As we approach the Ex-Gators Bowl, I exchanged emails with A.J. Black of BC Interruption and managed to avoid any references to guys being dudes. That was harder than quitting smoking. His answers to my questions are below, and my answers to his questions will appear at BCI.
BTP: How has Tyler Murphy's mobility changed the way Boston College's offense attacks opponents?
AJB: Last season as NC State fans might remember BC was a two trick pony with basically Andre Williams being the lone offensive threat on the ground and Alex Amidon as the only legitimate wide receiver. Both are gone now, and BC actually has more weapons that they have used. Murphy is running the read option for the Eagles, along with some passes (not many), but his ability to tuck it and run has kept defenses on their toes and prevents them from just zeroing in on the running back. He is lightning quick, and if he gets into space he can take off in a hurry.
BTP: For as good as Murphy has been running the ball, when he's dropped back to throw, he's been a little iffy. Six interceptions in 101 passing attempts is a rough INT rate, though BC doesn't seem to be leaning on his arm too much. What are his shortcomings when it comes to his passing ability?
AJB: There are numerous factors that have impacted BC's inability to throw the ball. Tyler Murphy doesn't have the targets to throw to. His top target is Josh Bordner, a converted quarterback who is playing his first year at the position. After that is Shakim Phillips, BC's prodigal son who left for UConn because of Spaziani and came back, albeit it with two bad knees. Combine that with Murphy's incredibly inaccurate arm when going deep and BC's passing game is what it is.
BTP: So BC has an impressive victory over Southern Cal to its credit ... and losses to Pitt and Colorado State. Seems like, in true ACC fashion, the Eagles cannot make up their minds about how good they are. What do you make of this team so far? What hurt them in those losses?
AJB: This is a young team, and with any young team you are going to see peaks and valleys. When BC played USC they were energized, they played clean, crisp football on both sides of the ball. But on the other hand, against Colorado State and Pitt, BC struggled with tackling and third down conversions. The D couldn't get off the field, and allowed both opponents to jaunt down the field and score points after long drives.
BTP: I saw that y'all are going with a new placekicker this week. What brought about that change, and how much of a worry is that aspect of BC's special teams?
AJB: To put it bluntly, BC's place kicking has been atrocious this year. First year place kicker Alex Howell was 3/7 on field goals, and walkon Joey Launceford wasn't any better. Add in some blocked/missed extra points and it was clear Addazio had to go in a different direction. Enter Mike Knoll, a true freshmen kicker who hasn't played yet. Am I worried? Yes. It's always nerve wracking when the Eagles juggle players like this.
BTP: We are getting together a thank-you gift basket for Will Muschamp, because he's going to need cheering up after he gets fired and it's really the least we can do for his gifting us a good quarterback. Do you guys want to get in on this action, and if so, what would you contribute?
AJB: I have a good friend who is a UF fan, and I get a strong feeling of schadenfreude when I watch the Gators fall all over themselves. When I text him about Tyler Murphy/Brissett and compare them to Jeff Driskel I usually just get a long string of expletives back. But yes, without Will Muschamp, BC would be throwing a true freshman QB out there and our offense would probably look something akin to Wake Forest's clusterbleep. I would like to make a substantial contribution to Will. Let me know how much I owe and I will write the check.