Thursday, November 30, 2006

That's more like it

This was the team I was expecting to see this year. Solid performance with a little help from MSU's very sloppy play. This was my first time seeing the team. Here are some quick thoughts...
-- The tight flex looked good, the spread flex looked a little more uncertain (to the point where the shot clock was winding down repeatedly).
-- Al needs to work the refs so Williams gets more calls his way. Two of his PFs were clean blocks.
-- I know Dudley worked on his mid range shot, but we need him in the post. He showed how deadly he is there. It also looks like his FT shooting will be more consistent this season.
-- Marshall is just not a player. Another off night and his ball handling was rough. Get the guy closer to the basket.
-- Rice is bound to heat up. Fortunately we can count on him from the line.
-- This team needs McClain back soon for his fresh legs alone.
-- As the season progresses, another scorer will have to step up and someone aside from Spears and Dudley will have to rebound.

Overall this win somewhat offsets last week's losses. Another strong showing against UMass and I'll enter the Kansas game with more confidence.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Life of a BC fan

Guess where I am headed? Jacksonville. It has nothing to do with the ACC Championship game. Just annual bad timing (if you're a BC fan). I know the year I stop taking this trip, BC will make the game.

As for BC sports, Wednesday's basketball game against Michigan State is critical. The team needs the win to improve their resume. Al and Co also need to find a rotations that work, improve their shooting and rebound against a quality team. If the team plays well, I'll feel better. If they get blown out again, we'll have real problems. I'll try to put up some thoughts after the game.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Miami

Sorry for the delay in getting this out. I didn’t have a chance to watch the game back until last night. Like our other losses, this was even more frustrating the second time around. We had so many chances to win this game. Ugh. At this point I just have to condition myself to expect at least one of those per year.

Offense: C-

This loss is not on Matt Ryan. He took a beating and was under duress all night. His receivers didn’t help him much either. By my count eight of the 17 misses were catchable balls. These weren’t classic drops, more of the BC target having a chance and just getting beat up or not making a tough catch. If even half those plays go the other way, BC might have won this game. The INT at the end was bad, but at that point we were grasping at straws.

Bad, bad game for Whitworth. Miami exposed his lack of speed. There were multiple plays where he was caught in the backfield from a free running LB or DB. We let these guys go free because by design our RB should already be out of reach by the time these guys get to the line. We cannot run those types of plays with LV. His reads were poor and he was a non factor catching the ball (when he managed to hold on). He is the worst feature back of the TOB era. Callender started strong. His play on the scoring drive was great. The rest of the game wasn’t much to talk about, but play selection wasn’t doing anyone any favors. He also had real trouble picking up inside blitzs. Brooks was good in his limited time.

Kevin Challenger is a very good player who had a really bad night. There were at least five catchable balls that he got beat up on. He is smallish, but as a veteran, he’s got to come away with a few of those. He got pushed around and rarely got free. Gonzo was solid, catching everything his way. He never broke free for anything. Robinson who has the speed to run with Miami did not do much of note. Purvis and Thompson were quiet on the pass catching side and outright bad when it came to their blocking duties. They got blown up or beat throughout the night.

The Offensive Line had a rough night. Beekman played well, but the bad snap cost us three points. Cherilus’ game was a microcosm of his season: excellent play degraded with stupid, costly penalties. Marten had trouble with speed (as he usually does). Miami attacked Avenski in particular. On more than one occasion then sent two blitzers right at him. Obviously he had trouble. Poles was a disaster and looked lost. How is this happening to a starter in the 12th game of the season? Hall played better once they pulled Poles, but he also had problems with Miami’s speed. As a unit they were a mess. The pulling was not crisp. The pass protection, usually their strength, was a disaster. For the second time in a must win game, they were unable to open holes for our runners. This is probably the low point for O Line U.

Bible had the worst night of all. It was like Miami knew exactly what he was going to do. Before the game, I hoped that we would not try to run on the ‘Canes stout run defense. A little early success ruined that idea. After our first scoring drive Miami shut down our running attack. Yet we kept coming back. Horrendous. The passing plays were also frustrating. The Canes were obviously very aggressive, yet nothing worked (quick passes, draws, misdirections). Our max protect schemes gave Ryan time but no one to throw to. Bootlegs and moving pockets worked the best but we didn’t use them nearly enough. My biggest frustration was on the 3rd and longs when we were out of Field Goal range. We go for the first down. Treat it as two down territory. Easily, Bible’s worst game of the season.

Defense: B-

The Defensive line was okay. No glaring errors, but not nearly enough pressure on Freeman. Once again the starters got the majority of snaps. Why are we curtailing the second teams playing time?

The Linebackers were outstanding. Toal continued his torrid pace with another strong outing. Pruitt and Francois made many nice tackles. Herzlich looked good on his pass coverage.

With the exception of three big plays (two to Moore and one to Olsen) the DBs played well. Tribble’s night nearly single handedly won the game. Glasper had the mentioned breakdowns in pass coverage. Anam was good except for getting caught flat footed on the TD. Silva made a few nice run stopping tackles.

While on paper, Spaz’s night was better than Bible’s, he deserves equal amount of blame. Like NC State, Miami was starting a very raw inexperienced QB. Like NC State, Spaz played a very conservative scheme hoping the scattershot QB would make enough mistakes to kill his team. It almost worked both times. Here is the problem with letting a young guy sit back without any pressure (when the BC offense is not putting up points) it only takes two or three big plays to steal the game!! Spaz did nothing to alter his plan and Freeman had all the time in the world and only really needed three big passes to win (two to Moore and one to Olsen). Where was the blitzing? The only thing we did to confuse Freeman was drop 8 into coverage!?! What did he do? Tuck and run. We needed to bring more pressure but never did. Terrible.

Special Teams: B

Good kick coverage. Good punt coverage (including getting the fumble). Ayers had another solid night. Smith didn’t get a chance to do much. So why not an A for this group, because not having a kicker cost us. Point the finger wherever you would like, but at the end of the day we couldn’t/wouldn’t even attempt a long FG.

Overall: C

This a good Miami defense, but not a good team. We should’ve won but did just enough to lose. There were many contributors to this failure but I will point the finger at the guy in charge. Regardless of what happened with Wake and Maryland, we took ourselves out of the picture with a lousy performance. Even the commentators said “Miami wanted it more.” Where have we heard that before…it was vaguely familiar, but it all blends together when you start talking Thanksgiving letdowns against lame duck coaches.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blogpoll ballot

My manic ballots continue. I guess this year I tried to reward wins and losses, yet at the same time mix in some Power Ranking philosophy. At the end of the day and two years doing this, I think the polls are a joke and we need a playoff. As for my ballot. I really slammed WVU. They just looked horrible. I also bumped Texas A&M despite their win. I just played musical chairs with the last five spots and they came up short.

Games I watched
BC-Miami 100%
Georgia-Georgia Tech 100%
Wake Forest-Maryland 50%
ND-USC 50%
Florida-FSU 25%
Clemson-South Carolina 50%
LSU-Arkansas 50%

1 Ohio State --
2 Southern Cal 1
3 Florida 1
4 Michigan 1
5 Wisconsin 2
6 Oklahoma 4
7 Virginia Tech 6
8 Louisville 9
9 Rutgers 5
10 LSU 6
11 Arkansas 9
12 Auburn 3
13 Brigham Young 5
14 Notre Dame 8
15 Wake Forest 6
16 Tennessee 3
17 Texas 6
18 California 8
19 Nebraska 7
20 Boise State 5
21 Hawaii 5
22 Georgia Tech 13
23 Boston College 11
24 Georgia 1
25 TCU 1

Dropped Out: West Virginia (#8), Clemson (#20), Texas A&M (#22), Maryland (#24).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Stuck in a rut (and I am open to suggestions)

Stuck in the middle: too good to fire, too bad to embrace.

BC fans are in the most unenviable position in sports -- hopeless, frustrated and bored. And it starts at the top with Tom O’Brien. I don't have much of a solution, but I do have a few thoughts for each respective party.

To the TOB apologists,

For those who blame the players for the loss (and other losses), explain this: if the players change yet BC keeps losing to lame duck programs, whose fault is it? For those who credit TOB with our graduation success, explain this: if it is TOB’s work, how come BC has been graduating football players at high rate for 20 years? Did you realize Dan Henning won the graduation award while he was at BC? For those who think BC cannot ever be more than they are, explain Stanford and Northwestern’s Rose Bowl appearances in the last decade, explain Rutgers Lazarus-like rise from the dead, explain Wake Forest or Georgia Tech. My point. Plenty of schools have won the right way. Plenty have recovered or rebuilt after scandal. TOB has done a lot but is not a miracle worker. No one thinks BC should compete for a National Championship every year, but to think BC’s institutional and historical challenges prevent us from ever winning a conference title or excuses bad losses is a loser mentality. Our school motto is ever to excel, not ever to be pretty good.

To Sports Information and the Athletic Department,

Stop pushing these accomplishments: “most wins in a season”, “most wins by a senior class”, and the god-awful bowl streak to the fans and media. These are skewed stats that feel increasingly hollow as we finish our season in the same place over and over. The win total is padded by the longer seasons and the gross bowl expansion. These teams are winning more games because they are playing more games than the Flutie, Leahy or Coughlin teams. The bowl streak is also a really empty stat. Nearly half the NCAA makes bowl games. Past BC squads never had a chance to go to illustrious bowls like the ones held in Boise, Detroit and San Francisco. If TOB ever passes Bobby Bowden's 11-game streak, then he will have something to crow about. Until then, shut up about the bowl streak. I also hope the administration has the guts to tell TOB and his agents to stop whining to the media about his salary. He has done nothing to merit a salary in the top of the conference. If he leaves BC over money it will give both sides the face saving out that I think both might be looking for.

For those of you who want Bible (or Petercuskie or Spaz) fired,

It all starts at the top. If our play calling in big games is suspect again and again…it is on TOB. If our defense continues to have mental lapses or come out flat in key games…it is on TOB. If our special teams allow big plays or cannot find a placekicker after three years…it is on TOB. If the arrogant ass wants to tell ESPN “We’re up, aren’t we?” in response to a harmless halftime adjustments question…it is on TOB. Any fan could see that both our offense and defense needed to make adjustsments. I hope TOB was being snide and did realize we had to make adjustments. Because if he didn't, then our problem is not the assistants.

For those who want to see TOB fired,

I am sorry, but I cannot call for his firing. We need to raise the bar. We cannot allow the school or media to push his accomplishments beyond what they are. But despite his choking in numerous big games, I still don’t think he has done anything to justify his firing. You can talk about our watered-down schedule, but he has still won more than he has lost. His team’s aren’t as disciplined or perfect as we’d like to think but he still has not done anything to embarrass our school. I cannot root for him to fail, because he still represents BC and more importantly, his players are BC students and future alums.

So what do I think can or should be done?

Unfortunately we are stuck. I don’t think the Athletic Administration will ever do anything as they have been as quick as TOB to assign blame to others. I think our only hope is to voice your displeasure directly to the Alumni Association. Give money with a message or don’t give with a message. Regardless, handling our business as the BC family is the only way to go. Leahy needs to hear from us. Leahy needs to raise the bar with Gene and Gene needs to raise the bar on TOB.

That is all I've got. Post your comments below as I am open to solid suggestions. I am afraid that things will not change. TOB will never win the conference. BC will continue to go to lower-rung bowls. We'll see a slow decline until he retires like his mentor George Welch. And I think the BC community will feel the same way UVA feels about Welch: begrudging respect but very little love. And when it is all done, I think BC fans will remember TOB's shortfalls more than his triumphs.

Tell me I am wrong as I would love for things to get better.

Thankful this week is over

Sorry for the delay. Thanks for all of your emails and patience as I tried to get my thoughts together about this crappy week. I'll address the hoops first then the meltdown in Miami with my AOL link.

I should have known things were going to go bad when the basketball teams lost Wednesday. I'll get more into hoops as the season progresses. I have not given up hope on them yet, but I am getting increasingly worried. It looks like things got better Saturday with the win over Rhode Island. Here is a real short summation that I can take away from the stats (I haven't been able to see a game yet thanks, ACC): last year we had one of the nation's most efficient offenses and a below average defense. This year the offense is not nearly as effective (yet) and our defense, while improved with Williams, has not picked up the slack yet. Williams will keep us in games. If Marshall and Spears can pick up the rebounding slack the team will be okay.

Now onto football. Here are my fair takeaways for AOL. I am beyond pissed. TOB has lost me for good. I am not calling for his head and I'll explain how I feel shortly, but we are stuck and have no way out until he retires or peter's out like his mentor George Welch did at UVA.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

BC-Miami Preview

While BC has the most famous win in the series, the Hurricanes have delivered plenty of revenge since 1984. There’s the OT game in ’97, the 28-point comeback at the Heights and of course, the Ed Reed return that killed BC’s chance of upsetting the best team in the history of college football. The ‘Canes have hit all sorts of new lows this season and BC comes into the game with much more at stake. But we’ve been in this position before. How will it play out this year?

Theme that won’t be discussed on television
Larry Coker seems to be a goner and all the talk has focused on luring Steve Spurrier to Coral Gables. Although his name has been floated, I don’t think the announcers will mention TOB as a possible replacement. Partly because of Spurrier, partly out of good taste and partly because Doug Flutie is not going to piss off his nephew’s coach on national TV.

But make no mistake, despite his downplaying of it, TOB is working hard on a new job and/or raise (how many more times is The Sporting News going to mention it?). The UNC job is off the table and while the Miami alums clearly want a name like Spurrier, TOB might be seen as a good Plan B.

Three simple keys
1. Give Freeman a lot of looks. He is still adjusting and hasn’t been the sharpest passer. BC should try to create confusion with delay blitzes (which we haven’t used in a while) and a variety of coverages. Make him make the mistake.
2. Don’t force running the ball. Regardless of all that they are dealing with, Miami’s defense is still one of the best in the country against the run. We don’t run well. Trying to force it would be a mistake.
3. Play sound special teams. Traditionally Miami has had dangerous return men. This year they have not run one back despite having some solid talent on special teams. BC needs to make sure these guys don’t break a big play and energize the team and what is left of the crowd.

Gambling notes
-- BC is 0-14 against the Hurricanes since the Flutie game
-- The visitors in this series are 2-8 against the spread since 1994
-- TOB has never coached a team on such a short turnaround.
The current line is BC-4.

What would be a pleasant surprise? To see BC dominate with the running game and pound the ‘Canes into the ground. At this point, Miami only has pride to play for. I expect them to play hard and give us their best.

What would be a letdown? A loss. While nothing is our control, BC still has a chance at the ACC Championship Game. Losing would end that and ensure another bowl game that no one cares about.

What would be a shocker? A Miami romp. A good portion of this team was around for the Syracuse Debacle. They entered that game Thanksgiving weekend thinking all they had to do is show up. The Orange came out and whipped them. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Hopefully the players remember and are not taking this game lightly.

Bottom Line
I thought Miami would have a rough season and BC stood a good chance of finally winning in the Orange Bowl. However, no one could have imagined how bad things would actually get in South Florida. So I should be even more confident in my prediction, right? Not really. Miami could come out with some pride and give us a game or totally mail it in. I have no idea what will happen. Regardless, I do have confidence in Matt Ryan and this BC team’s leadership. I think they will be poised and play well regardless of the ‘Canes mood.
Final Score: BC 27, Miami 16.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Holding no longer a penalty when used against BC

Warning ACC teams: when a ref makes this signal you can bet it is against BC

The Eagle Insider message boards noticed an unusual officiating anomaly. BC’s opponents have not been called for holding since the Virginia Tech game. Shocked, I went back and confirmed. What do you know? The posters were right. So, I went back a step further and looked at all the game logs. Astonishingly our ACC opponents have only been called for holding four times all season (three in the Clemson game). How can this be? Holding is a part of football and, if a Ref wanted, could be called on nearly every play. Why aren’t we benefiting from it? I doubt there is some sort of inherent bias towards BC, but I hope that TOB points it out to the crew handling the Miami game. I don’t want officials interfering with the game, and holding is a judgment call. But there is no good explanation of why it is being ignored to our detriment.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blogpoll ballot

Another crazy week for me. I had to move Michigan, but then I saw a few other games where despite winning I came away less impressed with a team (i.e. LSU). So here is my ballot. I think BC is underrated in the real polls but just about right in mine.

Games I watched
Maryland-BC 100% twice
WVU-Pitt 50%
Michigan-Ohio State 50%
Wake Forest-Virginia Tech 50%
LSU-Ole Miss 25%

1 Ohio State --
2 Arkansas 4
3 Southern Cal 5
4 Florida --
5 Michigan 3
6 Notre Dame 1
7 Wisconsin 5
8 West Virginia 1
9 Georgia Tech 5
10 Oklahoma 7
11 Texas 2
12 Boston College 3
13 Virginia Tech 6
14 Rutgers 11
15 Auburn 1
16 LSU 5
17 Louisville 7
18 Brigham Young 2
19 Tennessee 7
20 Clemson 1
21 Wake Forest 16
22 Texas A&M 4
23 Georgia 3
24 Maryland 6
25 Boise State --

Dropped Out: Hawaii (#22), Nebraska (#23), Kansas State (#24).

Guest Photographer: LBI Eagle

LBI Eagle sent along some more pics from Saturday's game. His seats were really high up, but provided a great angle to watch the plays develop.

If you have pictures that you would like to share of BC sporting events please send them along. I’ll put them up when appropriate. Now to LBI's shots below.