Predictability is offensive
I haven't loved the play calling by Tranq, but felt the bigger problem on offense is lack of execution and using a grab bag of plays and offensive philosophy. But some are starting to feel that BC is entirely predictable and at this point our players are tipping plays:
The stop of the Eagles' Montel Harris was particularly pivotal on Saturday --- and Maryland saw the play coming.
"The guards were kind of giving away their stances the whole game, so the two guards were pretty heavy up front," linebacker Alex Wujciak said. "I think we knew they were going to run the ball. Coach [Don] Brown had an awesome call for it."
Long time reader Patrick M. has a sobering assessment of our offensive ineptitude. Here is his research (which was already posted on Eagle Action):
BC is 112th in the nation in total offense --- which happens to be the worst performance of any BCS-conference school. We are converting 26.7% of the time on third down. We have been absolutely shut down by the ND defense --- 81st in the country --- and the NC State defense, 47th in the country.
There's only one ACC team that is even close to BC for offensive ineptitude --- Maryland. Maryland has converted 28.9% of third downs this season...so, they're not much better than us, perhaps owing to the fact that they too have a freshman QB. In fact, they weren't better than us until yesterday when they converted 10 out of 19 3rd downs. That stat, of course, does not include the 2 out of 3 4th downs they converted; those two were on the same TD drive, and one was a 4th and 7, where we gave up a nearly uncontested 8 yard pass.
We have scored 14 touchdowns on offense this season. To pick a point of comparison, let's go with Dana Bible at NC State: they have scored 30 touchdowns. That is, the offensive coordinator that we wanted to run out of town has been more than twice as effective as Mr. Gary Tranquil.
We have gotten 103 first downs this season, a little more than 14 per game. Thankfully, that doesn't make us the worst BCS conference team --- only second worse, as Vanderbilt is even more futile. Of course, I'm not sure we should be comparing the ACC Atlantic defenses to those of the SEC, but that's a more subjective matter. Maryland has only gained 104 first downs this year --- although that did not stop them from marching out to a 24-7 lead.
So, if you thought you were watching a historically poor BC performance this season --- you are. I have not tracked back to the 1995 and 1996 D.H. seasons, and those (judging by the scores in our media guide) had a similar level of offensive ineptitude. But we are undoubtedly watching the worst offensive performance in more than 15 years ---- and quite likely in more than 20.
Finally, and scarily, BC's groupings might be tipping off the other team. Also from Eric Hoffses at Eagle Action:
Each game I personally chart each and every play noting whether it was a run or passing play and what type of personnel package was in the game. In the 2nd half I noticed something disturbing---Maryland cornerbacks were turned towards the line of scrimmage with their backs to the sidelines on 1st downs when they saw anything but 11 personnel on the field. I thought to myself that this was pretty gutsy. However after analyzing some data I can see why the cornerbacks were lined up like that.
First, let's look at 1st down play calling. I took every first down play, regardless if the play was negated by a penalty or not to see if there were any trends. Out of 28 1st down play calls, BC had 18 running plays and 10 passing plays. Granted one of the running plays was actually a play action pass call that Rettig had to escape the pocket and run out of, but it might have been more effective to see that run to pass ratio closer to 50/50. Also, those statistics might be skewed a little bit since BC was forced to pass so much in the 4th quarter.
My problem was less with the ratio of runs to passes on 1st down, but more with how they came. The Eagles started the game by running on 8 1st downs in a row. With Harris running pretty effectively wouldn't that have been the perfect time for a play action pass?
Perhaps the most troubling thing to me though is how predictable the Eagles were with their personnel packages. Out of Rettig's 33 pass attempts, all but one was run with 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) on the field. The one pass play not run with 11 personnel, came out of 12 personnel (1RB 2 TE). In 12 personnel BC had 1 pass attempt and 8 rushing attempts. Out of 21(2 RB, 1 TE) personnel the Eagles had 3 rush attempts, out of 22 (2 RB 2 TE) personnel they had 6 rush attempts, and out of 23 personnel they had 2 rush attempts.
So let's break all of this down. When BC did not have 11 personnel on the field they had 1 pass attempt and 19 rushing attempts. If I can notice that do you think the Maryland defensive coaches did?
Still think talent is the main issue here?