Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Questions heading into the ACC schedule

Monday's stomping of UMass-Lowell wasn't the true midpoint of the basketball season, but it was the end of the growth stage. Now BC faces the ACC schedule (and one game against Harvard). It is time to see how they compete and see how Christian coaches when facing the best teams and coaches in the country. This is a pieced together team in a transition year, but it is still critical for them to show toughness and smarts in ACC games. Here are things to consider before we play Duke this weekend:

1. Can Hanlan take over?

Hanlan carried huge expectations into the season. I certainly drank and poured the Kool-Aid. He hasn't been bad but he hasn't been elite and he hasn't been consistently dominant. We are not as offensively focused this year and he's still learning to play with the new guys, but he's been too passive at times. Just improving his shooting 3-point and free throw shooting to his historical norms would be a huge difference. Missing those shots isn't about scheme or coaching. It is just about being cold or overthinking things. If Hanlan wants to test the NBA waters again, he's going to have to kick it up another gear.

2. How short is our rotation?

We've tested plenty of rotations, but we are probably our best when we have Brown, Hanlan, Batten, Heckmann and Clifford on the floor. While not mini, that is still a smallish five. And though small, it doesn't create offensive mismatches in our favor that some small ball teams might. There had been high hopes for Jackson, but he hasn't shown much since coming back from injury. Owens and Odio have been inconsistent. How much time do any of them deserve?

3. Can they survive the early part of the ACC schedule?

There are no easy games in the ACC, but we get most of the best teams early. Does this team have the mental toughness to survive that and stay competitive against the lesser ACC teams in February? Donahue's teams did not. I think how they respond and fight will tell us about Christian's coaching.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year 3 is the great indicator

Expectations will be low next year for BC. We have another new QB. We will be replacing most of our Oline and our playmakers will still be very young. Regardless of the obstacles and challenges, Year 3 will tell us a lot about Addazio's potential and ceiling. As Grantland's Matt Hinton has written many times, the good coaches win early, even when they take over troubled programs (this article covers it well -- skip past the Spurrier stuff to about halfway through the article). I know the counter arguments: "every situation is different" , "Spaz left the cupboard bare", "rebuilds take longer at BC." There is some validity to all of that. Yet historically, even at BC, Year 3 has been a great indicator of a coach's potential and tenure. Take a look all Year 3s of the modern era:

Joe Yukica, Year 3:   8-2
Ed Chlebek, Year 3:   7-4
Jack Bicknell, Year 3:   9-3
Tom Coughlin, Year 3:   9-3
Dan Henning, Year 3:   5-7
Tom O'Brien, Year 3:   8-4
Frank Spaziani, Year 3:   4-8

Context is everything and we have nine months to analyze what Addazio faces in Year 3. I hope he exceeds expectations again. Because if he doesn't it doesn't speak well to the future.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Pinstripe Bowl

In the post game the media focused on BC and Addazio losing so many close games this year. Addazio mentioned it too. But this game somewhat captured the issues the lead to losing close games: not being aggressive enough when ahead, defensive letdowns and critical player mistakes. That is not bad luck. That is bad coaching. Plus the luck aspect of these games tends to even out. BC was 3-4 this year in games decided by less than seven points. We are 5-5 under those same parameters in Addazio's two years. There isn't a secret formula to winning tight games. The key to being a great is not being in close games very often.

This was a tough loss and the missed opportunities abound.

Offense: B

Murphy did what we've come to expect. He was off on some of his touch passes early. His throws got better late, as Penn State went heavy zone and guys found open spots. The pass to Dudeck was sharp. I thought he made good decisions on when to keep the ball on the zone reads. His running overall was very good. He did a good job waiting on blocks and then exploding.

Hilliman ran very well. There were a few runs outside the tackles where I felt he waited a bit too long to turn it up field, but that is nitpicking. Against the best rush defense in college football he ran well in space and in traffic. Willis didn't get many touches but was fine when he ran. Outlow wasn't the change of pace we've seen, but a lot of his late touches went to Murphy and Hilliman. He was effective in the passing game. Wolford blocked well.

Bordner nearly had a TD but Murphy's pass was a little high. I still think he should have pulled it down. Dudeck's catch was great. Phillips played well, but still had a few drops. The WRs and TEs blocked pretty well. Crimmins had a nice catch.

Overall the offensive line played well. Gallik got a lot of TV time because of the blood, but he did play well. He won most of his matchups in the game. Vardaro also played well. Kramer got called for some penalties, but was decent. Silberman also got hit with a costly penalty. Betancourt was fine.

I know many dislike Day, but this loss was not on the offense. We ran against the best run defense in the country and scored 30 points. The passing game was not great, but adequate given the previous 12 games this season. We had some good new wrinkles -- like the throwback to Border that didn't work. Plus we had some straight pocket plays that worked more than they have this season. The biggest complaints coming out of the game were Alston's lack of touches and continuing to run the ball late in the game. Alston should have touched the ball more. One pass was bad and the other was a drop. I would have liked a jet sweep, even if he had just been a decoy. As for running late...I have no problem with it. It is what we do well. It tends to break open games and it eats clock. It is not like we were overly stubborn. We had critical and successful pass plays on the final scoring drive and in OT.

Defense: D

The Defensive Line started the game off well but as a group couldn't generate enough pressure as the game wore on. Mihalik made a big sack early but didn't go much later. Kavalec had another quiet game. Wujciak was fine. Moore was okay.

The LBs were the best part of the defense. Despite Penn State's passing success, the LBs were not the issue with our pass coverage (as they have been in other games).  Daniels played well and even looked good after he got injured. Duggan played well. Milano was very active and looked good. Keyes was fine but wasn't used aggressively in blitzes.

The DBs had a rough night. They were asked to do a lot and none of it worked well. When they played off, Penn State just ate up yards. Asprilla tackled well but gave up way too many catches. Simmons had similar issues and tipped the TD pass the wrong way. Brown missed a few INT opportunities. Moore was okay. Sylvia was okay.

I put the majority of this loss on Brown's schemes. We were not ready for their pace. They caught us unready due to switches. The blitz didn't disrupt much. A bad offense scored 31 on us. The worst part is allowing game winning drives in the fourth quarter and going 9 for 17 on third down. These are recurring issues. I understand we might not have the most talent or the right talent for this scheme. If that is true or even if the coaches think it is true, then you have to adjust. But once again we were playing confused, passive D with the game on the line and it cost us. Statistically Brown's D had a good season but I still think we are as limited on that side of the ball as we are on offense. If we had just been better in the passing game on just one more drive, we win that game.

Special Teams: C

Willis had one really good return and was solid on the others. (I will get into the Penn State onsides attempt in the section below.) Alston didn't get to do much. We obviously didn't attempt a FG.

The coverage teams were good.

Knoll is obviously a head case. That may be correctable this offseason. I hope for his sake it is. However, going into the game Addazio needed to find a better, more consistent solution. There has to be someone on that roster -- not just a kicker -- who can make 7 out of 10 point after attempts. Knoll didn't lose the game by himself, but that was not a good Special Teams day.

Overall: C+

Addazio hasn't been perfect, but he's been much better than I expected. In my opinion this was the worst game of his BC tenure. We lost other games and come out flat more than once, but most of that could be explained away by talent or timing within the season or just a bad matchup. This was not a good Penn State team, yet they looked more talented and set the tempo from the start. They weren't bothered by our pressure and didn't fold when we built up a big second half lead. Even Penn State's failed onside kick showed a level of coaching and preparation that we didn't have. They saw a BC mistake in how we fielded kickoffs and nearly exploited it. That is what you are supposed to do with three weeks of bowl prep.

Losing the game on a missed extra point is brutal, the game shouldn't have come down to that. This isn't shake everything up type of loss, but it was a reminder that Addazio is not Midas. He still needs to upgrade talent, still needs to do a better job with bowl prep and cannot let his schemes be so one dimensional.

RIP Clarence Cannon

Sad news to report as former BC Wide Receiver Clarence Cannon died Monday. Cannon was a key part of the Coughlin teams and well regarded on and off the field.  He leaves behind two children.  I will post more details as the become available.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The day after the Pinstripe Bowl

I haven't been able to watch the game back yet. I've been pro-Playoff anti-Bowl for a while, mostly because of the subjectivity of the system. Now I am starting to wonder if even this level of bowl is worth the fans. We never really revel or remember the wins. However, the losses are killers. I will have the grades and thoughts up Monday. Until then, here are some other links and things related to the game.

Soaring to Glory rounded up the various BC personalities' twitter reactions to the bowl game.

Addazio said all the right things in the post game, but he is already starting to lower expectations for next year. I understand his point, but as I will blog about plenty this offseason, Year 3 is pretty telling regardless of the circumstances or roster.

Here is a Vine of a frustrated Addazio during the game.

My old friend Old Man attend the game too and shared these photos. Aside from the end, everyone enjoyed the experience. ("...other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?")

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Burned in the Bronx

Once again it came down to a kicker and BC got burned. But even though the game seemed in hand at various times in the second half, I don't feel like BC played well. This was not a good Penn State team and yet they dictated much of the tempo and did a lot of what they wanted. We couldn't get them off the field. BC made too many mistakes. The extra point was terrible, but plenty of blame belongs to the coaches and other players.

It was a good season, but that is terrible way to end it. There is a lot to digest for the offseason.

I plan to have second viewing thoughts and grades up late Sunday but it may drag into Monday. This one will take a while to recover.

In-game comments post: Pinstripe Bowl

This is the day. Our last chance to watch BC football until next fall. Let's make it a good one. Leave your thoughts and comments below

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Maine again? and other links

BCI picked up on a tweet out of Maine reporting that BC will face the Black Bears again in 2015. My preference is to rotate the FCS patsies, but it really doesn't matter. Next year's non-conference schedule is very soft, but that will help our young team.

Sad and strange news as former BC Basketball reserve Nate Fox was killed two days before Christmas. Police are investigating. After starting his career under Jim O'Brien, Fox later transferred to Maine.

Do you remember Akeel Lynch? He was a Canadian running back playing in New York who committed to BC in the recruiting process only to flip to Penn State. He's now the key to their offense.

The last big event of the bowl week was ringing the Opening Bell at the NYSE.

Tweets of the Week

Game Watches: Pinstripe Bowl

It is the last BC Football game of the season! That makes a great time to attend your first game watch. Join your fellow BC fans across the country as we hope to end the year on a high note.

Atlanta Game Watch
Taco Mac
573 Main Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30324

Boston Game Watch
Warehouse Bar & Grille
40 Broad Street
Boston, MA 02109

Chicago Game Watches
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage Ave

Finley Dunne's
3458 N Lincoln Ave

Dallas Game Watch
Corner Bar
4830 McKinney Ave

Denver Game Watch
Whittier Pub
2000 East 28th Ave

Hartford Game Watches
310 Prospect Ave
Hartford, CT 06106

Houston Game Watch
110 S Heights Blvd

Los Angeles Game Watch
Sonny McLeans
2615 Wilshire Blvd

Minnesota Game Watch
O’gara’s Bar and Grill
164 Snelling Ave N
St Paul, MN 55104

New York City Game Watches
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

Brazen Fox NYC
106 3rd Avenue (at 13th Street)
New York, N.Y.

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

Pittsburgh Game Watch
Buffalo Blues
216 S Highland Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Company
602 Broadway St.
San Diego

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's
2064 Polk St.
San Francisco

Saratoga, NY Game Watch
Stadium Cafe
389 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

St. Louis Game Watch
The Post Bar and Grill
763 Old Ballas Road
Creve Coeur, MO 63141

Washington, D.C. Game Watch
Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19th Street Northwest
Washington, D.C.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. Thank you for all the support. Blogging returns tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BC-Penn State preview

Bowls are always such a weird phenomenon. Sports are often about rhythms and patterns. The team is used to a certain schedule. Yet with bowls, the whole routine changes. I never know what to expect. If BC had played this game the week after Syracuse, I would have felt sure they would win. Now it is about regrouping and preparing for one certain opponent. I still like our chances, but hate the weird break in the schedule. Despite my complaints about the bowl system and schedules, I love having one more BC game!

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Do you know the best way to change our fan's perception of bowl games? By making a big deal out of them. This year BC went all out. A custom paint scheme on the bus! Decorated lobbies at the team hotel. Getting pep talks from John Mara, Herzy, Andre Williams and Coughlin. If the school makes a big deal out of the games and the players make a big deal, then the fans will hopefully get excited too. Selling out our allotment in New York didn't prove too much of a challenge. People wanted to be there. Hopefully that enthusiasm will carry over to future bowl games. I think it will...especially if BC keeps turning the trips into events. 

Three Simple Keys
1. Murphy keeping the ball on the zone reads. I don't know if he was more injured than BC let on or was just making poor reads, but Murphy missed some big holes late in the season. Penn State is going to key on him, but he still needs to keep it himself for at least 10+ carries. That, more than anything, will open up our offense.
2. Get to Hackenberg. Penn State allowed 42 sacks this year. The line isn't great and Hackenberg holds the ball too long. We need to be in his face and bringing him down. It will disrupt their whole offense.
3. Don't give up on the run game. Things might be sluggish for a while, but we still need to keep running the ball. Something will open up and a big play will come. As good as their run defense is, their pass defense is a worse matchup for us.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 1-1 in bowls
-- BC has lost four straight bowl games
-- BC has won three straight over Penn State
The current line is BC-2.5

BC has played Penn State 23 times, but never in a bowl game.

Scoreboard Watching
It is all about the Rose Bowl. Even if you don't care for Florida State, it would be great for the ACC if Florida State won the whole thing again. At a minimum we need a respectable showing.

I hope to see...
A young reserve step up. You should never read too much into a bowl game, but I hope one of the young guys (maybe a WR) makes a big contribution. They've had an extra practices to shine and earn time on the field.

BC is in trouble if...
If drives stall. A low scoring, field goal game is just what Penn State wants. Kicking in this weather and at a baseball stadium is tough. We need drives to get to the endzone.

Bottom Line
As much as I respect Penn State's run defense, I still think that our scheme and size will win the match up. I think BC's defense gives them trouble and we slowly pull away in the second half with some long, clock eating drives. The win is measured sign of our rebuilding progress and a fitting end to a surprisingly fun season.
Final Score: BC 28, Penn State 13

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Eagles to Éire?

For the past 25 years, I've heard about BC Football's return to Ireland. With teams from Penn State to Alabama and of course Notre Dame, it was the scheduling white whale. Now it looks like it is finally happening as multiple reports leaked out that BC will host Georgia Tech in Croke Park in 2016. In response to the reporting, BC called the news premature. Even though the trip hasn't happened for good reasons, I think 2016 is as good a time as any to play the game.

BC has plenty of ties to Ireland. We may not have "Irish" in our name, but have significant part of our history tied to educating Irish Americans and preserving Irish history and culture. It is something for which we should be proud. Playing a football game in Ireland isn't going to change that. It is not going to make us more Irish or grow our market either here or there. If playing games in Ireland was going to be a real moneymaker or change the perception of American Football or American universities in Ireland or Europe, it would be done more often. As constructed now, these games are just a nice gimmick to help BC differentiate itself in the crowded college football world. We will send a nice crowd, but it won't be huge. The costs will still be too prohibitive for the majority of our fans. Maybe ESPN might kick in a few extra dollars or waive one of our Friday requirements as a result of having an early morning game, but not enough to make a huge difference.

Some fans are griping about giving up a home game. I am not as concerned especially if it is the season kickoff around Labor Day Weekend. That schedule slot always causes attendance issues at Alumni, so moving it to a special event over seas once is not a terrible idea. 

Ireland may appeal to our older demographic, but it won't move the needle with recruits. The players on the 2016 team will likely enjoy the unique, free trip to Ireland. 

Though unlikely to make the trip myself (I'm realistic about the demands of blogging vs parenting at this point), this would be a good thing for BC and a fun trip for the fans who make the journey. I am sure the report will get confirmed early in 2015, so that BC can start planning and selling tickets. And if the report it false, fans can just go back to speculating on our next return to Ireland. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Experts predict the Pinstripe Bowl and other links

Most of ESPN's experts expect BC to win the Pinstripe Bowl. Phil Steele likes Penn State.

The Walter Camp Foundation also named Murphy the Connecticut Player of the Year. ESPN also published a nice feature on Murphy.

CJ Parson received a suspended sentence for his fight with a homeless man earlier this year.

Josh Bordner has many ties to Penn State and James Franklin.

The ECAC named Hilliman its Co-Rookie of the Year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Trojans too much for BC Hoops

BC took a week off for exams. The rust and lack of intensity from the break was obvious as the team lost at home to USC. The game was close throughout and BC fouled in the final seconds in an attempt to close the gap, but USC didn't make enough mistakes to let BC steal it. The loss was disappointing as this was a chance to pick up a good non-conference win. And BC should have won. We've seen them play better, but the this game was sloppy and the defense was bad. Here are some other thoughts:

-- We couldn't buy a shot. Good looks weren't falling. Hanlan missed from everywhere. Batten was ineffective. If not for Heckmann's stats, things would have been much worse.
-- Bad interior defense. None of the defense was that good, but it was worse close to the basket. I don't expect our bigs to become good defenders overnight, but they need to be better than they were Sunday.
-- The refs were terrible. That ruined our flow and our rotations.

This felt like last year's team. I hope we are not that sluggish after Christmas. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

TOB finally hangs it up

BC's winningest coach didn't go out with a bang, nor a wimper, nor on anyone else's terms. He just stuck with his announced plan to retire after UVA's season. His whole two years in Charlottesville was unexpected, so I always thought he might stick around a little longer. I guess I should have known better. TOB was always pretty transparent. He didn't like getting fired at NC State, wanted to help out Mike London and always loved UVA. Once Virginia announced that London would return for 2015, TOB probably felt he had done enough.

As we get further away from the TOB years, his legacy and those games become a bit of a blur. All our other modern coaches either had short tenures or such memorable high points (Flutie during Bicknell) that it is easy to recall or categorize. TOB's ten years had a predictable sameness. We had our highs and lows, but nothing as painful or exhilarating as the football that surrounded his era.

I don't know if getting fired by NC State and mentoring some bad UVA teams was what he envisioned when he left BC, but that's how it ended. Hopefully he enjoys his retirement.

Now that he is officially out of ACC football it is probably time for Brad Bates to honor him in some way. He also belongs in the Varsity Club Hall of Fame. He's still a BC parent and still responsible for a the most wins in program history. For that he's earned a respectful welcome back. And as we reopen communication, we can always hit him up for a donation...because he's always said BC needs better facilities.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Addazio at home at ESPN

There are times when you do something so seemingly obvious that you're only left to ask yourself: "why did it take us so long to do this?" That is sort of how I feel about Steve Addazio's frequent stops at ESPN. The BC Coach is now a regular down in Bristol. He spent most of Friday on various ESPN outlets, including SportsCenter, College Football Live and ESPN Radio. This is after his preseason stops in 2013 and 2014, his day with Andre Williams last year and his participation in the BCS National Title Game "Film Room."

BC's proximity to Bristol was never really leveraged by any BC figure until Addazio came around. In part because our various other coaches have not been that media friendly. It is a shame. Getting down there is easy and ESPN is always looking for interesting guests. Addazio is a natural, so I assume we will see more appearances like this is the future. It is very important for him to be there. While he is raising his own profile, he is also raising BC's. That helps in recruiting and it helps when the rest of college football thinks of BC. With the selection committee and scheduling obstacles, branding and remaining top of mind is more important than ever. Winning trumps everything, but Addazio spending half a day in Bristol every few months helps the effort.

ESPN hasn't posted any video clips from the visit yet, but they will eventually get out there. Next time he's back in town, just set your DVR. You'll be ready to run through a brick wall after watching him.

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Addazio gets his extension

BC gave Steve Addazio a contract extension. As usual the financial terms were not disclosed, but the school did announce that the coach is under contract until 2020. The money doesn't really matter. These sorts of things are never really about money. It is about power and score keeping. We weren't losing Addazio this time around and doubt that anything in the new contract will ever keep him if another job comes along that he wants. However, BC is better off with a happy, motivated Addazio. If he (and his agent) wanted an extension right now, then BC rightly gave him one. He's earned it by college football standards.

Addazio is not perfect, but he's been much better than I ever thought he would be. The overachieving in Year 1 and Year 2 bought him some time and credibility with fans and recruits. Now as he tries to transition us from overachievers into contenders, he won't have any obstacles from BC. We've supported him publicly and financially. Soon we will have the facilities improvements. I now hope that Year 3 and Year 4 go so well that his next extension is another no-brainer like this one.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Pinstripe Bowl has already made BC a winner

We all want BC to beat Penn State, but the Pinstripe Bowl is already a huge positive for BC. By selling out our full ticket allotment and the game selling out quickly BC can finally start to change our travel reputation. Technically BC sold our ticket allotment for the 2007 Champs Bowl, but I know for that game we gave some tickets away to local charities and Catholic churches. There was no need to give tickets away this time around. In fact, BC had to use a priority system on tickets for the first time in a bowl game.

I assume most of the success is due to location. We are playing relatively close to campus and in the middle of a huge alumni population. However, future bowl organizers don't need to know that. We can spin the demand for this game in multiple ways: "BC will sell out a bowl game when we face a team from a major conference", or "We will sell out our tickets when we travel to a desirable destination" or "Addazio has changed the culture of BC Football." All of that is completely subjective, but it makes sense to a bowl organizer. 

The Pinstripe is truly excited to have us. They were one of the first bowls to sell out this year. Even before we take the field, we have done enough that they will select us in the future. But this is about more than the Pinstripe. We need to turn this success into future bowl opportunities. 

NESN to host Pinstripe preview Sunday night

BC is making a big deal out of the Pinstripe Bowl and we are not alone. The media is paying more attention than normal. This Sunday night at 10:30 BC play-by-play man Jon Meterparel will host a Pinstripe Bowl preview on NESN. It will be a good time to get caught up on the bowl and get BC-specific original content on local TV. If you're outside of the region but have a sports package, you should still be able to watch it on NESN.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Does BC need to publicly extend Addazio?

With big names like Mullen and Miles removing themselves from the Michigan search, it seems like the Wolverines are narrowing in on someone. The consensus is now Harbaugh or bust and guys like Schiano and Addazio are fall back/emergency candidates. I remain convinced that Addazio is not getting the job, regardless of his loyalty or happiness. But the coaching carousel and Addazio's success does raise a question: should BC publicly extend his contract?

Coaches are competitive. It is the nature of the job. Even for guys who don't need it, money becomes another way to keep score. Think of how many guys have requirements that they make $1 more than other coaches in their conference. But coaches are also like us. When things are going well, we want signs that we are appreciated. Signs that our boss respects what we've done. Two years into a tenure is a typical time to look at a college contract. Spaz got an extension after two years. Jags was in the midst of negotiating one when the showdown with Gene occurred. Rewarding Addazio now makes sense. It is an acknowledgement of two years of overachieving and a message to recruits and the staff that there is stability at BC.

But extending Addazio has a few drawbacks. BC is essentially negotiating against itself. Michigan -- even with heavy speculation -- remains a longshot. While we have healthy revenue for football, we still could use Addazio's potential raise towards infrastructure projects like the practice facility or continued Alumni renovations.

Brad Bates isn't coming to me for advice, but I think BC should give Addazio a small raise and a few more seasons on his contract. BC should wait until the smoke clears on Michigan and the bowl game and then make the announcement. The announcement would reaffirm BC stability to recruits and its future under its passionate coach.

Monday, December 15, 2014

What to do during the recruiting Dead Period

This year's recruiting Dead Period started Monday December 15. For a recruiting focused staff, that might seem like a hindrance or maybe even an excuse to stop thinking about recruiting for two weeks. Not for Addazio. They will certainly use this week for bowl prep, but they are also still doing plenty of recruiting work.

1. Find 5th years. You can't reach out to players on other teams, but you can do homework. The obvious targets are guys the coaches have worked with before (Florida, UConn, etc.). However, as the Addazio staff spends more time at BC, there are fewer candidates at those schools. You can also look at rosters at schools where there have been coaching changes. Players at those programs might rather roll the dice with Addazio than deal with whatever the new guy is selling at their current program. Our coaches can also talk to high school coaches and hear about former players they coached who might be unhappy at their current college.

2. Find poachable verbals. This is similar to finding 5th years, only the staff is looking at commitments at places like Michigan, Nebraska, etc. At places like Nebraska, the new staff is already talking to the verbals, but that doesn't mean all the guys will be on board. Any potential target needs to get a call the day the dead period ends.

3. Find a couple more under the radar guys. The coaches cannot talk to recruits, but they can certainly watch video. Find the late bloomers. Find the guys who are still new to football. Find the good players who just fell through the cracks. There are still plenty of guys who dreamed of playing big time football. During this dead period they are going to think there dream is slipping away. If BC comes with an offer after the dead period, the guys will be thrilled.

Addazio's first full class produced a lot of immediate impact players. This class looks strong but we cannot let up -- even during a dead period.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hoops handles Binghamton

Nothing makes a slump easier to handle than playing and beating bad teams. BC didn't look crisp Sunday, but they did enough to defeat Binghamton. It is the type of cushion win that will help perception. The key for Christian is also using it to help the guys get better. Here are some other thoughts.

-- The team can beat bad teams without Hanlan. Olivier had another sub par game and yet BC won. I am not worried yet. His shots weren't falling and he seemed a bit sluggish. Christian wisely rested him. I still think he can have a huge season and will explode in the coming weeks.
-- Batten's leadership. Batten's got good energy and plays with a confidence that can help when others aren't making their shots. He wasn't particularly efficient, but helped BC control tempo.
-- Finally healthy. Lonnie played. Odio played. Neither got big minutes, but at least it gives Christian more options. If Jackson regains his touch, I think he will become the first guy off the bench.

BC now takes a week off before hosting USC. This game wasn't pretty but it sends them into the break with a little more momentum. USC will be more of a test, but with a week to prepare and regroup, I think the team will be ready for the Trojans. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hockey crushes Michigan (back on track?)

The first half of the season raised a bunch of questions. A big win Saturday night against Michigan gives hope that maybe the growing pains are behind them. The scoring burst was key, but don't overlook Demko. He saved 41 shots. It was his career best. The team is off now through the holidays. That might blunt the momentum of tonight, but this shows they can be dominant.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tweets of the Week

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thoughts on the Maine win

In the final minutes of the ESPN3 broadcast, Malcolm Huckaby talked about how style points against Maine don't count. The team won. But that doesn't make it less frustrating. But if you're going to sleep walk through a game, doing it against Maine and holding on to win is better than losing. Here are some other thoughts:

-- Having trouble with the weave!! I know Christian put a lot of emphasis on defense, but there were still too many breakdowns and open shots. Later you could here the guys calling out the switches (in part because Conte was so empty). I am glad they are communicating, but that doesn't excuse the open shots.
-- A big night from Clifford. He scored a career high and played nearly 30 minutes. I just wish his D was a little better.
-- Finding a rotation. It seems like Christian is going to let the best players play close to 30 minutes. The only bench guys that got real run were Magarity and Owens. I don't know what happens once Jackson and Odio are back, but for now playing the starters is our best chance to win. These guys haven't played four years together, so giving them big minutes now will hopefully pay off come ACC season.

Hanlan had an off night but the other guys filled in for him. I won't worry about his recent inconsistency until it proves to be an issue against lesser teams.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meet Bob Shoop

Penn State's Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop should be a familiar name to many of you. Ten years ago, if you had asked those around the program where the former TOB staffer would be today, many would have predicted he would be the Head Coach at BC. For a long time Shoop was on that path. But things never go according to plan.

After TOB's first staff started getting better jobs, TOB started backfilling with other young, rising coaches. One of those hires was Bob Shoop. The DBs coach had just spent a year at Army, but had the perfect checklist of stops prior to BC: worked as a GA with TOB in Virginia, worked with Gallup at Northeastern and worked with Gene at Villanova. Well regarded and a great recruiter, Shoop exceeded most expectations. But with Spaz firmly in place as DC, the growth opportunities were elsewhere. When Columbia came calling with its head coaching position, Shoop had to take it. Although it had been a career killer, Columbia's bursts of success in the '90s and Shoop's familiarity with the Ivy League gave hope that he could consistently win there. Shoop understood that this was just a stop on the way up and knew that networking and relationships were going to remain important, so it didn't hurt that he hired John DeFilippo and Mike Siravo for his first Columbia staff. Shoop would learn to be a head coach and in a few years a bigger better job would come calling.

Shoop had two issues at Columbia. The team didn't win on the field and his personal life got mixed up with his work life. He was fired after three seasons. There was always talk that he might come back to BC. However, the timing and staffing was never right. After Columbia he worked under Don Brown at UMass and then worked his way back up the ranks. He was James Franklin's DC at Vandy and followed him to Penn State. He now coaches one of the best defenses in the country.

Shoop will probably get another shot at being a head coach. He can explain away the losing at Columbia ("no one wins there") and can also explain the off the field stuff. The opportunity for him to coach BC is probably gone but that is how this sport works sometimes. If Gene were still around pulling strings, who knows what might have been. Regardless, Shoop brought in a lot of great players to BC and I am glad he's bounced back.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ranking BC's bowl appearances

BC fans love to complain about our bowl games. But our history with bowls isn't all bad. Prior to the bowl explosion in the past 15 years, BC played in a few interesting matchups and in some historically significant games. If you really look at things, there are three distinct BC bowl eras. The first was our success in the 1940s, then the Flutie Years and then the bowl expansion time that coincided with the start of Coughlin's tenure. For the purpose of this ranking, I mixed them all. Here is my list. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

1. 1985 Cotton Bowl -- This remains the real peak of BC Football. It was the the capstone of the Flutie era Eagles. We played and won a traditional New Year's Day Bowl.
2. 1941 Sugar Bowl -- Although no one other than BC recognizes it as such, this was our lone National Championship. We beat Tennessee in SEC country on a New Year's Day Bowl. If the Cotton was the peak of Flutie, this was the peak of Frank Leahy.
3. 1943 Orange Bowl -- We lost to Alabama but this game was still a big deal. Leahy was long gone to South Bend, but we still had a good team and the Orange Bowl was arguably the second biggest bowl behind the Rose.
4. 1940 Cotton Bowl -- BC's first bowl. We lost to Clemson, but it was an important lead up to the next season.
5. 1982 Tangerine Bowl -- This was BC's first bowl game since the '43 Orange Bowl. The Flutie hype was in full swing and we were fun to watch with our wide open offense and scrappy little QB. 
6. 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl -- Who knew this would be BC's last major bowl? (The Hall of Fame is now called the Outback Bowl.) We lost to Tennessee, but that didn't dull the excitement of the Coughlin era.
7. 2007 Champs Sports Bowl -- This remains the peak of GDF "bowl streak" years. We played in Orlando against a real team in Michigan State and picked up our 11th win. It felt like a real bowl. However, it wasn't New Year's Day game and after losing the ACC Championship, it was all a bit of a letdown.
8. 1994 Aloha Bowl -- The Aloha Bowl used to be a big game. It was usually the first bowl game and one of the few sporting events on Christmas Day. It was also a great defensive performance from one BC's best defenses.
9. 1986 Hall of Fame Bowl -- The Hall of Fame Bowl (currently called the Outback) wasn't a major bowl yet in 1986. It was played before Christmas. This season was a bounce back from 1985 and supposed to prove life after Flutie. Instead it was Bick's last bowl. 
10. 1983 Liberty Bowl -- The Liberty Bowl has never been considered a major bowl, but it has been around a long time. We lost to Notre Dame. Despite the Irish connection it was the least important Bowl of the Flutie years.
11. 1994 Carquest Bowl -- This was our last New Year's Day bowl. The bowl started with a big push when it was the Blockbuster Bowl, but by the time we played, it lost Blockbuster, lost network TV coverage and took on an also ran status. It was also a huge letdown when the team nearly played their way into the Sugar Bowl.
12. 2001 Music City Bowl -- This was TOB's first win over a ranked team. It was also BC's chance to prove ourselves against a traditional SEC power. He would have better teams and more accomplished teams, but this was probably TOB's best bowl win.
13. 2005 MPC Computers Bowl -- If Music City was TOB's best bowl win, then this game was the best microcosm of his tenure. We were shipped off to Boise based on travel reputation and not record. We took a huge lead and looked great for a half only to nearly blow it in the second half. The fans, media and bowl organizers disrespected us. We won, yet the media and Boise State ignored the loss on a technicality (we were the "home" team) so they could keep their Cinderella narrative going.
14. 2000 Aloha Bowl -- It had only been a few years, but the Aloha Bowl was starting to lose its stature. BC barely got into a bowl and at the time received criticism for even being in a bowl. "How can a 6-5 team play in a bowl game!?" Little did fans know this was just the start. BC played well and beat a decent Arizona State team.
15. 1999 Bowl -- We got trounced in this game, but it remains important because it was TOB's first winning season and his first bowl game. He also changed his bowl preparation so that BC wouldn't be embarrassed like this again, which led to eight straight bowl wins.
16. 2004 Continental Tire Bowl -- While the current Belk Bowl has earned a niche as a solid mid-level bowl, it was still a bit of a joke when we played in it. However, we had the ACC play hardball on our behalf to avoid going to an even bigger joke elsewhere. This had a letdown feel after blowing our chance to win the Big East. But we won and some kid named Ryan finished the game after Paul Peterson broke his leg.
17. 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl -- Same bowl in Charlotte, just a different name. The reason I put this here is because we pulled out a miracle (Dunbar forced a fumble, Ryan led a drive, Sid kicked the game winnner) when the game was basically lost. Spaz was interim while we waited for Jags. He kept things together well enough. It would turn out to be his only bowl win.
18. 2002 Motor City Bowl -- This is where I think the casual BC fan started to question the legitimacy of our bowls. We were playing in Detroit, the day after Christmas against Toledo. It didn't feel like a bowl. We were also coming off a disappointing season where we underachieved. Yet the team played really well. It was easily Brian St. Pierre's best game and probably the best BC has ever played in a bowl game.
19. 2003 San Francisco Bowl -- This was a quirky bowl and a quirky season. No one was thinking bowl in October when the season looked lost, but TOB made Peterson the starter and things took off. The novelty of playing in a baseball park in front of our California fans hadn't worn off yet. We beat Colorado State and everyone thought the experience was a good one.
20. 2013 Independence Bowl -- This wasn't a good game and few fans ventured to Shreveport, but it was still important. BC returned to a bowl game under Addazio and played a legitimate team in Arizona. Like the Liberty Bowl, the Independence is not particularly desirable but has a respectable history among second-tier bowls.
21. 2008 Music City Bowl -- If you haven't forgotten this game, you probably wish you could. Like all our bowls after nearly going to a big one (should've been the Orange) this was a letdown. We didn't play all that well and not much went our way (flukey fumbles, etc.) Yet we were still we up late in the fourth only to see some questionable/dumb penalties move Vandy into field goal range. The bowl streak ended and Gene and Jags would blow up their partnership in the days that followed.
22. 2009 Emerald Bowl -- We were playing USC and Pete Carroll but it still didn't feel like a big deal. There was a lot to like about the 2009 season: Herzy's triumph, Kuechly emergence, yet the whole Spaz time felt like sleep walking. No one cared and no one expected us to beat the Trojans. We didn't.
23. 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl -- San Francisco again. Nevada was respectable but there was no juice for this game. It was played late into bowl season and most casual fans had checked out.

I didn't rank Mirage Bowl in Japan. College Football Databases don't consider it a bowl. I also didn't include this year's Pinstripe. How we play will influence where it finally falls. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Don't forget there will never be a place for BC in the current Playoff system

Despite some shenanigans from the various bowl directors and TV execs, BC landed in a good spot. The Pinstripe is arguably one of the best bowl situations we've ever had. That doesn't change the fact that the current Playoff system is deeply flawed and will never benefit BC. Any selection committee will bring biases. That's natural and unfortunate. Sunday they showed they will always lean towards traditional powers. There is no other explanation of Ohio State leapfrogging Baylor and TCU. It wasn't a Big XII bias. It was a David and Goliath bias. There is no way Ohio State would have jumped past Big XII schools named Texas or Oklahoma in that same scenario. Even if we up our level of play to playoff consideration, we will still be viewed as a Baylor or TCU-type program. It will take a minor miracle and an undefeated season to ever be selected.

Even an undefeated season might not be enough. Look at the criticism heaped on Florida State. They are a traditional power, defending champions and have not been beat in two years. Yet they were only a 3 seed and some felt they didn't belong all together. If BC had 13 narrow victories, the same arguments would be used, only in a more dismissive and condescending manor.

As The Big Lead pointed out, the Selection Committee was designed to fail. They never explained their rationale. They had no mandate on how to select teams. We're lucky that it only resulted in two obvious snubs.

The playoffs may make for great football. I will certainly watch. However, BC needs to continue to champion the cause for an eight-team playoff where the winner of the ACC gets an automatic qualification. That is the only way we are ever getting into the new Big Dance.

Vintage BC Poster Calendars available again

Once again I am working with the people at Asgard to offer a reader discount on their products. The feature item of interest to most is their BC Poster Calendar. It is a wall calendar featuring old football programs. Each month is detachable so that is also can serve as a poster. It makes for a great gift for those BC fans in your life. I've always received good feedback on people's purchases.

How to buy: 
1. Go to, and use the promo code "atleagle14."


2. Just click on the link below.

(A heads-up, the site doesn't calculate the 10% discount until the very end, so don't worry when you don't see the discount when you put the calendar in your shopping cart.)

I do get a referral on all the purchases made through the link.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The lowdown on the Pinstripe Bowl

Facing Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl is about the best way we could have ended a 7-5 season in Year 2. The bowl lacks history, warm weather or even a great date, but it provides a few important opportunities for BC.

1. The game is very winnable. Penn State's best win was against Rutgers. Good showings against Ohio State and Maryland were negated by terrible games against bad Illinois and Michigan teams. There offense is far from explosive. The only reason to fear them is their run defense. Statistically it is the best in the nation, making this a strength vs. strength matchup. But I still think we are the better team.

2. It is against against a traditional power. This is a hobbled six-win team dealing with a depleted roster. The Penn State brand has also been soiled by the Sandusky scandal. However, the record books won't care. The media won't care. I doubt even recruits care that much. What will matter is beating a Big Ten team. It will matter that we beat Penn State.

3. The game is close to our fans and recruiting base. The Tri-State area is home to BC's second largest alumni base. We could sell out our ticket allotment alone just through fans that live in the area. If you plan on going to the game, please buy your tickets from BC! It will make all the difference in improving our travel reputation. We are also still recruiting New Jersey and New York players for the 2015 and 2016 classes. Being in the area for the week raises awareness and creates more opportunities to visit with players.

We need to win this game. The difference in perception between eight and seven wins is huge. It would also be a nice conclusion to a surprising second year. While I will keep hoping for a big bowl, this is better than most circumstances.

Start spreading the news...

BC is headed to New York and Yankee Stadium to face Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl. All things considered, it is a good result. More to come Sunday night.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Westphal breaks record and other links

Coming off a great Cross Country season, BC runner Liv Westphal carried the momentum into the Indoor Track season. The Senior ran the 5k in 15:31.62. It was a new school record.

Jim Christian's job is now an endowed position at BC. The Clement and Elizabeth Izzi Family Head Men's Basketball Coach  marks an important fund raising moment for basketball and Brad Bates. It is the largest hoops gift ever and shows that Bates can get some high profile project rolled out.

Kuechly and Edebali's teams meet on the field Sunday. The NFC South is filled with former Eagles.

Friday, December 05, 2014

BC wins the White Out

Forget about the win for a minute, but that is more like how a BC game should feel. There was energy on the court and in the stands. Even if some of it was Providence fans, at least there was noise and emotion. The game wasn't sold out, but showed that an early, out of conference game can still be interesting. The actual game was good too. The first half was close. In the second half BC pulled away and held onto the lead in the final minutes. It is too early to call anything a signature win, but I think this showed that Christian and his new players are making a difference. Last year's team rarely showed this much intensity or focus. Other thoughts:

-- Defensive rebounding! I can't remember the last time we rebounded that well on D. We also turned some of those defensive rebounds into quick uptempo possessions. It was nice to see.
-- Batten opening up the offense. He freed up Hanlan and certainly helped defensively. I don't mind going small with him out there. He seems to also have a toughness and competitiveness the team has lacked for years.
-- Magarity's maturity. He's getting better nearly every game. He can now play defense like a real center.

Tweets of the Week

Check out Townpool at Faneuil Hall

NON-BC Topic: My brother-in-law and his partners have a holiday pop up store at Faneuil Hall. Here is a brief description. If you're looking for something different for gifts or like unique, preppy stuff, check it out. It will be open through early January and is similar to their store on Nantucket.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Will special t-shirts be enough to fill Conte?

Conte Forum has been a Ghost Town for basketball games for 5+ years. Different things have been tried and nothing has really stuck. Winning would be a big boost, but how do you overcome apathy as the team tries to rebuild? The latest gimmick is a limited-edition white SuperFan t-shirt. Now I love the idea of a special SuperFan shirt. I am too old to wear a t-shirt to a game, but I would certainly wear it at other times. Do other people care about this stuff? BC claims limited quantity of the t-shirt. Will the supposed demand get people into the build early?

Providence is a traditional hoops rival. They will bring plenty of their own fans. The history alone should bring BC fans into the game. But it won't because many casual BC fans don't care about our old rivalries. After the t-shirts are gone and the winning starts, we need to use some marketing power to make people care aobut our history with teams like Providence.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

I don't think Addazio is going anywhere

Nebraska's got an opening. Michigan's got an opening. Even Addazio's old stomping grounds in Florida are available. I am not naive. I have met enough college coaches to know that many of them think the grass is greener. Addazio fits at BC and I do think he really likes coaching at BC, but he knows those other schools are a different ball game. More money. More resources. More chances to win. If any of them call. He should talk. It is no different than when we called after only two years at Temple. But I don't think he's leaving because I don't see any of those schools making an offer.

This gets brought up a lot because of Addazio's time in Gainesville. Of all the openings, I think this would be the least likely. Addazio is extremely unpopular with a large percentage of their fanbase, who view him as a terrible Coordinator.  There is also a good percentage of fans who don't like Urban Meyer and don't want one of his assistants coming back to take over. Finally, Jeremy Foley could have hired Addazio after Meyer left and didn't. He's already eaten crow with the Muschamp era. Fixing it with Addazio makes the mistake look that much worse. AD's are by nature political. I don't think Foley risk his remaining goodwill on a guy he wasn't thrilled with four years ago.

With Bates seemingly off Michigan's radar, it is surprising that Addazio may be on it. Mgoblog doesn't think it will happen. I don't either. So many of these hires are a reaction to the previous hire. Michigan just fired a bombastic, emotions on his sleeve, ground and pound, recruiter who was barely above .500 in his previous stops. Do you repeat the mistake by hiring Addazio? I like Addazio and think he is a better coach than Hoke, but the resume doesn't scream that he's better. Also do you try to dethrone Urban Meyer with an Urban Meyer assistant who has yet to reach Meyer's level of success. Michigan may hire another Meyer guy in Dan Mullen, but Mullen's success as OC at Florida was greater than Addazio's in the same job and Mullen's rebuilding at Mississippi State looks better than what Addazio's accomplished at Temple and BC. I think this season was a great coaching job, but to outsiders it looks like we were 7-5 again. I don't think Michigan will ever hire Addazio.

Of all the big jobs, Addazio to Nebraska is the most likely. However, I still don't think Addazio gets an offer. They have a very appealing Nebraska guy in Scott Frost who they can hire. Frost would go over well with their fans. And if they want an established head coach, I think there are a few other guys who might slot in before Al Golden. The honeymoon is over in Coral Gables. Golden has never been feared floating his name and he's great in an interview. If Golden and Addazio both get interviews at Nebraska, Golden's getting the job.

I appreciate all that Addazio has done and he's been a better coach and more likable than I ever expected. I want him to stay. Who knows how long he will (or how long we will want him to stay) but I don't think he will have the chance to leave now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

What Michigan's movements mean for Bates UPDATED

UPDATE: Michigan did fire Hoke. And Hackett will run the search for the replacement. So if Hackett doesn't become the full-time AD, the new AD is going to inherit a new coach he didn't hire. That makes the job less desirable for a guy like Bates. He would be stuck with someone else's pick for a few years. At a hyper political job like Michigan, that can be a major liability. But who knows. Maybe Bates and Harbaugh all have handshake deals in place and this will all come together in the next few weeks.

Want a sign that Michigan is probably not coming for Brad Bates this time around? They are letting their interim Athletic Director make the call on Brady Hoke's future. This reinforces speculation that their interim AD Jim Hackett will move into the role as a full-time replacement for Dave Brandon. If that happens, Brad Bates won't be returning to his Alma mater now. Even if the school decides to find a different AD, I don't think Bates nor any other AD from a Big Five conference would take the job.

An Athletic Director's job is multifaceted. However, there is one aspect that is very public: hiring and firing coaches. When Bates was hired by BC it was assumed that he would fire Spaz, but he was hired at a time so that he could evaluate the situation himself and have enough time to find a replacement. Any AD that comes to Michigan is going to have to live with the decisions Hackett makes in the next few days. Football -- especially at Michigan -- drives the bus, so everything the new AD would try to do would be hampered by a decision an interim made. That is unworkable for most folks. I think it would be especially unworkable for a methodical guy like Bates.

I don't expect Bates to be a BC lifer. He still could end up at Michigan in a few years, but now is not the time.

Ugly wins count too: Basketball beats Marist

It wasn't always pretty, but the basketball team overcame some long stretches of uneven play to beat Marist. Things did get better late as the team pulled away. The most important lesson from the game is that BC won despite an off night from Hanlan. Here are a few other thoughts:

-- Batten made the most of his minutes. Easily BC's most efficient player of the night. He cannot be a true point, but we need someone who can consistently convert 3s. Maybe he will fill that role.
-- Cutting down on turnovers. Marist isn't nearly as athletic or aggressive as some of the other teams we've faced, but there was better passing and ball handling this game. And fewer mental errors from the big men and Heckmann
-- Clifford moving well. His shot was a bit off, but Clifford continues to move well and show no signs of stress or fatigue. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Syracuse

The game felt more sluggish the first time. Watching back it was that much more apparent how much BC controlled the game from the start. Those early stalled drives were more about Syracuse just gambling on every play with some sort of run blitz. It was desperate and yet we stuck with our plan and made a few adjustments and finally started scoring. I also appreciate that the team came out fighting from the start. There was no hangover from the FSU loss. It was just a good solid performance by everyone.

Offense: B+

Murphy's passing numbers were good and should have been better (more drops). He made good throws throughout and threw well when rolling out or outside the pocket. His runs were more contained but that was due to what Syracuse was doing. The pass to Alston was perfect.

I really like how Outlow ran, especially through all the mess at the line. He also made a few guys miss. Rouse was fine, but his stuff was mostly in garbage time. He still ran hard though. Hilliman never really got going. Nor did Willis.

Even on a good day the WRs drop too many balls. Alston's catch was nice. Bordner made some nice plays after his early drop. Phillips catch was nice. I wish we targeted him a bit more.

The offensive line shouldered most of the blame online during and after the game, but their play as a group wasn't bad. Syracuse just came out shooting gaps and doing anything they could to disrupt things. Gallik had a few issues with snaps, but blocked well. Vardaro also played well. The right side had a few more issues with the pressure and pick ups but it was still a solid performance.

Considering the long stretches without scoring it didn't feel like a great offensive game, but I still think BC adjusted well. Once we realized that Syracuse was doing everything they could to blow up the power stuff and the read options, we started using more shovels and play fakes (the pass to Alston). We moved the pocket a bit two and that allowed Murphy to make some easy throws.

Defense: A-

Although it is a thin unit, the D Line has been the most consistent all year. Wujciak continued his solid play. He made multiple tackles and controlled his area of the line. Adebayo played well and so did Landry. Mihalik was fine. So was Moore. Kavalec had a few tackles.

I'm happy that Duggan and Strizak both picked off passes, because they also both missed tackles on key plays earlier in the game. Overall Duggan played well and bounced back from a minor injury. Keyes didn't make as many tackles. Daniels was fine but also got swallowed up a few times.

Asprilla had another solid game. He made good tackles and was good in coverage. Simmons was solid in both too. Brown wasn't as active as last week against Florida State but still played well. Williams played well. Moore and Sylvia both got extended playing time too.

This was probably the defenses best game. Not only did they limit scoring, but they got pressure without heavy blitzing and generated turnovers. What I liked is that we still used the threat of blitz to keep the Orange off balance. The fundamentals were solid too. You didn't see major coverage breakdowns or missed tackles.

Special Teams: B

The Willis return was perfect. We had multiple quality blocks and Willis ran hard and through a few arm tackles. Addazio mentioned "setting it up" all year and finally breaking one. I assume he means some sort of straight ahead sprint. Which makes sense given how Willis has run back all year. It is mostly to one side and mostly straight. I am glad it worked. It gave BC a cushion that helped set tempo and offense for the rest of the half.

Alston didn't get to do much on his returns. The punts were fine and both coverage teams were fine.

The biggest problem with Special Teams was another missed field goal. I hope Addazio finds another kicker, because I have real doubts about what we will do next year with a kicked who cannot convert.

Overall: B+

I thought the scuffle was very telling for Addazio and Shafer. It seemed silly and escalated quickly but our guys set the right balance with protecting themselves and their teammates and avoided doing anything egregious. Meanwhile Syracuse had a guy who wasn't even on the field get involved and eventually thrown out of the game. Stuff like that is a reflection of the head coach. Addazio's guys act with a certain level of control and didn't do anything rash or stupid. It is a reflection of what they are doing in practice and in meeting rooms.

This wasn't a fun game, but it was a solid plan and a good bounce back from the Florida State loss. I said a good coach wins this game. We won. As reward the team gets a few more weeks of practice and a marginally better bowl game. This year, I think given the time and team, I expect us to look very good in the bowl.