Tuesday Thoughts from Cleveland

BC's defense was the story on Saturday night as the Eagles captured the storied FirstMerit Patriot Bowl trophy with a 21-0 shutout.

-The title is somewhat misleading. I am no longer in Cleveland, although the city was a pleasant surprise this past weekend: perfect weather (aside from a thunderstorm that delayed the Indians vs. Mariners game on Friday night) and enough attractions to fill a weekend made the trip rather enjoyable.

-Before I get into the game, I had to admit I was impressed with the BC fan turnout (props to center Matt Tennant's family for comprising an entire section). Maroon hats and shirts were sprinkled all over the stadium's lower bowl; BC clearly out-drew Kent State in the latter's home state. As I sat down in the last row of section 105, the first thought I had was "There are more BC fans here than in Jacksonville." Hopefully this is a sign that BC's success last year will lead to improved road attendance for the season ahead.

-New clock rules + BC's rushing offense + Kent State's rushing offense = gametime of less than three hours. It felt like going to one of the classic Pedro vs. Mussina battles of the late 90s where you barely had time to have a hot dog and a beer and all of a sudden it's bottom 8. BC's offensive gameplan will shorten games and keep the ball in BC's hands. Once the other team gets the ball, good luck scoring on the defense.

-Kickoffs going into the end zone without rolling and bouncing? Nice work by Billy Bennett on several touchbacks. He looks to be over the back issues that plagued him a season ago. I would have liked to see BC try a 40+ yarder but the situation didn't present itself on Saturday. Let's hope the situation doesn't present itself against Georgia Tech in, say, the fourth quarter.

-I had a few 'Chris Crane is not Matt Ryan' moments. Some of them good, some of them frightening. Let's be clear; I don't expect Crane's numbers to approach Ryan's stats from a season ago. I don't expect him to be Matt Ryan. But there's going to be an adjustment period as Crane will miss throws that his predecessor would complete in his sleep.

Anyway, the good: deceptive speed, ability to run with confidence and gain yards after contact. The bad: throwing the deep ball. The first time Crane aired it out he missed Ifeanyi Momah by 10 yards on a wobbly toss. The second time, when Crane overshot a wide-open Rich Gunnell, elicited the only boos or signs of frustration from the BC faithful.

Bottom-line, the kid got the win and played within himself and within the gameplan that OC Steve Logan put together. Which brings me to...

-In this year's ACC, BC's defense will be its best offense. I never, for a minute, thought BC would give up more than 3 points to Kent State and as many alert posters have pointed out, no team on BC's schedule should score over 21 points in a game, and that may even be generous. If the offense can take care of the ball and put up points, BC will be tough to beat.

-Josh Haden and Jeff Smith are faster than their predecessors. And let's not shortchange James McCluskey. While he's certainly not speedy, he runs with confidence and is difficult to bring down. He adds a nice dimension of power to the running game and his consistent rushing opened up Jeff Smith's touchdown scamper.

-BC's best 11 on defense, in this author's opinion, as as follows: Alex Albright, B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, Jim Ramella, Kevin Akins, Mark Herzlich, Robert Francois, Brian Toal, Roderick Rollins, Wes Davis, Marty Bowman. You can see the players who are missing, which is not a knock on them, but more of a testament to the depth and versatility of the defensive unit.

Michael Chevallier is the publisher of EagleInsider.com. He can be reached at eagleinsider@yahoo.com


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