Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bowls Pros and Cons

As usual this time of year, the Bowl picture is a jumble. To recap, BC is a bad ticket seller, but a pretty good TV draw. Our 4-4 conference record negates the "BC rule" which means all the eligible ACC teams can be selected ahead of us. The good news though is that Clemson, Miami and Georgia Tech all ended their seasons with a thud and are not expected to buy tickets in bulk. BC is in the mix for the Sun (El Paso), Military (Washington, D.C.) and the Kraftfighthunger (San Francisco). I've covered some of this ground before, but now that we know some of the opponents and new options, I will do a quick Pros and Cons.

Sun Bowl

Pros: Historic. Easily the most prestigious Bowl BC will have played in since the Outback/Hall of Fame with Coughlin. It is sort of a local event in El Paso, so ticket sales are not a big deal. They are more concerned with good TV ratings. We don't have a big alumni base in west Texas, but who knows, our fans in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio might rally. It's got a decent date and TV timeslot (December 31 at 2 PM). There is a rumored SEC opponent.
Cons: It is in El Paso. I've been to El Paso. It has its charm but very, very few BC fans are going to make that trip. It is also down on the list of desirable locations for the players and their families. The rumored SEC opponent is still just a rumor. We could very well end up playing a MAC team. The violence across the border has taken away from some of the seedy charm a trip to El Paso used to have. Fans and players can't wander over to Mexico to check things out.


Pros: It's close. It's near one of our biggest Alumni centers. We might sell a decent amount of tickets.
Cons: We would play East Carolina and Dominique Davis. The BC DC Club fears that the 29th might be a bad date to generate interest and ticket sales. It is a bad date for exams and practice schedules and a less appealing TV timeslot (2:30 PM).

Kraft Fight Hunger
Pros: It is a good date and is potentially against Boise State or Nevada.
Cons: We were just there and it is potentially against Boise State or Nevada.

My opinion

Knowing that we would face East Carolina soured me on the Military Bowl. It is the ultimate lose/lose game. Our fans won't care. The Dominique Davis narrative is overwhelming and I actually think ECU would give us a heck of a game. I don't know if BC fans have noticed but they have a prolific offense. We could slow them down, but could our offense score enough?

I've been in favor of a return trip to San Francisco and the prospect of Nevada or Boise State makes it that much more appealing. In my mind it is a win/win. We would be huge underdogs against Boise State and slight underdogs against Nevada. I actually think that with a month to prepare we would and could beat both. It would be a huge attention getter at the end of the season and end the season on a high note.

The Sun Bowl seems like a decent and safe fit. Ticket sales are not a factor (which screams BC!). We would get it checked off of the ACC rotation (would you rather go to the Sun Bowl this year or in a year where we went 10-2). The biggest plus is that we could face a name yet struggling team like Georgia or Tennessee. For many BC fans the name means more than the ranking.

With all that said, my vote is for the Sun and I hope Gene is working the phones now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

All Conference players and other links

Harris, Castonzo and Kuechly all earned all ACC honors. All were very deserving. Thomas Claiborne made the honorable mention team. My biggest gripe is that the voters ignored Donnie Fletcher. He should have at least made honorable mention. A healthy Albright would probably have made the team. I also think that if Spinney had been at Center all year, he might have gained more attention.

The Miami shake up is having an impact on BC's recruiting. Albert Louis-Jean, a Massachusetts native and one of Miami's top recruits, is keeping options open until the Canes get a new coach. He has visited BC and is still considering the Eagles.

BC still has interest in PA lineman J.J. Denman.

Jags is an early candidate for the Indiana opening. I won't get into my take on the Jags situation but BC guy Kevin Armstrong wrote a great feature on Jags this weekend.

This is a good look at our basketball team from the Indiana perspective.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winning a tournament without winning the actual tournament

(Eds. note: grades and recap won't be up until late Monday night).

BC now has two wins over BCS programs and we are not even in December yet. With that, I say BC's trip to Florida was well worth it. Sure, there were some rough patches, and we didn't win the entire thing, but the team seems to have confidence and ability. This trip proved that they can hang with anyone. It also showed they have some flaws and need to work on

I saw the first two games and listened to the third game on the radio. In each BC was able to control tempo, shift on defense and generate decent shots in the new offense. Outside of a cold stretch in the second half against the Badgers, BC had no trouble generating points. But more than the efficiencies, I liked the way Donahue and the team responded to each other. This is a veteran team. They could have checked out after Yale. Or Wisconsin. Instead they fought to the end in the loss and came out focused today against Cal.

I will have more on the Xs and Os prior to the Indiana game. In the mean time I think this year might have a better upside than we envisioned.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Streaky regular season ends with a win in Syracuse

Lose five in a row. Win five in a row. I tweeted after the game that a win is a win and I believe that, but I still feel like this game and this season had missed opportunities. I didn't love the gameplan but it worked well enough. I know Tranq is likely to retire, but I hope this isn't our offense of the future. Do we really need to give any RB 40+ carries? But my big picture discussion of our coaching and approach will wait until later this week.

I am on the road Sunday, so I don't know if I will have my second viewing thoughts up late Sunday or some time on Monday. I may have a smaller post before then on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

In-game comments post: Syracuse

Had enough of family? This afternoon is your chance to sneak away and enjoy some BC football. Leave your comments below throughout the game.

You can also join the conversation on the Eagle Insider message boards.

I will also be on twitter periodically during the game.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Big game for women's soccer

Most of us will be focused on BC football this Saturday, but save a little room on your fan plate for the BC women's soccer team. They play Washington late Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Tournament. It is a home game on the Newton Campus and the winner advances to the Final Four. Go Eagles!

First taste of Donahue

This was my first time I got to see the new Eagles...and I enjoyed it. I know a win makes everything seem better but there are some definite pluses to the new look and new regime.

The ball movement was pretty crisp. I know we won't shoot well every night, but the guys are pretty fluid and aggressive moving the ball. I love the tempo. I also was pleased with the minutes we got from Moton and Rubin. These guys we last minute recruits and showed today that they can hang at this level. It is encouraging and shows that this staff might be good at evaluating talent.

My main concern was the interior defense. A & M was able to get some easy baskets by driving to the hoop. We also had no answer for when they got the ball into the low post (even our help D was late). I don't put much blame on Donahue for that though. I just don't think we have the talent inside at this point.

I also worry a bit about the rebounding. With that it is not just a size thing. We don't have a enough natural rebounders and that will cost us in the weeks ahead.

One game doesn't make a season, but this was very encouraging. We play a much more exciting style of basketball and proved that we can beat

Thursday, November 25, 2010

BC-Syracuse Preview

Think of how much has changed for BC and Syracuse since we last played. New conferences, new coaches and huge peak for BC while Syracuse became the dregs of college football. Now things have leveled off and playing closer to their respective modern histories. This is also the first attempt at turning this game into an end of the season tradition. I don't think it will ever become Michigan-Ohio State, but it would be nice to play a meaningful game on the last week of the season.

Overlooked storyline for the game:
This game might not impact our bowl status but it could be the key to getting ranked at the end of the season. Yes, I said ranked. My point is that if we win this game and play in the San Francisco game and win that, the narrative that "BC is a hot team closing strong" will be fresh on voter's minds. I am not putting any money on us being ranked but I could see it happen.

Three Simple Keys
1. Limiting Williams' touches.
We've been spoiled by Harris's toughness and consistency. Williams might great one day too, but I think giving him the ball 20+ times might be a mistake. Earlier this season he coughed it up.
2. Force them to put the game on Nassib's shoulders.
Nassib is not as good as some of the other QBs we've faced this year. If we shutdown their running game, I don't think Nassib is accurate or patient enough to put up a lot of points on us.
3. Keep stretching the field. One of the things I've liked about Tranq is his willingness to go deep. We should keep that up this week as our bigger receivers have proven effective in those one on one battles downfield.

Gambling Notes

-- BC has won three-straight regular season finales.
-- Syracuse hasn't beaten an ACC in the Carrier Dome since 1994
-- BC is 4-18 all time at Syracuse
The current line is BC+3


It has been six seasons since we played Syracuse. But that break isn't the longest in the series. We didn't play the Orange from 1945 until the series resumed in 1958.

Scoreboard Watching

It probably won't make a difference, but pay attention to how the other 6-5 ACC teams do this weekend. Often times bowl positioning is about momentum. If we have some and others are riding losing streaks into the postseason, we might not end up out West.

I hope to see...

Kuechly have a big day. Although I think he is a long shot for some of these national awards, I think a big day this weekend might help his chances. The game is on national TV. We are playing out of conference so there will be some new eyes on Luke. Plus it is a road game with Syracuse official scorer. If he gets another 20 tackles people will notice.

BC is in trouble if...

We can't stop their ground game. I don't need to remind you what happened in 2004.

Bottom Line

We are the underdog and headed to a place where we've only won a few times. Yet I am not worried. I think we are coming into our own and have he type of defense that will frustrate Syracuse. If Williams can be 75% of what Harris usually is, we will cruise to victory.
Final Score: BC 31, Syracuse 17

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More awards, draft stuff and other links

Kuechly is a finalist for the Butkus award. An interesting note in the article also mentions that the team is taking a bus to Syracuse. We used to fly, but our last trip resulted in a late arrival. Maybe they feel the bus will be more reliable.

With his health less of an issue, Herzlich is now thinking about playing at the next level.

Castanzo is rising up NFL draft boards.

In preparation for playing Matt Ryan and the Falcons, Green Bay reached out to Jags for a scouting report.

The women's soccer team is getting ready for their next NCAA tourney game this weekend. Here is a Q&A with the team's Chelsea Regan.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegas vs San Francisco

The ACC has nine bowl eligible teams and only eight official slots. Everyone seems to agree that BC will be the ninth team and have to float to an open bowl position elsewhere. I have no problem with this. If the alternative is playing in Shreveport, I think most BC fans would rather play in another conference's bowl on the west coast. The Pac 10 is unlikely to fill all of their bowl slots, so everyone is assuming BC will return to San Francisco for the Kraft Fight Hunger on January 9. I think a much more interesting destination for BC would be the Las Vegas Bowl. It is another PAC 10 game and most think Vegas will use the slot to invite Notre Dame. What wouldn't BC push to go there? We've been to San Francisco twice. Vegas won't be a big draw but I bet BC fans in San Fran, Southern Cal and Phoenix might rally for a quick flight, a fun game and a night on the Strip.

Let's break down the pros and cons of each bowl.


Vegas is December 22. San Francisco is January 9. This is a huge advantage for San Francisco. The later January date doesn't conflict with an exams and allows BC a little more time to sell tickets. Both games would enable the players to spend more time at home. San Fran allows the coaches to spread out the practices a bit more.


Both a great for entirely different reasons. Vegas wins though on a newness factor. The only downside of Vegas is that it would inevitably lead to a million BC gambling jokes.


Vegas would be a Mountain West team. San Francisco would be a WAC team. In the big picture a MWC opponent is a better for rankings and ratings, but the WAC representative could be a ranked Nevada team.

TV timeslot

Since most of us will be watching from the comfort of our own couch, I thought I would factor in TV. In this case San Fran wins easy. The Vegas Bowl is a Wednesday right before the holidays. Most of us will be busy and doing and thinking of something other than BC football. January 9 is a Sunday, well after the holidays.

I think we are 99% going to San Francisco, but I hope Gene is at least working the phones for see what else we might be able to do.

Blogpoll ballot

This is always a tough time of year for the rankings. Good teams lose on a regular basis and some random team from a smaller conference keeps piling up wins. Plus I wasn't able to watch as much football this week, which also makes these things less informed. I moved Wisconsin up because they are on such a tear.

Games I watched

BC vs Virginia 100% (twice)
North Carolina-NC State 10%
Maryland-Florida State 25%
LSU-Ole Miss 25%

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

Eagle in Atlanta Ballot - Week 13

Rank Team Delta
1 Oregon Ducks --
2 Auburn Tigers --
3 Wisconsin Badgers Arrow_up 6
4 Stanford Cardinal --
5 LSU Tigers Arrow_down -2
6 Boise St. Broncos Arrow_up 1
7 TCU Horned Frogs Arrow_down -2
8 Ohio St. Buckeyes Arrow_up 2
9 Michigan St. Spartans Arrow_down -1
10 Oklahoma St. Cowboys --
11 Alabama Crimson Tide Arrow_up 1
12 Florida St. Seminoles Arrow_up 2
13 Virginia Tech Hokies --
14 Missouri Tigers Arrow_up 3
15 South Carolina Gamecocks Arrow_down -4
16 N.C. State Wolfpack --
17 Oklahoma Sooners Arrow_up 4
18 Iowa Hawkeyes Arrow_down -3
19 Nebraska Cornhuskers Arrow_down -13
20 Texas A&M Aggies --
21 Utah Utes Arrow_down -1
22 Nevada Wolf Pack --
23 Northern Illinois Huskies --
24 West Virginia Mountaineers --
25 Hawaii Warriors --
Dropouts: Arkansas Razorbacks, Northwestern Wildcats, Miami Hurricanes, USC Trojans, Temple Owls, Maryland Terrapins, Mississippi St. Bulldogs

SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »

Could a football field fit in Fenway?

As regular readers know I've long advocated a Bowl game in Fenway. My arguement is that it would be better for BC than going to some of these other far flung destinations where we can't sell seats. I also think the novelty would attract some non-BC fans in Boston. SB Nation's Jon Bois took the time to see if a regulation field would even fit in Fenway's current footprint. Here is what he found:

View Football at Fenway Park in a larger map

It would be a very tight fit, but I think it is worth a shot. Like Wrigley there is no breathing room in the right field endzone, but unlike Wrigley I bet the Sox could adjust something there. It makes more financial sense to take down a bullpen wall when it is not made of bricks and supporting stands.

Harris's injury and other links

With his surgery yesterday, Montel Harris moved from unknown recovery time to three to six weeks. He will miss Syracuse and may miss our bowl game. If we are in the San Francisco Bowl again, their late kickoff date (January 9) would help the timeline a bit. I don't care either way...I just hope for a full recovery. Montel is poised to own the BC rushing record books and it would be a shame to screw up his knee by rushing him back for a pointless bowl.

Bob Ryan hasn't paid much attention to BC this season, but he finally sat down to write a nice story on Luke Kuechly.

Spaz is starting to fill up his class with under the radar guys and late bloomers. I know some bemoan this strategy but I have no problem with it. I've always felt banking scholarships was silly. Give a kid a chance and you may get a good football player. Plus you always need the bodies. One of the commits is Canadian Eddie Meredith. Even though he might take a few recruiting trips Graham Stewart says he's still solid on BC.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Likes and Dislikes: the Holy Cross win

This was another game that I had to follow online so take this all for what it is worth. WZBC Sports twitter coverage was very good.


-- Starting Rubin. He went 4-9 from 3. I know he was a last minute recruit. I know there are real questions if he can defend in the ACC, but Donahue wants and needs shooters. If Rubin and be productive offensively I have no problem with him getting minutes over our more experienced guys.
-- Only five turnovers. That is encouraging and will certainly help our efficiency numbers.
-- Using the full and 3/4 press. I didn't get to see it but based on the tweets is seemed effective. I also like the idea of establishing tempo with the press.


-- Poor shooting from Trapani and Jackson. We won despite neither shooting well. I hope they both start finding their shots within the offense. According to Donahue there should still be plenty of opportunities for them to drive and cut towards the basket.
-- Allowing Holy Cross to cut into the lead late. We controlled in the end, but they made it interesting at times in the second half. We need a killer instinct.

Although we own the series Holy Cross always serves as a scary trap game. I am glad Donahue managed it and already seems to be adjusting his lineup. Maybe we will make things interesting in Orlando.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Virginia

This is not going to come out right but that was actually a well-played bad game. What I mean by that is that most of the guys played well, there weren't many glaring mistakes yet we allowed a poor Virginia team to move the ball, hang around and put up a Hail Mary at the end that would have won the game if they connected. Sometimes you take the win any way you can.

Offense: B-

Rettig didn't look that great Saturday. He had a few passes that could have been picked off. He took some sacks when he probably should have run. Even his one TD pass was into double coverage and sort of a risky pass. My bigger concern though is he waited in the pocket for WRs to get open on their breaks...and waited and waited. He really should be getting rid of the ball faster and as they come out of breaks. If the pass catcher is stationary it gives the DBs time to break on the ball. I did like Chase's toughness on the few plays when he did run. And although he didn't connect a lot I did like his willingness to throw downfield.

Harris had a nice game. Most of his big runs came off of counters and traps instead of stretches or draws. Williams obviously had a nice day too. I don't know if he has Montel's vision or feel but he certainly hits the hole quickly. McCluskey had another great day as a lead blocker. I wish he would get more credit for it.

Amidon's TD was very nice and he should be applauded for his hands and focus. I think he has decent speed too, because he was winning one on one battles downfield (Chase just couldn't get him the ball deep that often). Momah had another nice day. Swigert wasn't as active but caught a ball as did Lee. I usually don't mention Pantale's blocking but he did a nice job on a few of Montel's runs. Anderson blocked well too.

The offensive line played well although they did have a few breakdowns. Claiborne whiffed on a later coming rusher who sacked Rettig. Spinney got overpowered at one point. White struggled a bit so they brought in Richman. Even Castonzo allowed a sack (but he played very well otherwise). The only Oline who played really well throughout was Cleary.

Aside from our first trip to the redzone, I didn't hate the play calling. It was a little conservative once we got the lead, but overall it was effective. I appreciate that Tranq is letting Rettig throw it deep. Our play fakes were effective. I just wish he would start throwing it more. We are not doing ourselves any favors with our slow tempo. Shortening the game against a UVA or say Syracuse next week doesn't play to our strengths.

Defense: C+

The defensive line as a group did not look that sharp. Scafe, Quinn and Holloway all had near sacks that turned into big UVA plays. Newman seemed a step slow or a little off. Edebali wasn't as effective and didn't seem to be on the field much after he got dinged. We clearly missed Ramsey. I do want to credit Dan Williams. He's been waiting to get on the field a long time and looked decent at DE this weekend.

Herzlich made his final day at Alumni memorable. I know everyone hyped the INT, but that was just him playing catch with one hand (as there was no one else around). The REAL jaw dropper was the play before when he tied up the TE and came down with the ball. They didn't call it our way but I think he had a pick there and it was amazing to 1. catch it and 2. wrestle it away with one hand. He also had some nice tackles. Kuechly was Kuechly with an added blitz or two mixed in. KPL had one of his better games. Devitto got in on a few plays too.

Fletcher played well until he got hurt. Fox was solid. Jones looked fine. The safeties weren't as active but Okaroha made a few nice plays. LeGrande and Noel played but weren't near the action all that much.

The good news was that Virginia only scored 13 points. The frustrating news was that they moved the ball up and down on us. We had a few dog blitzes in the first half, but didn't do much of that in the second. We should have as it was very effective. We also didn't do much to put them off balance. In fact by not mixing it up Virginia became more bold and Verica had no problem finding the spots in the zone.

Special Teams: B-

Quigley did a good job placing the ball. It was refreshing to see Ryan Lindsey get a shot at returning and he looked ok. Heads up play by Boek on the onsides. Freese shanked on kickoff but was otherwise good. My biggest problem on special teams was what we didn't do. Why not go for the block when they are pinned back? It is the sort of aggressive move that can put the game away. Instead we ended up with the ball back in our territory.

Overall: B-

As I mentioned in the quick review and earlier in the post, we didn't play poorly. We just played into their hands. In those situations, I just wish Spaz would do something to have his coordinators mix it up. Our two minute drill finally clicked: why not go uptempo for a drive or two? The blitz worked early. Why stop? But we stuck with our gameplan and won in the end. So Spaz has that to hang his hat on. Theses "win streak" games haven't been pretty but I'll take the winning over the losing any day. I am glad we are bowling. I hope with that pressure relieved Spaz really plays to win against Syracuse. I think all BC fans would be thankful for it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Seniors go out in style

Play calling can be a lot like Rock, Paper, Scissors. Today I felt we executed pretty well but UVA often just had the right call against what we were trying to do. That made things frustrating and I was upset we didn't counter much, but a win is a win. I am happy for the guys and especially the seniors. I don't know if the bowl streak is that important to them, but at least they get some free stuff and a cool trip. Let's end on a high note next week against Syracuse!

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

In-game comments post: Virginia

Final home game. Final ACC game. Finally a chance to get bowl eligible. The home slate hasn't been much fun this year. Let's end on a high note! Leave your thoughts and comments on the game below.

You can also join the conversation on the Eagle Insider message boards.

If you are on twitter check out my tweets account during the game.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Game Watches: Virginia

Still don't have ESPN U? Well head down to your local game watch to enjoy the home finale of this senior class. If your chapter is having an event please post it in the comments.

Chicago Game Watch
2721 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614-1413

Denver Game Watch
Big Game Restaurant & Lounge
1631 Wazee St
Denver, CO 80202

New York City Game Watches

354 Third Avenue at 26th Street

Thunder Jackson's
Bleecker and Sullivan

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

A message from the Seniors

Saint's alive and other links

I've said it before but let me say again, that if this blog had been around when Brian St. Pierre played, I probably would have vilified him for his senior season. I also never would have predicted that his NFL career would last this long. Now look, he is making his first career start this weekend for the Panthers. I wish him the best of luck except for when he plays the Falcons.

The men's soccer team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Brown.

In HD's factoid column she notes that BC has more graduates on our roster than any other school (just ignore how this undermines the whole "young" narrative that people have been using for our losing).

The BC women's soccer team hosts West Virginia tonight in their NCAA tourney.

Yes, we lost to Yale

So let me first preference this by saying that I did not see the game and won't get my first look at Steve Donahue's team Thursday. But that doesn't mean we can examine what happened in the loss to Yale and what it means for the season and for Donahue at BC.

New Coach, Same Problems

We weren't good on defense under Skinner. Donahue was hardly known as a defensive coach. We installed a system (the 1-3-1) and then switched to man-to-man. Neither really slowed Yale. The other issue is that the players admitted to coming out flat. Does that sound familiar. In the past we always blamed that sort of attitude on Skinner. Maybe the issues was more player based.

Square peg, round hole on offense

Steve Donahue's offense requires fluid ball movement and good shooting. We have no real shooters. Our best offensive players (Trapani and Jackson) are scorers but not spot up shooters. We were 3-19 from the 3-point line. That will doom us against anyone.

How do we adjust

The silver lining is that this is an early wake up call for Donahue and the team. He is going to have to tweak his schemes a bit for the players he has and they are going to have to realize they are still not that great and they need to come out prepared for every game.

I am actually not worried about the season. Donahue said the right things and seems disappointed. Transitions are never easy. I expect you will see a better performance against Holy Cross next week.

Donahue long term

It is too early to predict what this means for The Don long term. Although I think things will be different as he gets his own recruits in the system, he doesn't have the time to wait for them. He needs to teach these guys to win and he needs to figure out a way for Jackson and Elmore to score in his scheme.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

BC-Virginia Preview

If last week was a plead to keep watching because boring football is better than no football, then this week is about meeting watered-down expectations. Every year I predict a best and worst case scenario. We've never even come close to the worst case until this season. Even I didn't anticipate a five-game slide. But here were are with a chance to clinch a bowl and assure a .500 regular season record. Let's keep winning and maybe exceed the worst case! (It's the little things that make the difference.)

Overlooked storyline for the game:
This is Virginia's first visit to Alumni since Brad Butler's cheep shot on Kiwi. I know it is ancient history in internet years and probably means nothing to the current players and coaches. But the way he acted and the way Virginia was slow to discipline Butler still surprises and disappoints me.

Three Simple Keys
1. Throw more than 25 passes.
All season I've harped that we don't have the offense or coaching to get into shootouts. This is a team we can do that with. BC shouldn't play low scoring and ball control. It will only set Virginia up to steal the game.
2. Put pressure on Verica.
I fear BC will do a lot of what we did last week and drop eight into coverage and blitz very little. I don't think that is the away to go against the 'Hoos. We need to bring pressure and force Verica into bad throws.3. Clock management. It has been my issue all week and if you think back to last year's Virginia game, BC had some questionable timeouts then too. This week I think we need to be careful and strategic with the clock (if only to prove that we can be).

Gambling Notes

-- BC leads the series 4-0
-- BC has been favored in three of the four ACC home games
-- Virginia has lost four-straight ACC road games.
The current line is BC-6


Mike London isn't the only former BC staffer coaching at UVA. Their DC Jim Reid was our DC during Henning's first season.

Scoreboard Watching

There isn't a whole lot we need to focus on outside of our game. If you are concerned or curious about bowl positioning watch Clemson-Wake and Duke-GT.

I hope to see...

Montel have some big plays. Last week was probably tough and frustrating for him. Hopefully he starts strong and puts that game behind him.

BC is in trouble if...

Rettig is bad (think of how the Miami QBs looked against Virginia). Chase has yet to have a terrible four turnover type meltdown. I don't expect one, but you never know with a freshman.

Bottom Line

I think Virginia and Duke are very similar. Like Duke I think Virginia could give us a game. But we will probably look much better this week. It is the last home game and we have something to play for. I think BC controls from the outset and never looks back.
Final Score: BC 31, Virginia 10

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Herzy's final home game and other links

This week is the senior class's final home game and the last chance for Mark Herzlich to play at the Heights. Herzy's season has been part triumph and part frustration but I agree with his own assessment that he is getting better each week. I won't be there but I hope people get a good youtube clips of the Herzlich family in the Senior Day ceremonies as it will be a special moment for them and us.

BC's other star linebacker is a finalist for the Nagurski award.

BC finally released the bios of Steve Donahue's first full recruiting class. This means they all officially signed.

Rich Lapham is back practicing while a few teammates are still on the mend.

Here are the latest commitments from the division.

Mike London looks back at BC and other links

When Gene fired Jags, I wrote at the time that Gene should have hired Mike London or Al Golden before Jags even left his office. My point was either of those guys would have been good fits and liked working at BC. In this article London talks a bit about his four seasons in Boston and how he appreciated his first shot at the big time and working with BC players.

Here is more on BC's latest recruit Spencer Rositano. Although he wasn't heavily recruited, he seems like the type of guy we can plug into a few different positions.

Brian St. Pierre is hoping for a shot in Carolina.

HD gave Kuechly some much deserved attention.

Devin Mayo is another 2012 BC recruiting target.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogpoll ballot

Not a whole lot of movement. I didn't watch Oregon's scare so I sort of looked at it like a near miss and not a sign of things to come. The whole Auburn things is what I love and hate so much about college football. I decided to keep them there despite their pending doom. I do realize I left out Oklahoma State. I apologize and will add them back next week.

Games I watched

-- BC vs Duke 100% (twice)
-- Florida State-UNC 25%
-- Auburn vs UGA 50%
-- San Diego State-TCU 25%
-- South Carolina-Florida 25%

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

Eagle in Atlanta Ballot - Week 12

Rank Team Delta
1 Oregon Ducks --
2 Auburn Tigers --
3 LSU Tigers Arrow_up 2
4 Stanford Cardinal --
5 TCU Horned Frogs Arrow_down -2
6 Nebraska Cornhuskers --
7 Boise St. Broncos --
8 Michigan St. Spartans Arrow_up 1
9 Wisconsin Badgers Arrow_down -1
10 Ohio St. Buckeyes --
11 South Carolina Gamecocks --
12 Alabama Crimson Tide Arrow_up 1
13 Virginia Tech Hokies Arrow_up 5
14 Florida St. Seminoles --
15 Iowa Hawkeyes Arrow_down -3
16 Arkansas Razorbacks Arrow_up 1
17 Missouri Tigers Arrow_up 2
18 Northwestern Wildcats --
19 Miami Hurricanes --
20 Utah Utes Arrow_down -6
21 Oklahoma Sooners --
22 USC Trojans --
23 Temple Owls Arrow_up 1
24 Maryland Terrapins --
25 Mississippi St. Bulldogs Arrow_down -9
Dropouts: Arizona Wildcats, Oklahoma St. Cowboys, North Carolina Tar Heels, Central Florida Knights, Baylor Bears, San Diego St. Aztecs

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Women win, Cuse on TV and other links

BC beat Hartford 93-66 in Conte Monday night. The women now improve to 2-0.

Our game against Syracuse will be on national TV! Who would have thought. The noon kickoff will be on ESPN or ESPN 2. This is technically part of the Big East TV package, but it doesn't hurt that both schools are playing better.

BC added VA DB Spencer Rositano to the recruiting class.

The Packers added Robert Francois to their practice squad again.

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Duke

Turnovers happen. Bad breaks happen. But letting teams back in the game instead of putting them away (especially over a two-year period) is more about strategy than luck or inexperience. That's why watching the game back was frustrating. BC was clearly the better team and got some good moments from many players. Yet there Duke was with less than a minute left with 4th and goal to win the game. That's not a good sign. If BC keeps finding themselves in those situations, the odds of them all going our way are poor.

Offense: B-

It was sort of a tale of two halfs for Rettig. He started off rough with some off throws and poor passes. Eventually he settled down and made some really nice plays. I liked his willingness to throw and his ability to place the deep balls to Momah. Even though he only completed passes to four different guys, I wouldn't say that he needs to spread it around more. We just didn't have that many different guys in the passing game (maybe he could check down to Pantale more). I thought the best throw was the lob to Momah for the TD. He really put it only where Momah could catch it.

It is a good sign when Harris's bad day still involves a decent average and a TD. He just didn't have enough big plays and didn't shed as many tackles as he normally does. The fumbles are always surprising because he normally protects the ball so well. The first was just careless (he needs to be more careful in traffic). The second was just a good hit/strip by the Dukies. McLuskey was good -- but used only as a lead blocker. Williams was good but I was a bit disappointed that he didn't convert on the third and short play late in the fourth (sometimes you got to make the other guy miss).

The WRs were good in general. Momah continues to make tough catches -- making up for his butterfingers a few weeks ago. Coleman also had a catchable pass that hit his fingers. Swigert was good. Amidon was fine and I although it didn't break open, I liked him getting the ball on the end around. It's a good change of pace. Pantale was good. Anderson also had a nice day blocking.

Duke's D isn't great but that shouldn't take away from what the offensive line did. I know they are banged up and plugging guys in but you wouldn't be able to tell. (What that says about the early season struggles is topic for another day.) Castonzo was good and some of Harris's bigger runs were off of his side. Spinney did a good job. Cleary looks good at RT (maybe better than he was at G). White was good. Claiborne was fine. I didn't see much positive or negative when Davis was in.

I have to give Tranq credit for challenging Duke downfield. We had multiple explosive plays. It also shows some faith in Rettig. Our redzone conversions were down, but that most more a measure the Harris fumbles. My bigger problem with Tranq was going too conservative too early. Following Duke's final TD, this was our play calling.
1st-10, BC26 12:05 A. Williams rushed up the middle for 5 yard gain
2nd-5, BC31 11:40 A. Williams rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
3rd-2, BC34 11:10 A. Williams rushed to the right for no gain
4th-2, BC34 10:27 R. Quigley punt. L. Butler returned punt for no gain

1st-10, BC1 7:00 M. Harris rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, BC23 6:30 M. Harris rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-6, BC24 6:30 Boston Coll. committed 5 yard penalty
3rd-11, BC19 5:10 C. Rettig incomplete pass to the left
4th-11, BC19 5:02 R. Quigley punt.

What did we gain from all of that? Duke was still within one score. We only used three and a half minutes of the game! You can't play it safe that early. Duke was waiting for the run. No play action. One pass in the final six plays. It makes all the good play calling earlier in the game look like an accident.

Defense: B-

We've all been waiting for Max Holloway to have game like this. It wasn't a dominating game changing performance but it was a sign that he's got a good motor and a good football IQ. His sacks were in part due to patience and keeping contain. The tip at the end was just reading the play and reacting. Dillon Quinn got flagged for another facemask, but he's been playing better. Ramsey was good before leaving the game. Scafe wasn't as dominant as he has been lately but was still good. Edebali was fine.

Earlier this season I wondered and worried if Kuechly's stats were being padded a bit. I know he was active but I thought he was getting credit for some half tackles that were truly his. This game wasn't the case. He was amazing. He really covers a ton of ground. Devitto had a nice game. Morrissey was good. Herzy was good. KPL was also good. All the LBs looked better in pass coverage than they have of late.

The DBs had some breakdowns and got burned a bit on play fakes. In fact, thankfully Fletcher played well and he didn't have any safety help on the early deep throw yet he still prevented the TD. Fox was fine. LeGrande was pretty active.

My feelings on the defensive scheme was similar to my feeling on the offense. We had a good game plan -- with a variety of looks up front -- for most of the game. Yet late in the game we let them march down the field. Why not mix it up? You have playmakers upfront. You have good safeties (although they didn't play great Saturday). It's frustrating. We have nothing to lose at this point but it doesn't seem to matter.

Special Teams: B-

Quigley was good. The punt coverage was good. The kick coverage -- not so much. I worry about Williams' bobbles but he was fine on the KRs.

Overall: B-

The team was ready. We won the game. The gameplans were sound enough and effective. So credit Spaz there. As I've said we went too conservative early. But my biggest complaint about Spaz was his use of timeouts during Duke's final drive. Duke got the ball back with 4:50 left. With just under three minutes left they got to our 35. You had to start thinking that IF Duke scored BC would need time on the clock to answer. Yet this is how it played out.
1st-10, BC35 2:50 S. Renfree passed to C. Vernon to the left for 8 yard gain
2nd-2, BC27 2:07 B. Connette passed to J. Thompson to the left for 19 yard gain
1st-8, BC8 2:00 B. Connette rushed up the middle for 2 yard loss
2nd-10, BC10 1:05 S. Renfree passed to J. Trezvant down the middle for 8 yard gain
3rd-2, BC2 0:55 B. Connette incomplete pass to the right
4th-2, BC2 0:49 S. Renfree incomplete pass down the middle

When did Spaz finally use his TO? On fourth down when the clock was already stopped. I am sure he rationalized it that if you get that play right the game is over, but it is still careless and very TOB-esque.

Why am I complaining about game management when we are 5-5 and nothing is at stake? Because I believe it is connected to our bigger issues. If we won't the players and the fans to believe again, we need the coaches to play to win.

Grades coming later

Sorry for the delay. I am glad I save my timeouts like Spaz.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BC beats Blue Devils and gets back to .500

After the game I retweeted my own tweet when I said "ugly but I'll take it." Nothing was easy in this game. Both teams gave the punters workouts in the first half and both teams had critical turnovers in the second half. Once agian Rettig's game was better than his stat line. Montel would have been the goat if we lost but he still had some nice moments. The D did what we expected -- gave up a lot of passing yards but not many on the ground. My big concern was how we handled the offense and the clock in the 4th quarter. Spaz did some head scratching things that probably won't get mentioned since we won.

But I am happy for the guys and happy for the win. Let's keep it up and run the table.

I will do my best to have second viewing thoughts up late Sunday night.

In-game comments post: Duke

Duke has been the source of some exciting basketball games over the years. Let's hope today provides some good memories in our first trip to Wallace Wade. Leave your comments below throughout the game.

Feel free to join in the conversation on the Eagle Insider Message Boards.

You can also follow me on twitter.

(P.S. I will have a quick post on the basketball opener later Saturday night.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Thomas Claiborne affair

I realize some of you avoid the rumor and innuendos that surround the program, so let me catch you up. A few weeks back our Spaz moved Thomas Claiborne out of the starting lineup. Public explanations were vague as to why the preseason All ACC player and three year starter was not starting but the word was he was being outplayed. Yet in most of those games Claiborne was quickly reinserted back into the game. His play was inconsistent but he was still effective enough. At the time there was plenty of gossip that Claiborne had spoke out against the coaching staff and was being punished.

Now, weeks later, Claiborne is playing again and he and Spaz are openly addressing their past issues and are publicly on the same page. So it seems like there was some truth to the rumors of discontent and that the benching was a subjective mix or performance and punishment. What does it all mean for BC, Spaz, Claiborne and this season?

One of the most critical roles of a head coach is managing the all the people involved in the program. The complexity of managing a unit or position is multiplied because now you have other coaches to worry about and you have final say. As with any diverse and big group, you can't manage everyone the same way. The best coaches understand that. I worry at times that Spaz has a little TOB in him in that he would hurt himself, the team and a player out of stubbornness disguised as principle. Did Claiborne mouth off? I buy it. Anyone can see that he is an emotional guy. But punishing him in a way that might hurt his career and your struggling team might not be the best message. You have to respect that player A and player B are different and respond differently to coaching and structure. If you lose a player or leader, that hurts the mood of the team and recruiting.

When we look back on this year the inconsistency of the offensive line is going to be a real focal point. It is a shame that things might have been different if emotions and pride hadn't gotten in the way of things.

As for why I didn't address this when it first happened? I am in my usual tough spot. I don't know Thomas or Spaz. No one who knew what was going on could go on record, so instead of stirring things up I just let it be. It doesn't surprise me that Spaz finally addressed it in the safe harbor of the Globe and Herald and after he is feeling a little safer about his own job. I just hope he has learned from this. Sometimes the difference between a five game losing streak and say going 2-3 is how you handle the players' emotions and not just the Xs and Os.

Game Watches: Duke

The D.C. Club -- a long stalwart of Game Watches -- has postponed them for this week. I guess they are saving all their energy for the Military Bowl! I know ESPN3.com makes it harder for a bar to host and easier to stay home, but I strongly encourage regional clubs to plan for game watches for Thanksgiving weekend and around the potential bowl. Plenty of BC fans are traveling those weekends so they don't have their usual routines and spots. A local game watch can be a good time to connect with BC fans and get a break from the holiday stuff.

Chicago Game Watch
2721 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL

Denver Game Watch

Big Game Restaurant & Lounge
1631 Wazee St
Denver, CO

New York City Game Watches

354 Third Avenue at 26th Street

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Basketball starts Friday and other links

Basketball is about to tip off!! Let's catch up.

I loved Al Skinner but I have to give credit to Steve Donahue for how he is handling the media and marketing. I watched him the other night on ESPN U's ACC roundtable and he was on point and comfortable. I don't think his persona will be enough to fill up Conte, but you can start to see how he is going to sell himself and the program.

The players are excited about playing for Donahue. I think everyone is expecting a big year from Jackson, but look for marked improvement from Elmore.

Although they haven't all filled out their respective paperwork, these are Donahue's first recruits from the early signing day. There is still room in the class if he finds other guys he is interested.

Here is an article on our California recruits and Eddie Odio out of Florida.

BC's offensive line will be very thin vs Duke.

Here is the transcript from the Gene Chat. Nothing ground breaking. Do you think he bangs his head against the keyboard everytime someone asks about lacrosse?

BC-Duke Preview

Does anyone else sense some fan apathy around the BC football program? We are not in contention for anything yet the two straight wins have muted the anti-Spaz fervor. I hope people don't take it for granted. Even bad or boring BC football is better than no BC football. Plus we are still playing for something: pride. The bowl streak and winning season streak is certainly watered down by the bowl glut and soft scheduling, but it is still something. Regardless of how you feel about BC winning momentum is good for all. Plus this Duke game might be fun. It matches up strength vs strength.

Overlooked storyline for the game:
David Cutcliffe probably would have been interested in the BC job when it went to Jags. Cutcliffe and Gene have the Tennessee connection but he never emerged as a serious candidate. My guess is Cutcliffe's heart issues and southern roots made it seem like a fish out of water. But the Duke coach is actually a converted Catholic who took an assistant job with Charlie Weis in part because he wanted to be part of a Catholic community (and didn't return to ND after his heart issues in part because there wasn't much of a faith/work/life balance during the Weis-Notre Dame years). Would Cutcliffe have been a good fit at BC? Eh, who knows. I am sure the Cutcliffe-Matt Ryan connection would have been fun to watch.

Three Simple Keys

1. Get big plays out of the run game.
Duke is not good against the run and we like to run the ball. But the difference this week is to get some big gainers and TDs out of Montel. Duke has enough offensive power that we can't settle for FGs instead of TDs.
2. Sack Renfree.
Accurate patient QBs can dink and dunk on us all day. Renfree won't force a bad deep throw and won't miss open guys. To have success we need to flush him out of the pocket and get some sacks.
3. Stop them in the redzone. As I mentioned earlier, I think Duke will move the ball on us. It will be up to the defense to keep them from scoring TDs.

Gambling Notes

-- Spaz has yet to win three ACC games in a row
-- BC did not cover in our last ACC game with Duke (it was a 29 point spread)
-- Cutcliffe has not won a game in November while at Duke

The current line is BC-3.5


This will be the first time BC has played in Wallace Wade Stadium. It will be the final "first trip" on our ACC slate.

Scoreboard Watching

It doesn't impact us in any way but I am curious to see how TOB bounces back from last week. NC State controls its own destiny but I have a sneaking suspicion that TOB will do something ultra conservative when a bold move is required and miss the Pack's chance at the division title.

I hope to see...

More passes to Pantale and McCluskey. It is clear we are not going to "open it up." However there is no reason not to get the ball to our safety valve type guys. I hope the pass attempt near 20.

BC is in trouble if...

We get into a real shootout. Duke has a losing record but they've been in multiple games now where they've had to drive the ball while behind. We have yet to show we can play catch up or go score for score.

Bottom Line

I don't think this will be a gimme. Duke has the type of offense that can control tempo and move the ball on us. On the other side of the ball, it does help that they have a poor run defense but can that be enough? I think we win, but I don't think it will be comfortable nor pretty.
Final Score:
BC 27, Duke 20

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why isn't Duke better at football?

While I've been a BC fan since Flutie, my true memories from following the team only reach back to the Coughlin days. Since that time with every losing streak, every coaching change, every conference shakeup, there are some BC fans who immediately turn to gloom and doom and think we will never be good in football again. I've always been of the half full philosophy, because ultimately it is hard to be bad at football forever. Which is what makes Duke's situation so curious. Since 1990 (their first year after Spurrier) they have had only one winning season. That is shocking to me. How can a school with so many resources and such a great brand not produce winning football? Could this ever happen to BC? Let's look at the reasons for Duke's ills.

Hiring the wrong coaches

This is Duke's list of coaches in order since Spurrier left. Barry Wilson, Fred Goldsmith, Carl Franks, Ted Roof, and David Cutcliffe. It is a mix of Spurrier assistants, a guy from lower conferences, and promoted assistant and Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe might prove to be the right guy but I think most weren't from the start. Take Wilson and Franks. Both were hired with the idea that they -- as former Spurrier guys -- would recapture the Spurrier magic. But that was very naive on Duke's part. Spurrier didn't win at Duke because he onlocked some hidden potential in the program that could be duplicated. He won at Duke because he was Steve Spurrier and 20 years ahead of everyone offensively in college football. Cutcliffe I think makes sense because he understands building a program. He's not winning solely because he is a good play caller. Now at BC's we've hired two TOB assistants to be our head coach. Where this differs from Duke is that TOB was more of a CEO style coach. His Xs and Os weren't the reason we won most of our games. It was TOB's structure and consistency that helped build our program. Plugging in Jags or Spaz wasn't like promoting a Spurrier assistant because we kept the foundation for the success.

Keep said coaches too long.

Goldsmith, Roof and Frank all got five seasons. Wilson got four. BC let Henning go after two losing season and a scandal. Jags lost a game of chicken after two winning seasons. Things are different in Durham. Goldsmith got three seasons after his scandal. Roof was brought back after 1-10 after 0-12 seasons. Do you ever think BC would put up with that?

They just don't care

Some basketball schools make the effort in football. Some just don't. Despite having a good football tradition up until the '60s, there is no Duke contingency pushing for elite football. Winning at private, academic schools can be tough, but Northwestern, Stanford, Wake Forest and BC all show that it can be done. If there was real donor pressure Duke would have put more pressure on their coaches, been more aggressive in their recruiting and admissions, and done more to change the atmosphere around Wallace Wade Stadium. I whine about our passive fan base, but I can't ever see us allowing long losing streaks without making changes in our approach.

What is Duke's true upside?

That really depends on how far they are willing to go. But realistically I think they should be competitive every year and have good runs like Northwestern and Stanford do every few years. I just hope they are not competitive when we play them again in four years.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tailgating at Duke, LSU and other links

Tailgating is on my mind with the recent news out of Duke. The school, which has permitted a student tailgate since 2003, canceled the event just in time for the BC game. The reason for the shutdown was a incident of underage drinking prior to last week's Virginia game. BC's never had any sort of sanctioned student tailgate, but the Mods served as the defacto substitute. I have not been on campus the past two years, but I've been told the pregame scene at the Mods has been subdued because of the fences, more IDing and apathy around the football program.

The converse of the BC/Duke experience is life in SEC country and no game day is more infamous than LSU games in Baton Rouge. To get a great feel of what it is like read this account from BC's own Andrew Sharp. Andrew captures the sort of awe any BC fan might have the first time he or she experiences the intensity of an SEC tailgate. I know we are not about to allow Winnebagos and huge grill/smoker combos on Lower Campus, but the lesson is that BC can do more to embrace the tailgate scene.

Former Eagle Robert Ziminski died in a car accident over the weekend. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

David Glenn looks at our basketball team but starts with a discussion of Al Skinner. I think he is right that Al Skinner wouldn't have been fired under the same circumstances 12 years ago. But in college basketball's new environment the head coach needs to be a marketer and a coach.

BC has interest in Florida prospect Juwan Caesar.

NC State has followed BC in offering a scholarship to Worcester WR Canaan Severin.

BC target Colin Thompson is also picking up more offers.

Blogpoll ballot

Every once in a while I will get some comment or email on my dislike and disrespect for Boise State. I think they are a quality program, but I don't believe they are in the same class as some of the other powers. I know they've won Bowl games and beat Virginia Tech. But that doesn't finalize anything in my mind. I am in the group that feels Boise doesn't get tested enough on a weekly basis. That's why I have LSU and Stanford so high. Both have multiple "good wins" and their only losses came at the hands of the two best team's in the country.

Games I watched

BC vs Wake Forest 100% (twice)
Michigan-Illinois (just the OT)
Florida State-UNC 25%
Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech 75%
Rutgers-South Florida 25%
USC-Arizona State 25%

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

Eagle in Atlanta Ballot - Week 11

Rank Team Delta
1 Oregon Ducks --
2 Auburn Tigers --
3 TCU Horned Frogs Arrow_up 1
4 Stanford Cardinal Arrow_up 11
5 LSU Tigers Arrow_up 11
6 Nebraska Cornhuskers Arrow_up 1
7 Boise St. Broncos Arrow_down -2
8 Wisconsin Badgers Arrow_up 2
9 Michigan St. Spartans Arrow_up 4
10 Ohio St. Buckeyes Arrow_up 1
11 Arizona Wildcats --
12 Iowa Hawkeyes --
13 Alabama Crimson Tide Arrow_down -7
14 Utah Utes Arrow_down -11
15 Oklahoma St. Cowboys Arrow_down -1
16 Mississippi St. Bulldogs Arrow_up 1
17 Arkansas Razorbacks Arrow_up 6
18 Virginia Tech Hokies --
19 Missouri Tigers Arrow_down -11
20 North Carolina Tar Heels --
21 Oklahoma Sooners Arrow_down -12
22 Central Florida Knights --
23 Baylor Bears Arrow_down -1
24 Temple Owls --
25 San Diego St. Aztecs --
Dropouts: N.C. State Wolfpack, Florida St. Seminoles, South Carolina Gamecocks, Syracuse Orange

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