Monday, October 31, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: NC State

Watching this game back, I kept focusing on our talent. In my opinion we have better talent than NC State. Much better, actually. We have real player makers on both sides, where I didn't see that same on their side of the ball. If we are so much better, how do I explain such a close game? Well, the areas where we struggle bring down the whole team. But there is something there. Now it is up to the staff to get them to execute at their talent level.

Offense: C+

Towles was his usual mixed bag. I think at this point we need to emphasize what he does well and keep him away from the problems. What looked good: the quick throws on slants and skinny posts and running on option plays. What didn't work, deep drops where he had to survey the whole field. He makes bad decisions back there. Look at the number of penalties called on him. He also floated too many passes.

Hilliman looked solid. He showed a little burst and also made some nice cuts. Jones didn't get as many touches. It seemed like he was in the dog house after the fumble. However, the pass play was huge. Willis looked good on the outside stuff. The delayed draws up the middle were are bit of a cluster.

The WRs and TEs were great. Jeff Smith's run was great, but he also pulled in some tough catches. Walker also showed good hands. Sweeney was great all around. His blocking was crucial on some of our longer run plays.

The OLine was better but still not great. As a unit, the pass blocking was good. Towles had time on most of his throws. When the OLine has to move, is when things become a problem. We are not good at screening, especially to the left side with Johnson and Monteiro. Things were better when we pulled guards on the sweeps. Baker played well and did something I've never seen before. In the second quarter on a Hilliman draw, he basically pushed a Johnson -- who had already fallen and was on all fours -- into one DT and then kept moving forward to block other guys for Hilliman.

My initial reaction to Loeffler calling so many gimmick plays (Wildcat, RB throws) was that they were a waste of time. My gut tells me that BC shouldn't be using practice time on those plays when we can't do the basics well. But thinking back on it, I understand why he's doing it. We are desperate and need to get creative. We know the guys can't be consistent on base plays, so why not do things like get Smith the ball on running plays or have Jones throw a TD. Doing it the other way wasn't working.

Defense: B+

Landry changed the game. He was good against the run and pass. Hopefully he starts drawing more double teams and opening things up for others. Kavalec also had a great game. He was able to run down some plays even after they were beyond the line of scrimmage. Gutaphel was critical to stopping the run. Allen looked good (as do many of our younger DLinemen). Ray played well.

Schwab's INT was beautiful. (Too bad we didn't capitalize). Milano was very active. Strachan looked healthy.

Moore's INT closed out the game, but he has some nice plays prior to that. The only problem he really had all day was slipping. Johnson made some nice plays. Harris was burned for the TD, but that was the risk of not playing anyone deep. Torres was good.

PP called a good game. We shutdown their run and had them guessing on passing plays. I think bringing pressure with guys like Landry helps open other things, so I hope he keeps it up.

Special Teams: C-

The Special teams weren't good. We had a kick blocked. We kicked off out of bounds. We allowed a huge run back late in the game. We need to clean it up. Hopefully Knolls is oky.

Overall: B

One thing that seemed clear live, in the postgame clips and during the game, is that these guys haven't checked out. I don't know who deserves credit for this attitude, but it is a huge compliment to the players and even to Addazio.

Now that we've won, people are wondering how the opinion on Addazio can change so quickly. A win will do that. But I don't think anyone really changed their opinion. Is he suddenly a good game manager? Nope. Are either sides of the ball smooth units? Has he turned Towles into a great QB or finally shaped up the line? Nope. But we are doing a better job of covering our mistakes and playing to our strengths (see Landry). I think Daz will do plenty to frustrate in the home stretch, but considering where we've been and where we are, this was a good game.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Grades delayed

I apologize, but as I've written a few times, sometimes real life gets in they way of good blogging. I hope to have it up midday Monday.

In scheduling news, the Louisville game will be a noon kickoff on ESPN 2.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

RING THAT VICTORY BELL! BC upsets NC State for first ACC win in two seasons!

It wasn't perfect nor pretty, but who cares? BC won an ACC game! The same issues abound, but BC overcame them with a great defensive performance and a few key plays. Kam Moore sealed the win with a huge INT on NC State's last drive.

For those wanting Daz gone, this doesn't help your cause. BC now has a very winnable game against UConn that would lift the team to five wins. Five wins remains the true grey area in the "stay or go" debate. And if he pulls off another win at Wake or an upset somewhere else, he is clearly staying. But don't worry about that for now. Celebrate the win. It has to feel good for the players.

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

Post-game Periscope

Speaking of neither perfect nor pretty, I did another post-game periscope. I apologize for the hasty nature and my rec soccer dad coaching gear, but that is how I roll on Saturdays! Feedback always appreciated. It seems like the night-time Periscopes get better participation. Let me know if I should try a Prime Time one this week. Maybe 10 pm ET on Thursday?

In-game comments post: NC State

BC enters Saturday a huge underdog to a mediocre team. I hope for some fight, a strong Wade performance and maybe an upset.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, October 28, 2016

End of the Week rant: BC might not care about sports, but they care about fund raising

Reports of BC keeping Addazio even if he continues losing has many BC fans flipping out. But my friends, there is hope. BC might not care about Sports. Father Leahy and the Board may be slaves to their budgets and don't want to buy out Daz or hire an expensive replacement. I don't agree, but for the sake of this argument I will concede all those points. But all BC alumni and fans can take comfort in the fact that BC absolutely cares about fund raising. BC will make a make a decision on Addazio when his status becomes impossible to justify to people donating money.

Trust your cynicism. Do you think Brad Bates would be out if he was a hit on the fund raising trail? Do you think they would have shaken up the Flynn Fund/Development Office if they didn't care about fund raising? BC won't keep Daz around after another 0-8 season purely for the drain it would be on trying to raise money.

Don't worry about reports. Don't worry about gossip. Have faith in BC's desire to keep the money flowing in.

Friday picks

It just keeps getting worse. Maybe Addazio should start blogging about my terrible picks. It would only be fair.

For a change, I am picking games with enormous spreads. Usually I avoid them, but that hasn't gotten me anywhere.

(Picks in bold.)

Michigan-24.5 at Michigan State

UConn+7 at East Carolina

West Virginia-3.5 at Oklahoma State

Duke+7 at Georgia Tech

Louisville-32.5 at Virginia

Miami-1.5 at Notre Dame

Army+7 at Wake Forest

Nebraska+9 at Wisconsin

Auburn-4.5 at Ole Miss

Clemson-4.5 at Florida State

Last week I was 2-8. For the season I am 30-46-4.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

BC-NC State preview

It is amazing that we are such underdogs to a team that only has one good win (I am counting their win over Wake, not the Notre Dame hurricane game). But we can't score and we haven't won a conference game in two years. I guess we deserve that sort of disrespect. If Addazio is ever going to dig out of this hole, this would be a good time to start shoveling.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Former BC Defensive End Max Holloway died in a car accident Thursday morning. My prayers go out to his friends, family and former teammates. Because of social media, I do pick up on the friendships and clicks among some of the more recent BC sports grads. Holloway was part of that huge Jags recruiting class that had a very unique BC experience. (Recruited by one coach, playing for another, still winning, but seeing the signs of discord, etc.). I am glad that despite their uncertain times, those guys genuinely seemed to like each other and support each other. I feel for those guys now that they've lost one of their own.

Three Simple Keys
1. Bring the pressure over and over. I wrote something similar last week and the way things played out just reinforced my belief that BC needs to blitz 2/3s of the time like the Don Brown days. It plays to our best players' strengths (Milano and Landry) and might create big plays. It will also help our DBs.
2. Use play action a lot. I predict NC State will load up the box and dare Wade to beat them in the air. It is somewhat easy to predict since that is what every opponent has done. We need to punish them for that with big plays off of play action.
3. More game changers from Special Teams. We need Rouse and Willis to help change field position with good runbacks.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 7-10 while on the road at BC
-- BC leads the series 8-5
-- NC State has never won two in a row in this series
-- The current line is BC+15.5

Not that it matters now and not that I can reveal how I know, but Dave Doeren had real interest in the BC job and never got anywhere in the process. I don't know if he preferred BC to NC State or if we would have gotten into a bidding war, but his reps certainly wanted BC to offer. We didn't and he went to Raleigh. I don't know if we would be in a better place now, but there is that aspect to this all.

Scoreboard Watching
Last week I ditched scoreboard watching in favor of highlighting a perspective candidate to be BC's next head coach. This week I introduce you to LSU Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda. What I like about Aranda is that prior to LSU, he was the Defensive Coordinator at Wisconsin. Badger Coordinators have done very well when given a shot to run their own team. I also like that Wisconsin coaches need to recruit like BC coaches in that they have to travel beyond their local footprint and have to successfully scout and mold three stars. Because of the shake up at LSU, Aranda might not get many interviews this offseason. If BC makes a change, they should at least talk to him.

I hope to see...
an early lead. Even last week, when the game was relatively close, we were still playing catch-up. With Addazio's game management, that doesn't work to our favor. If we got an early lead in this game, then it becomes a matter of holding on instead of trying to comeback.

BC is in trouble if...
We have too many QB turnovers. Assuming Wade starts, but even if Towles plays, we can't have drive killing INTs and fumbles. We are just not that good on Offense to get away with those sorts of mistakes.

Call me crazy, but I don't feel bad about this game. The pressure and expectations for the Syracuse game were high. Now Addazio has nothing to lose. Why not go crazy and see what happens? I don't know if that will lead to a win, but we've seen a lot of crazy stuff over the last two years. I say NC State chokes this one away and BC somehow comes out with a victory.
Final Score: BC 20, NC State 17

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Steve Addazio is focusing on the wrong things

Since he's arrived at BC, Steve Addazio has always been overly sensitive to criticism. Now, as the ACC losing streak continues, he's really losing sight of the big picture. During his radio show this week, Addazio took "social media" and "twitter" to task for the negativity. Much has already been written about this, but I want to hammer any last point home so that the next time Addazio starts ranting to Meter or Cronin or any other BC staffer, they can respond, "let it go, Coach."

A tweet has never made a tackle...
Regardless of what is written or said by me, or any other BC blogger, fan, talking head, whoever, none of it impacts what happens on the field. We don't tackle. We don't call plays. We certainly don't call timeouts. Our impact is nothing. Addazio just needs to focus on football and ignore the chatter. He can't blame us for the negativity. It is purely a response to what is happening on the field, not the other way around. 

Addazio can't have it both ways...
Remember the glory days of #beadude? Or how about when Addazio went viral on Vine? That was all social media. So in those cases is social media okay? You can't delve into that world for your program's benefit and then criticize it with such broad strokes when the tide turns on you. Either Addazio is a hypocrite or he fails to realize that "social media" is just a forum. It can be used for good or bad.

Who are we to criticize, we've never been on the field...
Addazio hasn't said this exactly, but it is often trotted out in the coaching profession. While I do think perspective and experience does validate some criticism, you cannot dismiss all criticism simply because the critic can't or hasn't performed the task being criticized. Addazio criticized plays on national television for ESPN during the Auburn-Florida State National Championship Game a few years ago. He's never been the head coach in a National Championship Game, but that didn't make his comments less insightful. Sometimes that outside perspective is even more valuable. We've all been deep in the weeds with our own problems in life with work or relationships or whatever, and someone will come along and capture the issue so simply and succinctly. Meanwhile you've been pounding your head against the wall trying to fix whatever is wrong. It is hard to admit that the outsider is right, but it happens. 

Opinion and criticism is not unique to sports...
Any business, any school, any work of art, any person (really), is always open to criticism. That is human nature and technology has only made it easier. Does he realize that every professor at BC is exposed to online criticism? Or that the restaurant in which he was whining about social media deals with it every day too? Or that one of BC Football's biggest sponsors deals with it too? Get over yourself, Coach.

Recruits read this stuff...
Like my first argument, the kids you are recruiting will respond to wins, losses and the relationship they build with their recruiters before the pay attention to random social media. If recruiting is suffering, it is not because of negative tweets. It is because our team is losing and looks lost and unprepared. Nothing that is said or written online even compares to what rival coaches are saying to our recruits right now. They are saying "Addazio is done," "he can't win" and "why would you want to play there?" Addazio can pretend to take the high road, but our staff uses negative recruiting too. Everyone does.

Coaching has changed, fans have changed, blah blah blah...
You know what's changed in coaching between now and when Addazio started back at Chesire High? His paycheck. I don't know Addazio's exact experience coaching high school thirty years ago, but I know enough about youth sports to know that he faced criticism then. "Johnny should be starting" or "why can't you beat _____" or "your behavior on the sidelines is a bit much." He didn't have twitter then, but there are always armchair quarterbacks and parents and fans who think they know better. Always. At every stop. At every level. 

Pressuring the critics won't stop them...
Addazio has indirectly sent messages to media outlets who call him out. It is a waste of his time and BC's time. Even if you silence one, it doesn't take much for someone else to fill the void. The only way Addazio can silence anyone is with better play. That should be his focus. He needs to stop wasting his own time and those around him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Regardless of Towles' health, Wade needs to start

On Monday, Addazio elaborated on Patrick Towles' status and said that they are preparing Darius Wade to start against NC State. In my opinion -- regardless of if Towles is healthy -- Wade should start against the Wolfpack.

In ACC games this season, Patrick Towles is completing just 43% of his passes and has thrown just one TD, while also throwing three INTs. As a reference point, John Fadule completed 53% of his passes against the three FBS teams he faced last year and threw one TD and four INTs.

Towles has great physical abilities, but it is not coming together in this offense, this year against the quality opponents. If we were using his running ability more, than I would be in favor of keeping him on the field. But the fact is we're not using it that often and his hamstring issues negate his effectiveness running.

Even in his short time on Saturday, Wade's passes seemed a little more on target. We need that element, if we are ever going to sustain any sort of drive. We don't know what sort of decisions Wade will make under pressure, but we know Towles' instincts are all out of wack. Maybe, if given the chance, Wade will also find the right guy or have a better understanding of when to run and when to throw it away.

While I predict Addazio will call Wade young, his age isn't an issue. He's been in the program three years. What he lacks is on field experience. Let him sink or swim. What is the downside? Another loss? Playing Wade now might be a spark that has been missing. If he is a disaster, than one less unknown issue is tabled. Addazio needs to think about saving the season and figuring out how to save his BC tenure. Playing Patrick Towles won't do that. Wade might not either, but at least it is something different.

Monday, October 24, 2016

BC's Louisville game time on hold as Jackson Heisman campaign heats up

The ACC's TV partners are "holding" the TV slots for the weekend of November 5. The only game released from the schedule is UVA-Wake, which got the 3 pm Regional Cable game. All the other games are up in the air, including the BC-Louisville game. Now given that Louisville will probably be a 20 points or more favorite, why would ESPN wait to hold that game? Lamar Jackson. After blowing away NC State, he's back in the driver seat for the Heisman. And if he keeps lighting up scoreboards, his games will take on a must see element. I know ESPN wouldn't root against BC, but all they have to do is look at what Clemson did to us. You know the idea of Jackson hanging 60 or more would be great afternoon fodder.

There is a viral nature to Jackson too. He's been trending during all of Louisville's games. In fact, BCDee's tweet about him was picked up by Raycom and run at the bottom of the screen during our game with Syracuse.

I really don't want to get embarrassed again. Maybe we can use it as motivation. If BC shuts him down and pulls off an upset, the Heisman campaign is over. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Syracuse

Watching it back, I realized that I've lost all faith in Addazio. It is not something new that happened in this game. It is about my feelings watching and following it live and then the fresh look that came by watching it back. As the game happened live, I never felt like we were going to win. I was just waiting for the next screw up or next head scratching decision. Watching it back on Sunday (a little more dispassionately) I realized BC was in this game throughout. So why did if feel like such a lost cause live? Because I have lost faith in Addazio. I don't know what he is going to do from here. I don't know what I am going to do from here either. I will tell myself we have a chance, but my heart clearly doesn't believe it.

Offense: C-

I think Wade should start next week. It is not that he was a revelation in the final quarter, but his passes were a little more accurate. And a few more reps in live action might make the difference. Towles' throws and decisions were bad again. He waits too long in the pocket, he throws too high, he runs when he shouldn't and tries to throw when he should run. The best part of his game was the TD. It is too bad it has taken us this long to use him more in the read option.

Jones ran well. He is tough to take down and has a good little burst. The stiff arms are nice too. Rouse didn't get that many touches. Willis had a real nice run called back because of a penalty. Wolford dropped an easy catch.

The INT off of Walker's bobble was brutal. How do those things even happen? Maybe that is the cursed endzone since that is also where Ed Reed took back the ball 15 years ago. Walker looked good on the sweeps. Callinan caught some nice passes but also got whistled for holding on a first down. Wade's last throw was a bit high, but he needs to pull that down. Sweeney dropped some and also didn't get the best passes.

The Offensive Line did not play well. Syracuse got too much pressure with just a four man front. The blocking was inconsistent and no one was getting to the second level. Lindstrom and Monteiro had the roughest game.

The sweeps and end arounds are a good adjustment but also a huge lack of faith in the QB. It is one thing when we did it in Addazio's first two years and we were using elements of Oregon's playbook. Now we are supposedly "Pro Style" and still doing it. But Loeffler has to do it. It is the only way to punish the Defense for crowding the box. We can't pass successfully against it. I hated the wildcat to Smith. He needs to touch the ball, but there has to be a better way. Why not a simple screen pass? My other big concern is that when we passed Syracuse seemed to know it was coming. They had the right call on with plenty of guys in coverage on many of our pass attempts. Did they get lucky or are we not changing tendencies and formations enough?

Defense: C+

Landry was great. At this point we need to do all we can to unleash him. Add more twists and stunts and whatever, where his speed can create havoc for the opposing line. The official stats gave Gutapfel lots of assists, but I didn't see that much activity. He's not disrupting enough nor is he stuffing guys. Smith was quiet. Kavalec played well. Ray also made some nice plays.

Milano had his best game in weeks. Like some of our other play makers, I think he needs to be more aggressive. When he is, good things happen. Schwab was very active, but missed a few tackles too. Grice played a lot and had a few moments good and bad. He struggled trying to cover when called upon.

The DBs looked better on the second viewing. Many of Cuse's big plays were just nice catches and plays made over our guys. Harris' INT was a nice play. Too bad we didn't turn it into more points. Moore got burned a few times, but overall his coverage wasn't bad. Yiadom missed a few tackles. Torres was okay.

I didn't understand our defensive approach. In my opinion we played way to far off and didn't bring enough pressure. These DBs can play a lot of man. They did it last year. But for them to be effective, BC needs to bring lots of pressure in front of it. I feel like waiting back and playing off in zone is not our strength or nature. We brought more pressure in the second half. It slowed Syracuse, but obviously didn't stop them completely. There is chatter that Pasqualoni took over defensive play calling. I don't know if it is true, but I hope someone begins to up the number of blitzes. It might be the only way to get defensive momentum turned around.

Special Teams: B+

This is our best unit. I am happy for Al Washington's success.

Willis' kick return was great. Good cut by him and great blocking from everyone.

Knolls kicks were good.

Rouse remained aggressive on his punt returns.

The punt and kick coverage was good.

Overall: D

At halftime Addazio mentioned the herky jerky nature of the game and our offense. Paraphrasing: we'd have two good plays and then a drive killing penalty or mistake. His assessment is accurate but I don't know if he realizes that this is his own creation. We are not a big play offense. He wants us to methodically move the ball down the field. The problem comes in that we don't have the type of coaching or players to do execute that vision. If you want to be methodical, you have to be well drilled and well disciplined. It means execution is perfect because you need say 11 plays for the drive. Instead of precision and drilling in a series of well executed plays, Loeffler and Addazio throw shit against the wall "let's try Jeff Smith in the Wildcat!!" and then seem surprised when they have herky jerky execution issues. There were a few plays when Towles seemingly turned to play fake and no back was there. Is that on him or Jones or the OC who can't seem to get his players on the same page?

Regardless of the gossip going around about who is doing what and who is calling what plays on Defense, does the unit feel as well coached as last year? How does that happen with 80% of the same players? It is a coaching and execution issue. The decrease in blitzing is hurting the DBs, but I also feel like their position fundamentals are not as good. Who would have thought we would miss Kevin Lempa so much.

Beyond the game prep, there were plenty of game management issues. Punting before halftime. Burning time on the final drive. Taking a penalty that gave Syracuse another down. After 12 straight ACC losses, you would think he would try something new. Doesn't look like he is going to change.

It will be interesting to see how Addazio coaches from here. He knows that he needs to win two more games to keep his job. Does he go all out or does he check out?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The wrong streak continues as BC drops another ACC game to Syracuse

Syracuse is not a good team. BC is clearly worse. Both teams took part in a sloppy, weird, ugly game. Syracuse won. They won for a lot of reasons, but a big part of their victory was the aggressiveness and game management of their coach. I had to listen to much of the game on radio and you know that when Meter and Cronin are complaining about predictability and BC's inability to adjust -- even after an extra week of practice -- you know that BC has coaching problems. When guys like Matt Hasselbeck are dumbfounded by Addazio wasting a possession before the half, you know that BC has coaching problems. Even as BC was driving late to potentially tie the game, Addazio seemed oblivious to time. We still huddled and didn't seem to care that we might need the ball again (on the chance we missed the two-point conversion).

BC remains winless in ACC play. That was our best chance to win an ACC game this year. If Addazio is still calling the shots, I don't know if he will adjust enough for us to win anything.

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

In-game comments post: Syracuse

It may be wet and windy. That's good for us. It may be Steve Addazio's job on the line. Hopefully that motivates him and the team. If things don't go our way...look out.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on twitter.

Friday, October 21, 2016

End of the Week Rant: Bates screwed up the basketball hire much more than football

I don't care if we lose by 100 on Saturday and Daz is fired at halftime. I don't care if Jim Christian stuns the world and wins the ACC this year. Regardless of how this all plays out, when we look back at Brad Bates' tenure, hiring Jim Christian will always be his most head-scratching decision.

First there was the "he's staying" "no he's not" aspect of the Donahue firing. That should have been the major clue that Christian didn't have the politics, the plan or the message set up prior to the end of the basketball season. Then he followed that up by hiring Jim Christian. A journeyman coach whose journey never even approached New England or ACC basketball. He was a non-factor to our fanbase and our recruiting base. Not good. Plus we all had to pretend that his struggles at TCU (private school in a major conference, pro sports market, etc) weren't applicable to his potential success at BC. If Brad Bates was going to make a borderline and highly questionable hire, there were safer more BC appropriate guys available. Schmidt, O'Shea, even [can't believe I'm writing this] Jim Calhoun!

Maybe BC's setup is difficult for an AD. Too much interference on some issues and not enough guidance on others. That's probable. Ever job and institution has its limitations. But good people adapt and still make the most of those situations. Brad Bates does not. The fact that Addazio wasn't his worst hire is proof.

Friday picks

I hope no college funds have been put at risk by my picks. Last week was another rough one. I don't feel very confident about this week's pick, so maybe that will make things better!

(Picks in bold.)

Oregon+2.5 at Cal

Texas+1.5 at Kansas State

Indiana+2.5 at Northwestern

UCF-4.5 at UConn

Memphis-2.5 at Navy

Ohio-3.5 at Kent State

Colorado State+2.5 at UNLV

Colorado+1.5 at Stanford

Arkansas+10 at Auburn

Mississippi State-3 at Kentucky

Last week I was 4-5-1. For the season I am 28-38-4.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

BC-Syracuse preview

The season is halfway over, but I don't even feel like it has ever started. Our first game had an exhibition like feel from Ireland. The three wins all felt like scrimmages and the two losses were lopsided jokes. Yet there are only six games left. On paper this should be a nice solid conference win. But it is never that simple.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I've written and said a lot about Daz's future. One thing that I learned in the process is that his job status is totally independent of Bates' status. Bates can't save him and firing/not renewing Bates won't impede BC's decision on Addazio. He has to win this season (six games) and might not even get that far if the losses continue to be so one-sided.

Three Simple Keys
1. Sack Dungey a lot. BC had two weeks to prepare for the Orange's gimmick offense. The last time we faced such a unique attack -- Georgia Tech -- the D was really well prepared. I am hoping that BC created some new looks and brings plenty of pressure.
2. Play to Syracuse's speed. Steve Logan had a really simple premise about tempo and time of possession. If you believe you have more talent, play fast. It increases possessions for both sides and with more possessions, the talented team is more likely to prevail. Conversely he believed if you had less talent, you want to slow the game down. Limit their opportunity to score and hopefully pull off an upset. Neither coach on Saturday believes in that. Syracuse wants to go fast regardless of who they are playing. We want to sit on the ball regardless. I think we have more talent than Syracuse. We need to play close to their pace. Force them into mistakes and hopefully get some of our own points on the board.
3. Turn short passes into long TDs. I've never seen a team miss tackles like this Syracuse one. If we want to win, we have to take advantage of those misses and get real yards after the catch.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 1-2 against Syracuse
-- Syracuse leads the series 19-30
-- Babers is 10-5 on the road as an FBS head coach
The current line is BC-4.5

The last time Syracuse won a game at Alumni was our final game in the Big East, when their third string running back ran all over us and cost BC a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. So there's that.

Scoreboard Watching
We are at the point where scoreboard watching doesn't matter. The only score that matters is this one. So instead of putting a game in this space, I am going to link to a coaching bio. If Syracuse goes up by 21, pull out your phone and click on this link to Pete Carmichael, Jr's biography. Bates didn't give him the time of day last go around. Hopefully Pete earns at least an interview if we make a change this season.

I hope to see...
The OLine dominate. As mentioned, Syracuse's D is not good. We have yet to put together one clean game with the OLine. This is supposed to be Addazio's specialty. Now in our time of need, we need the OLine to be great

BC is in trouble if...
We get down by 14. I don't know if our Offense can make up that sort of deficit. I also fear many of our players might check out.

BC should win this weekend. The odds say it. The computers say it. I want to believe. I hope we win. I just don't know if Addazio will push the right buttons this week. But I am telling myself he can, the D has a great game and the Offense makes some huge plays.
Final Score: BC 31, Syracuse 21

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A midseason firing wouldn't make sense for BC

If Syracuse hangs 50 on BC Saturday, you will hear people calling for Addazio's head. There is speculation that he could even be fired midseason. To me that would be a huge mistake.

A midseason change hurts recruiting
One thing Addazio is still doing relatively well is recruiting. If he is fired now, it becomes open season on our current verbals and our roster for transfers. If we fire Addazio in November after the Wake game, the window in which to pick apart our recruiting class becomes that much smaller.

An interim mess
Every once in a while an interim coach takes his program to the next level. Dabo Swinney is the most prominent example. But more often the interim is given the job in an emotional move and things don't get better. I don't know who would be the interim. The logical candidate is Paul Pasqualoni, but sometimes schools go with the popular position coach (like Ed Orgeron). Would that be Al Washington? Or maybe one of the coordinators? I don't know. As much as it would be nice to give a young BC grad like Washington a professional bump in this process, I don't want BC making a rash decision.

The message it sends to BC fans
Brad Bates is the lamest of lame ducks, but if Addazio is fired midseason, it will seem like he made the call. The call is above Bates head now. Given our history, I don't expect BC to get a nuanced message to the media about how the process came about. That inturn would just make our current fans think BC remains chaotic and without a plan.

I hope this doesn't become an issue. Let's go beat Syracuse and judge Addazio on the whole season. Things will get better, so let's not make them worse.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Iowa State taking shots at BC and other links

Things are bad. We are headed for an AD change and barring a great turnaround, are probably headed for a coaching change. But our history -- both recent and long-term -- is much better than the current perception of Boston College. Take this quote from Iowa State's AD with regards to the Big XII's decision not to expand.
"When you know that the athletic administrators think that the best solution is the solution we currently have, why would we then want to say no we'd rather have 12 members? "Because we want to add more schools to this league that are going to be like Rutgers or Boston College in their conferences? Which have no fans coming to the games, and they're getting outscored 170 to whatever it was. In Boston College's case, haven't won a game in two to three years in their conference. That totally dilutes your value."

Anyone representing Iowa State has true gall to criticize any other school or talk about "diluting value." Iowa State's whole value to the old Big 8 and the current Big XII is to be doormat to the conference powers. They are the Washington Generals of the Midwest! The bring no fans. They are not the flagship school in their state. They bring no academic reputation. No TV markets. No fans. Oh, and they are currently 1-6!!! Who are they to talk? BC is a better team than Iowa State is now and has been much better historically.

BC needs to get its act together for because we are wasting our athletes' time and wasting the university's resources. But we also need to win so we can silence our critics.

BCI posted a good preview of the basketball newcomers.

In case you missed it, BC posted a good article on field hockey star Lucy Lytle.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Get ready for lots of 12:30 games

The ACC announced that the NC State game will be at 12:30 pm and shown over the air on local affiliates. I think our record and our TV market will lead to a few more 12:30 games before the season is over.

The over the air game is usually the third pick by the ACC. While the rest of the games are on cable, it is the lone Raycom production. The stations that pick up these games vary market to market, and that is where the benefit of BC comes into play. Most ACC games will always be shown in long-time ACC markets in the south. However, when BC is involved, Raycom is able to get coverage in less traditional ACC markets. Obviously Boston is going to carry a BC game, but it helps to get Providence and Springfield, etc. BC also helps a little on the west coast and other northern cities. If that game is between North Carolina and Virginia (like their matchup this weekend), many of those New England stations do not pick up the game.

Ideally BC goes on a run and some of our final games have national implications. But if we don't, the ACC's TV partners will still care enough to grab BC with their pick.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

BC still favored over Syracuse

For weeks it was noted that Syracuse was the only ACC game where the computers (and oddsmakers) favored BC. But as the Orange upset Virginia Tech on Saturday -- and looked good doing it -- I doubted the point spread would still favor BC. I was wrong. Despite the huge win, BC opened as a six point favorite

The BC home game accounts for approximately three of those points. And BC's defense and Syracuse's terrible D, account for the remainder of the spread. I predict the line will shrink as the game nears. 

I hope BC wins. I think it could be enough to give us a little momentum. 

By the way, Addazio is 4-2 when favored in ACC games. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Is this guy going to get Brad Bates a new job?

This is Todd Turner. He runs a college search firm that places high level athletic personnel, including Athletic Directors. He was also the Athletic Director at Vanderbilt when Brad Bates was there. If you read between the lines, it appears he's helping out his former protege again.

This summer when Turner ran the Athletic Director search for Missouri, he presented Bates as a candidate. Now Blauds is reporting that Bates is in the mix for the San Diego State opening. Guess who is running their search? Yep, it is Todd Turner. (The fact that San Diego State only has an opening because Turner landed their old AD at Mizzou is an entirely different topic altogether.)

Bates could have spun taking the Mizzou job as a step up. It is an SEC school, a flagship state university and more money. San Diego State -- even with BC's current issues -- would be a step back. It is not a Power 5 school and not as big a department. But for Bates it might seem like a nice landing spot given his contract situation. What happens to Bates if BC doesn't extend him and San Diego State doesn't hire him? No big deal. Turner will just float his name for the next search he runs.

Friday, October 14, 2016

End of the Week Rant: Leave the Coordinators alone

Remember last year when BC had the worst offense among the Power 5 teams and one of the worst in college football? Offensive Coordinator Todd Fitch took the blame and was pushed out. Now he is coordinating a Top 10 Offense at Louisiana Tech. I hammered Fitch last year even though prior to the season Addazio said it was "his" offense and the coordinator implemented his philosophy. I also endorsed Addazio's idea to have Jim Reid run the same defense as Don Brown. In retrospect, I was probably wrong. And so is Addazio. A good head coach needs to find a scheme and coordinator he likes and then give that guy some freedom. We had injuries last year on Offense, but as big a problem was flipping QBs and styles and approaches. We never simplified. Now the Defense -- with the majority of the players the same -- look lost or overmatched. Something is not working. My fear is that once again we are dictating to coordinators instead of letting them set the approach.

Periscope Update: I held another Periscope Friday morning to discuss schedules and Brad Bates' contract. These remain a work in progress so I appreciate feedback. A few notes:
-- If you doubleclick the video it takes you to a Periscope fullscreen so that the movie is not such a closeup.
-- This didn't get as many live interactions as the Post Game Periscope did. Post game after a night game is a natural timeslot. Is there a daytime slot that people would prefer to discuss general news?
-- I appreciate the questions and topics that I got ahead of time. Keep them coming.

Friday picks

No BC game this week to clutter my mind. Maybe that will result in better picks.

(Picks in bold.)

West Virginia-1 at Texas Tech

Minnesota+7 at Maryland

Pitt-3 at Virginia

Central Michigan-2.5 at Northern Illinois

Northwestern+7 at Michigan State

North Carolina+7 at Miami

Nebraska-3 at Indiana

Ole Miss-7.5 at Arkansas

Temple+3.5 at UCF

Stanford+3 at Notre Dame

Last week I was 6-4. For the season I am 24-33-3.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Let's discuss the 2016-2017 Boston College commercial

There's no football game this weekend, so you won't get to see BC's annual sports commercial again. For those who haven't paid attention, here it is:

This will play once during all of BC's televised sporting events during the 2016-2017 school year. By May we will all probably be sick of it, but I actually liked this one.

It seems like BC goes every other year on the format of these commercials. Last year it was another "talking" commercial. In those students and faculty usually share some short personal story about Boston College. Then between "talking" year commercials, BC does a "montage" type commercial that captures all of BC. I usually prefer the montage style. Apologies to any who have appeared in the "talking" commercials, but I find them overly specific and usually a little cold and serious. In my opinion the "montage' does a better job of capturing more of BC and generally make it look more fun.

I don't know what market research has told BC about these commercials or why they continue to rotate formats year to year. Maybe next year they should take an entirely new approach. If it doesn't work, they can always go back to the "talking" and "montage' rotation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Looking at Bates' football hires while at Miami (OH)

Hiring is tough in any profession. It is even tougher in sports because your hires are so public, as are the results. Even the best Athletic Directors like Louisville Tom Jurich or Florida's Jeremy Foley get it wrong sometimes. Also you can have a good process and hire the wrong coach or have a bad process and luck into a great coach (think of Jerry York at BC). But if you are repeatedly making bad hires, you probably shouldn't be the one making more hires. That brings me to Brad Bates.

Bates has done many things as an Athletic Directer at Miami of Ohio and Boston College. He's also hired dozens of coaches and even more staffers. But his challenges with finding good football coaches remains disconcerting. Addazio still may turn things around, but given track records, I don't know if I trust Brad Bates to handle the football hiring and firing.

We all know about Addazio, so let's look at the three coaches he hired at Miami of Ohio. The MAC school had a great history of developing coaches and winning football. It had even been nicknamed the "Cradle of Coaches." Sid Gillman, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, and Bo Schembechler all coached there. That history creates great opportunities for an AD. Many young assistants would gladly jump at the chance to learn in the place that molded all those previous legends. In fact, the two head coaches prior to Bates' arrival were Randy Walker and Hoeppner. Both left Miami of Ohio with winning records and both got hired away by Big Ten schools where they continued their successes. (Both also died at their next stops, which is an unfortunate coincidence.) Being the AD at Miami of Ohio would seemingly be a dream. Any time you had a football opening, you could tap some of the best and brightest assistants around.

Now I don't know all the politics or issues involved with each decision. Nor do I know exactly how much autonomy Bates had each time, but from afar it seems like he followed the young up and comer model. Also note the win percentages of Walker (.621) and Hoeppner (.657) before Bates' series of coaches took over.

Shane Montgomery -- Four Seaons: 17-31. .357 win percentage
What happened: This seemed like the classic case of hiring the guy who is there in an effort to keep the good times rolling. Montgomery had been a critical part of Hoeppner's staff and credited with developing Ben Roethlisberger as a first round pick. Bates hired him right before their Bowl game when Hoeppner was out the door to Indiana. Miami's own recap of the situation even speaks to it being a surprise move:
In an unprecedented move, Miami University Director of Athletics Brad Bates made a locker room announcement in front of a national television audience prior to the playing of the 2004 Independence Bowl, naming then-offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery head coach of Miami's venerable football program.
Whether he was too young or it came too soon or the challenge of finding another Big Ben, Montgomery had one winning season and three losing ones. He is now as assistant at Youngstown State.

Mike Haywood -- Two Seasons: 10-15. .400 win percentage
What happened: I don't know where to start with the Mike Haywood situation. You could almost call it a successful hire with a major, major asterisks. Following firing Montgomery, Bates hired Haywood from Notre Dame where he served as Charlie Weis' OC. Prior to being on Weis' staff, Haywood was on Mack Brown's at Texas. He was considered one of the next big things. On paper, he was perfect for Miami of Ohio. His first season was terrible (1-11), but his second season saw a huge turnaround (9-4). Haywood leveraged that success into the job at Pitt. As you might know, he never coached a game at Pitt. From the ESPN article:
Pittsburgh fired football coach Mike Haywood on Saturday, saying he could not continue in the job he held for only 2½ weeks because of his arrest on a domestic violence charge.
Haywood was released Saturday from St. Joseph County Jail in Indiana on $1,000 cash bond, said an officer at the jail who declined to give her name, after the charge was upgraded from a misdemeanor to felony domestic battery in the presence of a minor.
Bates is professionally lucky that Haywood's arrest came only two weeks after he left Miami. I don't know if Bates gets the BC job, if that happened on his watch. I know an AD can't monitor the behavior of all his employees 24/7, but it speaks to the need for due diligence in the process. An AD needs to ask all the tough questions and turn over every rock. For better or worse the football coach is often the face of the university. The only defense Bates has of this hire is that Pitt made the same mistakes. Even with the off-the-field issues, Haywood left Miami with a losing record.

 Don Treadwell -- Three Seasons: 8-21. .275 win percentage
What happened: Treadwell was Bates' last football hire before coming to BC. The former TOB assistant came back to his Alma mater after a successful run as Offensive Coordinator at Michigan State. Even going back to his BC days, Treadwell always participated in different programs and workshops designed for black assistants to become head coaches. Getting the Miami job seemed like the next step and a good hire on paper. It didn't work out. His first two seasons saw identical 4-8 records and then, after he started 0-5 in Year 3, they fired him.

I don't know all the challenges at Miami or each coach's issues -- other than not winning enough. Maybe Bates was just unlucky or maybe he can't see that subjective "it" that happens when you put the right guy in the right place at the right time. Since Bates has been gone, Miami's latest football coach Chuck Martin has failed to turn things around. (Martin is now 5-25 at Miami.) Maybe -- like BC -- they need to address why they continue to struggle given their rich history. But every AD is going to face institutional challenges. The good ones work around those challenges and find the right coach.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

BC announces series with Mizzou

A week after the ACC finally clarified its future scheduling format, BC made a move to bolster its own future schedule. Brad Bates scheduled a home and home series with Mizzou. The games will take place in 2021 (at Alumni) and 2024 (in Columbia). While this might be the least exciting potential SEC opponent, this is still a great move and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Considering the ACC and SEC are sticking with eight games while the Big XII, Big Ten and Pac 12 play nine conference games, I think there will be plenty of SEC teams in BC's future. Teams from both conferences will be looking for decent non-conference, Power 5 matchups and both sides will have plenty of openings. We are unlikely to see Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, or South Carolina, since all already have permanent non-conference Power 5 opponents. However, nearly all the other SEC teams are options. If I were Brad Bates, I would schedule Alabama now. There is no way that Saban is still coaching there in 2025 and beyond. Hell, it is highly unlikely that Bates will be BC's AD in 2025. Might as well look like you've done something big -- schedule the nation's best program -- and leave some other BC administration and coaching staff to actually play the games.

As for Missouri, who knows what they will be like when we play them. They are not good now, but have had plenty of recent success. Traditionally they are a mediocre major conference program. They are the type of team we traditionally can and should compete with. I've never been to a game in Columbia, so I don't know if it will be an exciting trip. Their gameday reputation doesn't come with the expectations of LSU or Ole Miss. But the game matters more than the destination.

Now that the Power 5 aspect of our schedule is filling up, I hope Bates improves the other slots. All FCS opponents should be based in New England or Catholic. That is the only way to generate interest (and justify) those opponents. As soon as Holy Cross is at its full compliment of scholarships, they should be our FCS opponent four out of five years. As for the mid-majors, it is all about our alumni and recruiting. Find programs where we can recruit in their backyard (like Ohio) or where we have local fans (California). 

I know smart scheduling helps build a program. We are pretty close to that now with regards to future Power 5s. Now we just need smart football coaching. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

How many Clemson fans were at Alumni?

BC listed Friday's game as a sellout. The stadium didn't look completely full, but something was noticeable: all the orange.

Clemson fans are known for travelling and I don't begrudge them. They're great people and I've always enjoyed interacting with them. This is also not the first time they've traveled in droves to Alumni. What made this trip different is that they were not limited to the traditional "visitors" sections (Lower East corner on the Beacon St. side, small section of north endzone, and upperdeck endzone). This time they were everywhere. The Tiger fans were sitting in BC fans' seats. This meant that BC fans either resold their tickets like never before, or the season ticket base has dwindled much more than BC has let on and BC sold all those traditional "BC" seats.

I understand why Clemson fans wanted to be there. Boston is a great trip and the team is in the middle of a great run. What Brad Bates and BC should worry about is why didn't more BC fans want to be there. We've been big underdogs at home before (think back to some of those Miami games or during the Spaz years). But big name opponents still brought out BC fans. Now they either don't care or are so turned off by the gameday experience and product on the field that they would rather stay home.

The remaining home games are such that I don't think you'll see visitors take over Alumni again this year. I just hope BC fans start to show up.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Clemson

Addazio wears his emotion on his sleeve. That is great when things are rolling. But in these beatdowns it makes everything more frustrating. When I watch these games back, Addazio's frustration is palpable. Based on the continued results, I don't think his approach is working. Maybe he should be a little more "rah rah" when things go bad. It might not change the outcome, but hopefully it will keep the team on his side. If he keeps walking around like he's sick of his team and sick of all of this with 20 minutes still left in the game, he's going to lose a lot more this season and next.

Offense: D

Live I thought Towles was bad. In the second viewing it wasn't terrible. His same mistakes were there, missing open men, waiting too long in the pocket, throwing it away to quickly. But his passing numbers were better than the stats (we had drops). He also wasn't as quick to throw it away. The dumbest thing he did was not protect the ball when running. It would have made a difference in the score but not the game. Wade did not look great in his limited time. His Pick 6 throw was off.

Jones has the ability to get through traffic at the line. For that reason alone he should be the feature back. He also runs with decent power. Hilliman wasn't terrible but he is less consistent. He busted out a long run late. Rouse and Willis didn't get many touches and just looked okay on offense. Congrats to Wolford on his TD.

Sweeney played well and made some nice catches. Smith had too many drops. Callinan was fine. Walker only caught one pass.

One excuse that was real was Baker going down. It screwed up so much of the timing thereafter. Lindstrom was probably our best Lineman of the night. Cashman was okay as a replacement. Johnson was fine. Lowery was better than he has been. Schmal struggled a lot. He needs to move his feet better if he is going to stop edge guys.

Run-Run-Pass. It wasn't every series that Loeffler called but it felt like it. The creativity in the second drive was effective. We need to do it more. I also think he's got to work with Towles more on his time in the pocket. He should know when the ball has to come out. (Wade has the same problems.) I hated the goalline sequence. I hope Addazio is not overriding play calls there. One pass to the endzone would have at least kept Clemson honest.

Defense: D

Landry was the lone bright spot of the night. He made good plays, showed that he has elite talent and kept fighting. Allen also looked good. Gutapfel had another quiet game. I don't know why he's not winning more battles inside. We need him to be more disruptive. Kavalec was okay. Smith made a play. Ray hustled.

Schwab played well but all the LBs got caught out of position on Clemson's first rushing TD. Milano was fine. Strachan showed speed...just not enough to stop a TD.

McClary had a rough night. It is one thing when you don't get help you were supposed to get or a guy makes a great catch. But he had a few catches where he was so far off even when the receiver did not make a dramatic cut. On the first TD Harris should have been helping out and was late getting over. Yiadom was okay. Johnson made a sack.

I like Jim Reid, but I don't think we are blitzing enough. I think that is part of the problem with the DBs. Because BC cannot get pressure and because we are playing so, so far off, they are getting burned. This same group was much more effective being very aggressive at the line and jamming. There are also so many more breakdowns and noticeable defensive mistakes this year. Maybe it is the change in all the position coaches, but we know these guys can play better. I hope Reid figures it out soon.

Special Teams: C-

The Special Teams started off well and then went down hill. The recovery of the first punt was great. As was the early coverage.

The kickoff coverage was not good. We threatened an onside and it turned into a mess and long return.

Rouse was overly cautious on the punt returns.

Willis had a rough night and had some issues on his returns.

Knoll was fine.

Overall: D

After the game, Addazio mentioned a few big plays changing the game and the team still being "in it" during the first half. There is some truth to that, however, he still never coached with the type of aggressiveness to keep BC "in it." Look at our first drive after the half. Still ultra-conservative followed by a punt.

I have many of the same thoughts as I did during the Virginia Tech game. Why does he keep punting when we are down so much? Why did he wait so long to give Wade a try? When you are down big, it is time to throw caution to the wind and trying anything.

This was another bad, bad game for Addazio. His coaches looked overmatched as did his roster. Even if he is safe this year, he's got to show some progress. If he doesn't, recruits are going to bail on him.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Hard to blame Spaz for Year 4 problems

Addazio will gladly tell you how young his team is. BC folks are also putting many of our issues on Addazio having to rebuild after Spaz and his poor recruiting. I don't think Spaz managed his roster well nor did he put much effort into recruiting, but Addazio's issues cannot be pinned on his predecessor.

As of this season there are only 14 scholarship players who were offered and recruited by Spaz. They are:

  • Barksdale 
  • Callinan 
  • Cashman 
  • Cottrell 
  • Giacone 
  • Gutapfel 
  • Johnson 
  • Kavalec 
  • Milano 
  • Ntantang 
  • Rich 
  • Strizak 
  • Willis 
  • Wolford
Look at that list. There's not a lot of dead weight or wasted scholarships. In fact, 10 have contributed significantly the past four years for Addazio and Callinan, Gutapfel, Johnson, Kavalec, Willis and Wolford are all still starters.

Would it be nice to have a huge group of talented 5th year Seniors that Spaz had recruited? Sure. But the flipside of Spaz not using all his scholarships and many of his recruits bailing over the years, is that Addazio got to remake the team in his image. 71 scholarships are being used by Addazio recruits. That's 84% of the roster.

When you lose such lopsided games, talent is clearly an issue. However, I don't think talent is Addazio's major issue. And if the talent really is what is hoplding him back then Addazio only has himself to blame. 

Friday, October 07, 2016

Another Addazio disaster

Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. Clemson pounded BC Friday night for the worse home ACC loss of Addazio's career. There were some tough breaks and bad calls, but ultimately the Offense couldn't score and the D looked good one series and terrible the next. I keep saying that Addazio is safe, but boy is he using up every once of goodwill he has. Now it is about regrouping and trying to get back in the win column.

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

Also, for the first time I tried a Periscope broadcast. Thanks for your patience and support with it. Hopefully future episodes are smoother.

In-game comments post: Clemson

Clemson is a great team, but they can be beat. We just need to play our best and play to win! Friday night at Alumni! Let's do this!

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

P.S. After the game I am going to go on Periscope via Twitter. Send me any topics or questions you want me to discuss.

End of the Week Rant: BC better honor the 2007 team next season!

With Jags popping up around the BC blogosphere, I was reminded of something that needs to happen. Next season, BC needs to honor and welcome back members of the 2007 Atlantic Division Champions!

Jags is clearly still a lightning rod among BC fans, but that is not the point. Having some sort of gameday event would be about honoring the whole team ten years after their great run. I know BC is honoring Matt Ryan this season, but he wasn't a one man team. Think of how great it would be to have Silva, Herzlich, Albright, Tennant, Brandon Robinson, Purvis, Larkin, and the rest all back. Have Callender catch a pass in the corner! Have Aponavicius kick a chip shot!

Who knows if Bates will even be here next fall? I also don't know if Addazio will want reminders of other teams' successes during his make or break fifth year. But I don't care what they want. The team deserves it and it would be nice to remember when this was all fun.

Friday picks

Last week was another grind it out effort with nothing to show for it. I tried to avoid games impacted by the Hurricane. Is that a good idea? Given my record, it can't get much worse.

(Picks in bold.)

Cincinnati-2.5 at UConn

Iowa-1 at Minnesota

Maryland-2.5 at Penn State

Auburn-2.5 at Mississippi State

Army+5.5 at Duke

Virginia Tech+1.5 at North Carolina

Colorado+5 at USC

Hawaii+3 at San Jose State

Syracuse+2.5 at Wake Forest

Florida State+3 at Miami

Last week I was 4-5-1. For the season I am 18-29-3.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Go listen to BCI's interview with Jags

Former BC Coach Jeff Jagodzinski had a long interview with BC Interruption. It is long but well worth your time.

I've been waiting for the right time and place to write about my experience with Jags. There is a long draft of a Jags chapter as part of my potential e-book.  Hopefully I will get the my book done by Christmas.

It is and was a unique time in BC Sports. Things will be fun again one day.

BC-Clemson preview

I am really torn about this game. There is so much to like about the circumstances: Friday night on National TV, Clemson coming off a huge emotional game, our Defense looking better. Yet the past two years have left me distrusting Addazio. Will he take the needed risks to pull off a major upset or will he just play to keep it close and hope that Clemson self destructs?

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I've been writing about it all week -- and I am a little tired of the subject -- but the ACC did elect to continue playing eight conference games. Each school will sacrifice approximately $500,000 in TV money from ESPN. The traditional powers in the conference argued in favor of flexibility. Their argument against the money is that one of these neutral site "kickoff" type games is worth in the neighborhood of $4 million. ACC schools would have less scheduling flexibility to play those games if they had to commit to nine conference games plus a non-conference Power 5. Given Addazio and Bates' track record on scheduling, I think BC will use their flexibility to find more easy wins. The only silver lining is that future BC leadership will have open slots to toughen up the schedule once again.

Three Simple Keys
1. Don't let Watson escape the pocket. Spying him or only rushing four might create other problems, but I still hope our LBs wait back a bit to keep Watson from running. Ever drive he keeps alive with his feet keeps us off of the field.
2. Complete 65% of our passes. Drops and errant throws have hurt BC so far this season. Now that we are facing the best team in the conference, we cannot have mistakes. 
3. Aggressive Special Teams. Rouse has already shown he's willing to return anything. We need that same sort of attitude on kick returns and another punt block would be nice.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 1-6 vs Top Ten teams
-- BC has lost ten straight ACC games
-- Swinney is 23-16 on the road
The current line is BC+17

BC and Clemson were both regulars on Thursday night games, but never played each other on the formally "big" night of college football. This is the first time the game is not being played on a Saturday.

Scoreboard Watching
The most optimistic fans have all looked to Wake and Syracuse as winnable games. They play each other this weekend. How good is Wake's D? Can Syracuse outscore them? Can BC still expect to beat both? This game might provide some answers.

I hope to see...
The Defense dominate.  Last year -- even in the most lopsided games -- the D kept the games interesting. That didn't happen against Virginia Tech. If we are going to pull this off, we need our guys to play the best game of their lives.

BC is in trouble if...
We don't stretch the field. Like everyone else, Clemson will probably load the box and dare us to throw. There should be a bomb or two to Jeff Smith early to keep them honest.

This team has not scored 21 or more points against a Power 5 team since 2015. I just don't see it happening this weekend. I think our D comes to play and the game is close for a half. I think Clemson pulls away in the second half and BC gets a late score to make it look respectable.
Final Score: BC 14, Clemson 24

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

As the ACC turns...watering down the schedule is in play

Earlier in the week it looked like the ACC was going to beef up its Football schedule one way or another. But as we know, things can turn quickly on Tobacco Road. The latest leaks say that the conference is willing to take less money from ESPN in order to avoid the contracted ten annual Power 5 games each Football team is expected to play by 2019.

This comes from the weak leadership in North Carolina. Commissioner John Swofford has never been a good consensus builder -- look at the botched first expansion, losing Maryland, the flip flops on nine games, etc. I don't know who is driving the pull back. Based on Bates' track record, I doubt it is him, but I can see BC joining the group of "less money/easier schedules."

The only reason the ACC feels like they can take this risk is because the Big XII is such a mess. Our place at the table is secure as long as their is a weaker, more disorganized conference out there. But being fourth place is not a good long-term strategy. Hopefully something talks some sense into the leaders and they actually agree to the contract they signed.

The problems of the ACC often mirror those of BC. Both organizations need to decide what they really want to be and then go forward in a direction to fulfill their goals and vision. Instead, both always say one thing, do another and then change direction again when there are threats or criticism. That sort of flipflopping never leads to consistent success.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Behind the scenes on ACC's schedule debate

There is a very interesting article in Tuesday's Daily Press. It gives all the details on the ACC debate over an eight or nine game conference schedule.

BC remains committed to the ninth game. Regardless of who wins out on this issue, I am glad the 9+1 model is BC's focus. Playing the one additional ACC  game solves many of BC's schedule issues and gets Coastal Division teams to Alumni more often. The 8+2 policy might bring more variety, but the logistics for BC are always going to be difficult. We don't offer a big stadium pay day and represent a long trip for many Power 5. If you include our desire to play like-minded schools, there just aren't enough non-ACC teams to go around.

The issue has to be decided soon. There are a few swing schools in the mix, but I still believe that the 9+1 model wins out. It is certainly what is best for BC, but I also think it is best for the ACC.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Who benefits from the short week?

Addazio held his usual press conference Monday and was asked about the short week. His response:
"I think being home helps you, yeah. But, no, I mean, it's hard. We practice in the mornings. So it's compounded. We couldn't come in today and use the bulk of the day today continue game planning. We had to get it all done yesterday and last night. At least all done relative to having a good day today, which we did have a good day today. I thought the coaches did a great job. I thought we had a great practice and got some real great things accomplished. In fact, I'm looking forward to going back and watching the practice tape with the coaches and going through it right now. I felt a lot of good stuff happened. We had a hell of a day, but it was a grind. It was absolutely a flat grind. And it's different for the players. Traditionally this is the player's day off for us in our program. So we come in, we watch tape on Sunday. We go on the field. We work on fundamentals. Monday is the day off. And then Tuesday is the day we have -- this all got bounced up. But, I mean, it's the same thing for Clemson. It's no different, they've got the same issues. They played late at night."

Ultimately, I think Clemson is the better team, but I feel we still have the advantage on a couple of fronts. The short week favors us. We played a day game Saturday and do not travel. Their game didn't end until midnight and they have to travel. Even with the disruption, we had more preparation time than the Tigers.

I think facing them coming off of a huge Louisville game is also an advantage. These are still young emotional players. It will be natural for Clemson to overlook us. Conversely, BC hasn't played real competition in three weeks. I think our players should be pumped up and have something to prove.

I also think we have a home field advantage. Don't get me wrong, there will be plenty of Clemson fans there. And Alumni was a morgue last week. But BC fans will show up this week. And if BC shows any sign of life, the crowd will be into it.

I hate how our schedule plays out, but this Friday night will work for BC.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Buffalo

What Addazio and Bates probably didn't realize when they put this schedule together is how empty it would feel. We now have three wins and I don't feel like we've accomplished anything. I also don't feel like we know much. I am glad this part of the season is over. The games weren't fun to watch live or the second time around.

Offense: B-

The stats don't cover Towles' problems. He underthrew a sure TD on the play where Garrison got hurt. He was stripped in the pocket on two plays where he should have felt the pressure. He also continued to miss open men. I think he has more than enough physical tools. I pray the staff and he find a way to leverage those tools without exposing him.

Their stats are similar, but I feel like Jones is playing much better than Hilliman. Jones moves with a quickness and clarity around the line that Hilliman has been lacking. I don't think it is Hilliman's recovery. I think his challenge is the line is so inconsistent and he's not adjusting as decisively as Jones. Willis didn't get many touches and got dinged up at one point. Wofford blocked well.

Smith made some big catches, but also dropped a few. I thought Callinan played well and blocked better than most of the WRs. Garrison's catch was great. I hope he returns at 100%.

I really don't know what to make of the offensive line. Or even how to judge them. Buffalo went all out to stop the run that our line was collapsing on too many plays. Even if our talent and experience was better on the OL, I don't know if there is an answer when the other team is crashing down like that.

Aside from the Towles isssues or the Offensive line problems, I still see too many moments of confusion out there. Taking time outs to before a critical play. Confusion coming out of the huddle. That is on Loefler to start to fix those problems. I know we scored plenty but I don't feel like it was a sharp, well designed gameplan...more like talent prevailing.

Defense: A- 

Smith was great. He dominated his matchups and showed real quickness. Gutapfel was good. Landry looked good.

Milano's biggest play was on Special Teams, but he looked good on D. Strachan played well. Scwab was good.

Moore played well. Johnson was very active and had some nice tackles. Yiadom was very good in pass coverage. Harris was good.

While Georgia Tech was a tougher task and the UMass game included plenty of sacks, this was BC's best Defensive performance of the year. Things were sound. The tackling was good. The scheme was the right mix of aggressiveness and conservative.

Special Teams: B+

Rouse continues to be a breathe of fresh air on Special Teams. His day was great even with his best run getting called back.

Knoll was solid throughout. His punts were well placed.

The punt block was very encouraging. Our Special Teams needs to be more aggressive to help the offense.

Overall: B

Didn't it feel like BC should have won by more? I hoped for a flawless victory, but this will have to do. My primary concern and criticism of Addazio is how flat the team seems during the early possessions. I am sure the weather, empty seats and opponents left the team wanting more. But during down moments like that, motivating the team becomes Addazio's primary job.

The real tests begins this week. Considering this was Addazio's last warm-up, he gets a decent grade.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

BC did what it had to do against Buffalo

Lots to digest in this BC win. Garrison goes down with a broken leg. Another flat start. Confusion leading to burned timeouts. Yet, on the flipside, Jones looked good in the backfield. The Defense dominated. Rouse looks really good on Special Teams.

The season seems like it will really come down to how much in-season improvement we can get from Towles and the Oline. At times things look good but moments later it is a mess.

BC has matched last year's win total. I hope they're not done.

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

In-game comments post: Buffalo

The last true cupcake of the season. I hope it is not interesting (in a good way) and the team looks better.

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