September 9, 2008

10 Thoughts

1. A solid defensive effort against Georgia Tech's option was wasted on Saturday. I don't care that BC gave up 200 yards rushing. Most of the yardage came on three plays, two of them broken plays where near sacks would have undoubtedly gotten the ball back for Boston College. To hold any team to a total of 235 yards is tremendous. Has the defense blamed themselves for not executing on the big 43-yard option touchdown? You bet they have. Linebacker Mark Herzlich, the emerging vocal leader of the defense, accepted blame for the team on that play. The defense knows it is the strength of the team and it appears that for Boston College to become bowl eligible it will need to contribute some points not just turnovers. Three fumble recoveries for the BC defense led to only six first half points off turnovers. Unacceptable. Losing to Georgia Tech was the first loss to an ACC opponent at Alumni Stadium other than Florida State.

2. Chris Crane could not have had a worse day behind center. He knows that and said the loss and his performance has made him angry. Postgame he vowed to channel his anger into a better performance in the future. Will he get the chance? We all can criticize his physical performance of over-throwing his receivers or throwing behind his receivers but I am most concerned with his decision-making during the game on Saturday. While we have the advantage of sitting high above the field it appeared that Crane locked on his primary receivers and was slow to check down. He also had a few opportunities for run/pass option and Crane decided to throw late into coverage rather than taking the sure yards right in front of him. What worries me is that I feel Crane tried to be more than himself in this game, trying to be Matt Ryan. There were reports of a hyperextended knee which may have made him less mobile but Crane needs to use his running ability and it seemed he abandoned it in the second half. Crane's lack of sense of defensive pressure and inability to decide to throw the ball away or tuck the ball and run or take a sack or just step up and avoid the sack in the end zone are troublesome. The safety led to nine points in the fourth quarter alone.

3. Coach Jeff Jagozinski and offensive coordinator Steve Logan announced prior to the Kent State game that redshirt freshman Dominique Davis would get some snaps. Unfortunately they decided against this for whatever reason prior to kickoff. If he had gotten some game time experience maybe he could have stopped the bleeding in the second half? I can't say for sure Davis is the answer as Crane clearly outplayed him in the Spring Game but if he is developing he must see some action in the next two games to see where the team stands offensively. The lack of quarterback, running back and offensive line depth were the cards that coach Jags was delt when he arrived. He is trying to replenish the stable and BC has a very good defense and wants to win now. Someone needs to step up, I think Crane will be given the benefit of the doubt and start against University of Central Florida but may be on a short leash. UCF gave a scare to University of South Florida Saturday and if it wasn't for coming up inches short on 4th down in overtime we could be talking about a major upset.

4. The first half saw BC move the ball well between the tackles and outside. Running back's Josh Haden and Jeff Smith were pass catching and running well, but Haden twisted an ankle and Smith really didn't contribute in the second. Freshman Montell Harris was a pleasant surprise but the depth at running back is a concern. The running game, while only amassing 2.9 yards-per-carry, was effective. A concern though is the lack of ingenuity when LB/RB Brian Toal enters the game. Twice now in two games Toal has been stopped short of first downs. Play action must be an option or teams like Georgia Tech will drop nine to ten in the box.

5. While the passing game as a whole has been slow to mature this season it is imperative to get the tight ends more involved. Ryan Purvis was wide open in the middle of the field and while Crane did find him a few times he needs to get more involved in the passing game. BC's wideouts have to accept they are not going to have eight balls thrown to them a game and must improve and dedicate themselves to downfield blocking to help the running game.

6. For BC fans the loss of the Georgia Tech game was still fresh when word got out that Patriots All World quarterback Tom Brady would be out for the season. Talk about a double whammy. The weekend felt like a bad night at a restaurant where the meal was absolutely awful but you were forced to sit through it anyway. Can it get any worse?

7. Could Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan have had a better debut? His very first pass from scrimmage went to the house. His running game wasn't too shabby either running for over 300 yards. We miss you Matt but best of luck to you and your career. May the doubters and calls for Michael Vick's return never be heard.

8. N.Y. Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka had a very good debut replacing the injured Osi Umenyora. A few quarterback pressures and a few tackles for losses were almost wiped away by a takedown by Redskins offensive tackle Chris Samuels where Kiwi thought he may have reinjured his left leg. All looks well though as Kiwi did walk off under his own power. During the game a little scuffle broke out and Kiwi had to restrain fellow BC alum Redskins offensive tackle Pete Kendall. It's great to see former BC players in the league and Will Blakcmon's punt return for a score was awesome. And we may see more as JoLonn Dunbar and Jamie Silva were signed to the taxi squads of the Saints and Colts respectively.

9. When I first looked at the schedule I did not like the fact that we had a bye so early in the schedule. Now I feel that the bye couldn't have come at a better time. Most teams improve from their first to the second games of a season. While the defense played well enough to where they should have won, BC did not show improvement in one aspect of the game. What happened? The coaching staff will be sure to get to work to solve the problems. I expect play calling will be better and I expect the players to execute better in the upcoming game. If there ever was a time to play three home games in a row it is now.

10. The next game is against University of Central Florida. This game will be tougher than most expect. It should help that the game is in Alumni (I thought the crowd was good on Saturday but having the few thousand GTech fans yell Yellow---Jackets shows we have to develop some fan-based traditions) and it should help that we have an extra week to prepare. I fully believe BC will put forth a much better all around effort next week.

One more thought... The NCAA really needs to look at the rules again in my opinion. While the flow of the game may be better with the new clock rules I haven't warmed up to them yet and the call in the Washington/BYU game was just appalling,they might as well take emotion out of the sport. If they are going to flag someone for excessive celebration in a situation like that they might as well give a technical foul on every three pointer made in the NCAA Tournament. It is a farce that there is no logic at the NCAA offices in Indianapolis lately.

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