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The Two-Minute Drill: Calling Plays, Depth Charts, and Apple Cider Donuts

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Are they best ever? They're the best ever.

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AJ Black: Dan, it was a tough loss this week for the Eagles as they were clearly overmatched by a very talented Clemson team. One of the biggest gripes for BC fans has rightfully been the bizarre end of half play calling by Steve Addazio. What do you think BC needs to do to fix this issue?

Dan Rubin: AJ, I know you and I will have some different takes on this one. When I watch BC, I see a coaching staff that wants to believe its offense is capable of completing plays but doesn't quite feel confident in the way things look. So the Eagles walk this middle line between going conservative and attacking. They wind up running a play here or there, then call an ill-advised timeout and wind up not doing anything right.

I am perfectly okay with being totally conservative; I said that at the beginning of the year. If you're not confident, attacking only takes a team out of "its game" and it plays into the hands of the opponent. If you're going to sit on the football, sit on the football from the get-go. Doing this half-and-half thing just isn't working, and I'm not even really sure it's half-and-half. I just don't think BC is confident but doesn't want to do nothing at the same time.

But you have to be one or the other. It's the old Mr. Miyagi line—"If you walk one side road? Safe. If you walk other side road? Safe. You walk middle of road? Squish like grape."

AJ, I know that you have a much different take that's a little bit more radical, so I'm going to let you take it from here. The floor is 100% yours.

AJ Black: Watching this team play for the past three years, it's been clear that game clock management has been a major struggle for Addazio and his staff. It's gone from bad to worse this year, and I thought of a solution that may help. In 2010 Dabo Swinney was struggling with his offensive gameplan, and the Tigers were just run of the mill. The next year he hired Chad Morris, who at that point had been OC at Tulsa, and allowed him to run the offense. In 2011, Clemson took a huge jump in offensive categories, which in turn led to better recruits, and they have ascended from there. You have to wonder if a system like that would benefit the offense. Now I'm not saying BC should go out there and find an OC who loves to run the air raid, but if Todd Fitch isn't the answer, could Addazio find someone else who fits the system he wants to run and allow them to call the plays. Addazio would oversee the philosophy, personnel, and be the face of the program, all of which are mostly his strong suits, while allowing a strong OC run his system and prevent those blunders that seem to get in the way of this program progressing.

Dan, what do you think?

Dan Rubin: You know, I'm not sure. I just want whatever would get this offense to start pumping forward with efficiency and consistency. But I know that if it gets to be that bad (or if it's that bad already), something radical could really get this thing moving. I'm not talking about emulating another program's style but rather attempting something that's never been done before.

Even though I support Addazio, my personal football beliefs always lived on the lunatic fringe. I love trying anything—things that haven't worked or haven't been tried before. Right now, BC's stuck a little bit in neutral because they're trying to develop guys who have no experience. In that blank slate, maybe switching something is a radical enough idea to get it jump started.

I go back and forth on this topic, and I can agree with what you're getting at. AJ—as we move forward into this season, how big is it for BC to start to get some guys back? I know Myles Willis had the biggest impact, but as these guys start to filter back, what specifically will improve within the BC infrastructure?

AJ Black: I think it's huge. As we saw against Clemson, Myles Willis is a big time threat and something BC needs on the offensive side of the ball. No knock on Marcus Outlow and Tyler Rouse at this point, but I believe moving forward that as long as Hilliman is out that Willis should be getting a majority of the carries. Unfortunately as you mentioned the other day, there are guys out that don't look to be returning that I feel that BC could have used. Wide receivers like Ben Glines, Nolan Borgersen and Chris Garrison are still all out, and won't return. BC needs that help at the wide receiver position, which has been stretched thin, but I get what Addazio is doing here, if they are only going to be able to play 4 or 5 games why not redshirt them and save them for later?

Dan—Speaking of injuries, there have been a lot of them this year. How do you think a team plans for injuries, especially at key positions like running back and quarterback?

Dan Rubin: No coach plans on a contingency in game for a quarterback or running back to go down. When you're in your daily strategy meetings or reviewing film, you don't look at your second or third QB and think about what happens if a player gets hurt. Maybe some of them do, but I don't think it actively happens. Instead, the responsibility falls on the backup to be able to run the same gameplan if they are tasked with coming in. That's why they have to study the playbook and go through their repetitions in practice and warmups. The player always has to be ready.

Once you deal with an injury or two, though, you start making contingency plans for what might happen if another one or two go down. In college, that means you weigh the difference between playing a certain player or burning a redshirt here or there. At some positions, the choice is easy while others aren't. Then when that player starts coming back from injury, if it's late enough in the season, college coaches have the option of just shutting a guy down to preserve a year of eligibility. By the same token, if you have guys gaining experience, it might be worth not playing the injured man in order to keep developmentally growing the athletes in question.

That's very different from the professional lens, which we tend to view things through. In the pros, you have a much more limited depth chart, and there is no "burning of a redshirt" to weigh. Development plays a lot less of a question. When your top flight guys are all playing, you don't think about what might happen if the top guy goes down; instead, that responsibility fall on the backup.

In the pros, however, making contingency plans usually involve switching a player between positions because of a lack of depth. In many positions, teams only have one or two backups (like cornerback, for example. If you lose enough cornerbacks, you start weighing switching a safety or a wide receiver, like when Troy Brown played nickel corner).

People tend to view the collegiate depth chart through a professional lens. That's where questions and opinions formulate despite their vast difference. Tyler Murphy moved from QB to wideout for the Steelers, then was resigned to their practice squad, and is now in the QB discussion because both Big Ben and Michael Vick are hurt. If something happens to Landry Jones, it's possible Murphy now becomes an option because he knows the playbook and they have no other option. When Dallas lost Tony Romo, they brought in Matt Cassel in case they couldn't trust Brandon Weeden.

You can't look at it that way in college. That's why Elijah Robinson isn't going to flip flop or why Brendan Nosovitch isn't a quarterback. You lost one quarterback to injury, but you still have Jeff Smith, Troy Flutie, and John Fadule. You lose Jonathan Hilliman and Myles Willis, but you still have Tyler Rouse and Marcus Outlow. You can't rule out everyone getting hurt or their game going to hell, but you can't assume that just bringing a guy in makes him a viable option. The depth charts are much, much, much deeper.

No Huddle Offense

AJ: Dan, BC commit Anthony Brown threw for 5 touchdowns and 300 yards, while running for another 100 last weekend. Think he will be a serious contender for the starting job in 2016?

Dan: I'm not sure. If you asked me before the season, I would've said no, but now? Anything's possible. That said, my personal preference is to not play a true freshman unless there's no other option.

AJ, one of the biggest open jobs going into 2016 will be the USC job. Do you think it's going to go to Chip Kelly or will they grab someone else?

AJ: I really don't think Chip is going to leave the NFL especially with his recent success. If I were to take a guess, I would say from the NFL possibly Sean Payton, from the college ranks Tom Herman of Houston. Final question, Dan. It's apple picking time. Apple cider donuts: best treat or the BEST treat?

Dan: THE BEST EVER.