Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Clemson
I think this was the sort of team we hoped for earlier in the year. We played ultra conservatively (I'll get to that later), established the run, and frustrated the other team with our defense. It's a good model when you have some limitations, but as we saw yesterday, it also makes for some tense and frustrating moments. BC dominated that game, yet Clemson still had a chance to steal it. But the victory is what is important and now let's run the table.
Chase Rettig didn't wow anyone, but I kept asking myself this: "would we have won with this game with Shinskie or Marsco?" I say no. It was the little things that I think he does well, like moving within the pocket to make a play. Hitting crossing routes in tight coverage. He's also resilient. Take the pick 6 for example. After that he came back and was still willing to throw downfield and take chances. He wasn't perfect though. His floater that they intercepted was sloppy. He still has trouble with the short slants. He had a few open men that he missed and he underthrew Momah's big catch. But overall, another big and important step for our young QB.
All the running backs played well. Harris was obviously the player of the game. We saw what we already know -- he fights for extra yards and he's got great vision. What we also saw this week was Harris's ability in the open field (on a pass) and that he is getting better at non-zone blocking runs. Some of his better runs inside were between tackles on traps. McCluskey had a nice day and continues to block well. I also think we should use him more in the passing game. I like what I saw from Williams.
The OLine looked good again. Although Spinney got overpowered on some plays early, he hung in there and had a good second half. Cleary looked good at Right Tackle and we didn't miss Lapham. Richman and Claiborne were fine. Castonzo played well (although the false start late in the game could have been a killer).
The WRs didn't light it up, but they showed that they can get separation and win one on one battles. I was glad to see Momah redeem himself after a few rough games. Swigert did his usual job of getting open and making tough catches. Pantale was solid -- and I thought both TEs blocked well. Lee was back in action and I hope we get him the ball soon.
There are moments of brilliance in the play calling -- like throwing to Harris and McCluskey when they are completely uncovered. There was some aggresiveness -- like the throws to Momah. Yet we still had maddening playcalling near the redzone. Points are precious yet we never try anything new in an effort to score TDs. Why not call play action on 1st and goal? We dominated that game and had a dominant performance from our OLine and only had 16 points to show for it. That is on the play calling. I also had a huge problem with our clock eating 3.5 minute drill to end the half with a field goal. Spaz told Raycom that he knew what he has (which I interpreted to mean that he was playing it safe and to our strengths), but once again it is a wasted opportunity. You can't pad a three point lead with 30 minutes to play!
Scafe played well. I know he got called for a roughing the passer, but his aggression is much needed. Ramsey was strong. Quinn had a dumb penalty. Edebali and Holloway both played well. What I liked most about Edebali is that he motors. There were so many times when we just rushed three that he was the one still chasing Parker and forcing him into a bad throw.
More good tip balls from Herzy. He also made some good open field tackles -- which is impressive with just one hand. KPL was better but still allowed a pass over the middle in what looked like his zone. After some early and unusual missed tackles, Kuechly was great. I am surprised he hasn't had more INTs with the way he closes on people. Devitto made some big plays in special teams.
Chris Fox had a heck of a game. I don't know if they decided to pick on him or it was just timing but he was in the middle of a lot of action and came out ahead. Fletcher wasn't tested but still had a nice INT. All the safeties were good, but I want to make mention of Okoroha. He showed good speed and made a score saving tackle early in the game that helped set the tone.
Overall I thought the defensive gameplan was good. We did our usual of shutting down the run and forcing them to pass. In the second half things got a little too close for comfort but the strategy won out in the end. I do want to make mention of our use of second teamers tough (and this will sort of sound like a criticism). I thought all our backups played well. Nice games from Holloway and Fox and Okoroha. This compliments previous weeks where guys like Noel and Edebali stepped up. I make mention of this because I always felt Spaz's defenses were always at there best when we rotated a lot of guys in and out. Our second teamers were often as good as the first. Yet in the past two years we've gotten away from that. My guess is that the coaches feel there is a huge talent drop off. As the past few weeks are showing, maybe there is talent on the bench. And you never know who will step up and make a difference. That's why I wish Head Coach Spaz and DC McGovern would start to remember what DC Spaz and position coach McGovern did so well in their previous roles -- and use their second teamers more.
Special Teams: B
The squib was well timed and well executed. We didn't do much in the return game but avoided mistakes. Freese deserves credit for making his kicks on a windy day when his counterpart wasn't.
Because so many people think I hate Spaz, let me congratulate him first. As I've mentioned before the difference between disaster and greatness is not that far. Spaz's team was petering on the edge of total meltdown and he got them to respond for a week. Now let's make it two weeks in a row. As for the game, the squib was a good idea. Spaz and the staff also deserve credit for having the second teamers ready to go. As I've hinted at, my biggest problem with what he did was wasting time on the final possession of the first half. With wind like that in Alumni, the field goal wasn't a gimme and a touchdown would have put the game away. But most of all, that sort of conservatism sends a message to his team about Spaz's faith in them. He obviously knows emotion plays a part in the game (see him trying to get guys pumped up in the tunnel). Doesn't he think the FG instead of TD mentality will carry over to his players? Forget recruiting or managing the staff or being the face of the program for a moment. All those things are part of his job. But the ingame decisions are huge and for a team like BC can make a difference between a bowl season and a losing one. The field goal didn't come back to haunt him but playing like that will.
But I believe things are turning and hope he has it figured out. There is no one around who will be happier to eat crow if we win out.