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Coming in here after a big win, we dually documented the Howard game. The kids played hard, they played well, and they did what they had to do. There were several explosives on both sides of the ball. Now we are getting ready for Friday. Today was our Tuesday practice. We had a big, tough, physical full-padded day in route for a big game here against Florida State, a top-10 team here Friday night on national TV.
In a typical college coaching work week, Sunday is used to transition out of game day and begin the process of getting ready for the next Saturday. It's typically used to review the previous game's film, break down the positives and negatives, and readily identify what's next for the coaches and athletes. Given what happened in the Howard game, I'm sure BC could skip that. After all, there were no discernible positives to take away. If nothing else, the day got shortened greatly.
Monday, meanwhile, is used for dissecting the opponent. It's where the film and tendencies are crunched for the upcoming opponent. It's where the game plan is discussed among coaches. And it's where they decide the areas they'll want to stress in the upcoming week. Being able to transition quickly in a short week is huge, so I'm betting that's what BC did.
Since Monday then became Tuesday, that's where the Eagles "went to work." It's where they begin the process of communicating the game plan to their players, identifying roles, coaching them up. With the week losing a day, BC had to do this today. Scripts are drawn up, signals are sent to the players, and the calls are really put into place.
This is a huge day for practice because it sets the tone for the rest of the week. They've now blocked out the noise and set the coaches-to-players expectations for when they really dial in on Tuesday. More on that later.
On preparing for Friday night...
We had a real spirited practice today. We went ones-verses-ones for the speed of the game and the physical intensity of the game. We had a great practice. I think realizing the intensity in which we are approaching the week, the practice, the coaching staff, the older guys on the team, understanding the margin of error is much, much smaller now. That the execution level has got to be hihger. Things are going to happen so much faster on the field...
Addazio went onto talk about how teams only get certain amounts of shots in a given game, which makes execution and capitalization so huge. He talked about preparing mentally and physically, as well as emotionally, for the toll all of this takes in a game. That it happens so fast is something he needs to prepare the team for since it can shellshock a player.
Games can get away from players so incredibly quickly, so today was spent getting those guys really dialed in and ramped up. For the past two weeks, BC was pretty much told they're going to win regardless of what happened during the week. With ACC play opening up on Friday against a team that's incredibly talented, the time is now to reset the troops and really get them fired up.
Judging from how he talked, that's starting to happen and that's exciting.
On BC controlling emotions leading up to the game...
It's more than controlling their emotions; it's getting them to understand what it is going to be like. Young players just don't have a reference point. They don't understand the intensity. What have they seen? They've seen Maine and Howard. They don't understand the intensity of these games. The speed and the physicality of these games is so much greater and different. The margin of error is so much smaller. And with these young guys, they have a large margin for error. We might get away with some of that stuff against a lesser opponent but when you play these teams, you don't get away with anything. To get them to understand, to realize that is hard. By nature, they're sloppy. Their attention to detail isn't there. You are trying to grow that process up, work hard at it every day. It's a pretty intense program we run here. It's not like we're lackadaisical at all, but these are guys who haven't had to have great attention to detail in a lot of their high school programs to be honest with you. The level of intensity is just not the same. They get shell-shocked by it. We work really hard on that around here but for me to say some of these young guys aren't going to have deer in the headlight look, they are going to. It's going to happen.
Oh man am I pumped up.
There's a lot going on here so I'll try to break it down into small parts. The first part is about getting players to understand what it's going to be like on the field on Friday. Unlike the last two weeks, against what even Addazio refers to as "lesser opponents," BC is going to finally play an emotional, intense football game. What he's trying to educate his younger players on is that regardless of your execution, you need to manage the emotion of the game. You've worked on execution to this part; if everyone does their job (#Belichick), the game plan is such that you will win the game.
Managing emotion can be so much harder though. If you focus on jawing with the opponent or the national TV cameras or the lights on the stadium or the crowd noise, you're not focused on playing. I once talked with a former Syracuse linebacker who spent some time in the NFL. He once said to me that when he really got dialed into a game, everything a) slowed down and b) got really quiet. While he fed the emotion of the crowd, he didn't really hear it. All he did was contain himself and focus on what was in front of his line of vision. He simply did his job.
Number 2 - if you're a young guy, you've never had to worry about managing all of these details. I often say that playing high school football only displays a guy's raw skill set; it doesn't actually give you a glimpse into what he can do on the field. Guys who are recruited are usually the best athletes on the field. Just on natural ability, they're going to be the best. In the first two games, you didn't play on the field with players like you. You were still better on natural ability. You were faster or bigger or stronger. Now that changes. The playing field, in that regard, shifts.
Number 3 - Because of that, you're going to see young guys get shell-shocked. That's a fact. Being able to manage the shell shock is the key. That's going to be really something to see develop as the game goes on.
On wanting players to embrace emotion surrounding this game...
I think you want to ignore the hype. What I get nervous about is when people start telling you you're better than you are. And all that blowing smoke, I'm not really into that. That's where you drink your Kool-Aid and you get your tail beat in. But in terms of the emotion and the atmosphere, I think it's great. That's major college football. You'd like to see it more around here. I mean, great game day, a loud stadium and ESPN on campus, that's college football. Everybody loves that and there's nothing wrong with that. Just as long as you're not walking around with people telling you you're great, then I think you're fine.
Translation: let's make Friday a mad house and get lost in the game. Let's all control our emotion and let it out on the field. Let's make Alumni Stadium one hell of a place to play, and let's show the national television audience just what Boston College stands for.
Even if that's the case, don't walk into the game thinking you're just going to be handed a win. You have to go out and earn it. You aren't as good as when you play great, and you're not as bad as when you play like crap. Every play, every snap—you need to earn the right to be on that field. Just because you're 2-0 doesn't mean you're anything more than 2-0. There is still much to prove, and that happens when Florida State comes to town on Friday night.