Thursday, September 29, 2022

BC-Louisville preview

The Jeff Hafley bandwagon is a lonely place right now. Can you blame his critics and doubters? Last week was a disaster. Florida State is good, but we were inept on Offense and wore down on Defense. I don't know where to start on Jurk. I drank the Kool-Aid, but I am not alone. He was on various watch lists and the Senior Bowl people were at the FSU game to scout him for their showcase game! This is a total regression that can't be pinned solely at the feet of the OLine. Phil deserves some heat, but Hafley should carry the brunt of it. The mismanagement of the Offensive Line in the offseason and the transition from Cig to McNulty's playbook and play calling has squandered some elite playmakers, set back a potential pro QB and put the D in huge holes. I trust Hafley to find and develop talent. He has done it before. But if he wants to stick around to coach this talent he has to make some tough and smart decisions now. He has to salvage any positivity and respectability he can out of this season. In the offseason he needs to figure out what his offense is and who he trusts to coach and execute that vision.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
As the games slip away, there is always someone on Twitter who says we never should have fired Addazio. I don't understand that logic. Even if you think Addazio is better than Hafley (I don't), he had seven years to show he was more than a .500 coach. He was never going to be anything more than that. BC athletes and the BC community deserve better than that. Will Hafley exceed Addazio's ceiling? I don't know. But if he can't then BC needs to move on again. Great programs move on from mediocre coaches.

Three Simple Keys
1. Establish the run early. Even if it feels Addazio-ish with run, run, pass, punt, I think BC needs to be stubborn and purposeful early. It will help the D, the Oline and even Jurk.
2. Get Jurk involved in the running game. This is sort of related to Key 1. Jurk can move. We run the read option, but he never keeps it. Having him run will move the chains and set up play action for him later in the game.
3. Allow fewer explosive plays. This means disciplined and smart tackling. 

Gambling Notes
-- Hafley is 0-4 against the spread this season
-- Louisville is 3-4 all time at Alumni
-- Louisville is 2-2 against the spread this year
The current line is BC+14.5

This is BC's 141 regular season ACC game.

Scoreboard Watching
FSU-Wake Forest. I think we made FSU look better than they are. If they throttle Wake then we know they are actually "back."

What I hope to see...
A non offensive touchdown. I don't care how it comes: punt return, pick 6, scoop and score. I just would love to see something go our way and create some excitement. 

BC is in trouble if...
We go down early. Hafley even said so himself. Execution and talent are the biggest issues right now, but the mental aspect of this all is also part of the problem. We have zero confidence and show little fight. If we get down early, I think this team could be in for another beat down.

Bottom Line
This is a bad time in a coaching tenure. I can't even talk myself into a win. I want it. I want to believe. I still like Hafley. But I have little faith in the offense being able to manufacture enough points to win the game.
Final Score: BC 17, Louisville 27

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022

BC-Florida State preview

Fan debates and discussion all drive towards the extreme. There are those who believe BC will never win another game again…ever. And those who think we are one move, play, player, a bit of luck away from greatness. When we step back and take a breath, the reality is probably the somewhere in the middle. (Where in the middle is another debate.) I still have hope for Hafley but until he gets an overwhelming talent advantage at BC, he is going to have to get better at the week-to-week, game-to-game aspect of managing the season. This Florida State team has a talent advantage. But they are not all that far removed from chaos and disappointment themselves. Prior to the season, Norvell was on everyone’s Hot Seat list. The best BC teams of the past would go into this game with quiet confidence, hang around and watch the Seminoles imploded. I don’t know if we are there yet. But if Hafley does show some ability to course correct midseason, that will be a great sign for this game and the weeks ahead.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Despite the disappointing start, Hafley and company still have recruiting momentum. This is a good sign for the future, but also is a good sign for the present. One of the most overlooked aspects of recruiting is how the current players sell the program and staff to visitors. Once a coach loses the locker room, you can start to see it with comments from potential recruits. Even though we are frustrated, it seems like the players still believe.

Three Simple Keys
1. Win the turnover margin. This means Jurk is making good decisions and the D is being opportunistic.
2. Get Takacs involved early. Short, quick passes will hopefully help Jurk get in a groove.
3. Incremental improvement on the Oline. Florida State has some depth issues in their front seven. If we can minimize mistakes and get to the second level, we might break some big runs.

Gambling Notes
-- BC is 0-3 against the spread this year
-- Florida State is 2-1 against the spread
-- BC is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games vs Florida State
The current line is BC+17.5

BC last won in Tallahassee in 2008. (This was such a fun game and fun season. Good back and read the recap.)

Scoreboard Watching
Clemson-Wake has huge implications for the ACC race. It is the biggest test either team has faced so far. I still think this might be one of those seasons where it all comes together for Wake. If so, they need to win this weekend.

What I hope to see…
The young running backs get touches. They provided a clear spark and nice change of pace last week. This is a little different than Maine, but I am all for giving the young guys a shot. You never know who will surprise

BC is in trouble if…
Jurk is out of rhythm and forcing things. If we are going to win, he needs to be the best quarterback in the stadium.

Bottom Line 
I want to I will keep pushing that rock up the hill hoping that things click this Saturday. With that in mind, Jurk looks better than he has all season and the BC offense explodes against a real team and avoids giving the ‘Noles a short field. The BC D also looks sturdier.
Final Score: BC 35, FSU 27

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Friday, September 16, 2022

BC-Maine preview

A must win against Maine. Who would have thought? BC is a heavy favorite, so there is no sense of dread heading into the game. But BC can't lose. If they do, that says more than enough about this team and this coaching staff.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
This biggest news of the week for BC football was the report that the the power football schools don't want to break away from the NCAA. Don't worry, it wasn't altruism. The report stated that the cost and infrastructure to break away would be too expensive. This means the ACC stays alive and BC conceviably has access to the playoff. However, there are still plenty of legal barriers regarding paying players as well as more conferences shuffles ahead. This is never over, but it looks like BC and the ACC will have a place at the table for another couple of years.

Three Simple Keys
1. Jurk going through his progressions. As much heat as the OLine has been getting, I am so disappointed in the Jurkovic-McNulty combination. They need to find plays they both like, that work and that Jurk can work through his options vs just forcing it in.
2. Defensive turnovers. This team needs to start ball hawking. It will help this game and hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season.
3. Better returns in the punt coverage. We are losing a lot of yards by letting the ball roll. BC needs to get more positive yards in the punt return team.

Gambling Notes
-- BC is 0-2 against the spread this season
-- BC has won six straight in the series
-- BC has not lost to an FCS team since 1978
The current line is BC-24.5

Maine has four victories over FBS teams.

Scoreboard Watching
Not a great weekend for ACC matchups. It will be interesting to see how NC State handles Texas Tech. I am not a big fan of NC State, but this sort of win would be big for them. 

What I hope to see…
No one get hurt. The UMass game last year changed the course of the season. Let's get through this one unscathed.

BC is in trouble if…
We can’t protect against Maine. I know it is still early in the season and how the Oline plays now vs later in the season won't be the same, but on raw talent and size, we can't let Maine push us around.

Bottom Line
Despite all the hand wringing after last week, I am not worried about this week. If we can’t score on this team, then give up on the whole season.
Final: BC 35, Maine 13

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Friday, September 09, 2022

BC-Virginia Tech Preview

This is a must win. Not in the sense that Hafley will be fired or on some sort of hot seat. But it is critical to prove the staff can make adjustments quickly after just one game. If we lose this game, the new season momentum is dead and you can expect recruiting and fan interest to follow. I believe in Hafley still and very good coaches are usually able to stop losing streaks and keep everyone on track. Let's hope my belief pays off. 

What’s on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Even the ACC's big wins last week were sloppy close calls. That doesn't rationalize our performance but it does give me hope that BC can be competitive in every game on the schedule.

Three Simple Keys
1. Keep the protections and blocking schemes simple. As I believe someone mentioned on the broadcast, BC had multiple OL guys down field on pass plays. And that was just one of their problems. They were green and overpowered but also asked to do too much. This week needs to be simple. What we lose in the element of surprise, we hopefully make up with better play.
2. Use Jurk in the run game. It might be risky putting him in read option plays, but he is generally good at them. Doing it a few times early could help the running game and create play action passing.
3. Stop the run. VT is going to copy Rutgers and keep it on the ground.

Gambling Notes
-- BC coaches are 3-2 in their first games at Lane Stadium
-- VT was 4-5 at Lane Stadium last year
-- BC is 5-8 in Lane Stadium all time
The current line is BC+2.5

Virginia Tech’s head coaches are 1-1 in their first games against BC.

Scoreboard Watching
The ACC Schedule is not great this weekend. UConn does play Syracuse. While that might not be an exciting game, it will be a matchup of future opponents. Maybe it will tell us how bad the Huskies are.

What I hope to see…
BC move the ball around. You want your best players targeted. That’s smart. But it is also a fine balance. Hitting the open man more often, giving Zay the occasional breather and mixing in other players will make the offense much better.
BC is in trouble if…
Jurk is turning the ball over again. Although he was under consistent pressure, neither INT was due to the Oline. He forced both throws. It is a lot to ask, but he needs to be close to perfect.
Bottom Line
I think BC wins this week. As deflating as last week was, I think they cut down on mistakes and BC’s D holds in the end.
Final Score: BC 24, Virgina Tech 14

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Paying the price for safe scheduling

There is a lot to digest about the season opening loss to Rutgers, but one thing that is not being discussed is how scheduling and playing programs like Rutgers is probably not in BC's best interest.

Once we joined a conference in the '90s, BC also added a long series of games with Notre Dame to fill out its non-conference schedule. This worked on many levels. It provided a great recruiting talking point and generated a lot of fan, alumni and media interest. When Notre Dame wanted to end the series, Gene replaced their first gap in the schedule with USC. (The Irish are now forced to play us on a rotational basis as part of their agreement with the ACC.) At the time the deal was signed USC was the premier program in the country. To most it seemed like BC was signing up for two losses and a nice pay day. But that is not what happened. When the teams took the field it wasn't Jags vs Pete Carroll. It was Addazio vs Lane Kiffin (and Sark a year later). Hell, Gene wasn't even around to see the games. And in the end, BC split the series, including a raucous win at Alumni. But even if BC had lost both games, the scheduling was smart. No one -- including media, fans and recruits -- would have felt differently if USC had crushed BC two times. That is what is supposed to happen. Splitting the series gave BC a little more respect and provided a great moment for the players and fans. 

After Gene left, Brad Bates shifted the scheduling philosophy a bit. (I have been told he was listening to Addazio, but official word from BC was "football coaches don't make their schedules.") Instead of pushing hard for elite programs (beyond the Ohio State series that keeps getting pushed back), BC began scheduling the opposite of the USCs. At the time we scheduled them, Purdue, Kansas, Mizzou and Rutgers were some of the worst Power 5 teams in the country. It was extremely cynical and short-sighted to think they would remain that way once BC finally took the field against them. None of them had broad appeal when we scheduled them and none were particularly interesting once we took the field. And unlike USC, I don't think BC fans have or will travel for these games. So far in this dregs of the Power 5 series we are 2-3. 

1-1 vs Rutgers
0-1 vs Purdue
0-1 vs Kansas
1-0 vs Mizzou

What do we have to show for it? One exciting win against Missouri. These are classic games where you are expected to win, so no one really cares when you do win, but everyone is frustrated and embarrassed when you lose. 

Since Bates and Addazio have left, we have extended the series with Rutgers. On its own, you can rationalize it because New Jersey is an important recruiting territory for us and it is a close game for our fans. But as long as Schiano is still there, it will be a tough game with little upside. 

Other future Power 5 scheduled games are not as frustrating. In the next six years we have tentative games against Stanford, Michigan State and the return game with Mizzou. But going forward, I would advise an BC AD to avoid scheduling the Power 5 bottom feeders and think more about recreating the magic of the USC win. 

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Game Day Info: Rutgers

Weather: In the 70s and slightly cloudy

Radio: SiriusXM 193

TV: ACC Network

Thursday, September 01, 2022

BC-Rutgers Preview

I know BC message boards, twitter and the casual conversations I have don’t necessarily capture the mood around BC football, but it does provide insight into some portion of the fan base. And of those I talk to, I think more than a decade of “just okay” football permanently lowered expectations. That’s why this year is so critical. No one thought Spaz would ever produce anything special. Addazio had a few more believers, but there still was a general sense of skepticism from Day 1. Hafley was always about the upside. And now would be a great time to over deliver and put together more than seven wins. He can do it. The pieces and schedule are there. But you can’t get to ten wins without the first one. Let’s beat Rutgers and get things soaring again!

What’s on my mind (not totally related to this game)
I nearly forecasted us to the playoffs, so I wasn’t too concerned with the Fenway Bowl. However, if you read any bowl projections for the season, most of the pundits have us staying really close to home and playing in the fledgling Fenway Bowl. The one problem with that is the game is scheduled for December 17. Historically BC fought against playing in any bowl game during exams. Will they be as adamant about this issue under Blake James? Will playing 10 minutes away be enough for BC to reconsider? I don’t know. I don’t want it to come down to the Fenway Bowl, but barring 11-2, Fenway is going to be in the mix.

Three Simple Keys 
1. Oline execution. So much has been written about the thin and inexperienced Oline. I am not as worried because after all these years watching BC football, I think it is the Oline coach really makes or breaks the unit. DeGuglielmo has been around the block a few times, but has enough of the Coughlin and Belichick touch points that I think he will have this group performing well from the start.
2. Explosive plays. This has been BC’s M.O. when Jurk is healthy. If we get big plays, everything hums. If not, we struggle.
3. Give whoever is playing QB for them multiple looks. We might see multiple guys under center this weekend. I know in Week 1 you don’t want to show all your looks, but if we can keep them off balance and guessing, they will probably make mistakes.

Gambling Notes
-- Hafley is 12-11 against the spread
-- BC has won five straight season openers
-- BC leads the series 20-6-1
The current line is BC-7.5

The last time Rutgers won at Alumni was 1988.

Scoreboard Watching
There is lots of football this weekend. It should be glorious. While it is too early to make much of our future opponents, I will pay attention to Notre Dame vs Ohio State. Sustaining Brian Kelly’s success will be harder than most think.

I hope to see… 
A breakout performance by one of the young defensive lineman. We know Hafley and his staff can recruit and develop DBs. They’ve yet to bring in anyone who really stands out upfront. There is a lot of young talent in the mix now. We need one or multiple guys to step up. That would help beat Rutgers but also make a difference on the season’s outlook.

BC is in trouble if…
Jurk gets hurt. I’ve read and heard about how much better the QB depth chart is now compared to last year, but this team is going to live or die with how well Jurk does. If he gets dinged up again, this could be a long season.

Bottom Line
I obviously have very high hopes about the season. Even if this year goes sideways and becomes a mess, it won’t start this weekend. BC hits some big, explosive plays early. We get a defensive turnover or two to hold on and wins the season opener.
Final Score: BC 31, Rutgers 17