Thursday, October 11, 2007

BC bloggin' | by Pat

BGS swapped some questions and answers with Bill from the top notch Boston College blog, Eagle in Atlanta. His answers to our questions are listed below. For those interested, here's the link to our answers to his questions.

1. BC lost a few notable defensive players prior to the start of the season in linebacker Brian Toal and huge defensive tackle B.J. Raji. Who has replaced them and how have they done this year? Have any other new starters made a big impact on defense?

Bill: The injury, redshirt, coaching change and sitting on the sideline for a year are probably the best thing that happened to Brian Toal. He was phenomenal as a Freshman. Then as a Sophomore, he began freelancing and missing more tackles. He also got hurt once they started playing him both ways. Last year he would have his moments, but was still not the player he was as a Freshman. Had he continued on his 2006 level of play, he would not be one of our three best linebackers. Next year I expect him to come back healthy and focused and be a real boost to the team. The guy who has really stepped up in Toal’s absence is Mark Herzlich. He’s a true sophomore and plays beyond his years. He’s got great anticipation and is a great tackler.

Raji is a different story. The team could really use him now. He would have been a force inside and helped our anemic pass rush. BC is fortunate that his counterpart at Defensive Tackle, Ron Brace, has stepped up and is playing at a much higher level. We’ve used a series of guys in Raji’s spot. Brady Smith, who is dinged up, but should play against ND, has been the most effective. He’s a converted DE and moves well for his size.

2. A few BC pre-season posts on your site noted worries about the OL and their adaptation to the new blocking scheme. How would you rate their play and development? Specifically, how has freshman right tackle Anthony Castanzo played? He will likely face off against ND's freshman DE/OLB Kerry Neal and that might be one of the more interesting matchups in the game.

Bill: I think even the coaches were worried about the offensive line. We had to fill holes left by two departed NFL draft picks, changed schemes and fired their position coach in spring ball. Given all that went on, the Oline play has been very good. Teams are trying all sorts of different defensive looks against them and for the most part, they are adapting. Ryan has been hit (especially in the Wake and UMass games) but he’s had enough time to get the ball off.

Anthony Castanzo has played very well for a true freshman. He’s been called for a few penalties, but considering his experience and what he’s been asked to do, I have no complaints. I imagine he’ll hold his own against Neal. And he’ll get help. Steve Logan has done a great job of using the TEs and RBs in protection.

4. Coach Jagodzinski has BC off to their best start in a long time. What has he done that has impressed you the most this season? Has anything worried you?

Bill: We are still in the honeymoon stage so I am not really worried about anything. I am sure I’ll have a few gripes when he losses (hopefully that doesn’t come for a long time…like five or six years from now).

He’s done two things that have really impressed me. First he kept Frank Spaziani on as Defensive Coordinator and didn’t mess with him. They had worked together before so that helped, but many new coaches would have wanted to put their stamps on the program or may have been insecure about keeping someone so closely tied to Tom O’Brien around. Jags wasn’t and the defense and the team is really benefiting from it.

The second thing is how he handled the Offensive Line. LT Gosder Cherilus was a great foundation to work with, but the other four spots were question marks. LT Ryan Poles was a major underachiever prior to this season. This year he is a new man and has probably been our best lineman. Then Jags saw something in two guys who were buried on the TOB depth chart (C Matt Tennant and RG Clif Ramsey) and tabbed them as starters. Maybe they were more willing to buy into the new system because they weren’t seeing the field in the old system. Who knows? It worked. Both have played well and are playing in front of guys who were starters last year. And then Jags and his new staff in the midst of the transition found Castonzo, who had offers from schools like Northern Illinois, UConn and Temple, got him on campus last January and coached him up. Now he’s our starting RT. They are doing something right.

5. Finally, emotions always seem to run high when ND and BC meet. What is your take on the Notre Dame - Boston College football relationship? How do you regard the game?

Bill: Let me say this first, I have met and like many Notre Dame grads and subway alums. I respect the tradition. I am a Giants fan and prior to my migration to Dixie, lived in New Jersey, so I like Charlie Weis. I think your blog is one of the best on the internet. That said your message board posters are some of the worst in college sports. The “Fredo” and “Backup College” bullshit is tired and honestly, the venom they spew combined with the dismissive nature of some of the other posters just reinforces that this is a rivalry. If these Notre Dame fans don’t care and don’t consider us a rival, why do some take the time to trash talk in emails after a BC loss? I don’t even get that from the bitter Big East fans who hate BC.

I think that portion of your fanbase’s dislike of BC probably reinforced your AD to get heavy handed with us in the future scheduling. I would love to see us continue to play every year. But there is no way BC should ever agree to four games in South Bend for two in Chestnut Hill and one at the Meadowlands. We’ve already added USC and are supposedly in talks with other marquee programs. I’ll miss the ND series but we’ll move on.

As for this Saturday, I was more worried before the UCLA game. Now that you guys are off the schneid, I think our team will approach it in the right way with plenty of respect and no in-game panic at the thought of losing to a winless Notre Dame team. I think BC wins but might not cover the spread.