Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nothing scary

As people know, I am not for lowering the bar when it comes to BC sports. But I do want to congratulate Spaz for getting this team to a bowl. Few outside the program thought we would be in this position come November and even in the watered down postseason, going to a bowl is still an accomplishment. Now let's finish strong.

As for the actual game...those who went trick-or-treating didn't miss much. After a slow start, BC put in a solid effort.

I'll have my second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Central Michigan

This is all the BC football you'll get for two weeks, so enjoy it. Can Spaz rally the troops again? Will CMU give us another scare? We will soon find out.

I will not be online during the game. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Friday, October 30, 2009

R.I.P. Baldwin

I have some sad news to report...according to the picture above from, Baldwin is dead and more troubling, he appears to now be a ghost. I leave it to BC Theologian Peter Kreeft, who has written about ghosts and Catholicism in the past, to explain why Baldwin did not ascend into Heaven. As for why he is choosing to haunt Purdue, Vanderbilt and Iowa...I have no idea. Maybe hard feelings about Dorien Bryant and the Music City Bowl?

ESPN raises the wrong questions

This article on ESPNBoston is generating a bit of buzz for all the wrong reason. BC guy Brad Zak used the Haden situation to ask "is BC not the place to develop top talent?" I hate to be so blunt -- especially towards a BC guy -- but this is beyond stupid. If you want to measure BC's ability to develop top talent, you should probably use Wins and NFL Draft picks as a measurement, not how some teenage recruit panned out. In fact, Haden's situation should be more of an indictment against the flawed and foolish recruiting rating system so many fans are slaves to. It has been a while since I stated my case about recruiting, so let's use this article and Haden's issues to take another look.

First let me say that recruiting is important. You need good players to win and you need to sell potential recruits on your school. But overlooked in recruiting is eyeing talent. We give too much credit to the evaluators at Rivals, Scout and ESPN. They don't know anything. Sure they have some measurables and if all the big powers are going after a kid, it is probably safe to say he is good. But there are so many other factors in play, that using the recruiting systems as anything definitive is dumb. I always fall back to the NFL. Look how many top picks become total busts even though the NFL teams are able to make more informed decisions when they select their players. You also need to look no further than your real life experiences. If you've ever hired someone or worked in recruiting, you know how challenging it can be. Someone who looks great on paper or was great in job A doesn't always fit with job B. It happens.

Then there is just the unplanned. Who knows what would have become of Toal or Haden if not for injuries? You can't plan on a guy like Montel Harris stepping up and exceeding his recruiting rankings. That is not BC's fault. If Haden transfers and becomes a star at his next stop, I won't use that as an indictment against the staff either. Sometime players develop at different rates. Take Andre Callendar. After his second season, few would have predicted the dominant performance of his senior season.

But don't use my theories or anecdotes to judge the process. Use the recruiting services themselves. Below are the four and five star recruits from Rivals' database going back to 2002.

2002 -- Josh Beekman, Will Blackmon, Shadu Moore, Jeremy Simpson, Jim Unis
2003 -- Dorien Bryant, Andre Callender, Ryan Poles
2004 -- Brandon Robinson, Brian Toal (five star)
2005 -- Andre Jones, Pat Sheil
2006 -- Richard Lapham, Jordon McMichael
2007 -- Corey Eason, John Elliott
2008 -- Mike Goodman, Josh Haden, Okechuckwu Okoroha
2009 -- Dillon Quinn

If you look at this group and their careers, how can you put much weight into the star system producing stars? Some never stepped on campus or left shortly thereafter. Some had unfortunate injury situations and others just weren't that good. What's more interesting are the names that aren't on the list. Where's Matt Ryan, Herzlich, Silva, Tennant, Castanzo, Kuechly, etc?

I am glad ESPNBoston is covering BC but this effort missed the boat. Maybe as a follow up, Zak should ask who is evaluating the evaluators?

Game Watches: Central Michigan

We are back on ESPN U so some of you need to head to a game watch. I know there are Halloween conflicts for us parents, but you kidless fans out there need to head to your local game watch. Extra points for those who dress like Baldwin for Halloween.

Atlanta Game Watch
300 Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, GA

Chicago Game Watch
Trinity Bar
2721 N. Halsted (Diversey & Halsted)
on the border of Lincoln Park and Lakeview

Dallas Game Watch
Christie’s Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Avenue
Suite 22
Dallas, TX

Denver Game Watch
The Tavern Uptown
538 E 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203

Los Angeles Game Watch
Sonny McLean's
2615 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica

New York City Game Watches

192 3rd Ave @ 17th

Pat Obrien's
88st and 2ave

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street, Phoenix

San Diego Game Watch
RT's Longboard Grill
1466 Garnet Avenue
Pacific Beach, CA

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kellys
2064 Polk St
San Francisco

Sarasota Game Watch
Gecko's Grill & Pub
5585 Palmer Crossing Cir.(Clark Road & Honore Ave.)
Sarasota, FL

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
Porter's Dining Saloon
1207 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Thursday, October 29, 2009

BC-Central Michigan preview

Like last week this game doesn’t mean much in the big picture, but has huge implications in our little world. First, we need to rebound from last week’s loss. Second, we must prove we can win despite the distractions of the transfers. Third, we need to avoid any sort of “trap” game. CMU is very good, but we still should win this game at home for a variety of reasons.

Narrative talking point that you’ll tire of by the end of the game.
“Dan LeFevour made his college debut against BC four years ago.” We may get tired of it especially if he is playing well but it is a legitimate storyline. LeFevour is an interesting case. He was lightly recruited, went to a MAC school, was forced onto the field against a BCS team and then nearly led a comeback. Sometimes we see a glimpse in a freshmen, predict stardom only to find out that game was an outlier. Other times, like in LeFevour’s debut, that first game really is an indicator of things to come. It’s BC’s misfortune to have to face the best CMU QB twice in four years.

Three simple keys

1.Establish the run. This is troublesome when we are thin in the backfield, but I do think we should be conservative in this game, limit LeFevour’s possessions and control the ball.
2.Get pressure on LeFevour. Arizona is one of the few teams that sacked the CMU superstar. We need to bring pressure. The kid showed he could pick apart our zones four years ago. He has only gotten better since.
3. Aggressive special teams. We’ve fair caught many punts over the past few weeks. It is time to help out the offense and return a few. Central Michigan has good, but not great punting. Gunnell needs to make something happen.

Gambling notes

-- BC has covered the spread in the four of their last six against the MAC.
-- Butch Jones is 2-7 against BCS teams.
-- Since the DIA split, Central Michigan has never beaten two BCS teams in one season.
The current line is BC-5.5


Because of the way the calendar fell and a few Thursday night games, we played on Halloween three times in the ‘90s. This is our first Halloween game of the '00s.

Scoreboard Watching

Clemson has a non-conference game, so they are of no concern this week. Instead I'll be paying attention to how Virginia plays against Duke. UVA is favored at home against a Blue Devil team that has many similarities to ours.

I hope to see…

The defensive line dominate. I know these guys are all dinged up, but no one has really stepped up of late. If we are to make a run, this group has got to make some big plays.

BC is in trouble if...

Shinskie doesn't improve his decision making. Last week was bad obviously. In other games some of his more blatant missteps weren't costly. This week, he should play smart football and not force things and check down when needed.

Bottom Line

Central Michigan is a good team but I think there are too many factors pointed towards a BC win this week. This is their third straight road game. We are their third BCS team on their schedule, yet they haven't played a team as talented or fast as BC in six weeks. Our guys have shown the ability to bounce back from tough losses. I think they do it again this week, contain LeFevour and pull away in the second half.
Final Score: BC 35, CMU 17

Chick-Fil-A and other links

A lot of BC fans have cynically scoffed at the ACC's announcement that they've signed an extension with the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Can you blame them? The Bowl isn't even visiting BC this weekend and passed on a chance to take Matt Ryan and crew a few years ago. I think BC will play in the ACC's No. 2 bowl eventually. It will just take a few things to fall in place. We need the BC rule to keep out the good traveling teams and we need South Carolina or UGA to be the SEC options. The Chick-fil-A is a regular sellout, but those two schools would really drive demand and ease the pressure on BC to sell tickets. Who knows, this year might even be the year if VT and Georgia Tech both get into BCS games.

I thought it was interesting to read how the team reacted to Haden and Tuggle's departures. It seems like most guys are taking it in stride.

Smart football has a good take on coaching. His theory is that midweek coaching is more important than in game coaching.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Departures, a day later

The article in the Herald sort of confirmed what has been floating out there: Tuggle's decision was completely amicable and Haden's was less so. Tuggle came to play for a different staff with a different depth chart. He got a chance but future opportunities at QB were unlikely.

Haden's situation is a little more complicated for a variety of reasons. First he is much more high profile recruit. Second, regardless of his health or his stats, there was still hope among those around the program that he would contribute and blossom. But ultimately he was unhappy. When a player is unhappy you can go a few different directions. You can appease him with more playing time. Try to give him extra attention. Talk to his parents. Or let him decide if he wants to be part of the team. The risk in the tough love approach though is that it sends a message to the whole team. It says that you are all in or all out. Spaz even referenced the all in or all out mentality in one of his answers to the Herald -- "If they don’t want to be here, they don’t want to be here."

Spaz isn't the first coach to do this. The difference though in sending tough love to a Billy Bennett type vs a Josh Haden, is that Haden was not as expendable and was popular. Forcing his hand gets rid of a grumpy and potentially negative influence, but it can also snowball if the team doesn't rally behind Spaz.

But how the transfers were handled has more importance in the long term because players will always be our biggest recruiting tool. The staff and the sales pitch gets the guys on campus for a visit, but how a recruit feels among his new potential teammates often makes or breaks the recruiting. There is a lot of self selection involved in the process. The guys think "would I fit in? Do the players seem happy? Do I like the vibe?" After something like this the players left behind will definitely give off a new vibe. They will either buy into Spaz and give that endorsement to recruits or they will send off a message that don't know what to make of their coach.

Transfers happen after coaching changes. More will probably come. Let's hope though that Spaz and Co use this to rally the team and find more guys who want to play at BC.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Respect for BC basketball and other links

The ACC writers didn't think much of our chances in basketball. However, Fox Sports Jeff Goodman thinks we will surprise again. In the article Sanders talks about how the team will be more defensive minded. I would love to see it, but don't know how we will pull it off. This team has smarts and depth, but few defensive stoppers.

Trapani also answered some questions regarding the team and how we will be different without Rice.

The Gunnell-Clausen story is still getting press.

Virginia is the latest school to get behind Herzy's cause.

The BC Bookstore is having a BC Snuggie giveaway on facebook. Become a fan of the bookstore and you'll be entered to win.

Haden (and his tattoo) and Tuggle gone

This has been floating out there for a few days, but ESPN's Joe Schad finally went public with the news that Justin Tuggle and Josh Haden are both leaving BC. This is not really a surprise since both probably saw the writing on the wall. As much as we hope and encourage guys to pick BC based on the experience and education, the reality is that depth charts and coaching have a huge impact on their decisions. Both came to play for Jags and work in Logan's offense. Now things are different and my guess is that they will look to find better situations for themselves. I wish them the best of luck.

As for Haden's tattoo...ugh. As the past guest blogger Reverend Mike asked "does anyone know of a good tattooo removal place in Chestnut Hill" or maybe Gainesville, Florida?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blogpoll Ballot

The biggest question for me was should I rank Clemson. They had a big win, but how could I justify ranking them ahead of many two loss teams? The top is the same as last week, but I don't really have confidence in any of them. This year is a crap shoot and I expect the picture to get very messy in November.

Games I watched

BC-Notre Dame 100% (twice)
Georgia Tech-Virginia 50%
Rutgers-Army 25%
UNC-Florida State 25%
Florida-Miss State

1 Florida
2 Alabama
3 Texas
4 Cincinnati
5 Georgia Tech 1
6 TCU 1
7 Southern Cal 2
9 Iowa 2
10 Boise State
11 Oregon 1
12 Penn State 1
13 Pittsburgh 9
14 Central Michigan 1
15 Houston 1
16 Oklahoma State 1
17 Utah 2
18 Virginia Tech 2
19 South Carolina 4
20 Miami (Florida) 15
21 West Virginia 4
22 Mississippi
23 Arizona
24 Troy
25 Ohio State
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#14), Tulsa (#18), Texas Tech (#21), Kansas (#24).

No respect for basketball and other links

The big news from the ACC Basketball media day was our preseason ranking. The assembled media picked BC 9th. It never gets old, does it? BC has a veteran team and only loses Rice yet no love. I am very high on our prospects. I think we are definite tournament team and can challenge for a top 4 spot in the conference. Speaking of the ACC Tournament, the conference announced that the 2012 event will move from the Georgia Dome to the neighboring Philips Arena. This makes sense to me as Philips is better for basketball and the smaller space will drive up ticket demand and prices.

The women's team got a little more respect. They are expected to finish 6th.

I haven't focused on it much, but Ron Brace continues to be a healthy scratch for the Patriots. Let's hope he turns the corner soon.

HD posted her power rankings. I can't really complain when I wouldn't rank BC highly these days. What is interesting is that she and many of her fellow media are predicting Clemson will waltz into the ACC Championship Game. I actually think NC State and Florida State will give the Tigers tough games.

The sailing team won the 2009 ICSA Sloop National Championship.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Second viewing thougths and grade report: Notre Dame

This was not a fun game to watch back but I have to thank NBC Sports for a huge advantage. Like ESPN 360, they have the Irish games available on demand online. The difference though is that NBC Sports edits the game by quarters and cuts out filler and dead time between plays. It makes watching the game back an easy task.
As for what I learned the second time around, it confirmed many of my first reactions. We didn’t play particularly well, but could have won. That’s a frustrating combination.

Offense: C+

Shinskie has upside. I think he can be a very good QB at this level, but he needs to start making better decisions. His touch and his throws, in general, are good. But too often he forces things. All three INTs were bad decisions. He was also off on some early throws and his deep balls towards the sidelines weren’t that crisp. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum at this point balls are not even being thrown to the backs or the fourth option. That’s on Shinskie since there should be plays there. Shinskie showed again that he’s got surprising speed and athleticism. I think he should run more when things breakdown. On the last play he would have been better served to toss it out of bounds or try to run for two or three yards.

Harris’s struggles were partly his and also a net result of what Notre Dame schemed. They obviously did not want Harris to beat them, so they kept the box crowded for the most part. But still he missed a few holes and the goal line fumble was a killer. He blocked well though. McCluskey showed he can be a nice weapon in certain situations. Now let’s start throwing it to him out of the backfield.

Pantale and Anderson played well. They found spots in the ND defense and also did a good job blocking. However, one of the reasons I think our rushing attack suffered was due to the second level blocking. We need our TEs to get to the LBs and open things up.

Rich Gunnell obviously had a great game. He found soft spots in the zone. He made some tough catches. He was great and carried the team. Larmond was effective. Jarvis mad e a big catch. The others weren’t factors

As a group the offensive line played well. The pass blocking was good. The run blocking was not as effective but that was mostly because of ND crowding the line. Individually Castonzo and Tennant played well. Cleary was ok but made some mental errors. As the announcers noted Claiborne made some errors and wasn’t as dominant as last week. Lapham was good early. When he went down, Goodman struggled with the pass rush a bit.

I thought Tranq put together a good game. He stayed with the run a little more than I would have preferred, but it kept Notre Dame honest. Sticking with the run forced Notre Dame to respect the play action. My main complaint was on the play sequence after the goal line stance (but I will get into that in the overall section). My complaints are about how we adjust. I know the limited personnel kept us out of the wildcat/bazooka. So if that is not an option and the run is not working, why not try a stretch play or two? He also needs to work with Shinskie on his decision making.

Defense: B-

Rossi played well early on. He was disruptive and made some plays in the backfield. Not sure why he wasn’t as much of a factor or on the field later in the game. Ramella had one of his better games in a while. Albright was okay. Ramsey was okay. Newman was fine. The biggest problem with the line was that while they were okay, they didn’t make many plays and couldn’t stop ND’s rushing game.

Mike Morrissey deserves credit for taking his game to the next level. He showed good speed, was able to get to Clausen and played well in pass coverage. Kuechly was good although he had trouble shedding some blocks when Notre Dame ran right at him. McLaughlin did not have one of his better games. He couldn’t shed blocks, had a stupid penalty and didn’t make any big plays. I think the second teamers should be getting more snaps. LeGrande and DiSanzo specifically should be getting more playing time.

The defensive backs played very well. Much was made of the cushion, but that is not their fault. They are being asked to play that way. Their supposed to close quickly and tackle well and for the most part they did. Gause made some nice open field tacklers. Rollins was a beast. Fletcher was exploited a bit more than the others, but still had some good plays. Bowman had his best game in a while including the big hit at the goal line. Davis also played well (although he couldn’t tackle Tate on Tate’s big TD run).

The NBC team spent a considerable amount of time on our cushion. It has long been a topic among Spaz critics. Let me talk about it in this game and save our use of the cushion for another post. I felt depending so much on the cushion against a scheme like Notre Dame’s and against a QB like Clausen is asking for trouble. He will take all the easy passes and eventually he or one of his WRs will burn you. Sure, we nearly picked him off twice, but this year we haven’t been forcing many turnovers. I would have preferred more variety this past weekend. When we did flush Clausen he got dinged and also grounded the ball on a safety. I was also frustrated that we got gashed with their running game.

Special Teams: B

Good punting throughout. Good coverage too.

Decent kickoffs.

Gause looked good returning kicks.

Overall: C+

We lost this as a team, so I will not point fingers at any one group. Yet the conservative nature of our approach continues to frustrate me. Jimmy Clausen may be a jerk and he may be overrated but he has proven that if given time and enough possessions he will move the ball. Although the punts from Notre Dame territory worked, I didn’t love the mindset. I really didn’t like the three runs following the goal line stand. It was conceding the possession in what was still a close game. We made mistakes and that is what ultimately cost us the game. But I still feel like those mistakes are magnified because we are so cautious in other aspects of the game.

Notre Dame is behind us for another year. Now Spaz has to avoid the trap against CMU and get the guys ready for the stretch run.

Freshman mistakes

First let me say that Dave Shinskie has been a great addition to this team. I don't know if we'd be 5-3 without him. However, he still has a long way to go to be a great QB. I think his biggest problem is patience. It doesn't seem like he is working his progressions. The reason I say that is that the ball is not getting distributed. Obviously we want Gunnell to get the ball but I think it would serve him and the offense to spread the ball around a bit. Right now, even many of Shinskie's misses are headed towards Larmond and Gunnell. Take a look at Shinskie's first INT in the fourth quarter.

Situation: 2nd and 8. BC is down 4. Ball on the Notre Dame 42.

The running game has been stopped most of the day, so it makes sense to throw. Notre Dame is in base defense. Gunnell is in the slot. He's killed ND from there all day, so Shinskie's first inclination is to go to him. But ND is adjusting at this point too.

ND is sending pressure. They move one safety up. BC picks up the blitz. Pantale stays to block but Harris is able to release after chipping.

Jarvis is sitting in a short outlet. Gunnell is cutting towards the sideline and is bracketed.

Shinskie's better plays are to the right side of the field but he never looks off the left where Jarvis and Gunnell are well covered. If he wants to force something he could have gone to Larmond over the safety for a deep aggressive pass. If he wanted to be safe (it was second down), he could have dumped it off to Harris (who is next to the ref).

But before anyone can do anything Shinskie has already sent it towards Gunnell.

Shinskie forces it to Gunnell into double coverage. Easy INT for the Irish.

Shinskie has great potential and is learning more everyday. But now that BC has something to play for, we need him to make better decisions, look for his check downs and get others involved. The INT in this play wasn't the end but it was an example of what Shinskie needs to work on. Now just keep your fingers crossed for progress in his progressions.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

All good things must come to an end

Like the bowl streak our win streak over Notre Dame was probably a bit overemphasized by those who follow BC. Yet, regardless of its importance, you still don't want it to end! And like the loss to Vanderbilt, this game was a frustrating mess because we didn't play well, had a chance to win the game and ultimately lost to a mediocre team.

Shinskie had his moments but still played like a freshman. I'll have my second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Notre Dame

Another road test for Spaz's squad. Let's hope the Irish bring out the best in the boys.

I will not be online during the game. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Chicago Game Watch gets national attention

ESPNChicago wrote an article about the Chicago Game Watch. This is their first year at Trinity and they are packing them in. Great job by the Windy City crowd. Hopefully ever chapter will get this big.

Hockey starts the weekend off right

Nice job by the hockey team. They beat the Irish 3-2 on a third period goal from Joe Whitney. Let's hope the football team builds on this.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Game Watches: Notre Dame

This is a big weekend for the football team but also a big weekend for game watches. Many clubs are holding them for the first time this season. I hope it goes well and groups decide to make it a regular occurrence. If I've missed any chapters, just add it in the comments.

Atlanta Game Watch
300 Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, GA

Austin Game Watch
BR Riley's at 204 E 6th St
Austin, TX

Boston Game Watch

Atlantic Beer Garden
146 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA

Charlotte Game Watch

Braswell's Bar and Grill (formerly The Press Box)
1627 Montford Drive, Charlotte, NC 28209
704-523-3500 (near Park Road Shopping Center)

Chicago Game Watch
Trinity Bar
2721 N. Halsted (Diversey & Halsted)
on the border of Lincoln Park and Lakeview

Cleveland Game Watch
Barley House
1265 W. 6th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113

Dallas Game Watch
Christie’s Sports Bar
2811 McKinney Avenue
Suite 22
Dallas, TX

Denver Game Watch

The Tavern Uptown
538 E 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203

Fairfield County Game Watch

Black Bear South Norwalk
80 Washington St.
Norwalk, CT 06854

Kansas City Game Watch

75th Street Brewery (near intersection of Wornall and 75th in KCMO)

Los Angeles Game Watch
Sonny McLean's
2615 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica

Maine Game Watch

267 Ocean Avenue
Portland, Maine

Minnesota Game Watch

Cooper Pub & Restaurant
1607 Park Place Boulevard
St. Louis Park, MN 55416

New Jersey Game Watch

Green Rock
Hoboken, NJ

New York City Game Watches

192 3rd Ave @ 17th

Pat Obrien's
88st and 2ave

North Carolina "Triangle" Game Watch

Time-Out Sports Bar and Restaurant 1301 N. Fordham Blvd
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514

Orange County, CA Game Watch
Sharkeez - Huntington Beach
211 Main St
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-8136

Orlando Game Watch

39 North Orange Avenue (between Washington and Wall Street)
Orlando, FL 32801

Philadelphia Game Watch

Champps King of Prussia
330 Goddard Blvd.
King of Prussia, PA 19406

Phoenix Game Watch
Gallagher's Sports Grill
7575 N. 16th Street, Phoenix

Providence Game Watch

McFadden's in Providence
52 Pine Street
Providence, Rhode Island

San Diego Game Watch
RT's Longboard Grill
1466 Garnet Avenue
Pacific Beach, CA

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kellys
2064 Polk St
San Francisco
the bar is having a fan appreciation day with free bbq for the BC alumni gang.

Sarasota Game Watch
Gecko's Grill & Pub
5585 Palmer Crossing Cir.(Clark Road & Honore Ave.)
Sarasota, FL

Seattle Game Watch

Washington Athletic Club
1325 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

Tampa Game Watch
Champps - International Plaza

Troy New York Game Watch

The Recovery Room Sports Bar (in Troy!)
235 Hoosick Street

West Palm Beach Game Watch

O'Shea's Pub
531 Clematis Street
West Palm, FL

Wisconsin Game Watch

Zim's Sports Bar
770 N Milwaukee St
Milwaukee WI 53202 USA

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
Porter's Dining Saloon
1207 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: Blue-Gray Sky

Charlie Weis is in year 5 but do any of us have a good feel of what to expect. The Irish have improved from the past two years, but are they for real? To get a better feel of what we will face, I've asked Jay from Blue-Gray Sky a few questions about the Irish. His answers are below.

ATLeagle: Jimmy Clausen is playing very well and living up to the hype. Last year BC played a lot of zone and forced him to make tight throws. Do you see a similar scheme working this year? When the Notre Dame has bogged down this year, what have been the causes?

BGS: I think the BC game last year was sort of an emblematic event for Jimmy in 2008, in that he threw a few terrible interceptions into coverage that were just plain mis-reads on his part. He's really cleaned that up this year, to the extent that there's really only been one "terrible" throw all year (the ill-advised swing to Allen -- a lateral, really -- that got returned for a touchdown by Washington). He's reading coverages very well, and his two interceptions weren't really his fault: one bounced off of Allen's hands and to a defender, and the other was a half-ending heave on a Hail Mary to the end zone.

I'm sure your defense will disguise coverages and try to duplicate the success you had last year against him, but he has really grown in his ability to read and make the right decision. And let's not forget that a big part of your defensive gameplan last year involved Brace and Raji blowing up our OL; those guys are gone, and our OL seems much improved anyway. So I think you'll have your hands full on defense.

ATLeagle: I am sort of amazed how everyone but Nevada has been able to move the ball on the Irish. There's talent there and Tenuta has a good track record. What has been the problem with the defense?

BGS: poor tackling, missed assignments, "no" assignments (in the case of USC tight end Anthony McCoy, who seemed to run around all day unhindered), and a seeming backslide in production by our defensive backs. The secondary was supposed to be the strength of the D, but they've allowed many a "quarterback of the week" performances from opposing signalcallers this year. It's a mystery; in fact, it's probably the biggest mystery being discussed by Irish fans all over. I will say that the poor performance is not for lack of trying to find the right mix on defense; Tenuta and Corwin Brown have been shuttling such a high number of players in and out of position as the year has gone on, sometimes it looks like a hockey shift change. This week, for instance, expect to see Harrison Smith start splitting time at free safety for the first time all year. The DL rotation has been hot and heavy. And Manti Teo supplanted Toryan Smith at starting linebacker four games into the season. They're trying everything, but I suspect it is scheme-related as much as personnel-related. And back to tackling for a second: it's been piss poor. That, at least, is something they can improve on with practice and focus.

ATLeagle: Although there has clearly been progress and improvement from 2007 and 2008, to outside observers, it still seems like Notre Dame fans are divided on Charlie Weis' tenure and future in Notre Dame. I also know how much of your
fanbase strongly dislikes BC. Does that make this game a "must win" for him to keep his job?

BGS: I don't think it's overstating it to say that every game for the rest of the regular season is a "must win" for Charlie. A close loss to an 8-1 Pitt team might be forgiven, but any other is a hanging offense, including this Saturday.

What is your prediction for the game?

BGS: After winning and losing five games in a row by a touchdown or less, we're officially out of the prediction business for this Irish team. I think it could be another heart-stopper, though. We shall see.

BC-Notre Dame preview

Once again it is time for the most meaningless important game on BC’s schedule. BC probably doesn’t need this win to become bowl eligible. The game has no impact on the division. We are unranked and while we may crack the top 25 with a win, there is nothing really at stake here but bragging rights. This is the strongest Notre Dame team we’ve faced since 2002 and a real test to see if we have put our road woes behind us.

Narrative talking point that you’ll tire of by the end of the game.

“Notre Dame has shown great toughness and heart with all their close games.” Forgive me for rolling my eyes. I have no idea if Notre Dame has heart. They might be very tough. But playing close games is not a measurement of either. In fact, I have always felt that playing in too many close games is a sign of problems. And although I feel recruiting is overrated, playing close games against teams they should outclass like Washington and Purdue is encouraging for BC.

Three Simple Keys
1. Contain Clausen’s safety valve. I’ve been impressed by Notre Dame’s ability to keep drives alive on Clausen’s check downs. A defense will be set for the deep ball and Clausen will dump it off to a wide open RB or TE. BC needs to cover everyone.
2. First half offense. We all know our inability to move the ball in the first half of road games. Let’s set up some early throws for Shinskie and try to get a first down before the 3rd quarter.
3. Get other receivers involved.
I imagine Notre Dame is going to focus on Larmond and Gunnell. We need to mix it up more...passes to the backs, passes to Jarvis, Megwa, etc. We can't be too predictable.

Gambling Notes

-- Charlie Weis is 10-10 after a loss
-- Charlie Weis is 24-21 against BCS opponents
-- BC hasn't been an underdog against Notre Dame since 2004
The current line is BC+8


I've already heard a lot of Notre Dame fans take note of Shinskie's age as if BC planned this all out or did something wrong. Yet no Notre Dame fan feels the need to apologize for Jimmy Clausen's age. Clausen is older than all of our scholarship Juniors except Chris Fox. Fox's birthday September 11, 1987. Clausen's is September 21, 1987.

Scoreboard Watching

The most important game of the weekend is Clemson-Miami. Since the Tigers have a tiebreaker with us, we need them to lose at least one more ACC game than we do.

I hope to see…

BC establish the run early. Part of the problems in Blacksburg and Clemson were due to our inability to run the ball. If we expect to score with the Irish we will need to control possessions, move the chains and lift the pressure off of Shinskie.

BC is in trouble if…

We cannot pressure Clausen. He is hobbled. He doesn't have the mobility of Wilson or Ponder or Skinner. There is no reason we shouldn't disrupt him or flush him out of the pocket.

Bottom Line

This will be a tough game. The Irish have playmakers and can put up points quickly. At the same time, their defense is not very good. If the team that scored at will against NC State shows up, we can keep pace with Notre Dame. I think we will be focused, play tough on defense, and upset Notre Dame again.
Final Score: Boston College 31, Notre Dame 30

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Basketball media guide and other links

The Sports Information Department released the 2009-10 basketball media guide. It is always a good reference point for facts and figures and profiles of the players.

Here is a clip of the pep rally from last night.
I like the idea. I am glad we held it. I just wish the energy translated better to the youtube clip. The most important point though is Jerry York's -- if you are in South Bend Friday night, go to the hockey game.

The BCI guys took a look at Gary Tranquill's record against his former colleague and current Notre Dame DC Jon Tenuta. The history is uneven but Notre Dame's defense is so porous, I don't know if we can use history as an indicator.

HD is now on the BC bandwagon. Although she has us losing the ACCCG again.

I know Charlie Weis isn't always the most likable guy, but he's been a class act to Herzy.

No news from the Boston papers, but the South Bend papers did have a good profile on Shinskie.

Gause will wear the No. 6 this weekend in honor of the UConn player murdered Saturday night.

Former BC goalie Scott Clemmensen is finally found a home in the NHL.

In non sports news, Chris O'Donnell was recognized for his charitable work in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Notre Dame and BC: the future

Do we have a future with the Irish? I've been asked question by a few different people this week and with our current series with Notre Dame nearing an end and no future games with the Irish yet on the books, it is a legitimate concern. Gene has made a few statements acknowledging talks with Notre Dame. He usually adds some caveat that although we would like to play Notre Dame, we don't "need" them. That's not true. I haven't heard much from the Notre Dame administration but if you ask any Irish fan, he or she will be quick to tell you how little they need us. That is also not true. The reason I think the series will pick up in the near future is that both programs need each other. Let me explain.

Notre Dame's scheduling issues

There are so many unwritten rules and competing priorities surrounding Notre Dame football that it is hard to keep track. But know this, the most important things to them are their independence and their revenue. In order to maintain their independence and revenue stream they need to schedule a variety of solid opponents. Independence complicates scheduling though. Let's take a stab at an Irish schedule and its limitations that will force them back to the table with BC:
-- 3 Big Ten Games (Michigan, Michigan St, Purdue). Those three are probably not moving but complicate things by the Big 10's refusal to move them to later in the season. Notre Dame needs to play someone in October and November every year.
-- Navy, USC and Stanford. These three are not going anywhere and have definite places on the calendar.
-- 3 mandated Big East games. This helps with Notre Dame's scheduling a bit since they can dictate the who and where with many of the Big East teams. What complicates things though is NBC (the major revenue stream) wants quality opponents and good TV ratings. Some Big East teams can deliver that. Some cannot.

That leaves three slots to fill every year. Notre Dame won't play a DIAA team out of pride. They won't add another Big East team for fear of being too dependent upon the Big East and losing leverage. Although they played Nevada this year and San Diego State last year, Notre Dame will not load up on mid majors. Even with those limitations, there are still dozens of teams the Irish could play. But the challenge is that fewer are willing to play them these days. There is very little incentive for a tough non-conference schedule. That more than anything will limit the Irish's potential partners and keep BC in the conversation.

The other factor that will keep BC relevant is Notre Dame and NBC's need for neutral site games. The school and the network are starting neutral site games so that NBC can pick up an extra game that is technically not a Notre Dame home game. Even fewer schools are willing to do this. Also ESPN and most conference deals don't allow for neutral games to be shown on a rival network if the game is played within the conference's territory. For example, Notre Dame is playing Washington State later this month in San Antonio. The Pac 10 and ESPN would not allow WSU to play that same game in Seattle or LA or any other Pac 10 territory. Would BC play Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium or the Meadowlands? Not every year but certainly once or twice. Would the ACC and ESPN allow it? Technically the New York City area is not part of the ACC's TV territory so there is not much they could do to stop it.

So all that background is a long way of saying, Notre Dame will need a school like BC that is willing to play them on their terms. I am not suggesting that BC would or should agree to a series that doesn't include some games in Chestnut Hill, but it wouldn't surprise me to see a series that went like this South Bend-Chestnut Hill-Yankee Stadium-South Bend-Chestnut Hill-Yankee Stadium.

Why would BC agree to something like that? The answer would be pretty obvious to those who sat in Alumni Stadium for the NC State game.

BC still needs Notre Dame to generate fan interest

I hated typing that sentence but it is true. We are not selling out conference games. While some of it is certainly about the economy and some of it is about the tumultuous offseason, like it or not there is still a large portion of our fan base that is passive and really only cares about Notre Dame. If you are reading this blog now, you are more than likely a die hard, passionate BC fan. Now think of some of your BC friends who have casual interest in BC. Could they tell you who Montel Harris is? Could they name our current head coach or even our last one? Now if you offered those same friends BC-Notre Dame tickets would they be back to Boston in a minute? Will they be watching this weekend? It's sad, but true. We have thousands of great fans. We just don't have enough. That is not going to change overnight. Until we change the culture we need to schedule wisely and generate interest. So for now we still need Notre Dame.

What do I expect?

What I've just laid out is pretty accurate, yet neither side will be this candid. What predict will happen is that BC and Notre Dame will probably schedule a 1-1-1 series in the near future to start in 2014 or 2015. Both sides will build another break into the schedule and then add another 1-1-1. That will probably go on until the college football landscape changes or either party has a better alternative.

Blogpoll Ballot

BC probably deserves to be ranked but I am not going to be the blogger to bring the jinx on our guys. Let BCI or All Access do that. Despite VT's loss, I still think the ACC Coastal has some of the best heavy weights around. Once you get out of the Top 10, I am haphazardly ranking based on resume, record and gut.

Games I watched

BC-NC State 100% (twice)
Florida-Arkansas (the last 10 minutes)
Notre Dame- USC (the last 10 minutes)
OU-Texas 50%
Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech 25%
Alabama-South Carolina 20%
Pitt-Rutgers 30%
South Florida-Cincinnati 50%

1 Florida
2 Alabama
3 Texas
4 Cincinnati
5 Miami (Florida) 1
6 Georgia Tech 1
7 TCU 1
8 LSU 2
9 Southern Cal
10 Boise State 1
11 Iowa 1
12 Oregon 1
13 Penn State 2
14 Brigham Young 5
15 Central Michigan 5
16 Houston 6
17 Oklahoma State 6
18 Tulsa 6
19 Utah 6
20 Virginia Tech 15
21 Texas Tech
22 Pittsburgh
23 South Carolina 2
24 Kansas 8
25 West Virginia
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: South Florida (#14), Nebraska (#17), Ohio State (#18).

Snuggies thinks we are rivals

It has been debated endlessly: is BC truly Notre Dame's rival? With chicken and egg arguments like this you have to turn to an unbiased and trusted the Snuggie Company. If the maker of the revolutionary blanket with arms think the Irish and Eagles are rivals, than I think the case is closed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jamen Amato, 1984-2009

I am sorry I failed to mention this last week, but Jamen Amato '07 passed away last week after a two year battle with cancer.

Jamen was a team captain and comes from a passionate BC family. Keep them in your prayers.

Davies update and pics

Charlie Davies was released form Intensive Care and is doing better. He still has additional surgeries ahead is highly unlikely to be ready for the World Cup.

I also wanted to share Michael O's pics from the World Cup qualifier from last week. The soccer world knew about Davies injuries at that point and showed their support for the absent star.

CMU's TV slate vs BC's

ESPN U decided to pick up our game against Central Michigan. That's good news. However, the kickoff was pushed back to 3:30. That's terrible news for attendance. Since the game is on Halloween, I think there will be plenty of no shows. I will gladly miss good chunks of the second half live to take my little ones out.

The second issue related to the game was a fact I read in CMU's press release:

With the addition of the ESPNU telecast, 11 of the Chippewas' 12 regular season games in 2009 will be televised either regionally or nationally. Seven of those games will have been produced by the ESPN family of networks.

11 of their 12 games were on TV?!? BC has already had three games relegated to ESPN 360 and may have more. How does that happen? I know we get much of more money from ESPN than Central Michigan. But why doesn't the extra $$$ come with extra TV support? The whole concept is backwards. I agree with Gene in that 360 is better than just radio, but in our new TV deal we need to have guarantees that nearly all our games will be on a true TV platform.

Basketball already underrated and other links

Can a team be under the radar if the media is talking about them already? I expect more positive press for the basketball team in the coming weeks and if they start strong they will quickly be ranked.

Tom Dienhart included a few kudos for Spaz in his column. Yet no mention of Dienhart's old crush TOB.

Here are the latest pro projections that won't hold up for BC. I think it is BCS or bust again.

As expected, Harris picked up a few different awards for his performance on Saturday.

Springsteen held a private concert for BC folks over the weekend. It is nice to see him do something special for BC and I also like BC getting creative in their fundraisers.

HD moved BC up to 4 in her power rankings.

Dr. Saturday took at look at our home performances vs our road woes.

Missed opportunity

When Gene was trying to manage the Jags situation last winter, I think he missed a true opportunity at program continuity. He could have let Jags walk and put WEEI producer Steve "Chach" Ciaccio in Jags place. Think of "Dave" or "Moon Over Parador." Spaz could have been DC. Logan stays. All is well. Chach could have passed for Jags with a head set and a BC jacket (see below).

Although it is old news now, Chach and Meter previewed the NC State game. Hopefully they will do it for the other games too.