Monday, November 15, 2010

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Duke

Turnovers happen. Bad breaks happen. But letting teams back in the game instead of putting them away (especially over a two-year period) is more about strategy than luck or inexperience. That's why watching the game back was frustrating. BC was clearly the better team and got some good moments from many players. Yet there Duke was with less than a minute left with 4th and goal to win the game. That's not a good sign. If BC keeps finding themselves in those situations, the odds of them all going our way are poor.

Offense: B-

It was sort of a tale of two halfs for Rettig. He started off rough with some off throws and poor passes. Eventually he settled down and made some really nice plays. I liked his willingness to throw and his ability to place the deep balls to Momah. Even though he only completed passes to four different guys, I wouldn't say that he needs to spread it around more. We just didn't have that many different guys in the passing game (maybe he could check down to Pantale more). I thought the best throw was the lob to Momah for the TD. He really put it only where Momah could catch it.

It is a good sign when Harris's bad day still involves a decent average and a TD. He just didn't have enough big plays and didn't shed as many tackles as he normally does. The fumbles are always surprising because he normally protects the ball so well. The first was just careless (he needs to be more careful in traffic). The second was just a good hit/strip by the Dukies. McLuskey was good -- but used only as a lead blocker. Williams was good but I was a bit disappointed that he didn't convert on the third and short play late in the fourth (sometimes you got to make the other guy miss).

The WRs were good in general. Momah continues to make tough catches -- making up for his butterfingers a few weeks ago. Coleman also had a catchable pass that hit his fingers. Swigert was good. Amidon was fine and I although it didn't break open, I liked him getting the ball on the end around. It's a good change of pace. Pantale was good. Anderson also had a nice day blocking.

Duke's D isn't great but that shouldn't take away from what the offensive line did. I know they are banged up and plugging guys in but you wouldn't be able to tell. (What that says about the early season struggles is topic for another day.) Castonzo was good and some of Harris's bigger runs were off of his side. Spinney did a good job. Cleary looks good at RT (maybe better than he was at G). White was good. Claiborne was fine. I didn't see much positive or negative when Davis was in.

I have to give Tranq credit for challenging Duke downfield. We had multiple explosive plays. It also shows some faith in Rettig. Our redzone conversions were down, but that most more a measure the Harris fumbles. My bigger problem with Tranq was going too conservative too early. Following Duke's final TD, this was our play calling.
1st-10, BC26 12:05 A. Williams rushed up the middle for 5 yard gain
2nd-5, BC31 11:40 A. Williams rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
3rd-2, BC34 11:10 A. Williams rushed to the right for no gain
4th-2, BC34 10:27 R. Quigley punt. L. Butler returned punt for no gain

1st-10, BC1 7:00 M. Harris rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, BC23 6:30 M. Harris rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-6, BC24 6:30 Boston Coll. committed 5 yard penalty
3rd-11, BC19 5:10 C. Rettig incomplete pass to the left
4th-11, BC19 5:02 R. Quigley punt.

What did we gain from all of that? Duke was still within one score. We only used three and a half minutes of the game! You can't play it safe that early. Duke was waiting for the run. No play action. One pass in the final six plays. It makes all the good play calling earlier in the game look like an accident.

Defense: B-

We've all been waiting for Max Holloway to have game like this. It wasn't a dominating game changing performance but it was a sign that he's got a good motor and a good football IQ. His sacks were in part due to patience and keeping contain. The tip at the end was just reading the play and reacting. Dillon Quinn got flagged for another facemask, but he's been playing better. Ramsey was good before leaving the game. Scafe wasn't as dominant as he has been lately but was still good. Edebali was fine.

Earlier this season I wondered and worried if Kuechly's stats were being padded a bit. I know he was active but I thought he was getting credit for some half tackles that were truly his. This game wasn't the case. He was amazing. He really covers a ton of ground. Devitto had a nice game. Morrissey was good. Herzy was good. KPL was also good. All the LBs looked better in pass coverage than they have of late.

The DBs had some breakdowns and got burned a bit on play fakes. In fact, thankfully Fletcher played well and he didn't have any safety help on the early deep throw yet he still prevented the TD. Fox was fine. LeGrande was pretty active.

My feelings on the defensive scheme was similar to my feeling on the offense. We had a good game plan -- with a variety of looks up front -- for most of the game. Yet late in the game we let them march down the field. Why not mix it up? You have playmakers upfront. You have good safeties (although they didn't play great Saturday). It's frustrating. We have nothing to lose at this point but it doesn't seem to matter.

Special Teams: B-

Quigley was good. The punt coverage was good. The kick coverage -- not so much. I worry about Williams' bobbles but he was fine on the KRs.

Overall: B-

The team was ready. We won the game. The gameplans were sound enough and effective. So credit Spaz there. As I've said we went too conservative early. But my biggest complaint about Spaz was his use of timeouts during Duke's final drive. Duke got the ball back with 4:50 left. With just under three minutes left they got to our 35. You had to start thinking that IF Duke scored BC would need time on the clock to answer. Yet this is how it played out.
1st-10, BC35 2:50 S. Renfree passed to C. Vernon to the left for 8 yard gain
2nd-2, BC27 2:07 B. Connette passed to J. Thompson to the left for 19 yard gain
1st-8, BC8 2:00 B. Connette rushed up the middle for 2 yard loss
2nd-10, BC10 1:05 S. Renfree passed to J. Trezvant down the middle for 8 yard gain
3rd-2, BC2 0:55 B. Connette incomplete pass to the right
4th-2, BC2 0:49 S. Renfree incomplete pass down the middle

When did Spaz finally use his TO? On fourth down when the clock was already stopped. I am sure he rationalized it that if you get that play right the game is over, but it is still careless and very TOB-esque.

Why am I complaining about game management when we are 5-5 and nothing is at stake? Because I believe it is connected to our bigger issues. If we won't the players and the fans to believe again, we need the coaches to play to win.


Are you serious? said...

We probably should've pulled the defense and let Duke score on that last drive then we would've had plenty of time left on the clock to try and get the lead back.

amaralchase said...

How can you say that you are surprised by Harris' fumbles and that he normally protects the ball so well. He has had a number of fumbles over his career and often times at key moments.

Patrick said...

ATL, you are commended for taking the time to watch that mess again. We are developing a trend of limping accross the finish line against very weak teams, particularly on the road --- Maryland (2009), UVa (2009), Wake (2010), and Duke (2010) all fit that trend, and I believe they are our only road conference wins of the Spaz era.

I cannot find fault with the defense, as post-NC State they have consistently found a way to come up big in pressure situations. The offense is another matter --- I am not sure whether things would be different if they were put in place to succeed, but they aren't. So we watch Spaz and Tranq, who between them have nearly a century of coaching experience, acting as if disaster might strike on every play. Or at least they act like that on offense, and then swallow their time outs on defense when they could actually be used as a contingency plan in case of disaster.

In any event, Spaz --- as good of a guy as he is --- makes me long for the days of Tom O'Brien's in game coaching. That is not an easy task to accomplish, but he has done it with ease. No aggressiveness. No creativity. No logic in end of half or end of game situations. Good coaches plan what to do as far as clock management in tight games; I get the sense that Spaz has not done so --- or, if he has, he has developed an incomprehensible, and indefensible, plan to manage the clock. It seems there is one plan: run it to run out the clock; if they stop us from running it, plan b is what? Hope the defense does it's job? We might as well have kneeled it every down in the fourth quarter.

We eeked out last year's game against Wake despite similar incompetence thanks to a lucky fumble. We similarly eeked out games against Maryland and UVa last year because Kuechly was the best player on the field. Now we can add Duke and Wake to that list.

I hope a change in the offensive coaching staff will reverse this trend, but I'm not so sure. Recall that Spaz played ultra conservatively in the Car Care bowl against Navy with nothing to lose; he has done it in every situation since then. I don't know what he is afraid of, but it's something. And that fear is holding BC back as a football team.

I think Jags was a clown and a fraud, but at least he coached to win.

mod34b said...

Great analysis Patrick.

here is a blurb about the Spaz mindset from the Navy game (with Ryan under center!) you mention ... it will sound awfully familiar:

"Spaziani, the defensive coordinator and a former Navy assistant, has filled the gap and is expected to stay on as an assistant under Jagodzinski. .

For much of the game, it looked like the distractions would be too much to overcome for BC. Navy, the nation's top rushing team, had 322 yards on the ground and seemingly had the game won.

BC (10-3) was out of timeouts and Navy only had to run out the final two minutes. But Reggie Campbell fumbled a pitch from quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and BC's Jolonn Dunbar recovered at the Navy 40 with 1:43 left.

Matt Ryan completed a 16-yard pass to tight end Ryan Purvis and Aponavicius, who played soccer -- not football -- in high school and replaced the suspended Ryan Ohliger in midseason, calmly kicked the game-winner, setting off a wild celebration.

"Considering the circumstances for the past three or four weeks to get this win is really special, not only for the coaching staff but it's also special for the players," Ryan said. "All that we've been through to come out and win the way we did, that's something that I'll always remember.""

Bravesbill said...

Amaralchase, you do realize that Harris only fumbled 4 times in his entire career before this last game right?

Danny Boy said...

It was such a shame to see the OC demand that we turtle up after the fumble. Not only do we revert to the 3 HB dives on the next drive, but we don't even use our stud RB who now has a chip on his shoulder after fumbling.

For once, I was actually encouraged by the place choice...that is until the OC decided to pack it in and go home with 10 minutes to play. Is Tranquil the motivating voice behind this approach or is he doing it at the behest of Spaz?