November 12, 2009

The Preview: BC @ Virginia

I'd be amazed if Al Groh keeps his job past this season. Reading the transcripts from his press conference the Monday after his Cavalier squad was blown out 52-17 by Miami, he seemed out of touch with reality.

Coach Al openly talked about his golf game, rambled on with answers that had no semblance to the question asked, and made Bobby Bowden seemed coherent. Well, at least he knew the score of the game.

When it comes down to it, this game is ripe for the picking for the Eagles. They're fresh off a bye week, it's possible that the Cavs best player, quarterback Jameel Sewell may not play, and as we're about to show you, Virginia is the doormat of the ACC. It's time for BC to get off the schneid (to coin the baseball phrase) for their road losing streak, and it's safe to say that the Eagles are in great position to win out and challenge Clemson for the Atlantic Division title. I mean Dabo Swinney has to have one more huge coaching gaffe left in him, doesn't he?

On to the preview. . .

When BC runs: Advantage BC

Virginia sets up in a 3-4 formation; however one could argue that it really should be a 4-3. The front three lineman continuously get blown off the ball, and more athletic offensive lines (such as BC's) can easily get down to the second level to block the four linebackers.

A player to watch is Steve Greer, a freshman middle linebacker who leads the Cavs with 69 tackles this season. You can tell from watching film that he does his homework, knows his reads, and anticipates where the run is going instead of reacting.

One of the keys to BC's success on the ground is the lack of holding calls by the offensive line. BC is first in the ACC in Penalty yards per game only racking up 41 yards per contest. Virginia is allowing 167 rushing yards per game, and all of these factors add up to a big day for Montel Harris.

When BC passes: Advantage Virginia

Defending the pass is the one area where Virginia has its act together. It starts with defensive tackle Nate Collins who has five sacks on the year and eight tackles for loss. It ends with Ras-I Dowling, a 6'2", 200 pound cornerback who has the speed to hang with just about any receiver.

The Cavs have only allowed seven passing touchdowns against nine interceptions on the season. They rank fourth in the ACC in pass defense, allowing only 185 yards per game in the air.

With the bye week at the Eagles' disposal, I expect Dave Shinskie to have a solid game, with another two weeks of solid practice under his belt. That should allow him to get even more acquainted with his receivers and maybe Gary Tranquill added a few more plays for the passing attack.

When Virginia runs: Advantage BC

The Cavs like to run the stretch play to get Mikell Simpson outside, however the offensive line for Virginia can't hold a block for more than three seconds. This problems falls at Al Groh's feet, as he scripts a methodically slow running attack - mixing powers, traps, and stretch plays regardless of the situation. On one series versus Georgia Tech, he ran the same play on 2nd and 3rd down inside the five yard line - a delayed power run to the same hole. It goes without saying that the Cavs didn't get in, which is a huge problem for them this season.

While Virginia leads the ACC in red zone conversion percentage (94%), it's safe to say that's misleading. They've only had 25 trips to the red zone all season, getting 12 touchdowns and 12 field goals in the process.

Al Groh spoke after the Miami game about getting Rashawn Jackson - who could be the #1 fullback in the BCS According to the Mel Kipers of the world - 18 to 20 carries for this game. Too bad for Virginia that stopping the run is BC's strong suit. The Eagles are only allowing 113 yards per game versus the rush, good enough for 2nd in the ACC.

When Virginia passes: Advantage BC

Southpaw Jameel Sewell looks like he should have been a linebacker for any other team. Al Groh likes to utilize Sewell out of the shotgun formation, and he looks like he's pushing the ball instead of throwing it. Sewell did not play last week against Miami, and if he can't go, look for backup Marc Verica to fill in. Verica was an unimpressive 11 for 29 for 75 yards last week.

None of the wideouts have more than 25 receptions on the season. The reason for that is because Virginia loves to throw to its backs out in the flats or up the middle.

Sewell has a strong arm, but unfortunately it's like a pitching machine stuck on one speed - fast. He lacks the touch and accuracy to effectively move the chains through the air. The Cavs only have six passing touchdowns all season. The lack of pass blocking hasn't helped as Virginia has allowed 51 sacks on the season, which is 31 more than the Eagles.

Special Teams: Advantage BC

Robert Randolph is the Cavs' main source for offense. Too bad he's the kicker. He's 14 of 15 from field goal range this season, including two for two from beyond 40 yards. His only miss was on a bad hold.

Virginia is last in kickoff returns in the ACC, averaging only 18 yards per return.

Ryan Quigley is hankering for all-ACC honors this season. He leads the ACC in net punting average after 56 punts.

Stats Central

Here's why Virginia has no shot this week against BC - the Cavs are dead last in the following categories:

  • Points Scored
  • Total Offense
  • Time of Possession
  • First Downs
  • Red Zone defense - opponents score 94% of the time they get past the 20 versus Virginia.

Vegas Vantage Point:

Boston College -4. Someone in the backroom at the sportsbook wasn't paying much attention to this game when this line came out. If Sewell does play, he won't be anywhere near 100%.


BC will simply be too much in all aspects of the game, and gets their first road victory.

BC 34, Virginia 10.

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