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.