Thursday, September 30, 2021

BC-Clemson preview

Regardless of what BC does in this game, the post-game narrative will be all about Clemson. If they lose, everyone will talk about how far Clemson has fallen. If they win, it was a bounce back game. So in that sense, BC has nothing to lose. We won't get much credit either way. But a "W" in the Atlantic standings is critical, so let's go win this thing!

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I've watched a lot of youtube highlights of last week and having Alumni filled makes a huge difference in how the game and program looks on those clips. When the game is televised live, the TV partner usually is so tight on the action, you rarely see the whole stadium or extensive shots of the crowd. But on these internet clips (usually taken by BC) the difference between packed stands and empty stands is dramatic. If Alumni does undergo renovations, I have no problem shrinking the seating capacity. I just think the density of a crowd needs to be maintained because it looks so much better.

Three Simple Keys
1. Dominate on the OLine. Last week's OLine performance was one the best of the BC unit in years (the home win against USC might have been the last time they looked that dominant at Alumni). Clemson's DLine is not as strong as some of their recent groups. It is paramount that our guys get good push, get to the second level and give Grosel time.
2. Give lots of looks defensively. We kept it simple the first few weeks and last week we dropped lots of guys into coverage. It made for some frustrating 3rd Down defense and didn't bring much pressure, but I think the same attack will work this week. Bend but don't break them to death.
3. Grosel need to be more accurate.  Can he be a 60% passer against Clemson and win? Probably not. But beyond juicing the completion percentage, he needs to be on time and on target (which was still an issue on some passes last week).

Gambling Notes
-- Clemson has won 10 straight in the series
-- BC is 4-1 against the spread in its last five games as an underdog
-- Clemson is 0-4 against the spread this year
The current line is BC+14.5

Due to the COVID schedule shuffle, this game has been played three straight times in South Carolina. The teams faced each other four straight times in Boston in the 1940s.

Scoreboard Watching
BC is off to a great start. Clemson is down. Florida State is a mess. But look who is also hot: Wake. It had to be Wake, just when BC is trending up. Let's see if they are for real when they take on Louisville this weekend. Louisville is not special, so a good team should put the Cardinals away.

I hope to see...
Another big day from Patrick Garwo. Because Levy had the big carries late and because we went through the air in OT, Garwo probably didn't get the attention he deserved. If he has another big night, that will be a good sign for BC in this game and going forward.

BC is in trouble if...
We turn the ball over three times. We got lucky last week that the early INT didn't set the tone. Protecting the ball is critical again.

Bottom Line
I think it will be similar to last week on the BC side. I think we will run the ball to control and be conservative on D. I think Clemson has a better D than Mizzou but a worse offense, so I expect fewer points overall. In the end, I think we ride the Oline to another huge victory.
Final Score: BC 28, Clemson 24

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Game Day Info: Mizzou

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Low 70s and partially cloudy. It could rain a bit.

Radio: SiriusXM 192


Thursday, September 23, 2021

BC-Mizzou preview

College Gameday will probably only mention this game in passing, but don't be mistaken. It is huge. Or at least huge for BC (and BC fans). Winning this game will lead to BC being ranked going into Clemson. It will mean a 4-0 non-conference record, which will likely lead to a strong final record. But a win would also mean that given time, Hafley can prep for a big non-conference game and win with his back-up QB and as a home underdog. Good teams and great coaches win games like this.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
There is always a bit of disconnect between the moods and perceptions of the casual BC fan, the casual college sports fan and the diehard BC football fan. (If you are reading this, you probably are closer to the diehard category.) To those who don't follow closely, the good start and the Grosel story are fun and nice to sees. To the more engaged fan, we are all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is Hafley for real? Is Grosel going to be good or revert back to his previous form? So you come to a game like this weekend and the casual fan is sort of paying attention while the diehard is putting a lot more weight into the outcome. This happens with many BC events and sports. I don't know how you bridge the divide or if you should. Do the casual fans need to "get in" if you will? Do the diehards need to chill out? I don't know. Whether it is BC sports or even BC issues in general, the only real change comes is when there is consensus and everyone feels the same. 

Three Simple Keys
1. Don't force things downfield. I know that going conservative takes away some of our best weapons, but I don't trust us to force it with Grosel. His passes should be timing, shorter and often off of play action.
2. Control the line of scrimmage on Offense.  The Oline has been a bit inconsistent so far this season. One drive they look great and the next play things are a mess. To win this weekend, they need to play to their reputation and ability and control early.
3. Avoid costly penalties. BC ultimately held Temple in check but that doesn't mean there weren't plenty of stupid penalties. Many of them were drive extenders. That can't happen this week.

Gambling Notes
-- Drinkwitz is 2-1 in non-conference games
-- Mizzou is 5-4 vs the ACC
-- BC is 14-20-1 vs the SEC 
The current line is BC+1.5

As you will probably hear once or twice this weekend, this is the first meeting of the two schools. With this game, BC will have played 11 of the current 14 members of the SEC.

Scoreboard Watching
The ACC is off to a horrible start so it makes sense that it happens when Wake is trending up! The Deacons play UVA this weekend. Like our game against Missouri, this will be a test if Wake is for real.

I hope to see...
A big crowd at kickoff. With the vaccine screening, BC knows there will be long lines and has sent out a message to get your bracelet early and get to your seats on time. I hope the fans follow the recommendations.

BC is in trouble if...
We don't make the Tigers pay for stacking the box. I have a feeling this will look like an Addazio game. The key for BC will be play action passing into a crowded box. Guys should be open.

Bottom Line
I don't have a great feeling going into this game. I will still pick BC to win, but think it will be very close. I think a defensive or special teams TD will be the difference.
Final Score: BC 24, Mizzou 17

Sunday, September 19, 2021

What to expect after a 3-0 start

For 10th time since the FCS/FBS split in 1978, BC has started 3-0. Not all 3-0 starts are the same, but in general is a good sign for the season and for Hafley's future. 

First let's look at the history.

Year Coach First Loss Final Record
2018 Addazio Week 4 7-5
2007 Jags Week 9 11-3
2006 TOB Week 4 10-3
2004 TOB Week 4 9-3
1999 TOB Week 5 8-4
1998 TOB Week 4 4-7
1992 Coughlin Week 9 8-3-1
1984 Bicknell Week 5 10-2
1983 Bicknell Week 4 9-3

If you look at the list, the 3-0 seasons tend to correlate with our best years. We only had one losing season after starting 3-0 and had three different double digit win seasons after starting 3-0. 

While this season's schedule opened up with some very easy games, I still think a bad coach can screw up an easy schedule. The fact that TOB navigated some friendly starts and Spaz never did and Addazio only did it once is telling. Hafley hasn't had to pull out any unusual stops in our first three games, but he has managed the starting QB going down and had the team focused and ready to play each game so far.

The ultimate test for this season is probably Saturday against Mizzou, but even if that doesn't go as hoped, the good start is sign of good things to come.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Game Day Info: Temple

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Low 70s. Great football weather

Radio: SiriusXM 202


Thursday, September 16, 2021

BC-Temple preview

In many seasons, in many sports there is a need to reset. Something happens that basically changes the expectations of the entire season: for good or bad. Unfortunately for BC, we have reset and it is not good. Temple shouldn't be a problem and a winning season should still be the expectation, but I don't think Dennis Grosel will be the QB to lead us to double-digit wins. That is not a slam on Grosel. He is likable and capable. And our season depends on him. But to have a special season, you needed everything to go your way. To have a special season we needed Jurk to be an elite QB who took his game to the next level. He can't take his game (or BC) to the next level on the sidelines. Instead we will get scrappy, former walk-on Dennis Grosel. It can still be fun and interesting, but will be a different kind of special.
What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
USC is looking for a new coach and of course Hafley was one of a dozen names already floated for the job. I don't think he will get it -- for a variety of reasons, but seeing the names mentioned was another reminder that there are not a lot of sure things out there. USC has the history, resources and location to make a great hire yet like so many other programs (Texas, Nebraska, etc.) has trouble finding guys who can win big there. Hiring in sports is about finding the right coach and the right time and in the right place. I think we have that with Hafley. And if we do, he will go on to bigger places than USC.

Three Simple Keys
1. Dominate in the run game again. It might seem like Addazio ball, but I think we need to be a run first team in most of our remaining games. It plays to the OLine's strength, our talent in the backfield and our QB. 
2. Clean up the coverage. We kept it simple last week against UMass but there were still plenty of blown or missed assignments in the passing game. We can't let that happen this week.
3. Keep Grosel healthy. I love a QB run more than most (because so often it is there for the taking) but don't waste those plays on a bad Temple team. We need Grosel to keep us competitive the rest of the way.

Gambling Notes
-- BC leads the all time series 29-7-2 
-- BC has won six straight against Temple
-- BC is 2-0 at The Linc
The current spread is BC-16.5

BC is 49-47-2 all time vs AAC teams.

Scoreboard Watching
The ACC is not off to a great start. We could use a good non-conference win and our best shot might be VT's game with West Virginia. While I was hoping for a down year from the Hokies, it would be nice for them to win this weekend.

I hope to see...
Some good deep balls. Arm strength is obviously the biggest difference between Grosel and Jurk. I don't think that has changed, but I don't want to forget about going deep. We have the speed to do so. Let's keep trying to hit those passes.

BC is in trouble if...
This game comes down to field goals. We are not healthy on the special teams depth chart either. It better not be a factor.

Bottom Line
I am not really worried about this game. Temple is bad and we should overpower them. As long as the D looks better, this can be a positive, building block weekend.
Final Score: BC 31, Temple 14

Saturday, September 11, 2021

BC gets the win but also a wake up call

Lots of people (myself included) said the schedule and the roster might lead to a special season for BC. Saturday's win over UMass was a reminder that BC still has plenty of flaws and needs to improve before ACC play begins. But the biggest issue for this game and the season is Phil Jurkovec's health. The BC QB hurt his wrist early in the game and never returned. BC provided very little detail about the extent of the injury (although Hafley expressed optimism). Without Jurk, the offense still scored but mostly by just running the ball down UMass' throat. The passing game was much more limited.

The D was a bigger concern. They allowed UMass to move the ball with ease. While the turnovers and some goalline stands gave BC enough cushion, the pass coverage and QB pressures need to get better quickly.

A win is a win. I understand that and hope the staff is using these games to figure out what they have. Let's also hope that Jurk is back very soon.

Game Day Info: UMass

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Mid 70s and partially cloudy

Radio: SiriusXM 202

TV: NESN. If you can't get the NESN feed try UMass's streaming partner FloSports.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

BC-UMass preview

Scheduling is an art, not a science. I don't have a problem scheduling UMass. They're close. It is a FBS win. We should encourage regional football. I even understand playing them this early. This allows Hafley and company to ease into the season. But it is hard to get excited about this game. When your primary concern is coming out unscathed, it is probably not an ideal opponent

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
The Big Ten-ACC-Pac 12 Alliance generated a lot of social media talk during last weekend's slate of games. I don't really get it or see it as a SEC vs us situation. In my opinion, the Alliance was just a counter measure to keep all the power going to the SEC. But the creep to true professionalism won't stop. And I don't think all the Alliance members are going to be on the same page when this goes to the next level. For BC, it makes sense. We just need to keep grouping ourselves with like-minded programs (private schools that somewhat care about academics). So while it is nice to see an Alliance partner -- like UCLA -- score a win over a big, bad SEC power, for BC it doesn't really mean much. We just need the Alliance to buy time until we know what we want to do with our sports programs.

Three Simple Keys
1. Execute better.
Last weekend was a blowout, but there were still plenty of dropped passes and off target passes. That needs to be cleaned up this week.
2. Get pressure without blitzing. Someone in the front needs to establish himself as a dominant player. It would be nice to beat UMass without tipping off future opponents.
3. Avoid turnovers. Don't do anything stupid and give UMass hope.

Gambling Notes
-- BC leads the series 22-5.
-- BC has won 10 straight in the series.
-- Since making the jump to FBS, UMass has yet to beat a Power 5 team
The current line is BC-37

BC last played in Amherst in 1982.

Scoreboard watching
It is sort of a slow weekend for ACC games. The most relevant to us is probably NC State vs Mississippi State. I don't think the Wolfpack are any better than we are, however, beating MSU would be impressive (or more impressive than wins over Colgate and UMass).

I hope to see...
Jurk leave the game without injury early in the second half. Hafley even mentioned that his brother got on him for leaving Jurk in too long last week. Don't make the same mistake again.

BC is in trouble if...
We turn the ball over five time. That's about it. That is the only way I see us losing.

Bottom Line
I think UMass will go all out to stop the run like Colgate did. Then it is up to our passing threats to light up the scoreboard. I think BC plays better than last week and lots of guys play.
Final Score: BC 49, UMass 10

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Just what BC needed

This was a glorified scrimmage. But that is ok. Guys shook off some rust. Plenty of guys got to play. No one got hurt. But the best part is that fans were back in the stands. I will have more in the coming days, but this is how a season opener against Colgate is supposed to go.


Game Day Info: Colgate

No comments this year.

What you need to know

Weather: Mids 70s and sunny

Radio: SiriusXM 193 

TV: ACC Network

Thursday, September 02, 2021

BC-Colgate preview

I don't know if things will ever get back to normal, but this weekend BC will play football in Alumni Stadium with real fans in the stands. It is only Colgate so the football will probably be sloppy and a little boring, but it will still be BC Football! As I've been writing all week, I think this could be a special season. So as uninteresting as a game against Colgate may be, this should be viewed as part of a larger story: the return to exciting BC Football where the whole College Football world pays attention.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game) 
Fans return to Alumni this weekend and will find it...pretty much the same as they left. Alumni hasn't really changed much since the 1993-94 renovations. Athletics' infrastructure has focused on a variety of higher priority projects without really addressing our biggest asset. We've had concession, scoreboard and turf adjustments, but haven't really done anything for the majority of fans. As the fan experience changes across all sports and BC's demographics change, perhaps it is time to assess what Alumni should look like, how many seats are really needed and will major improvements to seats, restrooms and concessions improve attendance. I like a lot about Alumni and have many fond memories there. But I don't have to sit there seven weekends a year. The intimacy and the access are unbeatable, but maybe some modern comforts and bells and whistles are needed as the current iteration of the stadium heads nears its 30th birthday.

Three Simple Keys
1. Come out healthy. This game is a tune up. Nothing more. So the key is not to get anyone important hurt. Once we go up by 20, starters need to sit.
2. Rotate a lot on the front seven. The first two games of the season are critical to see what sort of talent and depth we have upfront. Get as many guys playing as possible and see who shows promise.
3. Save any wrinkles. This gameplan should be as basic as possible. Establish some basic tendencies, but save any tricks of counters for Temple and Missouri.

Gambling Notes
-- BC has never played Colgate
-- BC has won four straight season openers
-- Colgate has not beaten an FBS team since the DI split.
The current line is BC-46.5

We have played four of the seven Patriot League football teams. BC is yet to schedule Bucknell, Lafayette or Lehigh.

Scoreboard Watching
There are plenty of ACC teams playing in important games this weekend, but I don't think any are as meaningful as Clemson vs Georgia. Clemson will probably win the ACC again. However, to get national respect and attention, they need to beat UGA.

I hope to see...
Plenty of Grosel time. If we go up big early, Jurk will sit. 

BC is in trouble if...
75% of the team tests positive for COVID before game time. Other than that, this should be no big deal.

Bottom Line
Colgate is well coached and a good Patriot League program, but they are still overmatched in a big way. BC just needs to do its thing and not overthink this.
Final Score: BC 51, Colgate 14

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Season Prediction Part III: what will happen

The outlook for this season is pretty straight forward...even from blind, Hafley apologists like me. We have a very good QB and what should be a prolific and explosive offense. We have a very friendly schedule with nearly four wins guaranteed. The biggest issue is going to be the D. Can Hafley and Lukabu get this group up to speed quickly? It lacks depth and much of that side of the ball is either mediocre or untested. I think the DBs will carry the team, but have no idea what the front will do to help out. I think Hafley will get the most out of them and it will be a fun season, but we are not at a championship level yet. This serves as my official prediction for the season.

What Will Happen

Colgate. Win. Colgate does some things well, but I can't see this one being close.

at UMass. Win. This should also be very one sided. I hope lots of backups play the first two weeks. 

at TempleWin. The first real test. I don't take it lightly but still think we win.

Mizzou. Win. The season turns on this game. By going 4-0 out of conference, Hafley puts BC in a position to exceed their win totals of the last decade. 

at ClemsonLoss. Probably a lot like last year, where they take our early punch but we can't put them away.

NC StateWin. Probably a tougher game than many expect. We get back in the rankings after this 'W.'

at Louisville. Win. Another close game, but we hang on.

at Syracuse. Win. I think things could very well be falling apart for Syracuse by this point in their season.

Virginia TechLoss. I don't think VT is special, but I just don't see us navigating the second half of the schedule without some hiccups.

at Georgia Tech. Win. Hafley wins another close game. Jurk is generating a lot of buzz now.

Florida StateLoss. If FSU gets their offense going, I worry about this game.

Wake Forest. Win. Wake late in the season (or any time really) can always make things interesting. I think at this point Hafley would know what his team is and isn't and get them to perform at a high level.

9-3 (5-3 in the ACC) would be BC's best showing in years. Everyone is excited. But we push for the Holiday Bowl since not many ACC teams want to go west and we have enough fans and alums in Southern California to make it appealing. We play some mid-level Pac 12 team (Stanford?) and win. A 10-win season with seven wins over P5 teams is a huge deal in Year 2. Everyone is looking forward to Hafley Year 3.

Season Prediction Part II: Worst Case Scenario

The annual what could be series. I am excited about the season and do believe big things are ahead. But that doesn't mean that it couldn't all fall apart. We are young and have a ton of question marks on the defensive side of the ball. Teams will probably adjust to our our offense a bit. And that precious luck, which seemed to favor us last year, could even out with some bad bounces this season. This is a worst case scenario situation. Final prediction will post Wednesday.

Worst Case Scenario

Colgate. Win. The schedule is very friendly. This is example No. 1.

at UMass. Win. Even in our worst years, the schedule comes with a couple of built in wins. 

at TempleWin. A close game here has everyone nervous.

Mizzou. Loss. The bubble bursts.

at ClemsonLoss. The best team in the conference kills us.

NC StateLoss. I don't think the team will just roll over, but this is another loss.

at Louisville. Loss. A four game losing streak is a sign the season is falling apart.

at Syracuse. Win. stop the bleeding game. Even in terrible seasons, good coaches pull out wins.

Virginia TechLoss. If our D is terrible, these are the games we will lose.

at Georgia Tech. Loss. On the of those bad luck games.

Florida StateLoss. Another losing streak.

Wake Forest. Win. Hafley ends the season with a win to calm everyone's nerves.

This scenario would be very disappointing. Hafley showed signs of being special last year with how he manages the team and manages a game. This would have me doubting Year 1. But as I said, I don't think it would happen. 5-7 would mean no bowl and lots of questions, but if 5-7 is a considered a terrible year, than that would show Hafley has just raised expectations.