Friday, November 07, 2008

Beantown Showdown | by Jay

We did a little back-and-forth with longtime Boston College blogger Bill from Eagle in Atlanta. We answered some of his questions about ND here; turnabout is fair play, so we fired off some questions of our own.

BGS: Boston College allowed only 26 points in the first four games. It has allowed 126 points in the last four games. Can the jump in opponent scoring be attributed mostly to better opponents, or have there been injuries, personnel changes, or other reasons that also play into it?

Eagle in Atlanta: The opponents are part of the issue, but so are other factors outside the defense. Against Virginia Tech Chris Crane threw two INTs that were run back for touchdowns and a fumbled kick return set up a Hokie Field Goal. That is 17 points there. Against UNC he threw another two INTs that went for TDs and a third pick was returned to the BC 2 yard line. Special teams allowed seamingly ever drive to start in BC territory and allowed a kick return for TD. Last week after BC took the lead, CJ Spiller ran back a kick to the BC 15. So the D is still solid. It's the other groups that aren't carrying their weight.

BGS: There seems to be increased grumbling among BC fans regarding quarterback Chris Crane. At this point in the season, what would you say he does well and where does he struggle? What do you expect from him against Notre Dame?

EIA: I share the concern that most fans have. Crane hasn't been very good. And that is not in a replacing a legend sense. He hasn't been that good period. You can just look at his stats. He's not accurate and turns the ball over often.

The reason he is still playing and the reason BC fans still have hope is that he does have upside. Crane runs well for a big, lumpering guy. He has a strong arm, so outs and deep posts remain a threat. He just isn't very accurate with those throws.

I expect Notre Dame to blitz him. Last year when BC faced Georgia Tech, Tenuta blitzed all night. Matt Ryan had a career day, but that was because he got rid of the ball and made some really tight throws. I don't think Crane will be as accurate under the same pressure.

BGS: Kevin Akins is listed as a starting cornerback at 6'2" 225 pounds. Does BC use him as a traditional corner, or does he spend more time blitzing or playing as a pseudo-linebacker? How effective has he been this season?

EIA: Akins played a hybrid role the past two years. This year he is more of a true corner and he's played well. He doesn't have great speed but is very strong and a good tackler. BC will also use him on corner blitzes. BC uses a lot of soft zone and the corner are often just asked to keep guys in front of them. With Akins speed and size he's excelled at this spot. If he had to chase smaller, faster guys downfield all day, he might struggle.

BGS: Do Boston College fans still get as excited to play ND given the recent struggles and stumbles by the Irish program? Coach O'Brien appeared to really emphasize the ND game for his teams. Is Coach Jags the same way or does he keep more of the attention on the conference games?

EIA: Have you seen stubhub? BC fans are very excited about this game. If not for Notre Dame's scheduling demands, more BC fans would be pressuring our AD to continue the series. However, the proposed lopsided schedule with games in Foxboro pissed enough BC fans off that no one begrudges our AD for letting the series end. TOB put a clear emphasis on this game and it worked. I don't think Jags is as focused on winning this particular game. I just think he wants to get BC back on track.

BGS: Finally, what is your prediction for the game?

EIA: I fear that Notre Dame's strengths and BC's weaknesses favor the Irish. That said -- and I don't like to rely on hunches and mojo and what not -- I think the "Notre Dame" factor swings this. The crowd will be pumped and given the slightest bit of hope will go nuts. BC has not played well in a few weeks...they are due. BC wins 28-24.

Thanks to Bill for sharing his thoughts, and check out Eagle in Atlanta for some superfine college football blogging.