Sunday, November 02, 2008

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Clemson

Before I get into the grades, I need to quickly address the growing debate in the comments section of the post-game thread. The reason I don’t post during the game and generally avoid specific criticism in the first post-game thread is that it lacks perspective. I watch the games back to see what I missed the first time around and because I also have the added benefit of a few hours to cool off. Perspective is also why I feel it is way too premature to predict how the Jags era will play out. It is also too premature to start saying if this season is over or a failure. Let’s let it all play out a bit before we start saying who is to blame and what needs to be done.

As for this game. The added perspective I spoke of was disheartening. Chris Crane was actually worse than I thought watching it live. The offensive line was also worse than I thought. The D has its problems, which I’ll get to, but wasn’t terrible. The special teams was what you saw. Now onto the grades.

Offense: D

First glance at Crane: No picks, 1 TD. Yeah! But not really. He had atrocious incompletes. Only four of those were drops. 12 were really poor throws. Now I am glad he threw it away a few times, but his decision making on a whole was not good. I think many of his problems are coming even before the snap. When he gets to the line he is not taking it all in, because when the pressure comes he rushes the throw to the side from where the pressure is coming. Clemson must have picked up on this because they basically left the other side of the field alone. Crane never adjusted to take advantage of the easy completions. The spread/option run (something he used to do well) was also blown up when he kept the ball. His downfield throws were way off target. Even a few of the bright spots like his runs were probably missed opportunities to put the ball downfield. Our line didn’t do him any favors (I’ll get to that in a minute) but he’s got to be more accurate in general. His best moments were when they were playing zone and he had time. Clemson wisely moved away from that. I am in the get Davis on the field camp. I don’t think Crane is the sole reason we are losing but he is a big, big part. Can he play well enough to win the division? Sure, if the other teams play into our hands like NC State did. However, I don’t have much hope now.

The offensive line had their worst game of the season. Prior to this game my only complaint about Matt Tennant’s great season was his snapping. Saturday he gave me a lot more to complain about. In addition to more errant snaps, he had multiple miscues in his pass protection and when we ran the ball. Clemson waited for him to engage and then sent someone, leaving Tennant a step behind the rusher. Castonzo did well in pass protection and our best runs were behind him and Ramsey. However, there was an awkward screen pass where he was just left standing around. Block someone! Ramsey remained consistent. Claiborne wasn’t as bad as he’s been but still wasn’t good. Lapham really struggled, including a killer holding penalty. The lines attempt at a counter was also poor. When Crane gets good protection he can be serviceable. If we are going to win any of our remaining games it comes down to this unit.

Josh Haden is coming on which is encouraging. He looked good at reading holes and hitting them hard. He’s also proving tough to tackle. His TD was purely from his own second effort. Harris didn’t have as many good carries, but the blocking in front of him was not great. He also had a drop. I do think Harris is the better of the two at picking up the blitzes. McCluskey remains reliable. I think we should get him in the passing attack earlier in the game.

BRob had a solid game although his fumble hurt. Gunnell had a drop but remains our best run after the catch guy. Momah was solid and the fade route in the end zone (that drew a flag) might be our best red zone play. Megwa looked good. I hope he makes it back next year. Purvis did not have a great game. I am glad he is getting involved, but he had two drops and hasn’t turned a short catch into a long run in a few games.

Get your knives out because I am going to be an apologist for Logan. Live, I didn’t feel he called a good game. Watching back I think the issues were more about the line and QB. He stuck with the run (which we all wanted). Combined they rushed 30 times for 120 yards. Not impressive but certainly not impatient or abandoning the run. I think he mixed up the type of passes (screens, roll outs, short, deep). Not much of it clicked but it wasn’t because Clemson played so well. Now the part that he deserves criticism for is Chris Crane. Crane has been suspect since this summer. That’s on Logan. Crane still has decision making problems. That’s on Logan. They’ve tried different approaches and the results are not changing. That’s on Logan. Now for whatever unstated reason, they are not making changes with Davis or in the offense they run with Crane. That’s on Logan and Jags.

Defense: C-

Ramella lost Harper on his TD run and couldn’t close a few other times. He was good against the run. Giles played well. Brace continued his strong play. He was probably the best performer on the defense. Raji played well again. Hat’s off to Rossi. He was moved over to DT for this game and made a few plays. Scafe looked good. Newman played well. Ramsey was decent. The defensive line lacks a great pass rusher, but they are pretty good and the only unit where the second teamers don’t represent a major drop off from the starters.

The linebackers were more inconsistent. All three starters made some big plays (McLaughlin and Herzy’s INTs were huge). But they also struggled at times. In fact, when in zone they are good in pass coverage. When they get into man situations, they are getting exploited (especially Herzy). Francois filled in well for Toal and was fairly active. Spiller gave them all problems and they all took bad angles. I am assuming the troubles making tackles and taking bad angles is because these guys are getting gased. They never come off the field, which is not how we’ve used LBs the past few years. Saturday I found out why. When the backups got on the field, big plays happened. On Spiller’s first big pass catch (the wheel route) he came out of the backfield and Thompson didn’t even breathe on him. That allowed Spiller to reach the secondary in full stride and kept Davis out of position. Clemson got into the red zone and scored. The drop off in play is scary. We need fresh legs and we need to develop some future LBs.

Paul Anderson had another decent game, although he did miss a few tackles on Spiller runs. Davis struggled, but deserves credit for stopping Spiller on one of the long runs. Bowman played well. Fletcher got overly aggressive trying to stop the run and got burned for a deep route. Gause is looking better.

Spaz actually called a decent game. We brought pressure nearly 20% of the time. My only problem with the blitzes is that too often they fail to surprise or get true pressure on the QB. The biggest problem with the D was giving up the big play and that was because we kept missing tackles.

Special Teams: D-

The punt block was good. They design it well and have the right mix of guys.

The punt return didn’t do much but I think Gunnell does a good job of judging when to run and when to fair catch and doesn’t let it roll.

The punting was decent. Quigley got a good bounce on one. There wasn’t a ton of distance, but they get off clean and have good coverage. The Flutie directional stuff isn’t working. Might as well have Quigley do that.

Aponavicius…do I really need to write anything? At this point you might as well try Flutie there. Or Quigley or pull another SuperFan out of the stands. Great kid. Great story. Really, really below average kicker.

The kickoffs were well intentioned but not well executed. The one that went out of bounds. Bad. The Spiller return after we took the lead was terrible. I understand using Quigley for short directional kicks, but the tackling and lanes and containment were terrible. What’s going on there? FSU is going to be drooling watching our special teams film.

Jeff Smith wasn’t the main problem on kick returns this week. The blocking is terrible. Another situation where they don’t seem to be on the same page. Clemson guys ran down the field untouched. Unacceptable.

Overall: D

To Jags’ credit the team was down 17-0 and came back. The fake punt and the block were great rolls of the dice. I appreciate going for it on fourth and also think keeping Aponavicius on the bench after the misses were the right calls. The problems were not in game planning or in-game adjustments. The problems that are on Jags is we have been pathetic on kickoffs and kick returns for a year a half. That’s on him. Crane is bad, but through three quarters of the season, they haven’t figured out a way to turn the lemon into lemonade. That’s on him. Most disconcerting, is the play of the offensive line. That’s Jags' baby. Last year he and Bick did a fabulous job with the line. This year they’ve been very inconsistent and the right side hasn’t been very good. In fact everyone is focusing on a QB change when maybe we should be talking about reshuffling the right side or trying some of the bench guys.

Things are now off track. Jags needs to get it back on track. Stay tuned.


Angry Eagle said...

Jags: F
Logan: F
DeFillippo: F

chicagofire1871 said...

I find it funny that I'm hoping for a bowl...even Boise:)

Question on the Megwa play having seen it only once in a bar: Was that just a typical football accident or did Crane hang him out to dry?

GBM said...

Just a freak accident. I still don't know what happened. Sucks that he's out for the year, per Conroy.

mmason said...

AtlEagle is right on--D's galore...but now we have ND coming to the Heights with what they think as a shot at taking BC down. What will they try to do to exploit our massive dysfunctional ineffective football team? What can we do for triage? They know the option--hell, they ran it forever until of late. Their O Line is frighteningly like our own. Inconsistent and flawed. They're a first half team--hot for awhile but easily exposed. Forget all this Jag & Logan obituary stuff--How do we beat the hated ND in our own house? Any thoughts?

Joe Grav said...

Wow. The Megwa injury was Crane's fault too??? I've heard it all. :)

Yeah, this one was frustrating. I'm glad it was on ESPNU, or else I would have taped it and forced myself to watch again.

Bravesbill said...

The Megwa injury wasn't really anyone's fault. Megwa caught the pass, took a few steps and got his legs taken out from under him on a hard hit. Not much he could really do there.

A.Simmz said...

I think Megwa's injury is on Crane a bit. He did it last week with Rich Gunnell too. Marvin Austin was getting ready to decapitate Gunnell last week when Crane threw it over the middle to him. He's gotta see that guy closing and go elsewhere. Instead, he stares the guy down for 5 seconds so defenders can pick it or tee off on the receiver. It's happened to Purvis multiple times this year.

Also, I don't understand the logic of putting Herzy on a WR all game. He was stuck covering Jacoby Ford, the fastest guy in the ACC. That's just not fair. Would it kill Spaz to bring a nickel back in occasionally or have one of the safeties double team?

About Five said...

Blitzing predictable means that Spaz has poor schemes. Why would this change at this point in the season?

If Spaz lacks good schemes, short of dumping him, wouldn't the NFL offensive coordinator jags have seen it and helped correct it? If jags is not capable is he then not going to ask Logan who could tell you what he would least like to see from an attacking defense? If you think there is a problem with predictable blitzing then at this point that is a sign of a bigger problem.

Angry Eagle said...
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Eagle1 said...

We picked up a 2-star QB recruit from NJ yesterday. More 2-stars. I love it. The future looks bright. His films do remind me a lot of Paul Petersen, though.

flutie22phelan20 said...

As I think is pretty evident, I'm not afraid of criticizing the coaching staff.

But for those of you calling out Spaz, you have absolutely lost your minds. The defense was responsible for 14 offensive points scored in the second half. They let up ten points to Clemson...that were the direct result of Spiller's kick-off return, and Megwa's fumble.

They forced turnovers; they scored. They came out of halftime and played exceptionally well. They put BC in a position to win, plain and simple. Without a good defensive effort that game would not have been within 40 points.

Did CJ Spiller make the defense look silly on a few occassions? Absolutely. But, after all, he was one of the top recruits in the nation, and is probably one of the fastest -- if not the fastest -- players in the conference. So you'll have to excuse me for failing to get worked up about that.

Go back and look through the stats. See if you can locate ONE offensive drive. Just one. Try. How many times did BC string together more than two first downs? When an offense is incapable of running more than six plays before punting, you have absolutely no chance to win a regular game. Thanks to the efforts of the defense, BC had a chance.

There was one coordinator who put BC in a position to win. He's the same coordinator who has been doing so for about a decade now.

Erik said...

I've been saying it since the 1st quiarter of the game and am still saying it 2 days later, the biggest disappointment with the coaching is the non-stop shotgun formation. IF they had a 15% success rate, that would be bad. But they have a 0% success rate throughout the game and NOT ONCE change it up. I remember two straight plays under center, in good runnign situations, and both plays ran play-action pass.

I know I'm no expert like an actual NCAA coach, but I can't accept not mixing up the looks when you're 0-for-10 or whatever running that shotgun look.

PS - we were lucky to rally from 17, that wasn't because of Jags, it was mostly lucky bounces.

BCMike said...

Eagle1, we have made a living on two Montel Harris, Jamie Silva, and Kiwi.

I get into recruiting just like the rest of us, but the truth is it's a crap-shoot.

Deacon Drake said...

Sorry, the Megwa injury is not Crane's fault. He's a receiver and he's going across the middle; he made the catch in stride and knew he had the yardage. He has to know to protect himself and get low. It would be one thing if he got hit extending for a bad pass, but to say this is also Crane's fault is ignorant. Heap on 39 pass attempt for 116 yards- that is Crane's fault.

Also, on the long Spiller return, I could have sworn I saw Ron Brace on kick coverage. I don't care if he runs a fricking 4.7; big guys like that do not have the agilty to play kick coverage. Fact.

One or two play and the game probably swings in BC's favor (granted, it required a little luck to get to that position after digging the hole)... not too bad for a D performance. Too bad about the D performance.

Ralph said...

I could not agree with you more Erik. The fact that Crane can only play in shotgun is unacceptable. I was in the stands and when I saw they were in the shotgun AT THE ONE YARD LINE I was in disbelief. If your at the one yard line, you should be able to line up in an I-Formation and give the ball to McCluskey to pound it in. Stop forcing our RB's to consistently get the ball 5-7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

downtown_resident said...

big guy, the shotgun at the goal line thing is Steve Logan. They used that formation last year inside the 10-yard line and then threw out of it most of the time because we had no semblance of a run game. I stated in my post yesterday I think that was a big factor in our loss to FSU last year.

Just for clarification, while I am beginning to be concerned about the state of the program, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, I think (barring some catastrophic collapse) any final judgments about coordinators wait until after Season 3 of the Jags era, and the head coach can't really be evaluated until after Season 4.

Eagle1 said...


Not a total crap shoot. The teams that consistently get 4 and 5 stars are consistently good.

I want to do more than "make a living." I want to be in the $250K+ tax bracket that's about to get it in the ass so that we can start getting into some BCS bowl games.

BCMike said...


I agree it's not a total crap-shoot, but it's more of that than an exact science.

But yes, I'm not delusional enough to think we're better off with nothing but two star recruits instead of 5 star guys...but just from looking at our own roster how some of the 4-star guys have panned out vs. some of the 2-star guys, there's really just about the same amount of hit and miss.

Eagle All Access said...

I think the star ranking mean alot more in recruiting than you guys are giving it credit for. For every Jamie Silva or Kiwanuka there are about 10 players like Tebow or Mcfadden that are highly rated and are top NFL prospects. If you look at the top rounds of the NFL draft most of the players selected early were high rated recruits in high school.I know there are plenty of good diamonds in the rough, but I still think it is more important to bring in top talent.

Angry Eagle said...
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Bravesbill said...


ATL has been very touchy the past few weeks with those who have disagreed with him. Not a big surprise. Although in fairness, he has backed off a bit.

downtown_resident said...

Bravesbill = blog envy

Greg said...

At the end of the day, this is Atl's blog. He can do whatever he wants in terms of comments and if people don't like it, they shouldn't come over. It is like being in his house; he gets to make the rules. Don't like it? start your own blog.

Angry Eagle said...

OK, I'll take my nonconforming comments elsewhere. Pretty friggin weak, Atlanta. You should be ashamaed of yourself.

chicagofire1871 said...

This is my favorite blog to visit. ATL is great and gives insightful commentary that I don't get in any local or nationwide press. Anyone who begrudges him that, is a lunatic.

eagleboston said...

Eagle 1,

Jordan McMichael was a highly rated 4 star recruit 3 years ago and he has barely seen the field.

What was Lars Anderson? A 2-star? Maybe a 3-star?

Ignore the recruiting rankings. If they were truly accurate, USC would win the title every year.