Second viewing thougths and grade report: Clemson
This game was terrible to watch back. Terrible because of how poorly we played and also terrible because it could have been different. Clemson is not a great team and we have potential to be much better than we played. This was a disaster. Fortunately it is over. Let’s hope we learn and adjust quickly.
I know many of you are down on our QBs, but I actually have some hope for Tuggle. Sure his stat line was terrible, but there were eight catchable balls that our WRs and TEs did not come up with. He held the ball a bit too long at times, but showed a decent understanding of the defense and looked great running the ball. The only times we showed life was in the second half when we used him in the shotgun with zone option plays or stretch runs for the RBs. Please build on that! Tuggle’s deep balls were not great. He hung them up too much and forced them into coverage. He also has to be more careful with batted balls. In total I marked seven bad decisions. The first INT wasn’t his fault. I don’t know if Tuggle will become a star. I don’t know if he can be better than Crane/Davis. But he is better than David Shinskie. Shinskie made some poor decisions on holding the ball too long and pulling out from under center too early. I didn’t see anything encouraging.
Although his stats don’t show it, I thought Harris played well. He made some great blocks and when given the opportunity turned in some positive runs. Haden didn’t play as well. He dropped a pass and really struggled finding holes. He was also impatient on some of his reads.
The WRs didn’t have a chance to show much but they weren’t particularly focused. Gunnell had one of his worst games with numerous drops. Larmond was a non-factor and worse, allowed himself to get pushed out of bounds a deep route.
The Tight Ends were the only group that played well throughout. They both blocked well, ran decent routes and made catches. We need to go two TE more and get them the ball on quick, short throws.
I’ve already spent too much time documenting the problems of the offensive line. Let me say this, there are plenty of teams that use traps and zone. Michigan with RichRod is one of them. I don’t believe you have to be exclusive to one in order to be successful. That said, our guys are confused. Their spacing and assignments are all over the place. That is on the coaches. I am not privy to the behind the scenes rumors, so I don’t know who is doing what. All we do know is that they need major adjustments. At UNH Sean Devine used a system like the one we used last year. I don’t think he’s somehow forgot how to teach and implement. I think somewhere along the lines things got complicated. Simplifying is the key. As for the individual performances, watching it back, Castonzo played decently. There were some curious decisions (which I don’t blame on him) but the majority of the time he won his battle. Tennant was also not as bad the second time around. Rarely were the breakdowns coming from him being beat. Claiborne had an uneven day. As I showed, he got beat a few times and was also out of position. Lapham, as usual, struggled with the speed guys on the edge. The new guys Cleary and Richman were lost but still did okay when engaged with a defender.
The offensive scheme was a grab bag mess. That mostly falls on the feet of Tranquill. We don’t seem to have a set of plays or formation that we can rely on. I’ve beaten to death the offensive line woes, but I am also troubled by the failure to adjust. Clemson kept eight guys in the box and we didn’t do anything to exploit it. Where was the play action? Why not go to an empty backfield on the 8 men fronts. Why not use more screens? There are a million counters. I don’t know why we didn’t use them. While we didn’t sustain anything, the offense looked best in the second half when we used more shotgun, stretches and asked Tuggle to run. There better be more of that. Tranq seems like the early fall guy but there is plenty of blame to go around. Devine and Brock have both been offensive coordinators before. They should be embarrassed by this performance too. Ryan Day is the alleged offensive coordinator in waiting. He should be embarrassed. This group of talent is not going to be the greatest offense of all time but it is much better than it showed. Tranq and his staff need to find things that worked and figure out how t get them to work better and in an actual game.
The defensive line wasn’t dominant but very productive and active. Giles is adjusting well to the inside and looks good. Albright lost contain a few times but was very good. Newman also lost contain but had one of his best games in a long time. Ramella was okay and even dropped into coverage a few times. Hats off to Rossi for clogging up the middle and taking many of Scafe’s snaps. Ramsey earned his first sack of the season. Holloway, O’Neal and Deska all got snaps. As a whole the front four played well. It wasn’t until late in the game that they finally started allowing chunks of yards up the middle.
The linebackers were excellent again. Through three games I would say LeGrande is the best player on defense. He’s making plays and making tackles and is much better than Kuechly and DiSanzo in coverage now. Kuechly was active again and looked good. DiSanzo also did a good job and showed more speed than I expected. Bagan had another surprisingly productive day given his limited snaps. Morrissey was effective too. Clancy played but wasn’t near the ball as often.
Credit Rollins for being great in run support. He snuffed out numerous big plays. Fletcher also showed his great instincts. Gause played well and I was glad to see him force Spiller out of bounds in open space. Bowman was good. Davis made some good tackles and did a great job reading the QB on the INT. Johnson also played well.
That might be one of the best defensively called games I’ve seen at BC in a long, long time. McGovern had Clemson off balance all day. He would have three down lineman and blitz. He’d have three down lineman and drop eight. At one point we only had two down lineman. There was a fair amount of blitz and although we didn’t pile up sacks we forced bad throws. In the redzone things were sharp. The guys knew where they had to be. Our base defense was strong. We rotated multiple guys. It was a shame to see the effort wasted.
Special teams: C-
The Spiller return was terrible. Based on what Spaz said, we weren’t even supposed to kick it to him. The coverage was terrible and no one had any lanes. Fortunately we settled down and Quigley’s directional punting got better.
The kick returns were…meh. We know he has speed but Smith has no feel of the blocking nor where he should go. He ran hard at least and didn’t shy from contact. Fox actually seems to get it. The blocking wasn’t very impressive and didn’t give either of them much to work with.
Gunnell’s bad choices on fair catches were another factor in making this a day to forget for him. We also need to do a better job blocking the gunners.
My seats were right above the BC tunnel. That gave me a front row seat to each entrance and exit during each delay. This team was beaten well before the clock ran out. What’s amazing is that the defense played with as much heart as they did and that Tuggle kept playing hard even when things were down because the body language of most of the team was terrible. I know we have deficiencies on offense but that doesn’t explain the problems we had on offense. In case you didn’t read it already, that was the fewest yards Clemson has ever allowed in an ACC game. We didn’t seem prepared and didn’t make any effective adjustment until the 3rd quarter. But forget about the execution for a moment. Forget about the emotions of the game. The most damning play of the day was punting on 4th and 2 from midfield in the second half. That was a waive of the white flag. Your D is playing its guts out and you are punting again? Spaz is new and will adjust but his decision there was playing not to lose.
I am not writing anything off, but that was a cold shower. We better have marked improvement. Don’t buy any spin about talent or BC rebuilding. We had a historically bad day and wasted a great defense. Our head coach now has to fix this.