October 27, 2006

BC ready to roll

I decided to take a break from sitting on my couch and eating cheeseburgers to take a look at the upcoming Buffalo at Boston College game this weekend. To be frank, this game against Buffalo this weekend probably wasn't one of those games that Boston College players and coaches circled on their calendars before the season.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the least desirable game on BC's home schedule this season. Obviously the matchup with Maine was nothing spectacular either, but at least in that game you had a local New England matchup combined with the fact that it was parent's weekend at BC.

This game is a mismatch on paper, as BC is coming off of two huge wins against Florida State and Virginia Tech, and the have lost 3 of their last 4 games by 30 points or more. Being a fan of Buffalo seems about as fun as watching "The Basketball Diaries" on Christmas morning.

Former Nebraska football star Turner Gill is trying to steer this young Buffalo team in the right direction. The Bulls started the year off on the right foot by beating Temple by 6 points, but have lost six in a row since that time. Many of the skilled position players are freshman and sophomore, so they are learning on the job. That doesn't bode well when you're going up against a Top 20 team.

When Boston College runs: Advantage Boston College

When it comes to rush defense there are few teams worse than Buffalo....actually there are only two. Buffalo is yielding an alarming 227 ypg on the ground, which wins them the honor of being ranked 117th nationally in that category.

The three starting linebackers Jeff Bublavi, Ollice Ervin, and Ramon Guzman are top three on the team in tackles. Normally, it's a pretty good sign for your defense when your linebackers lead the team in tackles. That is of course unless you're yielding over 200 ypg on the ground. It seems that the Bulls have a knack for giving up huge yardage rushing plays. So far this season, Buffalo has yielded runs of 53, 30, 42, 68, 58, and 25 yards throughout various games. The word "Yikes" comes to mind if you're one of Buffalo's 157 fans.

So far this season, L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender have been doing just enough to help the team win games. This weekend, the BC running game should be able to have one of their best games of the year against Buffalo. I'd look for Whitworth and Callender to rush for at least a combined 150 yards on Saturday, which would be well above their season average.

When Boston College Passes: Advantage Boston College

Here's this week's "The stats may lie"..... Buffalo comes in ranked 31st nationally in passing yards allowed per game. Now before we go anointing the Bulls secondary as the 2nd coming of the 2001 Miami Secondary (Ed Reed, Phillip Buchanon, Mike Rumph, Antrel Rolle, Sean Taylor), let's check one more defensive passing category. Buffalo ranks 106th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Yikes. So it appears that teams are piling up yards on the ground versus Buffalo, and in turn building big leads in the process. What do teams do when they build big leads? Well, unless you're Steve Spurrier you run the ball. That's why the Bulls don't give up a lot of yards through the air. It doesn't mean that they aren't vulnerable to the pass.

There's no telling how long Matt Ryan will play in this game. For however long Ryan does play, he won't have any problem throwing on Buffalo. Even if backup Chris Crane gets some action I don't expect him to have a lot of difficulty either. This game might be a good opportunity for BC to get some of their young, inexperienced receivers like Rich Gunnell and Clarence Megwa some extra looks.

When Buffalo runs: Advantage Boston College

Buffalo's primary running back is RS freshman James Starks. The freshman has had a very successful 1st season rushing for 417 yards, and catching 23 passes for 192 yards. Against Auburn, Starks gained 66 yards on the ground, which was just as many or more than any running backs from Florida or LSU were able to gain against the Tigers. By no means is Starks one of the best running backs BC will face this season, but he's no bum either.

Frank Spaziani's defense has been stout allowing opponents an average of less than 100 yards per game on the ground. The last team to rush for over 100 yards rushing against BC was NC State, so don't look for Buffalo to go over the century mark on Saturday.

When Buffalo Passes: Advantage Boston College

Since the start of the season, probably no aspect of BC's play has improved as much as their pass defense. Much of the credit for that can go to the return of Ryan Glasper, and the emergence of freshman Wes Davis. There's no doubt that BC's opponents are still throwing for a lot of yards, but the Eagles have kept them out of the end zone. Over the last 4 games, the BC defense has yielded only 2 passing TD's, and at the end of the day that's all that matters.

Buffalo's sophomore quarterback Drew Willy does have one legitimate threat to work with in tight end Chad Upshaw. Upshaw (20 receptions, 253 yards), is one of the few Buffalo players that has a shot at the NFL. Most teams have kept a pretty close eye on Upshaw, so that's why his statistics aren't overly impressive so far this season. I wouldn't expect the tight end to have a big game against BC.

Special Teams: Advantage Boston College

This games features two of the best freshman kick return men in the country in Jeff Smith and Naaman Roosevelt. Smith is 4th in the country averaging 33.4 ypr, while Roosevelt averages just over 27 ypr. Despite each player only having played a handful of games, they both have returned kicks for touchdowns. One of these guys is going to bust a return over 50 yards Saturday.

BC's Steve Aponavicius, and Buffalo's Adam Tanalski both took over place kicking duties for their teams mid-season this year. Both kickers have also had 100% accuracy on their field goal kicks as well. A battle of kickers, you have got to love it!

One area the Bulls have struggled in is punting. They have already had two punts blocked this season. You'd have to give BC the edge in special teams based on the punting game.

Final Analysis: There's no doubt that BC should be able to give Buffalo a white washing. The Eagles outmatch the Bulls in every aspect of the game. If the other teams in the MAC can beat up on the Bulls, then surely the leader of the ACC can do it too.

Before the BC players start looking ahead to the Wake Forest game they should come in with a professional attitude against Buffalo. The Bulls were able to hang around with Auburn, trailing only 17-7 midway through the 3rd quarter. That's not to say they were ever a threat to beat Auburn, but you don't want teams like this hanging around.

Look for the Eagles to get their running game established early and often. The BC offensive line should be able to manhandle the Buffalo front seven. If the Eagles come in focused they will win this game by at least 5 TD's.

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