Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Donations and duckets

I’ve avoided the donation based seating discussion for a variety of reasons. With the announcement of a potential lawsuit, I thought I would finally touch this hot button.

I live in the heart of SEC country and think donation based seating is long overdue. I also do not own BC season tickets, so there is no skin off of my back regardless of what they charge. I get to at least one game a year, mostly on the road and mostly pay face value.

I respect the long time fans and their years of season tickets. But I also respect market forces and supply and demand. If BC can get more money for some prime seats than they should do it…just like the Red Sox have done, just like the Patriots have done, just like Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and on and on.

If Gene and the Athletic Department have misjudged demand and the market does not support this increase, than they will have egg on their faces and will owe the long time supporters an apology. I don’t think they are off here and I think they will get the donations they are looking for.

But in all of this many are asking “why present it as a donation?” or “wouldn’t it make more sense just to roll the costs into the ticket price?” Most assume that the school sees the donation as an easier sell than raising the face value of the seats by $200 per game. I think that explains part of it…but there is another reason for the donation. Take a look:

Alumni giving is a factor in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. If other schools use sports to improve their rating, I am sure BC thinks and hopes we can do the same.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jags as OC: Game 1, Temple 1997

As a first-time Head Coach, Jags has a clean slate. I can’t look at a body of work and suggest how it will translate to BC. But we can glean some information about how his offense will run from his previous stint at BC. This time around he won’t be calling plays (that Logan’s call) but you can infer some tendencies and styles from what Jags did. Let’s take a look at his first game a 28-21 loss to Temple in Philadelphia.

Stat line

First downs 25
Rushed-yards 40-149
Passing yards 277
Sacked-yards lost 5-42
Return yards 10
Passes 25-41-2
Punts 4-32.0
Fumbles-lost 2-0
Penalties-yards 10-86
Time of possession 33:48

Pretty impressive for his first time out. I don’t have the actual drive charts (if anyone knows where I can find them, please email me) but I do remember the game. I was there with a few thousand others.

BC lost but not because of the offensive play calling. The special teams and late defense were shaky (sound familiar?) and this was one of Temple’s less shitty better teams.

So what can we tell about the game? Jags had a good mix of run and pass (40 rushes, 41 passes). Both were very productive and netted more than 400 total yards. He also was aggressive. We had two long scoring passes (26 and 30 yards), both to Anthony DiCosmo. MattHass also mixed it up, completing passes to nine different players including a balance of WRs, TEs and RBs.

So why did we lose? The offense did not stall in the red zone, like Bible teams tended to do. However, Matt Hasselbeck threw two drive killing picks. And the defense (not coached by Spaz) allowed too many big plays.

I was working for the student radio station at the time and we used to fly on the team charter. The flight home was deadly silent. I remember seriously questioning if TOB was the right guy at the time, partially because we lost to Temple and partially because he was so unmoved. I was worried about the big plays, but don’t remember being concerned or even disappointed in the offense that day. As we stroll back down Memory Lane, we’ll see that Jags had his ups and downs, but the Temple game was a good start (for him).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Guest Photographer: John K.

I wanted to go to Duke but when the schedule came out, I knew I would be hosting the most important birthday party of all time. However, some real Super Fans did make the trip. Thanks to John K. and his boys Dunz and KDS for sharing some of their shots of Cameron and Krzyzewskiville.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Duke thoughts

Tim Brando mentioned it repeatedly, but I really think the game was lost in the last minute of the first half…just like the Clemson game. Against Clemson, the team lost its focus. At Cameron it was more of Dudley getting in foul trouble and having to lay back. Not a pretty game, but winning in Durham is hard under any circumstance. I hate to lose, but this loss did not change my outlook on the season. I still think this team can scrape together enough ACC wins to get into the NCAAs. A few more thoughts…


-- Tyrelle Blair’s play. I had an up close view of his performance against Clemson. It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t think I would see this sort of improvement all season, let alone in one week against Duke. His individual and help defense was much better. He contributed on offense and actually showed some effort. I don’t know if this is an aberration or a sign of things to come, but the kid deserve credit for stepping up on our biggest stage.

-- Shamari Spears. He took too many shots too far from the basket, but he is also making leaps and bounds in his play. His defense is getting much better as well.

-- Dudley not getting more shots. I know he gets a lot of his points in and around the basket. I know he is playing on a bad foot. But we absolutely need to get him more touches. Even when the other team collapses on him, he generates points.

-- The final minute of the first half. As I mentioned above, these mental lapses are killers for a shallow team. They cannot let it happen against the top teams.

-- Marshall’s production. I am not going to kill him…especially after the last game. He worked hard on the boards. But I’ll repeat my Marshall mantra: when he is not feeling it from outside he needs to drive and cut to the basket.

We’ll need perfect games to beat good teams. This was not one of them.

Jags link

Here is an article from the BC Chronicle on the Jags hire. While I always want BC to hire the best person, regardless of religion, I am glad Jags is a practing Catholic. Catholicism is more ingrained into the Athletic Department than most people realize. I don't know, but I imagine there would be some awkwardness for a non Catholic. Who you pray to and how you pray are not as important what happens on the field, but religion is one of the unique aspects of the BC job. I think Jags will respect and thrive on that.

Friday, January 26, 2007

10 Years of TOB Part IV: the 2006 Season

Last summer I wrote a filler piece on 10 years of TOB (Parts 1, 2 and 3). At the time he had been on campus for 10 years, but had not yet coached his 10th season at BC. This is an addendum to the series capturing his final, fateful season at the Heights.

Off the Field
(I would make this No. 2 on the old list.)

Knowing when to leave. TOB’s departure wasn’t perfect. Griping through back channels about money, stealing our recruits, moving within the conference were all disappointing aspects of the end. But he left at the right time and left the program in better shape than the one he inherited ten years ago. While we are lacking quality depth, our starting lineup is strong and experienced next season. I know he wanted the perfect job. NC State is not it and not the right fit, but he’ll make it work and his next five years in Raleigh will be more comfortable than they would have been at the Heights. Things would have boiled over eventually and neither party would have come out looking very good. TOB leaving when he did relieved both of a messy divorce. And because he moved on, both parties got what they wanted -- a new start.

Ten Best Wins
(I would have made the Clemson win his 4th best and the Virginia Tech win his 10th.)

BC 22, Virginia Tech 3. Oct. 12, 2006. A Thursday night game that saw one team pass at will, saw the defense kill the other team’s QB and saw the night capped off by great special teams. For ten years that had been Virginia Tech’s formula in beating us. This season, TOB finally turned the table. Everything was working. The game was so one sided that Virginia Tech players were bickering with one another on the sidelines and Kirk Herbstreit took shots at the Hokies. Steve Aponovicious took the game from romp to national news, as the former Superfan became celebrity kicker. The 2006 season was a disappointment for a variety of reasons, but this game was one of the high points.

BC 34, Clemson 33. Sept. 9, 2006. Unbelievably this was TOB’s first home win over a ranked team. That dubious milestone is not the reason it made the Top 10. The game was easily the most overwhelming, thrilling, confounding emotional roller coaster of the ten seasons. BC kept falling behind, only to even up the game. Jeff Smith burst on the scene with a huge 96-yard return. Clemson fought like hell and CJ Spiller’s run was one of the best I’ve even seen against BC. The defense gave up huge yards, yet made adjustments and tough plays. OT was a fitting end. But to win on a blocked extra point…I still can’t believe it. Losing games like this crushes your soul as a fan. Winning games like this provides an exhilarating high. The long term significance of this game proved to be minimal, but the excitement alone merits a spot in the Top 10.

Ten Worst Losses
(I almost put all three of the 2006 losses on the list. In the end I excluded Wake. Sure it was a tough game, but Wake deserves credit for their great season and that loss was not nearly as shameful of a performance as TOB’s work in the Miami game or the NC State game. I would put Miami at No. 4 and NC State at No. 5. Both were more painful than the 2005 loss to UNC. One other note, Jags and Spaz were both key figures in a few of these 10 losses. Fair or not, I still put the blame on TOB. His coordinators changed yet these sorts of things kept happening.)

BC 15, NC State 17. Sept. 23, 2006. TOB never won more than six games in a row. This game is a microcosm of the problem. BC road a six game win streak coming into Raleigh. The ‘Pack were starting an inexperienced QB. Amato was staving off a fan mutiny. No way a good team loses this game, right? BC did. The problems began with Special Teams. Ohliger was unreliable and missing extra points (for the third straight season). This left BC to go for two-point conversions and not attempt field goals (this would come into play later). Problem No. 2 -- head scratching play calling. BC’s WRs were having trouble with NCSU’s physical secondary. Yet we never really adjusted and O line U also couldn’t control the game on the ground when it mattered. The final problem -- horrendous defense late. With NC State needing a touchdown to win, BC stayed in the 4-3. Shocking. No prevent and yet no pressure on the young QB. Amato would prove to be the latest lame duck to beat TOB when something big was on the line.

BC 14, Miami 17. Nov. 23, 2006. This is the “we’re up, aren’t we?" game. Outsiders often wondered why so many BC fans disliked TOB. That quote and this game captured the problem. Any football fan could see that a reeling and distracted Miami team was recovering and getting back into the football game. Yet TOB felt either confident enough or jerky enough to get snide with an ESPN reporter. He’s been asked the “halftime adjustments” question hundreds of times. Why get sarcastic then? BC had the national stage and a chance to play our way into the ACC Championship game. Instead the inept offense handed another victory to a coach on his way out the door.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Schedule sanity

BC released its 2007 Football schedule. While it looks incredibly tough and not the way I would like to see the season play out, I don’t think it is as bad as it might appear.

Here are semi-rational counters to the gut “Oh my God!” reactions.

1. “Oh my God! We start the season with three ACC games!” I wouldn’t choose to start the season and Jags' career with three conferences games but this is not as bad as it appears. Wake will be tough but probably not as good as they were this year. I expect NC State to get off to a rough start (for a variety of reasons). We have a veteran team and should be favored in both games. Remember that our defense won’t be making wholesale changes, so the usual transition to a new staff is somewhat lessened. I also think Jags and Logan are smart enough to emphasize Ryan’s strengths instead of forcing all sorts of changes on him. So assuming we start 2-0, the team should head into Atlanta with plenty of momentum. Tech is tough at home, but they graduated a lot of talent and will have a new offensive coordinator. I think they will be favored, but BC can certainly steal the game.

2. “Oh my God! Why are we playing four straight non-conference games during the middle of the schedule?” Not how I would line it up, but like the first fret, this has a logical explanation. Parents weekend is always a cupcake, so we should have expected UMass there. Notre Dame also dictates when we play them. Army makes a nice break after the ACC heavy start. So I guess Gene could have slipped another ACC game during the Bowling Green slot, but would that be all that much better? Plus, Bowling Green probably wanted to get their heavyweights out of the way. I really think the four straight non conference games is unavoidable. I also think we can win all four. Notre Dame will be in rebuilding mode and we’ll have huge talent advantages against everyone else.

3. “Oh my God! We close with Virginia Tech on a Thursday, Florida State, At Maryland, At Clemson, and Miami!” That is life in the ACC. There’s no UConn, Temple, and old Rutgers-like conference foes to pad the schedule. All of these teams were in bowls last season. I think they will all be good next year, but not unbeatable. At Blacksburg on a Thursday night will be extremely tough. I like our chances against FSU at home (and think the ‘Noles will continue to struggle in 2007). I think we will be favored at Maryland. Clemson will be tough, but I’d rather play them in November when the heat is no longer a factor. I also like our chances against Miami and I am still scratching my head at the Randy Shannon hire.

This is a tough, tough schedule. But if you calm down and take a step back, there is no reason to think our talented team cannot excel next year. The D should be very good. The offense will be learning on the fly, but I do have faith in them. If TOB played this schedule, we would have heard plenty of whining. I hope Jags looks at it and says “We can beat every team on our schedule!”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My rumor is less rumory than yours

Boston blog Barstool sports is reporting that Gene was behind the Williams and McClain boots. I've heard the opposite. My info is all second hand but has come from a few different reliable sources. Without getting into too much of the details, the semester did not start well for our two former big men, Al talked to them and they responded by getting in more trouble after the Tuesday night game. So the next day they were sent packing. All Al’s call. I don’t think Al is leaving this season or next. His relationship with Gene is nothing like Gene’s relationship with TOB. I bet Al retires at BC within the next three or four years.

King me!

The 'King of the Court' came up huge. This win will prove to be very important. He wasn't the only one either...we got production from Blair and Oates. Dudley, as expected, had some trouble with Thorton, but still made many clutch shots (I am a little worried that he is hurting and having to coast for streches of the second half). Rice played much better. Sure he was still a little reckless, but looked great driving to the hoop and was much better after struggling early. Here are a few other thoughts...

-- Marshall driving to the hoop. Sure, the game winner was a jumper, but how good did he look along the baseline? I also think his offseason diet is paying dividends in the transition game.
-- Getting easy baskets after the other team's break. We've always cherry picked with Al, but have made it an artform this year. It is nice to punish other teams for running on us.
-- Blair's D. He will never be Williams, but his D was much better Tuesday. Instead of using his arms, he bodied up and also moved his feet well. Let's hope he keeps getting better.
-- More straight zone. I don't think we will scrap the amoeba, but a straight zone will be needed as this team tires.

Dislikes: (these are recurring dislikes)
-- Foul shoting. Enough said.
-- Turnovers. They corrected things, but it still got them in a hole.
-- Perimeter D. This is just a fact of like under Al.

The team had to play very well to beat Florida State. Near perfection is very hard to maintain every game, but if this team just gets four more conference wins, I think they will make the NCAAs.

Game pictures

Loyal reader Meaghan H. took advantage of her great seats to play guest photographer for the night. Enjoy her shots below.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Doug, I'd like you to meet someone..."

Special thanks go out to loyal reader Meaghan H. for capturing and sharing the first meeting between Jags and Doug Flutie.

BC's next chance to prove itself: FSU

BC is at the top of the conference, yet there is a feeling of just hanging on. Tuesday's game against Florida State is just another important test. The 'Noles come in with a similar record, but they have better wins and much better losses (UNC, narrow loss to Clemson, close game with GaTech, etc). BC needs to win in order to get to 10 ACC victories. I don't think BC has an answer for Al Thorton...and it scares me. BC needs to slow the pace, get some positive minutes out of Oates/Blair and hope for an off night from FSU's guards. One of my favorite bloggers, Kenpom thinks we will struggle down the stretch. Interestingly enough, he thought we would struggle even before we lost Williams. I think we will be okay, but we should give Kenpom some weight. Of the national guys he was ahead of the curve in seeing Williams potential, and also saw the flaws in some of his game before Williams got the boot. As much as I hope Dudley will carry the team, Saturday proved that Rice and Marshall need to play well too. Let's hope they do.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"At Quarterback...", and a link

Although Football is the ultimate team sport, Quarterback remains the center of attention and a key for success. BC is fortunate to have Matt Ryan coming back another year and a solid backup in Chris Crane ready to fill in at any minute. Crane will be the likely starter once Ryan leaves. But that didn’t stop the previous coaching staff from trying to land a highly-touted signal caller in this class. Despite some flirting, no QB of note committed. Jags and Company took over and started talking to all sorts of QBs. Big names, no names, northeast guys, southern kids. The first to commit was Jersey prospect Chris Johnson. Johnson previously verballed to Buffalo. He has great upside, but will be a project. So that leaves three QBs in the pipeline each with some questions.

Billy Flutie
The Good: Well liked by the old staff. Supposedly a quick learner who ran the scout team well. Would be a very popular pick with the locals.
The Bad: Did he look 6’2 on the sidelines? Played against mid-level competition in Massachusetts. Recruited as an athlete. Still some questions about his arm and ability to take a pounding.

Ross Applegate
The Good: Pro build. Played against great competition in high school. Strong arm. (Is from the ATL…ha.)
The Bad: Not as mobile as Flutie or Johnson. Some questions about his release.

Chris Johnson
The Good: Played against top competition in New Jersey. Best combo of size and speed of the three.
The Bad: Reportedly regressed over his career. Questions about his arm and mechanics.

None of these guys were highly touted out of high school. None are a sure thing and I bet that Jags will go after another QB in the next class. But here is the good news for all three (and for BC fans): they are all going to get a fair shot at being the starting Quarterback. Under the old regime the wrong guy played all the time for many reasons unrelated to football. That won’t be the case any more. And if any of these guys can outplay Chris Crane, more power to them.

I am excited at the prospect of Steve Logan coaching these kids up. If he can turn one of these guys into a star, BC will benefit on the field and in recruiting circles for a long time.

We are not the only ones who picked up on TOB's ceiling

Westerdawg produced a little thing on tenured coaches and the BCS. TOB would have topped the futility list if he hadn't bolted.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Clemson thoughts

I made the trip to Clemson today. I got these two shots, but couldn't get many more quality ones before the battery died. I either had a ref or cheerleader in my face the whole time. I promise better pics for the Georgia Tech game. The Clemson folks were great, as always. It was a good trip except for one thing...the actual game.

First let me say this, even with Williams we lose this game. Clemson is the type of team that has always giving Al's team's trouble. They hit a bunch of 3s and they are physical and quick for 40 minutes.

In the post game Al said the team played well for 18 minutes and then it all started falling apart. Marshall hit a three to get the score to 33-36. In the next five points were Clemson's. At halftime I believed that the team had a chance. We know how that went. Clemson overpowered BC in the second half. When Rice only made two of his four fouls after the technical and foul, the game was over.

Rice played hard but reckless. He didn't get the offense set up enough, didn't get the ball to Dudley in the post and had too many non-press related turnovers. Marshall was off. Blair struggled. Haynes continues to be an issue. There were eight non-press turnovers in the second half in total. The only solid performers were Dudley and Spears.

In the post game Dudley rightfully said, "you're not going to win every game in this league." It's true, especially when the other team hits open 3s and we turn the ball over 20 times.

Where do we go from here?
-- Rice is going to have to play better. He needs to play within himself and get the offense set.
-- Dudley needs more touches in the post. He did not get to the line nearly enough today.
-- Blair and Oates need to contribute something. Anything really. Both just take up space. No rebounding. No defense. No offense. They cannot replicate Williams, but Oates can play better than he has played lately.
-- Marshall driving. He got cute today with his outside shots. Not where we need him.

I still have faith. The team came off as testy up close. Now is not the time to start pointing fingers. Better play and better team work is the only way BC will get into the NCAAs.

Friday, January 19, 2007

New faces

Most of the week, BC fans focused on guys kicked off the basketball team departing student athletes. I'd like to shift the focus back to guys who are coming to the Heights and Jags is providing the much needed good news.

Local product Corey Eason probably would have signed under TOB too, but Jags still deserves some credit for holding off late interest from Ohio State and Miami.

John Elliott is another guy who always liked BC but was the prototype guy we have lost out on the past few seasons. Rutgers and UVA came after him hard. However, the new staff closed the deal.

The biggest surprise was the commitment of New Hampshire product Mark Spinney. Mark was headed to Syracuse until the new staff came in.

All of this is really icing on the cake. When any staff changes a recruiting class is usually the area that suffers the most. Despite all the initial worries, Jags and Company seem to be doing a great job in keeping the TOB recruits they want and finding guys that fit their plan. TOB and company were notorious for letting recruiting peter out once the season began. That cost us some great recruits like Brian Cushing. The new blood certainly presents a vitality and enthusiasm that will work well with High School kids. I think we’ll see it really pay dividends over the next two seasons. But you never know…with the way things are going Jags might get a few more surprises in this class.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dudley “to do” list

Nothing is out of the question now. We could tank the rest of the way or we could make the Final Four. The Final Four is less likely, but as George Mason proved, you just have to get hot for four games. Plus we will have the best player on the court in majority of our games from here on out. In basketball that means a lot. Our success or failure will really ride on Dudley. Here is what he needs to do.

Offense: He needs to post up on nearly every possession. Jared has been much more of a wing player this year. It made sense with Oates and Williams on the floor at the same time. He can and still will get some time at the perimeter, but to be most effective, he is going to need to be near the lane. From there he can either get easy baskets on the low blocks or get the flex working from the high post. I expect BC to slow the pace down. Jared also needs to stay close so he can grab as many rebounds as possible.

Defense: I don’t think Al will change schemes midseason. Our zone (amoeba, matchup, whatever you want to call it) will probably stay in place. What I expect, is that Dudley will probably switch off more and stay closer to the basket. This is twofold, so he can fill Williams' role as the traffic director and so he is in a better rebound position. Dudley is a great perimeter defender and good at disrupting passing lanes, so this will hurt. But we will need defensive rebounds.

Team morale: I never got the sense that this was a tight crew. I specifically remember Dudley saying he didn’t talk to his teammates much during last offseason. Basketball players have also flocked to live in singles in 66 for years. I don’t think they need to be brought together, but they probably do need a shot of confidence. We all know Skinner is not going to provide any “win one for the Gipper" speeches. That leaves Dudley to let these guys know they still have something to play for.

I still think we make the tournament. If we do anything more (like win the ACC or make a deep run in the NCAAs) it will be on the shoulders of Jared Dudley.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Fool me once...

Sean Williams and Akida McClain are gone. No sympathy for them from me. The guys I feel sorry for are Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall. This was shaping up to be a good season. It still can be (I’ll explain in a minute). First let me address what it means to McClain, Williams and unfortunately, Al Skinner.

McClain is done with big time basketball. He was a limited tweener to begin with. Now with this baggage and no eligibility to transfer, he will have to find something else to do. The kid just blew a world class education, tons of potential good will and a chance to play a game at a high level for another season. But he is clearly too stupid or doesn’t care. Three strikes and you are out.

Sean Williams is a little different case. I’ve written about him and his travails before. What surprised me was the reaction I got from his family. They sent me emails saying that they shared my frustrations and were doing everything they can to get through to Sean. Sean could have left BC after his first arrest, yet his family made him keep his commitment to BC. And he shined. His play last March was outstanding. He was really putting it together this year. Now he goes and does something stupid…again. This may seem cold, but BC is no longer the place for Sean. It sucks too, because he has the dangerous combination of undeveloped talent and no maturity. He needs to be in college. Sean will play basketball again. He’s probably still a first-round draft pick. But he has a lot to learn. He doesn’t have enough talent to get by in the NBA. He will need focus and dedication to ever get off an NBA bench. My hope for his family is that this is the final kick in the ass wake up call he needs. But I have a funny feeling he’ll get drafted, sign a good but not great contract, ride the bench for a season or two and be gone from the NBA in three seasons. To get by at the highest level you need to be either extremely skilled, or very skilled, hard working and focused. Sean is very skilled, but clearly lacks the other keys to NBA success.

This is really bad news for Al Skinner. This sort of thing has happened too much during his tenure. Al’s philosophy is pretty simple. He is not a baby sitter. He is not a rah-rah guy. He is not a salesmen. He has an eye for talent and a good scheme. He and his talented staff identify kids on the periphery, offer them a chance to compete at the highest level and let them be. In many cases this formula is perfect. Troy Bell, Craig Smith and Jared Dudley are the three best examples. But this philosophy is not just about stars. Role players like Jonathan Beerbohm, Uka Agbia and Louis Hinnant are perfect examples of guys who took their chance and ran with it. However, the ugly flip side are guys like Andrew Bryant, Ryan Sidney, Jermaine Watson, and now McClain and Williams. They all blew it and no one kept them in line. Al should now adjust his philosophy. If he is not going to babysit then he needs to focus on character and maturity during the recruiting process. Al is well liked and successful but if he doesn’t adjust, things will become increasingly uncomfortable for him at the Heights.

Now early today, I predicted BC’s finish. I think a 5-6 finish would be quite an accomplishment now. But the team can still finish strong. McClain is no real loss. We played without him for long stretches the past two season. Williams is a bigger loss, but as well as he’s played he is not irreplaceable.

Here are Williams' Per Minute Averages for his key stats:

Points = .38, Rebounds =.22, Steals =.04, Blocks = .16

Now we won’t be able to duplicate his blocks. But Dudley and Rice should pick up his steals. Dudley and Oates will also have to get some of his rebounds, but the guy who should really benefit is Shamari Spears. Here are his key per minute averages:

Points = .36, Rebounds =.27

So, if Spears gets more minutes and maintains his productivity, he should fill in well for Williams. But that is a lot to ask for a Freshman.

I have no idea how this team will react. Let’s hope it brings them together and they play great basketball for the next eight weeks. It could go either way, but Dudley and Marshall deserve a good ending.

5-0 in ACC play; where do we go from here?

With last night’s definitive win over Miami BC remains atop the ACC with a perfect 5-0 conference record. The once fledgling tournament hopes look much better. But the good start inadvertently raises the bar. If BC had started 3-2 in conference and finished 10-6 they would look like a strong, middle of the pack team that closed relatively well. Now with the 5-0 start, a 10-6 finish will look like the 2004 squad that peaked too soon and was bounced by Bruce Pearl’s UW Milwaukee team. In my opinion BC needs to reach 10 ACC wins to make the tourney and 13 ACC wins to be a 5 or better seed. It will be tough as the road ahead is brutal but it can be done.

Remaining ACC games and my predictions

-- At Clemson. W. Clemson got off to the best start in the country and we’ve had trouble at Littlejohn, but I think we are playing them at the right time.

-- Florida State. W. They gave us trouble last year, but I still like our chances at home.

-- Duke. L. Yes, I know it is a down year for the Dukies but Cameron is still one of the toughest places to play.

-- Virginia Tech. W. When the ACC determined that we would play Miami and VT twice every year, I thought it was a huge boost. Who knew how good the Hokies would get? We need to at least split this series. I say we take the home opener.

-- At Miami. W. They played us tough there last year, but I still like our chances in this one.

-- At Florida State. L. The ‘Noles are struggling but still have talent (Thorton) and can still pull off an upset (Florida).

-- Duke. W. After last year’s games against Duke, I think we can, will and need to win this game.

-- North Carolina. L. College Gameday is supposed to be there for this. I would love to see a win, but I think UNC’s transition game and pressure on Rice is going to be a problem.

-- Virginia Tech. L. As I said, I predict a season split with the Hokies.

-- Clemson. W. Last home game of Dudley and Marshall’s career. I bet they go out on top.

-- Georgia Tech. L. Tech gave us real problems last year. They have plenty of talent, but are still learning how to play together. By the end of the season I think they will be a very tough matchup for us.

So my prediction has us finishing 6-5 in ACC play. Not stellar. It will guarantee an NCAA bid. Our seed would really be determined by how we played in the ACC Tournament.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

FSU to Foxboro? and other links

Rumors abound that BC and Florida State will play in the primetime Labor Day slot on ESPN. That is great news. The curveball in the speculation is that the game will be held in Foxboro. Nothing is official, but here are my thoughts:

-- Huge national spotlight. Great publicity for Matt Ryan and a nice introduction for Jags

-- Not on campus. This is unfortunate. Having Gameday on Campus vs. a Foxboro set is a world of differnce. For better or worse it becomes about the game and not a showcase for the school. Getting the students to the game is also a major inconvenience.

But even with the drawbacks BC should do everything it can to make this happen. I just hope that something is done for the students so they can get to the game.

Clemson is also hoping to land FSU for the Labor Day slot.

Here are a few other links…

A preview of our game against Miami.

An update on former commit Arthur Ray.

Dual threat QB Chris Johnson is considering BC.

Hoops signee signee Rakim Sanders shined in the Hoophall Classic.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Football 2006 In Review: Offensive MVPs

This was a fitting final year under Dana Bible. We lit a few teams up, had an all ACC passer, yet in our three losses we really had trouble scoring. Many good contributors, but in my opinion the three guys below really stood out.

1. Matt Ryan. Where to begin? He was healthy for about one half of football, yet was the best quarterback in the conference and one of the best in the league. His decision making and toughness gave the offense a direction and dynamic quality that has been lacking under Bible. Despite the costly INT against Wake, I really think that game embodied many of Ryan’s special qualities. He kept drive after drive alive with his clutch throws. Despite being gimpy, he moved well in the pocket and scrambled for TD. His numbers were fantastic by TOB standards and should only get better next season. And he did without a game breaker at WR or RB. After the Clemson game, I said Matt Ryan was going to have to carry the team…fortunately he did. Now let’s hope he caps off his career with a huge year next season.

2. Josh Beekman. While I felt he had a better season last year, Beekman was still outstanding this year. His play wasn’t as consistent, but we asked him to do so much more. Beekman took snaps at two positions every game and filled in at Center for full games twice. He made this challenging transition seamless. He is probably the most agile linemen of the TOB era. I would have loved to see him work with Jags one season, but unfortunately he has used up all his eligibility. I wish Josh nothing but the best at the next level.

3. Gosder Cherilus. Cherilus was great this year. He dominated his opponents and played his position at the highest level. He was nearly perfect and I would have but him ahead of Matt Ryan on this list but for one thing…his penalties. It is such a shame. He really was excellent, but the stupid false starts and the occasional holding calls killed his grading. If he comes back and if he fixes his focus, Gosder could be the best lineman in the country.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Thoughts on the UVA win

The first ten minutes were awful, but the rest of the way things went pretty well. The 4-0 conference start puts the team in a good place, but the stretch will be very tough. I think they need to finish 7-6 (6-6 in the ACC) to make the tourney. Here are my likes and dislikes.

-- Getting the ball to Dudley. He is still not getting enough shots, but the offense moves best when he has the ball. Plus he was able to lead the adjustments against UVA's varied defenses.
-- The pressure. We are never going to be a Bruce Pearl/Nolan Richardson style team, but our soft press is proving very effective. Another benefit of Williams: he can lay back and protect the basket in this scheme, but you also see him dart out and break up long passes.
-- Spears on the boards. He is still limited, but Spears worked hard on the defensive boards when we needed it.
-- Al not panicking. This can be frustrating at times. When we got down early, I was upset. Yet Mr. Cool remained calm and the team slowing worked back and adjusted.

-- Coming out flat. You can only get away with it so often...especially against good teams.
-- Letting UVA claw back late. Like the Wake game, the team let the Cavs back in when they should have put them away. It is sort of on Rice. His transition D is still shaky and sometimes he doesn't get the play moving when we have the lead. Yet, he equally deserves credit for making late foul shots.
-- Oates' 3 attempts. He is out there for rebounds, fouls and minutes. The occasional 3 is nice, but now he is forcing it. He needs to take a dribble or two and either take a shorter shot or get it to the cutter.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Football 2006 In Review: Defensive MVPs

Many of our Defensive players had great games. At times Raji, Toal, Pruitt, Silva and Glasper, all had great moments, but either injury or effort kept them off my list. I feel the guys below had the best season and fortunately they are all coming back next year.

1. Dejuan Tribble. This wasn’t even close. Tribble by far had the best season on the defensive side of the ball. He is our best corner in coverage. He is a game changer with his INT returns. And what is often overlooked, is that he has become a very good tackler. In his area, he will shed a blocker and make a tough tackle. Like any corner he was beat occasionally, but I think he is our best CB since Michael Reed. Tribble is a game changer and I hope he continues his improvement next season.

2. Jolonn Dunbar. As I’ve said before, Dunbar played well the first half of the season, but took it to another level in the second half. His games against Maryland and Navy were outstanding. Unfortunately he missed the Miami game…I think he would have made a difference. Always strong against the run, Dunbar has improved his coverage skills. Toal is the bigger name, but Dunbar is clearly our best linebacker.

3. Kevin Akins. For a limited role player, I questioned whether I should put Akins in my Top 3. He got runover against Navy. He is only on the field for 30% of the plays, yet his impact was so important that he deserves it. Our front four had issues getting to the QB. We needed to do something. Akins was the answer. His nose for the QB, speed and toughness created all sorts of issues for opposing offenses. As the season progressed, teams adapted and Akins’s highlights diminished, but looking at the season on whole, Akins was one of our most important players.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Half Full or Half Empty?

Everyone is worried about this year’s recruiting class. It was not going to be all that great to begin with, so I am giving Jags a huge pass on it (plus there is still time to find a kid or two). But what I want to address is the perception that TOB left the cupboard full. I say “sort of.” Without question the 2007 team is very talented. They also face a brutal schedule.

What concerns me is the 2008 season. TOB’s 2004 class lacked depth and his 2005 class was his worst. Fortunately 2006 proved to be good. But 2004, 2005 and this year’s transition class will probably hurt Jags 2008 season and could drag down 2009. Take a look at the Depth Chart and how much time each kid will have. I didn not include current commits since we don't know who will actually sign.

2008 Depth Chart

QB – Crane (final year of eligibility), Applegate/Flutie (three years of eligibility)
TB – Brooks (final year of eligibility) or Smith (two years of eligibility)
FB – Walls (one year of eligibility), McLaughlin? (two years of eligibility)
Tackle – Lapham (three years of eligibility), then who?
Tackle – Sheil (two years of eligibility), then who?
Guard – Tennant (two years of eligibility), then who?
Guard – Ramsey (one year of eligibility) or Huggins (one year of eligibility)
Center – Murphy (one year of eligibility), then who?
WR – Brandon Robinson (one year of eligibility), Jarvis (two years of eligibility)
WR – Megwa (two years of eligibility), Gunnell (two years of eligibility)
TE – Purvis (one year of eligibility), McMichael (three years of eligibility)

So as you can see we are solid at WR, TE, and QB. But very thin in the backfield and Oline U looks awfully thin. Fortunately we have a good Oline coach.

DE – Ramella (two years of eligibility), Giles (two years of eligibility)
DE – Albright (two years of eligibility), Smith (two years of eligibility)
DT – Claiborne (three years of eligibility), Tougas (one year of eligibility)
DT – Willette (one year of eligibility), Scafe (three years of eligibility)
LB – Herzlich (two years of eligibility),
LB – Francois (one year of eligibility), Bagan (three years of eligibility)
LB – McCluskey (three years of eligibility
CB – Fox (three years of eligibility), Smith (two years of eligibility)
CB – Goodwin (three years of eligibility)
S – Rollins (two years of eligibility, Bowman (two years of eligibility)
S – Davis (two years of eligibility)

We are talented at DE. Talented but thin at LB and DB.

So as you can see, TOB really failed us regarding depth and out right failed for us at Offensive Line. The group listed above can compete in the ACC, but will need help. They won’t get too much from the 2007 class, which means Jags and Company will really need to bring in a great class next year. I think they will do it, but if they struggle don’t buy the TOB left the cupboard full criticism.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"All is well"

I am not worried. With the pic and quote above I am just trying to add a little levity to the general fan mood. Seeing recruits defect, hearing that Jags hasn’t talked to all of the TOB commits, Willis Jr. transferring, Cherilus considering the Draft and the full staff still not in place has people wondering. I am not worried. Really. Transitions are almost always messy, but Jags and Company deserve a chance…and certainly more than a week.

I think they will:
-- Hold on to most of the TOB recruits and pick up a few quality names
-- fill out the staff with good names
-- convince most of the current players to come back

But even if they don’t, I am not worried. Jags, Siravo, McGovern, and Commissiong are all known as hard working, great recruiters. Why would we expect that to change now? Do we think they are all going to get fat and lazy? No way. It might not make sense now, but I have faith that it will.

As for guys leaving…Willis had other issues. Cherilus was considering leaving long before Jags came on the scene. I hope he stays, but we’ll be okay regardless.

At the end of the day, none of this will really matter. What happens on the field matters most. Perception is not always reality. The perception about TOB was that he was some sort of miracle worker at BC. Not exactly true. There was the perception that he was a strict disciplinarian. How many false starts and personal fouls made that claim hollow?

Give Jags time. Logan and Spaz alone should make us feel good about the direction of the program. We are headed towards good times.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Final Blogpoll Ballot

Here is my final ballot. Thanks to Brian for putting this together for another year. This year only confirmed what I felt a year ago -- that the poll system is beyond flawed. It is unfair. I watch a ton of college football and there are numerous teams that I haven't seen play once. I know it is the same for the real voters. And yet their votes decide who is champion.

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

Dropped Out: Texas A&M (#23).