Thursday, September 14, 2023

BC-FSU preview

I don't think I realized at the time how bad the weather delay was for Jeff Hafley. It was nearly two hours of the only BC fans who still care venting online or listening to the BC radio crew discuss their frustrations and the team's stupid mistakes. BC won (thank God), but we went through the emotions of a loss. When the only people who still care lose faith, a win can still be a loss. 

This week can be a different story. BC faces the best team in the conference. They are heavy underdogs. Win and it changes the whole season. Lose close and you get the moral victory. If we get killed, nothing really changes.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
It amazes me how much media attention Deion Sanders and Colorado are getting. Despite their success in the late '80s and mid '90s, the Buffaloes were a non-entity for most of the last twenty years. Yet it only takes one good hire to change everything.

Three Simple Keys
1. Establish the run early.
This needs to feel like the BC Football we all know. Run the ball and control the clock. It is the only way we have to steal the game.
2. Get lucky on some turnovers. I don't know if you can get luckier than BC got last week with the game sealing fumble, but we need similar breaks to go our way this week.
3. Contain Jordan Travis. We can't let him run like we let Sluka run last week.

Gambling notes
-- BC is 4-5 in Red Bandanna games
-- Florida State is 9-1 in their last ten games vs BC
-- Hafley is 1-2 in ACC openers
The current like is BC+26

This won't be the first major storm we've had when facing Florida State. In 2007, FSU handed Jags his first loss on a very wet night in Boston.

Scoreboard Watching
It is not a great week for ACC football. Maybe it will be interesting if Duke keeps rolling in their matchup against Norwestern.

BC is in trouble if...
Florida State scores more than 35. We are not built to win a shootout in the rain.

I hope to see...
No personal fouls. Hafley made it a point of emphasis. Let's see if he can get his team to follow his instructions.

Bottom line
I will be shocked if we win this game. I am rooting for BC (as always). But I can't talk myself into some scenario where we pull off an upset. I think FSU is going to go undefeated in the ACC. Hopefully we keep it close.
Final Score: FSU 31, BC 14

Friday, September 08, 2023

BC-Holy Cross preview

The social media and message board discussion following last week's opening loss had a consistent theme: "Fire Hafley." I am not there yet. My blinders are off, but I see nothing productive from firing him midseason. Let him, his staff and team do what they set out to do. My hunch is that if he stops the bleeding and scrapes together a winning season, he will be safe. Should he be though?

I like Hafley as a person and representative of the school. But now even an apologist like me has to admit he has a limited upside. Great coaches don't lose like this and this often (in Year 4 especially). Do you let a nice guy stick around if he is squeaking out seven wins? We let a jerk like Addazio keep coaching for seven years. 

In this era of college football, you should probably be quick to fire. The rosters churn faster than ever, so you can't wait for a guy to build his team in the traditional way. The new need is for a coach who can put a staff and roster together year to year and out perform his competition.

The timing on this debate is somewhat surreal since one of the most likely Hafley replacements will be on the other sideline this weekend. And if Holy Cross wins, there will be many who want to fire Hafley and hire Chesney on the spot.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
We should play Holy Cross annually and in all sports. The true rivalry was dead long before I arrived at the Heights, but I appreciate it still means something to many people. And I think to this day, there are plenty of students who have friends and family at each school. BC is going to have schedule filler, FCS games for years to come. Might as well make them interesting to some, instead of playing some random school that we have never heard about. 

Three Simple Keys
1. Catch the damn ball.
The QBs were bad, but the WRs, TEs and RBs did them no favors when it came to the passing game. They need to clean up their skills (why are guys trying arm catches?) and help out.
2. No more Oline penalties. The good news: the Oline controlled their opponents. Bad news: they still made a ton of mistakes and dumb penalties. 
3. Get more pressure on the QB. Our DLine was supposed to be a strength. Last week they looked mediocre. 

Gambling Notes
-- Hafley has never lost to a FCS team
-- Hafley is 16-20 against the spread
-- Holy Cross last beat BC Football in 1978
The current line is BC-16.5

Even with the historic breaks in the series we still have played more games against Holy Cross (83 games) than any other current opponent, including Syracuse.

Scoreboard Watching
Colorado-Nebraska. I don't know if Coach Prime can keep it up, but I am always cheering for quick turnarounds. It gives me hope.

I hope to see...
One QB. The old adage remains true: if you have two quarterbacks you have none.

BC is in trouble if...
It is close late. My fear is that if it is tight, our guys will make mistakes and hand the game to Holy Cross.

Bottom Line
BC takes care of business, looks better and puts more points on the board.
Final Score: BC 38, Holy Cross 17

Thursday, August 31, 2023

BC-Northern Illinois preview

This is it. I like Hafley and appreciate the different tone he brought when he arrived. I respect how he handled COVID and that unprecedented first season. But since Jurk went down in 2021 in the UMass game, we’ve been adrift. At a base level, this is the time to get things back on track. At a realistic level, if Hafley is anything special we need to bounce back in a big way. The landscape has changed in college football. His bosses have changed twice. The portal and NIL changed the way you recruit and develop talent. It’s tough. However, the great guys not only adapt in times like this…they thrive.

I trust that Hafley has improved his staff and roster. He pivoted and used the portal to plug holes. While lacking in game breakers, we have depth and above average talent across the board. And we have a very favorable schedule. We have four wins baked in the final record with our non-conference slate. There are also three very winnable ACC games. That means seven games is a reasonable goal. I would like to win more than that. Whatever the upside is, it starts Saturday.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
The dominant narrative of the college football offseason was once again conference shifting. Games are about to start and the ACC is still in flux for 2024. It has been that way for more than 20 years. I don’t think picking up a few former Pac 12 teams or even SMU (!?!) is going to be the end of anything. As a BC fan, I don’t get too fired up about any of the shifts any more. The train is heading towards the Super League and I don’t think BC controls its own fate. In the meantime, I am a simple man with simple desires. Are we playing teams I care about? Yes. Are we on TV? Yes. Are the games fun to watch? I hope. Are we winning? We better.

Three Simple Keys
1. Hold up against the run. The defensive line needs to be better and more consistent. They have to conrol the line of scrimmage. And we can't allow a back breaking 4th quarter drive like we did in last season's opener. 
2. Stretch the field. We don't have a Zay, but that aggressive mindset can't go away. Morehead can get it downfield. We need to let him go for it a few times per game.
3. Generate more turnovers. Considering his defensive background, I would think by now Hafley would have instilled a bigger turnover mentality. But we don't sit back like Spaz's schemes and wait but we don't strip many either. We need to have some things go our way and it starts this weekend.

Gambling Notes
-- Hafley is 2-1 in season openers
-- BC is 17-1 against the MAC all-time
-- Hafley is 16-19 against the spread 
The current line is BC-8.5

This is the second time we have opened the season with Northern Illinois.

Scoreboard Watching
LSU vs Florida State. Normally I root for the ACC team under the rationale that it helps BC. But at this point what is Florida State doing for us. They don't want to be part of the conference. They think they belong with the big boys. Well let's see how they do. If they get spanked, I won't shed a tear.

I hope to see...
A dominant win. Openers can go a lot of different ways. For Hafley and this season, I think we need a statement game. Last year is over. BC is back. Don't make this interesting.

BC is in trouble if...
The offensive line is a mess. It should be improved over last year's disaster, but I don't view Applebaum as some sort of savior. The unit was fine when he was here the first time. At BC, the Oline can and should be great. 

Bottom Line 
I want to believe. The experts and the sports books have us as a .500ish team, but I think Hafley still has upside. I think this season is where it starts to turn the corner. BC wins comfortably and looks great on D. 
Final Score:
BC 31, Northern Illinois 13

Friday, March 03, 2023

Hafley makes Staff official. Now what?


Jeff Hafley spoke to the media Friday with the start of Spring Practice and made his rumored staff official. He will now have two new first-time play callers, Duggan and Shimko supervised by two veterans in Hafley and Rob Chudzinski, respectively. Applebaum returns to Oline. Azaar gets a Co-Coodinator title and veteran Paul Rhoads joins the staff as a OLB coach. On paper it can work. There is a lot to like. Hafley said all the right things and seems to have the right energy and outlook coming off of a rough season. Will it work though?

I like the defensive moves. Hafley admitted the system is not changing much. He will be more involved and he thinks he has better depth. This is where I have faith. The unit was the least of our issues last year. I don't think we have enough elite talent yet and I think the scheme was a bit passive, but just an across the board, general improvement the changes should be enough to keep us in most games. Plus he added Rhoads, who should be a good sounding board and steadying hand. 

The offense requires a much bigger leap of faith. QB, OL and OC were issues last year. The QB position should be improved. The OLine should be better. We have depth, much more experience and a known entity for he position coach. I didn't think much of Applebaum but he was well liked at BC and while his two seasons at BC didn't produce dominant units, they weren't a mess either. That is a basic improvement. The biggest issue will be scheme and play calling. The best college offenses are not particularly complex. They out execute, they put very specific pressure on the opponents and they leverage their talent. BC didn't do any of that well. Chud knows how to run a good offense. Shimko shows promise. But will they get this team executing in an effective way by Game 1? I hope so. But both were part of last year's disaster (albeit in different roles). If they had he answers, why couldn't we save the sinking ship last year?

Despite coming off a terrible year, Hafley doesn't seem beaten. He seemed to use the offseason to assess everything and make the necessary changes (including adjusting his position on the portal). He has the right energy. I still believe. Let's hope he made the right moves and it all comes together. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

BC-Syracuse preview

Judging a team's mood on TV is admittedly some subjective B.S. but lots of people (including me) thought the BC team checked out and quit last week. It happens. This has been a long, frustrating and disappointing season. The final game won't erase the pain of the season but a win can smooth the edge a bit and give us all some hope heading into the offseason. We could really use a win Saturday.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I don't know where Jeff Hafley is going to start with his offseason changes. It would seem that offense would be Step 1, but I think the injuries raise questions about Strength & Conditioning and the defense is not beyond reproach. But making wholesale changes becomes tricky when half your roster could easily transfer if the mood strikes them. It is so hard to make hires when the perception is that you are a sinking ship. Your choices are often unproven guys or ones that no one wants. I hope whatever he does, the hires are better than the changes he made last offseason.

Three Simple Keys
1. Win the first quarter. Every game we are seemingly in a double digit hole. We need to come out and start the game with some defensive stops.
2. Get Zay 10 touches.
The Jet Sweeps and end arounds weren't great but let's try it early. The threat of it should open things up elsewhere on the field. 
3. Run the ball somehow. As much as I believe in Morehead, when we beat Dino's Syracuse teams, it is usually on the ground.

Gambling notes
-- Syracuse is 6-5 against the spread this year 
-- BC is 3-7 against the spread
-- Syracuse leads the series 32-22
The current line is BC+10.5

Our last losing regular season also concluded with a game against Syracuse. Of course BC lost that one too. 

Scoreboard Watching
Michigan-Ohio State. I know I often talk about what could have been with regards to Ryan Day, but both Harbaughs had interest in BC when TOB left. A big West Coast booster pushed Gene to interview Jim (he didn't). But Gene did talk to John. 

I hope to see...
The Offensive Line look much better. It has been a well documented mess all year. They now have experience under fire. A solid effort on Saturday would be a small payoff for the misery we all endured this fall watching them look so lost all year.

BC is in trouble if...
Morehead struggles. Assuming we make offensive coaching changes, we will need a solid QB to build around. If things don't go well for Morehead Saturday, who knows what BC will do with the QB position and who knows if Morehead will stick around.

Bottom Line
This is probably more a wish than a prediction. There is very little to base this on. Call it a hunch. I think BC comes out fired up for the first time all year and takes advantage of some Cuse mistakes.
Final Score: BC 28, Syracuse 21

Friday, November 18, 2022

BC-Notre Dame preview

Younger BC fans have no idea what this game once met. Right or wrong, it was the biggest game of the season. Should it have been? I don't want to quibble. It doesn't really matter now. Two decades ago that passion and focus was a great tool for TOB. With the ACC move and the Irish moving off our annual schedule, the Notre Dame game doesn't mean as much. But I can tell you one thing: if we win, it will be huge...especially to the people who used to care so much about beating the Irish. 

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)

A lot of BC fans are done with Hafley. That became pretty evident after the win last week. I don't begrudge those who lost faith. We've looked really bad throughout the year. I still believe, but it takes a lot of rationalizing. But what will it take for Hafley to win back our most passionate fans? I think Addazio showed it can't just be .500 football. If Hafley wants to show he learned and this year was just bad luck, he is going to need to have some big seasons in the next few years.

Three Simple Keys
1. Spread it around.
We got multiple guys catching passes last weekend. We need to keep it up. Even throw it to the RBs if you can. It opens things up for big plays to Zay.
2. Protect the ball. BC overcame mistakes last week. Let's not have to overcome the same sorts of turnover issues this week.
3. Control the line on D. I don't expect us to do anything in the trenches on offense, however, we are to the point where the DLine is playing well enough (at times). If we are going to do it this weekend, we need to penetrate and contain. 

Gambling Notes
-- The Irish are 5-5 against the spread
-- BC is 3-7 against the spread
-- ND leads the series 16-9
The current line is BC+20.5

We played this game the Saturday before Thanksgiving in 1993.

Scoreboard Watching
It is not a great weekend for ACC Football. The most relevant game for us is Syracuse-Wake. Root for Wake so that Syracuse enters our game shaken and discouraged. 

What I hope to see...
Another solid performance from Morehead. I don't like moral victories but do think building towards something next year is a positive way to end this season.

BC is in trouble if...
Morehead makes too many mistakes. Obviously it would be hard to beat the Irish, but a Morehead meltdown also puts a damper on my "building for next year" narrative.

Bottom Line
I think we will score on the Irish, but I don't know if we will get enough stops. I see us getting in a hole early...again. Battling back...again. But this time we don't do enough late.
Final Score:
BC 21, Notre Dame 28

Friday, November 11, 2022

BC-NC State preview

The remainder of the season is all about Morehead. The kid looked good last week and we need him to continue to look good this week. Win or lose, Hafley needs a narrative to change the momentum around the fan base and with recruits. A win this weekend would be huge, but another solid Morehead performance would be a nice building block regardless of the final score. 

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game) 
Did you hear the student section reaction to any BC touchdown in the Beacon St. endzone? Or the passion the students showed during the Basketball opener? It is nice to see a spark. They have every reason to be apathetic. Many of the current students had a disrupted BC experience due to COVID. I hope they get a few memorable moments before the year is over. Like the Morehead discussion, it is no longer about this season. It is about building a better fan culture and experience long term.

Three Simple Keys
1. Air it out. Don't go too conservative.
Let Morehead throw often and aggressively. Who cares if we are one-dimensional. We just need to score.
2. Change field positioning when you punt. If you keep giving the other team short fields, you have to question if punting is ever worth it.
3. Force turnover. NC State protects the ball. We have to change that and get a little lucky.

Gambling Notes
-- BC is 2-7 against the spread
-- NC State is 3-6 against the spread
-- BC leads the series 10-8
The current line is BC+19.5

TOB was 3-5 in this series.

Scoreboard Watching
Clemson probably blew their shot at the playoff last week. Their only chance and the ACC's only hope is if they kill Louisville tomorrow, finish strong and a couple of other teams lose. 

What I hope to see...
Better tackling. We have many issues, but the missed tackles on key drives have been killer.

BC is trouble if...
If we allow a touchdown on the opening drive. We can't come out flat and uninterested again. 

Bottom Line
I am not feeling it. Last week had promising moments but still enough mistakes and questionable play to give me doubt that we've turned the corner. I expect this week to be the same. BC competes but ultimately loses.
Finale Score: NC State 30, BC 20