The Conversation: Boston College

This Week's guest is guests are Jeff and Brian of BC Interruption.  They run an excellent site and I really encourage you to visit.  I was shocked at the depth of their coverage.  I'll have their link to my responses in a bit.  Here's a teaser and the rest follows the jump. 

My responses to their questions.

Obviously, Matt Ryan was a huge part of the offense last year. How has your strategy/game calling changed this year with Chris Crane? Have you been surprised by his number of interceptions this year?

Brian:  Have I been surprised with the interceptions?  Not particularly.  I mean, the knock on Matt Ryan was although he threw for over 4,500 yards and 31 touchdowns, was that he did have 19 interceptions.  With Crane, while he does have 12 interceptions, what is concerning is the lack of offensive production.  Crane only has 9 touchdown passes to go with his 12 INTs, and one of them came in garbage time of the UNC game.  If you add in his 7 rushing touchdowns, the TD:INT ratio does creep up above 1:1, but not by much.  The game plan has changed in the last few weeks, particularly the Clemson and Notre Dame games.  We are now asking Crane to manage the game and limit his mistakes.  The drawback, however, is that there doesn't seem to be that big-play capability with Crane this year.  When he presses, that's usually when we end up getting in trouble.  While Ryan could sling, Crane can be effective using his feet and limiting the turnovers.

How much did the win over ND mean heading into a brutal end to the season?

Jeff:  Honestly, the win over ND, given their struggles in the last two years, did not mean a whole lot.  However, a loss to them would've been devastating and I would've given the team a 0% chance to win out and go to Tampa had they lost.  Instead they won, and won easily, even easier than the final score of 17-0 indicates, so I think it gives the team a little momentum going into these last three ACC games.


What area would you like to see improve the most through recruiting for next year? Any standouts/sleeper commitments that you like so far?

 Jeff: Every BC fan has the same position at the top of their wish list for recuiting next year.  A place kicker.  A QB would be nice too but unfortunately so far there are no commitments that we are counting on impacting the team next year the way we counted on Haden filling the RB void we had this year.


What happened at the UNC game? From the stats, it looks like you guys could be an 8-1 team, except for that loss.

Brian:  We certainly let the Georgia Tech and Clemson games get away from us.  As for the North Carolina game, I think the loss stemmed mainly from the fact that we gave up too early on the run.  Whether it was due to inconsistent line play or our young running backs not finding the hole quick enough, the second half the rushing game was ineffective and virtually non-existent.  In the second half, we didn't establish the run and North Carolina's defense didn't have to scheme to stop the run.  They dropped 7-8 back in coverage and picked Crane apart all day.  If the interceptions hadn't been so damaging (2 returned for touchdowns, the 3rd returned to the 1 yard line), BC might have hung in this game a little longer but those are the breaks.  This isn't to take anything away from the Tar Heels who played a great game and beat the Eagles in nearly every facet of that game.


How will Raji do against our offensive line?

Jeff: Raji, with Ron Brace battling next to him, does well against any offensive line and he will be playing in the NFL next year.  Our defensive tackles are our strongest position on either side of the ball. 


Have BC fans embraced the team's inclusion in the ACC? That is, are they "ACC fans" or still just BC fans who are aware that their team is in a new conference?

Brian:  I think Eagles fans have definitely embraced the ACC as their new conference home.  More and more students and alumni are making road trips to some of the ACC's finer venues for football games and seeing how much fun tailgating can be down in ACC country.  Back in the Big East, there wasn't much fan interest in traveling to Pittsburgh, Morgantown, Hartford, or New Brunswick for an away football game.  Plus everyone seemed to really dislike one another in the Big East.  West Virginia hated Pittsburgh, we hated Syracuse for always beating us in football, Rutgers hated BC for stealing all the best New Jersey recruits, Connecticut hated us because they wanted to enjoy our level of success in football.  With the exception of Virginia Tech - which is further developing into an outstanding intraconference rivalry – I can't say that Eagles fans generally dislike any other ACC teams.  In my opinion, Eagles fans have a healthy respect for the other ACC schools.  Also, we are now better off financially and in terms of football (more highly rated conference, championship game profits, etc.).  The only drawback is that we are fairly distant from our closest geographic neighbor in the ACC.


Being so far North, can you tell us how tough is it to recruit not only against the schools like FSU, Miami, and VT but PSU, OSU, as well as the Big East schools? 

Jeff: When Josh Haden chose BC over Florida last year, we celebrated.  Anytime any recruit chooses BC over Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, or an SEC school, we are pretty darn happy.  Therefore, just like the way we recruit for basketball, our coaches need to find players that are off of the big schools radar and would be a good fit at BC.  In the last decade, it has worked pretty well for us, but we still need to take the next step and win a conference championship.  Since Jags took over, we have already read a lot more articles of BC making the short list for a recruit sought after by major SEC, Big 12, or Big Ten schools.  This is kinda new for us because the list of top recruits during the Tom O'Brien era was short.  Brian Toal was the biggest name recruit we had and I don't think BC ever would've gotten him had his older brother, Greg, not played for the Eagles.  The recruiting at BC is something we'll watch very closely the next couple of years because during the Tom O'Brien era, we knew we probably wouldn't make any top 25 lists, but also knew that things would work out in the end.


What differences do you see under Jags after Ryan bolted? [ed. note: I'm dumb and typed "Ryan" when I meant to type "Obrien"  Flag on the question.  10 word penalty on the Managing Editor]  Hey, at least now you get DOUBLE your analysis on the transition from Ryan to Crane.

Brian:  This year there has been much more of a reliance on the rushing attack.  Last season, Jags would get offended at the question when asked why the Eagles weren't running the ball.  He would claim that the short outs and screens to Callendar/Whitworth were just as effective as running the ball.  Plus why would you run the ball when you had a weapon like Matt Ryan's arm?  This year, we have been relying much more on delayed draws and counters, splitting the workload between our freshmen running backs Montel Harris and Josh Haden.  We'll spread the ball around much more in the rushing game, also including Crane and our fullback (was McClusky before his season ending injury).  Through 9 games, we have nearly eclipsed our total rushing yards from all of last season (14 games).

NOTE: let's keep brawltalk confined to the  "Incident in the Union" Article.

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