After watching the game back, I am even more frustrated. There were some bad breaks and bad calls from the officials, but this game was winnable. The talent difference between the teams is not that big. And in game management could have turned the game at different points. Getting six points off of two turnovers and blowing the last possession of the first half and the first possession of the second half, killed us.
It is too early to declare anything about Rettig. After starting rough, he settled in and looked promising. I hope he recovers quickly, because I would like to see more from him and still think he has great potential. Miike Marscovertra played ok, all things considered. He made some horrible passes, still doesn't have great pocket awareness, but showed enough to let me know we can beat bad teams with hi as QB. He seems okay on the slants. The deep and intermediate stuff is a killer though. He also needs to get rid of the ball faster.
I can't really fault Harris. The other teams are keying on him, so there is not much he could do. Phifer was okay. On the third down play after the second fumble, McCluskey pass blocked on the left while the pressure came from the right. I don't know if he should have been right to help Marsco, but is sure looked like he made a mistake that cost us a TD.
I can see why Matt Millen is confused. With the way most of the WRs played, you would think we would have a tough time beating a flag football team. But this group of WRs is better than nearly any combo BC has had in the last 15 years. They are not all stars but they are good enough to beat a bad Notre Dame team. Saturday night was not their best night. Swigert stepped up, but Lee, Momah, and Coleman all had drops. The TEs were fine and perhaps a little underused.
Notre Dame loaded the box. That was going to put a lot of pressure on the OL regardless of who was the QB. I understand that and good teams have done it to our great OLs in the past. My problem with this line is two fold. The penalties (AC, Spinney and Lapham all got flagged for costly mistakes). The repeated mistakes (when are we going to give Lapham help with speed rushers? Letting delayed blitzers waltz through the middle of the line). I know it is tough to run against a crowded box, but our push is not up to BC standards. I also don't like the shuffling. Claiborne was on the bench, then came in while Cleary sat. In the 4th quarter the left side of the line used second teamers. What's going on? I've said this in other places, so let me put in on record here: this is on Sean Devine. I hear different excuses -- "he's not teaching his system," "it's Tranq's fault," "the talent level has dropped off" etc. Devine may be a great coach shackled by other bad coaches. I don't know. What I do know is that the line has not performed to BC standards or consistently for two years. There is talent there. Regardless of system, Devine needs to get these guys going and performing. The BC OL job is one of the best on staff. We've had great OL coaches in the past and it can be a springboard to better things. We need a better coaching for these guys ASAP.
I am not going to rehash all the gripes about Tranq. I will simply state the obvious and the disappointing. We don't have even five plays that we can execute under any circumstances for positive yards. It is pathetic. The other issue is Tranq's inability to adjust. Notre Dame was stacking the box waiting for use to throw on them. But we couldn't. Simple passes. Short slants. Curls for the TEs. That is a coaching issue. Also, he kept trying things that didn't work -- like screens instead of things that did -- bootlegs. And then there are simple, pop warner level issues. We run the zone-option read consistently. Yet the QB never, ever keeps it to run. That makes the play useless. Don't get me started on the bazooka/wildcat. Notre Dame got killed by Denard Robinson running in space, yet we only Wildcat once and in the first series?!?
I feel for Alex Albright. He's been one of the nice surprises of the season so far (although he did get swallowed up on Crist's TD run). He put decent pressure on Crist. I like Edebali. He is showing good instincts and hustle. Quinn was a little jumpy and didn't do much. Newman was okay. Scafe was good, although they did gut us up the middle with shovels and draws. Newman was fine.
I saw some chipiness from Kuechly early in the game. I don't know what that was all about. Luke was good but missed a few tackles (which is rare) and got blocked out a few times. Millen captured Herzy situation well -- he's still a little stiff, but getting better every week. In pass coverage he seems a step slow. And on his blitzes he almost got there. But he still has great instincts and seems to know where the play is going. KPL wasn't as good as past weeks. He missed some tackles. Devitto saw action but didn't do a whole lot. I remain disappointed we are not doing more with our LB depth. Why not use more 3-4 packages? Or why not rotate more? Kuechly doesn't need to come out, but Herzy and KPL could use some breathers and you never know if one of the backups might make a play.
Donnie Fletcher played well. He wrapped up and did well in coverage. People were blaming Gause but two of those calls against him were bad. Also he didn't get much safety help. Wes Davis -- who I like -- left Gause hanging a few times and also lost Ruddolph on the TD. Noel looked very good. LeGrande was okay. Fox was good.
We actually blitzed a fair amount and when Crist had to scramble his throws were off the mark. Yet we still had trouble getting to him. Also our goaline defense -- usually a strength -- looked lost. As I mentioned, I don't think the safeties did a great job helping out the corners. I don't think the defense is the problem but Saturday night was not their best.
Special Teams: C
The kick off coverage was poor and gave Notre Dame a huge boost in field position. Quigley got a few lucky bounces, but still kicked well. Gause was okay on returns. So is Swigert.
Glad to see Freese nail long FGs. He may end up being our only offensive weapon.
In my post game reactions, I said Spaz was either cowardly or incompetent with how he handled the final possession before the half. He sent a message to everyone in the Stadium that he didn't believe his team could win. He can pass blame to the players and say they screwed up, but he was letting the clock just run. If we score there we enter the half done five and have the ball to start the second half. Despite all the issues, the game wasn't over. The other bad move was going with the second teamers with about 10 minutes left. The comeback would have been a long shot, but Spaz didn't even go hurry up or do anything to get us back in. Whatever lesson he is teaching the team with this stuff is lost. Whatever strategy he is imposing is not a winning one. I won't even get into how flat the team looked to start the game and on the sidelines. This is Notre Dame. In prime time. Most BC teams would need to be calmed down by their head coach. Why was ours so dead?
This is going to be the toughest week of Spaz's coaching career. His fledgling head coaching career is at a crossroads. He needs to rally the team and win or else this year could fall apart.