1. Describe the Eagles' season to date in 100 words or less.
Word limits? Ugh. Just had a bad flashback to grad school application essays.
This year’s Eagles season can be summed up in one word: rollercoaster. It’s been a wild, strange ride for the Eagles football team in 2010. The year started with a lot of promise. BC got back their star linebacker, a year after winning a battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer. Had a ton of talent returning from an 8-win team. After falling into a very disappointing 2-5 hole, the Eagles rebounded to win 5 straight and make their 12th consecutive bowl game appearance. This year’s team is stout against the run but leaves a lot to be desired on offense.
2. If Boston College could take one Nevada player and have them play for the Eagles, who do you think it would be and why? And if Nevada could take one Boston College player and have them play for the Pack, who do you think it would be and why?
Colin Kaepernick is certainly the Wolf Pack’s most talented player, but I don’t think I would take Kaepernick. Before you flame me for that, hear me out. I think Kaepernick can run the “Pistol” offense to perfection, but I’m not sure that style of offense would play to the Eagles’ offensive strengths. We have an offensive coordinator that is pushing 80 years old, and I’m not sure he’s ever even heard of the “Pistol” offense. Well, we’ve run some “Pistol” offensive plays in the past, but I’m sure he’s never heard the term before.
It’s a tough question as I’m not too, too familiar with the Wolf Pack. I guess I’ll go with Vai Taua coming out the backfield. Taua, along with BC’s Montel Harris and Andre Williams, could be great running behind BC’s offensive line.
Then again, maybe we could use Kaepernick out of the Wildcat/Bazooka. I’m torn on this one, but will probably stick with Taua. If you have any standout wide receivers, BC could use them, too.
For Nevada, sophomore linebacker (and tackle machine) Luke Kuechly would be a great anchor to the Wolf Pack defense. The guy just flies to the ball and would help further solidify the Nevada D.
BC’s SEC is our rush defense, which is what makes this bowl matchup so interesting. Their Big East is the team’s receiving corps. There is a lot of talent there, but the receiving corps is very, very young and a bit inexperienced.
Just a step below the SEC – Pac 10? Big Ten? Big 12? ACC? – is the Eagles offensive line. They have been maddeningly inconsistent, especially in the beginning of the year, but have started to put things together down the stretch. The line is anchored by Anthony Castonzo, a four year starter that will break the school’s record for starts in the Bowl game.
4. Name three keys to victory for the Eagles and one key to certain defeat.
Here are my Eagles keys to victory:
1) Open up the playbook. No use going conservative on offense with nothing really to play for and given that this could very well be offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill’s last game. Nevada will clearly be expecting a heavy dose of running backs Montel Harris and Andre Williams, so it’s time to take the training wheels off of true freshman Chase Rettig at QB.
2) Make life uncomfortable for Kaepernick and the UN-R Pistol offense. Of course its cliché, but winning the turnover battle on Sunday will be very important for both teams. Hawaii used four Wolfpack turnovers to hand you guys your only loss. BC needs to be opportunistic on defense and take advantage when Kaepernick and the offense slips up.
3) Come away with points in the red zone. BC was the worst in the nation at scoring touchdowns after getting into the end zone. The Eagles converted on just 1/3 of their trips to the red zone. That’s just plain awful and was caused by a combination of play calling and execution. If BC comes away empty on their trips to the red zone on Sunday, it could get ugly and in a hurry. Field goals aren’t going to be enough to keep up with a potent Nevada offense.
As for a key to certain defeat, I’ll go with steering clear of penalties, particularly on offense. The AT&T Park crowd will be decidedly pro-Nevada, so the Eagles can’t take many false start and holding penalties. The Eagles young offensive skill position players just can’t seem to execute when they fall back to 1st and 15 and 2nd and 20.
5. What do you think the conference realignment future holds for the ACC? And what was up with the Big East this year? Seriously, "automatic bid" my ass.
I’m not convinced that a football conference beyond 12 teams is sustainable in the long run. I know the Pac-12 flirted with 16 earlier this year, but I’m not sold that 16 or more is sustainable longer term. Look no further than the failed experiment of a 16-team WAC as proof.
The Big Ten is probably the exception to that rule, however, and I wouldn’t rule out a 14-team or 16-team incarnation of the Big Ten in the not-so-distant future. Just because the Big Ten does this, however, doesn’t mean that the era of the super conference will catch on for the other AQ conferences.
I think 12 (or 10, in the case of the Big 12 and the Big East) is the magic number for us AQ conferences going forward. I know programs like BYU and TCU are hoping for their invite in the mail for the Big 12, but with Texas and Oklahoma happy with 10, that conference really has no incentive to expand. The Big East will move to 10 with TCU in the short term, and perhaps a Villanova, Central Florida or Memphis in the future.
The beauty of having all the AQ conferences at 12 (or 10) teams is that it keeps the six BCS conferences happy and stable, and doesn’t leave much room for non-AQs to move in and crash the big-money, BCS party. I hardly agree with this as I’m anti-BCS and favor a playoff, but if you are a BCS conference team, you have to be happy that Utah and TCU are moving to AQ conferences, since they posed the greatest threat of crashing the BCS bowl party the last few years. There will undoubtedly be other challengers to the BCS over the next few years – maybe Nevada, Central Florida, Houston – but including Utah and TCU silences the program’s that have most threatened the status quo over the past few years.
As for the ACC, I don’t see the conference being proactive in the expansion arms race. The most likely scenarios are that a Maryland (disgruntled with all the power the North Carolina bloc has in the conference) or Georgia Tech moves to an expanded Big Ten, or the four southern schools – Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech – break away and join the SEC in an expanded 16-team conference. I guess the SEC poaching Virginia Tech and Texas A&M is also in play too, albeit a much slimmer possibility.
If the ACC gets raided, I think they would look to Big East schools like Syracuse or Pittsburgh to fill the void.
As for the Big East, that conference was an absolute train wreck this year. Big East fans are quick to point the finger back at the ACC and say how close the ACC is to the Big East, but I beg to differ. I think there was a sizable gap between ACC football and Big East football this year. That league has the potential to be very good in a few years with Syracuse, USF, Louisville and TCU all on the upswing, but as of now, it’s a lot of ‘meh.’
6. Rate your confidence in a BC win heading into this game on a scale of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, with "Commando" being "supremely confident" and "Batman and Robin" being "not confident at all."
I really like BC’s matchup with the Wolf Pack. I think the Pistol offense’s strength is BC’s strength on defense. This one is going to come down to how well the BC offense can move the ball. I think that the long layoff will be a factor in the game, and I wouldn’t discount the emotional boost the Eagles will have as they play alongside cancer survivor Mark Herzlich one final time.
As for my confidence level, I’d give BC no more than a 50/50 shot at pulling this one out. So let’s go with Kindergarten Cop, a respectable, middle-of-the-road Schwarzenegger movie. “I'm a cop, you idiot! I'm Detective John Kimble!”