Friday, October 27, 2023

BC-UConn preview

Everyone -- myself included -- is drinking the Kool-aid and believing the hype. I don't know if it will last. I don't know if it is real. But it is fun. And in the end, I think that's what I want. There were moments of fun during the Spaz and Addazio days, but the flaws on the field and the flaws of those wearing the headsets felt so permanent, that it was hard to get too juiced up. Hafley lost to Northern Illinois this year, so I am not calling him the next Coughlin. But the way this win streak and season is coming together gives me hope he is figuring things out. In the meantime, let's keep rolling and enjoy it while we can. 

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Earlier this year when it looked like the Hafley era might be coming to a close, the typical internet speculation kicked in. Inevitably there were plenty of "this guy would never take that job" comments. I usually retort with "you'd be surprised about who would take what as there are only so many jobs." A textbook case of guys looking for any job is Jim Mora at UConn. This is a long-time NFL coach and a guy who coached at UCLA. He had no connection to UConn or really the region. Yet here he was taking the UConn job. My point is these guys usually need to work for ego, financial and boredom reasons and there are only so many high-level jobs. Now would Nick Saban drop everything and take the UConn job? Of course not. But guys looking for their shot or a second chance or a salary north of $1 million will. And they will certainly listen to BC when our job opens up one day.

Three Simple Keys
1. Be conservative with new wrinkles and counters. I am not taking UConn for granted. But we shouldn't have to do much other than just plow forward and run them over. I don't want BC using any new looks or variations. Save those for the games where we are underdogs.
2. Be more aggressive with the punt returns. We've been letting too many punts roll and putting our Offense in bad starting field positions. We need to curtail that.
3. Continue to play aggressive man coverage. After we got burned against Louisville, I thought our DBs were terrible. They've looked better of late. I hope they continue to play more man this weekend as it helps the front and creates turnovers.

Gambling Notes
-- BC leads the series 12-1-2 
 -- UConn has never won or tied at Alumni
 -- UConn is 3-4 against the spread this year
The current line is BC-14

This is UConn's second visit to Alumni since their lawsuit against BC after the Big East split.

Scoreboard Watching
Duke-Louisville. On Sunday, some true believers started circulating a twitter post regarding what needs to happen for BC to make the ACC Championship Game. It's a lot, but the fact that we are even entertaining a run is nice. Needless to say, we need both Duke and Louisville to lose some games down the stretch. Someone is getting a loss in this game.

BC is in trouble if...we can't get the run going. I don't see us as one-dimensional, but I don't think this current roster lends itself to being pass heavy.

I hope to one get hurt. Too often in these cupcake games we see a brutal, season changing injury.

Bottom Line
Last year was a nightmare and won't happen again. I think BC plays smart and tough and UConn can't keep up.
Final Score: BC 35, UConn 14

Thursday, October 19, 2023

BC-Georgia Tech preview

From a fan perspective, these close games can be exhausting. Who wants to be sweating out a rainy game against Army? But beyond our emotions, lots of close games are not a good sign. Very good teams win by healthy margins. The problem with playing too many close games is it magnifies one or two plays and invites the opponent to steal the game from you. Unlike say TOB's penchant for close games, I don't think it is a product of playing too conservatively. In most of these cases it is because BC either starts slow or goes cold for long stretches. To truly turn the corner, Hafley needs the team to play at a high level for 60 minutes.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Georgia Tech is playing Florida State in Ireland next year. We haven't been back since we played the Yellow Jackets in 2016 and I don't know when will potentially play there again. I know we didn't max out on our tickets and packages last time (enthusiasm wasn't great coming off Addazio's worst season). But Addazio also pissed off a lot of the Irish organizers. He did his typical bully, yell at innocent people who are just trying to do their jobs routine throughout the trip. Despite our problems now, putting up with seven years of his behavior for .500 football was an incredible waste of time and good will.

Three Simple Keys
1. Avoid Castellanos turnovers. I will give him a break for the Army game. It was a wet, wet mess. But the truth is he does force some bad throws. He can't keep doing that because GT and all remaining opponents are going to stack the box and dare him to throw.
2. Put the game on the offensive line again. They get better each week, so it should remain an advantage. In Tech's bad losses this year, it was because the other team controlled the Line and put up big numbers on the ground.
3. Reset after taking on a gimmick offense. BC looked good against Army's new look until they lost focus and started biting on plays in the second half. Tech is more conventional but play action will still be a factor. BC needs to stay focused.

Gambling Notes
-- Hafley is 2-0 vs Georgia Tech
-- GT leads the series 7-4
-- BC is 1-1 against the spread this year on the road
The current line is BC+5

BC has never won three in a row vs Georgia Tech.

Scoreboard Watching
Pitt-Wake Forest. I thought Pitt's season was over, but a QB change sparked a huge upset last week. Can they keep it up this week? 

BC is in trouble if...we don't score 30 or more. These close games are not going to always go our way. We need to be a little more aggressive and efficient on offense.

I hope to see...BC increase their pace a bit this week. As much as I appreciate a good, methodical and dominant run performance, I think a slower game helps Tech. We can keep it on the ground, but let's use tempo a good bit. 

Bottom Line
My confidence level isn't as high for this game as others, but Georgia Tech is beatable. I think Castellanos puts up some big numbers in his home state and our D does enough to win without it coming down to the last minute.
Final Score:
BC 35, Georgia Tech 24

Thursday, October 05, 2023

BC-Army preview

The short season nature of college football always has you looking ahead to the rest of the schedule. After BC beat Virginia last week, I revisited the remaining opponents and felt better. As UConn, Pitt and Georgia Tech’s terrible days progressed, BC’s chance at a winning season and Hafley saving his job became much more viable. All of that presumes we beat Army this week. The Cadets are favored and our last trip to West Point was a disaster. But we can win this week. We have to win this week.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
BC doesn’t schedule the service academies enough. It has been ten years since we played Army, 20 since we played Navy and 43 years since we’ve played Air Force. The East Coast academies used to be a regular part of our schedule. I know their offenses are hard to play and there is very little upside. But you have to play someone out of conference. Isn’t playing Army or Navy more respectable than trying to drum up a series with a random mid-major? With the conferences in flux, I know we can’t predict much regarding future schedules, but I hope BC calls Army and Navy first when they are trying to fill out their calendars.

Three Simple Keys
1. Disciplined play on the Defensive line.
Army’s new offense is more like Wake’s than the Triple Option, but it still starts with an option style read in the backfield. Our DLine needs to win their battles up front and keep Army from establishing tempo or space in the pocket.
2. Get Bond more touches. It is natural when things are gloomy to latch on to the first sign of life. I know Bond won’t be Zay tomorrow (or maybe ever), but he has some key attributes – finding space, making people miss, etc – that are in short supply. We need to get him seven or eight touches this week.
3. Win the turnover battle. We got lucky last week. Very lucky. This week we need to protect the ball more and hopefully force a few turnovers.

Gambling Notes
-- BC leads the series 25-13
-- BC is 12-11 in Michie Stadium
-- Hafley is 7-4 in non-conference games
The current line is BC+3

We had a five game win streak vs Army prior to Spaz’s loss in 2012 and a nine game win streak prior to Henning’s loss in 1995.

Scoreboard Watching
Syracuse-UNC. The Orange lost last week (which gave me some hope). Immediately people online mentioned this year might be another season where Baber’s starts hot and ends the season in a free fall. I hope so. It will be telling if they bounce back this week vs Carolina.

BC is in trouble if… Army eats up the clock. They are not triple option, but they are still slow and methodical. We can’t let them have seven and eight minute drives.

I hope to see… Castellanos be more careful with the ball. He looked good on the ground, but the passing game was a hit or miss. Castellanos can’t force things and needs to be careful throwing into coverage.

Bottom Line
I think this is another close game. BC wins by making fewer mistakes and Hafley gets us back to .500
Final Score: BC 28, Army 20