Sunday, October 10, 2010

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: NC State

I usually start these reviews with my mood after rewatching. "Was there hope for the future?" "Are things worse than I thought?" etc. Watching back today, I felt worse. A lot worse. Forget all the issues surrounding the program. Forget the tidal wave of criticism. I'll get into my Spaz game "theory stuff" later this week. What bothers me most is that we are failing at one of the basic jobs of any coach at any level and that is making players better each day. Some of the guys are playing better but many of our guys are not improving. They are making many of the same mistakes. That is not a talent issue. That is a teaching issue. When things are going wrong everything is magnified. I don't know if we have bottomed out but the next few weeks will be telling. Can the staff stop the bleeding and can they connect with their players? There are plenty of winnable games left on the schedule. BC has the pieces. I even think some of the coaches are very good. I just think the pieces are not working well together now. Let's hope that someone gets us turned in the right direction.

Offense: D

On Saturday I tweeted that Rettig with one leg would have been better than Shinskie or Marscovetra. Dave Shinskie is a lost cause. Do you realize now he has played significantly in 17 games? That's more time than Chris Crane ever got. It's approaching how much time Quinton Porter got. Do we really need to give it any more time. I understand that he was away from football for a long time, but his regression in some football basics is startling. As mentioned in the game, his footwork and balance are messed up. A few of the tips came as a result of him throwing in sort of a 3/4s motion. NC State totally confused him with where the pressure was coming from. He would point things out presnap and be completely wrong as the pressure came from the other side. This became a problem as he was checking down into the heavy coverage. To Tranq's credit, he gave him some easy throws to make. Shinskie couldn't do it. Marscovetra wasn't great. I don't think he is the answer as he still had trouble deciding when to stay in the pocket and still forced some bad downfield throws. But he seems capable enough of hitting some short passes. Maybe that is the best we can hope for (other than Rettig getting a bit healthier).

Harris played well enough. He made positive plays. In fact I don't think he is getting the ball enough. Really happy with Phifer -- he made people miss a few times. Williams's work was all done in garbage time, but he looked promising. McCluskey did a really good job lead blocking. If he can keep this up, he might get on an NFL roster.

The WRs were okay considering all the passes that we missed. Swigert seems to find enough space each time the ball gets near him. He should really be the focus of the QBs. Amidon's TD was in garbage time and he seems a little hyper in some of his play but he's got good upside as well. Even though he got the TD, Momah needs to do a better job holding onto the ball. Phillips is no longer a redshirt. Let's hope he makes a big impact. The TEs were fine but didn't really get a chance to do much good or bad.

There has been a lot of talk as to why Claiborne is not starting. I can say that he is not playing as well as he has in the past. Is it because they keep pulling him in and out? I don't know. I do know that when he pulls he often whiffs on his block. But when he is able to go straight ahead he still looks good. White has been playing more in place of Cleary and looking decent. The other starters were fine. There were fewer mistakes, but also not a ton of push.

Last year we broke nearly every BC rushing record in the book against this team. Last week Virginia Tech ran for more than 300 yards against NC State. We don't pass well, yet Dave Shinskie threw the ball 24 times. Harris only ran 14 times. I don't care that we were down early. I don't even care if they started crashing the line. Sometimes being effective on the ground is just about being stubborn until you wear them down or something breaks. Don't worry about being predictable running as players are already whining about how predictable our offense is. At this level predictability is not a problem. Execution is. Think of 2008 when Steve Logan was dealing with an equally frustrating QB in Chris Crane. Eventually he resorted to running the zone option 15-20 times a game because it was a play that Crane, Harris and the line could run. At this level, once you establish something like that you can then build on it. We have no bread and butter play. I've been harping on it because it is true. I don't know if Tranq is trying to adjust to each team but at a certain point you just have to worry about your own. Get some plays that work that any QB can perform.

Defense: C+

The defensive line is maligned but I think they played pretty well. In general they contained Wilson and even sacked him. Albright continues his strong season. Ramsey was good. Scafe was fine but had a dumb penalty. Newman was a bit quiet. O'Neal was fine. I keep waiting for Quinn to do something big. Holloway and edebali was hustling.

The linebackers had a bit of a letdown. Kuechly was very good although he did get beat on that one TD. KPL also struggled in pass coverage and seems to be overpusing a bit. Morrissey got lost contain on one of Wilson's scrambles and missed a few tackles. Devitto was okay. Herzy -- even with a bum leg and a busted hand -- is still pretty darn good. He was making good decisions, just a little slow. I remain frustrated that we are not rotating LBs more. Kuechly should play ever down, but there is no reason KPL, Morrissey and Herzy shouldn't get a breather for some of the other guys. Someone new might make a play.

Fletcher had another good game and is putting together a decent season. Davis's game was a little rough. He should have helped on the TD that went into Kuechly's area and missed a tackle. I know people are harping on Gause, but he was fine. LeGrande makes some good plays and is playing hard but the dumb penalties are killers.

I give McGovern credit. He mixed things up. We shifted the front four a lot. We blitzed a lot. We intercepted Wilson twice and slowed down their rushing. But we need to do more. I understand the philosophy but at this point we don't have the offense to compliment this type of scheme. We need to get the other team off the field faster.

Special Teams:C

Quigley is going to be the offensive MVP the way he is punting. He did a good job of pinning them in. The block was not Quigley's fault. I am actually surprised that NC State backed off after blocking the first one. I expect FSU to come after us since our first line guys let people walk in free.

Freese missed a FG but was still fine.

Fox and Gause got a lot of return chances and were fine.

Overall: D

Put aside some of the big picture things that are amiss and just focus on how Spaz handled this game. Why start the second half with Shinskie? Why start him at all? Why keep shuffling the OLine during the game? Why didn't we use the bazooka? Why are the QBs and WRs not on the same page? It just looked like another lifeless mess.


Walter said...

I didn't get to watch this game, but it looks like it was probably better that way.

The lack of the bazooka is very strange. It worked so well for us last year. Why haven't they been doing it?

Dan said...

Wait, did I read that right- they burned Shakim's redshirt?

Didn't get to see the game. Were there any Rettig sightings? Still limping?

chUck said...

Marscovetra needs to get at least one more shot before I write him off. Shinske should be done. We're past the point of no return with him. I honestly believe that Chase is the future, and if they can't beat FSU next week, this season is a sunk cost in my mind. We're halfway through the season, and 0-2 in conference. Digging out of a three loss hole to win the division with this current roster seems most daunting at best, impossible at worst. I say give Rettig time to get healthy, then turn the job over to him no matter what. No playing 2 and a half quarters and then having someone else finish out the game. Build the kid some confidence, get him some experience against D1 defenses, and start thinking about next year. A quarterback controversy is the last thing that BC needs right now. I'm not even going to touch the Spaziani/Defillipo aspect of this program. In the end the players are the ones who, like Bill said, are going to have to improve every day. We should be using these games as stepping stones for the program if we are unable to compete for a division title. We can argue about firing the coach(es) later, but in season players need to be the focus. They have 12 chances each year to go at full speed and the learning possibilities during each one of those chances need to be maximized. Starting with the quarterback. Get him as much time as possible and play with the next three years in mind. Obviously you need to still give seniors playing time; they've devoted a lot to this program and don't deserve to go out like that. But you the future also needs to be in the minds of every coach on this team, especially if things keep going in this direction.

Nick P. said...

ATL, thanks for the second viewing thoughts. I can't think of anything more painful than watching this game back. I'm glad I'm not writing this blog.

BCMike said...

Agree with much of what you said, but disagree on the Fox returns being "fine".

I don't know if he looks great in practice, but he's not had any returns I've seen that are a threat to go beyond the 25.

Stick Swigert back there or Amidon, who seems to have excellent straight-line speed.

Rob said...

Any thought behind burning both Williams and Phillips redshirt now? In garbage time?

blist said...

Maybe, just maybe, Spaz doesn't want the job and wants to ensure he's fired? Maybe he never wanted it, but expressed interest in it as a play to stay on as DC, and couldn't say no when it was offered to him?

Nothing makes sense anymore. I like GDF and the job he's done, but if he has to get fired to get Spaz out, then do it Fr. Leahy

cwm2005 said...

ATL, I agree with most everything you said.

I was surprised they burned Phillips redshirt, especially with our QB issues.

I do, however, think Quigley deserves most of the blame on the blocked punt. He was slow catch to kick, and the punt came out incredibly low. After the block, he was an asset though.

Freese missing the FG early was a killer as well.

Michael said...

We'll see if anyone has any interest in playing along with my questions, but with where we are headed I'm thinking about a couple of things historically. My tenure with BC goes back to the Coughlin days so it's been pretty good for me up until now. Here are my questions?

1) Can anyone ever remember a worse QB situation at the Heights? Is Shinskie the worst that has ever put on the maroon and gold? I've heard complaints about Hartsell (was with the Bears for a few years) and I couldn't understand why Porter got as much time as he did when Ryan was on the bench and clearly played better.

2) Has the coaching ever been worse? I know no one is fond of the Henning years but we were competitive. The final years of Bicknell were pretty bad I believe.

mod34b said...

ATL -- good report on the Offense. Not surprisingly BC has the lowest points/gm and yards/game in the ACC.

But I can't agree with you on the defense.

Yes, there was some decent individual play on D, but the defense as a whole is horrible.
Against NCSU, the defense allowed a pass completion rate of almost 75% and allowed 30 points.

This season, BC allows a 64.6% pass completion rate. That is not only the highest completion rate allowed by any defense in the ACC, it is the highest rate in the ACC going back to 2003 (last year of Yahoo team stats). BC gives up the highest number of pass compeltions per game in the ACC and is thrown on more than any other ACC team.

Nationally this season, we are 2nd to last in pass attempts against and completions against. Our pass defense is among the worst in the nation.

FSU, like NCSU, won't bother running against us much (yes, we are very good against the run), when they can pass the ball at will.

So, ATL, when you say "I give McGovern credit. He mixed things up," I would say instead that McGovern himself is mixed up.

How can we say our defense is good with these results? The defensive results are almost (but not quite) as appalling as the offensive results.

Erik said...

I think our only hope of avoiding a noon Maryland start is that they consider us to be so bad that they don't want us on TV at all, allowing us to play at 6:00.

Because let's face it, BC games are going to be 99% about tailgating and 1% about football until we can win another game.

Charles said...

Not to take the blame off the coaches, but we've faced John Tenuda defenses many times before, and at least had an idea of how to scheme for them. Shinskie's execution was pathetic, and he should be permanantly relegated to the bench.

Big Jack Krack said...

I'm at my NC office today and taking my medicine. At least the Wolfpack fans and other ACC enthusiasts aren't laughing at me.

What they are doing is asking me what has happened to a pretty darned good program - how could a team with many returning starters be so bad - so predictable, both offensively and defensively - so utterly unable to score - so pathetic with approach. What happened to BC's offense, what happened to mixing it up? How come you run the same plays over and over again?

How could anyone really play for those coaches? - basically that's what I'm being asked.

They feel sorry for me and BC, because everyone knows how tough it's going to be to get this going back in the right direction.

Have we hit rock bottom yet? Perhaps next week, when FSU will attempt to hang 60 points on us.

I guess when you have no QB capable of expanding the playbook, this is what you get. But there are bigger problems as well. I could complete 70 percent of my passes against this defense, and I'm 64 years old. Give me a break, McGovern. Are you thinking of any different approaches yet? You've got all sorts of experience on the defense, but these players seem to be going backwards. Why?

Tranquill - Be gone - now.

I could go on ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Go BC - figure this out.

EL MIZ said...

"I guess when you have no QB capable of expanding the playbook, this is what you get." -- Big Jack

I have a hard time saying this is Shinskie's fault. Its like buying a Toyota, expecting it to drive like a Porsche, and then being angry at Toyota because it doesn't drive like a Porsche. Shinskie is what he is -- a QB that isn't very good.

From the very limited amount of time Rettig saw, it was clear that he was head and shoulders better than the rest of the bunch. He throws with more zip, more accuracy, he has mobility. Why wasn't he the starter from DAY ONE? He enrolled in school early, right? This is a glaring COACHING issue, not a player issue. The Coaches F'ed up by not having Rettig as the starter from the close of spring practice.

I shudder to think what next week is going to be like in Tallahassee. That is a loud stadium and regardless of who we have at QB they are going to have jitters. I expect very little from our O. FSU just hung 45 on the U on the road. They will easily break 50 on this team. Maybe after another whooping we'll finally get GDF and Spaz talking about what they are personally going to do to remedy the situation, not finger-pointing, not blame laid at "we don't have the right players, Jags left us with a thin cupboard" etc. Man up, accept responsibility, and figure out how you can get this team playing at least RESPECTABLE football again.

EL MIZ said...

and also, if no QBs are adequate, we have the line, the TEs, and the RB depth to just run a Wildcat or Bazooka all game. The fact that Montel and Phifer combined for 18 carries and Shinskie and Marso combined for 32 pass attempts alone should give the offensive coaching an F for last week. WE CANT THROW! We have a good RB! AND a good backup! This is not rocket science.

Ry said...

El Miz, i think what the coaching staff may have been thinking is this:

"we haven't had a stud QB since Matt Ryan and we have managed to get by. Yeah sure, we lost straight two bowl games, but we were competitive in both of them. Shinskie had some bright spots he might be able to improve on this year. Rettig looks good but he could definitely use more time and if we can get through the year with Dave, why Chase now?"

Obviously that logic has not translated to success...and while it's easy to second guess that decision now I don't think it's fair to fault the coaching staff for expecting Shinskie to be adequate. What I blame them for is not being able to help him improve and taking too long to admit that the initial decision wasn't the right one.

Big Jack Krack said...

I'll try to offer constructive criticism from here on out.

Michael - "Can anyone ever remember a worse QB situation at the Heights? Has the coaching ever been worse?"

It was kind of fun to think back on the QBs when I was a student - Larry and Joe Marzetti, Eddie Foley (Glenn's Dad). Frank Harris came after I graduated and he was a star while I was in the Army. Those guys were better than Shinskie and Marsco. Joe Devito played some - he was probably equal to what we have now.

So we'll start from 1964 - so far I don't recall any QB being so badly coached or who had less ability than our current guys (not counting Chase.)

It will take awhile to remember them all.

Scott said...

I just don't see how you can ever say our offensive woes are not just a talent issue, when dealing with such deplorable talent.

QB: Since 2005 (year after Chris Crane), TOB/Jags pursued nothing by 2 star flyers/failures in. Applegate, Dom DAvis, Chris Johnson, Marsco. Did any of those guys have a D-1 offer? That's horrible at the most important position on the field. Rettig, Bordner, Suntrap are our future.

RB: TOB didn't recruit any RBs in 2005 or 2006 or 2007. Jags landed only one highly touted (but overhyped, midget) RB recruit in Haden. Montel was a 2-star afterthought (who obviously panned out), and Jerry Kelley the only other guy. The future is R.Finch, A.Williams, and Taji, who the current staff recruited.

WR: Since landing Megwa/Gunnel more than five years ago, we brought in very little. We've landed only Jarvis, Lindsey, Magzado, are depth or worse. Larmond is the only quality player, and the best we can say about Lee is he's fast. The future is Larmond (when healthy) plus the 4 young guys the current staff recruited, Coleman, Swigert, S.Phillips, and Amigdon.

With the exception of Montel and Larmond (hurt), we walked into this season with nothing to show for 5 years of offensive recruiting. All of the talent has yet to take its' first snap.

Dan said...

Yes Bazooka needs to come back in earnest. Montel is still a beast, Phifer and Williams can share some of the load, McCluskey is healthy to throw blocks and we are pretty deep at TE to help the Oline block.

Also, what about a few wrinkles with Swigert or Flutie? Both have experience at WR and QB. Maybe they work maybe they don't but the last thing anyway does is see them coming because it would be creative.

I'd even be open to Swigert taking the snap and running some option with McCluskey leading and Montel trailing. Anything that doesn't involve 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, interception.

Dan said...

Well, amazingly, we are still picking up recruits. Another OL committed. 6'5" 285 lb Dan Lembke out of Illinois.

Spaz must really be selling the future well to these kids.

Maryland got slated as a 1pm on ESPN3.

mod34b said...

Dan. Does Montel have the speed to run outside? My guess is he doesn't have the speed to beat an ACC LB to the corner. He is almost always a btw the tackles runner (which makes him easier to defend of course as we have been seeing).

So is BC's one dimensional run game a coaching or talent issue or both?

Dan said...

Right, the objective wouldn't be to run option all game like navy but to mix things up enough to keep defenses honest. He's not gonna break one off each time, but if Montel gets into space, he is more than capable of making people mix.

I'm mostly just spitballing cuz to my untrained eye, it appears Tranq is not.

Alex L. said...

Someone (might have been ATL) brought up a very good point. Why is it that our players seem to be getting worse instead of better? That is definitely a coaching issue.

Are we lacking talent at some positions? Of course. But not enough to explain the utter implosion that we are witnessing. It's bad coaching, pure and simple. With a competent coaching staff, and our current roster, I bet we would have won 2 out of the last 3 games.

I've been a big supporter of GDF. But he went the safe route in hiring Spaz and it's not working out. Let's pray that we pull out a salvageable season, go to a bowl game and hopefully win that too. At this point, that asking for alot, but I can't hope for anything less.

Big Jack Krack said...

Michael asked the questions - "Can anyone ever remember a worse QB situation at the Heights? Has the coaching ever been worse?"

Scott made some good points about talent - and the future looks bright. Spaz has to get rid of Tranquill and bring in some coaches with enthusiasm. We need minority coaches as well. If Spaz can recruit and surround himself with good coaches, we should be okay. The question is will he?

It all got me to thinking as I mulled over my years of watching BC football.

Yes, we have had some tough years, and we have had some years where our teams weren't too bad, but the QB was weak or vice versa.

The greater point is we will pull out of this - but how soon?

we ran into some QB issues in the 70s. Gary Marangi - Mike Kruczek was a terrific passer. But the back half of that decade saw QBs who tried hard, but weren't necessarily top-notch. Joe O'Brien - Jay Palazola - Matt Ryan's uncle John Loughery - Dennis Scala. We didn’t win a game in 78, but at least many of the games under Coach Chlebek were exciting during his 3 years.
1981 was so desperate that first year coach Bicknell brought in Flutie in the 4th Quarter against Penn State and the rest is history. We liked Bicknell, but he wasn’t that great of a coach without the Flutie years - one good year (1986) and that was it. 85-90 we couldn’t beat Rutgers, never mind West Virginia, Syracuse, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Miami - Bicknell lost to them 5 straight times. (we lost 6 out of 7 for you younger fans - we need to be careful trashing Rutgers)

Bring in Coughlin and Glenn Foley
and we were on a pretty good roll - then Dan Henning - what a disaster. It goes in cycles, but let's hope this one doessn't last long.

Michael said...

Thanks Big Jack. Our day will come again. Aside from the smaller stadium and tailgating issues, we have a tremendous amount to offer the right coaches. We have a tremendous amount to offer prospective student athletes. This is a great university in one of America's greatest cities. We'll be back. Go BC!

Lenny Sienko said...

1978 Ed Chlebek 0-11 and don't forget the humiliation of losing to Temple in the Mirage Bowl in Japan.

The parallels are frightening; i.e., BC fans complained that Joe Yukica's teams were boring and predictable-not able to move up to the "next level", so Ed Chlebek was hired to do better. OMG!!

Big Jack Krack said...

Hey Lenny - do you remember the Holy Cross game that year at Chestnut Hill?

When it became apparent that Holy Cross might/would win - their fans were chanting "0 and yen; 0 and yen" in reference to the upcoming Mirage Bowl. Looking back, it was pretty funny. I miss having a real rivalry game. If I were AD, that would be very high on my priority list.

Holy Cross prevailed 30 to 29.

The real humiliation that year was losing to UMass in Amherst 27 to 0. Now that was rock bottom!!!!!!!

Lenny Sienko said...

The grand irony in '78 was having a winless team invited to a "bowl game" in Japan and then losing to Temple.

I agree wholeheartedly about not having a rival such as the Cross. I still remember how much I hated it when they bussed those guys in from Worcester to a mixer at Newton College of the Sacred Heart. If it weren't for the Cooz and Tommy H., I'd never say a good word about HC. [grin]

At least the Cross boys didn't have the courage to come into "the Jungle" (Reservoir Cafe-down scale predecessor to Mary Ann's). What a crowd--under age BC guys, BC football players, MTA drivers going on and off shift, WWII vets "looking" for work. George Higgins must have done his book research there. I still recall one guy talking about his experiences in the War. It took me a long time to figure out he had been in the Luftwaffe. The bar tender would get angry, whip out a hand gun and scare the bejeezus out of everybody by shooting out the neon clock on the Reservoir package store across the street. No HC boys allowed in there.

I live(d) mid way between Penn State and Syracuse, so I got (get) crap from both groups of alums. I can only imagine what it will be like this year, when we resume our series against Syracuse, which is now 5-1.

Big Jack Krack said...

Lenny - too funny.

Those M(B)TA drivers used to get back on the trains after their long liquid lunches (Triple Limas). :-) Unbelievable.

I was in there one day when the crazy bartender fired a shot downstairs towards the mens room - not knowing or caring if anyone was in there. What was that guy's name? George?

Needless to say, I never went back. I didn't want to get shot or get my teeth knocked out. I was in there one time senior year with a BC friend I'll call Big Sticks - 6'7". A little guy was giving him a hard time, and Big Sticks says "let's go". I said screw this guy - we'll knock the s... out of him. Big Sticks replied - either this guy is a crazy SOB who doesn't care and tough as nails, or he's got 3 or 4 friends waiting to kick our a...s.

As I say - I didn't hang around there too much. The Tam (Tam'o Shanter) and those .10 and .15 cent draft beer neighborhood joints in Brookline and Brighton were good for me. You could have a great time for 3 or 4 bucks.

Boy, are we getting old. I'll tell you one thing - tailgating was better and easier and more tolerated and expected back then.

I had a part time job while a student, so I always had sufficient money for a great Saturday date = Pre-game tailgate,(we dressed up for the games to be ready for Saturday night) - a little tailgate after the game; then out for dinner - Chinese food - and then off downtown for the infamous BC Victory Dance - at either the Parker House or the Bradford Hotel. With a chance to get lucky!!!! It didn't get any better than that :-)

Go BC.

John said...

Song to Harry Belefonte's "MaryAnn"

All day, all night, Mary-Ann, who the hell do you think I am, superman?

Lenny Sienko said...


All the other bartenders were named "George" [grin] "Little George" and "Big George" at the Tam.

I never had the courage to ask the guy at the Jungle what his name was.