AJ Black: The first week is in the books. Boston College did what they had to do to take care of Maine, and although the game was closer than it needed to be, a win is a win. There was a lot to digest from that game, some of it encouraging, some of it...no so much.
Dan, what was the biggest take away from Week 1?
Dan Rubin: The biggest thing, I think, is patience. Heading into this season, I think a lot of people looked at the end of the year and were dreaming of a return to the Pinstripe Bowl with eight wins. It's easy to forget about the construction process it will take to get to that point and how long a season can be.
They played mistake free football and didn't turn the ball over, but they failed to convert some third downs. They would rip off a 30-yard touchdown run, but they ran ten plays for zero or less yards. They pulled away in the second half, but they still blew a field goal. There was an 18-play drive that killed an entire quarter, but it only resulted in three points. So the team is where it should be in some areas and where it shouldn't be in other areas.
You can really see the flashes of how this team can be, but you have to understand the work it takes to get there. I love the "all three phases" term coaches use. I think BC was very good in all three phases, but they weren't good in those phases together. You can really see some of this team's ceiling when you saw receivers fly down the middle and a good pass with zip just miss them. If they can start connecting on those plays, it's really scary to think about how good BC can be.
One game into the season, I don't want to fall victim to feeling extremes. Rather than try to figure out what will happen against Florida State, let's just focus on how this team can improve its execution of the gameplan against Howard and try to stay patient as this team grows.
AJ, one thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the play of the secondary. We talked so much about the front seven, but the defensive backfield had itself a day on Saturday. Your thoughts on that?
AJ: I was really impressed by the work of the secondary Saturday for a few reasons. First, I don't know if it was the skill of the secondary or the front seven making the Maine QB rush, but the secondary seemed in position on every play. No tripping all over themselves like we have seen in past years. The technique, and vision was right on from opening snap to final whistle.
Secondly, Isaac Yiadom wasn't even playing so we were looking at Gabe McClary, a backup on one corner. And you know what? In his first game at the position, he was impressive. He is tall, 6'3, and has decent speed for a corner. I liked what I saw out of him.
Finally, I think maybe not now, but soon we are going to see that this secondary has good depth. They are young, so mistakes may still happen, but as they continue to grow I think this position group will go from a place of worry, to a solid contributing area on the field.
Dan, what concerned you on Saturday?
Dan: I really don't want to beat on the offensive line, especially after Coach's remarks in his press conference on Monday. Even though there were times they weren't good, I'm not as concerned because it's a big focus for improvement. I have to believe it will get better throughout the season. That said, if it doesn't get better by October, I'm going to be very worried.
I'm going to pick on the running game for a second. If you take away big plays by Tyler Rouse, there are some underlying things we should be worried about. It took until the second half for BC to recognize that Maine's defensive tackles were spread across the entire line of scrimmage, creating a soft spot for north-south running. When they ran up the middle, the holes opened and they picked up big gains.
I've never been a big fan of stretch plays. I don't like when you hand off to a running back, and he has to run two yards before he even turns the corner. I especially don't like the play call when the offensive line, which had its struggles, then needs to supply a pull block or kick-out block.
I would rather the offense just go straight ahead and work on pushing forward behind those guys. I get using those types of runs to keep teams honest, but I've never been a huge fan of them. So that's something I'm concerned about.
AJ, let's switch gears. Our readers and posters had some major issues with game presentation on Saturday. Any advice for either side?
AJ: Of course. There are a few things that are never going to change. The GameOps people are going to be surly, and the police are going to chase you out of your tailgating spot the second tailgating is over. However there are some things I'd love to see changed that could easily be done. First off, be ready for the start of the season. The last football game was nine months ago, the last home game was ten. There is no excuse for not having the banners/boards ready in that time. Secondly, don't treat games like that as a test run, it's insulting to the fan base that actually shows up for these games. Do something special, bring out a special guest (is the live eagle still an actual thing?), give out novelties. Anything! Treat your customers special and they'll come back, that is something I never forgot from my days in retail in high school.
Dan, do you have any suggestions as well?
Dan: I think there needs to be a very real give-and-take between the two sides. I don't know if BC is treating the first two games as test runs, but they have to understand that the perception is reality. If that's not how it was intended, that's how it came across to a number of people—which means that's the unfortunate reality they have to work with.
I have a marketing background, specifically in situations like this, and BC has to do a better job of building up the experience. We know tailgating is something people want, but assuming we can't fix that, we really have to think about what can be done within control. That starts and ends with the in-game experience, which needs to become much more interactive. How they implement that isn't for me to decide, though I have some ideas.
At the same time, fans have to be much more forgiving in the way they approach the game experience. I feel we are all too fixated on Shea Field, on tailgating, and on things that I really believe are out of BC's control. I think we are too focused on being able to do things outside the stadium and instead should focus on how we can get things done inside the stadium. Formulating the ideas and expressing them constructively can be a much better approach than just saying, "I hate who we're playing and you don't let us tailgate."
I believe there are ways to improve it, but I think both sides need to look introspectively a little bit harder to come up with new ideas.
No Huddle Offense
Dan: The Deutsche Bank Championship was last weekend at TPC Boston. As a golf fan, I love the different tournaments, especially things like The Masters. What's the one non-major sporting event you most look forward to every year?
AJ: It's tough because it's not an every year event, but I have gotten into the World Cup a lot lately.
Play it out in your head Dan, what will the out of conference schedule look like in 2016? And be specific.
Dan: Now you're just trying to get me in trouble. Honestly, though? 2 FCS teams, UMass, and Buffalo. Indiana is a state I just pulled out of nowhere.
The Patriots raise their banner on Thursday against the Steelers (#BradyIsFree). Who's your pick to win the Super Bowl this year?
AJ: I'm going to go with the Baltimore Ravens. Good defense, Flacco is a good QB (not elite), and they have enough offensive weapons to do it.