. I hated the wildcat to Smith. He needs to touch the ball, but there has to be a better way. Why not a simple screen pass? My other big concern is that when we passed Syracuse seemed to know it was coming. They had the right call on with plenty of guys in coverage on many of our pass attempts. Did they get lucky or are we not changing tendencies and formations enough?

Defense: C+

Landry was great. At this point we need to do all we can to unleash him. Add more twists and stunts and whatever, where his speed can create havoc for the opposing line. The official stats gave Gutapfel lots of assists, but I didn't see that much activity. He's not disrupting enough nor is he stuffing guys. Smith was quiet. Kavalec played well. Ray also made some nice plays.

Milano had his best game in weeks. Like some of our other play makers, I think he needs to be more aggressive. When he is, good things happen. Schwab was very active, but missed a few tackles too. Grice played a lot and had a few moments good and bad. He struggled trying to cover when called upon.

The DBs looked better on the second viewing. Many of Cuse's big plays were just nice catches and plays made over our guys. Harris' INT was a nice play. Too bad we didn't turn it into more points. Moore got burned a few times, but overall his coverage wasn't bad. Yiadom missed a few tackles. Torres was okay.

I didn't understand our defensive approach. In my opinion we played way to far off and didn't bring enough pressure. These DBs can play a lot of man. They did it last year. But for them to be effective, BC needs to bring lots of pressure in front of it. I feel like waiting back and playing off in zone is not our strength or nature. We brought more pressure in the second half. It slowed Syracuse, but obviously didn't stop them completely. There is chatter that Pasqualoni took over defensive play calling. I don't know if it is true, but I hope someone begins to up the number of blitzes. It might be the only way to get defensive momentum turned around.

Special Teams: B+

This is our best unit. I am happy for Al Washington's success.

Willis' kick return was great. Good cut by him and great blocking from everyone.

Knolls kicks were good.

Rouse remained aggressive on his punt returns.

The punt and kick coverage was good.

Overall: D

At halftime Addazio mentioned the herky jerky nature of the game and our offense. Paraphrasing: we'd have two good plays and then a drive killing penalty or mistake. His assessment is accurate but I don't know if he realizes that this is his own creation. We are not a big play offense. He wants us to methodically move the ball down the field. The problem comes in that we don't have the type of coaching or players to do execute that vision. If you want to be methodical, you have to be well drilled and well disciplined. It means execution is perfect because you need say 11 plays for the drive. Instead of precision and drilling in a series of well executed plays, Loeffler and Addazio throw shit against the wall "let's try Jeff Smith in the Wildcat!!" and then seem surprised when they have herky jerky execution issues. There were a few plays when Towles seemingly turned to play fake and no back was there. Is that on him or Jones or the OC who can't seem to get his players on the same page?

Regardless of the gossip going around about who is doing what and who is calling what plays on Defense, does the unit feel as well coached as last year? How does that happen with 80% of the same players? It is a coaching and execution issue. The decrease in blitzing is hurting the DBs, but I also feel like their position fundamentals are not as good. Who would have thought we would miss Kevin Lempa so much.

Beyond the game prep, there were plenty of game management issues. Punting before halftime. Burning time on the final drive. Taking a penalty that gave Syracuse another down. After 12 straight ACC losses, you would think he would try something new. Doesn't look like he is going to change.

It will be interesting to see how Addazio coaches from here. He knows that he needs to win two more games to keep his job. Does he go all out or does he check out?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The wrong streak continues as BC drops another ACC game to Syracuse

Syracuse is not a good team. BC is clearly worse. Both teams took part in a sloppy, weird, ugly game. Syracuse won. They won for a lot of reasons, but a big part of their victory was the aggressiveness and game management of their coach. I had to listen to much of the game on radio and you know that when Meter and Cronin are complaining about predictability and BC's inability to adjust -- even after an extra week of practice -- you know that BC has coaching problems. When guys like Matt Hasselbeck are dumbfounded by Addazio wasting a possession before the half, you know that BC has coaching problems. Even as BC was driving late to potentially tie the game, Addazio seemed oblivious to time. We still huddled and didn't seem to care that we might need the ball again (on the chance we missed the two-point conversion).

BC remains winless in ACC play. That was our best chance to win an ACC game this year. If Addazio is still calling the shots, I don't know if he will adjust enough for us to win anything.

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

In-game comments post: Syracuse

It may be wet and windy. That's good for us. It may be Steve Addazio's job on the line. Hopefully that motivates him and the team. If things don't go our way...look out.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, October 21, 2016

End of the Week Rant: Bates screwed up the basketball hire much more than football

I don't care if we lose by 100 on Saturday and Daz is fired at halftime. I don't care if Jim Christian stuns the world and wins the ACC this year. Regardless of how this all plays out, when we look back at Brad Bates' tenure, hiring Jim Christian will always be his most head-scratching decision.

First there was the "he's staying" "no he's not" aspect of the Donahue firing. That should have been the major clue that Christian didn't have the politics, the plan or the message set up prior to the end of the basketball season. Then he followed that up by hiring Jim Christian. A journeyman coach whose journey never even approached New England or ACC basketball. He was a non-factor to our fanbase and our recruiting base. Not good. Plus we all had to pretend that his struggles at TCU (private school in a major conference, pro sports market, etc) weren't applicable to his potential success at BC. If Brad Bates was going to make a borderline and highly questionable hire, there were safer more BC appropriate guys available. Schmidt, O'Shea, even [can't believe I'm writing this] Jim Calhoun!

Maybe BC's setup is difficult for an AD. Too much interference on some issues and not enough guidance on others. That's probable. Ever job and institution has its limitations. But good people adapt and still make the most of those situations. Brad Bates does not. The fact that Addazio wasn't his worst hire is proof.

Friday picks

I hope no college funds have been put at risk by my picks. Last week was another rough one. I don't feel very confident about this week's pick, so maybe that will make things better!

(Picks in bold.)

Oregon+2.5 at Cal

Texas+1.5 at Kansas State

Indiana+2.5 at Northwestern

UCF-4.5 at UConn

Memphis-2.5 at Navy

Ohio-3.5 at Kent State

Colorado State+2.5 at UNLV

Colorado+1.5 at Stanford

Arkansas+10 at Auburn

Mississippi State-3 at Kentucky

Last week I was 4-5-1. For the season I am 28-38-4.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

BC-Syracuse preview

The season is halfway over, but I don't even feel like it has ever started. Our first game had an exhibition like feel from Ireland. The three wins all felt like scrimmages and the two losses were lopsided jokes. Yet there are only six games left. On paper this should be a nice solid conference win. But it is never that simple.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I've written and said a lot about Daz's future. One thing that I learned in the process is that his job status is totally independent of Bates' status. Bates can't save him and firing/not renewing Bates won't impede BC's decision on Addazio. He has to win this season (six games) and might not even get that far if the losses continue to be so one-sided.

Three Simple Keys
1. Sack Dungey a lot. BC had two weeks to prepare for the Orange's gimmick offense. The last time we faced such a unique attack -- Georgia Tech -- the D was really well prepared. I am hoping that BC created some new looks and brings plenty of pressure.
2. Play to Syracuse's speed. Steve Logan had a really simple premise about tempo and time of possession. If you believe you have more talent, play fast. It increases possessions for both sides and with more possessions, the talented team is more likely to prevail. Conversely he believed if you had less talent, you want to slow the game down. Limit their opportunity to score and hopefully pull off an upset. Neither coach on Saturday believes in that. Syracuse wants to go fast regardless of who they are playing. We want to sit on the ball regardless. I think we have more talent than Syracuse. We need to play close to their pace. Force them into mistakes and hopefully get some of our own points on the board.
3. Turn short passes into long TDs. I've never seen a team miss tackles like this Syracuse one. If we want to win, we have to take advantage of those misses and get real yards after the catch.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 1-2 against Syracuse
-- Syracuse leads the series 19-30
-- Babers is 10-5 on the road as an FBS head coach
The current line is BC-4.5

The last time Syracuse won a game at Alumni was our final game in the Big East, when their third string running back ran all over us and cost BC a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. So there's that.

Scoreboard Watching
We are at the point where scoreboard watching doesn't matter. The only score that matters is this one. So instead of putting a game in this space, I am going to link to a coaching bio. If Syracuse goes up by 21, pull out your phone and click on this link to Pete Carmichael, Jr's biography. Bates didn't give him the time of day last go around. Hopefully Pete earns at least an interview if we make a change this season.

I hope to see...
The OLine dominate. As mentioned, Syracuse's D is not good. We have yet to put together one clean game with the OLine. This is supposed to be Addazio's specialty. Now in our time of need, we need the OLine to be great

BC is in trouble if...
We get down by 14. I don't know if our Offense can make up that sort of deficit. I also fear many of our players might check out.

BC should win this weekend. The odds say it. The computers say it. I want to believe. I hope we win. I just don't know if Addazio will push the right buttons this week. But I am telling myself he can, the D has a great game and the Offense makes some huge plays.
Final Score: BC 31, Syracuse 21

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A midseason firing wouldn't make sense for BC

If Syracuse hangs 50 on BC Saturday, you will hear people calling for Addazio's head. There is speculation that he could even be fired midseason. To me that would be a huge mistake.

A midseason change hurts recruiting
One thing Addazio is still doing relatively well is recruiting. If he is fired now, it becomes open season on our current verbals and our roster for transfers. If we fire Addazio in November after the Wake game, the window in which to pick apart our recruiting class becomes that much smaller.

An interim mess
Every once in a while an interim coach takes his program to the next level. Dabo Swinney is the most prominent example. But more often the interim is given the job in an emotional move and things don't get better. I don't know who would be the interim. The logical candidate is Paul Pasqualoni, but sometimes schools go with the popular position coach (like Ed Orgeron). Would that be Al Washington? Or maybe one of the coordinators? I don't know. As much as it would be nice to give a young BC grad like Washington a professional bump in this process, I don't want BC making a rash decision.

The message it sends to BC fans
Brad Bates is the lamest of lame ducks, but if Addazio is fired midseason, it will seem like he made the call. The call is above Bates head now. Given our history, I don't expect BC to get a nuanced message to the media about how the process came about. That inturn would just make our current fans think BC remains chaotic and without a plan.

I hope this doesn't become an issue. Let's go beat Syracuse and judge Addazio on the whole season. Things will get better, so let's not make them worse.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Iowa State taking shots at BC and other links

Things are bad. We are headed for an AD change and barring a great turnaround, are probably headed for a coaching change. But our history -- both recent and long-term -- is much better than the current perception of Boston College. Take this quote from Iowa State's AD with regards to the Big XII's decision not to expand.
"When you know that the athletic administrators think that the best solution is the solution we currently have, why would we then want to say no we'd rather have 12 members? "Because we want to add more schools to this league that are going to be like Rutgers or Boston College in their conferences? Which have no fans coming to the games, and they're getting outscored 170 to whatever it was. In Boston College's case, haven't won a game in two to three years in their conference. That totally dilutes your value."

Anyone representing Iowa State has true gall to criticize any other school or talk about "diluting value." Iowa State's whole value to the old Big 8 and the current Big XII is to be doormat to the conference powers. They are the Washington Generals of the Midwest! The bring no fans. They are not the flagship school in their state. They bring no academic reputation. No TV markets. No fans. Oh, and they are currently 1-6!!! Who are they to talk? BC is a better team than Iowa State is now and has been much better historically.

BC needs to get its act together for because we are wasting our athletes' time and wasting the university's resources. But we also need to win so we can silence our critics.

BCI posted a good preview of the basketball newcomers.

In case you missed it, BC posted a good article on field hockey star Lucy Lytle.