New blog, old game. Today we play a game of Over/Under discussing BC's game against Wake Forest as well as the longer term future for the program. As the Eagles are now 25 percent through the 2009 season, it's time for a temperature check.
Over/Under – 281 as in the total number of yards on offense for the Eagles
Jeff: Look for the Eagles to get back on track this week at home, in an undelayed game, against a defense not quite as strong as Clemson’s defense. Harris should be able to get back on track first which will put the quarterbacks in a position to succeed. The offense will look completely different than it did last Saturday. Over.
Brian: While anything more than 54 total yards of offense will be an improvement from last week, I don't think the Eagles will be able to just flip a switch and unload Northeastern or Kent State-like offensive numbers on the Wake Forest defense. The Deacons defense has lost a lot of talent in the linebacking corps and the secondary, but their defensive line should be a strength with both Boo Robinson and John Russell leading the way. The Eagles will have to beat the Deacons through the air and expose a young Wake secondary. Wake is giving up 340 yards per game through three games, but this will come down to whether the Eagles offensive line can execute (unlike last week), open lanes for Harris, Haden and Finch, and given Tuggle and Shinskie enough time to complete their passes. I'll hedge here and go over, if only because Wake Forest is giving up much more than 281 yards per game. But those 281 total yards won't come as easily as you seem to be suggesting, Jeff.
Over/Under – 4 as in the fourth best nationally ranked defense in Total Defense after this Saturday.
Brian: The toughest part of losing the way this team did to Clemson last week was how much the defensive performance was overlooked. Sure the Eagles lost to Clemson 25-7, but the Eagles didn’t surrender one offensive touchdown, even when the Tigers were given ridiculously, ridiculously good field position. Yes, the Eagles have had the benefit of playing Northeastern and Kent State at home to start the season, but even after the Clemson game, the Eagles were still ranked in the Top 5 in Total Defense after three weeks. In fact, they actually moved up a spot from #5 after the Clemson game. Considering that our two best defensive players haven’t been on the field all season (Herzlich and McLaughlin) as well as key injuries to Will Thompson and Damik Scafe, this has been one hell of a performance from the Eagles defense in a year when everyone thought the unit would take a step back.
This statistic is based on average yards given up per play, touchdowns and yards per game. Through three games, Wake has averaged 5.6 yards per play, 3.7 touchdowns per game and 384.3 yards per game on offense; all three stats well above BC’s season average. However Wake Forest arguably hasn’t played a defense as strong as BC’s so I’ll go with the surprising under here. The Eagles’ defense will also be helped a little by the likely absence of Deacons tailback Kevin Harris and tight end Ben Wooster. Both are not likely to play this weekend. If we were able to move up after playing a team as offensively talented as Clemson, no reason to expect any different this weekend.
Jeff: As much as I would like to see the Eagles be ranked 1, 2, or 3 in total defense after this week, that is simply too tough to predict. The defense had to be on the field for 78 plays last week. Will they still be a little tired? Mike McLaughlin should be back with fresh legs but will he be a little rusty at the same time? Also, BC defenses have always given up a big play or two to Wake Forest over the past few years. Although I really like our defense and I think they will have another good game, I’m going to have to go over 4 for their national ranking next week in Total Defense.
Mike McLaughlin returns this week. He is listed as the starting MLB on this week’s depth chart. Over/Under – 25 plays for McLaughlin on Saturday.
Jeff: McLaughlin has been nursing an Achilles injury for a long time now and I am very excited to see him back on the field. However, with the depth we have shown at the LB position, there is no reason for McLaughlin to be on the field as much as a typical starting LB would. I hope that the staff uses him somewhat sparingly and he is then ready to go the following Saturday against Florida State. Under.
Brian: I will also go under here, but for a different reason. The play of Luke Kuechly is the primary reason why McLaughlin won't be on the field for more than 25 plays. Kuechly has been a pleasant surprise and a bolster to a very inexperienced group of linebackers. McLaughlin is very much the leader of this defense and ideally, I would like to see him play a couple of defensive sets on Saturday and then give way to Kuechly. There will be much more tougher games coming up in the next month and I would hate to see McLaughlin rushed back on the field only to get reinjured.
Last one, Over/Under – 5, as in the number of years that Frank Spaziani will be head coach at Boston College.
Jeff: After Saturday, it is somewhat easy to say under here. With a few more performance by the team like they had on Saturday, there is almost no option for DeFilippo other than to end Spaziani’s contract prematurely. Fortunately for BC fans everywhere, Spaziani will rally the troops and right the ship. He won’t make any more stupid halftime comments … and eventually get offered a little 2-year extension and serve more than his 5 years. Over.
Brian: Can the Eagles rebound after the devastating loss to Clemson? Perhaps. If history is any indicator, Spaziani and the Eagles have had a good track record when it comes to winning the next week after a loss. Going back to when Spaziani took over as defensive coordinator in 1997, the Eagles are 31-16 (.660) following a loss the week before. If the Eagles don't rebound against Wake Forest, I fear that the wheels will fall off the Eagles bandwagon. And you only have to look as far as our two closest ACC neighbors - Maryland and Virginia - to see that once the wheels fall off, it's a long, long road to win back the confidence and support of your fan base.
But to answer your question, at this point, I'm going to have to push here. Spaziani will be the head coach for 5 years and will work through the life of his current contract. Gene made his stand by hiring Spaz, and with all the drama between he and Jagodzinski, GDF wouldn't come out spelling like roses if he ended Spaz's contract prematurely. The reason why Spaz won't sign a contract extension at the end of 5 years is two-fold. For one, there's simply no telling what level of success Spaziani will have with the Eagles, but we'll give him the benefit of a full recruiting cycle to show us what he's got. Two, the man is already 62 years-old. In five years, he'll be 67. While Joe Paterno may have been his coach and idol while Spaz was at Penn State, I don't get the sense that the Eagles took on a Paterno or Bowden-type coach that will still be coaching into his 70s and even 80s. My best guess is that in five years a young assistant coach or coordinator is promoted from within; or, if we aren't happy with the direction of the program, we'll look elsewhere to fill Spaz's shoes.