Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kuechly wins DPOY, hoops loses and other links

Luke Kuechly is bound to win many awards, but the most deserving was being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award. He joins Mark Herzlich as the only two Eagles to win the award since joining the conference in 2005. In my opinion this means the most because it is the conference award. The voters know Luke and have seen his unbelievable production up close. Most of the other awards are heavily influenced by reputation and politicking.

BC lost their game within the ACC-Big Ten challenge for the first time, going down to Penn State 62-54. It was frustrating in that the team had the lead for long stretches only to falter down the stretch. We keep seeing glimpses from different guys, but nothing is sustained or consistent. The other issue remains the rotation. Donahue is trying a lot of different thing, but we don't have a group of five guys who can play long minutes together AND play good defense AND generate points.

Here is a good recap of our pending recruits.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recruiting update and other links

BC is in the mix for Ohio defensive lineman Alex Pace. It seems like the staff is using this time -- usually allotted for bowl prep -- to hit the road and recruit. What's interesting is that we are competing for multiple guys even though this was supposed to be a small recruiting class. My hunch is that we will string the fifth year Seniors along hoping to land better options on the recruiting front.

HD also thinks recruiting is the underlying issue. Of course she doesn't mention that most of the current recruiters were recruiting under Jags too.

I am glad that others are noticing how tone deaf our Athletic Director can be.

Cam Atkinson is having a good season in the AHL.

Kuechky is a Finalist for the Lott award and the only BC player to make the All ACC team.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Revisiting the Year 3 trend

I could see the Spaz excuse train coming from miles away, so last July I wondered why Spaz was still using his roster as a potential reason for struggles in Year 3. Forget about Spaz and many of his assistants being part of the staff that recruited our team, even a new coach should have most of his players in by his third year. Yet the Boston media and Spaz apologist accept the lack of seniors as the reason why BC struggled. Forget the sloppy line play, the strange in game strategies, or the inability to score points. Who does this in their third season?

Even Dan Henning -- who is the definition of Coordinator not cut out for the Head Coaching job -- was 5-7 in his fifth year. Yes, Dan Henning, in the middle of a gambling scandal and player apathy won more games than Spaz in his final year at BC. Ed Chlebek, who has the dubious honor of coaching the worst season in BC football history, had steady improvement and was 7-4 in his third year.

With Year 4 underway and a roster of experienced upperclassmen that he recruited, it is time to start thinking of Coach Flip and Spaz's excuses for Year 4. These are the ones I expect. Add yours in the comments.

-- "You can't expect to lose a player like Luke Kuechly and not expect a big drop off"
-- "We replaced Duke with Georgia Tech on the schedule"
-- "We are still dealing with Jags's poor recruiting"
-- "Montel Harris is still not 100%"
-- "The schedule is much tougher than last year (improved Army, Northwestern on the road)"
-- "Poor fan support hurts recruiting and our home field advantage"
-- "Rettig is still not developing"
-- "Injuries"
-- "The ACC is on an upswing, so things are tougher than they were for TOB and Jags"
-- "Still have many true freshmen on the two deep"
-- "The new turf in Alumni is making things too slick"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A break from football news (other links)

The BC women's basketball team beat Bryant to even their record to 2-2. They take on Wisconsin Tuesday as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge.

Women's Ice Hockey defeated Brown 3-1 on Sunday.

This article dives into the Hockey team's issues on Power Play.

Considering they only went 1-2 and suffered two sound defeats, I actually think the 76 Classic was a net positive for the basketball team. We have no idea what we have, yet these guys are playing very, very hard. They are not playing smart yet and we don't have any reliable scoring options yet, but you can see the effort. You can also see Donahue coaching his ass off. He is doing his best to manage the games instead of letting guys figure it out on their own. I think the key in the coming weeks will be improving the defense. I also think BC needs to work for better shots (and obviously make them). But I still have tons of faith in this team based on effort alone.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What to do about Spaz's staff

At any normal BCS program, retaining a 3rd-year coach who just went 4-8 would require some staff changes. BC is not a normal program. Spaz doesn't have a 100% control in staffing, so I don't know what will happen. Obviously I have been way off before so take this all with a grain of salt. I have no direct contact with any current staffers so this is all second hand gossip mixed with my opinion.

Dave Brock
Brock needs to come back. Although our offense was terrible this season, it is not fair to Chase Rettig or the other offensive players to make another change. Brock is who Spaz wanted all along (over Day or Rogers) so I assume he is safe. If Brock comes back, he needs to have 100% control of the offense from Day 1. If he wants to scrap everything and switch to an option or a spread or whatever, it needs to be his call. He has BCS experience and has been the lead recruiter on many of our key offensive players. I also think that Brock should have a say in the offensive staff. If he thinks we need to make a change on a position coach, then we should make it. We can't have dissension on the staffs. We cannot have guys undermining each other based on their offensive preferences or cliques. If Brock returns, Spaz has his guy in place for the most critical BC season in 13 years.

Ben Johnson
Johnson received a battlefield promotion when Rogers was fired. The Tight End play remained consistent and supposedly Johnson has been good on the recruiting front. Johnson also has a history with Brock. There is absolutely no reason to make a change here.

Sean Devine
Sean Devine may be a great recruiter. He may be a really hard worker who is passionate about BC. He may have a great feel for Chip Kelly's offense. Those are all great attributes. But he's paid to coach our offensive line and the offensive line play has been declining for three years. I hear from football alumni at random times, but one recurring theme is former BC Olineman frustrated watching our current squad. They are never throwing players under the bus. Instead they are pounding their keyboards about technique and assignments. The coachable things. Perhaps Devine should stay on, but not as OL coach. BC needs to find a great OLine coach who can restore our tradition and help the guys on the roster develop.

Mike Siravo
People who following recruiting closely complained about Jags's approach to recruiting. Many of those same recruitniks are upset with Spaz's disappointing recruiting results. The one constant is recruiting coordinator Mike Siravo. Although we were in the same class, I don't know Siravo personally but he has plenty of defenders. They will tell you Mike works very hard but is undercut by his head coaches. The head coaches' folks will conversely throw Siravo under the bus and say he is Gene's boy. Who knows at this point? Siravo's career has been closely tied to Gene. I doubt he is forced out unless Gene decides to cut him loose.

Bill McGovern
Everyone talks about Spaz's loyalty, but Bill McGovern had a stint at BC well before Spaz hit the scene. McGovern is also a BC parent. I don't want him out. If anything I hope that like Brock he gets more autonomy in 2012. The rumors surrounding Spaz and McGovern are always interesting. Some people have referred it to an old married couple. But if the breakdowns in this year's defense are due to Spaz's meddling, then I want him to leave McGovern alone. Or, if Spaz is going to be the DC and call the plays, then let the public know about it.

Coach Flip is not very good at math or history...

or public relations or marketing.

Forgive me for parsing Coach Flip's quotes to the Herald, but they are too good to ignore.


"Spaz is the best coach that we’ve had in the 15 years that I’ve been here."

Spaz's winning percentage: .512
TOB's winning percentage: .625
Jag's winning percentage: .714


Jags won two Atlantic Division Championships
TOB is BC's all-time winningest coach

Public Relations

In an interview with the Herald, DeFilippo addressed the calls for Spaziani’s job.

It doesn’t matter,” DeFilippo told the HeralD


"Spaz is coming back next year."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Coach Flip and Coach Spaz will be back in 2012

Per Dan Duggan of the Herald:

Gene DeFilippo on Frank Spaziani: "Spaz is coming back next year and our future here is really, really bright.”

DeFilippo also called called Spaz "The best coach that we’ve had in the 15 years that I’ve been here."

Gene DeFilippo is either blind or deaf. That is the only acceptable explanation. Because you would only come out with a strong endorsement of Spaz after this season if you did not see the problems in how Spaz approaches these games. Or worse he doesn't hear the growing outcry from our fanbase.

I think Gene thinks he always has BC's best interest at heart. But I suspect he has his best interest at heart. He is tied to Spaz's success. He risked his career with Spaz. He picked Spaz over candidates with more upside. And Spaz is probably the last coach in America that will let Gene serve as Coach Flip (our unofficial head coach). This means we are in for another letdown in 2012. This team has potential, but I have no faith in Spaz helping us reach our potential. His approach to games and his roster is stuck in the 1970s and ignores all the new data and strategies.

In the end, I will root like hell for BC. I hope we win every game and I hope I am wrong about Spaz.

To those who are upset by this, take comfort that Spaz and Gene's future at BC is not long. Their ages alone assure that. BC will prevail and one day football will be fun again. Until then keep cheering on the players, keep supporting the program and keep the pressure on our administration.

Thanks for playing hard

Winning is so much better than losing. The game is more fun. You feel better after. And most importantly the players are smiling and hugging on the sidelines. The team deserves credit for playing hard when there was nothing to play for. Rettig was awesome. Outside of a few plays, the defense was awesome. Quigley was really good too. And of course Kuechly changed the game.

The game was more interesting than it had to be because of the game management. But it was a win.

I am pretty sure that Spaz is coming back. I think that was decided before this game happened. We have multiple problems but Spaz is the most fixable. That theme will populate our offseason.

I am on the road and will be traveling but will have a recap and grades up. Just not sure it will be Sunday.

In-game comments post: Miami

This will be our last taste of BC football until the Spring Game, so let's enjoy it. Is it the final game for Kuechly? Or Spaz? We won't know for a at least a few days. But both questions add a bit of intrigue to the game. Leave your comments and thoughts below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

BC-Miami preview

Most times when teams nothing to play for, games are boring. But every once in a while two teams with nothing to play for put on a classic. In TOB’s first year BC closed the season with a hard fought win over Army. The stadium was half-filled, there were flurries at the end and neither team was good. Yet the game was good. Maybe tomorrow’s game will be fun. That's what I am hoping for.

Overlooked storyline for the game: The last game for some BC 4th year players
Speculation on which redshirt junionrs will be asked back is a staple of the time between the end of the regular season and BC bowl game. This year we don't have that time and the coaches don't have the extra practice time to evaluate the guys. Currently I would say that Donte Elliott, Hampton Hughes, Nick Clancy, Mike Goodman, Jr., and Bryan Murray are all borderline guys to return. Personally I would invite them all back. Spaz is quick to talk about depth and leadership. All of these guys can help us next year.

Three Simple Keys
1. Throw a pass with Bordner.
We know he will play Friday. If we don't incorporate a pass into his series or plays, we will just be wasting another possession.
2. Stop the run. I really think BC needs to put this game on Jacory Harris. To do that, they need to shut down the run first.
3. Get penetration with the defensive tackles. I've been singing Appiah's praises, but we also need Quinn and Ricci to be really good tomorrow. With them collapsing the pocket it starts all sorts of good things for BC's defense.

Gambling Notes
-- Spaz has not won a game in the state of Florida
-- BC has not a game at Miami since Flutie's miracle
-- BC is 4-23 all time against Miami
The current line is BC+14.

This is BC's second game in Sunlife Stadium. Long before the Hurricanes moved to their current home, BC played Virginia in the 1994 Carquest Bowl.

Scoreboard Watching
Virginia-Virginia Tech is really the most important game of the week for ACC fans. If the Hokies beat Virginia and Clemson them might sneak into the BCS Championship game. They need some other teams to lose and voters to bump them, but the computers will love the UVA and Clemson wins.

I hope to see...
Chase Rettig to have a good game. I don't know what our future is with coaching. I also don't know how we will approach our offense next year. Those possible changes could mean the end to Rettig's time as BC's main QB. He hasn't been good but I think he showed a lot of toughness in some rough situations. Let's hope his season ends on a high note.

BC is in trouble if…
We can't score in the first quarter. Last week was encouraging. Despite the early deficit, the guys kept playing. I don't expect the same sort of resolve if BC is down early in this game.

Bottom Line
I think this will be a long, sluggish game. I think Miami will put a lot of pressure on our Oline. While BC will slow down Miami early, I think they will wear on us and pad the score in the second half.
Finale Score: Miami 24, BC 13

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest Blogger: All About the U

When Yahoo! Sports dropped the hammer on Miami this summer, the most informed rebuttal didn't come from Miami or a member of the established media, but from a blogger. That blogger was Vishnu Parasuraman of All About the U. Vishnu's work exposed some of the holes in the report and some of the credibility issues that Shapiro had. It was great work. In prep for BC's final game, I've asked him a few things about the 'Canes. His answers below.

1. How is offense under Fisch different from the Whipple days? What happened last week against USF?

VP: I think the main difference between the two offenses is the focus of the offense. Fisch is more dedicated to running the football (although that has been done inconsistently effective this year), while Whipple seemed to force the pass. By doing this, Fisch has taken pressure off of Jacory Harris to be the play maker on the offense, instead shifting focus to getting the ball to the WRs and RBs and letting them make plays. Jacory Harris is an intelligent, accurate QB. His one pitfall is his arm strength. Whipple's offense required deep, downfield, power throws that are more suited to an NFL arm. This resulted in a lot of interceptions. In Fisch's offense, Harris has been able to utilize his strengths and thrive, making the whole offense much more effective.

The difference between the offense against USF versus the rest of the season was the offensive line. USF's defensive line dominated, which shut down the entire offense. Jacory Harris was sacked 7 times, and the 'Canes totaled 40 carries for only 57 yards. Jacory Harris still managed to be effective and efficient, going 27/35, 259 yards with no interceptions, but the sacks and negative run plays constantly put the team behind the chains. Also, a drive ended with a fumble and another with a blocked FG, so there were some points left on the field.

2. The defense seems to be much more consistent. How should BC attack the scheme?

VP:I think the key to the defense's resurgence has been moving LB Sean Spence to MLB. He had been playing outside most of the year, with the exception of the Georgia Tech game where the 'Canes defense also thrived. He was moved back inside against FSU and remained there against USF. It has made all the difference in the world, as the defense was the weakness of the team most of the year.

Truth be told, for most of the year, whatever the opposition did, run or pass, it was effective. Obviously, this defensive resurgence the last few weeks has changed that. I think the way to attack this defense the way it is currently playing is to go with an intermediate passing game and mix in some runs. Mark D'Onofrio tends to play his CBs off the WRs, and there is room to complete passes in the 5-10 yard range. If BC is effective doing that, it should loosen up the run defense as well, and the 'Canes are susceptible to being run over. Also, play action passes to the TEs and FBs seem to be really effective. But in general, I would use the intermediate passing game to set up the run.

3. Given all that has happened, what is your opinion of Golden's first year? Do you think his name constantly being mentioned for other jobs will significantly impact the program he is trying to build?

VP: I would give him a passing grade, but barely. He certainly has had to deal with a lot of issues, and that does and should give him a lot of leeway. On the flip side, I think there is more talent on this team than the 6-5 record indicates. This senior class was the #1 recruiting class in the country, and while many of the big name players have not panned out as expected, enough of them have to warrant a better record. Every Miami loss has been close and decided in the last minute of the game, so there was certainly potential for a much better season. Golden's handling of the scandal off the field has been excellent, but I feel the team left a few wins out there.

The Miami program has never been about the coach, so I don't think Golden's name being mentioned will really hurt, especially since he has pretty emphatically said he is not going anywhere. The main concerns going forward are the on field play and obviously any sanctions that might come from the NCAA. The sanctions speak for themselves, but it has now been a decade since the 'Canes have won a championship and 8 years since they have been in a BCS bowl. The school is a small private school with limited resources competing in a pro sports town(something BC fans can sympathize with), so the main draw has always been the reputation of the school as a football powerhouse. Now, people like myself that are older remember the glory days, but the kids being recruited now were 8 years old the last time Miami was dominant. I think Miami needs to be relevant next year on a national level (at least ranked by year's end) to take a step forward in the building of the program.

4. What is your prediction for the game?

VP: I was concerned before the game that the 'Canes would come out flat on senior day after becoming bowl eligible. With the decision to not play in a bowl game, this game became a lot more interesting because it is essentially the bowl game for both teams now. I think it will be close for the first half, but that Miami, which is a second half team, will pull away in the second half and win 27-14.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Basketball has a long way to go

The basketball team got whipped by UMass. If you are into pain, you can rewatch it on As for what went wrong -- everything. The defense was lost. The ball handling was sloppy. We couldn't shoot. The shooting is what hurts the most. I understand if the guys don't work well together yet. I know that will take time. But I don't understand why their foul shots and open shots are not falling. Hopefully it is something a little more measurable and fixable than nerves.

I have not given up on this team at all. They still have a lot of basketball to play. At this point I just want to see small improvements.

Heights Sports Editor signs off with strong column

For those who don't pay attention to these things, the Height transitions its staff on the calender year, not the school year. So that means the different editor jobs change around this time. With that, they all get to write their send off pieces. With his time nearing an end Sports Editor Paul Sulzer wrote a very strong column on Spaz. Go read it now. It's comforting to know that the next generation of Eagles do share our passion.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Notre Dame

This game was frustrating because we did so many things right. We had the perfect defense in place for them. Our special teams were excellent. But the offense couldn't do their part. The same problems plagued us and there is no reason things should be this bad with only one game left. It is a real shame that we are not going to a bowl game. The offensive guys could use the practice reps.

Offense: C

Rettig was very inconsistent. He made some great throws and some awful ones. As Mayock pointed out a lot of it is his footwork as the pocket collapses. But that doesn't explain it all. There are still some times when he has time and is a little off. Bordner seems like a tough kid and a hard runner. If he plays more, he'll get better at his reads (see below).

Finch played well and has a good feel for holes. Kimble also ran well. Williams was not as effective. Obviously in space Williams is great and he can run over anyone. Yet when things are clogged up, he doesn't have Kimble or Finch's knack for finding softness. Sinkovic played well.

The Tight ends were very good. We finally got to Pantale and he delivered. Anderson had a nice catch and blocked well. Swigert made some nice catches and in finally winning one on one battles. Larmond had a bad drop but also had a nice catch. Amidon was fine. Coleman made a nice catch.

Spinney was probably our best OLinemen Saturday, which makes sense since he was one of the only one now to get yanked out at some point. Richman, Harris Williams and Bettancourt all had snaps at LT, RG and RT respectively. Of the backups, I think Harris Williams was the most effective. Ian White struggled and missed some blocks. Cleary was fine. Wetzel was pretty good. Vardaro struggled.

My biggest problem with the offensive play calling is how we use Bordner. As long as he doesn't throw the football, it is a pure gimmick. I don't mind gimmicks if we benefit. But I feel like it slows the offense and hurts Rettig's rhythm. Plus it doesn't take long for the other team to figure it out. For example, it looks like we actually are using Chip Kelly's play design on the Bordner plays. In those Kelly leaves the DT unblocked and he is the read for the QB. But our plays developed so late and Bordner is not experienced in reading yet so the plays got blown up. ow that is not really Bordner's fault. If he was running this all game he'd have a better feel for when to keep it (see Chris Crane). If he had been in this offense all year, maybe we would throw it with him. It looked like he was going to throw on his roll to the right but he pulled it and ran. So right now it is a pure gimmick. What I would rather see is more of Rettig in the shotgun. We finally attempted nearly 40 passes (welcome to the 21st century). Now we just need to improve on the accuracy, blocking and catching on those plays.

Defense: B

I think we've found our next great DT. Appiah has the elements. He wins one on one battles. He clogged the pocket and he hustles. We dropped him into coverage a few times and he was making tackles downfield. Ricci played well. Quinn had one of his better games. O'Neal was good. Holloway played well and timed the INT well. Mihalik played well as did Edebali. Dan Williams played DE too and contributed.

Notre Dame seemed to focus on Kuechly early. They doubled him a good bit. They ran at him so that their blockers could focus on him. Although it slowed him a bit, he still made plenty of big plays. Divitto didn't play as well. Given his position he has to over a lot of space and sometimes it seems like he might be a step slow. KPL was back and made some nice plays. With him back, Duggan didn't play as much. Lawrence played a little but wasn't in on any tackles.

The announcers kept harping on Fletcher, but he had a decent game...considering all that he was asked. He missed the INT and had a stupid penalty. But he also did a good job of containing. He closed well and tackled well and made a few nice plays in coverage. Asprilla was also good and very active tackling. ALJ played a little. The bigger problem in our secondary were the Safeties. Sylvia had some missed tackles and stupid penalties. Hughes tackled better but still wasn't great in coverage. Rositano missed some chances at big plays.

The defense was well planned. We were aggressive early with blitzes and then as the game progressed dropped a lot of guys into coverage. It was classic BC, but it played well against Notre Dame.

Special Teams: A

In general I think Spaz is too quick to punt but Quigley paid off. Also credit to the overage team for getting downfield and fielding the punts deep in the ND end of the field. Evans was good in his returns. Swigert made some good decisions fielding the punts.
Overall: C

I appreciate the fire the team showed. The game was clearly chippy. However, that resulted in costly penalties. I also hated Spaz sitting on the ball at the end of the first half. It amazes me that no one has talked to him about this. Why haven't any of the assistants showed him the stats on wasting possessions? How can a man with so much football under his belt not realize that points are a premium for this team and he needs to adjust? When he does that, it gives fuel to the fire for those who think Spaz just wants to keep some games close.

As I said, Spaz has now lost three straight to some mediocre Notre Dame teams. I guess we shouldn't expect anything different as long as he is in charge.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Close doesn't count

I know there are plenty of people who feel good about how BC played against Notre Dame. Yes, there were many positives. Most were on the defensive side of the ball. Ryan Quigley had the game of his life. Still we didn't win. Spaz is now 0-3 against Notre Dame. He had another game where we failed to score in the 20s. He had another game with some head scratching decisions. And we are now 1-16 under Spaz when trailing at halftime.

We are now 3-8. As today showed, we are better than that record. Underachieving cannot be acceptable. Even though I think he will be back, I remain in the fire Spaz camp.

I will have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Notre Dame

Spaz can talk up how great this three loss Notre Dame team is. Vegas can have us as huge underdogs. In the end it doesn't matter. What I hope is that our players follow the example of past Eagles and play their hearts out.

And if Spaz plays not to lose, then it means we are one game closer to the end of his regime.

I will also be on twitter throughout the game.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Women's soccer make best of bad Friday

After OT, the BC women beat Cal 3-1 on Penalty Kicks. With the win, they advance to play Stanford on Sunday.

The men's basketball team lost to Holy Cross. Now a loss to Holy Cross is never a good thing, but in this case BC was blownout. I am not going to overreact. This is still a very young team and they were playing withot Heckmann (ankle injury). I didn't see the game but did listen and my biggest concern was the defense. If we let Holy Cross shoot really well, how will we shut down elite ACC teams? But let's give the young guys time. I still believe they will be much better come January.

In a omen that I hope doesn't spread to Saturday, Notre Dame hockey beat BC in OT. BC was up early, squandered the lead, forced OT and then let in a goal late. It was an up and down night.

Kuechly for Heisman and other links

Bruce Feldman knows that a defensive player on a bad team isn't going to get the Heisman but he still makes a case for Luke Kuechly's consideration.

The Women's Soccer team has their next NCAA game against Cal Friday afternoon.

BC will play in next year's Charleston Classic.

Game Watches: BC vs Notre Dame

Since next week's game is Friday, this might be the last big game watch of the season. Here are the following Chapters having a watch. Add yours in the comments section if it is not listed.

Atlanta Game Watch
Slack's Restaurant - Town of Brookhaven Complex
305 Brookhaven Ave., Suite 1250
Atlanta, GA 30319

Austin Game Watch
B. D. Riley's
204 East 6th St Austin, TX 78701

Boston Game Watch
The Baseball Tavern
1270 Boylston Street

Chicago Game Watch
2721 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL

Denver Game Watch
Icehouse Tavern
1801 Wynkoop St, No 150
Denver, CO

Los Angeles Game Watches
3600 Highland Ave.
Manhattan Beach
(310) 545-8811

1220 W. Burbank Blvd.
(818) 556-6550

New York City Game Watch
Vertigo Bar & Restaurant
26th & 3rd
New York

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

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's in San Francisco
2064 Polk Street (corner of Polk & Broadway)
San Francisco, CA 94109

Seattle Game Watch
Buckley's in Belltown‎
2331 2nd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121-1709

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
The 19th
19th & I, downtown (just off Pennsylvania Avenue, Farragut West Metro)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

BC-Notre Dame preview

Some Notre Dame fans point to different games against BC and say, "I knew Coach ____ would never win at Notre Dame when we lost to BC in 200_". Davie, Willingham and Weis all had bad losses to BC that helped fasttrack their respective exits. You would think that given the emotion on the BC side of the rivalry our fanbase would react the same way. It won't. I think Spaz is safe for another season regardless of how this game plays out. In my opinion the only thing a blowout will do is show the casual BC fans how far things have fallen.

Overlooked storyline for the game: BC's slow demand for tickets
A few weeks back season ticket holders were given a chance to get extra Notre Dame tickets. That should have been a wake up call to BC. We once had waiting lists and lotteries for Notre Dame tickets. Now even many current seniors are skipping the trip. Gene might think Spaz is not to blame for our current woes, but I hope he realizes that Spaz, as the leader and face of the program, is blunting enthusiasm. Even without a coaching change, that needs to be addressed in the offseason.

Three Simple Keys
1. Turnovers. Turnovers are cliche and hard to actually "force" but I do think this game will be decided by how many BC gets. Notre Dame is pretty good on offense but will also shoot themselves in the foot. BC needs to be ready and look to pick off Rees often.
2. Sticking with the run. This is opposite of what I've been preaching lately, but I actually think we can run on Notre Dame. I also think that controlling the clock may allow us to steal the game.
3. Contain Atkinson. Atkinson is their return man and a true freshman. BC's been decent in special team's coverage. We cannot let Atkinson change the game with one big play.

Gambling Notes
-- Spaz is 0-2 against the Irish
-- No BC coach has ever lost three straight to Notre Dame
-- Kelly has a perfect November record as coach of the Irish
The current line is BC+24.5

BC has only played Notre Dame this late in the season (after November 15) twice. BC beat Notre Dame in South Bend on November 20 in 1999 and on November 20 in 1993.

Scoreboard Watching
I am not really watching scoreboards at this point. But I will be paying some attention to UCLA-Colorado and Kansas-Texas A&M. Both matchups involve coaches on hot seats and/or having terrible seasons. I pay attention to this stuff as a benchmark for how much losing other programs will tolerate. BC has to do its own thing, but it is important to look at how other schools decided that the timing is right to make a change.

I hope to see...
A real showcase game for Luke Kuechly. Our record is going to keep Luke from winning some postseason awards. That unfortunately is out of his control. But if he has a big game this week on national TV and follows it with another big effort next week, he might earn some of the accolades he's up for.

BC is in trouble if…
Notre Dame can run the ball. Their offense is good to begin with and pass happy. If they also run at will, we will have a hard time keeping up with them.

Bottom Line
I have a little optimism. Strange things happen when we play Notre Dame as a major underdog. I also could see us picking off Rees and running a pick 6 back to change the game. But for all my Notre Dame optimism, I still don't trust Spaz to play to win. Instead I see this game as a blowout where we pad our score late in the game.
Final Score: Notre Dame 42, BC 21

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Bloggers: Blue-Gray Sky

The Notre Dame blog Blue-Gray Sky set the template for many of the college blogs you read today. Although they retired the blog in 2010, the ND bloggers are still following their Irish closely. I asked Jay (one of BGS founders) some questions about the game and he answered and also included some of the other writers in the responses. So what follows is a little different. Each paragraph is a different writer, but it still works and give us an idea of where the Irish are and what outsiders think of Spaz. As for the game, Jay thinks the Irish will win comfortably.

1. It seems like Kelly got the offense humming. Do you think the mistakes and questionable calls that plagued the team in the losses are gone?

"I wouldn't necessarily say that they are "gone," but significantly lessened. I think this is for two reasons: 1. The team has a full season under its belt and is improving, and 2. The difficulty of our schedule is getting exponentially easier as we go through the season."

"Part of the increase in scoring is due to weaker opponents, especially defensively. The first 5 opponents of the year are a collective 31-18 with an average total defense rank of 32. The last five are 24-26 with an average defensive rank of 75.
The other major factor has been a reduction in the number of turnovers. Again, 15 in the first 5 games compared to 7 in the last 5. The playcalling hasn't changed that much although there has been a bit more reliance on the run thanks to the emergence of Jonas Gray (and some weak run defenses lately)."

"First, I disagree with many from the ND fanbase that attribute losses, at least this year, to 'questionable calls'. I think that most of what gets defined as a questionable call is really a disagreement between those fans and the ND staff over offensive philosophy. Passing the ball on 1st and goal from the 1 yard line is not a 'questionable call' to any proponent of the spread offense. However its a sin worthy of excommunication to many ND fans who prefer a run-first, power offense. The only truly questionable call in my opinion this season has been in the USC game where we only ran the ball 9 times. That was a real head-scratcher; although it is partially understandable based on our time of possession, situational down and distances and playing from behind. But still, only 9 runs? That's not justifiable. Mistakes have been our undoing. I think the inexperience of Tommy Rees has a lot to do with it. Poor reads resulted in red zone interceptions. Those seem to be coming down in numbers as Tommy's decision-making is improving. He's had some issues with 'pocket presence' that have resulted in bad fumbles as well. Along with the turnovers, mental errors on defense cost us the Michigan game in the 4th quarter. Those errors can be categorized as either not being 'assignment correct' or using poor technique on a number of key plays. Since our first two games, we seem to have done a good job of eliminating those for the most part. It did not seem that we have been caught in many 'bad schemes' this season (although some would argue that spying Denard Robinson so late in the 4th quarter was a 'bad scheme'... and I think that's a valid point to argue)."

"Nope. Not by a long shot. The mistakes are down due to getting into the flow of the season, playing shittier teams, and inherent randomness. The questionable calls are still there, though they get a little less play when we're winning games by 4 TDs. The offense has been adequate -- and the red zone improvements are much appreciated -- but still is prone to go into slumps, especially when the play-calling gets restricted (e.g. a penalties on 2nd down near-guarantee an ended drive because a run down turns into two passing downs with very little threat of run considering situation and Kelly's passophilia)."

2. Everyone raves about ND's young talent on defense. How have they progressed over the season?

"Well, for the most part. Younger players have filled in at many positions, notably DL, but I did notice a slight drop-off when EJ went out. LB scares me for next year, in all honesty, assuming Te'o doesn't come back."

"Most of the young defensive talent playing meaningful snaps are the linemen and perhaps their best achievement is that they haven't appeared to hit any wall yet. With injuries to both starting defensive ends (with one out for the season) the freshmen DL like Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt have had to play more than anyone would have guessed. And while conditioning for big 350 pound Louis Nix was a pre-season concern, he's been very consistent while playing nose tackle in a rotation with upperclassman Sean Cwynar. The young linebackers have had some success filling in earlier in the year although they aren't playing as much outside of special teams now. The defensive backs have all but been invisible as ND has really leaned exclusively on the veteran starters."

"I think they've done a good job. The fact that you can have true Freshmen defensive linemen come in and make any contribution to a decent defense is testament alone to what they bring to the table. We shouldn't be in the position that they should even be seeing the field, but that's a depth issue that was a hold-over from the previous regime. I'm not sure any of that 'young talent' was ready to move ahead of Ethan Johnson or KLM on the depth chart had they not been injured. But at the end of the day they're getting valuable reps and experience that will help make them major contributors in future years."

"I'm much more bearish on our young talent than most, at least in part due to seeing our 2nd team D look like absolute dog diarrhea every time they come in at the ends of blowouts -- even when playing against other second teamers, also in part due to looking at all the upperclassmen they're playing with to hid their flaws and realizing how much we lose this year. The linemen have gotten in more, but partly due to attrition and due to the older guys not fitting the scheme at all. Lynch looks good, though it's hard to tell because he hasn't actually made that many plays, we just assume he's really good because we see offenses having to hold him every play (note: this is pretty worthless in general, because ND doesn't draw holding flags. Ever. See also: how Victor Abiamiri should have been an all-American, but was merely average because he was allowed to be molested every single down). Tuitt looks to have the bulk to play inside, which is a pleasant surprise for a freshman; can he continue to gain weight and keep his athleticism? Nix has been a space eater, but isn't a playmaker at this point in his career. Houndshell looks overmatched at this point, and there's no reason he shouldn't have redshirted. The young linebackers who have played look absolutely lost, with the exception of Moore, who only plays in garbage time. They're athletic and promising, but not even close to there yet."

3. BC is having a terrible season that is somewhat reminiscent of the down years you had with Willingham and Weis. Although I would like a change, I think Spaz is back in 2012. Based on what Notre Dame has gone through, do you think a coach is forever damaged by a terrible season?

"I think this is the wrong question to ask. A coach isn't "forever damaged" by anything--rather I think that poor seasons merely highlight their shortcomings. Weis had 0 development skills outside of offensive skill players and recruited the lines horribly, and that showed in '07. His final two seasons were merely reflections of his actual coaching prowess, i.e. teams that could score at will and yet couldn't stop a high school team. In all honesty, this BC team reminds me of the terrible years Maryland had with the Fridge, simply because they had no quarterback. BC's QBs are awful, in my opinion, and it's holding their team back immensely, because I don't think their defense is half bad."

"A coach can survive a terrible season as long as it can reasonably be shown to be an outlier, whether due to overall youth, last minute coaching changes, or the like. But when the bad year is part of an overall negative trend, it can be pretty hard to reverse course. A terrible season preceded by a slow decline will make recruiting even harder and a drop in recruiting success only makes it tougher to dig out of the hole. But one season by itself usually isn't a killer. For example, Charlie's problem wasn't so much the horrible 2007 season as much as failing to show much improvement over the course of the 2008 and 2009 seasons (1-8 in November) despite plenty of talent on the roster."

"The issue I see with Frank Spaziani is not that he's having a 'down season', its the direction that the program has been going since he took over. 8-5, 7-6 and 3-7 is not a direction that I'd be comfortable with."

"No. Especially not at a place like BC, where program continuity is the name of the game. A single year, even one that tanks recruiting, doesn't really matter, because the recruits don't come in and play anyway ... every year promises a new group of seemingly 20 5th years who have been in the program forever and either have starting experience or are ready to contribute, so that class won't come home to roost for 4 years and you have several years to regain momentum. Even if 4 years later that class ends up being a bust it means that you have a year or two of "catch up" but the load shifts down to seniors and juniors, not freshmen and sophomores. Also beneficial of being BC not ND is that a single bad year doesn't forever turn the fanbase to looking forward towards the next coach no matter what happens for the rest of your tenure. Again, that helps level things out and means that a single year isn't going to be unrecoverable."

Explanation of the missing 31 on Saturday

When no player wore Jay McGillis's 31 on Saturday, BC fans online wondered what happened. Since no one had an answer, I asked BC SID Chris Cameron. His explained that the decision has always been the players and was never forced by the team. Chris also pointed out that although it feels like BC has been doing it forever this tradition only started with Jazzmen Williams. He did not know if the current McGillis Scholarship holder Donnie Fletcher would wear the 31 against Miami.

Personally I understand Donnie wanting to wear his number in his final home game. I just hope that he or one of the other defensive backs decides to wear the 31 for the final game of the season. College football thrives on traditions and although young, this tradition has heart. It also keeps the connection the defensive backs have to prior teams and it honors McGillis.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New recruit and other links

After a very slow few months on the recruiting front, BC added another linebacker. Bobby Wolford is from the Jacksonville area and was committed to BYU prior to his switch to BC. What I find interesting about the whole transition is that the Utah paper describes him as a devout Catholic who originally selected BYU because of its faith-based tradition. I wonder at what point the fish out of water aspect of being a Catholic at an LDS school made him decide to switch to BC? He is a solid addition to the class.

There is no easy way to handle this link other than to report that BC lacrosse player Michael Racanelli died. Very little information is available.

Here are some good takes on the basketball game last night from The Heights and the Herald.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rebuilt hoops squad gets first win

BC entered the season with hundreds of questions about its roster, its style of play and its readiness for this season. While one win over UNH didn't answer everything, it certainly gave us some idea of how this team will play this year. Here are some thoughts. Leave yours in the comments...

-- I thought we were supposed to be shooters? All of these guys were brought in for their offensive skills, yet most seemed a bit rusty or off. Heckmann is tough but he wasn't exactly efficient in the first game. The FT shooting (17 for 31) was also telling.
-- Cahill getting big minutes. I am glad he decided to play again and I like that he was a calming influence down the stretch, but we will need the younger guys to come along. I don't know if Cahill should average 28 points a minute on a winning team.
-- Heckmann's physicality. The guy isn't Reggie Jackson, but he is willing to drive with abandon. I imagine he will be asked to create a lot by driving to the basket.
-- Anderson's rebounding. He has a good sense inside and can convert.

We will learn more soon. Friday, the guys head to Worcester for the always dangerous Holy Cross. Not all games will wins and they will certainly have their mistakes, but Game 1 showed that these guys should be fun to watch and fun to root for.

Weekend roundup

Although we won it football, the weekend was rough on a few other fronts.

First the men's soccer team lost to North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. They weren't expected to be in the Final, so there was a little bit of playing with house money feeling around the game, but still, you want to win. Next is hopefully a good showing in the NCAA tournament. Selections are announced Monday afternoon.

The Hockey team was red-hot and facing a reeling BU team. Do you want to guess how it played out? The Terriers shutout BC for the first time since 1983. The Hockey team has to bounce back quickly as they face Notre Dame this Friday.

The bright spot of the weekend was the women's soccer team. They advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament by beating Marist.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: NC State

Watching this back sort of felt like the Maryland game and left me scratching my head. How is TOB's team this bad in his 5th year? I never thought he would be taking the Wolfpack to the BCS but I still thought they would be respectable. Holloway (who I will get to later) was running at Glennon nearly at will. We haven't seen that from him...ever. How have Jim Bridge and Don Horton screwed up their OLine to that extent? As for BC, the first half was pretty good football. The second half was poor and we were lucky NC State didn't steal the game from us.

Offense: C-

Rettig started off strong. He was sharp on his throws and made some nice adjustments. Then as the game progressed things weren't as good. The TD pass to Larmond was perfect, but the INT was bad (even though Elliot shares blame, Chase forced it). But given what he was asked to do and that he was yanked in and out, 9-13 is not a bad day. Bordner isn't really a QB at this point. We didn't ask him to throw. We didn't even add much variety when he is in the game. It was mostly the end around. No zone-option read. No passing. I don't know how long we can do this with him. It seems like TOB's guys adjusted to his presence. In the offseason he will have to improve his passing if we ever want to consider him as a real QB option.

Williams got most of the carries. He had a few nice runs, but I still think he lacks great cutting ability in traffic. He's best in open space and off tackle. Finch returned but didn't get to do much. Sinkovec has some good lead blocks. Glad Kimble is back and hopefully he will be used more in the passing game soon.

Larmond made some nice plays and runs after the catch. Amidon also fought hard for a first down. Amidon had some success early with the end around plays but they stuffed it as the game progressed. Because of limited throws we didn't see much from Swigert or the Tight Ends. Naples was okay with his grab. Elliott looked like he ran the wrong route on Chase's INT.

The offensive line was better as a whole. Wetzel looked really good in run blocking. But for some reason at times they pulled him to give Richman some snaps at LT. It was a mistake as Richman looked overmatched. Cleary and White played well on the right side. Spinney was okay. Vardaro made some good plays and had a few issues at other times. Collectively they still look terrible running screens. Gallik also got in for a few snaps.

I liked the play calling to begin the game. We established the run and then challenged deep. We throw a variety of passes and used the wildcat stuff in the redzone. Then in the second half, we pulled back. Ultra conservative and no variety. NC State adjusted. It was not a good performance. We are lucky we won with only 14 points. I guess my biggest gripe is that Brock didn't add any new wrinkles to the Bordner plays. How can you use him that much and not have more passing involved. It was totally one note and a waste of Bordner and those possessions.

Defense: B

Max Holloway really deserved the star of the game notice he received. He did a great job rushing the passer and playing the run. Quinn was better too but still had his stupid penalty. Edabali played well -- although he didn't get as much pressure on Glennon. Appiah took up a lot of space in the middle. Ricci didn't play as much. O'Neal was in for a bit and made a nice play.

Kuechly played well. As did Duggan. Divitto was good. However all three allowed too much space in the zones and hence we were killed by their Tight Ends. Keyes played well in limited time.

Asprilla is not getting enough attention but he might be the best of the young DBs. He makes good plays on the ball and tackles well. ALJ wasn't as active. Fletcher looked good and made a real nice adjustment on his INT. Sylvia was okay. Hughes is getting better at his tackling. I really like how Williams plays. He's aggressive and a good tackler.

When things are working the coordinator looks good. For the most part, I liked what McGovern did on Saturday. We used a lot of 3-4. This shouldn't have been a surprise to NC State yet they didn't know how to handle it. Even with five blocking three, we got a lot of one on ones on the edge. Since we were getting pressure there wasn't a need to do much blitzing. What I appreciated is that we have finally adjusted to bubble screens and passes to the flats. There was good contain and tackling any time Glennon stretched the field side to side. There one big play was a broken scramble, but overall we played much better defense than we did against Florida State.

Special Teams: C

Not a great day on special teams. A missed FG. The normally clutch Quigley with a kick out of bounds and some average punts. Neither Evans or Amidon broke anything on their kick returns. The punt returns were all fair catches.

The one point I did want to mention on special teams were two solid tackles by James McCaffrey. They were nice open field takedowns.

Overall: C+

If you recall, earlier this year Blauds wrote an article in Spaz's defense about how many close losses BC had. He was trying to frame the season as unlucky. BC's not unlucky. We are just poorly coached and we were lucky to win this game. The guys played hard and the defense made some crucial plays, but Spaz's approach in the second half was to sit on a minimal lead. We had no rhythm on offense as the game wore on. He wasn't aggressive in his use of timeouts to end the first half. It was just another mismanaged game where we had the good fortune to go against an equally mismanaged squad. How can you not challenge downfield more with such a minimal lead? How can you allow you coordinators to become so predictable in a tight game?

Spaz got a little chocked up in his on field interview after the game. I imagine this season has been trying and he's just thankful for the staff and players still playing hard. He's seen enough football to know that many guys and programs would give up in a similar situation.

Fortunately our guys are not quitters. I expect they will play hard this week against Notre Dame too. But Spaz should remember to funnel his thoughts and preparedness into the Irish just like he does when taking on TOB. The TOB game might mean a lot to Gene and Spaz, but Notre Dame will mean a lot more to the people who count most -- the typical BC fans.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Senior go out fighting and get win in their final game at Alumni

That won't go down as a pretty nor impressive win, but it is still a win. The first half was actually decent. The offense moved well and looked aggressive. BC's defense generated a lot of pressure. But given a big lead, Spaz went conservative and the QB rotation turned bad. But the guys played hard. Technically they don't have anything to play for, but we are lucky they are playing for pride.

For those who were at the game, Spaz got emotional in the post game interview. I am sure this season has been trying and he is proud of his guys playing hard. But that emotion nor the win change my opinion that BC needs a change and Spaz is not the guy who should rebuild this program.

I will post second viewing thoughts and grades late Sunday.

In-game comments post: NC State

Senior Day and our last home game of the year. It should be interesting...TOB's games with BC always are. Leave your comments and thoughts below.

You can also follow the conversation on twitter.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Blogger: Riddick & Reynolds

James from Riddick & Reynolds is back to discuss a matchup only TOB could love. My questions and his answers are below.

1. Obviously Russell Wilson was the big story of the offseason. I know Glennon has been decent, but putting the stats aside, how has the approach and offense changed since Glennon took over?

R&R: There has been more of a commitment to running the ball, for sure, but a lot of the same spread principles are still in place. We often put Glennon in the shotgun with an empty backfield and rarely run the ball from the I formation with the fullback as a lead blocker. I think Glennon has tremendous passing ability at times, but the element of his game that he lacks is the ability to scramble, extend plays and keep defenders' eyes in the backfield. It's a less effective offense this year, for sure, and last week's performance against UNC was one of the worst of the year.

2. It seems like instead of being just bad, State's defense has upgraded to inconsistent. How does a team go from allowing 34 one week to shutting a team out the next?

R&R: It seems like a question of motivation. UNC head coach Everett Withers made some pretty inflammatory comments leading up to the game, which sparked some epic smack talk from Tom O'Brien...all of which contributed to an NC State team that came out on fire. They were hellbent on proving a point against the Tar Heels and played like it. Does that mean they WEREN'T motivated against FSU? I don't know. It's not the first time a Tom O'Brien team has looked night-and-day from one game to the next.

3. There were rumblings among BC fans that TOB would retire after this season? Are NC State fans expecting the same? Do you want him back next year?

R&R: I doubt he would, unless the team ends the year on a three-game losing skid. And if that happens, I doubt it'll be a question of "retiring;" Debbie will do her part to "help" him retire, forcefully. I think Tom fully expects to return next year because all of the offseason drama surrounding Russell Wilson and Glennon. It makes little sense to me that he'd endure all the second guessing about his decision to move forward with Glennon only to hang it up before his final year. If State makes a bowl, he'll be back and eager to coach Glennon's senior campaign, and I'll be perfectly fine with that as I think this team--assuming we finally kick this injury bug for good--could challenge for an Atlantic Division title with a senior QB and lots of upperclassmen talent. It's quite reasonable to think, however, that Tom could hang them up after 2012 and retire to the shores of Charleston with his family.

4. What is your prediction of the game?

R&R: As beaten down by injuries and other issues as the Eagles are, I just don't think I can find a way to pick against State in this game. But, if there's one thing about Tom O'Brien's coaching style that BC and State fans are familiar with, it's the danger of the inexplicable loss. And as much as BC has State's number since they joined the ACC, I think it's quite possible the Eagles could come out fired up to perform against the ex-BC coach. I'd say the final score is in the neighborhood of 17-10, State.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

BC-NC State preview

This will probably be TOB's last trip to Alumni Stadium in an official capacity. All the rumors are that he will retire either this year or next. I imagine that in five or six years (long after Gene is gone) BC will welcome back TOB in some sort of ceremony honoring his time at the Heights. I don't think it was a mistake to let him walk and I think he has had some missteps in how he spoke of BC since leaving, but at the end of the day he is still our winningest coach. He is far from perfect but history has shown, he was the right guy for the right time. I am sure he has hurt feelings and feels he never got the credit he deserved for what he accomplished at BC. In time I think both BC and TOB will look back and realize that it was a good fit for a long time.

Overlooked storyline for the game: the BC future of current NC State staffers
If TOB is nearing retirement the NC State guys may be looking for jobs real soon. Given their connections to BC and our potential staffing changes, I would predict that some of them will be back on the Heights again. Mike Reed never worked at BC, but I could see him coming back to Boston. Keith Willis and Jim Bridge both have their supporters around the program. Kit Hughes was very highly thought of for his time at BC. I don't see Don Horton, Dana Bible or Jerry Petercuskie coming back (mostly because of age). I also don't think Todd Rice would be anyone's first choice to lead a BC S&C program again.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stop NC State's short passing.
I fear this game could be like Duke where they bubble screen us to death. Bible likes the play and we still have trouble defending it.
2. Go with the Hot Hand at QB. I want Rettig to start. If he is playing well keep him out there. If we need a spark try Bordner. If Bordner plays well, let him keep playing. The in and out is terrible and doesn't help either QB or our offense.
3. Down field passing. I imagine State is going to load up to stop the run. There should be opportunities open downfield.

Gambling Notes
-- NC State has never won a game at Alumni
-- TOB is 1-3 vs BC
-- Spaz is 3-1 at home in November
The current line is BC+3.5

This will be the Senior Day for TOB's last BC recruits. Will Thompson, Dan Williams, Lars Anderson and Nate Richman all committed to BC while TOB was still in charge.

Scoreboard Watching
Notre Dame continues their ACC swing by taking on Maryland. They are heavy favorites. I expect them to throttle the Terps. If they struggle maybe we can look forward to our game with the Irish.

I hope to see...
A bounce back game for Finch. No one was really blaming him for the Florida State loss, but his fumble was a turning point. I think he's got good upside, so I hope he has a clean, productive game.

BC is in trouble if…
We can't get to Glennon. If he has all the time in the world, I expect them to put up big points and run away with the game.

Bottom Line
I actually think we will win this game. It's important to Spaz and Gene. We know how to prepare for Bible's offense. It's at home. We've had a longer week to prepare. There are many things in our favor. I also think that Spaz needs to win. He might be out of a job regardless of how we finish, but winning a few games to close the season will help his job security. (BTW, I -- unfortunately -- still believe that Spaz will be back next year.) I think BC wins a close game.
Final Score: BC 20, UCF 17

Spaz on Penn State

The Boston media finally got around to asking Spaz about Penn State. While he didn't give the most coherent response, I actually found his honest, muddled answer with concern for the victims, Spaz's most relatable moment in months. Spaz is a parent first and foremost. Instead of protecting his mentor, his alma mater or the coaching fraternity, he said the victims are what matter. He's right.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Does anyone from the Boston media want to talk to Spaz?

It is one thing for the Boston media to ignore BC. I can live with that since there are usually bigger stories out, like say the Penn State molestation scandal. But the more telling sign of complacency in the local sports media field and on the BC beat is that no one has gotten a quote from Spaz on the subject. Here is a BCS head coach who played under and revered Joe Paterno and was a peer of Jerry Sandusky. No one thought to get a reaction quote on the case? Florida papers asked Al Golden about it. Other Big Ten coaches avoided answering questions, but at least they were asked.

Like Golden, I am sure this is very painful for Spaz. But the beat guys as journalist at least need to get an official "no comment" on the subject. Complacency in the media makes them less relevant and also enables cover ups like went on in Happy Valley.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Soccer beats Maryland in ACC Tourney

BC got up early and then held on to beat Maryland in the first-round of the ACC Tournament. On Friday they will take on Duke in the semifinals. You can watch that game online at

Soccer opens ACC Tourney tonight and other links

The men's soccer team opens up the ACC Tournament tonight with a game at Maryland. The Terps have owned BC in soccer since we joined the ACC.

When Nick LaSpada won the Gatorade award for Massachusetts as a sophomore, it seemed like New England was going to have a legitimate five-star, top recruit prospect. Since then he's suffered a series of injuries and setbacks. The latest issues is serious as he has blood clots in his lungs. Let's hope he has a full recovery.

HD thinks Maryland is more likely to bounce back from their terrible season. She still has BC ahead of Maryland in her power rankings.

Even though he is on their Hot Seat list, SB Nation thinks Spaz is back in 2012.

BC is in the mix for Ohio DB prospect Nana Kyeremeh.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Steve Donahue's candid strategies

With the calender turning to basketball season, Steve Donahue has been making the rounds with the media. As the Heights said, his energy, enthusiasm and ability to sell his plan for the program make the potential rebuilding that much more tolerable than what is going on with Spaz.

What I found most interesting is Donahue's openness about his recruiting strategy. He is obviously looking for guys who can fit in his system, but he is also looking at guys who may be underrecruited or not being recruited by a school like BC. That means going to California and differentiating BC from Pac 12 schools or selling a European kid on the benefit of playing in the U.S. It probably means we won't go head to head with other east coast city schools or other ACC programs. I endorse this strategy 100%. It is not all that different from how Al Skinner approached recruiting.

What's also encouraging is that Donahue and his staff are turning over every rock locally (great series by Around the Res BTW).

What makes Donahue so refreshing and should be a lesson to Spaz and any other future head coach, is that he has belief in himself, his vision and is willing to share that vision. Now wins will ultimately need to come, but being yourself and being optimistic can earn a lot of goodwill.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Florida State

Sadly the highlight of watching this back was Rece Davis talking about Kevin Rogers. He used the term "mysterious" to describe the departure. I guess it is the most we will get on the incident since we are so bad and so far under the radar, that frankly people don't care. We won't become a story again until we make a coaching change. (Which I fear won't come this season.) As for did this rewatch make me feel better or worse: the answer was much worse. We have coaching issues, talent issues and based on the Bordner situation, we have gotten to the "throw shit up against the wall and see what sticks" portion of the offensive gameplan.

Offense: F

I guess I am in the Rettig apologist camp. Despite his stagnant progress, I still think he shows glimpses of something better. But I sort of understand why they tried Bordner, but I thought Rettig was making decent decisions and decent throws prior to that. After they started the rotation I felt Rettig lost some of his momentum. Bordner showed me a lot with his running. Who knew he would be that strong? His first throw was nice. His second throw was terrible and a terrible decision. If we continue to use both QBs, I think it has to be defined in the first half and whoever has the hot hand in the second.

Finch's fumble was a killer. Last week's was acceptable. This week wasn't. He had a few decent runs outside of it. I am glad he bounced back. We didn't really use a FB this week.

Larmond did alright. I know he is trying to make something out of nothing but he's got get first downs and know where the marker is. Swigert had some nice catches but also had a drop he should have pulled in. The TEs were used mostly as blockers.

The offensive line played one of their worst games of the Spaz era. False starts, holding penalties, bad snaps, it was all there. I guess Ian White had the best game. Clearly was pretty good but as I said, had the penalties. Wetzel really struggled. Vardaro was not as good as he's been lately. Spinney wasn't great. Gallik had the problem with the snap but was otherwise okay.

I thought the play calling was terrible. We ran way too much, especially as the game started getting away from us. I liked the idea of Bordner as a change of pace, but hated the in and out with the QBs. Overall Brock has now been calling our plays for seven games and I don't feel confident in our approach or our ability to adapt.

Defense: C+

This was not Holloway's best game. He missed some tackles and lost contain a few times Edebali wason the field but not a big factor. Ricci played and so did Appiah. They both have looked like good freshmen but didn't make a difference Thursday. Mihalik didn't play as much. I was really disappointed in Quinn and O'Neal. They were non factors.

Kuechly had his best game in weeks. He was covering tons of ground. He was shedding blockers with ease and he made some big plays. Duggan was good too. My problem with him is that e still loses contain. Clancy didn't get major snaps, but made some nice tackles. Divitto made some nice, hard hitting tackles. He is still not great is coverage. Keyes didn't play as much.

Asprilla allowed the early touchdown in part because he didn't get help from Rositano. Sylvia was good in support but didn't make any big plays in passing. Fletcher was also removed from the action. ALJ and/or Kuechly screwed on O's big pass reception. Hughes missed some tackles.

I was impressed by the aggressiveness of the initial gameplan. The corner blitz and the blitz from Divitto were effective. We didn't use much of the 3-4. But then we went more base. I don't know why. If anything FSU were getting their biggest plays when we weren't taking risks. The gameplan had the feel of us throwing some wrinkles and then Spaz saying to McGovern: "alright, that's enough."

Special Teams: C
Quigley -- who I really like -- had some clunky punts. Our kick returns weren't as strong as they've been.

Overall: F
Sometimes when I get to this section with Spaz, I question if I should even bother writing anything. So much of what he does and what's he's done frustrates me. These are all the nitpicky things that start to bother me when we are getting blown out:
-- the mumbling swears to himself that that camera catches
-- overreacting with anger after BC has good plays
-- underreacting when we have bad plays
-- taking off the headset when we are on offense
-- looking beyond defeated in halftime interviews
-- punting with three minutes left in a blowout

Throw in the strategic issues listed previously and you have a recipe for a two win season.

I've seen bad seasons at BC before. When we lost with Henning there were certainly questions of management and strategy, but you never got the sense Dan expected to lose. When TOB lost in his early years, you at least saw progression and player improvement. Now we are absolutely rudderless. We may rally against NC State or Notre Dame. Bordner or a healthy Andre Williams might provide some sort of spark that lifts the whole team. I don't know. But what I do know is that any temporary spark is not enough.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

All of our offensive issues captured on one drive

I know that we have many problems. But I think our issues on offense are more about coaching than talent and I think there was one series that captured all of BC's failings.

With 3:42 left in the 1st quarter, BC got the ball on their own 30 down seven. The first play was a designed end around for Spiffy Evans. This is actually a good call. The end around worked the week before. It helps take pressure off of Rettig and Finch. I also like giving it to Evans. He's shown good burst on kick returns. Plus FSU was probably keying on Amidon for the end arounds. The play was probably going to be successful (especially if you look at the open space in the image below). But of course BC had to shoot itself in the foot by having a terrible snap. Rettig had to fall on the ball and took an 11-yard loss. At the time Craig James yapped about BC being too excited or thinking too fast. That wasn't the issue. The real issue was that BC replaced Mark Spinney with Andy Gallik. Gallik screwed up the snap. Why was he in there? Spinney played later so he wasn't seriously hurt. Was it a plan? Maybe Spinney needed a breather or was being looked at. I don't know. But if you are starting a possession with a timing play that is dependent upon a good snap, you should probably have your starting SR center on the field!

Now if Spinney's issues were unknown then a good OC probably saves the play for later. If the plan was to bring in Gallik just for that play, then BC didn't work on it enough during the week. Either way it was either poor position coaching, poor sideline communication or poor planning in general.

That left BC at 2nd and 21. Now at this point BC has run the ball six times and Rettig is 3-3. You know you need to get some of the 21 back. So what does BC do? Run again. You can rationalize it a bunch of ways, but I assume that being down only 7, BC still wants to be careful deep in their own end. I would argue that you need to be aggressive against a team that is building momentum. You are 2-6. Why not air it out a bit? But no, BC runs. Then things got bad.

The play was a simple zone-option run. This is a college football staple and at times made Chris Crane-Montel Harris a deadly combo against Florida State in 2008. In this situation the line is blocking to their right. Florida State's R DE is left unblocked by design. He is who Rettig is supposed to read. If the DE crashes Finch, Rettig keeps it. If he waits on Rettig, Chase gives it to Finch. But we never even got that far because Wetzel and Vardaro did something that has me convinced our OL coaching is the worst in the ACC.

Take a look. Wetzel and Vardaro are supposed to double team the R DT (who is a true freshman BTW). It's a standard double team in a zone play. A good, well coached team drills this over and over. They should be able to execute it without problem. Not BC.

The image below is about a half second later. The DT used a simple swim move and went by both guys! How does this happen? Vardaro's head is down so he probably didn't even see the swim move. Wetzel is reaching but you can see he is slow getting off and his balance is terrible.

Now Wetzel has shown some good moments. He was recruited by BC, UConn, Pitt, some MAC schools and UNH (this will be important in a moment). He was evaluated by Jags and Bick JR (two guys who have good eyes for raw OL talent). Is he a future first rounder? No, but he could and should be much better than he is. Now you could say Sean Devine inherited him, but the problem is Devine recruited him when he was at UNH! Wetzel has been in our program three seasons. This isn't age or youth. It is about coaching and consistency.

That left BC at 3rd and 21. Now points have been an issue all year. Wasted possessions have been an issue all year. You need to win this game to keep alive any hope of any postseason alive. The home crowd is asleep and just hoping for any sign of life. What does BC do? Run again. Of course the crowd booed.

FSU knew a run was coming too. Just look at this clip below. Their Left DE is playing wide and tries to shoot past Anderson (who is getting no help). Meanwhile our left side is chop blocking. But they don't take their men down nor push them back. The right side guys are pulling but don't block anyone. Meanwhile FSU's right side didn't get faked or downblocked so they are crashing into the backfield ready to break things up.

Of course we punted next and it was the best play of the drive.

This may seem like cherry picking bad moments, but it is not. Roster management, execution, protection and ultra conservative play calling have been hallmarks of the Spaz offenses. This drive just happened to capture them all in three plays.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Football Alumni on Spaz

As fans and alumni we are all stakeholders in BC football. But the football Alumni are in a little more vested club. Most of them are closely identified with their time at BC even years later. And I am not just talking about the current guys playing in the NFL or Canada. Your typical BC football player is in a normal job and like all of us fans is hearing: "what happened to you guys?"

What's interesting is that despite their gripes and frustrations with the program, most are pretty loyal. They might be critical of a coach, player or admin at a cocktail party or in an email, but rarely will they go public. Thanks to social media, that is starting to change.

Matt Tennant has been one of the more vocal critics of Spaz. After slamming Spaz during the game on twitter, Tennant backtracked a bit today:

Sorry Eagle fans, last night my emotions obviously got the best of me.I care a lot about the program, and while the losses are not directly

Spaz's fault, we do all need to work together to help BC football get back to where it belongs.

Tennant shouldn't have to apologize. He wasn't the only one questioning the leadership and direction of the program. I hope other football alums start speaking out. We need a change and it will only happen if influential alumni take a stand.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bowling over

We never had a chance. We came out with an ultra conservative gameplan and didn't adjust when it was pretty clear we would need to do something different. That's on Spaz. We lost to another young, inconsistent team at home. That's on Spaz.

With the loss, BC will officially have a losing season for the first time since 1998. Our bowl streak -- which at times seemed hollow and at times seemed like a nice benchmark -- is over.

We suffered another blowout and had another game where we couldn't score. That's on Spaz.

The storyline coming out of the game will be using two QBs or going to a new offense with Bordner. I appreciate trying something new but the problem is not QB. It's coaching and head coaching.

I think these final few games have the chance to really embarrass BC. There is plenty of blame to go around, but we need to focus on how to rebuild. It's not with Frank Spaziani.

I'll have second viewing thoughts and grades up this weekend.

In-game comments post: Florida State

I fear playing safe tonight. I dream that we'll look great and run the table. Either way there should be a lot to talk about.

As always leave your thoughts and comments below.

I will be tweeting once or twice during the game too.

Game Watches: BC vs Florida State

Because it is a Thursday some chapter are using this to turn the game into a watch/happy hour. Hope your local one is too. I also hope we are happy after the game.

Atlanta Game Watch
Slack's Restaurant - Town of Brookhaven Complex
305 Brookhaven Ave., Suite 1250
Atlanta, GA 30319

Austin Game Watch
Draft Pick
1620 East Riverside Drive
Austin, TX 78741

Charlotte Game Watch
222 S. Church St.

Chicago Game Watch
2721 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL

Los Angeles Game Watches
3600 Highland Ave.
Manhattan Beach
(310) 545-8811

1220 W. Burbank Blvd.
(818) 556-6550

New York City Game Watch
Vertigo Bar & Restaurant
26th & 3rd
New York

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

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's in San Francisco
2064 Polk Street (corner of Polk & Broadway)
San Francisco, CA 94109

BC-Florida State preview

One of the cliches in sports is "you can throw out the records when these two teams square off." In a twisted way this sort of applies to BC-Florida State. Although the teams had zero history prior to the ACC and although Florida State has been in a down cycle, most of these games have gained more national attention than you would expect. We hosted GameDay twice during FSU games. We were the Saturday night ABC game in 2008. The only low profile game was really last season. Now the two underachieving teams face off in primetime on Thursday night. Both are looking to build on their recent success. ESPN is just hoping for another good game.

Overlooked storyline for the game: BC's last Thursday night home game for a long time
As most of you we are only permitted a Thursday night home game every four years. By the time our next available Thursday night home game season rolls around we will be in the middle of our new ACC TV deal. As part of that deal I think you will see more ACC games on Friday night. I also think BC will be a willing participant in those Friday night games. I assume that the influx of Friday content will make Thursday games that much more unlikely.

Three Simple Keys
1. Contain Manual on 3rd and long. Although we faced running QBs against UCF, Northwestern and Clemson, none are as dangerous as Manual. BC needs to spy him a bit on third and longs and get their offense off the field.
2. Play action passes. Given how we played last week and how we've emphasized the run against FSU the past three years, I expect them to be very aggressive on run D. This should open up something over the middle or deep off of play action.
3. Continue to use Amidon in the running game. I am sure the whole world is expecting this, but I think it does a couple of things. One it takes a few snaps off of Finch. Two it should open another play out of it (a reverse or Amidon pass).

Gambling Notes
-- The home team is 2-4 in this ACC series
-- BC hasn't had a below .500 record for home games in a season since 2003
-- BC hasn't had a below .500 conference record since entering the ACC
The current line is BC+14.5

Doug Flutie gave the team a pregame pep talk.

Scoreboard Watching
Not applicable tonight, but I will be paying attention to Notre Dame and Wake Forest. The Irish seem to play down to their competition. Despite our loss, I think we are probably on the same level as Wake. If Notre Dame struggles, I think it bodes well for our game.

I hope to see...
BC force some turnovers. Sylvia's INT is the type of play BC has lived by over the years. We will need some to win this game.

BC is in trouble if…
Rettig completes less than 50% of his passes. Last week it didn't matter. This week it will.

Bottom Line
I expect BC to play with a certain level of desperation and pride. This is national TV and we need a win to keep a variety of streaks alive. But I think that instead of coaching like a riverboat gambler, Spaz will play ultra conservatively and try to avoid a blow out. I expect a lot of long drives from both teams. A sloggy defensive effort for both sides, then results in Florida State getting the winning score in the fourth quarter.
Final Score: FSU 20, BC 13

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Guest Blogger: Chantrant

Rich from Chantrant is the latest guest blogger to tackle my questions. The 'Noles have had an up and down season but look to be righting the ship coming into our game. See what Rich thinks of this unusual season in his answers below.

1. BC did a decent job of containing Christian Ponder in our game last year. How different is the offense this year with Manuel?

Chantrant: Somewhat less predictable, now that E.J. Manuel is healthy and back at QB. His legs -- whether on a designed run or scramble -- present more problems for opposing defenses. Not that Ponder couldn’t run, but Manuel is even faster, shiftier and tougher to bring down. And speaking of the run game, the Noles ground game is beginning to resemble ones from the past few years. Graduation and injuries on the offensive line made the team pass-oriented and one dimensional during the first half of this season. The patchwork OL -- including a 17-year old true freshman -- is beginning to jell. Freshman running back Devonta Freeman has become a factor, along with senior Jermaine Thomas, who’s a speedy pass-catching threat out of the backfield.

2. The defense gave up big points during the losing streak but have been better against the weaker teams on your schedule. Does the strength of the opponent explain it all or is there another reason why the defense has improved of late?

Chantrant: I think it’s a matter of motivation more than opposition. FSU held Oklahoma to its lowest point total of the season. The next two weeks, the Noles lost at Clemson and Wake by the identical score: 35-30. In both cases, IMO, the other team had all the intensity and momentum, while FSU’s defense was still emotionally and physically down from that bruising game with the Sooners. Since then, the Nole D has regained its pride and equilibrium. Add to that a new catalyst in the form of true freshman NT Timmy Jernigan. His fiery play has increased his playing time and amped up the performance of older guys on the defense. And last week’s shutout of North Carolina State has players believing they could run the table the rest of the season -- IF they can maintain focus.

3. I am sort of thinking the short week coming off a blow out gives BC an edge. Given what the ups and downs your team has been through, do you think there is any chance of a letdown?

Chantrant: Hey, it’s college football, with outcomes determined in large part by the emotions of teens and young twenty-somethings. The Noles have had three strong performances, though admittedly against underperforming ACC teams (Duke, Maryland and N.C. State). But things like the cold weather and a hostile crowd in an unfamiliar stadium can be big distractions for these kids from a warmer climate. All of which is why I don’t believe any FSU fan beyond the blind followers is chalking up the game as a guaranteed W for the Noles. Besides, very good Florida State teams have often played uncharacteristically bad on Thursday nights.

4. What is your prediction for the game?

Chantrant: If FSU can overcome the distractions mentioned above and play close to the level of the past three weeks, the Noles should prevail. I shouldn’t mention this, but B.C. fans can play a big part by firing up their team to play at its best and seize every opportunity to gain and maintain momentum.