Friday, September 30, 2005

BC on the go

Aside from having one of the first Tivos off the assembly line, I am not an early technology adopter. I am just too damn cheap. So the only cellphone I have is one that comes with the free sign ups. I'll keep it until someone else offers me another free phone. Therefore, I don’t have the latest in phone technology. But for those who do, loyal reader Bob V. sent along these instructions on how to listen to Saturday’s game on your hand held wireless.

"If you have a Treo 600 or 650 or any other other Palm OS cell phone or device with wireless access, you can download an application called Pocket Tunes:

(15 day free trial if you decide to keep it, you need the 'deluxe' version for streaming which is $34)

Once it is on your phone, if you go to the website of WZBC Boston College Radio:

and select the 28k mono stream, it will play flawlessly.

I’ll be at home with the laptop flipping back between WRKO and WZBC

Doctor's visit and other things

If you look at the last item on this Dr. Z notebook, you’ll see he takes TOB and Bible to task for their play calls at the end of the Florida State game. I’ve already given my opinion. I also emailed Z. He didn't inlcude me in his mailbag, but he did get hundreds of responses from BC fans. Glad to see my old stomping grounds WZBC get some mention from the good doctor.

I want to applaud the early efforts of new BC beat writer Steve Conroy. He followed a nice feature Thursday on Raji with a good piece on Callender on Friday. It looks like Andre and TOB are finally on the same page.

As expected Matt Ryan gets the start on Saturday. Silva and Morris will also start in place of Tribble and Glasper.

Bill Flutie got some national attention in this USA Today article.

In hockey news, the Men’s team enters the season as favorite in 2005-06 Hockey East Association preseason coaches poll.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Eagle in Atlanta needs you

I need some help. The Ball State game is not being televised. I plan on listening to the game online, but obviously will not be able to see anything. This will make the Second Viewing Thoughts and Grade Report pretty hollow. So I am looking for anyone who is actually going to the game to give me some insight into what happened.

I am not really looking for a game recap or anything that I’ll be able to read about in the Globe or Herald. I am talking about the little things (a down field block on a big play, Ryan missing open men, a Ball State player that impressed you). Whatever you want to share is appreciated. I’ll attribute anything I use to you in my write up. So send along your post-game thoughts to after the game on Saturday or Sunday morning. Thanks in advance.

Blogpoll Roundtable No. 8

Paradigm -- yet another Michigan blogger -- is hosting this week. Michigan fans are lucky to have so many quality bloggers to read. Check out Paradigm for other blogpoll members' responses.

1. We are now 1/3 of the way through the season and things are starting to shake out. With that in mind, who are your picks to win each of the BCS conferences, as well as your choice for an at-large berth from a non-BCS league (none is an option)?

ACC: Va Tech. The safe pick. I think Florida State is very beatable. Miami: still not sure about their offense.

Big Ten: Michigan State. There is a lot of parity in the conference so it could be anyone. I’ll go with the Spartans since they have been one of the more entertaining teams to watch.

Big XII: Texas. If the Longhorns don’t win it this year, Brown will never get it done in Austin.

Big East: West Virginia. A complete joke of a conference and not deserving of a bid.

Pac 10: USC. Until someone shows they can knock them off they are still the champs.

SEC: I’ll go with my preseason pick -- Tennessee. They almost let it slip away Monday, but I think they can run the table in conference from here.

No at-large party crashers this year.

2. What team currently out of the Top 10 (AP or Coach's, doesn't really matter), has the best chance of ending up in the title game?

Texas Tech. I know they haven’t played anyone, but if they go undefeated in the Big XII they will rapidly move up in the polls and should pass the one-loss teams.

3. When you're watching a game, what type of fan can you absolutely not tolerate being around?

Being a know it all, there is nothing that drives me more nuts than the know it all who disagrees with me. I am great with another like-minded know it all. We can talk for hours about how perfect the team would be if we did it our way. The know it all who disagrees with me usually gets my goat and gets me wrapped up in an argument that usually ends with my frustrated “Fine. Whatever.” (Not my best side.)

Bonus: A sizable portion of Michigan fandom is in full meltdown mode (myself especially). Some have chosen to sequester themselves for this weekend's game against MSU to avoid scaring children, causing long-term psychological damage to those in the near vicinity, and most especially to avoid jail (I'm not saying this is me per se). Anyways, we need some help. Give us some ideas for replacements for LLLyd Carr (3 L's for the number of losses per year, and no O this year either). Assistant coaches, head coaches elsewhere, etc. Please, give us something to look forward to.

The fact that Carr is on the hot seat makes me laugh. If Tom O’Brien won a National Championship at BC they might rename the school after him. But I am up for a round of what if. The Michigan job is clearly one of the better and tougher jobs in the sport. I understand if they want to go outside the family and hire a non-Bo guy but there are certain things they should not do. First, no Pac 10ers. I’ve lived in Michigan and California. Two different mindsets and look how OSU did with a Pac 10 guy in Cooper. Also, they should avoid the NFL route. Yes it worked with USC, but look at what Pitt and Nebraska are going through now. I would recommend an up and coming MAC coach, but don’t know any of them well enough to give a solid opinion. So I will say UConn coach Randy Edsall. He has a jerky streak but he has good pedigree. I will begrudgingly admit what he has done at UConn has been impressive.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ball State preview

This is the toughest preview guessing game I’ve had to write. I know very little about Ball State. The team has been hit hard by off-field distractions…seemingly every player on the team has been suspended for receiving free text books. Sixteen players will miss BC’s game. All that said, BC can’t take this game lightly. They were lucky to escape the Ball State game with a win last year and the first drive of the Army game shows that the Eagles are still capable of coming out flat. My hunches follow.

Offense -- what BC will do

I think Matt Ryan starts this Saturday. Nothing has been confirmed, but I don’t think the staff will risk further injury to Porter. If Ryan can win at Clemson there is no reason to think he’ll have problems with Ball State.

Although every team has been able to pass against Ball State, I think Bible and TOB will use a more balanced approach -- like the Army game. I don’t think BC will put up as many points as Auburn. Just not TOB’s style. I also think you’ll see the second and third teamers get plenty of reps.

Offense -- what BC should do

This game is about UVA. The team needs to come out of this healthy and with confidence. So I have no problem with using the back ups. Ball State is down to five defensive lineman, so I don’t think you’ll see a lot of pressure on whoever is throwing the ball. The weakened line should also have trouble with the run.

But let me restate. This game is about UVA. So throw in some twists (a lot of deep balls, maybe Callender and Whitworth in the backfield at the same time) just to keep Al Golden guessing next week.

Defense -- what BC will do

The defense has carried this team. There is no reason to think they won’t do so this weekend. I am somewhat afraid that they will come out flat. Once again, I think you’ll see a lot of the second string.

Defense -- what BC should do

Spaz has done a great job mixing coverage, blitzing from unique positions and taking advantage of the double teams on Kiwi. This weekend, I just want to see vanilla, straight-forward defense. I am all for decoys on Offense, however, on defense I want the team to have the confidence to do it gimmick free. There is no reason why our line cannot create enough pressure without blitzing.

Special Teams -- what BC will do

This is the one area where Ball State has an advantage. I think BC will be conservative and not make any aggressive/potentially risky moves.

Special Teams -- what BC should do

Try to get Ohliger’s confidence back. Give him another shot at a 48 yarder if given the chance. I expect a lot of punting from the Cardinals, so give Tribble a chances without Will back there.

Final Prediction

I am not for running up the score, but I think and want BC to come out strong and put them away early.

Final Score: BC 48, Ball State 10

What to read on Wednesday

Ball State’s woes continue before the game even starts. Here is their list of players who will be suspended for the BC game. Their beat writer is concerned about trying to run on BC. After the Florida State game, I felt our run defense had been solidified. Clemson had me questioning things again. It was a great defensive performance, but Clemson did break a few long runs due to sloppy tackling.

Tigernet picks apart the Clemson game from a Clemson perspective.

O’Brien is asking the ACC to review the brutal hit on Ryan. My opinion: it was a spear.

Al Skinner is optimistic about Sean Williams’ return. I want him back. The team can compete without him, but he could help take it to the next level. There are many reasons for him not to come back. The biggest factor in BC's (and Sean's) favor -- he doesn’t have to miss any more playing time. A transfer year is just more time to lose focus and not play basketball. I know Sean and his family will make the decision that is best for him.

Finally, welcome to new BC blogger, BC Eagle. He hasn’t been at it long, but is off to a very active start.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Guest Blogger: VanDelaySports

Another week, another guest blogger.

I couldn’t find anyone exclusively focused on Ball State, but the guys at VanDelay Sports do cover the MAC better than anyone.

Luke from Vandelay stepped up to the plate to answer my questions and give some background on what is left of Ball State.

1. Ball State scared BC last year. Their punting was astounding. They consistently pinned us back in our own end. New punter this season. Any chance of them repeating that performance?

BC fans will be pleased to know that Ball State's punter in 2004, Reggie Hodges, now punts for the St. Louis Rams. Lucky for Ball State a redshirt freshman named Chris Miller has steppped up and currently ranks 23rd in the nation and 2nd in the Mid-American Conference with a 42.9 yd. average. Miller has gotten a lot of practice in BSU's first three games with 25 punts already including 10 punts in each of the first two games.

2. Ball State has seemingly suspended everyone on the team this year. Of the guys that will play, who should BC fans look out for?

Ball State QB Joey Lynch is one of the few Cardinal players NOT on the "recommended for suspension" list this week for the Cardinals. Lynch has been solid in the first three games, but all 4 of his TD passes came in the game against Bowling Green.

Two players to watch out for IF they play (both have been recommended for suspension) are RB Charles Wynn (111 yds. rushing vs. Bowling Green) and RB/WR Larry Bostic.

Freshman WR Danta Love is another player to watch out for that many in Muncie, Indiana, feel can be a star in the MAC.

3. We've seen enough upsets to know that anything is possible. So what has to happen for Ball State to win this game?

For Ball State to win this game MANY things must happen. First, the Ball State defense needs to do a MUCH better job in all aspects of the game. The Cardinals have allowed 169 points in just 3 games; and average of 56.3 ppg. QB Joey Lynch needs to have the game of his life and one (if not all) of these young playmakers, Wynn, Bostic or Love needs to have a huge game as well. In all honesty, Boston College should win this game easily as Ball State has proved to be a lower-tier MAC school in 2005.

For more on the MAC, including weekly picks, go to Vandelay Sports.

Blogpoll ballot week 5

Here is my latest entry for the Blogpoll.

Games I watched:

BC-Clemson 100% (Twice)
Bowling Green-Boise St. 25%
Air Force-Utah 25%
Iowa St.-Army 50%
Georgia-Miss St. 25%
Michigan-Wisconsin 10%
USC-Oregon 25%
Tennessee-LSU 50%

1. Southern Cal
2. Virginia Tech
3. Texas
4. Florida
5. Georgia
6. Florida State
8. Michigan State
9. Tennessee
10. Miami (Florida)
11. Cal
12. Alabama
13. Ohio State
14. Virginia
15. Wisconsin
16. Louisiana State
17. Notre Dame
18. Boston College
19. Vanderbilt
20. Texas Tech
21. Arizona State
22. Minnesota
23. Georgia Tech
24. UTEP
25. Louisville

Monday, September 26, 2005

New poll, new TOB and other things

My Monday Blogpoll ballot is delayed a day so that we can include the results of tonight’s Tennessee-LSU game. The established polls didn’t wait on their releases. BC moved up to 23 in the coaches and returned to the AP, where the Eagles are ranked 21st. They also debuted at 21 in the first Harris Poll. The Harris Poll is taking a lot of heat for some of the unusual ballots. Perhaps Brian (father of the blogpoll) should pick it apart like he does with his poll.

In other news, I wanted to point out a nice write up in the Heights by Kevin Armstrong. Armstrong picked up on something my wife laughed about when we watched the game back -- TOB showing some personality. It was nice to see him skip and smile. As the head coach, TOB takes a lot of criticism from BC fans. I think most of the reoccurring comments (stubbornness, inflexible, doesn’t fire up the team) are undoubtedly influenced by his stoic manor. (I even was quoted as calling him “bland” in the AJC.) If he showed a little personality I think would win over a lot of his critics and generate more passion in the fans.

The Maine media is focused on Porter’s return. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Ryan start against Ball State.

ABC picked up the Virginia-BC game. I know TOB is circling this one on his calendar.

Here is an article on future Eagle Wes Davis.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Clemson

Although it is very early in the season, this game was critical. BC needed to prove to itself and the college football world that it could compete and win in the ACC, that the team could bounce back from a tough loss and that Matt Ryan could win in a tough spot. While not a classic, the team showed a lot of heart and had many positives to take away from the win. Here are my grades.

Offense: B

Matt Ryan didn’t have a perfect game, but I loved the effort. He showed good poise running the offense in a loud stadium. Let me get through his flaws before I gush. He still looked awfully Porter-like when passing to his check downs. I also counted two tuck and runs and one bad sack. The first interception was bad. The second was meaningless. And he was lucky that two others weren't picked. Now let me restate -- he had a heck of a game. As you have probably seen, the hit he took before the half was brutal. Yet he was only out one play. Before and after the hit, he was confident, solid in his footwork, and comfortable running the offense. He threw to a variety of receivers. He didn’t hesitate to throw over the middle. (His stat line was not helped by the five drops.) Leadership thing is tough to measure, but I think he has got it. The kid had a smile a mile wide coming off the field. He deserved to soak in a little glory.

Andre Callender always seems to be in TOB’s doghouse. TOB rarely takes criticism of players public, but does needle Callender in the press. Hopefully this game gets Andre a deserved starting spot. Callender made tough run after tough run. He has always shown the better balance and sense of where the holes are, but this game he showed he had the toughness too. Yes, he did ask out a few times, but I think that was more on the heat than the usual Callender respite. His counterpart Whitworth did not shine. He still has trouble reacting when things break down, and made two bad plays late in the game. First a run for no gain followed by a dropped pass on the next down. The job should be Andre’s now.

Unless they add a wrinkle to the Toal experiment, it is over. Everyone in the stadium knows what is going to happen and its success rate is so so.

The receivers didn’t break anything, but had a nice game. Lester still scares me with his reaches and tipped balls, but made a big catch in overtime, so all is forgiven. The usually reliable Gonzalez let two catchable balls hit the ground. Thompson also showed his hands need work. Miller played well. Blackmon played well. Sele looked pretty good. And all the receivers deserved credit for their blocking. I noticed them all holding up their men on Callender’s longer runs.

The offensive line was outstanding. They gave Ryan good protection and opened up holes for Callender. The second unit was able to come in for long streches without disrupting the flow of the offense. The Clemson fans and players also noticed. 90 plays. That is a huge number when the opponent is in the 50s. Our guys pushed them around. TOB and staff take a lot of heat for their inability to find offensive playermakers, but deserve more credit for molding lineman. The second unit thing is amazing. How many teams can say that there is no drop off between the two? These guys deserved the game balls.

In addition to calling a good game for Ryan, the coaches also specifically deserve credit for two moves. First substituting the second team offensive line. The commentators did not pick up on it, but the second unit came in fresh and wore on Clemson down the field for the first TD. The other good move was putting Miller and Palmer out wide as part of the four-wide set. By having them on the field it kept Clemson in their base personnel and then forced their linebackers to cover. It also prevented them from loading the box and coming after Ryan. I wonder why we haven't done it before? The new wrinkle was appreciated and successful.

Defense: A-

The only reason the unit didn’t get an A was due to stupid penalties. The jumping offsides kept a few Clemson drives alive. Three of these came on blitzes. But I’ll accept the offsides if the aggressive playing calling continues. You can’t complain when you shut the opposing offense on 3rd down. The rotations were good and I am glad to see the second and third teamers stepping up. What I like most about the defense is how they are using Kiwi. As I have mentioned, they flip him to either side to keep the defenses confused. If he is on the strong side, they let him gobble up two blockers. If he is weakside, he uses an inside move to turn the tackle towards the line and then we blitz a linebacker or DB, who is usually unblocked. This resulted in a Toal sack on the very first series.

I could quibble about some poor tackling from Henderson or Pruitt losing his man in coverage late in the game, but it is not fair. These guys played hard in incredible heat. Here are the guys who deserve extra plaudits for their efforts:

-- Jazzmen Williams. He has really become an excellent open-field tackler.
-- B.J. Raji is a monster in the middle. His penetration was impressive and helped keep the Clemson running game offbalance.
-- Glasper saved a TD with a tackle.
-- Al Washington had a big sack on a third down.
-- Dunbarr played well in limited time.
-- So did Jamie Silva (I love Silva’s instinct. When he has someone wrapped up he then goes for the ball. He is going to cause a big turnover this year. The coaches must like him in clutch moments too, because I noticed he was in almost every redzone package.)

Special Teams: B

Ohliger is an enigma. He boomed two kickoffs deep into the Clemson endzone negating a return. He hit some long field goals warming up. But in the game he is nearly a different person. I don’t think anyone on the team thought he was going to make the 48 yarder to win the game with 1:30 left. 48 yards on the road is tough for anyone. And if his kick had been online, I would have had less concern, but it was 15 yards right and was not hooking. Fortunately the team didn’t need him in OT.

Ayers, on the other hand, deserves a lot of credit. This was a field position game and he kept pinning Clemson back over and over.

Will Blackmon did not do much in the return game, but I liked that they continued to put Tribble back there to prevent the kick away. Tribble’s best return helped set up the first score.

Overall: B+

This win could have slipped away at many points. Ryan bounced back. The defense held up repeatedly. Callender stepped up and the coaching staff held it all together. The would’ve, should’ve, could’ves with Florida State will linger, but 3-1 for the first month in the ACC is a pretty good start.

Trip report

Many road games are not worth the cost or effort. The view is better on TV, the food is cheaper and you don’t have to go anywhere. Clemson was well worth the trip -- easily my favorite road experience.

We left Atlanta about 8 AM and were parked and tailgating by 10:15. The only slow point of the drive was the final crawl to parking, but it I didn’t find it as slow as some SEC gamedays.

The weather was warm when we left Atlanta and was slowly getting hotter as we parked in South Carolina. The walk from our parking spot (note to BC fans: free parking) took us across the campus. This is where the hospitality showed. We were wearing BC paraphernalia and no one had even a gentle taunt. In fact, it seemed just the opposite. One group even insisted that my father in-law take a beer with him to the stadium. In the stadium the people next to us introduced themselves and wished us good luck. It was quite a different experience from West Virginia or UConn.

The heat inside was intense -- much hotter than the listed 85 degrees. We weren’t even in the seats two minutes before I saw a BC oldtimer pass out coming down the steps (of course he was quickly surrounded and helped by a dozen Clemson fans and a Clemson EMT).

I am somewhat used to the heat from living in Atlanta, but you could tell it was bad when fans from both teams were huddling in the shade of the tunnels, drinking water every chance they got and basking under mist fans. I am not sure how the players kept going.

The rock was a bit of a letdown as it is not much bigger than a toaster. The entrance was very cool. They drive the team around the stadium, put the buses on the videoboard and then shoot off a canon as the Tigers come down the field.

As you can see on TV, everyone is in Orange. You find a mix of people wearing t-shirts, to orange overalls and the frat guys dressed up in the school colors.

The noise was intense when BC was on offense. The guy next to me said it was much louder during the Miami game. His explanation: “we’re spent and it is too darn hot.” When Clemson had the ball, it sounded like someone lining up for a putt in a golf tournament.

After the game, people were very congratulatory and very complimentary of our team. I wish Clemson fans nothing but the best. And I wish a few blowouts come their way. These close games must be taking years off their lives.

My pictures from the day are below.

Death Valley. Posted by Picasa

Ryan gets in for the first score. Posted by Picasa

Ryan was the last one to leave the field. Posted by Picasa

Teams after the game. Posted by Picasa

BC cheerleaders. Posted by Picasa

The first TD. Posted by Picasa

Touching the Rock. Posted by Picasa

Notice even the BC coaches are taking pictures. Posted by Picasa

Opening drive. Posted by Picasa

Final score. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Back from Death Valley

Big, big win. Not the prettiest of victories, but the team showed a lot of heart in a loud stadium on an unbelievably hot day.

The Clemson fans were some of the friendliest and classiest I have ever met. And the Death Valley experience is a must for any college football fan.

Pictures, trip report, second viewing thoughts and grades on Sunday.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Useless info

Prior to this season, Tommy Bowden was 11-12-1 as a home favorite at Clemson

Prior to this season, Tommy Bowden was 30-33-2 vs. the spread.

While at Clemson, Bowden is 13-10-2 coming off a loss.

TOB is 11-12-1 as an away underdog.

BC is 1-2-1 at Death Valley.

TOB is 19-13 coming off a loss.

Road trip

I will be in Death Valley this Saturday. If you’re in the neighborhood, come by and say hello. I’ll be in Section T, Row V. I am a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, really fair-skinned guy with the beautiful, glowing, pregnant wife. Not sure of my attire, but I will be wearing this hat. See you there.

End of week links

With both teams coming off deflating losses, media interest petered out. Here are a few items to pass the time.

Quinton Porter is unlikely to play. That is not news. What is interesting is how the betting line has moved despite his injury. The gamblers like Ryan's chances or know something about Porter's injury that we don't.

Here’s a north-south angle from the State. Followed by a size vs. speed angle.

The Herald had a nice feature on Gonzalez. I really think he is the most reliable receiver on the team. Hopefully he will have another clutch performance this Saturday.

This discusses Porter’s injury and our other walking wounded. The most alarming things is not Porter, but our lack of depth at Tight End.

The official school site keeps the pub machine going with this Ricky Brown interview.

After having the guys from CU Sporting News answer some questions here, I fielded a few queries on their blog.

In basketball news, Al Skinner got a well deserved contract extension. And now that we are in the ACC, Dickie V loves BC.

Former BC quarterback Brian St. Pierre signed on with the Ravens.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Clemson preview

Three previews and three rounds of me being off in anticipating what BC’s coaching staff would do. We are 2-1 so they must being doing something right. Undeterred, I’ll continue guessing and giving my opinions on BC’s potential gameplans.

Offense -- what BC will do

BC has started each game passing. It worked against BYU and Army. Against Florida State it worked out perfectly…for the Seminoles. With a redshirt sophomore starting his first road game, I think they will finally start the game off with a heavy dose of run. The line played well on Saturday and if they open up enough holes they can make the day a lot easier on Ryan. We are all still waiting for Whitworth or Callender to step up and become the featured back. Unless one of them gets hot, expect them to split the carries. You can run on the Tigers. Both Miami and Texas A&M rushed for more than 200 yards.

I think Bible and TOB will keep the offense simple for Ryan. I don’t expect too much pocket passing. He seems most comfortable on rollouts and bootlegs. He stretched the field against Florida State, but I don’t know if that was by design or just taking what Florida State was giving.

Expected the opposite of last week from the coaches -- lots of run early and some long passes if they are available.

Offense -- what I think BC should do

Miami was able to wear on the Tigers. We don’t have a game-breaker like Moss, but our offensive line should have the advantage. I would like to see BC establish the run early and give Ryan plays he can succeed with. The short dumping stuff that Porter relies on might not be Ryan’s sweet spot. The kid gets into his pump fakes, so I hope they give him some slower developing plays and look downfield with Lester and Robinson. Although he didn’t break anything last week, I would like to see them get Blackmon involved on the screens again.

Defense -- what BC will do

Last week the defense was creative and aggressive. This week I think they will revert to a more conservative scheme. This is two fold. First Clemson will use a lot of no-huddle, so the defensive rotation will be harder. The other reason I think they will stay conservative, is that Clemson does not get into the endzone as easily as Florida State. Like BYU, I think Spaz will be content to let the move the ball down the field and come away with a field goal.

Defense -- what I think BC should do

I loved last week’s aggressiveness and would like to see more of it. If we give Whitehurst time, I am afraid that he will pick us apart all day. Mix coverages. Blitz from every location. It was working against Florida State. The Seminoles had their most success moving the ball when BC called off the dogs.

When we last went against Spence, BC played conservatively and relied on the line creating most of the pressure and using zone to intercept passes. That was a different time and place. Don’t allow Clemson to move up and down the field. Too risky. Go for broke and pressure Whitehurst.

Special teams -- what BC will do

BC has done a good job containing returns this season. This might be a field position game and Clemson’s return units are suspect. I think BC will punt away in nearly every situation. Going for it on the road or trying long kicks with Ohliger is futile.

Special teams -- what I think BC should do

They had the Tribble-Blackmon optional reverse return in last week but didn’t use it. Hopefully they can this week. Other than holding my breath that we can avoid mistakes in the kicking game there is not much else to say on special teams.

Final Prediction

Until things start to look really bad, I will continue to predict BC victories. While a totally different atmosphere than last week’s game, this one is as important. BC needs to give Ryan a better effort than he got last November. If they pound Clemson and keep it close, we can win.

Final Score: BC 23, Clemson 20.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Guest Bloggers: CU Sporting News

My knowledge of Clemson is limited to the national angles (Tommy Bowden is always on the hot seat, Whitehurst needs to bounce back, etc.). So to find out things I should know, I’ve asked Jeremy and Jason from CU Sporting News to guest blog this week. Like last week, I asked them questions and posted their unedited responses below. For even more information on the Tigers, go to CU Sporting News.

1. Cole Downer is out after having a big game last week. Is there a big drop off after him? How will it impact the offense?

Downer's backup, Bobby Williamson is about the same skill level as Downer. So initially there should not be much of a drop off in talent. The problem is depth. Clemson now only has two usable tight ends in an offense that requires A LOT from the tight ends with run blocking 75% of the time and pass routes the rest of the time. Throw in the no-huddle element and two tight ends could be rather winded by the end of a close game. There is a third tight end on the roster, but he is a true freshman, and Tommy Bowden would prefer to redshirt as many freshman as possible, especially on the lines to build depth and strength. The only way the freshman tight end would be used if there was an injury to one of the two remaining tight ends. The tight end is becoming a favorite target for Spence's offense. If there is inexperience up front, expect Clemson to throw to a back coming out of the backfield more this Saturday, as they did in the Texas A&M game. #28 Kyle Browing and #37 Reggie Merriweather are favorites to throw out of the backfield.

2. BC faced a Rob Spence offense a few years ago. Aside from the athletes, how is what he is doing at Clemson different from what he did at Toledo?

Well, not being an expert on what Toledo has been up to the past few years, my first response is to say: not much, to what Spence has been doing. Clemson does have a lot of depth at wide receiver and running back. At each position, there are probably three players who could start today for most other teams in the ACC. Another thing Spence has this year is the biggest offensive line in Clemson history, who have some experience after last year's struggles up front. Last season, Clemson's offense under former Tiger QB, Mike O'Cain was known for an unimaginative running attack and an inability to throw underneath linebackers 5 yards out. Clemson had a good post pass pattern in the offense and not much else. Unfortunately, the offense ran what was known as the "hurry up and wait" offense. The team would get set up and then just sit and wait until the play was called, sometimes changed, from the sideline. It was infuriating as a fan to watch. But much worse opposing defenses fairly quickly figured out what was coming and did a great job of disguising coverages, ending up in 17 Whitehurst interceptions last year. This season, so far, Clemson still does not huddle (has not since '99 when Bowden arrived) but Whitehurst calls a play from among 2-4 options he is given and then the play is called. The offense thrives on high percentage passing - which is why Whitehurst has a 70% completion percentage for the year, and mix of zone/man blocking for the running backs. You will notice a very quick hesitation from the backs before they pick a route to run. They are waiting for one of two or three holes to open with the blocking scheme before they commit to one.

3. Charlie Whitehurst's pick cost you guys the Miami game. Is that the type of thing that will send him into a funk this week or do you expect him to bounce back?

Beyond his skills throwing the ball, what sets Whitehurst above his competitors is his leadership and his competitive spirit. I don't mean this to be hyperbole, but if Whitehurst could have lined up to play BC at 10PM on Saturday night, 1 hour after the Miami game, he would have done it. He wants to get back on the field. Last week, Whithehurst made some of the errors that plagued him last week: throwing the ball high to receivers or even to hard, causing drops. A lot of that can be attributed to the speed and power of Miami's defense and the 5 to 6 future NFL players on their starting defense. There is probably no one in college today that you would want more leading a team downfield with the game on the line. He has a way of putting the pall through 2 defenders and leading his receiver to a point. I do expect this Saturday for Clemson to set up the passing game with the run. If Whitehurst does get into a funk, it will be caused by a frustrating defense from the BC side that he has difficulty figuring out. You will notice his frustration if and when he keys on one receiver continually. If Whitehurst is throwing the ball around, using a variety of plays, he's having fun. He is a solid leader, has great physical skills; but at the end of the day he just loves playing ball in a team concept. The players, by all accounts love him. He is not especially vocal, but has such high demands on himself that the other players find him easy to follow. He'll probably be a 2nd round NFL draft pick next season. Taught correctly, he has potential to be a star in the NFL, and go places where his father, former Furman U. and Green Bay Packers QB, David Whitehurst did not go.

4. At Clemson, Tommy Bowden has had some rough starts. This your a few plays away from being 3-0. You also could be 1-2. Will it always be a rollercoaster ride with his teams or has he finally turned the corner?

Well, I don't want to be a contrarian just to be a contrarian but the idea of Bowden's rough starts is a little over-blown in the media. Here is a snapshot of Bowden's starts at Clemson:
--'99 turn a 3-8 '98 power option-team into a 6-6, 3rd place in the conference team by winning every other game, starts by losing to a top 20 Chad Pennington led Marshall team, then defeats a top 20 Virginia team
--'00 starts the season out 8-0 on the way to a #3 ranking in the nation, losing 3 out of 4 to Georgia Tech, Florida St. and Michael Vick's last game at Virginia Tech and beating a top 20 Holtz led Gamecock team
--'01 starts the season out at 4-1 under Woody Dantzler's 2000 pass/10000 rush QB play, but then loses three straight in November to Florida St., ACC champ Maryland and the best USC team in a generation
--'02 starts the season out at 3-1, then struggles in October by losing 3 of 4 to ranked teams from Virginia, Florida State and NC State - probably Bowden's worst team, finished with 7-6 record
--'03 starts the season out at 3-1, then proceeds to lose every other game in October, including getting blown out by Wake Forest, then finishes with wins over top 10 ranked Florida State, Tennessee and a historic rout over rival USC
--'04 starts the season out at 1-4, then wins the rest of the way against teams like Miami and Maryland with an inexplicable loss at the last second to Duke being the only blemish on the second half of the season.

I list that out to show that Bowden has only had 1 real bad start to the season, last year, since he has been at Clemson. He has gotten in trouble with the middle part of the schedule when Clemson has played good NC State and Maryland teams after playing ranked Virginia and Florida State teams. October is the danger month for Clemson under Bowden. You can't really predict how 18-23 year olds will react on any given week, but there are signs that players are better motivated and are concerned about putting in a consistent effort week end and week out. For example, Sunday is an off day for the Clemson. Until this year, 3 to 4 playes would voluntarily watch film. This year just about the entire team is watching film on Sunday evenings. Clemson has only made one turnover, the last play against Miami in overtime, and less than 10 penalties in 3 games (whereas Miami had 14 Saturday). The team is playing with a lot more precision this year. Now they are still flat, for some reason, in all 3 games in the 3rd quarter. All of our opponents so far have played better and scored more, than Clemson in the 3rd quarter, which is why Clemson has had to come from behind in all 3 games. There have been times in the past when the offense would just disappear for a quarter or two, unable to move the ball at all. That has changed this year. I don't recall a series yet where Clemson just goes 3 and out without gaining a yard. Even when Clemson is punting, they are still gaining 5 or 6 yards on the ground. The improved running game, especially under freshman James Davis #1, has been the biggest improvement and the lack of a running game has been the biggest detriment when Clemson faces teams with large defensive lines. Now that a running game is there, let's see how the middle part of the season goes. The team is eager to get back on the field after last Saturday, that's public knowledge. If Clemson has turned the corner from last season, it is because they have a new defensive coordinator, Vic Koenning, to whom good enough is not good enough and Spence who is thriving on multiple formations that are involving a lot of the offense that makes it difficult for the defense to adjust to and strokes the players’ competitive fire.

5. Anything that else BC fans should know?

Clemson's glaring weaknesses this season have been punting (witha 30 yard average) and kick off returns - average start around the 20. This has forced Clemson to drive for much longer distances down the field.

Clemson's Death Valley this past Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes was loud, jet-engine, little children crying, shaking the stands, loud for several hours Saturday when Miami was on offense. When Clemson's offense was on the field, you could probably hear a pin drop. I don't know what the Eagle team is used to, but I would expect more of the same from the Clemson faithful this Saturday. Clemson is the reason the NCAA instituted a noise rule, after Notre Dame's Dan Devine complained after a '77 matchup in Death Valley when Joe Montana brought the Irish back to win. Bring ear plugs if you come.

Another thing: the temperature will be in the low 90's this Saturday with a 12 o'clock start. In both Clemson homes games this season, which started in the evening or late afternoon, lots of players had heat-related cramps. BC will need to substitute freely in order to save their players for a probable close game. For fans, find the first aid station underneath the section where most BC fans will sit and drink the free cold water provided. I expect the heat to be brutal.

For more information on Clemson, check out CU Sporting News.

Old Man on the scene

You know that guy that becomes a campus legend while you're in college? Well the version among my crowd was Old Man. His accomplishments were many, but what most impressed me is that he extended his stay at BC to nearly a decade. This is unheard of at an expensive private school like BC. He is also a good guy, a diehard fan and someone who would never miss an event like Gameday's first visit to the Heights. Here are his pictures of the momentous occasion.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blogpoll ballot week 4

BC is out of the AP poll and barely hanging on in the coaches’ poll. I had a hard time keeping them in my ballot. It was either BC or Clemson at 25, so I went with my bias. The difference between the two teams will be clear this weekend.

Games I watched

Florida State-BC 100% (twice)
Houston-UTEP 50%
Utah-TCU 25%
ULM-Georgia 20%
Michigan State-ND 75%
Miami-Clemson 25%

1. Southern Cal
2. Texas
3. Virginia Tech
4. Florida
5. Louisville
6. Louisiana State
8. Georgia
9. Florida State
10. Michigan State
11. Cal
12. Purdue
13. Georgia Tech
14. Alabama
15. Virginia
16. Miami (Florida)
17. Texas Tech
18. Ohio State
19. Vanderbilt
20. Michigan
21. Wisconsin
22. Oregon
23. Notre Dame
24. Arizona State
25. Boston College

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Florida State

How can you outplay a Top 10 team for most of the game and still come out with an “L”? BC did it Saturday. Here are my thoughts after watching the game a second time.

Offense: C

The offensive line had a great game. For the most part they gave Porter and Ryan plenty of time. They mixed up the schemes well. They opened big holes. The draw was less effective in the second half, but I think that was more to do with Florida State adjusting rather than blocking.

The running backs played well too -- easily Whitworth and Callender’s best game of the year. Callender seems out of his funk. And every time I thought he should be in there getting more carries, Whitworth would respond with a decent run.

Good effort from the receivers. Lester scared me with his reaching for first downs, but he also had his best game of the year. Purvis also had a nice game. Gonzalez continues to show he has the best hands on the team. Nice showing from Robinson. Miller…dropping the late touchdown pass was a killer. And then there is Blackmon. As the touchdown catch showed, Will is great with the ball in his hands. But he had two deep drops and missed a catchable fade pass too.

Ryan played pretty well in a tough spot. By my count he had four bad plays. But he moved the ball downfield when we needed a score. And certainly has better touch and zip on passes than Porter. Like Syracuse last year, Ryan just happened to be under center during a tough loss. He was not the cause in either.

Times like this is when it is nice to be a fan writing a blog rather than someone trying to objectively cover the team. In Sunday’s Herald Porter said this: "It was awful," he said of watching the rest of the game, first from a kneeling position on the sideline, and then standing next to O'Brien. "It was awful because I was seeing things so clearly." I say, "bullshit". In addition to his two really bad interceptions (both were underthrown) he had -- by my count -- six other bad passes in the first half. Later he botched an exchange that Trueblood fortunately recovered. He overlooked a wideopen Gonzalez for a TD the play before Ohliger's missed field goal. And got very lucky on another play where Gonzalez came up with a ball that could have been another pick. Despite his own critique, Porter had a "D" effort. The offense moved the ball in spite of him not because of him.

Bible called a good game right until they got to the two yard line, down 11 with 2:48 left and three timeouts. Here is the sequence:

-- 1st and goal from the three. Whitworth up the middle. No gain.
-- 2nd down (the play started at 2:24) Run up the middle. 1-yard loss.
-- BC called a timeout with 2:12.
-- 3rd down pass. Holding penalty on Florida State. Half the distance. New set of downs.
-- 2:06 to go. Two timeouts remain.
-- 1st and goal. Toal run. Short gain.
-- BC timeout. 1:56 left.
-- 2nd down. Another Toal run. Stopped at the 1 foot line.
-- BC timeout.
-- 3rd down. 1:47 left. Pass...right through Miller’s hands.
-- 4th down. Push up the middle with Ryan. Stopped. FSU ball.

Now they needed two scores. So you could question going for it on fourth. You need the field goal anyway. But I understand going for the TD. "If the team can’t get it in, they don’t deserve to win yada yada yada…" I understand. But it is not what I would have done. The real second guessing comes in with four running plays when you need to score quickly. They burned all three timeouts with those plays. And what is the point of bringing Toal in if you can’t fake out of it? The whole stadium knows what you are trying to do when he is in the game. He is a stud, but he is not going to score every time he touches the ball. Please tell me they have a play action play when he is in the game.

I know that even if they had scored, it would’ve been tough to score again, but the coaching staff (TOB and Bible) did not give the team the best chance to win.

So the offense got a C. But really that should be a D for Porter. C for Bible and a B+ for everyone else.

Defense: C+

They only really allowed one TD on their own. The others could really be attributed to others’ mistakes. But I am giving the unit a C+ for the chickenshit play calling in the fourth. The easing up in the fourth was made even more frustrating because Spaz had called such a great game up to that point. You can’t sit on a 3-point lead against a team as talented as FSU. For example, the team blitzed or run blitzed six times in the first half and five were positive plays. In the third quarter they blitzed or run blitzed an astounding nines times. Unexpected aggressiveness kept Florida State guessing the whole time. The players seemed to feed off it. Raji was destroying the middle of the FSU line. Kiwi had his best game of the season. Larkin finally made some noise. Things were great. They were rotating players with little drop off. (However, middle linebacker remains a problem. Dunbar loses his assignment in coverage when spelling the great coverage MLB Henderson. In contrast Henderson still is a weak tackler. He had two bad/missed tackles to start the fourth.)

So things were going well. The offense spotted the ‘Noles 14 and our D held them through three quarters, including the ultimate hustle play by Kiwi on Booker’s strip.

But in the fourth Spaz and/or TOB backed off. Only two blitzes the entire quarter…and both were half-hearted delays. The announcers attributed the difference to Weatherford finally clicking with the four-wide set. Nonsense. He was just comfortable for the first time. Because of this strategy, Florida State moved the ball for one TD and score the second on a short field after the blocked punt.

Overall, the defense played above expectations. Nearly everyone had their best game of the season. Spaz called a hell of a game for three quarters and one of his worst in the fourth. Porter’s play was the primary reason for the loss, but the fourth quarter defensive play calling didn’t help.

Special teams: C

First the good things. Great containment of the explosive Florida State return game in both the kick return and punt return. Tribble’s penalty shouldn’t have been called and was a great play. Will Blackmon only had one questionable return out of the endzone, but did not do anything bad or good of note. The costly plays were much more predictable. Ohliger’s missed FG would have made that final drive much more interesting. I don’t get it. I really don’t. I know finding a kicker is hard at any level. But then don’t go for long field goals. Going for it on fourth and getting stuffed is as productive as another miss. It might seem like I am tough on Ohliger. I would give him a break if he occasionally won a game with a big kick. But aside from West Virginia last year, he has been shaky in all other big games.

He wasn’t the only frustration on special teams. The blocked punt ultimately put the game away. Other teams are able to pick up on this weakness and we still cannot stop it. Mix up the blocking. Mix up the personnel. Do something! Virginia Tech must be salivating at the chance to wreak havoc on our punting unit.

I wonder how long we will allow these things to happen on special teams. By my count this is the third straight season where we can’t count on error-free kicking or punting.

Overall Grade: C

This game could have been won. I don’t believe in moral victories. TOB and staff played it too close at the end (and also punted it on fourth and a foot on the 30 down 11 with 6 minutes). The season is not over. But the coaching staff is going to have to play to win instead of keep things close. (The BC staff that let it rip last season at Notre Dame and called the fake kick against North Carolina might have won this game.) This has got to be rough for the players. They deserved a better start and a better ending.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Earlier this week at Sporting Fools I said this:

"Our QB is a big question mark too. Earlier in the week, I said I wasn't worried about his performance, but now that he has shot his mouth off in the papers doubt is starting to return. Quinton Porter has got all the tools, but in seasons past displayed Rix-like qualities. Maybe not as careless, but certainly getting over anxious under pressure. Where Rix might have thrown a bad pass. Porter often tried to run for the first down...when we needed 20. Is this season's patience and presence here to stay?"

And then later in the same exchange I said this:

"I am not so much worried about the speed. BC can hold their own and scheme around it. I am much more worried about the inevitable big play. Can this team stay composed if FSU blocks a punt or picks off an early pass? That is what scares me."

They responded to earlier disasters, but then couldn't respond in the second half. BC should've won this game, but poor play from Porter, sloppy special teams, and questionable second half coaching decisions cost the team the game. New conference, same story.

I'll rewatch the game and post my second viewing thoughts and grades Sunday.

This was a tough one.

Friday, September 16, 2005


BC is 2-8 against pre-expansion ACC teams.

BC is 6-2 straight up as underdog the last two seasons.

BC has defeated their last three ranked opponents.

BC is 1-2 vs. Florida State.

TOB is 9-6 as a home underdog.

TOB is 2-8 against teams ranked in the Top 10.

Florida State is 12-7 against pre-expansion Big East teams.

Bobby Bowden is 58-49 as an away favorite at FSU.

In the last five seasons, FSU is 14-12 on the road against the spread.

Over the last five seasons, seven of Florida State’s 17 losses have come on the road.

Friday news

FSU-BC generated a lot of press. Most of it was the same angle. Here are the things that I thought were different or worth reading.

Will Blackmon and Leon Washington bonded at the conference meetings this summer.

TOB was part of the staff that handed FSU their first ACC loss. Vega takes him down memory lane and TOB ends up giving most of the credit to other people.

Tim Layden was on campus this week. Gene D. and TOB did their best to cast BC as the David in this matchup.

Corey from Sporting Fools and I took our exchange over to his place.

As I’ve said before, BC’s relationship with the surrounding neighbors is always combative. So it is no surprise that the locals are not happy about Saturday. However, the greater Boston area loves the ACC.

Former SID Reid Oslin's article was revealing in who it quoted -- recent BC hire Chad Swofford! I had no idea John’s kid was on the athletic department staff. I am sure he is qualified (and in full disclosure I am in my father’s industry) but you gotta hand it to Gene D. The guy knows how to network.

Roundtable roundup

Bloggers sent Dan Rather into early retirement. Can we take down Billy Packer next? The blogpoll is college football focused, but the roundtable members didn’t miss the opportunity to vent their Packer dislike. The surly hoops expert was the target of Westerdawg (who provided the Packer shot above), Straight Bangin’ and Section Six.

When it comes to football, Aaron Taylor is relatively new to the national scene, but he has shot up the list of pointless pundits. Brian and The Nittany Blog, BoifromTroy, Action Berg and Xanga listed the guy with the enormous head filled with empty thoughts as their least favorite analyst.

I was surprised that Catholic Packer Fan was the only one to mention Musburger. Don’t worry CPF, as Brent would say, you’re commentary was “pivotal” to this roundtable and your post was clearly the “Post of the Century.”

The print guys did not come out unscathed. Paradigm thinks Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press is a waste of ink. I loathe the Boston Globe’s Mark Blaudschun. Bruinsnation tries to avoid anything written by Bill Plaschke.

Like any good critics, we also wanted to recognize quality work.

EDSBS love Nessler so much they want him to go by a one-name moniker like Cher, Bono or Brazilian soccer stars.

As the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN has the biggest target when it comes to sports media criticism. But the blogpollers give credit where credit is due. AgRyan thinks Herbstreit’s passion and professionalism are the keys to his success. I Blog For Cookies loves the whole Gameday crew.

Syracuse launched the careers of half the sportscasters on the East Coast, but Orange 44 did not let that influence his opinion. He noted the underappreciated work that Bill Curry does every week.

A common theme throughout the responses was love for the band of blogging brothers Brian put together. EDSBS, Sexy Results and BGS were specifically recognized for their unique takes on college football.

Then there is Trev Alberts. The Jan Brady to Herbstreit’s Marcia was the inspiration for this roundtable. He may be gone, but he is not forgotten. Struggling Joe stands up for the former Husker and longs for his return. Stay strong, Joe. Annoying media personalities have nine lives. One day soon, Trev will return to enrage fans and media execs again.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Flagging Fanblogs

Mike Boone from Fanblogs doesn’t think much of our chances. The hype has been overwhelming, but I don’t think he is going out on limb by saying FSU is going to win. After opening as an early 1-point favorite, BC is now getting a point on most books.

Evil A and I were talking about it and agree that BC either wins a close, defensive game or gets embarrassed.

But I couldn’t just let Mike’s points go [I partially quoted Mike for space consideration. Read his story to get the full acount], so here are my counterpoints.

Fact: Boston College's offensive line is not as huge as Bobby Ross thought it was…

Counterpoint: Mike goes on to mention that Miami’s equally huge line had trouble with the ‘Noles. But there are some major differences. First, he mentions Winston, but Miami allowed a lot of the pressure from up the middle. Pat Ross is a potential All American and I think he is well equipped to handle FSU’s defensive tackles. Also, our guys are the same size as Miami’s but are a very mobile and will move and mix schemes more than the Canes usually do. If I have one worry it is about Cherilus holding up. This will be the units biggest test, but I think they’ll fare better than the Miami offensive line.

Fact: Team speed will hurt the Eagles…

Counterpoint: It will. This is nothing new for BC. FSU is fast but how much faster than the Miami and Va Tech teams that BC has faced in the past? If anything BC has narrowed the gap. And his point about Blackmon…I don’t really think Will’s ability is about speed. It is more of that elusive quality that you find in certain players. He cuts well and has good vision. He might not run away from people, but he has the ability to make everyone miss.

Fact: Weatherford is a liability for Florida State…

Counterpoint: This one really speaks to BC’s advantage. I think Mike is hedging a little here.

Fact: It is imperative for Boston College to score soon after the opening kick…

Counterpoint: As any BC fan knows, if we win the toss, we will defer. I agree that points will be precious, but I don’t really agree with Mike’s conclusion that it is impossible to score on FSU in the second half. Miami moved the ball and was one good hold away from scoring late in their game.

Fact: Florida State has been in games like this before…

Counterpoint: FSU clearly has the big game edge. But they are not invincible. Over the last five seasons seven of their 17 losses have come on the road. And while BC is known for their letdowns, TOB has been better about getting his team ready for big games the last two seasons (BC has beaten the last three ranked opponents we’ve faced).

BC is the underdog and should be. Despite the hype and the many reason FSU is favored, BC can win this game.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FSU preview

I haven’t been a mindreader this season, but I’ll continue with this format since it is a little different.

Offense -- what BC will do

BC has come out passing in both games this season, but now I think they will finally try to establish the run early. The reason is twofold. First, it will calm everyone down and establish dominance in an area where we may have an advantage. Second, there is no way we are stretching the field without some play action. Without play fakes our wideouts are not running by FSU’s DBs.

Offense -- what I think BC should do

If BC is going to win this game they will do it with the short and intermediate passes. Miami showed that you can throw the 15-yard crossing routes against the defense. I think the line can hold up long enough to give Porter time for quick passes. The questions are can Miller get open and will any of our other receivers show they can catch a ball in traffic? Also, BC needs to get the ball to Blackmon at least six times on offense. I think FSU will be ready for the endaround, so go back to the screen or some quick slants. If we have trouble with the blitz, I would like to see some screens to LV and Callender.

Defense -- what BC will do

FSU’s offense has more in common with Army than with BYU [EDITED TO CLARIFY: Army's focus was rushing. BYU was nearly exclusive passing. I expect FSU to keep it on the ground.], so I expect to see a lot of the Army gameplan. Not a lot of blitzing, conservative zone coverage and a focus on stopping the run.

Defense -- what I think BC should do

Yes, FSU quarterbacks are inexperienced, but don't come after them. Let them throw into coverage with plenty of time. Don’t blitz, because I think both have enough athleticism to make a big play. BC must stop the run. The defensive line did an okay job against Army. It will really be up to the linebackers to support their efforts and make a difference. I hope they continue to rotate LBs, since some of the second teamers are better tacklers than Henderson.

Special teams -- What BC will do

I really think BC will play it close to the vest. So I don’t expect to see any gadgetry or block attempts. I also think they will attempt a field goal instead of going for it anywhere in the red zone.

Special teams -- what I think BC should do

Florida State might not be the Florida State of old, but they can still beat you with special teams. Hopefully BC will punt it away from Rouse. As much as I worry about Ohliger, I think they should kick FGs and get any points they can in what should be a low scoring game. I would also like to see them use the endaround punt return that they used against WVU last season.

Final Prediction

BC has not played faced FSU in any of these players’ lifetimes, but TOB has called plays against an Andrews’ defense many times. And we also beat a Kevin Steele led Baylor team a few years ago. So they know what it takes and how to build a winning gameplan against this scheme. Can they contain FSU’s fledgling offense for 60 minutes? I think so.
BC wins 20-13.

Wednesday news

The USA Today featured Quinton Porter. The reporter mentioned the same sequence that caught my eye (Porter’s TD to Gonzalez) as an example of his maturation.

ESPN selected the Dustbowl as its base of operations. You can’t see the stadium from there, but it will allow students to pack the set. Cold Pizza will also broadcast from the Dustbowl on Friday. Skip and Woody, I recommend the chicken fingers at The Rat.

Florida State fans are excited about the game.

Stewart Mandel thinks we can win a defensive battle.

Here’s an interesting article on assistant salaries. The writer inserts the typical “how can they make more than professors” comparison. I know many professors and I can tell you: assistant are underpaid. They put in many more hours and have half the job security that professors have. Also, the good professors can make much more with publishing and outside consulting.

The Bears cut Marc Colombo. He never regained his form after his rookie-year injury.

From the where are they now file: former BC QB Eric Boatwright.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Guest Blogger: Sporting Fools

While the blogpoll has not sparked a voting revolution, it did introduce me to a lot of good blogs I would not have known about. Sporting Fools blog about many things, but have a special place in their hearts for Florida State.

In an effort to get a little more insight on the Seminoles, I asked Corey from Sporting Fools to answer a few questions. His answers follow:

1. What is Florida State's Achilles heel and how should BC exploit it?

Well when you've got two redshirt freshman quarterbacks playing in their third game, that's where the weakness lies. Drew Weatherford will start and of the two QBs, he is more prepared for starting. The offense with Weatherford behind center is going to revolve around the running backs Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker. Miami was able to shut down the run and force Weatherford to pass, which he didn't do very well (to the tune of 7-for-24 for 71 yards, five of the completions were dump screens). Despite putting up huge passing numbers against the Citadel, I seriously doubt the Seminoles will use the same spread offense this week with it being Drew's first road start in an important conference game with the potential for a hostile environment. I expect Drew to struggle early, he will struggle early but if he doesn't turn the ball over he should be okay.

As for exploiting this weakness, I expect BC to blitz on obvious passing downs and load the box on first and second down to force third and long situations. The more Weatherford is pressured, the more rattled he's going to be.

2. Aside from the big names, who is an unheralded difference maker that BC fans should be aware of?

Linebacker Marcello Church is a big key on defense because he's the "buck" lineman whenever the Seminoles go to a 3-4. He's quick off the line and he'll get to the quarterback in those passing situations (two sacks against Miami). You won't hear a lot about the senior, especially considering the All-America quality linebackers already on the team, but he's a major part of the scheme this week.

On offense the difference maker might have to be superstar recruit Fred Rouse. The freshman, in only his third game, will be in charge of returning punts and in this game I feel like the winning play will be on special teams. Rouse has the ability and the flair to make a big play in a big situation.

3. FSU was supportive of the ACC expansion, but what is the general opinion among 'Nole fans of BC?

Most FSU fans have had this game circled on the calendar since the schedule was realized. Many of the fans are pysched about going to Boston, there's a huge alumni/fan group in the city already and I expect many Seminole fans there this weekend. Overall I think FSU has a high opinion of what BC is going to bring to the conference -- exposure to the New England region, strong academic history and strong athletics program with a very underrated fanbase. This an exciting time and I know many Nole fans look forward to the rivalry that will be built.

Check out Sporting Fools throughout the season for more info on FSU and plenty of high-quality live blogging on college football.

'Nole news and other things

I hope Florida State fans realize how lucky they are when it comes to news coverage. During the season, the two Boston papers will usually write one BC story a day (often on the same subject). Down in the Sunshine state, it seems like every paper north of Bradenton has someone on the Seminoles beat.

Here are some of the clips that caught my eye.

FSU’s offensive line is ready for Kiwi. Kiwi has been neutralized so far this season. The rest of BC’s D-line is really going to have to step up Saturday.

This article discusses FSU adapting to their new blocking scheme.

Here is a notebook that leads with Xavier Lee. He has been raw in limited time this year, but he worries me more than Weatherford. I think BC can contain FSU’s passing. It is when the play breaks down that the defense can be exposed by a scrambler like Lee.

TOB is quoted in this article about the size of today’s lineman.

More free recruiting news from the AJC.

The national media is paying attention to BC. We made ESPN’s power rankings and moved up in Stewart Mandel’s poll. The guys at Sportsline expect us to win this weekend.

The Clemson start time was finally announced. It will be a noon game on Jefferson-Pilot.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Blogpoll Roundtable No. 7

I am hosting the blogpoll roundtable this week. We’ve covered almost every aspect of our teams so I thought it was time to turn our attention to the media.

Last week Trev Alberts made one of the all-time bonehead moves by getting fired by ESPN. Not surprisingly, college football fans and bloggers showed the little sympathy for the former first-round bust. Trev’s self-important style and often misinformed opinions built up heaps of animosity among regular viewers of ESPN’s college coverage. Plus Albert’s departure means more TV time for a real journalist like Nick Lachey! So with this in mind, I thought it was time to focus on the talking heads you love and the ones you love to hate.

1. What member of the mainstream sports media (preferably one who covers college sports) makes your skin crawl, blood boil, forces you to change the channel or hit mute? Why?

2. What writer, broadcaster, show, website etc. deserves more recognition? Who is someone we should all be reading, watching or listening to?

Post your answers below in the comments section or link the URL to your responses on your own blog. I’ll post my answers later today and put together a roundup later in the week.


1. Mark Blaudschun covers college sports for the Boston Globe. Fortunately for BC fans he is not the paper’s BC beat writer. But as the main college guy for one of the nation’s most prestigious sports sections, he gets plenty of space to spread misinformation and his distaste for the hometown Eagles. Taking shots at the locals is nothing new for the Boston media, but Blaudschun shoddy reporting and hack opinions reached a breaking point for me during the ACC move. The move deserved debate and coverage, but Blowhard filled his work with anonymous quotes from his old school Big East buddies that amounted to a series of low blows on BC’s rep, history, athletic department potential, fans, and of course the Catholic Church. He gave merit to most of the ridiculous talking points that the Big East floated while never mentioning that every snubbed member of the conference would gladly have bolted to the ACC (unfortunately for those schools, they didn’t bring much to the table). His implausible opinions didn't pass the sniff test with even the average college fan. Yet this man is still employed and by all reports is unapologetic about his poor reporting. There are a lot of things to be excited about this Saturday’s primetime ACC debut against a national power (with College Gameday on campus). I hope Blaudschun has a good seat for a game he thought would never happen, that BC never deserved and that no one would ever care about.

2. Being the voice of a team can be a delicate balance. Root too much and people call you a homer. If you’re too critical you won’t last long at the school. Georgia Tech’s play-by-play man Wes Durham does it better than most. He’s got a great voice, calls a good game, has a passion for the sport, incorporates his excellent knowledge of history of the game and has the right perspective on the team. I never missed his and Tony Barnhart’s old Southern Football Kickoff Show on 790 The Zone. Wes even handles the thankless coach’s show without pissing off Chan Gailey or disappointing frustrated Tech fans. BC’s radio network churns play-by-play guys about every three season. I hope one of these days they stumble upon a guy like Wes to serve as the voice of Boston College.

Blogpoll ballot week 3

BC moved up to 17 in the AP poll and 16 in the USA Today poll. Below is my ballot for the blogpoll. Not as much movement as last week. I did penalize the Big Ten teams and gave Vandy some recognition.

Games I watched
Army-BC 100% (twice)
Pitt-Ohio 25%
ND-Michigan 25%
South Carolina-UGA 25%
UNC-Georgia Tech 10%
Texas-Ohio State 75%

1. Southern Cal
2. Texas
3. Virginia Tech
4. Louisiana State
5. Tennessee
6. Louisville
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Florida State
10. Florida
11. Boston College
12. Purdue
13. Cal
14. Clemson
15. Virginia
16. Georgia Tech
17. Texas Tech
18. Fresno State
19. Alabama
20. UCLA
21. Miami (Florida)
22. Ohio State
23. Michigan
24. Vanderbilt
25. Oklahoma

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"Comin' To Your City"

I hate the new Gameday theme (who thought Big & Rich and Cowboy Troy were a good idea?), but I am excited to see that ESPN’s Gameday is coming to BC (I am a sucker for shots of campus and tailgating). I don’t know what they are going to do about fans since Newton laws don’t allow tailgaters on campus nine hours before kickoff (Gameday starts at 10:30 a.m., the game starts at 7:45 p.m.).

Corso and crew’s presence will only heighten the intensity on campus. This is the biggest home game of the TOB era and the first game as member of the ACC.

I am glad to see the team get some pub. Hopefully they will shine in the spotlight.

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Army game

Upon watching a second time, I agree with TOB’s conclusion that the score was deceptive. The team played well, but not great (if that makes any sense). Here are my thoughts and grade reports.

Offense: B+

Porter continues to get the job done. Each game he makes plays that show his maturity and cuts down on plays that make me yell “ah, Quinton!” The one play that really stood out as progress was his TD pass to Gonzalez. The previous play, the coverage was tight so he tucked the ball and ran. He was caught from behind for a 1-yard gain. This was classic 2003 Porter. So the next play he has time in the pocket, but no one was open. He shuffled his feet and you could see him fight the urge to run for the first down. But he showed patience and maturity, stayed in the pocket, let Gonzalez get free and hit him in stride for the Touchdown. He was also fairly accurate. And for the second straight game, he effectively ran the two minute offense before the half. His game was not without flaws. He floated a long ball to Lester (can’t use altitude as an excuse this week), got caught from behind on the bootleg pass (Peterson’s bread and butter play) and had some exchange problems with Sheridan when Sheridan was subbing in for Ross. Overall, he is improving and putting up good numbers. I am not worried about Porter heading into next week.

I am worried about the ground game. Once again, neither Callender or Whitworth stood out. Whitworth had the better game, but still has trouble if his initial hole is not open. In the second half, his reactions improved. In space he is great. I would like to see them get him the ball on screens or on the swing pass more. Callender clearly has the better ability adapting to where the holes are but is not doing enough to get the starting job back. TOB got in his face when he shied away from contact and missed a first down by a yard. He also took a few jabs at Callender in his radio show last week. Next week one of them will have to step up if we are going to beat Florida State.

Goalline specialist Brian Toal was a nice addition to the package. He scored twice and showed better feel for finding the holes than either of our featured backs.

The receivers looked good, but that is to be expected against the USMA. Gonzalez is proving to have great hands and is very reliable. Blackmon is showing that it might have been a mistake to leave him on defense for three years. He is really raw on his routes and didn’t know what to do when the play broke down, but man, he is great when he has the ball. I liked the play calling to get him the ball on end-arounds. His TD run off the screen was awesome. The Tight Ends were quiet after last week’s big game.

The line was solid and I appreciate the fact that the coaching staff got the backups in for long stretches. The only blight was Kevin Sheridan having problems with the snap when he was in for Ross.

Defense: B

The defense shut Army down for most of the day, but the opening drive was so bad that I can’t give the unit an “A” effort.

First Kiwi. As expected, he is the opponent's focus. Spaz keeps flip flopping where he is lined up. All this did to Army was cause them to shift their Tight End to the weakside. The doubleteaming frustration led to Kiwi losing his cool for the first time. He was whistled for a roughing the passer and an offsides. Both moves contributed to Amry’s one scoring drive. He needs to stay focused and recognize that as a focal point he is still contributing. If he is taking all that attention someone will be able to step up. So far that isn’t his opposite end, Nick Larkin. Larkin has been MIA so far. The DTackles have played well and I was glad to see the young Willis get some tackles. The linebackers continue to play well and Pruitt was great filling in for Brown.

The corners gave Army way too much space on the lines. The Cadets exploited this with a series of quick slants. They can’t give FSU that much cushion next week.

After the first drive the attitude changed and run defense buckled down. But is was disappointing to see the team come out flat. There are no excuses next week.

Special teams: B-

The coverage teams were fine. The punting effective. Army missed one field goal (but that was more of an Army missing thing as opposed to a BC blocking). The cause for concern remains Ohliger. He yanked a PAT and that doesn’t inspire confidence. I think the coaching staff feels the same way. They elected to go for it twice on fourth down in field goal range. You could say they had confidence in the offense. I say, they felt their odds were better throwing than letting Ohliger try a long FG. The kid is going to have to make a kick at some point this season. Instead of protecting him, the coaching staff should figure out now if he has the head to be a DIA kicker.

Overall: B

I liked the play calling. I am glad they got in most of the second team for long stretches. The defense responded. But still not a perfect game. There is a lot of work to do before the Seminoles but 2-0 feels nice.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Initial thoughts

A win is a win. As expected, BC controlled the game. It is hard to find fault with a 44-7 victory, but there were many things that bothered me. I’ll give my second viewing thoughts and grade report Sunday. Regardless of my gripes, being 2-0 going into FSU is a nice feeling.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Tom Coughlin Legacy

Here’s an article in the Newark Star-Ledger on Tom Coughlin from his wife’s perspective. Coughlin is an interesting character whose influence and legacy is significant to where BC football is today. Aside from being the Head Coach during the second most important win in school history, he was also an assistant during the Flutie years and such a good talent evaluator that his recruits carried TOB in his first few seasons. Coughlin sent his daughter to BC and she is married to former BC star and current New York Giant Chris Snee. Also, Gene D’s son is on Coughlin’s staff.

I missed Couglin’s run by a year but still think I can capture what a big deal he was and why his short time at BC will always cast an unfair shadow on TOB.

Although he had worked at BC, Coughlin became the Head Coach fresh off a Giants Super Bowl win and was cast as a Parcells’ disciple. As ND fans are finding out now with Weis, the curt, buck stops here, we’re going to kick ass attitude combined with a dynamic offense will win over a fan base quickly. When he beat No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend in his third season, he cemented his status as a BC icon. Yet that was the peak of his reign. He lost to WVU the next week and was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars a few months later. But his charisma and the promise of what his run held (“if Coughlin had stayed...”) is still fresh in the memories of those who lived through the run. Heck, I was only a BC applicant when he beat Notre Dame and I still wonder what might have been. We will never know. Maybe he would have won a national championship. Maybe his my way or the highway attitude would have burned bridges with the players and the administration. Fans should let go because he was always too big for BC and the college game. He went where he belonged. But we can’t let go. We’re fans.

TC Legend also had the benefit of being followed by the Dan Henning disaster. [TANGENT TIME: This is getting too personal but I literally shat when I found out that Henning was the coach. This was spring 1994 and before the internet. I was in New Jersey so I couldn’t follow the coaching search in any paper. One day I am lounging around watching SportsCenter. I have to go to the bathroom and being your typical jerky senior in high school, I just blast the volume on the TV so I can still hear it from the can. Well I hear Olbermann or Patrick or whoever was doing the morning addition say “Boston College has hired Dan Henning…” and think to my self this is not good. Flush. END OF TANGENT.]

Even though he didn’t follow Coughlin, TOB will always live in Coughlin’s shadow among the diehards. And in my opinion, it is not entirely fair. Coughlin’s accomplishments at the Heights were not all that different from TOB's best moments, but his charisma and the promise of what the future held is too much and lends fuel to TOB’s critics. TOB will probably become the alltime winningest coach at BC in three seasons. To younger fans and non BC fans he and Doug Flutie are BC football. He probably doesn't care that a few hundred people still wonder about Coughlin.

Me, as much as I don't want to admit it, TC's legacy does impact my view of TOB. TOB has let me down numerous times. But I know things could be a lot worse. That is a horrible attitude, but how else should I deal with it? I am open to suggestions.

Just the facts

TOB is 7 and 1 against the service academies. (He has never faced the Air Force Academy.)

TOB is 2 and 6 against the spread against the service academies

He is undefeated against the USMA, but has only covered once against the Black Knights.

Army has not beaten and ranked opponent since 1972.

Now I called this post "Just the facts" but allow me to stroll down memory lane to tell you why I will never overlook Army. Picture it: Fall 1995, BC enters the Army game with a 2-4 record. Fans already hated Henning, but everyone recognizes that our early ’95 schedule was BC’s version of the Bataan Death March (the Eddie George OSU team, a loaded Michigan team, VTech, Pitt, WVU and a Saban-led MSU team). Here comes Army. Easy W, right? We got killed. The final score was 49-7 but that was only because Army ran out of time. They ran over everything else in Chestnut Hill that day. You would think that no one in maroon had every seen the option before. Worst of all, it was one of those bitter cold rainy New England days. I was one of the fools sitting in the stands getting soaked watching the half-hearted effort. By the end of the game, the only ones left were the idiots like me and a few hundred Cadets going crazy and doing 49 push ups on our ice-cold bleachers. The lesson: never underestimate the service academies. These guys have a ton of heart and if you don’t come to play, they will out hustle and hit you all day.