Brian: In his weekly teleconference, Frank Spaziani opened the call answering the question, where does the improvement have to come from against Wake?
"We have a lot of areas we have to improve on. Winning minimizes the problems. Losing magnifies them. They’re always there. All the problems that we saw in the spring and preseason are still there. We have to obviously make some strides offensively and get ourselves moving a little better than we did last week."
What, in your opinion, is the number one area in which the Eagles have to improve? Is it at quarterback or the offensive line?
Jeff: How about the running game? You could call that an offensive line issue and a rushing game would help out the quarterback so it all ties in. The one thing we didn't expect to struggle with quite so much with Clemson was the running game. If the running game could get us into 2nd and 6 or less situations, the passing game and the rest of the offense can succeed. But, of course, until the passing game gets going, teams will just stack the box to prevent run. Something needs to start happening and then hopefully the rest of the issues will be exploited less often. I'd prefer to have a dependable rushing attack week in and week out. Hopefully we see the Eagles get it done on the ground Saturday.
Brian: If the Eagles are to win this week, the #1 area of improvement has to be the offensive line. This will help open holes in the running game for Harris, Haden and Finch, and give the quarterbacks enough time (and confidence) to make better throws. It all has to start with the O-line.
Speaking of quarterbacks, just when you thought you had the Eagles quarterback situation under control, Spaz goes ahead and flips the script. The Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun reports:
Yesterday, signs pointed to the distinct possibility that Shinskie would start and Tuggle would follow, while Mike Marscovetra, the other true freshman in this trilogy of inexperienced quarterbacks, would also play.
"We’ll practice all the guys just like last week," said Spaziani. "We’ll shuffle them a little bit. Maybe. We’ll find the right way to do it. We’ll decide [today] after practice."
It now sounds like Shinskie will be the starter on Saturday, followed by Tuggle. You might also see Marscovetra. Now both quarterbacks looked terrible last Saturday, but if you had to give one of them a better grade than the other, you’d have to go with Tuggle, right? Does this make any sense, Jeff? Break it down for me.
Jeff: Who has looked better in the first three games? Justin Tuggle. No question. BUT. There is a huge but here. Shinskie was looking like the starter all along so he must be showing something in practice to put himself at the top of the list. Then, in every game so far (particularly the Clemson game), Tuggle was put in a much better situation to succeed than Shinskie. Tuggle was able to come out onto the field with the score 0-0 where Shinskie had to watch his team get manhandled from the sidelines for more than a quarter of play and then got thrown in there with a two score deficit to hopefully help stop the bleeding from deep in their own territory. Well, we all know Shinskie didn't do too well from there but he also would've been helped if the running game could've picked up a few yards on first down rather than moving backwards. Now, on Saturday, by naming Shinskie the starter, you can see if he can handle the pressure knowing that each possession is not his only time to shine and when he knows early on that there is still plenty of time left on the clock for the Eagles to score. Shinskie might be a little older than the other guys on the team but that doesn't change the fact that he is a true freshman wasn't ready to go into Death Valley last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Tuggle has been given the chance to shine from the first play of the game every game and coach is clearly not happy enough with his performance. How can you be too happy with him almost throwing more completions to Clemson players than to his own teammates last week?
Brian: There was clearly nothing to be happy about when evaluating Shinskie on Saturday either. You could tell he was very unsure of himself under center. I'm not very happy with this decision, but hopefully two things happen on Saturday: one of these two guys will elevate his game and Spaz will feel comfortable in selecting one of the two as the starter. I fear if this goes on much longer, it will be a long, long season.
Brian: Last year, the Eagles limited the Wake Forest offense to just one offensive touchdown in Winston-Salem. Over/under 1 touchdown for Riley Skinner and the Wake Forest offense?
Jeff: Push. The redzone defense can't be perfect all the time.
Brian: I think it's too soon to expect any tangible impact on the playing field, but it's his leadership on both sides of the ball that this team needs desperately.
Brian: Last week, Al Skinner named Tyler Roche and Biko Paris the captains of the Eagles men's basketball team. You like the move?
Jeff: I like making our one senior a captain and our starting point guard is the next logical choice.
Brian: It's an interesting move. He certainly has the height at 6'6" and if he could put on a few points (currently at 228), this could work out well. As Conroy points out though, we might be too thin at WR next season for this move to stick.
Brian: Boston College has been chosen to host the East Regional for the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament. You like the move?
Jeff: What's not to like? Didn't we decide getting the BC logo out there and visible to the nation is a good thing even if it comes after our team is bounced from the NCAA tournament?
Jeff: In Spaz's weekly teleconference, Mark Viera of the Washington Post asked the HC, "What is the most difficult environment to play in the ACC?" Spaz pretty much dodged the question but what should his response have been?
Brian: Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium, especially on Thursday nights. They might not have the capacity of a Doak or Death Valley, but the Hokies create an awesome atmosphere down in Blacksburg.
Brian: Last one. I sold the ex clusive rights to my prediction for this Saturday's game to Blogger So Dear. What's your prediction? Final score?
Jeff: I thought that was BC Interruption's sure-to-be-wrong prediction (23-21 BC). I will go with a 27-13 Eagles victory. I'm going against my preseason prediction of losing to Wake Forest since we are coming off a loss at Clemson and Wake has not been as strong as I thought they might be this season.
Brian: Last week Jeff finally got over the hump and put in a weekend performance that was better than .500. Congrats! But ... since I also went 3-2, I continue to pick first this week:
- Wake Forest at Boston College (-1.5)
- Michigan State at Wisconsin (-3)
- Southern Miss (+13.5) at Kansas
- Pittsburgh at NC State (-1)
Miami (-3) at Virginia Tech
Jeff: So you are predicting BC to cover by half a point? Wow.
- Arizona State (+12) at Georgia
- Minnesota (-1) at Northwestern
- Indiana at Michigan (-20)
- LSU (-12.5) at Mississippi State
- Arkansas (+17.5) at Alabama