Dan Rubin: AJ, we took a little bit of a break on these posts for the summer, but I think it's time we got back into it. We're one week away from the start of the season, and I can't help but think back to something I talked about last year.
Last year, the couple of weeks leading up to the UMass game felt like BC were pretty emotional. We found ourselves at odds with a fan base that was more than willing and eager to engage us in less-than-friendly back-and-forth. That first game, albeit a decisive BC win we all kind of expected, had a good feel going into it.
This year, I'm starting to realize what a couple of people said last year, though. I couldn't care less who BC is playing to start the season. I'm just glad football is back. It doesn't matter if it's Maine, Howard, or Southwest Texas State Teacher's College—all I care about is that there is something to prepare for. What are your thoughts leading into this year compared to the past couple of seasons?
AJ Black: Last year was weird, it was a game that BC should have won, with UMass being UMass, but I was still invested in kicking the crap out of the Minutemen. This feels like 2013 again, when BC opened against Villanova, a team that most people don't and shouldn't care about. It's two opponents back to back, that are F. However this year, I feel like an FCS game is the perfect start for a young offensive line (two FCS games is a bit overkill). Maybe in the future when the Eagles are little more experienced would I like to see them take on a P5 opponent, next year would be a perfect example of that with Georgia Tech in Dublin.
Dan, with the season about to open, we are going to see a lot of overreactions to events in the first game. What are some things you envision BC fans overreacting about after Week 1?
Dan: We really didn't know what BC team we would get going into UMass last year. If you recall, the majority of us thought BC would struggle in the first half, make adjustments at halftime, and use size and overall athleticism to power through the second half, ultimately blowing out the Minutemen on the scoreboard. Save for the lunatic fringe who thought BC would destroy UMass and drop 60 points on them and the even more crazy folk who thought UMass could actually win that game, we were all validated.
I think most people are going to be satisfied as long as the offense isn't a complete disaster. We know Darius Wade, despite his physical tools, is still only a true sophomore, playing behind an O-line with zero experience together. Even though there may be a receiver or two in there ready to break out, BC hasn't had anything resembling a receiver capable of getting consistently open since Alex Amidon—and even then he was the only one. If the offense struggles, I think the majority of us will be okay but there will be that fringe element unable to see the development.
I do, however, think most people are going to overreact badly if the defense isn't up to snuff. There's a ton of pressure on the defense and a ton of blind faith in Don Brown. Everyone is talking up the front seven, believing the defensive line is capable of challenging Virginia Tech or Louisville among the best in the league. Even though I expect BC's athleticism to win out, anything less than a dominant performance against an FCS-level Black Bears team is going to cause us to worry and freak out.
I know that's long-winded but hopefully I didn't steal your points. AJ, what do you think?
AJ: I see the over reactions coming on the other side of the ball, and it is going to happen no matter what happens. On one hand if BC struggles out of the gate to move the ball, we are going to hear people freaking out about Darius Wade, or the offensive line, or play calling or whatever. On the other hand, if BC's offense goes all gang busters and moves the ball especially in the air, people are going to say, see told you Ryan Day was a joke, see told you they are going to throw the ball up and down the field.
Everyone is going to need to take a deep breath after the first game and just look at the youth of the team and the opponent they are playing. There isn't going to be a ton of takeaways anyone is going to be able to make from this first matchup unless BC goes out and wins 63-0.
Dan, BC has held their first scrimmage, what jumped out to you?
Dan: You know, normally I would point out individuals, but I think that's one of the observations—BC doesn't stress any one individual, and the success of a unit is only as good as the collective success. I guess it's stating the obvious, but it really jumped off the page.
We are all quick to pump up Darius Wade's tires, and I think that's great. But during the scrimmage, he struggled because of the play of the offensive line. Drew Barksdale got himself open, but Troy Flutie completely missed him. So it really stresses how much everything needs to be working in sync.
If I had to pick out individual performances, I'm glad Shake Outlow didn't disappoint me, breaking off his 50-plus yard run.
AJ, the beginning of the season is all about optimism. Everyone wants to look at the schedule and see BC beating this team or that team. There are people saying, "Look this is going to be a nine-win program under Steve Addazio." There are people saying, "This team is really going to struggle."
What are some of the best case and worst case scenarios for BC to open up the season?
AJ: Best case? The offensive line gels, the defensive front gets enough pressure to make the young secondary look good, and the Eagles go out and play every team tough and win 8 or 9 games. This is certainly a possibility.
Worst case? The offensive line struggles, causing the run game to stall and Darius Wade has to chuck it more than he should. The secondary struggles and BC wins 4-5 games. Also a possibility, though I think it's less likely.
No Huddle Offense
AJ: Other than the Eagles, what team are you looking forward to watching in 2015?
Dan: UMass. I almost got through that with a straight face.
Football is a weird season since the first game will probably be sweltering hot and the last game will be freezing cold. What's the best time of year to be going to Alumni?
AJ: The games held in late September and October are my favorite. Early season (usually day games) in early September are usually too hot for me, and the games in November I usually end up having to dress in layers (which stinks), but give me a game in mid October, that's the Alumni Stadium sweet spot.
Finally Dan, what song do you hope to see the BC Marching Band add to their stand music this year?
Dan: I consulted with the pop culture expert in my house and my wife thinks Cheerleader by Omi is a good idea. Anything by Pitbull works too.