Sunday, August 31, 2014

BC vs Pitt a history

Although there isn't a lot of passion around our series with Pitt, there is plenty of history. The teams first played each other in 1959 and then faced off fairly consistently as both were eastern independents. After the formation of the Big East Football conference, the teams played annually until 2004. Pitt leads the series with 16 wins, but both teams dominated long stretches of the matchup. Since we won most of the Pitt games since I became a real BC fan, I only tend to remember the losses and their importance. Two truly standout.

BC played Pitt on Halloween in one of ESPN's Thursday night games. This was at a time when Thursday night games were a huge deal. BC seemed to be in a daze the whole night and there were plenty of missed tackles and blown assignments. The performance was so bad that rumors started spreading that some players purposely threw the game. That wasn't the case, but the gossip and investigation led to the infamous "Gambling Scandal."

At the time this we didn't know the importance of the loss, but it would cost us a Fiesta Bowl appearance as much as the loss to Syracuse did in the season finale (the Panthers actually won the Big East's BCS slot by virtue of a four-way tie). BC came back to tie the game late in the fourth during a huge day for Paul Peterson. However, TOB played for OT on the final possession and we lost in OT. It was a bitter way to end it all since we had lost to Pitt two years earlier on sloppy Heinz Field while TOB played it to conservatively.

As we renew the series, I know it won't all be easy, but I hope the rare losses are less painful or impactful.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Murphy puts on show against Minutemen

While the win over UMass is only one game, this BC offense will feel different from any we've seen in 25 years (or maybe even 35 years). Unlike past run-first BC squads, this one truly has a mobile QB. It was Tyler Murphy's feet that kept drives alive and it was Tyler Murphy's run that finally broke open the game. The transfer QB also threw a nice TD pass to Josh Bordner. It wasn't a perfect day for Murph or the D, but it was a good start. This is the type of game that builds confidence, yet also leaves the coaches with plenty to improve.

I am on the road, so I don't know when I will put up the grades and second viewing thoughts, but it will probably come Monday. Before then, I will have some other post and thoughts on the game. Including some pics from people at the game.

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In-game comments post: UMass

A new season starts against an old foe. However, now UMass is FBS we can call it the "Battle of the Bay State." If the season is going to be special, it starts today. Leave your comments and thoughts below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Game Watches: UMass

Labor Day Weekend makes scheduling Game Watches a little tricky, but some local BC Chapters are getting the season off to a strong start. The game is on ESPN3 so that means watching a stream somewhere. But the good news is that most bars will stream any game if enough fans get together. If your Chapter is hosting an event and it is not listed, post it in the comments section.

Chicago Game Watch
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage (Armitage Brown/Purple Line L)

Dallas Game Watch
Corner Bar
4830 McKinney Ave.

New York City Game Watch
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Company
602 Broadway St.
San Diego

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's
2064 Polk St.
San Francisco

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Tweets of the Week


Thursday, August 28, 2014

BC-UMass preview

Despite this nonsense, no one really cares about this game. But I will keep pounding the drum that good UMass Football is good for BC. Will this game make much of a difference for either team or football in the Bay State? Probably not. Even if the Minutemen pull off an upset, few outside the hardcore fans will remember it years from now. In 2014 this game is not about building a rivalry or changing the football culture in New England. It is about BC starting its second season with Addazio. And for that, I am excited.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
For me -- and a few other BC fans -- Mark Whipple is our bad penny. When he was winning big at UMass, he seemed so much more dynamic than TOB. When the BC job opened, so many expected him to get the job. Now years later as he has bounced around college and the NFL, his luster is certainly gone. I don't begrudge him, but I don't look back on what might have been had he taken over in 2007. Will he be able to lift UMass out of the depths of FBS? I don't know. It is a young man's game and UMass' commitment to football is always in doubt. If it doesn't work out in Amherst, I am sure he will show up somewhere else in football where he will face BC.

Three Simple Keys
1. Rush for 250 yards or more. We are a young team and Whipple knows how to prepare for Brown's Defense. If we want to control the tempo and the scoreboard we need to run the ball over and over. I don't care if one runner dominates or if it is a group effort. I just think we need to run for at least 250 yards to win.
2. Convert field goal attempts. Freese was one of the underappreciated aspects of last year's team. Howell is not nearly as sharp. Conditions and the surface should be pretty ideal. He needs to build his confidence.
3. Get at least three sacks. Because of their history, I expect a little cat and mouse between Whipple and Brown. But even if we ease off of the blitzing, there should still be some pressure that comes organically.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 3-0 in season openers as a head coach. (All were against Villanova.)
-- BC has lost five straight road openers.
-- BC leads the series 18-5.
The current line is BC-17

BC last played in Foxboro in 1987. We lost to Penn State 27-17.

Scoreboard Watching
I am interested in how Pitt does against Delaware. This is a short week for both teams. Delaware is a good FCS program, but Pitt should win. The best indicator for our game is if Delaware can run the ball on them.

I hope to see...
Murphy look really poised. I don't think we are going to air it out. I also don't think the environment will create much pressure on him. But that doesn't mean that he won't be nervous or make mistakes. Ideally he will look like an experienced fifth-year senior. If he's calm and confident, it can carry BC a long way this season.

BC is in trouble if...
UMass scores early. I know Villanova took an early lead last year and we came back, but this is different. The game is on the road. We are playing an FBS team. We are young. Things could unravel. That is why I want to establish the run in the first quarter.

Bottom Line
I don't think anything will be easy this year, but I am not truly worried about blowing this game. I think we have enough of a talent advantage, that our inexperience won't be an issue. BC will take control in the first half and win by a comfortable margin.
Final Score: BC 31, UMass 13

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Official Basketball schedule released

Aside from the coaching change the biggest difference between last year's basketball season and this one will be the schedule. Although the previous staff's commitments to the Coaches vs Cancer games and the Puerto Rico Tip-off could not be changed, the rest of the non-conference schedule is easier. BC plays Harvard and Providence as usual, but also takes it easier with Marist, Maine and UMass-Lowell. The new ACC's rotations kick in too. We get Louisville for the first time as a conference foe and Pitt comes back to Conte.

Brian noted the abundance of 9 PM starts, but to me that is a non-issue. Attendance is going to be terrible this year regardless of when the games are played. Christian understands this but he's not going to go out and shake every student's hand to get them to games. His marketing plan is about winning basketball. TV dictates so much, we are going to see 9 PM starts from here to eternity. It is up to BC to provide winning basketball and rethink the capacity and configuration of Conte so that it is right-sized for the demand. We play Notre Dame, Syracuse and UNC in heart of the season at home. If we are playing good basketball and near .500, I think crowds will be decent.

Scheduling undid last year. That won't be the case this year. Confidence means a lot in basketball. I hope fattening up on the non-conference teams makes us more competitive come ACC play.

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Depth Chart for UMass

BC released the official Depth Chart for the UMass game. Nothing really surprised as most of these names had been floating around the various message boards for days.

The mild surprise based on last season is Duggan starting over Daniels. But it was rumored through the summer that Duggan was playing very well. I am sure both will see plenty of action. Once you see it on paper, you realize how big our starting WRs are. I imagine they will be blocking often.

What is not listed who else will get on the field when we go with Jumbo packages. Last year Betancourt was usually the first one off the bench.

The final thought that hit me as I looked at the page, was how much of the team is already Addazio's. We clearly pay attention to the attrition and turnover, but seeing the roster really hits it home.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Season Prediction Part III: what will happen

Last year BC overachieved. Some of that was luck, but a lot of it was coaching. I felt Addazio played to his strengths while still instilling his values and philosophies. While putting that sort of imprint on a team doesn't guarantee permanent success, I do think it will serve BC well as he navigates through his second season. We are also experienced in a few places that can mask a lot of issues (QB and OLine). Yet I am still a realist. I don't think we will win the ACC, but I do think we go bowling again. It won't be easy, but my gut tells me it will still be fun.

Here are my official predictions for the season.

What Will Happen

at UMass. Win. We pound them and I also think Don Brown will know just what to do against his old buddy Whipple.

Pitt. Win. I think this will be one of the toughest games of our peer programs. But I think we can steal a win at home against a solid Pitt team.

USC. Loss. USC doesn't smother the offense again, but we still cannot overcome their talent advantages.

Maine. Win. Maine might be a decent FCS team, but we are not going to lose this game.

Colorado State. Win. I don't like the matchup against CSU. I still think we win, but it won't be pretty.

at NC State. Loss. NC State should be much better this season. I also think the first road game of the season will be a challenge.

Clemson. Loss. I fear that some of the games we kept close last year won't be close this season. 

at Wake Forest. Win. Wake will have trouble stopping our rushing attack and BC nears bowl eligibility. 

at Virginia Tech. Loss. I don't think Virginia Tech is all that good, but I do think road wins will be tough to come by this year.

Louisville. Loss. This is the toughest part of the season. The defense struggles and the rest of the schedule looks daunting. 

at Florida State. Loss. This is ugly. All of us are wondering if Addazio can rally the guys in the final week.

Syracuse. Win. Another tough, close game. BC pulls it out to get to six wins and become bowl eligible.

6-6 (4-4) leaves BC eligible for bowls but totally unwanted. ESPN and the ACC force us on the Bitcoin Bowl in Tampa. To offset the lack of BC tickets, the bowl selects USF as our opponent. It becomes a virtual road game but that doesn't bother our hardened team. We win a close game and finish 7-6. It is not a historic BC season but it sets the right tone for recruiting and Addazio's future. 

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Captains announced and other links

BC announced their 2014 Captains. They are Josh Bordner, Sean Duggan, Andy Gallik and Dominique Williams. It is an interesting collection and I always appreciate when it is not the best players elected captain (other than Gallik, I wouldn't say the others are obvious choices based on past performance). I hope that the honor means that the team thinks these guys are ready for a big season or that they are putting thought into the vote and electing true examples for team leadership. Or hopefully both and these captain are good guys ready to have great seasons. I know that the tradition and legacy is drilled into these players, so I am sure they are all honored.

Tim Joy injured his knee and will miss the entire season. Fortunately we have depth at Linebacker. I wish him a full recovery and hopefully he can redshirt and play two more years.

UMass released their depth chart for the game. BC's is floating out on message boards, but the official chart has yet to be released.

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Season Prediction Part II: best case scenario

Things don't always go wrong. Sometimes every bounce can go your way and you end up overachieving. I don't feel that way this year, but who knows? Maybe things will go our way. If Murphy has a big season and if the defense improves as Brown's units do in Year 2, we might be the surprise team of the ACC. I don't think this will happen, but it could.

Best Case Scenario

at UMass. Win. Not even close. BC controls and the offense looks great without Andre Williams.

Pitt. Win. This is a close game, but BC creates a few turnovers that kill Pitt drives.

USC. Win. This is a signature win for the season and it is early. BC catches USC a bit jetlagged and benefits from playing them a week after Stanford. We pound away and win by a healthy margin.

Maine. Win. The backups play and BC is off to a 4-0 start. Everyone is pumped.

Colorado State. Win. Not a great game, but another win. BC enters the Top 25.

at NC State. Win. Like CSU, this is another game where BC does not play particularly well, but still escapes with the win. It is the luck I hoped for plus a good rushing attack.

Clemson. Loss. The Dream Season bubble bursts as we lose our first game.

at Wake Forest. Win. Wake is bad and I think we beat them in any type of season.

at Virginia Tech. Win. Although this is not a great Hokie squad, the win gets BC some more respect and gets us back into the Top 25.

Louisville. Loss. But then we fall right out again as a solid Louisville team puts up big numbers on our Defense.

at Florida State. Loss. The Champs are cruising and the game is not close. With the loss we are eliminated from the Division title.

Syracuse. Win. A solid end to the regular season. We avenge last season's heartbreaker.

The 9-3 (5-3) surprises everyone including most Bowl Committees. No one wants us but we cannot slip down too far due to our 5-3 ACC record. We end up in the Sun Bowl playing Stanford. We cap off the season with another upset win and finish with a 10-3 record and a Top 25 ranking. It is a huge accomplishment and has everyone on the bandwagon for the Addazio era.

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