Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Football Season Preview: Part IV

BC football is back this Saturday, so it's time to conclude our preview of this season. If you missed them, make sure to check out Parts One, Two, and Three as well. Now on to the final three games:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Football Season Preview: Part III

The approach of the 2011 BC football season continues, so it's time for Part III of the season preview, where I'll break down the Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Florida State games. Join me after the break as we start looking at BC's much tougher second-half schedule.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Okoroha Dismissed From the Team

Starting free safety got dismissed from the team today, apparently for breaking team rules. While we can speculate as to the exact reason as to why he was kicked off the team, this is a major blow to the team's defense. Okoroha brought good size and athleticism to the safety position, a position that has relatively little depth. His dismissal probably means that Jim Noel will move back to strong safety full time with Dominick Legrande moving into Okoroha's safety spot. While Noel/Legrande will still make a solid safety tandem, the duo does not approach the quality of Noel/Okoroha/Legrande and leaves the team with significant depth concerns as they now only have two safeties with any significant game experience.

The defense will now have to depend on at least one of redshirt freshmen Sean Sylvia and Dominique Williams to step up and become a quality third safety early in their college careers. Both possess good size at around 6' and 200 pounds.

However, this loss will also effect the CB picture because Noel had been cross training at boundary corner and the inevitable move back to safety will likely mean that sophomore C.J. Jones will start the year as the top boundary corner. Jones looked pretty good last season and I was relatively surprised when in spring camp Noel was working out at the BC spot so that wont be as much of a problem as the relative lack of depth at corner as other than the starting two, the next man on the depth chart would probably be 4 star recruit Al Louis-Jean who looked good while playing on the second team in the Spring Game. Ultimately, the problem is that the team is now very short on talented defensive backs in general and one injury (which arent uncommon in the secondary) could put the defense in a real hole that they will struggle to get out of.

2011 Preview: Interior Offensive Line

Nathan Richman and Mark Spinney return as starters at left guard and center respectively. They paired effectively last year with Claiborne to form a nice interior tandem. Spinney entered the starting lineup about halfway through the season in a shakeup that involved Richman moving from center to guard and Cleary moving to the bench (he would ultimately come back in at right tackle after Lapham's injury). Spinney, as a natural center, stabilized the line instead of using both Richman and Cleary out of position. Spinney, while somewhat lean for an OL - 6'4" 285 - is a throwback center who uses quick feet and good technique following the tradition of Dan Koppen and Matt Tennant.

Richman possesses good size and strength and enough quickness to be an above average college guard with NFL potential. The returning tandem of Richman and Spinney should help to give some stability to a line that has three new starting members from last season. The new member is projected to be Bryan Davis who had some playing experience from last season and as a RS-Sophomore needs to step up and play consistently.

Two redshirt freshmen, Bobby Vardaro and Harris Williams provide depth on the interior of the line. Harris Williams has been drew rave reviews throughout his redshirt season practicing, and had a strong spring practice and game. The reports out of summer camp is that he has continued his progression and has been mauling defenders on the second team line. Vardaro was a highly regarded recruit who has good size at 6'5" 310 pounds and looked like a strong run blocker in the spring game.

Friday, August 19, 2011

2011 Preview: Offensive Tackle

Im back and over the next two weeks until the football season kicks off, I'll be previewing the team position by position. I'll start with offensive tackle and make my way through the positions until kickoff. BC lost both its opening day starters from last year in Castonzo and Lapham to graduation. Fortunately Cleary saw some time at right tackle after Lapham went down with an injury last season.

However, the 2011 offensive line poses an interesting situation for 2011 as the line did not perform paticularly well in 2010 and lost a significant talent in Castonzo and solid players in Claiborne and Lapham. While there are solid returning starters on the interior of the line, the tackles are inexperienced and left tackle could pose a significant problem. Emmett Cleary is projected to take over at right tackle where he left off last season. In a rather small sample, Cleary seemed to be a strong rush blocker who struggled (at times mightily) with edge rushers. He, however, has prototypical size for the position and seemed to struggle at times with his technique with rushers which should be correctable. Hopefully with another offseason worth of work hes improved and is a bit lighter on his feet.

Left tackle poses the real problem however, as the departed Castonzo leaves a huge hole on the line, as the projected replacement: junior John Wetzel has minimal in game experience. While he has the height and size that you like to see from the position, it remains to be seen what his in game ability is. The early returns from the spring game showed a relatively athletic guy for his size who didnt seem to have any trouble handling the pass rush (yeah, yeah its BC DE's what can you say...).

Redshirt freshmen provide the depth on the two deep at both of the tackle positions in Andy Gallik and Seth Betancourt. Betancourt was one of the jewels of the '10 recruiting class and looks like the prototypical right tackle - tall, big, strong who can punish defenders in the running game but still quick enough to handle secondary pass rushers.

Friday Round Table

It's been a while since we've done a Friday Round Table, so sit back and enjoy...

This week's task: Assume that the ACC takes proactive action in conference realignment and becomes the first super conference in the nation.  Your task is to pick four new schools for the ACC based on any criteria you find important; athletics, academics, geographic region, and tv revenue are all applicable.  You may pick any four colleges you wish, but you may not pick Notre Dame or any university from the other four potential super conferences; the Pac-12, SEC, and Big 10.  Everyone else is fair game.

Mike C: If the ACC were going to 16 (which I believe will happen for the record), I would first grab Syracuse. Syracuse provides another northern school for BC, an old school Big East rival, and another high level private school along with BC, WF, and Duke. It would give the basketball conference another big dog to go with Duke and UNC and has some upside to bounce back as a football program. I would then grab Pitt which gives the conference another northern private and solid basketball school, that has shown some signs of life in football. After raiding the Big East of two of its more attractive programs, I would look to the west at the Big-12 schools.

From the Big 12, I would like to see the ACC push hard for both Texas A+M as well as Oklahoma State. Neither are in the top of the Big 12 (Oklahoma + Texas) but both would provide consistent football programs that fit with the more stereotypical major public university feel of some of the ACC (e.g. FSU and N.C. State) and would help the football conference with its stability and possibly preempt any movement from the conference by either Clemson or FSU. The conference could be split as others propose into both a northern and southern division such as: the north: BC, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, UNC, and Oklahoma State (obviously not perfect but need football balance) while the south could be made up of: Wake Forest, Duke, NC State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, UMiami, and Texas A+M.

Mike: My guess is that if the ACC was serious about expanding to 16, it would have to basically kill the Big East.  The first team I would take is Syracuse.  This would immediately put an end to all of the "BC doesn't really belong in the ACC because it's above the Mason-Dixon Line talk," as if there wasn't an Atlantic coast above Maryland.  I think Syracuse football is on the rise and that traveling to the Carrier Dome twice a year for basketball would be a ton of fun.  This would also give us the much-coveted upstate NY television market (kidding...).  My next pick is a virtual tie between West Virginia and UConn but I'm going with West Virginia because I don't want BC football forced into some stupid rivalry with a school we're clearly superior to on the field every single year (and yes, that includes last year).  That can only be bad for recruiting and the program as a whole so I'm looking to kill two birds with one stone here; add another very good football program in West Virginia (not to mention a a great basketball program) while effectively dooming UConn football.

I would next gamble that TCU sees the writing on the wall with Big East football and jumps ship to the ACC.  After years of bristling at charges of inferior competition, the last thing TCU wants is to be stuck in a sinking conference.  With TCU comes A & M.  A & M trying to leave the Big-12 says more about how much they HATE the Longhorns and less about how much the Aggies love the SEC.  I honestly think that they would be okay with joining the first Super Conference, as long as this gets them away from UT while doing damage to the Longhorn Network, which it will (not to mention the fact that playing TCU, FSU, Clemson, and Miami every year will bring some pretty exciting games to College Station).  The Aggies bring an excellent military school tradition, a boarder-line great football program, and an up-and-coming basketball program.  In my dream scenario, I see a "northern division" of BC, West Virginia, Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, NC State, and Wake Forrest and a "southern division" of Duke, UNC, TCU, TAMU, Miami, FSU, Clemson, and Georgia Tech.  The ACC adds to its basketball strength while almost guaranteeing that it has a serious BCS title contender in football every year.

Nick: Who designed these arbitrary rules? And wait, why am I last here? Anyway, if the ACC went to a 16-team format I'd like to see a bunch of northern schools added from the Big East so we could have a Northern and Southern division. The first school I would pick is UConn. I know some of the BC fans from the Big East days don't want anything to do with UConn, but the ACC needs another northeastern school so BC doesn't have to travel as far. Plus, BC and UConn (or should I say UCan't) have a history of, shall I say, strongly disliking each other, so there is a rivalry already in place. I'd also add West Virginia, since they have the ability to bring talent in football and stay competitive in ACC basketball as well. The final Big East team I'd take would be Syracuse, for many of the same reasons. Finally, I'd add UMass, since the Northern division would need SOME team to beat up on, and it would be another good rivalry for BC.

After adding these teams, the ACC would have a convenient division set-up of a Northern Division consisting of BC, UMass, UConn, Syracuse, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. The Southern Division would be mainly the more traditional ACC schools: Wake, UNC, Duke, NC St., Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida St., and Miami. The ACC would become the undisputed best basketball conference, and travel would be easier. Everyone wins!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Does Montel Harris' Injury Mean?

In case you missed it, Montel Harris will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a knee injury (which likely means he'll be out for the Northwestern game and possibly the UCF game as well). What does this mean for the Eagles' chances in those games?

I already predicted Northwestern will beat BC in the season opener, and this injury only strengthens that prediction. Nonetheless, as we saw last year Andre Williams and Rolandan Finch are no slouches carrying the ball themselves, so I don't think this bad news will change the outcome of the UCF game, if Montel does in fact end up missing it.

What's much more worrying is that this is a setback from the preexisting knee injury that ended Montel's season early last year as well. You never want to hear Spaz saying he's "very concerned" over the long-term health of one of the team's best (probably THE best) offensive players. If Montel misses any more time than these first two games, he may begin to be tagged with the "injury-prone" label, hurting his already mediocre NFL prospects.

Either way, expect to see Andre Williams a lot more this season - even if Montel is completely healthy after this round of surgery, I'd expect Spaz to play it safe with Montel by limiting his carries at least somewhat going forward.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Big East Reaches Out to ACC, Big-12

ESPN is reporting that Big East Commissioner John Marinatto is reaching out to the ACC and Big-12 in an effort to get the three conferences to meet face-to-face in order to discuss realignment.  This is the first overt sign of desperation we've seen from a sinking Big East ship that has to see itself as potentially out of business in the next 5-10 years, if not sooner.  I don't see any problem with the ACC meeting with the Big East as long as the conference doesn't agree to anything stupid (aka anything short of negotiated Big East surrender).  My fear is that the Big East is going to try and get the Big-12 and the ACC to start some sort of anti-realignment coalition in which the three conferences agree not to poach each other's schools.  That would be a very unfavorable agreement for the ACC.

The way I see it right now, there is a food chain developing in the NCAA realignment talks.  The food chain goes a little something like this: SEC, Pac-12, Big-10, ACC, Big-12, Big East, Everyone else.  If 16 team conferences appear, the Big-12 and the Big East are likely to become non-existent, while the ACC will be in the awkward position of poaching while being poached (think loosing FSU and Clemson while adding six schools).  Making any sort of agreement with the only two conferences we can realistically poach on doesn't seem to behoove the ACC.  Again, this is pure speculation on my part.

We're going to have a lot more on conference realignment on Friday when we have a round table discussion on the theoretical make-up on the ACC if the conference chooses to preempt everyone and expand to 16 teams immediately.  I wonder how much proactive action the ACC is taking behind the scenes right now, but hopefully something is going on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Football Season Preview: Part II

We're a week closer to the start of BC's 2011 football season, so it's time for Part II of my season preview. If you missed Part I, where I previewed the Northwestern, UCF, and Duke games, you can find it here. Join me below the break for an analysis of the UMass, Wake Forest, and Clemson games.

Weekend Thoughts

A lot of small things have happened over the past few days so please accept this mini-post as a humble offering to get you through a slow Sunday.

  • Alex Albright's stock continues to rise.  In the latest two mock-roster selections, Albright made the team both times.  Find ESPN's projections here and SB Nation's here. Albright did not play particularly well on Thursday night's game according to the box score, registering just two tackles, one solo.  I say that because I couldn't see any of the game, and the box score rarely tells all the story.
  • Things are not looking as rosy for former BC guard Thomas Claiborne.  He is currently listed as the third-string right guard on the first depth chart issued by the Bucs.  Realistically, he's going to need to pass at least one guard, and possibly two, on the depth chart if he hopes to become a backup this year.  At worst, I do think he will get signed by a practice squad somewhere (Pitt?).  He has too much potential and had a great rep heading into 2010.  I understand that this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league but let's be honest here; he didn't suddenly forget how to play his position.  I think he could make a decent NFL backup, just not necessarily with the Bucs because they already have a lot of good, young interior linemen.  I'm going to try to get an interview with him at some point this week so feel free to hold your breath.
  • Mark Herzlich plays in his first preseason game of the year tonight, so be sure to try and tune in.  I don't think that Mark is in serious danger of getting cut, but he does need to show some decent speed during a game setting to reassure people that he is fully recovered.  He's been getting a lot of media coverage in New York, and even my local newspaper ran a human interest piece on him two weeks ago. 
  • There is a serious chance that the ACC will lose either Florida State or Clemson in the coming weeks.  If you had to part with one school, who would it be and why?  Personally, I would rather lose FSU simply because I've come to really enjoy the Clemson fans who travel to Chestnut Hill.  Not something I can say about the FSU fans...
  • Lastly, as to the stripe on the helmet.  I don't like it but I'm not really upset about it either.  If the stripe on the helmet is the biggest problem we have this year, then I think we're in for a darned good season.  The old helmet only dates back to 1991, and I'm not a fashionista, but from my vague understanding of these things there isn't much to be proud of in terms of early 90s fashion.  I generally love the stained-glass theme simply because I think it encompasses BC's tradition and what the institution tries to accomplish far better than anything else the athletic department has come up with in 50 years.  I think this is an instance where we're pushing that theme a little too far, but if BC tries to take that stripe out after BC fans watch a highlight film of Rettig pumping his fist after throwing a dagger touchdown pass to Swiggert in South Bend, people will be rioting in the streets.  What do you think?  Would you be more likely to warm up to the stripe if BC has a very successful season (ACC Championship Game or beyond)?

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Reminder

If memory serves me correctly, the last time you heard from me, was around the time of the NFL draft.  To state the painfully obvious, much has happened on all BC sporting fronts since then.  I look forward to catching up and hearing all of your thoughts again.  I wanted to ease my way back into the BC sports blogosphere with a thought that’s been in the back of my mind for a couple of years now.

With the start of college football (everyone’s favorite time of year) right around the corner, I was thinking about all that has taken place since Auburn won the BCS National Championship.  This off-season has been nothing if not tumultuous.  Jim Tressel is gone.  Butch Davis is gone.  USC’s 2004 title is gone. On Monday, Ivan Maisel had a piece on ESPN.com in which he addressed the interesting position college football finds itself in.  Maisel pointed out that while popular opinion remains fixated on the scandal surrounding the game, college football is experiencing tremendous growth.

The reality is that the product is attracting fans in unprecedented numbers.  The perception is that college football is the most screwed up it has been since the days of the wild, wild southwest 30 years ago
Mr. Maisel then goes on to propose a “New Deal” for college football.  He chooses not to elaborate on what that New Deal might be, but that’s beside the point.  The thing that bothers me about the shroud of scandal around college football right now is the presumed universality of cheating.  The casual observer sees violations being committed by USC, UNC, Ohio State, etc. and projects them onto the entire landscape of NCAA football.  The implication is that if USC and Ohio State are breaking the rules, everyone is breaking the rules.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Morning Coffee with Alex Albright

We're really lucky to have Alex Albright stop by Around the Res this morning.  As a member of BC 2011, he's currently fighting for a back-up LB spot on the Cowboys roster.  If you've been following this blog from the beginning (unlikely), you'll know that Alex Albright is my favorite player, so I'm thrilled to have the chance to ask him a few questions and he's been gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kuechly for Heisman

A certain writer over at ESPN recently announced the top three Heisman hopefuls for the ACC, and Luke Kuechly posted at number three.  It is highly unlikely that Luke gains any traction in the Heisman race, especially considering the fact that Matty Ice took BC as high as number two in the nation and still didn't even get an invitation to New York.  Oh, by the way, he was also the best quarterback in the nation that year, and is proving it every day in Atlanta.  So, what would it take for Luke to at least get an invitation to New York this year? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alex Albright Gaining Traction in Dallas

Alex Albright continues to gain traction in Dallas, this time gaining notoriety for his tough hits during a scrimmage with the Dallas offense.  Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was so impressed by his play that he called the media's attention to it during a press conference yesterday, saying, "I tell you what, you guys (media) aren't mentioning that Alex Albright, that (No.) 47, but he's doing some really nice things. He was laying some wood out there." 

I feel better and better about Albright's chances to make the team with each practice.  Fellow free-agent LB Orie Lemon is also making headlines, but I would be willing to bet that at least one of them makes the team this year.  The Dallas coaching staff has been emphasizing competition this year, and might be willing to make the move away from Leon Williams, who has been less impressive in camp.  Also, when was the last time a coach called the media's attention to a player who is about to be cut?

Some factors continue to work against Albright.  If Dallas needs to carry extra CBs because of injuries, or if the special teams unit needs a placekicker and a kickoff specialist, it would be harder for Rob Ryan to make room for him. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Football Season Preview: Part I

Welcome back, me, to Around the Res! How was your summer? Thanks for asking, it was great! But something was missing...something called Boston College football!

OK, I'll stop talking to myself now and get to writing a substantive post for the first time in months - Part I of a preview of the BC football season. As I did for the ACC basketball season, I'll give a preview of what to expect, followed by a prediction of how I think the game is going to come out. For this season, I'll do four posts, each analyzing three games. Much on my analysis will be based on ESPN's Blue Ribbon previews, which, if you have Insider, are very useful and you should check them out. First up: Northwestern, UCF, and Duke.

III. The Great Swap

In part III of our series on improving the athletic department, I would like to take a closer look at the field placement around BC.  Where athletic fields are placed on campus is sometimes critical to the attendance, and overall success, of an athletic program (see: Villanova's disaster).  In BC's case, the 10 year plan is far enough along that it's pretty much too late to change anything at this point, but I would like to take a closer look at the proposed placement of the baseball and soccer fields and suggest a swap in placement.