Posted tagged ‘boston college’

Boston College Eagles at the 2010 NFL Combine

February 27, 2010

All the usual suspects have arrived in Indianapolis for the 2010 NFL Combine this weekend and each promising player will be poked, prodded, and interviewed sufficiently before even hitting the carpet for their workouts. Boston College may not necessarily be the first school that comes to mind for producing NFL talent but with 25 players in the league in 2009, three consecutive first round draft picks (including two top 10 selections); you can be assured that the scouts love the kids BC churns out.

Center Matt Tennant and Linebacker Mike McLaughlin earned invites to the combine and will look to improve upon their stock after having noteworthy weeks at the Senior Bowl last month. A consistent team that runs a pro style offense and possesses a stalwart defense is an excellent breeding ground for players to make it to the next level. Let’s take a look at these two standouts:

Matt Tennant

Tennant started over 40 games during his career at BC

It should be noted that BC, often referred to as “O-Line U”, had eight different offensive lineman drafted in the last decade, two of them in the first round. Tennant came to BC by way of Cincinnati powerhouse Archbishop Moeller high school and proceeded to start his last 41 games at center for the Eagles. The only senior on the Eagles’ offensive line, Tennant was named team captain for his senior campaign and led the way for RB Montel Harris’ breakout season in which he topped 1,400 rushing yards and recorded eight 100-yard contests. At 6’5”, 300 pounds, he may be considered tall for his position but he is nimble enough at his lighter weight to keep in front of any oncoming blockers.

He was solid all during Senior Bowl week during drills and will likely be a strong addition to any team, even if he is not elite at this point. Only six centers were drafted in 2009, we often see the position filled by converted guards, but Tennant is pure at the position. He will likely need to add some bulk to his frame in order to be a star in the league but many said the same about former BC center Tom Nalen and he fashioned an All-Pro, Super-Bowl winning career for himself in Denver.

Analysis: Teams looking for a center will not reach on Tennant so he is a mid-to-late round selection in April’s draft. His pedigree and game tape speak for themselves so the combine will solidify his status and could even push him up a round or two but don’t expect him to fly up draft boards based on anything that happens in Indy this weekend.

Mike McLaughlin

"Mac" impressed NFL scouts at Senior Bowl Week

As the defensive captain for the last two seasons at Boston College, inside linebacker Mike McLaughlin set the tone for a defense that ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense both seasons. Considering this defense included NFL players B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Robert Francois, and All-American Mark Herzlich it is no small feat that he earned that type of respect. Known as a very vocal leader, he impressed at Senior Bowl week with his ability to run the defense as well as showing the versatility to be a long snapper when called upon.

His senior campaign at Chestnut Hill was hampered somewhat by a ruptured Achilles suffered during an offseason workout. He came back from the injury after missing the first three contests to contribute in the middle and on special teams throughout the remainder of the season. At 6’0”, 240 lbs, “Mac” may not have the elite athleticism of some linebackers but as you can see in this clip at the 13-second mark, he can certainly hold his own: http://bit.ly/a25jFl

Analysis: BC linebackers have found their way in the NFL for a long time and McLaughlin should be no different.  He is a tireless worker who will be fighting his way for a starting job in the league for the next several seasons. His versatility on special teams—and long-snapping if he chooses to do so—will be an asset for any team in the league. Expect a mid-round selection for McLaughlin but if he runs well at the combine next week then his stock will absolutely be on the upswing.

NCAA Football Picks ATS – Week 12

November 19, 2009

Well, I’ve taken my lumps the last two weeks going 6-14 in the process but we’ll see if I have something to be thankful for next Thursday after the games this weekend.  It’s a funky week with a lot of big spreads and almost no home underdogs so I tried, as I normally do, to pick the games that I find most compelling for one reason or another. As always, here are the picks…

No. 10 Ohio State at Michigan (+11 ½)—“The Game” does not have much to hype up about it other than your typical border war; Ohio State is already Rose Bowl-bound and Michigan is trying to avoid losing seven straight Big Ten games. Ohio State has knocked off two consecutive ranked opponents and will use their tenacious defense (ranked 6th in scoring defense in FBS) to shut down Michigan’s spread attack. The Wolverines need this game to somewhat salvage another miserable season. Coaching change rumors and last-place standings are far away from where they thought they would be this season but a win over their hated rival would cure what ails them. No chance but it’s closer than some might expect. Ohio State 27, Michigan 20.

North Carolina at Boston College (-3 ½)—The Tar Heels come to Chestnut Hill with a chance to end the Eagles’ bid for a third consecutive ACC Championship Game appearance. North Carolina has been an up-and down team but are on a three-game roll that resulted most recently in an upset of No. 14 Miami last weekend; their 13th ranked defense has been their biggest asset. BC has had similar issues staying consistent but they are 6-0 at home and will play at noon not knowing the result of the Clemson game; the Tigers need to lose for BC to have a shot at the ACC Title. BC struggled badly against the good defenses in Clemson and Virginia Tech but you can never count the Eagles out of a must win game. BC 21, UNC 20.

Connecticut at Notre Dame (-6)—UConn has lost their five games this year by a combined 15 points and have been in every game to the last minute. The Huskies can become bowl-eligible with a little late-season run starting with this one at South Bend. Notre Dame comes in besieged by rumors of head coach Charlie Weis’ imminent departure but will try to salvage these last two games, run their record to 8-4, and let the chips fall. While it’s possible to think that ND has checked out during another disappointing season, keep in mind Clausen, Tate, and others are still showcasing for the NFL. Notre Dame 30, UConn 20.

No. 8 LSU at Mississippi (-4)—One of the eye-opening spreads of the week has Ole Miss as a favorite against the LSU Tigers who lost their only two games in hard fought contests versus the nation’s top two teams in Florida and ‘Bama. The Tigers allow less than 14 points a game (10th in FBS) but have struggled throughout the season on offense (107th in yardage in FBS). Mississippi’s lethal combo of QB Jevan Snead and RB Dexter McCluster can punish any time as Tennessee learned last week in a 42-17 blowout. A win here would give Ole Miss a second place finish behind Florida and I think they will get it in a close one in a strange upset-but-not-an-upset showdown. Ole Miss 24, LSU 21.

Virginia at No. 23 Clemson (-20 ½)—Clemson comes into this game with a chance to close out the ACC Atlantic Division which would put them in the ACC Championship Game for the first time. The Tigers are averaging 42 points per game during a five-game winning streak and will host the struggling Cavaliers in order to advance and try to win their first ACC title since 1991. Virginia ranks 118th in the nation with 266.7 yards per game and 106th in scoring offense, averaging 19.8 points and will try to move the ball against Clemson’s 20th ranked defense that leads the nation in INTs. This should be a blowout as the wheels came off the wagon for UVA over a month ago and they will play only the role of spoiler on Saturday. But, I think Clemson calls off the dogs in the second half after the game is in hand – back door cover. Clemson 37, UVA 17

Southern Methodist at Marshall (-4)—In another amazing (and under-the-radar) turnaround job by head coach June Jones, SMU can actually lock up a bowl with a win over Marshall this Saturday. The Mustangs sit in first place in their division in C-USA and will try to hang on to it for their last two games. Marshall will also be looking to become bowl-eligible despite being banged up and sporting an offense that ranks in the 100s in the scoring department. I think SMU finally gets noticed after this win. SMU 27, Marshall 24.

Gerhart has dominated in recent wins over Oregon and USC

No. 25 California at No. 17 Stanford (-7)—Generally, one would not expect that Stanford would become a weekly entry regarding the “hot” games on the college gridiron but here we are again chatting about the Cardinal. Stanford is now bowl-eligible for the first time since 2001 thanks to Heisman candidate RB Toby Gerhart who leads the way for the 10th-ranked offense in the country. Cal will be without star RB Jahvid Best when they take on their biggest rival. Points should be abundant in this contest and the PAC-10 has been tricky this season but Stanford should take care of business at home. Stanford 35, Cal 27.

No. 11 Oregon at Arizona (+6)—Oregon needs to practice the mantra “Win and advance” which is usually reserved for basketball teams in March. As the only one-loss team remaining in the PAC-10, the Ducks control their road to the Rose Bowl and will take their ninth-ranked offense to Tucson and try to waddle past the Wildcats. Arizona fell from the rankings after a loss to Cal last week but actually control their own destiny for the Rose Bowl if they can win their last three games. Zona was gashed last week by Cal which was a terrible way to enter the game against Oregon whuch has the most powerful offense in the conference. Ducks take it and cover…Oregon 41, Arizona 30.

Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana-Lafayette (+2 ½)—Louisiana-Monroe (their nickname is the Warhawks for all those keeping score) is looking to become bowl-eligible for the first time in school history. The Ragin’ Cajuns will also be looking to go bowling if they can win their last two. The reality is not many of us have seen these teams play this year but it is a HUGE game for both teams determining potential bowl games and definite bragging rights for a year at least. This is my one chance to take the home underdog this week, so I will. ULL 28, ULM 24.

Kansas at No. 3 Texas (-27 ½)—The Longhorns have the opportunity to put away their division against Kansas and continue their run toward the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena on Jan 7th. With an offense that is as prolific as the defense is fierce, Texas is on a mission right now and the Jayhawks are simply in their way. Adding to this mix is Kansas’ inability to keep teams out of the end zone and a dark cloud hanging over head coach Mark Mangino’s head. Allegations of mistreatment of his players, both present and former, have hit the news and will only serve as further distraction. Texas’ second stringers should see some time on Saturday. Texas 52, Kansas 21.

Last week: 4-6

Season: 46-45

College Football Picks ATS – Week 8

October 24, 2009

Here’s this week’s quick breakdowns of some marquee matchups:

Connecticut at No. 23 West Virginia (-7 ½)

The entire story of this game being and ends with the loss of UConn Huskies’ cornerback Jasper Howard, who was senselessly killed last Saturday evening following the team’s victory over Louisville; the Huskies have decided playing the game is the best way to honor him this week.

The Huskies bring an opportunistic defense into Morgantown, one that has forced at least two turnovers in six straight games. West Virginia is back in the Top 25 and will lean on RB Noel Devine in case QB Jarrett Brown is not recovered after last week’s helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked him out of the game. It’s hard not to root for UConn this week and they will keep it close no matter what.

UConn 27, West Virginia 24.

Boston College at Notre Dame (-8)

The “Holy War” rages on in what will be the last meeting in South Bend for the foreseeable future as the series ends after next season. BC attempts to turn their road woes around where they have managed little to no offense in two losses by a combined score of 73-21.

Notre Dame has lost six straight to the Eagles and will bring in a potent pass offense led by Jimmy Clausen who ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency. This game has seen some shocking results over the past 15 years but I think Clausen is too much for the Eagles’ pedestrian pass rush.

Notre Dame 30, BC 20.

Tennessee at No. 2 Alabama (-14 ½)

The Tide continues to roll right along and the “third Saturday in October” is temporarily the fourth when the Vols travel to Tuscaloosa. Tennessee will jump on the back of Montario Hardesty who ranks 12th in the FBS in rushing yards and try to control the clock against the No. 1 ranked Tide.

Alabama is purely old school in 2009, which is to say, running (ranked ninth in team rushing) and defense (top of the heap in points allowed). Bama’s sophomore Heisman candidate RB Mark Ingram should pace the day and keep Tennessee off the field.

Alabama 27, Tennessee 14.

Clemson at No. 10 Miami (FL) (-4 ½)

Heisman hopeful Jacory Harris leads the 'Canes against Clemson

Heisman hopeful Jacory Harris leads the 'Canes against Clemson

Both teams find themselves in the thick of their respective divisional races yet again in the parity-laden ACC. Clemson comes off a dominant five-sack performance in which their 11th-ranked defense blew out Wake Forest 38-3.

Miami returns to conference play after a month away and will need to protect breakout QB Jacory Harris who ranks in the top 10 in passing efficiency. Clemson’s best performances have been special but they have yet to face an offense quite as versatile as the Hurricanes.

Miami 30, Clemson 24.

No. 11 Oregon at Washington (+10)

Oregon’s season has had quite the turnaround since “The Punch” was landed on opening night as they have ripped off five straight wins and amazingly climbed back into the BCS picture. The Ducks’ defense ranks in the Top 25 nationally in both scoring and total yardage and will need to contain Washington QB Jake Locker.

Washington has lost the five in this series and will need to tighten up on defense (ninth-worst in the PAC-10) in order to have any shot at slowing down Oregon. QB Jeremiah Masoli will likely come back for the Ducks so I think they make it six in a row in a closer-than-expected win.

Oregon 27, Washington 23.

No. 13 Penn State at Michigan (+4 ½)

The Nittany Lions have dominated their last three opponents by a combined score of 107-20 and will look to continue the hot streak in Ann Arbor, a place where they have not won since 1996. Michigan’s high-scoring offense ranks 10th in the nation and creates a challenging matchup for Penn State’s top-ranked scoring defense.

I think last week’s near off-week for Michigan against Delaware State came at a crucial time in the season and I like the upset here with the home underdog and a healthy Tate Forcier back in the mix.

Michigan 24, Penn State 20.

Oklahoma at No. 25 Kansas (+8)

Oklahoma looks to bounce back from the loss in the Red River Rivalry and will do so without QB Sam Bradford, who may be lost for the season. Kansas has lost five straight to the Sooners but enters this contest boasting the second-ranked offense in the FBS with over 503 yards per game. Oklahoma is a surprisingly big favorite and I think they get the win, but they will need to earn it in a close one in Lawrence.

Oklahoma 31, Kansas 27.

No. 6 Iowa at Michigan State (-1)

This game looms larger than it may first appear on paper as the winner of this game will control their own destiny in capturing the Big Ten title. The Hawkeyes are vying to go 8-0 for the first time in school history and have battled close calls all year long, pulling another one off last week at Wisconsin.

The Spartans have battled back and have not lost to Iowa in East Lansing since 1995. Iowa has impressed me all year with their ability to pull out these close games but I do not expect them to run the table and I think it ends this week.

Michigan State 23, Iowa 20.

No. 8 TCU at No. 16 Brigham Young (+2 ½)

The Mountain West Conference does not often get a showcase as big as this one on Saturday evening in Provo. The Horned Frogs from TCU look to run their unbeaten streak to nine games and are led by a stifling defense that ranks in the top 10 in every category.

BYU defends their home turf well as evidenced by their 13-game conference winning streak in Provo. They will also be looking for payback after last year’s 32-7 trouncing knocked them out of their top 10 status at the time. This game will be a dogfight, but I think TCU’s defense gives them the edge even in Provo.

TCU 20, BYU 16.

No. 3 Texas at Missouri (+13)

I would say that Texas is primed for a big letdown but they didn’t play well at all in the win over Oklahoma. The Longhorns likely are in control of their own destiny to reach the BCS title game if they win out and they currently outscore everyone in the country at 42 points a game.

Mizzou will have their work cut out for them as QB Blaine Gabbert has struggled in their two losses and they won’t be running the ball against the nation’s toughest rushing defense in Texas. Beware the late cover but the game in general should never be in doubt.

Texas 34, Mizzou 20.

Last Week: 7-3

Season: 28-23

NCAA Football Picks ATS – Week 6

October 9, 2009

No. 21 Nebraska at No. 24 Missouri (+4) – Both teams have proven they can move the ball ranking in the Top 20 in the country in points scored and yards gained. Interesting back-story: Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert, who has yet to throw an interception in four games, originally committed to the Huskers before backing out and committing to the Tigers. This is a huge game in the battle for the Big 12 North; I like Mizzou as the home underdog playing in inclement weather. Missouri 24, Nebraska 20.

Boston College at No. 5 Virginia Tech (-13 ½)  – This will be the fifth meeting in the last three seasons as these two rivals have matched up in the regular season and the ACC Championship for two years running…and possibly a third this December. Boston College is the last team to win in Lane Stadium (October 2007) and is revitalized by the play of 25-year old freshman QB Dave Shinskie. Virginia Tech is fighting for more than just an ACC title this season as their No. 5 overall ranking suggests. BC will put up a good fight (and barely cover) but the Hokies are a bit too strong for them defensively and on special teams this time around. Virginia Tech 30, BC 17.

No. 17 Auburn at Arkansas (+2.5) – Auburn has raced off to a 5-0 start and go into this SEC battle ranked for the first time this season. Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has the Tigers in the Top 5 nationally in points scored and yardage. Arkansas has been airing it out with talented QB Ryan Mallett with mixed results and will try to avoid a three-game conference losing streak. Arkansas’ inability to stop their SEC foes has been their undoing so until they do, I can’t wager with them even as a home ‘dog. Auburn 35, Arkansas 27.

No. 3 Alabama at No. 20 Mississippi (+4) – Many would argue that Alabama is the most impressive team in the country at this stage of the season, with dominant performances on both sides of the ball in each of their first five games. Ole Miss stumbled against South Carolina early and looked to fold under the pressure of being a Top 5 team for the first time in decades. Frankly, if they walked into this game undefeated it wouldn’t change my outlook – Bama takes care of business again in Oxford. Alabama 34, Ole Miss 14.

Connecticut at Pittsburgh (-6 ½) – Pitt’s offense has looked much improved this season with QB Bill Stull leading them to 37 points-per-game. UConn will try to grind it out on the ground in their Big East opener and try to win a smash mouth contest but can their defense hold up? This one may not be easy to watch but Pitt covers very close. Pittsburgh 30, UConn 23.

Wisconsin at No. 9 Ohio State (-16) – The under-the-radar Badgers are 14th in the country in rushing behind John Clay as they have sped off to a 5-0 start. The Buckeyes have not let up a 100-yard rusher since September of 2008 and will be looking to take command of the Big Ten Conference. I just don’t see that many points being scored in Columbus so take them and run. Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 16.

Stanford at Oregon State (Pick) – Stanford is making an argument for a ranking and will look to go 4-0 in the Pac-10 led by the 1-2 offensive punch of QB Andrew Luck and RB Toby Gerhart. However, Corvallis is never a soft landing spot for opponents (see USC 2008) and sophomore RB Jacquizz Rodgers already has nine touchdowns on the season. This truly is a coin flip but I think Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh secures another signature win. Stanford 24, Oregon State 23.

UTEP at Memphis (+2 ½) – UTEP managed 18 yards rushing two weeks ago against Texas only to come back and upset No. 12-ranked Houston by scoring 58 points and picking up 305 yards on the ground. Memphis has struggled mightily to score points but I like them as the home underdog playing a team who will have a huge letdown after a major upset. Memphis 23, UTEP 20.

No. 1 Florida at No. 4 LSU (+7 ½) – There have been some very big matchups early on this season (USC-Ohio St., Bama-Virginia Tech) but none takes on the ultimate meaning quite like this game. The winner of this game is in charge of the national championship race, period. While there is cause for concern with Tebow, there is no doubt he will be out there playing his heart out for the Gators. LSU has won 32 consecutive Saturday night games but has been far from impressive on offense during their 5-0 start.  The winner of this game has gone on to capture the last three BCS championships and this year will make it four for the Gators. Florida 33, LSU 20

Michigan at No. 12 Iowa (-8) – Iowa is 5-0 for the first time since 1995 and has won nine straight dating back to last season. Michigan suffered an OT heartbreaker to in-state rival Michigan State last week and will look for redemption in another huge Big Ten matchup. Michigan may be using a freshman QB in Tate Forcier but they look incredibly dynamic at times while Iowa has been inconsistent enough to keep the doubters filled with ammo. Michigan 33, Iowa 30.

Last Week: 8-2

Season: 17-14

College GameDay Fights the Good Fight at Boston College This Weekend

October 2, 2009

So, many of you are wondering how in the world ESPN’s College GameDay decided to set up shop at Boston College this weekend. Certainly those in Berkeley, California feel an extra sting after the loss to Oregon knocked them out of contention for hosting every college football fan’s favorite Saturday morning show. Ditto the Miami fans who thought they were at the precipice of regaining all of their past glory in just a few short weeks this September, only the ‘Canes forgot to run their plans by the Virginia Tech Hokies. In fact, there may be a few other campuses that could stake their claim to Fowler, Corso, Herbstreit, and Des Howard but, I assure you, there is no more rightful place for them to be this weekend than Chestnut Hill.

Herzlich's fight will be featured on GameDay This Saturday (10/3)

Herzlich's fight will be featured on GameDay This Saturday (10/3)

Some of you may know by now why ESPN has decided to bring the party to BC and the reasoning starts with a player named Mark Herzlich. As last season’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, the 6’4”, 240-pound Herzlich was working all spring to get ready to destroy offenses in his senior season and repeat that honor (at least) on his way to being a first-round NFL draft pick. But, wouldn’t you know it, a little thing called life decided to step in and set up a roadblock. Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, this past May and has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for the past five months.

As an alumnus and long-time season-ticket holder, I have seen plenty of players come through ‘The Heights’ and Herzlich is building as good a career as any of them, including recent high-profile players Matt Ryan and B.J. Raji. As an alumnus I can also tell you that everyone refers to him as Herzy; he’s the player that everybody loves. He physically dominates opponents, he plays hard, AND he plays smart; he truly is on another level on the gridiron.

When the Jeff Jagodzinksi coaching regime ended last season in turmoil, it was Herzy’s phone call and vote of confidence for Frank Spaziani to Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo that helped cement that choice – you’ll notice Coach Spaz is the mustachioed head coach with the 3-1 record patrolling BC’s sidelines in 2009. Not your average linebacker, that’s for sure, he’s a leader who has made his promise to not only beat the disease he is fighting but to return to play football for the Eagles in 2010.

Herzy’s resolve has inspired BC as well as the other ACC member schools to join him in his fight against cancer. Proceeds from BC’s Beat Cancer T-shirts will be donated to the American Cancer Society in support of Ewing’s Sarcoma research. Clemson presented him with a check for $5,000 two weeks ago when the Tigers hosted the Eagles. Members of the Virginia Tech scout team sold wrist bands for $1 at last week’s game against Miami to benefit the cause and then announced this week that it had increased the total of its fundraising campaign to $9,400 after they blew past their original goal of $5,094; a check will be presented to Herzlich when Boston College visits Lane Stadium on Oct. 10. In all, over $60,000 has been raised much of which has been donated to Uplifting Athletes, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for rare diseases.

All of this brings us to the heart of the matter, when deciding why or where we think College GameDay should arrive each Saturday morning. For all the hand-wringing about strength of schedule, Harris Interactive polls, BCS-busters, and marquee games the reason many of us watch college sports is a bit bigger than that. There is a sense of community amongst the fans and players that blow away the atmosphere at any professional sporting event you can attend. It is truly different and anyone that has been to a game on a campus can tell you that. No one would deny that the NCAA is big business but there are stories all across college sports that inspire and encourage others across the country. This story just happens to be Herzy’s, arguably the best linebacker in the nation.

I applaud ESPN for producing a theme for this week’s show based on athletes overcoming adversity and featuring Mark Herzlich’s continued fight against cancer, it is a genuine way to keep the community informed and involved in these battles that require our collective efforts. Selfishly, I am happy to have Gameday back in Chestnut Hill for the first time since 2005 to see BC battle Florida State, a budding division rivalry that has seen zero home-field wins in the four years since the Eagles joined the Seminoles in the ACC.

So, to all those outside of the Boston College community who were perplexed by the choice, miffed at your snub, or bitter about the time you wasted on your new GameDay sign I encourage you to watch this weekend. Enjoy the banter, get hyped for the games, root for Mark Herzlich in his courageous fight, and by all means donate to a good cause.

Go Eagles.

Go Herzy.