Saturday, September 29, 2007

Power Rankings

Used to do these last year, bringing them back now. I'll also have hockey and hoops rankings up when those sports start. For now, ACC football:

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

Hey, Duke has beaten a 1A opponent this year.


Friday, September 28, 2007

UMass Preview

The Commonwealth Cup takes to the gridiron tomorrow as the UMass Minutemen, New England's second-best college football team, comes into town.

UMass will be a very tough foe for the Eagles, but they are not Appalachian State. While the Mountaineers run a complex spread offense that makes great use of their speed and presented considerable matchup issues for the Michigan defense, UMass takes more of a straightforward approach. Appalachian State's victory over the Wolverines did not mean that they were the superior team; nor, here, is UMass the superior team.

What UMass is is a disciplined, well-coached squad which will look at the BC game as a shot to prove themselves against a team knocking on the door of the nation's top 10. The Minutemen come in matching BC's record of 4-0, including a pair of wins over Colonial Athletic Association foes Towson and Maine (the Black Bears, who lost 22-0 in Chestnut Hill last season, fell 38-7 to UMass). While they boast a solid QB in Liam Coen, a Rhode Island native who was scouted but never offered a scholarship by BC, the focus of their attack is the ground game--primarily UConn transfer Matt Lawrence, who has racked up 517 yards and 5 TDs on just 82 to carries to date.

While the Minutemen offense is impressive, their defense is somewhat less so. The team has yielded 67 points in 4 games, certainly a respectable accomplishment but one which will need to be improved upon in order to have a chance against BC. The strength of UMass' defense is its ability to show multiple looks and confuse a QB; while this is effective against 1-AA quarterbacks, it is likely to be much less so against Matt Ryan. In fact, I would not be surprised to see UMass deviate somewhat from their usual gameplan and go with a more vanilla set, dropping guys back into coverage and challenging BC to beat them on the ground. With Steve Logan developing an offense that can run a "3 yards and a cloud of dust" power rushing game, a 5-wide spread, and just about anything in between (a subject I will discuss in detail in a future post), I expect BC to be able to handle anything UMass defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski can throw at them.

In years past, I would be concerned that a talented but under-the-radar team such as UMass would be able to come into Alumni and give BC a scare or even knock us off. Now that we have a coaching staff who actually knows how to motivate its players, I am not as concerned. After last week's lackluster performance against Army, the BC staff is not about to let its players rest on their laurels for this one; additionally, if any further motivation was needed, the team needs look no further back than the Appalachian State-Michigan game just 4 weeks ago. The BC locker room has been plastered with newspaper articles from the historical upset in the week leading up to the UMass game.

Unfortunately, Jeff Smith will not be able to make his season debut on Saturday; although the fact that it was even up for consideration indicates that his return is likely not far off, hopefully in time for Notre Dame. Also out with a knee injury will be starting fullback James McCluskey; true freshman Brad Newman will take his place in the starting lineup, with senior tight end Ryan Thompson also expected to see some time at the position. Defensive tackle Brady Smith, who has excelled this year, is also injured and not listed to start, but could see playing time if needed.

Despite the injuries, I expect UMass to hang close for about a quarter before the Eagles pull away.

Prediction: BC 38, UMass 13

More links from today's Globe:

Herzlich Leader of the Pack
Step Right Up and Give It a Shot


In other news this week, BC was voted to a tie for #1 in the Hockey East coach's poll along with UNH, with BU and Maine coming in 3rd and 4th respectively. While there is no doubt that BC is loaded with talented skaters, both returning and new, much will be asked of freshman goalies John Muse and Andrew Margolin and I think the poll reflects this. Had Cory Schneider returned this team would have been the odds-on favorite to win the national title; with Schneider gone, there is still a huge amount of talent, but question marks (albeit talented question marks) in the net.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Army Preview

Gameday #4 tomorrow as the Eagles take on the first team on the schedule that could be somewhat of a breather, Army.

Don't get me wrong, BC will NOT be taking this one lightly. Jags will not allow it.

That said, I'm optimistic here. If there's anything you can count on from an Army team, it's that they will battle hard for 60 minutes. I expect no less tomorrow. That said, Army has in recent years deviated from the traditional service academy option attack (that always gives BC problems), and gone to more of a misdirection-slash-West Coast style approach, vaguely similar to Wake Forest's offense. While the Deacons have given BC fits with their attack, the fact is that the Black Knights simply don't have the horses to hang with BC. They'll definitely have a wrinkle or two up their sleeves for the toughest opponent they'll face this year, but I don't see this being much of a problem.

Look for Chris Crane to play most, if not all, of the second half. It's important for BC to pad Matt Ryan's stats for a Heisman run, but a service academy is not the team to do it against. We'll have plenty of time for that in our next three games, which will all be against cupcakes--UMass, Bowling Green, and Notre Dame.

I'll be getting back into more regular posting, so look for a game wrap-up tomorrow or Sunday and possibly another pregame post tomorrow morning. As for now, I'll leave you with...

Prediction: BC 35, Army 0



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ryan Chat on ESPN.Com Tomorrow

Noon Thursday....check it out, BC Nation

Ryan for Heisman!!

While BC's marketing department has utterly failed so far in promoting our boy for the trophy, an intrepid BC fan has taken it upon himself to create the Ryan for Heisman blog. Well done, sir.

Good news so far on the recruiting front, as BC seems to be back in the mix for a number of top recruits, particularly at the skill positions. Coveted CB Donnie Fletcher of Cleveland will be visiting for this weekend's Army game; let's hope he comes away with a good impression.

Incidentally, you have to love the national media attention that Ryan has been getting lately. In less than a year of working together, Steve Logan has turned Matt Ryan from a guy that most "experts" had pegged as a 2nd-round pick into a top-10 pick and a legitimate Heisman contender. Don't think that QB recruits aren't noticing--if Logan can improve Ryan (who was already a superb QB) that much in just a year, what can he do with a raw high school kid in 4-5 years??

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Tobias Returns

Big game tomorrow...I think BC wins this one in a romp. Set aside the return of the Hen; NC State simply doesn't have the talent right now to match up with the Eagles. With a new offensive scheme that can actually make use of the talent we have, Matt Ryan has been unshackled and looked like a completely new QB against Wake Forest last weekend.

How will the run game perform?? It looked shaky at times against the Deacons but BC was, after all, able to kill the clock at the end of the game. It's less of an issue now, because the new coaching philosophy is to keep increasing the lead, rather than sitting on whatever lead you get. NC State will not be helped by the sudden loss of both starting defensive tackles, star Demario Pressley to a knee injury and Alan Michael Cash due to the death of his father.

But of course, the return of Tom O'Brien cannot be forgotten about. While there is no doubt that O'Brien will want to win this game badly, BC's players will want it just as much; and they are the ones whose emotions and efforts on the field will decide the game. Unfortunately for Wolfpack fans, NC State's players have no particular reason to care about this game more than any other in the conference. The Eagles are going to be fired up for this one, and I'm thinking it could get ugly. Our guys won't be making the same mistakes they did last week that gifted 14 points to the Deacons, and I'm looking for a big game in particular from the defense, and from guys like AJ Brooks and Brandon Robinson who spent way too much of their BC careers in O'Brien's doghouse.

Prediction: BC 41, NC State 13

I'll be drinking at 9 am tomorrow and heading to campus around 11:30; stop by and help me welcome back our gutless former coach.


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