Each week we sit down with an expert from the opposing team. This week, our guests are Brian and Jeff of BC interruption.com. They're new to SBNation, but maintained a great site elsewhere before under the same name. Sometimes I enjoy doing these and sometimes I just do them because you the reader are interested. Brian and Jeff are squarely in the first category. I read their site every day.
Before we get to their answers, they asked me some questions and I hit them back with some answers over on their site. Check it out. On to the main event...
How much of a drop off has there been on the defensive side of the ball as a whole? Last year your defense was one of the 4 or 5 best in the country. How do you feel the seemingly brand new front 7 has held up thus far and will hold up as the season progresses? Can we get a starting front-7? I know that LB's Domonique LeGrande and Will Thompson have battled injuries. Will they play? Finally, how have the non-scafe DT's looked?
There hasn’t been much drop off on the defensive side of the ball as a whole this year. The unfortunate outcome of the lopsided Clemson loss was that the BC defense actually played really, really well. The Eagles offense gave the explosive Tigers offense great field position all day, and the defense was able to keep C.J. Spiller and the Tigers out of the end zone.
There seemed to be a bit of a drop off last week vs. Wake Forest when the BC defense coughed up a 14 point fourth quarter lead, but I think that was more the byproduct of being completely gassed. BC’s offensive playcalling with the lead was very conservative and the defense was on the field quite a bit in the fourth.
The one area of improvement I would like to see is in the pass rush. We hardly got any pressure on Riley Skinner last Saturday. I think we ended up getting to him only 3 times. The pass rush and getting pressure on the QB hasn’t been quite as good as it has been in the past. This is likely due to all the youth in the front 7.
As for the starting front 7, Alex Albright and Jim Ramella will start at defensive end, Scafe and Giles at the tackle positions, and Dominique LeGrande, Mike McLaughlin and Alex DiSanzo are your starting linebackers. Freshman Luke Kuechly has been moved from backup middle linebacker to backup weakside linebacker. The true freshman, along with sophomore Dominique LeGrande have played very well through four games.
Coaching changes- Several years ago we saw some major overhauls on our coaching staff. We may be coming up on some more coaching changes after this season. Because of the coaching changes, I think it’s relevant to ask some opponents how they (fans and team) are dealing with similar circumstances. When you answer this, we understand the context: you have suffered huge losses next to last year’s team due both to the NFL draft and some very unfortunate off field circumstances. If anyone in D-1 football is seeing a rebuilding/down/ transition year, it’s BC. So… Jags left and Spaziani took over. Hard times aside, what is Spaziani doing differently than Jags so far, 1) that you (as fans) like 2) that you dislike, and 3) how is the team responding?
It has certainly been a tough offseason for Boston College. That’s an understatement. As for Spaziani, I think the team is responding as well as it can be given the circumstances. I like Spaz’s hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach to coaching and the media. He won’t be shy to tell you what he thinks and definitely exudes a hard-working, blue-collar approach to the team. This approach really mirrors the play of his outstanding defenses at BC over the years.
The dislikes … one, he isn’t very quick to name a starting quarterback as there is still no clear winner in the quarterback competition (although it appears as though Shinskie will get the majority of the snaps on Saturday). There’s also some questions as to what exactly his offensive philosophy is as his coaching staff (Tranquill in particular) is still very unproven. Spaz also burned a few redshirts this season, an approach that is somewhere in the middle of the Tom O’Brien and Jeff Jagodzinski approach. TOB tended to burn redshirts as the exception rather than the rule, while Jags’ philosophy was to play the best 11 guys no matter what class. I did raise an eyebrow when we burned a few redshirts (namely freshman QB Michael Marscovetra and running back Rolandan Finch), but at the end of the day, the coaching staff better knows the talent that this team has than I do.
How is Mark Herzlich doing? What are the realistic expectations that he will ever see the field again?
One of the requests of the Herzlich family when Mark was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma was a respect for privacy in this matter and with Mark’s treatments. Not to completely cop out on this answer but we certainly want to honor the Herzlich family’s wishes and not speak on his behalf as to how things are going, how he is holding up with his treatments, etc. That being said, we were both fortunate to speak to Mark’s father and his family before the Clemson game and news was certainly encouraging.
ESPN’s College GameDay is also filming a segment on Mark and his battle with cancer so we’d also ask that you tune in to hear more about his story. The kid is an absolute competitor and we certainly hope he sees the field again next year. We are rooting hard for Mark and he and his family are in our thoughts.
I noticed that BC is going to hold off on naming their starting QB. I assume this means you will use Tuggle and have him run the zone-read play which BC ran to such great success last year, despite having a statuesque quarterback? How much of Jags/Logan's scheme is still around? Does Tranquil have the smarts to commit to running the zone-read stuff for an entire game, or do you think he is stubborn and will want to implement his own stuff?
True, the zone-read was very successful for the Eagles last season in Tallahassee. Spaziani has named David Shinskie the starter this week. This is the first week there isn’t an OR next to both the first, second and third string quarterbacks. My guess is we’ll also see Tuggle for a few plays. But if Shinskie establishes himself early, plays well and the game is close, the opportunity to throw Tuggle under center might not present itself. If the Eagles offense struggles early a la the Clemson game, expect to see Justin Tuggle or even Michael Marscovetra under center for BC.
Last week Josh Haden had a great game rushing the ball on playcalls that seem to be holdovers from the Jags/Logan days. I hope Tranquil will continue to call many of those plays Saturday. But, the season is still young and we don't know much about Tranquil yet. Remember, we beat two cupcakes the first two weeks of the season and then at Clemson, no one on offense, including Traquill it seemed, showed up. We also can't look to recent history for answers because the man came out of retirement to come coach at Boston College. We'll be finding out more Saturday I'm sure.
I’m going to Boston for the first time ever this weekend. A bunch of friends and I have rented some hotel rooms and hope to really enjoy the city (and a win). What are somethings I need to check out while in Boston? *Keep in mind I am a 23 yr old with a college student’s mentality, even though I am technically a "young professional" (yeah right). Thanks!
ESPN beat us to the punch here and actually produced a thorough Boston GameDay guide. This guide isn’t bad for visitors to Chestnut Hill. Some revisions for the 23 year-old crowd:
· Skip Johnny’s Luncheonette in Newton Center and grab a burger and fries at Eagles’ Deli in Cleveland Circle before the game. If you are up for the challenge, try the Godzilla Burger (featured on Man v. Food!). It’s one delicious pound of beef, 4 slices of cheese, and 1 pound of fries. Successful challengers get their Polaroid picture displayed on the wall.
· If you want to experience it, you can check out MaryAnn’s, the quintessential BC dive bar. But I can’t imagine that would be too much fun for Seminoles fans. There are two really good alternatives in Cleveland Circle though in CitySide and Roggies. You can grab a drink and some decent food.
· Check out Shea Field for the tailgating scene. Again, not sure if you would have much fun venturing into the Mods wearing garnet and gold.
Thanks again Brian and Jeff! Good luck this weekend!