Monday, September 18, 2006

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: BYU

Luck will run out. This team is winning, but has to start playing better. For a 3-0 team I don’t feel confident about what lies ahead. Fortunately it is really down year in the ACC. If this team starts playing to its potential, the upside of this season is scary.

Offense: B

Matt Ryan’s numbers were big again and I like how he runs the offense, but this was his worst game of the season. He had two picks and at least three other near picks. With the bad leg it seems to take him a good three series to adjust and figure out his throws. Is he not throwing enough on the bad leg during the week? His fundamentals are slipping a little too. All that said, I have complete confidence in him and love the way he stands in the pocket. Love the way he goes through his progressions. The Robinson bomb was a classic example of his reads -- the first option was two the left. Gonzo was doubled. Then the TE on the left -- covered with a safety and linebacker. Ryan turned and threw it perfectly to BRob. He instinctively knew that Robinson would be in single coverage. Great play and may have saved the game (by giving us a confidence boost).

The offense line was not as strong. Early they had problems. Beekman has a rough day (for him). I expect perfection from him, so when he gets beat or does not get to a spot it is noticeable. Cherilus is having a great year. Marten looked better. I still have no idea who is playing and why. Poles looked good early but then gets pulled. Hall looked good in his place yet is yanked later. Sheridan was okay. But we still used Beekman at Center for a series (where Beek struggled). Make a choice and stick with it. Here was the most confusing series. First OT, the line is Marten, Poles, Sheridan, Beekman and Cherilus. Three straight run plays to Poles’ side. Five yards total.

Second OT, the line is Marten, Hall, Sheridan, Beekman and Cherilus. Ryan rolls on great protection and hits Gonzo for the TD. If you can’t trust Poles in OT or are punishing him for mixed blocking in the first OT, why keep yo yoing with Hall? This unit is confounding. Fortunately they’ve improved as the game wears on in each game. Now if they could just play one complete game I would be happy.

The receivers were good again. Loved seeing Robinson get some balls his way. The speed is exiting. Now we just need Gunnell to hold onto the ball. Gonzo is clutch but it doesn’t look like he is ever going to be a run after the catch type. Another strong game for Challenger.

The running backs both looked good. Finally given some protection they reacted well and showed some good explosiveness. LV’s run on 3rd and 2 before the half was a thing of beauty. Too bad he coughed up a ball later. AC looked back to his old form. Brooks remains MIA.

The Tight Ends played well, but I would like to see us get back to throwing to them over the middle.

The play calling was okay. I think we need to establish the run early until Ryan gets his sea legs each game. He adjusts as the game goes on, but we give him tough touch throws early. Why? Loved the deep ball attempts. Loved the running in the second half. The first OT was cowardly. Three straight runs after the day Ohliger had? Stupid. Then in the second OT when we need a score, we go downfield. I don’t get it.

Overall this offense is carrying the team. Bible has done a good job so far. However the running back situation and the line are still huge question marks and we are a quarter of the way into the season. What a weird year.

Defense: C

I am worried about the defense for this reason: we tried everything and nothing worked well. Four men rushes. Slow. Three men with a zone blitzer. Rarely worked. Dog blitzes. Picked up. Soft cover two. BYU picked us apart. Tight man. Saved by Tribble. It was a rough day.

The defensive line is the start of the problem. First the good. Nick Larkin is having a strong year. He hustles, applies good pressure and is a solid tackler. Giles is smart and hustles. He’s a little slow so far, but he is encouraging. Raji. Ugh. I thought this guy would be all ACC. Right now he is taking plays off and looks like half the player he was last year. Willis has been good this season, but struggled yesterday. Brady Smith was overmatched. Deska looked slow. The bright spots of the reserves were Albright and Willette. Both played smart and made some nice plays.

The linebackers were a mixed bag. Francois and Akins had unbelievable games. Good tackles. Great hustle. Dunbar is not playing to last year’s level. Pruitt had his first invisible game of the seaosn. Toal is a shell of himself and Speilman caught him avoiding contact. He still has great speed and instinct, but I think the shoulder is going to limit his ability to tackle. McLaughlin played okay but needs to get better in pass coverage. Herzlich looked pretty good for a true freshman.

The secondary. Despite giving up thousands of yards, this might have been their best day. Tribble played great. Silva saved the day and was doing a better job in coverage. Morris looked slow but hung in there. Anderson was really slow on the safety blitz, but he tries hard and is a solid tackler. The biggest problem is that they get no help from up front and by design our pass defense gives the opponent cushion. Against a team like BYU they will pick us apart all day.

Special teams: C-

Jesus. First the good. Ayers had a nice game. Our punt and kick coverage has improved.

Now the bad. Why are we playing this peakaboo nonsense with Smith and Tribble and then not letting Smith return the ball? Tribble’s fumblitis on punts scared me. (Survival Ross deserves a game ball for saving his ass.) Is it time to give Smith a chance to return punts?

The worst was Ohliger. Missing short field goals is one thing, but PATs!?! The more I learn the worse I feel. It is one thing to see a sports shrink, but getting weird about your freaking gum. Spit it out for Christ sakes! Pumping up the crowd and then missing looked clownish. This guy should have been done with us two years ago. Why is he still kicking? Let him handle kickoffs and nothing else.

Overall: C+

Winning ugly is better than losing ugly. But this is not a good football team right now. They have some really good players but the team is not putting it all together. And now that we are a quarter into the season it is safe to say the Defensive Line is going to be an ongoing problem. Unless Raji flips a switch and starts playing well again, Spaz is going to have to pull out every trick in the bag.

Now onto a very bad NC State team. Does anyone know what to expect from us?

What a strange season…


Zlax45 said...

The peakaboo thing with Smith and Tribble is neccessary so that the other team can't just kick to Tribble on every kickoff and we will ge teh ball to Smith at least 50 percent of the time using that system

fluxt said...

O'Brien did the same thing with Blackmon before too.

Deacon Drake said...

Ohlinger's problem isn't psychological. He has never been a mechanically sound place kicker. He has relied on brute force (he does have a strong leg, won't argue that) to end up kicking at the NCAA level, but has clearly never been taght how to correctly strike a ball. Much like a hacker's golf swing, he can hit the ball straight 50% of the time, but change any single element (weather, timing, kick rush, distance) and the probability of a mishit increases exponentially.

This is what usually separates the guys who play soccer and rugby that can kick the crap out of the ball yet would be about a 25% kicker from 35+ from the guys who earn scholarships.

Kicking PAT's is a much different approach. Minimal power is required, and the premium is on timing and elevation. Ohlinger has never been able to elevate his kicks due to his poor mechanics. His PATs come out like 50+ attempts.

In the end, you can't blame the kid. He just doesn't hit the ball well. You have blame the coaches who recruited him and failed to identify this before bring him on campus. All this talk about gum and sports psychologists will never make him an 80% kicker.

NYC Eagle said...

Agree fully w/ you and Deacon on Ohliger. He was pulled last year and seems to have regressed. I keep thinking he'll be like David Gordon - an infuriating mess who ended making one of the biggest kicks in school history. Maybe that will happen if he's restricted to only attempts of 45+ yards, but the thought of him lining-up in Tallahasee or Miami or at Alumni against the Hokies is horrifying. O'Brien, as stubborn as he is, has to make the switch or the team will lose confidence in the coaches.

Per my message last week re: AC, I'm here to eat crow for my dismissal of AC for fumblitis. The fumble by LV was brutal (although some credit has to be given to the guy who made the strip). I still have more confidence in LV, but the plan needs to be to ride 'em both and then play "FTS" football (FTS football is the famous Dan Henning strategy of a "Feed the Stud" running game).

All said, Ryan continues to amaze. BC will always have a chance with him picking apart defenses back there. Ryan is making Bible look good, which is remarkable considering the amount of pro QB's that have come thru the program and looked sub-par. Has Bible and the play-calling improved or is Matt Ryan just that much better at finding the 2nd and 3rd reads? (prob both). As we saw in the first OT, the play-calling continues to suck sometimes.

And lets keep things in perspective here:

1) BC beat Clemson, who just went down to Tallahasee and beat FSU. Pretty impressive. We have the talent.

2) The defense was brutal and BC beat a mature and sound BYU squad.

3) BC turned the ball over 4 times against a good team and still won. Overcoming 4 turnovers against a solid team is a rarity.

3) They won despite a non-existant kicking game. 2 missed PAT's, had to go for 2 on another, and missed a very makeable field goal.

Considering the above, the 4 turnovers, and BYU's impressive offense, how the hell did BC win this game? I'm starting to believe.

Matty Ice: still undefeated.