Monday, May 21, 2007

BC by the Positions - QB

Summer is kind of a dead time for college football fans. Sure, the guys are working out, but most programs (particularly those run by guys with NFL backgrounds) are secretive enough that it's tough to know what's going on aside from a media snippet here and there. So with an eye towards next season, I will break down the team BC will be bringing into the year, position by position. I will look at guys who figure to start this year, guys who figure to provide depth this year, young players on our roster who we will look to in the future, and our recruiting situation at that position. While much of this will not be new info to BC fans, I hope to analyze the situations (with a particular eye towards position battles) and give my take on things. It will also help educate opposing fans who may not know much about our team.

So without further ado, I will begin this series with a few words on the quarterback position.

The Starter: This man needs no introduction. Glenn Foley is a great radio host (I encourage anyone in the Philadelphia area to check him out on 950 am in the mornings), but he no longer holds the title of "BC's best quarterback since Flutie". We have in Matt Ryan the best QB by far in the ACC, and one of the best in the country. Ryan finished last season with 2942 passing yards, a 126.38 passer rating, 15 TD passes, and a 61.6% completion rating; good for first, fourth, tied for third, and third in the ACC respectively. His TD/INT ratio (15/10), while not overly impressive at first glance on a national scale, was best in the defensive-heavy ACC. His numbers in 2006 were good, if not great. However, as any BC fan knows, numbers do not tell the story with Ryan. For one thing, he accomplished these feats despite having merely an average WR corps by ACC standards (I could throw 20 TD passes, as Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball did last season, with Calvin Johnson on my team), and despite being shackled by Tom O'Brien's ultra-conservative approach and by playing for Dana Bible, who is the worst offensive coordinator in the country. In addition to Bible's general incompetence, Ryan's TD numbers were hurt specifically by Bible's preference to keep the ball on the ground in the red zone. For another, he accomplished all of this despite playing on a sprained ankle for virtually the entire year and on a broken foot for about half of the year. Despite these injuries, he missed just one game during the year (and my hunch is that he would've played had that game not been against Buffalo in a driving monsoon).

More importantly, however, Ryan's most important asset is his leadership. Ever since he took a brutal hit against Clemson early in the 2005 season and returned to the game after missing just one play, he has been this team's emotional sparkplug. He knows how to win, and he rarely makes mistakes in critical situations (yes, he threw game-ending interceptions against Wake Forest and Miami last season; but he should not have been put in those desperation situations by the coaching staff in the first place).

With new offensive coordinator Steve Logan coming into town, the sky is the limit for Ryan this year. It is true that Ryan, a classical drop-back passer, does not fit the mold of mobile, athletic QBs generally favored by Logan. But unlike his predecessor, Logan is smart enough not to try to force a square peg into a round hole. Logan is one of the best QB gurus in the game today, having sent two passers to the NFL during his tenure at East Carolina (Jeff Blake and David Garrard), and his partnership with Ryan could prove lethal for opposing defenses. While Ryan is not likely to break off a 30-yard run, he is mobile in the sense that guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Carson Palmer are mobile; that is to say, he can move around in the pocket, effectively avoid pressure, and buy his receivers more time to get open. BC's athletic department needs to start up the hype machine now, because Ryan is a legitimate Heisman contender; but when you don't play for a Texas or Notre Dame, you need your school to go to bat for you in the PR arena. So far there is little indication that BC has done this, which is extremely distressing to me. Aside from owing it to one of BC's best players ever, having a Heisman winner or even contender can pay off many times over down the line in recruiting (as well as the national profile of the school in general). In my opinion, Ryan and Louisville's Brian Brohm are the two best quarterbacks in the country this year. If BC has a strong start to the year and is in the hunt for a BCS bowl and the ACC title, he will be firmly in the running both for the Heisman and an early first-round NFL draft selection.

The Depth: It's not easy playing behind one of the country's best, but the QB position will be in good hands for at least one year after Ryan graduates. Junior Chris Crane has looked solid every time he's been called upon at BC, and led the Eagles to an overwhelming victory (so overwhelming, 41-0, that walk-on David D'Ambrosio was behind center for a good chunk of the 4th quarter) over Buffalo in his one career start last season. Granted, it was Buffalo; but even against the sternest opponents he has faced, BC's own defense in the last two spring games, Crane has impressed--even this year, despite playing behind a patchwork second-team offensive line that included true freshman Anthony Castonzo at right tackle. Playing primarily in the Buffalo game but also in mop-up duty against Maine and Duke (admittedly not the toughest opposition), Crane went 22 for 32 last year, throwing for 193 yards, 1 TD, and 1 interception (if I remember correctly, a good pass that bounced off a receiver's hands and straight to a Buffalo defender). He's not Matt Ryan, but few are. What he is is mobile in a way that Ryan is not, despite being a pass-first QB, and an prototypical Steve Logan QB. Crane reminds me somewhat in his style of play of Donovan McNabb (during McNabb's 230 lb pro tenure, not his 190 lb play at Syracuse). He looks to pass first, but is not afraid to take off downfield if nothing is there, and has the speed to punish defenses by doing so. At ECU, Logan made a habit of inserting the backup QB for one series during each half of every game; I don't think this will take place here, as it seems like it will be Jags' call rather than Logans, and I don't think that an NFL guy will want to do that, especially with a starting QB as good as Ryan. But Crane is more than capable of winning games for BC if he does play. Hopefully he will get the opportunity, but only in garbage time. Either way, I see him being a very effective starter for BC next season.

The Future: On this fall's roster will be redshirt freshman Billy Flutie, and true freshmen Chris Johnson and Dominique Davis. None will see time at QB this season unless BC is forced to go to a third QB due to injuries (or a combination of injury and a blowout lead; even then, as in the Buffalo game last year, you may see a walk-on instead). Despite his last name, Flutie's future at the Heights is not neccesarily behind center. While he reportedly looked good running the scout offense last year, Flutie did not take a single snap at QB in this year's spring game; he did, however, look fairly impressive at wideout. My feeling is that that either this or defensive back is his ultimate position at BC. That said, BC has frequently in the recent past used three QBs in a single season, and the coaching staff will have a decision to make. Do they keep Flutie at QB for emergency purposes; or do they move him to WR or DB, letting him learn the position full-time but forcing them to burn one of the true freshmen's redshirts (or hastily move Flutie back to QB) if Ryan and Crane both go down??

It remains to be seen, but my guess is that Flutie moves to WR or DB this year. So with that said, who of Johnson and Davis has the inside track?? It is tough to say without having seen them play other than in highlight films. Both are extremely raw, but athletic, signal-callers with good upside. Both fit well as mobile QBs in Logan's preferred offense. That said, if one of them is forced to play this year, I think Johnson is the slightly more polished QB. He looks to have a little bit better arm and quicker release than Davis does, and I like his mechanics a little bit more. Johnson is also a little bit faster than Davis (a reported 4.6 40 time to Davis' 4.7), which will help him escape bad situations better than Davis can. That said, Davis played at a higher level of high school ball, which would mean less of an adjustment to the ACC than Johnson will face. Ultimately, I think BC is in trouble if either guy is forced to play this year (but what school can't say that if both of their top QBs go down??), but both hold promise for the future.

Of course, with all three QBs (still counting Flutie until he's officially changed positions) set to be on the roster after 2008 being projects, we need to pull in a top signal-caller this year. The leading candidate seems to be Tommy Reamon Jr., a 6'2, 195 lb signal-caller from Virginia's Gloucester High School, alma mater of the Vick brothers and NFL veteran Aaron Brooks. While Reamon has not disclosed that he has an offer from BC, he has said that he holds offers from several schools but does not want to publicly disclose which ones. All the evidence indicates that BC is one of these schools. Reamon's father and high school coach, Tommy Sr., has been friends with both Logan and Jags for over two decades. The system he runs at Gloucester is very similar to the one Logan intends to install at BC. And he has stated that BC is one of the leaders for his services (interest and possible offers also coming from Georgia Tech, Virginia, Alabama, and UNC, among others). At the end of the day, I think Reamon is an Eagle in 2008.

Also on BC's radar are a pair of Florida QBs, DC Jefferson and Jacory Harris. Jefferson, one of the country's most highly sought-after QBs, is a Daunte Culpepper/JaMarcus Russell clone out of Winter Haven, FL. He stands 6'6, weighs 243, and has been clocked at 4.76 on the 40. His throwing mechanics need work, as do any high school QB's, but are not exceptionally raw. Aside from BC, he holds offers from LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, Rutgers, and Washington, and has named the three SEC schools as his leaders. He has also expressed public interest in Florida State and Miami, although neither has offered yet. Harris, out of Northwestern HS in Miami, currently holds offers from BC, LSU, Minnesota, Central Florida, Florida International, and Duke. A number of other SEC schools, however, along with Butch Davis' Tar Heels, are expected to offer soon. At 6'4 and 169 lbs, Harris' stature might be a concern, but he can certainly put on weight when he gets to college, and his 4.8 40 time is impressive for a QB. While I think BC has a shot at both of these guys (probably more so with Harris), I expect Reamon to ultimately be our primary target at the position as well as our most likely get of the three.


Disturbing Google Search Phrase of the Week: "m 4 m today hook up akron men for men"
Ugh. I don't even WANT to know how that turned up this site.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Bring Back Margo!!

A sad day in Baton Rouge today as Mike V, LSU's live tiger mascot, has passed away. While offering my condolences to LSU fans, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to call on BC to bring back Margo, the live mascot owned by BC for 5 years in the 60s. Live mascots are undeniably cool; there's just something about having a actual animal in the stadium supporting the team, whether it's Mike, Texas' Bevo, or West Virginia's mountaineer. The Golden Eagle is not an endangered species, can be found in the wild in New England, and is trainable (the species is used for hunting in Kyrgyzstan, apparently). While BC's capability to suitably care for a live bird may have been in question in the 1960s, I highly doubt that it would be an issue today, given the vastly improved resources available to the school. I'm not saying we should get rid of Baldwin (although if I never see his inflatable "son" again it will be a day too early), but we should have a live eagle as well. Get on it, Gene D. is reporting today that the ACC Championship Game bidding process is currently down to 3 finalists; Jacksonville, Tampa, and Charlotte. Allow me to throw my voice in with the "anyplace but Jacksonville" crowd. I've never been there, but I've never heard anything good from anyone who has. Moreover, it's an SEC city, and a difficult one to fly into at that. My first choice for the game would be Charlotte, which is in the heart of ACC country and, as a US Airways hub, easy to fly into from anywhere in the country; but Tampa would be fine too. I spent about half a day in Tampa the weekend of the Florida State game last fall and had a pretty good time sitting on the deckside bar at an Applebee's, the place packed with my fellow Philadelphia Eagles fans, waiting for the Flyers-Lightning game to start. Either Tampa or Charlotte would be great. But please, no more Jacksonville.

105 days to kickoff....that's exactly 3.5 months. The season is almost upon us.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ranking the ACC's OOC

After a few years of mostly boring OOC play in the ACC (apart from the traditional end-of-season ACC vs. SEC rivalries), we've finally got some good matchups this year. One man's ranking of the ACC's out-of-conference strength of schedule:

1. Florida State
Alabama-Birmingham (9/8), @Colorado (9/15), Alabama (9/29 - in Jacksonville), @Florida (11/24)
Brutal. Florida is, well, Florida--the Gators beat the Seminoles 21-14 last year in a game that was not as close as the score indicated, and beating them in Gainesville isn't going to be any easier, although FSU should be a much improved team and Tim Tebow still needs to prove that he can run Urban Meyer's offense on his own. The Alabama game should be a great neutral-site game against Nick Saban's squad, and while Colorado is coming off an awful year, they're still a team that made the Big 12 championship game the year before last and should be improved under second-year coach Dan Hawkins.
Prediction: 3-1

2. Miami
Marshall (9/1), @Oklahoma (9/8), Florida International (9/15), Texas A&M (9/20)
While the media attention will be focused on Brawl Bowl II, the mid-September matchup against the Golden Panthers, a pair of tough Big 12 opponents loom in Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Look for the 'Canes to split their tougher OOC games and handle the weaklings with ease.
Prediction: 3-1

3. Virginia Tech
East Carolina (9/1), @LSU (9/8), Ohio University (9/15), William & Mary (9/22)
Not much there other than a trip to Baton Rouge, but a trip to Baton Rouge is enough to earn the Hokies the ACC's 3rd toughest OOC slate. Forget Tennessee-Cal and Oregon-Michigan; this is the best intersectional matchup of the year. I think the Hokies are going to be a great team this year; but I think LSU wins the national title, so I have to go with the Tigers here. Eastern Carolina and Ohio are a couple of tough mid-major teams headed in the right direction under Skip Holtz and Frank Solich respectively; Virginia Tech won't be able to take them likely, but should be able to dispatch them, particularly the Pirates on what will be an emotional day in Blacksburg on September 1.
Prediction: 3-1

4. North Carolina
James Madison (9/1), @East Carolina (9/8), @South Florida (9/22), South Carolina (10/13)
No real screamers here, but three opponents that are getting better every year. Apart from the aforementioned Pirates, who are never easy to play in Greenville, South Florida was perhaps the unsung surprise of the Big East last year, going 9-4 last year with road wins over West Virginia and UNC. And of course the Steve Spurrier-Butch Davis matchup will be a classic. I think Davis is able to rehabilitate the Tar Heels fairly quickly and they navigate their way to a 3-1 record in this challenging slate, with the loss coming to a surprising ECU team.
Prediction: 3-1

5. Georgia Tech
@Notre Dame (9/1), Samford (9/8), Army (10/20), Georgia (11/24)
Notre Dame loses a lot this year, and I expect the Yellow Jackets to avenge last year's loss with a victory in South Bend. The big question mark is Georgia--Tech has dropped 5 in a row to the hated Bulldogs. The Jackets don't graduate many starters, but one of the guys they do lose, new Detroit Lion Calvin Johnson, is a big one (of course, the loss of QB Reggie Ball could be a case of addition by subtraction). Will this be the year they finally turn it around against a Georgia team that was talented but wildly inconsistent last year??
Prediction: 4-0

6. Maryland
Villanova (9/1), Florida International (9/8), West Virginia (9/13), @Rutgers (9/29)
Maryland will benefit greatly from the opportunity to open against a pair of cupcakes, as they'll need to be clicking on all cylinders by the time the Mountaineers come to town. If new QB Jordan Steffy is even solid he should have no problem airing it out to stud wideout Darius Howard-Bey and lighting up the woeful WVU defense, but I'm even more skeptical about the Terripans' ability to stop West Virginia's dynamic attack. I'm calling this one for the Mountaineers right now, but reserve the right to change my pick if Steffy (or Josh Portis) can step it up. I do think Maryland will have better luck against a more traditional Rutgers team.
Prediction: 3-1

7. Wake Forest
Nebraska (9/8), Army (9/15), @Navy (10/20), @Vanderbilt (11/24)
Repeating last year's miracle campaign will be no easy task for Jim Grobe's crew, which faces two tough tests right off the bat; after opening up the season here in Chestnut Hill, they then head home to face a Nebraska squad that has steadily improved over the last 2 years under Bill Callahan. Of particular interest will be the matchup in Annapolis between probably the two best misdirection offense coaches in the game today, Grobe and Navy's Paul Johnson. Unfortunately for Wake, they won't be able to sneak up on anyone this year; but they're a good team nonetheless and they'll get their wins.
Prediction: 3-1

8. Duke
UConn (9/1), @Northwestern (9/15), @Navy (9/22), @Notre Dame (11/17)
The season-opener against the Huskies is a golden opportunity for Duke to get their first win since September 2005, and first against a D1A opponent since November 2004. I think they'll capitalize; but as for the other three games, forget about it.
Prediction: 1-3

9. NC State
Central Florida (9/1), Wofford (9/15), Louisville (9/29), @East Carolina (10/20)
This is one place where a BC fan might have more luck predicting NC State's outcomes than a Wolfpack fan would. When Tom O'Brien is in town, WTF losses are sure to follow; and Central Florida just reeks of "WTF game" to me. O'Brien will be too focused on BC the following week and won't have his team ready to go, they'll take the Golden Knights lightly, and NC State fans will for the first time realize that we might've been on to something for the last couple of years. Remember that TOB opened his tenure at BC by losing to Temple; so a loss to UCF is far from out of the question. Meanwhile, Louisville is a legitimate top 10 team; East Carolina is tough, but I do think the 'Pack will put them away.
Prediction: 2-2

10. BC

Army (9/22), UMass (9/29), Bowling Green (10/6), @Notre Dame (10/13)
A bit of an odd schedule, as BC opens up with 3 straight conference games before knocking out all 4 OOC matchups in a row. While Bowling Green is not a team that should be taken lightly (particularly given who we play the following week), everyone knows that the big red circle is drawn around the following week, when the only Catholic schools in D1A resume playing after a 2-year hiatus. At risk of being hubristic, I don't think this will be the close, thrilling contest we've gotten used to in the BC-Notre Dame series. Notre Dame is losing a ton of talent to graduation; while they are a well-coached team, they're simply going to be too inexperienced next year to be a threat to the tougher teams on their schedule, and that includes one of the most talented BC teams in history. If Charlie Weis can win 8 games with the team he has next year, it will have been the best coaching job he's done to date in South Bend. Nonetheless, next year is not a good year for the Domers to resume this series (unfortunately, the situation looks to be reversed in 2008, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it).
Prediction: 4-0

11. Virginia
@Wyoming (9/1), Pitt (9/29), @Middle Tennessee State (10/6), UConn (10/13)
Possibly the most bizarre OOC slate ever scheduled by a decent BCS program. Who the hell plays at Wyoming and Middle Tennessee State?? In any event, despite the bizarre scheduling, the only real threat here is Pitt; and I don't expect the Panthers to amount to much next year without Tyler Palko.
Prediction: 4-0

12. Clemson
Louisiana-Monroe (9/8), Furman (9/15), Central Michigan (10/20), @South Carolina (11/24)
Central Michigan was a very good team last year, as BC found out, but graduated most of their best players along with their coach; Clemson should be able to take care of them. While I think this will be somewhat of a down year for the Tigers, I think they'll get their revenge on Spurrier in Columbia.
Prediction: 4-0

Projected ACC records vs. Conferences:
Sun Belt - 4-0
MAC - 3-0
MWC - 1-0
Independents - 6-2
Big East - 5-2
SEC - 5-2
Conference USA - 4-2
Big 12 - 2-2
Big Ten - 0-1
(D1AA - 7-0)

37-11 Overall
30-11 vs. D1A
15-7 vs. BCS/Notre Dame

Post your thoughts in the comments section.


Odds and Ends

Sorry I haven't updated much in the last week or so, finals have been killing me.

First off the bat, Bill will be a special guest on EDSBS radio tonight, sharing his thoughts on the state of the BC program (at least I'm assuming that's what he'll be doing). Check it out at 7:30 Eastern.

Recruiting keeps chugging along, with BC currently holding a pair of commitments from local recruits, RB Isaac Johnson and OT/DE Nick Halloran (no relation to former Eagles QB Shawn, at least as far as anyone I've asked is aware). I'll have a better update on recruiting probably later this week.

Good move for Al Skinner's squad picking up Vermont transfer Joe Trapani. He's not likely to be a starter (when everyone is healthy, which is a rarity at BC), but should be a solid contributor after sitting out his transfer year.

Finally, a few hockey notes: First, UNH has released their 2007-08 schedule; BC will take on the Wildcats on Nov. 10th and Feb. 23rd in Durham and at home on Feb. 22nd. Second, you've probably all seen Sunday's Globe by now, but there is an interesting blurb on the prospect of Cory Schneider returning to the Heights; I have a good feeling about this one. Finally, BC is hot on the trail of Halifax forward/pitcher Steven Anthony, who hopes to play both hockey and baseball at the NCAA level. Assuming he gets clearance to play both sports at BC (and is good enough to play baseball at the ACC level; I've heard that he's not as good a baseball prospect as hockey, but not sure whether he's good enough to play for BC), you have to love BC's chances to get him, considering that we're one of very few schools to play both sports at a high level.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Glasper Speaks

Although graduating BC safety Ryan Glasper had already told the story of his senior season in an NFL Radio interview a week or so ago, it hadn't received much national attention. That has just changed. In an interview with Alan Grant (who apparently moonlights as a sports journalist when not evading T-Rexes and velociraptors) of ESPN's Page 2, Glasper relates the conversation he had with Tom O'Brien after last year's loss to NC State:

"How's your hip?" he asked.

"It's coming along," Glasper replied.

"You'd better hurry your ass up," O'Brien said. "Because you only have eight games left in your college career."

The coach could have forgotten. Once the season starts, coaches are busy and distracted and often lose sight of details that don't pertain to next week's game. Maybe the coach needed to be reminded of the details. So the player reminded him.

"I'm redshirting," Glasper said.

"No, you've been cleared by the doctor to play," O'Brien said. "You're choosing not to play."

Glasper was shocked into silence. But O'Brien continued.

"I hold the keys to what you do," the coach said. "We don't have to grant you a fifth year. Besides, I can't count on you."

Glasper seethes at the retelling of the story.

"I respect all people and I've always been a team player," Glasper says. "But when he said all that, I just wanted to punch that dude."

So to recap, BC Nation:

Breaking a promise to a snakebitten senior QB that he would be the starter when there is a clearly superior, younger QB and your senior is costing the other 84 guys on your team games right and left = Not OK

Breaking a promise to redshirt a senior who has sweated, bled, and gave his all for your team for the past 4 years so that he can heal up and be able to perform to the best of his ability in his final year of eligibility = OK

As furious as I am about O'Brien's treatment of a true BC Guy (the article also contains a lot of interesting information on Glasper's background that I hadn't been aware of), I'm equally happy that this fucking fraud is finally being exposed in the national media for what he is. There's now no doubt in my mind not only that he simply stopped trying to win in about 2004 or 2005, knowing that it wouldn't be long before he'd be out of town, but that he deliberately attempted to sabotage the team so that he would look better in comparison to his successor.

BC should send a copy of this article to every kid we are competing with the Wolfpack for, and I hope Butch Davis or Skip Holtz or Brian Kelly or whoever sends out copies to every kid NC State is after, even players that BC isn't in the mix for. There is no possible way that anyone could want to play for Tom O'Backstabber after reading that.

Thank God that douchebag is gone.

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