Brian: In a rather dull and uninspiring game, the Eagles were able to eke out a win on the road against the Maryland Terrapins. The Eagles offense did just enough to preserve the victory. Montel Harris was again the workhorse moving the Eagles offense. Harris finished with 142 yards on a staggering 41 carries. I know the regular season has now come to a close and BC can focus on their upcoming bowl game and getting healthy, but are you at all concerned with Tranquill and the coaching staff overworking Harris going forward?
Jeff: As disappointed as I was on Saturday that the Eagles did not jump on Maryland early to the point that the Terrapins would've likely just packed it in and let Boston College cruise to an easy victory, it really wasn't as close as the final score indicated. The Eagles maintained a two score lead with 2:00 left to play in the game. So to say we eked out a win might be misleading to those who didn't watch the entire game. A game that was never truly in doubt in the second half.
If this season were not over I'd be very worried about Harris getting overworked. But, Josh Haden left the team and Rolandan Finch got mono at the same time. We were not left with many other options. Next year, someone needs to emerge to help out Harris and I think the coaching staff knows that as we haven't seen Montel used in the passing game hardly at all since Haden left. I assume the primary reason for that is to keep his touches to a somewhat reasonable level.
Brian: Limiting his touches? I just thought Tranquill didn't have a screen pass in his playbook until Saturday. As for overworking Harris, this definitely has to be a concern going forward. The Eagles may have to play freshman Sterlin Phifer or incoming 3 star recruit Andre Williams as Harris' backup next year, because BC doesn't have many other options. The Eagles lose Jeff Smith to graduation and James McCluskey has been severely limited this season at fullback. Finding some help for Harris should be a top priority for Spaz and the coaching staff this offseason.
Speaking of the coaching staff, from time to time we criticize the play calling of Spaziani and OC Gary Tranquill. In the first and second quarter, the Eagles seemed to move the ball well, mixing in runs with screen passes and short outs. However, in the third quarter with the Eagles only up by 6 points, it seemed as if Tranquill got away from a balanced running-passing attack and just ran Montel Harris up the middle play after play. Did you like the second half play calling on offense? Or is this another sign of a team that seemingly "plays not to lose" with the lead in the second half?
Jeff: The "playing not to lose" mentality that has been a staple of the Tom O'Brien era and now Spaz/Tranquill is really tough to watch sometimes. If you recall Jagodzinski's press conference when he was initially hired and he said that BC football was going to be more fun to watch from now on, he really did live up to that. I like watching the team that goes for it on fourth down, tries to extend leads, throws in a fake kick once in a while, and calls an onside kick other than trailing at the end of the game. I hope Spaz looks at some of the differences between the 2008 Eagles and the 2009 Eagles and realizes that potentially one of the differences between what happened this year and BC getting that one extra win to head to Tampa might have had something to do with him. Jags seemed to give the kids the confidence that they could win every game regardless of the talent on the other side. In our four losses, I don't know if our team was ever out there really expecting to win.
Brian: I agree. Hopefully this young team gets a year older and gains the confidence it needs next year to expect to win games against the Clemsons, Notre Dames and Virginia Techs. The confidence and swagger doesn't seem to be coming from the sidelines.
But back to Saturday's game, aside from the late touchdown given up by the Eagles defense in the fourth quarter, the BC D played extremely well. Kuechly finished with 16 tackles and 142 on the year, good for second in Division I-A. Scafe and the Eagles defensive line was finally able to break through and get pressure on the quarterback. What did you like from the Eagles defense on Saturday?
Jeff: I'm not going to give the Eagles too many undeserved props on Saturday because it certainly was far from their best performance of the year. I think they played better against Virginia, North Carolina, Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Clemson to name a few. But Damik Scafe and Luke Kuechly both had very good games. Maybe Scafe was finally close to 100 percent Saturday and it really showed. Since Alex Albright and Mike McLaughlin were hurt for several games each this season, and Herzlich is returning next year, the BC defense looks to be as good as we've come to expect in the last few seasons, if not better.
I was thinking heading into the weekend that a BC victory with a few extra style points combined with a blowout loss by Florida State to Florida could have helped Boston College's bowl spot and gotten them to Charlotte instead of San Francisco. The Seminoles did get killed by the Gators, but BC didn't exactly light up the scoreboard. Any chance the Eagles stay on the East coast and play Pittsburgh or West Virginia instead of heading to San Francisco?
Brian: I think the chances aren't good. A struggling 6-6 Florida State team will still be more attractive to the Meineke Car Care Bowl or the Music City Bowl than BC. As you said, the Maryland game was the last chance for the Eagles to put some style points on the board and 4 field goals and a touchdown aren't exactly the style points needed to jump Florida State or even North Carolina in the bowl pecking order. The Eagles finish the season averaging only 14 points per game on the road (compare that to 34+ points per game at home). Not putting points on the board on the road plus a bad travel rep is a recipe for heading west earning the ACC's last bowl tie-in this year.
Jeff: The Eagles finish the regular season with an 8-4 (5-3 ACC) mark. I correctly predicted the Eagles record of 8-4 this season and had them headed to Charlotte for the Car Care Bowl. You were off by a game with the record but had them going to San Francisco, props to us, right?
Brian: Not to toot our own horn but yes, our preseason predictions were fairly spot on. You would expect that though in a year where the media picked BC to finish last in the Atlantic Division. You may have correctly predicted an 8-4 season, but you incorrectly had us losing to Wake Forest and NC State. I, on the other hand, went with the slightly more conservative 7-5 but correctly predicted all four of the Eagles losses - at Clemson, at Virginia Tech, at Notre Dame, and North Carolina. The only game I missed was the Florida State game. Honestly, the Florida State game seemed to be a perfect storm for the Eagles. BC played inspired with ESPN's College GameDay on campus and the great news that Mark Herzlich received and did just enough to outlast the Seminoles.
Jeff: Some Eagles fans will be disappointed with 8-4. I think the Notre Dame loss was disappointing but we were 4-1 in close games. If anyone is disappointed with 8-4, aren't there expectations for BC a little unrealistic? Yes, we should try to win division every season but you can't expect BC to win every year. Ten wins gets it done. Eight or nine wins we should be happy with. A winning record in conference ... going to a mid level bowl game. Not bad coming off two ACC Championship Game appearances. When Georgia Tech played Wake Forest in the title game 3 years ago, Virginia Tech had also gone 10-2 that season. Otherwise a 10 win team always goes to ACC Championship Game and often a 9 win team does (occasionally worse than that).
Brian: I know others will be disappointed with the Eagles bowl placement. Even though Florida State and North Carolina did everything they could to improve BC’s lot in life come bowl selection, in my opinion BC will still likely wind up in San Francisco. A program known to travel better would have likely jumped both Florida State (4-4) and North Carolina (4-4) in the bowl pecking order, but I don’t see this happening for BC. While fans will be disappointed that BC will fall to the last bowl slot, in my opinion, this is a blessing in disguise. BC will likely play a ranked Cal, Stanford or USC team while the Car Care Bowl will draw a ‘meh’ Big East opponent (likely Rutgers or West Virginia) and the Music City Bowl will likely draw a team that went sub-.500 in SEC play.