Friday, September 29, 2006

Rethinking Diamond Stud

First things first. Diamond Stud clearly does not have what it takes to be a placekicker at the D1 level. He's got a strong leg, he's a good practice kicker, and I have no doubt that he'd excel at a D2 or D3 level with far less pressure, no crowd noise, etc. But the fact is that, while the guy has talent, he is a headcase. These are college kids out there, and extra points are not quite the gimmes they are in the NFL--one miss a season is acceptable. Three misses in two games is not acceptable. It is clearly past time to remove Diamond Stud as BC's placekicker and replace him either with walk-on Steve Aponavicius, or with true freshman Billy Flutie. Whatever promises TOB made regarding the starting kicking job, when you are the coach of a sports team at the D1 level you have made an implicit commitment to everyone on your team to do whatever it takes (obviously within reason) to win. Breaking a promise to one kid is bad, but it is preferable to breaking a promise to 85.

That said, those who are calling for Diamond's scholarship to be revoked and for him to be booted off the team are mistaken. For one thing, you can't just do that to a 20-year-old kid mid-season. But additionally, field position is very important in college football--especially when you have a coaching staff that insists on playing not to lose, even against vastly inferior opposition--and Ohliger is one of the better kickoff guys in the country.

Another thing to consider is the fact that the top-rated high school kicker in the country, Billy Bennett of San Diego, will be an Eagle next season. However, the punting situation beyond 2007 is a huge question mark. No punters have been added in the 2007 class, and it remains to be seen whether Flutie is The Guy until 2009 or 2010 at that position.

So here's a radical suggestion for TOB and the coaching staff. Yank Diamond Stud as our placekicker immediately and replace him with either Flutie or Aponavicius (preferably Flutie, as he likely has more upside). That should go without saying. Keep Diamond Stud on kickoffs. But start bringing him aside in practice and let Johnny Ayers, who has developed into a very capable punter, give him a crash course in that position. In 2007, redshirt Diamond Stud, let him practice as a punter full time, and pencil him in as your starting punter in 2008. This buys you some extra time to recruit a punter for 2009 and beyond.

It's not as outlandish as it sounds. We know that Diamond Stud has a strong leg, and because whatever psychological issues fuck up his placekicking do not generally affect his kickoffs, it is unlikely that they would affect him as a punter either. Additionally, it is likely that he punted in high school (most high school kickers, especially in places like Delaware, do not specialize). He has the physical tools, and after half a year of part-time practice and a year of full-time practice at punter, in addition to his probable high school experience, he should be at least a reasonable punter.

Look, it's possible that he can't punt at all and that this would be an absolute disaster, but the great thing is that if it is, you find out well before you send him out there in a game situation. Why not give it a shot, TOB?? What do you have to lose??

Friday, September 22, 2006

NC State Prediction

BC is clearly the better team here. TOB will make it closer than it has to be, but the Eagles will prevail.

BC 30, NC State 20

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Shea Commits

Hockey East Blog is reporting that BC has landed Boston Junior Bruins defenseman Edwin Shea, considered by some to be the top New England recruit in the 2008 class. Word is that the coaching staff entertained Shea at last weekend's football game against BYU, and the experience induced him to commit (while inducing most of us to cardiac failure). Well done, Coach York.

Waiting for WTF

BC fans are all too familiar with the phenomenon known as the WTF Loss. For the unfamiliar, this is the name given to the game (at least one every year) that BC has absolutely no business losing, but does anyway. Over the last 3 years of Tom O'Brien's tenure at The Heights, the following, in my opinion, could be considered WTF losses:

Wake Forest 32, BC 28; 8-30-03, Chestnut Hill
Syracuse 39, BC 13; 10-18-03, Syracuse
Wake Forest 17, BC 14; 9-25-04, Winston-Salem
Pitt 20, BC 17; 10-16-04, Pittsburgh
Syracuse 43, BC 17; 11-27-04, Chestnut Hill
North Carolina 16, BC 14; 11-5-05, Chapel Hill

Many are predicting that Saturday's game against NC State will be this year's WTF game. Is their concern valid?? To help, let's look at a few trends shared by many of BC's recent WTF losses.

1. WTF losses usually fall late in the year.
While this is not a foolproof method of prediction, most of BC's WTF losses have taken place in mid-October or later. The only outliers are the two Wake Forest games, both of which occured before BC was an ACC team. The theory goes that, as late-season losses tend to be more costly than those in the early season, the likelihood of these losses thus increases.

2. WTF losses are just as likely to occur at home and on the road, and are just as likely to involve a few key turns of the game costing BC a win as they are a total and utter meltdown.

3. WTF losses usually come against a team that, while inferior to BC, is still decent.
This is the most important thing, in my opinion, to keep in mind when looking forward to NC State. While three of the WTF losses have come to teams that finished with losing records, most agree that those teams (Wake Forest in 2003 and 2004, North Carolina in 2005) were better than their records indicated. The other WTF games came against a pair of 6-6 Syracuse teams in 2003 and 2004, and 8-4 Pitt in 2004. NC State, if its showings against Akron and Southern Mississippi are any indication, is not in the class of these teams. While BC may struggle against the MAC teams of the world, it always pulls out victory in the end.

When looking for this year's WTF loss, one might look in the direction of Wake Forest or Maryland (or, before last week, BYU). Heading into Saturday, however, I am cautiously optimistic about NC State.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ACC Power Rankings

As I see it right now...

1 (tie). BC
1 (tie). Clemson
1 (tie). Virginia Tech
4. Florida State
5. Georgia Tech
6. Miami
7. Maryland
8. Wake Forest
9. Virginia
10. North Carolina
11. NC State
12. Duke

Monday, September 18, 2006

Boston College Football: Making "24" Look About as Suspenseful as a Mid-80s Super Bowl

I really can't take this any more.

Another week, ANOTHER double OT game. Shit, NCAA football has only had overtime for 10 years--has any team EVER had 2+OT games on consecutive weeks before?? Don't get me wrong, the fact that we won both of them is great, but this shit is knocking years off my life, to mention nothing of the whale pants crowd. I'm pretty sure that my blood pressure after this past weekend is roughly equivalent to that of the Japanese hot dog eating dude.

Anyway, without further ado, the weekly roundup:

-DeJuan Tribble
#27 had perhaps his best game of his BC career on Saturday, coming up with several huge pass deflections in addition to his interception. As he has developed into a true shutdown corner at The Heights, I fully expect him to be deployed at defensive tackle vs. NC State.

-Running Game
L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender combined for a total of 113 yards on 19 carries, not at all bad for a day's work. While neither is the dominant rusher that BC has had in the past with the likes of Derrick Knight, William Green, and Mike Cloud, they do seem to be effective as a 1-2 punch. I still would like to see A.J. Brooks and Jeff Smith worked into the game on offense, though. The offensive line did much better Saturday than in the previous two games, paving the way for the impressive running attack and also holding the BYU defense to two sacks of Matt Ryan.

-Matty Ice
Note that I said Matty Ice here, not Matt Ryan. The truth is that Ryan didn't have a great game--arguably his worst in a BC jersey (the Syracuse game in '04 never actually happened, contrary to popular belief, and even if it had it would not have been Ryan's fault). But he stuck it out and willed his team to victory at the end. Is there any doubt that this kid is a leader?? More to the point, if your team is down 6 with 2 minutes left and the ball on your own 20, is there any other QB in the ACC you'd rather have behind center?? I don't think there is.

-Kevin Akins
Despite his lack of size, Akins is doing well in his new role as a pass-rushing LB. That said, we simply can't afford to not have him in the secondary right now.

With the Tigers' clutch victory over Florida State, BC now is firmly in the driver's seat for the ACC Atlantic title.

Seriously, how fucking great was that?? Sure, it would've been better if it was BC heading into South Bend to demolish and expose the French, but since they are too pussy to play us, we can live vicariously through the Wolverines. Let all BC fans tip a glass to our Wolverine bretheren this week.

(thanks to MGoBlog for the video)

-Freshman Girls
Ask, Eric Cantona, and you shall receive.

As you can see, these lovely ladies are worthy answers to the infamous Cowgirls. But they need their own gimmick to gain national attention for BC--and major props to Eagles Talon of the EagleInsider board, who suggested maroon and gold Catholic schoolgirl outfits:
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(ummmm, yeah, just picture that with a gold top)

-Diamond Stud
'Nuff said. I don't even really want to go into this. What I will say is this--we need a new kicker. Diamond Stud is fine for kickoffs; he does a pretty solid job of consistently putting the ball in the end zone. But he simply isn't cutting it as a placekicker. You just can not miss 2 PATs in one season, let alone one game. That doesn't do it at this level. I don't care if we run out Steve Aponavicius or burn Billy Flutie's redshirt or whatever the fuck. Hell, get Charlie Davies out there. Just get someone out there who can consistently hit extra points and field goals from inside 35, and let our offense take care of the rest.

-Cornerbacks not named "Tribble"
Can we PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE get Akins back there?? I like him as a LB, but we simply need him more in the secondary. Get Roderick Rollins in there too, at this point. Larry Anam and Taji Morris would be fine in nickel and dime packages, if we used those, but they are not getting the job done in coverage.

The defensive playcalling was bad; I've been saying this for 2 years, when you have cornerbacks who can't cover anyone but who are pretty good physical football players you need to have them jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage. If we don't change our coverage schemes we are going to get shredded by FSU. That said, the offensive playcalling was simply atrocious. What in the hell were we doing in the first OT?? Our kicker has already missed 2 PATs and we're going to count on him to make a game-winning FG and make no attempt to put the ball in the end zone?? Are Tom O'Brien and Dana Bible TRYING to give me a heart attack??

-The Fans
Seriously, all I ask is 3 things:
1. Show up on time (10 minutes before kickoff)
2. Wear maroon and/or gold, not white
3. Make noise, at the very least, on key defensive plays, the "We Are BC" chant, and sing the fight song.

Is this really too much to ask of BC's non-student fans?? This is big time now, people.

-NC State
First they lose to Akron at home, then they get bitchslapped by Southern Miss?? We better not lose to these jokers.
We're not the fucking "Golden Eagles", assholes.

-The Cheap Whiskey I bought for 99c a nip at Reservoir Liquor

Some post-weekend press coverage:
Herald: Eagles Get Early Edge in ACC

Globe: BC Climbing the Ladder

That's all for now. Still decompressing from that. More thoughts to come later on.

Friday, September 15, 2006

BYU's in town, lock up your wife...or wives

No extensive game preview this week because, to be quite honest, I don't know a lot about BYU's team other than what I've been told by others. It sounds like they have a decent running game and short passing attack, but are vulnerable on defense and don't have the jets to go deep. I'm also hearing that their special teams is atrocious, which is good.

As long as BC shows up to play for this one, we should be OK. BYU will score their points but I don't think they have the guns to keep with BC's offense.

Final score: BC 38, BYU 27

Great article in today's Globe on none other than former BC quarterback Paul Peterson, who is now a graduate assistant at BYU. He was one of the most exciting players to wear a BC uniform in recent memory, and let's hope that he gets some sort of recognition during the game for his contributions to our program.

Interesting article in yesterday's Herald on Nick Larkin. I was particularly interested to read about his foot afflictions (which I'd never known about before), as I also suffer from extremely flat feet. Larkin could be primed for a breakout year. Finally, another article in today's Herald on TOB approaching the career win milestone at BC--I wouldn't reccomend reading this one after a heavy meal.

Off to the airport on 2 hours. See you all on Sunday, and GO EAGLES!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

He did it!! Dunbar did it!!

Just now got released from the St. Elizabeth's Cardiac Trauma Center after the most exciting sporting event I've ever attended in person. Simply fucking an incredible game.

-Defensive Line
Nick Larkin may not be Kiwi, but who is?? The junior had a spectacular game against the Tigers, including spearheading the team's incredible defensive stand in the first overtime period--first stuffing CJ Spiller (along with Jamie Silva) for a 4-yard loss on first down then sacking Will Proctor on second. While Larkin was the star of the bunch, the entire defensive line turned in a very good performance on Saturday. Austin Giles is an absolute stud in the making and BJ Raji is a potential future first-round draft pick. For a unit that had been expected to be BC's weakest on either side of the ball, the D Line rebounded very well from a poor performance against Central Michigan to lead the Eagles to victory.

-Matt Ryan
Yeah, he was shaky on the first few series of the game--but he settled down and turned in another excellent performance for the Eagles. While his stats were not spectacular (22-38, 212, 1 TD, 1 rushing TD) he displayed once again the intangibles that make him BC's best QB in years. Ryan has established himself as a no-brainer top-3 ACC/top-15 national QB, and in my mind is #1 in the conference and top 10 nationally. Don't look now, but with most of the team returning in 2007, he could be primed for a Heisman run in his senior year. As an aside, how fucking badass was the sight of Ryan walking out alone to the overtime coin flip?? It looked like something from a Wild West movie, and Ryan is BC's gunslinger. Ryan knows how to read a defense, find the open man, and deliver the ball. He is simply a winner--very Tom Brady-esque.

-Offensive Line
The team's RBs combined for 4.1 YPC, and Matt Ryan was not sacked once for the second straight game. That said, the unit looked much better with Josh Beekman spelling Kevin Sheridan at C. James Marten seemed to have adapted to the LT position better than he had in the CMU game. As shaky as the line looked against Central Michigan, it could be business as usual for the Eagles if it continues to gel together.

-Jeff Smith
I couldn't leave him out, could I?? Smith is the fastest player BC has seen in a long time. Not much to say here as his performance spoke for itself--other than to say that he needs to start getting touches on offense (and the 7-yard reception he picked up in the 3rd quarter was hopefully just the first of many). This kid honestly could be BC's answer to Reggie Bush. He is that good.

-Wide Receivers
Is this the best unit BC has ever had?? With lesser-talented receivers such as Grant Adams, Larry Lester, and Joel Hazzard no longer getting reps due to seniority, the team's younger receivers have had a chance to shine, and shine they have. We all knew coming into the year that Tony Gonzalez was a gamer (I've said all along that he's been BC's best wideout for the past 3 years) and he has proven so far that he's more than capable of succeeding as the team's #1 receiver. Kevin Challenger seems to have a great rapport with Ryan, and is emerging as an excellent #2 option. Taylor Sele has been a very nice surprise this year, turning in 2 very nice performances after what many had considered to be a disappointing career to date; Brandon Robinson is one of the most athletic players on the team; and Rich Gunnell is a deep threat to watch. But the guy who really excites me is Clarence Megwa. This guy has a combination of speed, decent size, and playmaking ability that BC has almost never had in a wideout. He likely won't get many catches until next year, but by the time all is said and done he could be the best receiver BC has ever had.

The early injury to Toal hurt, but the rest of the unit stepped it up. Robert Francois didn't miss a beat, forcing a huge fumble; Tyronne Pruitt was very solid; and what can you say about JoLonn Dunbar?? This position has quietly become arguably BC's deepest and most talented.

-Tom O'Brien
Credit where credit is due, and while I don't think O'Brien called a great game, he didn't call a horrible one either. Many times in the past O'Brien and his staff would've single-handedly lost this game for us. He didn't on Saturday. Hopefully this is indicative of a new era in BC coaching.

-The Golden Eagle
1-0 so far.

-"Won't Get Fooled Again"
Love to see that they brought it back. But I still have a bone to pick--why bring it back, only to cut it off 15 seconds before the team runs out onto the field?? Return to the traditional entrance of a few years ago--blast the song through the PA system, let the anticipation build up as the team is showed lining up in the tunnel on the Jumbotron, then the players run out onto the field as Pete Townshend lets out his trademark "YEEEEEEEOWWWWWWWW". This is what we did before, and if we establish the tradition and let the crowd get into it it will be every bit as exciting as Virginia Tech's famed "Enter Sandman" entrance--so why the unneccesary changes??

-Freshman Girls
I think BC's incoming class gets more and more "talented" every year. But special mention goes to the 3 or 4 girls who were sitting more or less dead center in Section J with tiny jean skirts and "creatively" cut Superfan shirts. If any of you BC students out there reading this knows these girls, tell them they need to get their asses down in the front row for the next televised game and give BC an answer to FSU's cowgirls. Be sure to instruct them to drop me a line if they have any questions.

-Student Fans
The student sections of Alumni were loud, rocking, and into the game. The clueless group of freshmen sitting in front of me aside, BC's student fans seem to get better every year just as the freshman girls get hotter. Hopefully as these loud and rabid student fans graduate, the older fans will follow suit. Until then, though, my friends and I will probably continue to re-live our youth as we did Saturday and sit in the student section. Also, major props (this goes to a large number of non-student fans as well) for the fact that pretty much everyone stayed at their seats for the Alma Mater, rather than hightailing for the exits.

-Clemson Fans
Wow. I've never seen more orange in one place. I knew as soon as I walked down to the T platform at Logan to find two groups of Clemson fans that they would have a good showing, but I didn't expect this. About 6-7,000 Clemson fans were expected in Boston, but it was more like 10,000. Granted, this is about the same number that BC brought to Maryland last year, but Boston-to-DC is a much easier trip than Bumblefuck, SC-to-Boston. In addition to being numerous, the Tiger fans were friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely supportive almost to a man (the jackass who hilariously called my buddy a "fuckin' woman" walking out of the stadium notwithstanding). Someday BC will have this kind of fan base, and it will be a great day.

The situation still isn't ideal, but the extra hour really makes a difference.

-Jamar Jackson
The 4-star DE out of Richmond was at the game last night and, according to Rivals (registration required), was absolutely thrilled with his visit (how could you not be??).

The safeties were solid--Paul Anderson is very promising but isn't Ryan Glasper yet, Jamie Silva was caught out of position a few times but generally had a solid game (including assisting Nick Larkin in the game-saving first-down tackle in OT), if not his best at BC. The corners, on the other hand, were awful. Larry Anam simply does not have what it takes to be a starting ACC defensive back. He's got the physical tools, he just doesn't have the "right stuff". He probably should've been utilized as a WR from day one. He might be OK as a nickel or dime back, but he should not be starting. Problem is, Taji Morris isn't much better--so the obvious solution, and it's incredibly frustrating to me, is to move Kevin Akins back to the secondary. Getting a kid with his size and speed back to CB, where he performed well this year, instantly transforms our secondary from the team's biggest liability into a passable, at least, unit. True freshman Wes Davis did look promising spelling Silva at FS during large parts of the 4th quarter when "The Rocketeer" was sidelined with what appeared to be bad cramps.

-Injuries to Toal and Brace
The LB (shoulder) and DT (head) are both questionable for BYU. The good news is that Toal's injured shoulder is not the same one he hurt last year. Nonetheless, we need both of these guys back by, at the very least, the Virginia Tech game.

-Frank Spaziani
You know, just for once it'd be nice if we tried to jam opposing WRs on the line rather than simply yielding the first 10 yards. It'd be nice if we didn't play prevent defense on 2nd-and-26 in OT (if we weren't going to make any attempt to keep them from getting back into FG range anyway, why not just decline the penalty??). It'd be nice if we didn't play Kevin Akins woefully out of position at LB. It'd be nice if any bum in the stands couldn't tell before lining up exactly what we were going to do on defense. Apparently I'm asking too much.

-Non-student fans
Two things: First, make some fucking noise. If it hadn't been for the student sections, Clemson's fan contingent would've been louder than ours. No-one's expecting you to stand up for the entire game and go nuts like the students do, but at least join in on the "Let's Go Eagles" and "We Are BC" chants, and at least make some noise on kickoffs and key defensive plays. It's not that much to ask. Second, WEAR MAROON AND GOLD. The parts of the stadium that weren't occupied by Clemson fans or BC students looked like a Penn State game--everyone was in white. If you can't provide any audible support to your team, at least provide some visual support. I mean, honestly what is the point of even going to the game if you aren't going to do something to help your team win?? I mean, I'd rather sit in the comfort of my own home and watch on TV rather than paying good money to see the game from a worse angle and not help my team win.

-"Don't Stop Believing"
Don't get me wrong, I love this song. It's even an inside joke among my friends and I after I blasted it about 714 times on the car stereo on the road trip to Milwaukee for the Frozen Four. I'm PUMPED that BC's band has started playing it. But did they really need to play it during EVERY stoppage of play during the 2nd half and OT?? It loses some luster after awhile. While I'm at it, I'd like to see "Sweet Caroline" moved back to its traditional spot of around 10 minutes remaining in the game, rather than between the 3rd and 4th quarters, which is when it was played on Saturday. That song always gets the crowd pumped up, and it is less effective during the intermission when people are getting up out of their seats to walk to the concourse, and BC's team is on the sideline getting instructions from the coaches rather than feeding on the crowd.

-NC State
Fucking Akron?? Seriously?? Assholes.

That's pretty much it...there's really not a lot to complain about here. Absolutely spectacular game, and can't wait for BYU (preview of that game to come tomorrow).

Pravda/AP Report
Globe Report
Herald Report
Herald article on Smith
Herald article on Smith #2

Globe article on Smith
Herald article on Ryan's recovery

Globe: Eagles to renew Orange ties (old news, but also contains some other tidbits, including a rumor of a home-and-home with Northwestern--although that may not be as appealing after their loss to D1AA UNH on Saturday)

Finally, Sunday's Herald was a gold mine for BC fans--in addition to great (compared to the Globe) coverage of the classic football victory, the issue also featured articles on Chris Collins' and Brian Boyle's adventures (in Boyle's case, future adventures), in the NHL.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Seeing Orange

Sorry about the lack of updates over the past week, I've been working my ass off.

Gotta keep this brief too, as I leave for the airport in 45 minutes. Basically this is the most important game of the year for BC. Win this one, and we've got a great chance at a 10-win season. Lose, and we're way on the outside looking in for the Atlantic Division title. Our defense will be tested by Clemson's wideouts, although I think the doom-and-gloomers are wrong about the Tigers being able to pound the ball away at us. Improving the pass rush will be key--if we can knock Proctor off his game in his first real challenge as a starting QB, we're well on our way to victory. When we have the ball, we need to exploit the loss of Anthony Waters and test Clemson's inexperienced LBs. This might be a great time to roll out Jeff Smith.

I'll be shocked if Matt Ryan doesn't play tomorrow. The question is, will he be 100%??

Should be a beautiful day tomorrow. I'm off to Boston. Go Eagles.

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