Second viewing thougths and grade report: Wake Forest
Watching this back made me feel much better about our offense, made me worry less about the defensive lapses but really made me question some of the game management decisions. It’s a win though and gave us a glimpse of this team's potential.
Dave Shinskie’s 180 was the biggest reason for the win. I’ve been in Tuggle’s corner, but Shinskie was pretty impressive. If we are on the upside of his learning curve, we are going to score often this year. When I log plays, I mark bad plays from the QBs to include bad throws and bad decisions. Shinskie only had five bad plays yesterday. That’s Ryan-esque. The pass to McMichael was beautiful -- a good play fake, it hit him in stride and was right between the zones. Pantale’s TD showed the ability to buy time and make a good decision in chaos. Finally the Larmond throw was an NFL type throw -- plenty of speed and only where Larmond could get it. In addition to his throws Shinskie’s decisions were much better and he ran well when given the chance. Tuggle only got in for one play and it was broken. I feel for the kid, but think he will be on the bench for a while if Shinskie keeps playing this well.
The offensive line played much better. The left side (Castonzo and mostly Richman) were nearly perfect and dominated their match ups. Tennant was good but did have a few mental errors on dumb penalties. Lapham was much better than last week, especially in pass protection. The starter with the most problems was Claiborne. He got blown up on Tuggle’s one play and allowed some pressure on a few other plays. Overall though everyone was better. They didn’t look great pulling and trapping, but thankfully we did very little of it. Instead it was plenty of zone and they executed. The second unit offensive line entered the game together as a group in the second quarter. There was a holding penalty that killed the drive but they looked fine.
That was Josh Haden’s best game. His speed was known prior to his arrival, however, we have all wondered about his vision and feel for the offense. Yesterday he showed great patience in finding the hole and accelerating when it opened. He also made something out of nothing on a few occasions. His pass blocking was good too. Harris had a solid day. Productive but not nearly as explosive as Haden’s day. Obviously the biggest gaffe of Harris’ short BC career was not getting out of bounds on our latest possession. He owned up to the mistake. I think it was him just trying to make a play and thought he would pull up before he got to the sideline. Harris has been a pretty smart player so I don’t expect to sees something like that again.
Like Haden, Justin Jarvis had a breakout day. He showed it all: good hands and good run after the catch. They nullified what would have been a TD but even there he showed he can win in a jump ball situation. Gunnell looked better too. Nothing game breaking but he did a good job holding onto some tough passes and found the soft spots in the zone. Larmond’s TD was great and he beat two defenders. The other WRs did not get involved, but that is more on Shinskie, not the wideouts.
The Tight Ends might be the best part of the team. McMichael’s play was freakish in that he made a great catch and then turned on the wheels. Pantale also looked good. They all blocked well too.
The play calling was better than last week but I still had a few issues. First the good: the return of the running game. We used many more of the zone runs and it showed. Execution was better as was the productivity. This also opened up the play action, which made Shinskie's day easier. I liked the play design of the passing game too. We had deep throws into soft spots of the zone. Outside of the prevent (which I will get to later) the other questionable area was the redzone calls. They were curious in the Tuggle drive and ultra conservative in OT.
The defensive line played well enough but really needs to generate more pass rush. Albright made some nice plays but should be able to beat his man at least one time to get to the QB. Holloway made a few nice plays. Giles was okay inside. Rossi played well. Scafe helped make difference inside but also had a dumb penalty on one of our INTs. Ramella was pretty quiet. Newman made a few nice plays. Ramsey played but didn’t disrupt much.
The LBs had their moments, but were the real reason we gave up nearly 500 yards. First the good, DiSanzo had another strong day and is showing good speed and tackling. Clancy looked better and played well in place of LeGrande. McLaughlin was back, and while he made some big plays, he was also a liability. On Wake’s big 76-yard TD run, he bit and overpursued into a gap and clearly didn’t have the speed to catch the guy. He also got burned in pass coverage with guys running by him in his zone. Kuechly looked good and in my opinion should be the starter until McLaughlin is 100%. Morrissey made some nice plays but also struggled in the pass coverage he let his man get behind him (a no no in the prevent) on Wake’s final TD.
Rollins was only credited with one tackle but had a great day. He made some good deflections and showed good instincts. Fletcher struggled. He bit on play action for Wake’s first big pass and also should have made a play on the final TD. Bowman was okay but also was a factor in Wake’s one big run of the day. We’ve had great success with safeties coming up to make plays, but they also have to be the last line of success. Davis played well. Gause also played well. Johnson had the game saving tackle and also looked good in his other times.
I don’t think the defensive gameplan was the disaster the stats would lead you to believe. I will get into the prevent issue in the “overall section” but consider the following:
-- 76 of Wake’s 142 yards rushing came on one play
-- 166 of Wake’s total yards came in the final two drives and their overtime possession
-- Wake was 6-14 on third down and 0-2 on fourth
-- BC forced three turnovers
Once again we showed a variety of looks. We also blitzed more than people probably realized (seven times at least). We were ready for Wake’s different looks and did a good job on contain. Most of the problems (prior to the fourth) were not schematic but mental.
My problem with the defensive scheme was twofold. One, despite the blitz, we never got serious pressure on Skinner. We have to get more creative or do something on the defensive line.
The second issue was the prevent. I don’t know whose call it is but it was stupid. You’ve contained a QB like Skinner for most of the game. Why invite him to steal the game by playing soft coverage and not varying looks? Skinner’s smart and will find the soft spots if given time. Then with less than two minutes left you don’t mix anything up and also allow Skinner to march right down the field. And you didn’t have your best players on the field?!? I’ve mentioned the McLaughlin-Kuechly issue, but why is Morrissey on the field on the last TD? He’s a nice player, but the game is on the line. Terrible and nearly costly decisions.
Special teams: B
Mostly touchbacks on the kick returns.
Gunnell didn’t do much on the punt returns.
Quigley’s punts were solid as was the coverage.
Spaz deserves credit for the offense regrouping and looking better. As I mentioned, if not for a few mental breakdowns, we contained them on D through three quarters. When we intercepted Skinner with 7:32 left and up 14 the game is over (or should be). Yet we go ultra conservative and invite Wake back in the game. Our first drive post interception went seven yards and took up 2:25. Wake got the ball back on their 33 with 5:07 left. What was accomplished there? There is still plenty of time for them to still make their move! Shinskie gave you no reason to take your foot of the gas. He’d shown the ability to make the hard throws. Why try to eat clock so early? Then they compound the mistake with the prevent on the other end. Wake marches down the field to score. We get the ball back get a first down yet still try to just kill clock. Yes Harris made a mistake but why are we going so conservative? And once again we compound it with listless defense in Wake’s final possession. Even in the OT, our play calling was super conservative. Spaz has seen BC lose enough close games in his time by playing too close to the vest. I was hoping he would be more aggresive. Maybe this will be a much needed wake up call.
This team showed heart for bouncing back from Clemson and holding on when things were falling apart. The division is wide open so I hope our coaching staff plays to win and not just to lose. But as bad as things got, a win is a win and it was about time something went our way.