November 11, 2007

ACC still within reach

There are a million things that can be said after what we all just watched. But there's no reason to throw dirt on this season and all things connected to it.

Cue Yogi: "It ain't over 'til it's over."

I saw a posting on the board tonight that read "Give Shalin his due" and had to laugh. My due? How about, let's go back and read what he really said? How about, put a lid on the insulting comments (yeah, you, the guy with the Sicilian wife - geez, I hope that was a joke) and read what I wrote.

While I was telling you BC wasn't the second-best team in the country, at no point was I saying this wasn't a good team. I just thought a strange series of events landed the Eagles where they really shouldn't have been, which at no time meant they weren't a good team.

And while things look bad right now - OK, real bad - I still think this is a good football team. The question is, which BC team goes to Clemson next week?

Saturday night, the Eagles played without Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Tyronne Pruitt and Marcellus Bowman on defense. And remember, Brian Toal and B.J. Raji haven't played a down all year. It started to break down last week and really fell apart Saturday night. But all of that is history now; with the gloom ands doom flying on the message board and in the hearts and minds of anyone who follows this program, it really all comes down to next week's game at Clemson.

Does this team have enough left to win that game? The obvious answer, of course, is no. That has to be the feeling after watching that horror in College Park, doesn't it? But you have to realize something - this is the season where nothing makes sense in college football.

Just when you think you have it figured out, something crazy happens. How many of us had Illinois beating Ohio State Saturday? How many of us would have thought Notre Dame would have been 1-9 after 10 games. UConn? The Huskies were in line to win the Big East with the help of two horrible calls.

Nothing makes sense in college football this year. Nothing. Well, maybe that LSU is No. 1 again and the Tigers ARE the best team.

So, just when you think it's easy to predict BC's doom next week at Clemson, you have to take a deep breath and realize the ACC title game is still within reach. Now, a loss next week and things really did go down the tubes - even a win over Miami would put the Eagles in precarious bowl standing (again) and with Tom O'Brien a win away from becoming bowl eligible, wouldn't it be tough to watch him go to a bowl in a season the Eagles have to settle?

Anyway, a return by the injured linebackers is a must at Clemson - or a third straight marginal quarterback will steal the thunder from Matt Ryan.

Speaking of Ryan, another easy thing to do is jump on is the stat that popped up on TV - seven interceptions in the last 13 quarters. Clearly, that's not a Heisman Trophy stat. But this is NOT a typical BC offensive line he's playing behind, either. No running game? These guys would be running the ball more if the line was capable of opening holes. The front sure isn't giving the meal ticket a lot of time.

The Eagles aren't playing Army, UMass, etc., anymore and the leaks on the offensive front wall have sprung.

Things aren't going very well. But it's not over yet. This team is capable of winning at Clemson. But the linebackers better be there, or the yards will continue to pile up.

On a brighter note on the BC scene, Al Skinner played four freshmen and Tyler Roche down the entire stretch to win the opener Saturday afternoon. And while it's hard to call a win over UNH a "good" win, this was a good win. Tyrese Rice and Shamari Spears were on the bench in street clothes and the day belonged to freshmen Rakim Sanders and Biko Paris.

The pair combined for 41 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and six steals, Paris, a right-handed Rice, playing 40 minutes with two turnovers.

Count on this - seeing Rice, Paris and Sanders on the floor at the same time.

Count on this, too - if Josh Southern continues to improve on the signs he showed Saturday, will get more and more of John Oates' minutes. Oates suffered through 22 minutes Saturday, he and Tyrelle Blair both on the bench when the Eagles won the game down the stretch.

Sanders? In a word, exciting. "I didn't realize he was that good," said UNH coach Bill Herrio. "He really surprised me. Al's got good young talent there. They'll be fine."

They won't contend for the ACC and likely not for an NCAA berth, but this is going to be fun to watch.

Monday night, it's Florida Atlanta.

Hey, that Mercer team that comes in here next Sunday went to Los Angeles yesterday and beat No. 18 USC, scoring 96 points in the process.

I'm sorry I can't make the Gridiron Club dinner Wednesday night. I'll be in Washington with BU. Enjoy!

And keep your heads up. It ain't over just yet.

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