Boston College Preview (aka The Bible Bowl)

There was a period of time in recent Cardinal history that offenses underperformed with Dana Bible at the helm. So with perhaps the most promising Stanford defense in years ready to open against a visiting offense of the same leadership, we're thinking a little "Bible thumping" may be in order. Mark elaborates in The Bootleg's season opener preview.

Stanford's players may not know it, but for Stanford fans there is another motivating factor in Saturday's game against Boston College – BC's offensive coordinator, Dana Bible.

Dana Bible is in his second season as the Eagles' main offensive guru. On Saturday, he returns to the Stanford Stadium press box, a place he called home during Tyrone Willingham's first three seasons, 1995-97. In two of those three years, Stanford surprised many by making two bowl appearances, one of which was Stanford's first shutout since 1974. The 38-0 drubbing of Michigan State in the 1996 Sun Bowl seemed like the beginning of a renaissance for Stanford football. There was loads of talent on offense and Bible had the opportunity to lead Cardinal to newfound glory.

However, Bible will be remembered by many on the farm as the guy who played a conservative, predictable, boring, and basically, just not-so-fun brand of offense. The inside screen pass to Damon Dunn… for three yards. Anthony Bookman up the middle, over and over again. Chad Hutchinson fooling absolutely nobody with his play action fakes. These are what Dana Bible brought to the Stanford offense. Stanford won games in spite of this offense, not because of it. "Bible-Ball" is now understandably a 4-letter word on The Farm.

"Bible-Ball" reached its absolute nadir in the 1997 season. The Cardinal had probably its most star-studded backfield ever: Tailbacks Anthony Bookman and Mike Mitchell would end their careers as Stanford's third and fourth all-time leading rushers, while Greg Comella and Jon Ritchie were on their way to NFL starting jobs. However, the Stanford offense sputtered after a 4-1 start and the "offense" was the main reason for a disastrous 5-6 season. Even the Big Game victory, with Chad Hutchinson's 21 completions for a benign 140 yards, was cheapened.

After taking his offensive offense to the Philadelphia Eagles, who finished last in the NFL in passing and total offense, Dana Bible has found a home in Chestnut Hill. In the past two years behind head coach Tom O'Brien, BC has recovered from a disastrous gambling scandal five years ago to return to respectability. For the first time since 93-94, Boston College has reached bowl games in consecutive years in the last two seasons. The Eagles embarrassed Arizona State (and the rest of the Pac-10) with a 31-17 win in the Aloha Bowl last Christmas. While the Bible offense may not be especially flashy, it does have its weapons.

William Green is an explosive, NFL-quality tailback. The junior from Atlantic City rushed for 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2000. With his performance in last Saturday's win over West Virginia, he has broken the 200-yard barrier three times in his career. Last season, Stanford held Ken Simonton to only 81 yards, but Oregon State still won the game handily. However, if Green is shackled in the same way, don't expect the Eagles to come away with the victory. BC would much rather run than throw the ball and play catch-up. They had no come-from-behind wins last season and their greatest point total was in a win over Rutgers.

Brian St. Pierre is in his first season as BC's full-time starting quarterback. Like Hutchinson, his best throws are made when the defense doesn't go after him. However, unlike Hutch, he can run the option, as he showed in scoring a touchdown on 4th-and-goal against West Virginia. Dedric Dewlat is a quality target with break-away speed. He averaged 18 yards a reception last season and scored eight touchdowns. He is the kind of guy who turn a seven yard catch into a 70-yard touchdown, perfect for a QB like St. Pierre who isn't much of a deep-threat. Jamal Burke and DuJuan Daniels are also quality wide-outs. BC also showed it liking for the tight end in the victory over the Mountaineers, as redshirt freshman Sean Ryan caught two passes for 25 yards. JP Comella, brother of Greg, is a fullback for BC but shouldn't expect to see any playing time on Saturday night.

The BC defense plays a basic 4-3. Ralph Parent is an All-Big East performer out of the secondary. Last season, the junior from nearby Brookline had 56 tackles and three interceptions. One of those picks came against Michael Vick, which is not an easy thing to do. Josh Ott is a solid linebacker for the Eagles.

Last season, BC was prone to give up the big play, as evidenced by blowout losses against Pitt and Miami. Those teams like to throw the ball and did so at will against the Eagles. However, Miami was held in check by Boston College for almost the entire second half before the 'Canes pulled away.

Bottom Line: BC has had a formula for victory in each of its last two seasons – mostly running, a little passing, a big play here and there, along with a decent defense causing turnovers. Nonetheless, the Eagles were 1-4 on the road last season, with their only win away from Alumni Stadium being against Army. Against quality offenses that have the ability to air it out, BC stumbles. Their "quality" win last season was against Syracuse, a team buried in decline. If Stanford can stop Green and limit their own mistakes, which they certainly should, the Cardinal should be on its way to a victory to start the 2001 season.

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