Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Virginia
This is not going to come out right but that was actually a well-played bad game. What I mean by that is that most of the guys played well, there weren't many glaring mistakes yet we allowed a poor Virginia team to move the ball, hang around and put up a Hail Mary at the end that would have won the game if they connected. Sometimes you take the win any way you can.
Rettig didn't look that great Saturday. He had a few passes that could have been picked off. He took some sacks when he probably should have run. Even his one TD pass was into double coverage and sort of a risky pass. My bigger concern though is he waited in the pocket for WRs to get open on their breaks...and waited and waited. He really should be getting rid of the ball faster and as they come out of breaks. If the pass catcher is stationary it gives the DBs time to break on the ball. I did like Chase's toughness on the few plays when he did run. And although he didn't connect a lot I did like his willingness to throw downfield.
Harris had a nice game. Most of his big runs came off of counters and traps instead of stretches or draws. Williams obviously had a nice day too. I don't know if he has Montel's vision or feel but he certainly hits the hole quickly. McCluskey had another great day as a lead blocker. I wish he would get more credit for it.
Amidon's TD was very nice and he should be applauded for his hands and focus. I think he has decent speed too, because he was winning one on one battles downfield (Chase just couldn't get him the ball deep that often). Momah had another nice day. Swigert wasn't as active but caught a ball as did Lee. I usually don't mention Pantale's blocking but he did a nice job on a few of Montel's runs. Anderson blocked well too.
The offensive line played well although they did have a few breakdowns. Claiborne whiffed on a later coming rusher who sacked Rettig. Spinney got overpowered at one point. White struggled a bit so they brought in Richman. Even Castonzo allowed a sack (but he played very well otherwise). The only Oline who played really well throughout was Cleary.
Aside from our first trip to the redzone, I didn't hate the play calling. It was a little conservative once we got the lead, but overall it was effective. I appreciate that Tranq is letting Rettig throw it deep. Our play fakes were effective. I just wish he would start throwing it more. We are not doing ourselves any favors with our slow tempo. Shortening the game against a UVA or say Syracuse next week doesn't play to our strengths.
The defensive line as a group did not look that sharp. Scafe, Quinn and Holloway all had near sacks that turned into big UVA plays. Newman seemed a step slow or a little off. Edebali wasn't as effective and didn't seem to be on the field much after he got dinged. We clearly missed Ramsey. I do want to credit Dan Williams. He's been waiting to get on the field a long time and looked decent at DE this weekend.
Herzlich made his final day at Alumni memorable. I know everyone hyped the INT, but that was just him playing catch with one hand (as there was no one else around). The REAL jaw dropper was the play before when he tied up the TE and came down with the ball. They didn't call it our way but I think he had a pick there and it was amazing to 1. catch it and 2. wrestle it away with one hand. He also had some nice tackles. Kuechly was Kuechly with an added blitz or two mixed in. KPL had one of his better games. Devitto got in on a few plays too.
Fletcher played well until he got hurt. Fox was solid. Jones looked fine. The safeties weren't as active but Okaroha made a few nice plays. LeGrande and Noel played but weren't near the action all that much.
The good news was that Virginia only scored 13 points. The frustrating news was that they moved the ball up and down on us. We had a few dog blitzes in the first half, but didn't do much of that in the second. We should have as it was very effective. We also didn't do much to put them off balance. In fact by not mixing it up Virginia became more bold and Verica had no problem finding the spots in the zone.
Special Teams: B-
Quigley did a good job placing the ball. It was refreshing to see Ryan Lindsey get a shot at returning and he looked ok. Heads up play by Boek on the onsides. Freese shanked on kickoff but was otherwise good. My biggest problem on special teams was what we didn't do. Why not go for the block when they are pinned back? It is the sort of aggressive move that can put the game away. Instead we ended up with the ball back in our territory.
As I mentioned in the quick review and earlier in the post, we didn't play poorly. We just played into their hands. In those situations, I just wish Spaz would do something to have his coordinators mix it up. Our two minute drill finally clicked: why not go uptempo for a drive or two? The blitz worked early. Why stop? But we stuck with our gameplan and won in the end. So Spaz has that to hang his hat on. Theses "win streak" games haven't been pretty but I'll take the winning over the losing any day. I am glad we are bowling. I hope with that pressure relieved Spaz really plays to win against Syracuse. I think all BC fans would be thankful for it.