Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Guest Blogger: Pitt Blather

I haven't had a guest blogger in a while, but felt the time was right to have Chas from Pitt Blather answer a few questions. Pitt is similar to BC in that they are building a run-based offense in a passing game sport. Unlike BC, they are now just getting used to life in the ACC and figuring out how good they can be under Paul Chryst. To get a better feel for what to expect, I asked Chas some questions. His answers are below. 

1. The Delaware score put a scare into me. How much of that was FBS vs FCS and how much was Pitt finally being really good?

Pitt Blather: I just am not sure.

On the side of it being FBS v. FCS there's plenty of evidence. Delaware was picked for 6th in the CAA. They only had 2 players on the All-CAA preseason team -- a punter and tight end. And this is not Joe Flacco's Blue Hens. K.C. Keeler is not the head coach. Now it is Dave Brock.

The kind of offensive guru that has been the OC for such luminaries in the coaching world as Kurt Flood (Rutgers, 2012), Ron Prince (K-State, 2008) and the immortal Bobby Wallace (Temple, 2002-04). Oh, and he also coached Tight Ends at BC from 2009-11 for Frank Spaziani. Dear god, I'm so glad I didn't know his resume before the Delaware game. There's no way I could have taken them seriously.

That said, 62 points and 500+ yards of offense coupled with a shutout and keeping Delaware to less than 70 yards of offense is still something that goes beyond simply playing an overmatched team.

2. When he was a rumored candidate for the BC job at various points, the tag on Paul Chryst was that he was TOB-level boring in his game plans and persona. Now that you've got to know him, is that fair?

Pitt Blather:  Persona, there is more than a bit of white bread to him. Not in the grumpy joyless way Notorious TOB seemed to embody. Just, that he only wants to be a football coach and all the other stuff is just noise. Other members of the media swear he has a sneaky, dry sense of humor, but he doesn't really show that too often.

As for his game plans, there is no question that he wants to do the Wisconsin thing. He wants the BIG offensive line. He wants to run the ball a lot. Not in dispute. But I'm hesitant to label it boring simply because it is more traditional. We had Dave Wannstedt putting his controls to the offense. I like to think we know boring offense, and this isn't it. There are more moving parts to it, and better executed.

On defense, the emphasis is definitely more towards being more aggressive. I can't tell you the last time I saw Pitt execute a successful corner blitz, but they did it against Delaware.

3. Now that the ACC transition is over and the job is stable, what is the ceiling for Pitt Football?

Pitt Blather:  An open-ended question that doesn't have a fair answer. Within the next few years I believe Pitt will challenge for the Coastal (side question: how many years in the ACC does it take before you don't have to regularly double-check which conference you are in?). After that, it really depends on how things break. It isn't hard to believe that the way it is being constructed that Pitt can't become a regular 8-9 win team and have years where it does even better.

4. What is your prediction for the game?

Pitt Blather:  Big surprise, I like Pitt to win this game in a bit of a grinder. I think Pitt's O-line allows for the running game to wear down BC's defense. While the Pitt defense does just enough to contain Tyler Murphy.

Let's say a final score of 27-24 for Pitt.

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Friday night ticket blues

As pointed out on EO, BC broke out the Groupon promotions for this game. As we've pointed out before, discounting tickets becomes a tricky proposition as BC balances the need for revenue, butts in the seats and their relationship with their most loyal fans.

For a business like BC football -- which only has limited inventory of seven home games -- I am against discounting/flash deals. I think the Athletic Department is better off doing private promotions with current season ticket holders for undersold games. BC does that somewhat, but obviously not to the point where the game will be close to capacity.

The second issue is attendance on non-Saturday games. In theory, the Boston population should be more than enough to support the team, but we know that a good chunk of the fanbase comes from beyond a two hour radius. A weeknight home game becomes tough for those who don't live close. The weeknight and Friday night games are not going away. So perhaps BC should start tarping sections of the stadium for those non-Saturday games. Northwestern -- another private school in a big city -- started tarping this year using potted plants.

For the longest time the limited secondary market for BC tickets helped sales and attendance. But as TV coverage has improved and as the number of home games has shifted from five and six to seven (and eight if you count the game in Foxboro), and as the online market place has enabled all sorts of reselling, BC is stuck. They are not the only college with the problem. Video boards and winning football will help. Incentives for students and season ticket holders will help too. But at some point they have to draw the line. Maybe instead of dumping tickets for Friday games, BC should think about living with the empty seats.

Or as I've written about before -- turn Friday night games into a huge deal. Own it like Virginia Tech used to own Thursday nights. Then maybe good football, a new tradition and a pumped up environment might make the night a consistent sellout.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

BC vs Pitt a history

Although there isn't a lot of passion around our series with Pitt, there is plenty of history. The teams first played each other in 1959 and then faced off fairly consistently as both were eastern independents. After the formation of the Big East Football conference, the teams played annually until 2004. Pitt leads the series with 16 wins, but both teams dominated long stretches of the matchup. Since we won most of the Pitt games since I became a real BC fan, I only tend to remember the losses and their importance. Two truly standout.

1996
BC played Pitt on Halloween in one of ESPN's Thursday night games. This was at a time when Thursday night games were a huge deal. BC seemed to be in a daze the whole night and there were plenty of missed tackles and blown assignments. The performance was so bad that rumors started spreading that some players purposely threw the game. That wasn't the case, but the gossip and investigation led to the infamous "Gambling Scandal."

2004
At the time this we didn't know the importance of the loss, but it would cost us a Fiesta Bowl appearance as much as the loss to Syracuse did in the season finale (the Panthers actually won the Big East's BCS slot by virtue of a four-way tie). BC came back to tie the game late in the fourth during a huge day for Paul Peterson. However, TOB played for OT on the final possession and we lost in OT. It was a bitter way to end it all since we had lost to Pitt two years earlier on sloppy Heinz Field while TOB played it to conservatively.

As we renew the series, I know it won't all be easy, but I hope the rare losses are less painful or impactful.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Murphy puts on show against Minutemen

While the win over UMass is only one game, this BC offense will feel different from any we've seen in 25 years (or maybe even 35 years). Unlike past run-first BC squads, this one truly has a mobile QB. It was Tyler Murphy's feet that kept drives alive and it was Tyler Murphy's run that finally broke open the game. The transfer QB also threw a nice TD pass to Josh Bordner. It wasn't a perfect day for Murph or the D, but it was a good start. This is the type of game that builds confidence, yet also leaves the coaches with plenty to improve.

I am on the road, so I don't know when I will put up the grades and second viewing thoughts, but it will probably come Monday. Before then, I will have some other post and thoughts on the game. Including some pics from people at the game.

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In-game comments post: UMass

A new season starts against an old foe. However, now UMass is FBS we can call it the "Battle of the Bay State." If the season is going to be special, it starts today. Leave your comments and thoughts below.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Game Watches: UMass

Labor Day Weekend makes scheduling Game Watches a little tricky, but some local BC Chapters are getting the season off to a strong start. The game is on ESPN3 so that means watching a stream somewhere. But the good news is that most bars will stream any game if enough fans get together. If your Chapter is hosting an event and it is not listed, post it in the comments section.

Chicago Game Watch
Nic and Dino's Tripoli Tap
1147 W Armitage (Armitage Brown/Purple Line L)
Chicago

Dallas Game Watch
Corner Bar
4830 McKinney Ave.
Dallas

New York City Game Watch
Joshua Tree
513 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
New York, N.Y.

San Diego Game Watch
The Beer Company
602 Broadway St.
San Diego

San Francisco Game Watch
Shanghai Kelly's
2064 Polk St.
San Francisco

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Tweets of the Week

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

BC-UMass preview

Despite this nonsense, no one really cares about this game. But I will keep pounding the drum that good UMass Football is good for BC. Will this game make much of a difference for either team or football in the Bay State? Probably not. Even if the Minutemen pull off an upset, few outside the hardcore fans will remember it years from now. In 2014 this game is not about building a rivalry or changing the football culture in New England. It is about BC starting its second season with Addazio. And for that, I am excited.

What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
For me -- and a few other BC fans -- Mark Whipple is our bad penny. When he was winning big at UMass, he seemed so much more dynamic than TOB. When the BC job opened, so many expected him to get the job. Now years later as he has bounced around college and the NFL, his luster is certainly gone. I don't begrudge him, but I don't look back on what might have been had he taken over in 2007. Will he be able to lift UMass out of the depths of FBS? I don't know. It is a young man's game and UMass' commitment to football is always in doubt. If it doesn't work out in Amherst, I am sure he will show up somewhere else in football where he will face BC.

Three Simple Keys
1. Rush for 250 yards or more. We are a young team and Whipple knows how to prepare for Brown's Defense. If we want to control the tempo and the scoreboard we need to run the ball over and over. I don't care if one runner dominates or if it is a group effort. I just think we need to run for at least 250 yards to win.
2. Convert field goal attempts. Freese was one of the underappreciated aspects of last year's team. Howell is not nearly as sharp. Conditions and the surface should be pretty ideal. He needs to build his confidence.
3. Get at least three sacks. Because of their history, I expect a little cat and mouse between Whipple and Brown. But even if we ease off of the blitzing, there should still be some pressure that comes organically.

Gambling Notes
-- Addazio is 3-0 in season openers as a head coach. (All were against Villanova.)
-- BC has lost five straight road openers.
-- BC leads the series 18-5.
The current line is BC-17

Factoid
BC last played in Foxboro in 1987. We lost to Penn State 27-17.

Scoreboard Watching
I am interested in how Pitt does against Delaware. This is a short week for both teams. Delaware is a good FCS program, but Pitt should win. The best indicator for our game is if Delaware can run the ball on them.

I hope to see...
Murphy look really poised. I don't think we are going to air it out. I also don't think the environment will create much pressure on him. But that doesn't mean that he won't be nervous or make mistakes. Ideally he will look like an experienced fifth-year senior. If he's calm and confident, it can carry BC a long way this season.

BC is in trouble if...
UMass scores early. I know Villanova took an early lead last year and we came back, but this is different. The game is on the road. We are playing an FBS team. We are young. Things could unravel. That is why I want to establish the run in the first quarter.

Bottom Line
I don't think anything will be easy this year, but I am not truly worried about blowing this game. I think we have enough of a talent advantage, that our inexperience won't be an issue. BC will take control in the first half and win by a comfortable margin.
Final Score: BC 31, UMass 13

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Official Basketball schedule released

Aside from the coaching change the biggest difference between last year's basketball season and this one will be the schedule. Although the previous staff's commitments to the Coaches vs Cancer games and the Puerto Rico Tip-off could not be changed, the rest of the non-conference schedule is easier. BC plays Harvard and Providence as usual, but also takes it easier with Marist, Maine and UMass-Lowell. The new ACC's rotations kick in too. We get Louisville for the first time as a conference foe and Pitt comes back to Conte.

Brian noted the abundance of 9 PM starts, but to me that is a non-issue. Attendance is going to be terrible this year regardless of when the games are played. Christian understands this but he's not going to go out and shake every student's hand to get them to games. His marketing plan is about winning basketball. TV dictates so much, we are going to see 9 PM starts from here to eternity. It is up to BC to provide winning basketball and rethink the capacity and configuration of Conte so that it is right-sized for the demand. We play Notre Dame, Syracuse and UNC in heart of the season at home. If we are playing good basketball and near .500, I think crowds will be decent.

Scheduling undid last year. That won't be the case this year. Confidence means a lot in basketball. I hope fattening up on the non-conference teams makes us more competitive come ACC play.





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Depth Chart for UMass

BC released the official Depth Chart for the UMass game. Nothing really surprised as most of these names had been floating around the various message boards for days.

The mild surprise based on last season is Duggan starting over Daniels. But it was rumored through the summer that Duggan was playing very well. I am sure both will see plenty of action. Once you see it on paper, you realize how big our starting WRs are. I imagine they will be blocking often.

What is not listed who else will get on the field when we go with Jumbo packages. Last year Betancourt was usually the first one off the bench.

The final thought that hit me as I looked at the page, was how much of the team is already Addazio's. We clearly pay attention to the attrition and turnover, but seeing the roster really hits it home.

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