Saturday, October 03, 2015

Feeling blue in Durham

I do think Duke is decent but BC could have and probably should have won that game. Even with QB confusion, really bad Special Teams and bad ref calls, BC had chances to win in the 4th. I am very frustrated.

I will have my grades and second thoughts late Sunday.

In-game comments post: Duke

Throw your real predictions out the window. They've been washed away by the weather. I don't know what to expect from either team except that it will be wet. I will keep telling myself that helps BC...until something doesn't go our way.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday Picks Week 5

Weird weather and big spreads had me looking for ten games I liked. Below are the ones I finally picked. If you're following (purely for entertainment purposes) I am coming off a strong week. We will see if it holds up.

(Picks in bold.) 

Central Florida+2 at Tulane

Pitt+4.5 at Virginia Tech

Iowa+6.5 at Wisconsin

Louisville+4.5 at NC State

FIU+3 at UMass

Alabama+1.5 at Georgia

Ole Miss-7.5 at Florida

New Mexico State+12.5 at New Mexico

Notre Dame+1.5 at Clemson

Oregon-7.5 at Colorado

Last week I was 7-2-1. I am 21-17-2 on the season.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

BC-Duke preview

All seasons have a broken record aspect to them. I feel like this great defense covering the mistakes of an awkward QB rotation will be the theme for weeks to come. Is there any other way it can play out? Take this week for example. Flutie will start and probably get most of the snaps. But is he going to do anything remarkable to win the job permanently in really wet weather? Unlikely. While Smith will get snaps, his limited time also gives him fewer opportunities to show he can do more than run. My fear is that neither will ever play enough to shine and instead it will become which guy makes bigger mistakes.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Addazio talked patience in his media appearances this week and there is also plenty of fan chatter about lowering expectations. I find all of it premature and a little disconcerting. Injuries happen. Having to play young QBs happens. Collectively we had low expectations for Addazio's first two seasons and his teams performed well. Now, in Year 3, why can't we expect him to do well again? We are already have three wins and have one of the best defenses in the country. Even with sloppy QB play, we should compete with every team on our schedule and still finish at .500 or better.

Three Simple Keys
1. Connect on at least three play actions passes. There were so many open WRs last week biting on our runs. Those plays should be there this week. Whoever is QB needs to hit the open men (in stride). It will lead to some huge plays.
2. Let them have the short stuff. In order to avoid our pressure, I think Duke will try to dink and dunk it down the field. I have no problem with that. It makes big plays less likely. Field goals will be iffy in this weather. And I think we are very capable of forcing turnovers on short passes.
3. Redzone scoring. Kicking is always an issue. Heavy wind and rain won't make it easier. BC needs to capitalize with touchdowns any time we get near the endzone.

Gambling Notes
-- Cutcliffe is 1-1 against BC
-- Addazio is 3-3 in October as BC's coach
-- Addazio is 4-4 in ACC road games
The current line is BC+6.5

BC won its only game in Wallace Wade Stadium.

Scoreboard Watching
Notre Dame at Clemson is probably the biggest ACC game of the week and are arguably the two best teams left on our schedule. I am hoping one team exposes the other and gives us hope for our contest later in the season.

I hope to see...
A big Jeff Smith TD run. I know there are plenty of Flutie fans out there. I don't dislike the kid, but I just think Smith is a better fit for everything we are trying to do. If he makes a big play, I think Addazio will roll with him and the offense will finally have some identity. Flutie feels like a square peg in a round hole.

BC is in trouble if...
They give up another non-offensive touchdown. This defense can cover a lot of mistakes but they can't stop points given away on a turnover or Special Teams screw up. If it happens against Duke, it will cost us the game.

Bottom Line
I started off with the broken record analogy...well maybe it applies to bloggers too. I just feel this is the week where we figure it out on offense. I think the OL blocks well, Smith and Rouse cross Duke up on the option stuff and BC controls the tempo and score.
Final Score: BC 17, Duke 9

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hoping for Hurricane Joaquin

BC hasn't been so lucky lately. First Darius Wade broke his ankle and now Jon Hilliman is hurt. We are headed into the Duke game as a touchdown underdog and no idea what either of our QBs can do. But there is hope from an unexpected place: the weather forecast.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the forecast for Durham, North Carolina for Saturday is terrible. There is 100% chance of rain and winds in the teens. If Hurricane Joaquin turns right into North Carolina, the winds could be even worse. I don't take hurricanes lightly, but as long as the players and few fans are safe, I don't mind both teams playing in a downpour.

The weather works both ways. It will be just as tough for BC to move the ball as Duke, but we have less to lose. Our D is tough under normal conditions. In bad weather, we can shut any team down.

The weather can also invite fluky things to happen. If we were the better, more efficient team that would be an issue. But our offense is at the point where something odd might give us a chance.

There is always the chance that the hurricane could turn and not impact North Carolina at all. If that happens, then BC will have to hope for some type of luck.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Special Teams needs to do special things

In 2008 BC had a dominant, Top 10 Defense and a untested QB on the other side of the field. Sound familiar, right? Like now, points and possessions were at a premium. However, one thing Jags did in 2008, which Addazio is yet to do this year, is take big chances in Special Teams.

Your memory might be a little hazy, but BC's Special Teams changed multiple games in 2008. We went for repeated punt blocks and converted one for a TD against ND. Toal converted a fake punt to help win a shootout with NC State. An onside kick against Florida State was a huge momentum swing. Billy Flutie also turned a fake field goal into a touchdown against Maryland. All made the difference between a team that won the division and a team that could have used a green QB as an excuse to squeak out six wins.

Aside from the offensive struggles, one of the reasons Jags could roll the dice on Special Teams was that he trusted his Defense. If any of those gambles had backfired, he still knew his defense could hold. I don't expect Addazio to suddenly become a riverboat gambler, but he needs to have that same faith in his defense. And he needs to start taking chances somewhere.

We might not be loaded at QB, but we have enough former QBs on Special Teams (Swigert, Robinson, Willis and Nosovitch) that we could incorporate some passes without alerting the other team. We also have plenty of pure athletes who could easily be part of a fake punt or take advantage of a surprise onside kick.

The other reason you can start with fake or aggressive Special Teams now is because you have four games of opponent film to pick up tendencies and opportunities.

The season is young and Addazio has already taken a lot of criticism for how he's handled the clock and his QBs. Who cares if he takes some chances and it blows up in his face? With this Defense most BC fans will forgive attempts to win. It is playing not to lose that will upset me.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hilliman out with broken foot

There were rumors of Hilliman walking around after the game in a boot. Now there is confirmation that he was really hurt.

Although BC has depth at running back this is a big blow. Hilliman was the bruiser and the leading returning rusher. Willis is still dealing with the after effects of mono. Outlow was not 100% Saturday. Rouse can't do it alone.

This makes a limited offense less explosive. We will see how Addazio and Fitch adjust.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Northern Illinois

During the game, I felt Flutie was terrible and Smith was underutilized. It wasn't that simple, so I sort of understand what Addazio is facing. However, that doesn't justify how they were used and it certainly doesn't explain how we nearly gave this game away. Yet with all of that, I still feel better about the team than I did Saturday. We are so close to everything clicking. The D is there. Can the rest of the team catch up?

Offense: D

Flutie's passes were bad. Not particularly crisp, fast nor accurate. The TD was a good decision. The INT was a terrible decision. His running wasn't good either. He's not fast enough to escape on the option read. He did make a few better touch passes in the second half. And despite his limitations, he seems poised. Smith has great speed and looks very comfortable. The fumble that he recovered was unfortunate. He's got to be more careful. I don't know if you can judge anything off of his passes.

Hilliman looked better. He had more power and explosiveness. Outlow and Willis were non-factors and according to Daz, neither was healthy late in the game. Rouse was fine in mop up duty. Wolford and Wilson were fine.

Callinan did a good job staying in bounds on the TD catch. Swigert looked fine. Alston finally made a big play in a traditional pass pattern. Smith was fine, although his blocking is still not great. He looked good on the sweep even if it didn't break.

The Offensive Line played relatively well. Other than some penalties, there weren't many mistakes. Not many misses either. Williams looked better. Baker was fine at Center. Bowen was good. Lindstrom was better than last week too.

The running game was more effective with Smith. There was no debate. Yet he didn't get the most possessions. I don't know if that is Daz or Fitch or both, but it was frustrating. I felt Fitch should have called more zone options with Smith. Just having him there softened the middle and created holes for Hilliman. Why not run it until NIU shows that it can stop the play? Or create some play action passes for Smith out of it? I also hated switching QBs mid-drive. How does that allow anyone on offense get in rhythm? I don't know how much of our issues are being forced on Fitch, but it is his job to make lemonade out of the lemons. Through four games he hasn't shown he can do that.

Defense: A

The DLine looked great. Wujciak kept pushing their line back. Landry wasn't as disruptive as last week, but still showed a lot of productivity. Abdesmad played well. Kelly finally made a play.

Strachan played his best game. Daniels was pretty good and fortunately the dropped pass late didn't determine the game. Schwab is also coming around.

Johnson's INT was a great play. Moore played really well again. Simmons was very active. Yiadom was good.

Once again, Brown kept things simple and it worked. We gave them different looks and had the DL twisting without exposing the DBs or LBs. We also stayed aggressive late. It brings in the big play, but we had dominated to that point, it didn't make sense to go with excessive prevent.

Special Teams: C-

On a good day, some of the big Special Teams' plays would earn an "A" for the unit. But Special Teams nearly cost BC the game.

The kick return was a complete breakdown. As the announcers said, the shorter kick seemed intentional, yet there didn't seem to be a fail safe? Or at least any player who knew he was the fail safe.

The highlight was Milano's block.

Howell's punts were fine until late. Willis' one return was fine. Alston showed a little more aggressiveness.

Other than the bad kickoff, Lichtenberg looked ok.
Overall: B-

Winning close games is luck. Play enough and some will break your way and others won't. The best coaches press their advantages and push relentlessly so that a close game cannot be stolen. Steve Addazio's ultra conservative game management and some bad special teams nearly gave this game away. You could watch this game ten times and not be able to ignore that. As I said, the kick return was a total breakdown. But how does that happen? The play is designed to prevent a big return. How is there not anyone back?

As for the QB decision, I still think we didn't use Smith enough. Even if he makes BC one-dimensional, that one dimension was more effective than Flutie's two dimensions.

Winning while things are falling apart does deserve credit, but we need to show improvement on Offense soon and we need him to pull out more stops, not go more conservative.