We snuck into the dangerous warzone of New England under heavy enemy fire to bring you this interview with the premier bicameral Boston College blog, the perspicacious pair of Brian and Jeff at BC Interruption.
BC, statistically at least, hasn't had a lot of success on offense. The Eagles famously gained 26 yards (I think) of offense in an entire game, which probably helps to bring that down, but has the offensive situation improved as the QB situation stabilized? Or are the Eagles really that bad offensively?
Jeff: BC is a tough team to figure out in that you don't know which version is going to show up this week. Or really, now that the season is almost over and we have a pretty good idea of how good or not our opponents are, we could probably write a regression that predicts our total yards on offense based on two factors. How good is the opponent and is the game being played at home or on the road. Shinskie, our starting QB, is worse than an average freshman as far as making mistakes. We excuse this because most rookie QBs are coming off a redshirt year of playing against D-1 competition every day in practice or true freshman QBs are at least coming off a high school senior season that was hopefully played at a pretty high level and then maybe even an early trip to college to join the team for spring practice. Shinskie however, was still playing baseball this spring and had not play competitive football for 7 years. On Saturday, I expect an average to slightly above average offensive performance because Maryland is the weakest team we play this year in conference, but it is on the road which probably means at least a few mistakes for our QB and drops by our WRs.
Boston College is a unique program - they seem to always put together a solid season, no matter how lowly they're predicted or the perceived talent level of their team, even without a massive fan base or a ridiculous amount of funds. Is there a secret to BC's success? Do you know it? Can you sell it for a lot of money?
Brian: There may be a deeper secret to BC's success, but I'm not entire clear on what that is. I know that it's one part solid defenses year in and year out. All the credit in the world goes to Frank Spaziani. Ever since he took the reigns as defensive coordinator (and now as head coach), the Eagles consistently produce nationally ranked, top 25 defensive units. Another part is taking care of business at home. We explored this a bit last week, but the Eagles have a ridiculously good record at home this decade (51-12 since 2000). Whether it be a spirited student section, seats close to the field or the playing surface (field turf instead of grass), BC has a unique home field advantage that I can't fully explain. Finally, it sounds a bit cliché, but BC looks for the right recruit to fit into their system. Guys at BC and value the mix of academics and athletics that you can get here, which seems to forge a common bond among the team. Despite all the offseason turmoil with Jeff Jagodzinski, Mark Herzlich, Dominique Davis and now the transfers of Josh Haden and Justin Tuggle, these BC players stick together and seem to collectively overcome all the turmoil and low preseason predictions.
Most Maryland fans don't know anyone on Boston College this year - they haven't been on TV much this year, especially around these parts. Guys like Dave Shinskie and Montel Harris ring bells, but without Mark Herzlich, these Eagles are pretty unknown. Give readers two guys - one on defense and one on offense - that will cause the most problems for the Terps.
Jeff: Well, Montel Harris is your biggest problem coming from our offense. He is our sophomore running back who has already set the BC record for most yards by a sophomore. But since you already mentioned him, I'll give you one more offensive name which is Rish Gunnell. He leads the team in catches and Shinskie has really started to love throwing and, to a fault, throws to him 50+% of the time. On defense, you are going to hear Luke Kuechly's name called on Saturday over and over. He is a true freshman who leads our team in tackles and is #5 in the nation with 126 on the season. Kuechly probably would've been redshirted had Herzlich been able to play this year, but he was brought into the rotation instead and quickly earned a starting spot.
This one's a bit selfish, but does Maryland's situation seem as dire to outsiders as it does to Maryland fans? That is, do you think buying out Ralph Friedgen's contract is irrational at this point?
Brian: I'm not sure we can comment on whether it's appropriate to buy out a coaches contract as that's essentially what BC did last offseason with Jeff Jagodzinski. From an outsiders' perspective though, the Maryland coaching situation seems messy. The situation in College Park probably will be even messier than the impending coaching search across the way in Charlottesville. To me, this is where the new, chic "coach-in-waiting" schemes seem to breaks down. What do you do with a "coach-in-waiting" on a staff where you want to fire/buy out the incumbent head coach? Shouldn't James Franklin also take some of the blame for leading a Terrapin offense that ranks 100+ nationally in total offense? What makes the school and the administration think Franklin can turn the program around when he's also coaching on the same staff of a 2-9 team? Coach-in-waiting schemes sound great when they are first announced, but generally break down when the program takes a turn for the worst.
Overall, buying out Friedgen's contract seems fairly rational to me at this point. After he guided Vanderlinen's Maryland team to an Orange Bowl berth in 2001, Fridge has had some good teams but really hasn't made much noise in the ACC since. I'm not sure if ACC expansion got the best of Friedgen or what (19-5 in the ACC pre-expansions, 19-28 post-expansion), but it's clear he's no longer getting things done in College Park. It's probably time for him to go.
Who's BC natural rival? Both MD and BC are left out of the ACC rivalries as the northernmost schools. I don't think we'll see a northern rivalry anytime soon, but would you welcome it? Would you rather play another team during "rivalry week"?
Jeff: We would rather not be playing an ACC game this week. Last year, when we went to the ACCCG, it was not official until after the Maryland game and therefore tickets couldn't be purchased and distributed, flights could not be booked, plans could not be made, etc. etc. until only 6 days before the game. In the future, we have a deal to play Syracuse this final week of the season and I hope that is something that eventually happens in perpetuity and other ACC schools sign similar deals so that the ACC season can end the Saturday before Thanksgiving and everyone can have at least two weeks to make plans for the ACCCG every year.
Over/under on total turnovers: 5.5. Pick a side.
Brian: It's tempting to go over here, but I'm going to go with the under. 5.5 total turnovers seems a little high even with Shinskie under center for BC and uncertainty as to who is going to play QB for the Terps. Maryland only turned the ball over once last week on the road in Tallahassee. The Eagles defense hasn't been the same ball-hawking defense that it was a year ago, only generating 21 turnovers through 11 games. Both BC and Maryland have the same number of turnovers through 11 games - 24 - which averages to a little over 2 per game. I'll confidently go with the under here, with the Terps taking care of the ball on Senior Day. Although 4 or even 5 combined turnovers wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.