Thursday, December 10, 2020

BC decides not to go bowling


Dating back to TOB, BC placed importance on being "bowl eligible." The emphasis always seemed like a hedge for the day when BC was eligible yet not selected due to our travel reputation. This year BC is once again "bowl eligible" but for the first time ever decided to skip the postseason and call it a day. 

I personally am disappointed because I would have gladly watched the game from the comfort of my home surrounded by my family, basking in the afterglow of Christmas. I am not the one who would have crammed in game prep with exams and then missed Christmas with my family for a random game in Tampa on December 26. And that bowl was the optimal choice at this point. BC could have been sent to Boca during exams or even Annapolis. 

In normal years and normal conditions bowls are a reward. The players get money, gifts and swag. The team travels for multiple days and is hosted by the city. None of that would have happened this year. It would have been like a normal road game -- fly in, play, fly out. The team -- which has been in isolation since June -- would carry out COVID protocols for another two weeks just for this TV game. And looming over any commitment is that the game could be cancelled at any minute if something breaks down with the host city, the opponent or even BC. Is that fair to the kids? Is that even fun?

All the bowls outside the playoffs are sort of pointless. I know from experience how hard it is to justify these games. Last year I had to give my family pep talks to stick out the rain delay in Birmingham. AJ Dillon wasn't there. Why were the Maloneys?

Maybe COVID and an expanded playoff will kill the minor bowls all together. I love the novelty of seeing BC play a random opponent in a strange city. I want the players to get paid (even if it is non-cash) and have an "experience." And as I always say, more BC Football is a good thing. But this year maybe more is not better. 2020 was a great year for BC Football. There was hope for the future and excitement in the present. Why ruin that memory, that feeling and that momentum for a pointless game that the players' don't want? They gave us their heart this year. We should give them their Christmas.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Haf full

As frustrating and disappointing it was to lose to Virginia Saturday, I was a bit surprised by the number of people online who are upset about the season. I am not. In fact, I think this season was a huge success.

Every transition is different. This was not like TOB to Jags or Jags to Spaz, where we had lots of staff carryover and kept whole units consistent. This was a whole refresh and more like the transition of Spaz to Addazio. We changed Offensive and Defensive philosophy. We found a new QB. We put transfers all over the field. And we installed all this new info without a full spring and with all sorts of new restrictions due to COVID.

While six wins seems too familiar to BC fans, you have to remember we exceeded the oddsmakers', computers' and media's expectations. This was also six wins out of 11 games and this was the first time we ever played 10 P5 schools in one season. This schedule doesn't even compare to any we've faced since Henning's second year (and even Henning had Temple and Rutgers on the schedule).

But beyond the win total and dealing with the pandemic, I loved how Hafley handled games. We saw comebacks. We saw aggressiveness. We saw an emotional passionate coach, but not one who was not a bully, loudmouth or a goof ball. 

Was it perfect? No. There were a few issues that have been well discussed. Some units that were supposed to have been our best and deepest (Oline and LBs) looked to have taken a step back. Was is position coaching or scheme or overestimating the talent on hand? I don't know. It will certainly be something to follow going forward. The penalties were also inexcusable. Hafley admits he doesn't mind aggressiveness that results in penalties. That's fine. But there were plenty that we purely stupid. He's got to find a way to cut down on those. He has shown the can instill discipline. Look how he handled COVIP protocols. Now he just needs to use those same tenets to make sure the players play smart.

But why I am more optimistic about Hafley than I've been about any first year coach in my time as a BC fan, is that he showed strengths in game management, game planning and program management. Those are the things that are so hard to improve. Too often coaches are stuck in their ways or old school thinking, or are just not good at that stuff.  The stuff he needs to fix -- position coaches, talent, depth. Those things are fixable. Never getting a feel for a game is not.

All of this is still speculative. Hafley might never be much more than Addazio. But I am betting otherwise. I think this season was just the start and I see more great things to come. 

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Game Day Info: Virginia

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Low 50s with no chance to rain.

Radio: SiriusXM 382

TV: Regional sports networks. Here are the affiliates.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

BC-Virginia preview

As everyone else's season devolves into chaos, controversy and cancellations, our season is just...ending. We are playing an afternoon game against a .500 Virginia team with very little at stake. But it is still an opportunity. Another win is another statement. I also think that the unknown bowl situation does add a little juice to the matchup. This might be BC's last game. It would be important for all to end on a high note.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
There has been a lot of chatter about BC's bowl prospects given that the lower tier bowls are cancelling seemingly every day. The picture is also complicated by the one time rule that all teams are eligible regardless of record or games played. These sort of nebulous circumstances never go our way. Yet I remain hopeful. Ticket sales and travel are less of an issue this year. TV ratings rule and we are a proven TV draw. In the end I think a win over Virginia assures a bowl bid. A loss hurts, but is not crushing. I think ESPN and the ACC will put a lot of pressure on our bowl partners and someone will take us.

Three Simple Keys
1. Stay aggressive in the passing game. With Jurk not at 100% or with Grosel potentially getting time, there is the temptation to play conservatively. That is not a good idea. We are at our best when we are going deep and passing early. UVA has been burned in the passing game. I imagine Zay and CJ could do damage against their secondary.
2. Keep the running game simple. The zones and stretches looked good against Louisville. Keep doing that. It will also help the play action.
3. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. While not as careless as Louisville, Virginia will cough up the ball. We have to be looking for it and also get back to stripping the ball whenever we can.

Gambling Notes
-- BC leads the series 6-0
-- Hafley is 2-2 on the road
-- Mendenhall is 17-22 in ACC play
The current line is BC+4

Mendenhall's first game as a head coach was vs BC.

Scoreboard Watching
Nothing really impacts us at this point. I guess you could argue that it would help the ACC to have both Notre Dame and Clemson win, so they enter the ACC Championship game with one combined loss and in the driver seat for playoff spots. But at this point I am rooting for Clemson to destroy the Irish. This isn't some bitter BC fan mad at our rivals. It is more about the ACC bailing out Notre Dame and then springboarding the Irish into the playoffs. They are good. But what does the ACC get out of this if Notre Dame wins it all? (ND hosts Cuse and Clemson is at VT.)

I hope to see...that BC is so far ahead that they can empty the bench and get all of the walkons and freshman on the field at some point. Without having cupcakes on the schedule and by playing mostly close games, there hasn't been extended time for all the guys in the program. Hopefully it comes this weekend.

BC is in trouble if...we can't get QB pressure. I was fooled. When our front four destroyed Duke, I thought they were going to be pleasant surprise. Since that game they have been Ok to bad (depending on the game). We need to get pressure this week and we need it to start up front.

I am still surprised Virginia is favored. I know Virginia comes in relatively hot. They are at home. Our QB health is a big question mark. But I still think our passing game is enough to score plenty of them. I think, like last week, we also force a few turnovers and hold on in the end.
Final Score: BC 35, Virginia 27