Monday, January 17, 2011

Season in Review Part I: Biggest Dissappointments

This has always been one of the tougher pieces to write because you hate picking on the players. So in this case, I will factor in some other facets of the program. Here are the Biggest Disappointments of the 2010 season.

1. Game Management.
I know I am considered a Spaz hater and major critic, but I think even his biggest supporters would admit the Spaz's in game management and use of timeouts is troubling. We had multiple games where we had timeouts and clock before the half and elected to burn time. We wasted way too much time on some possessions only to settle for a field goal (Clemson). We failed to use time outs in close game (Duke) to preserve time in case the opponent scored and we needed to answer. It was just mind numbing. Don't get me started on ever going for it or using a surprise play on special teams. That sort of thinking doesn't fall into the "we know what we are" mindset. I am sure Spaz can rationalize his management. If you think your team is limited, you want to do whatever you can to protect them. I would argue that a limited team that has trouble scoring needs to maximize their chances. Settling for a field goal or taking a knee wastes valuable scoring opportunities. No one really presses Spaz to explain his game management so I don't expect things to change in 2011. I hope that with a maturing team and a maturing QB he can use every opportunity we have.

2. Offensive Line U.
We never looked like a unit that had four returning starters. We never looked like a unit that had two NFL draft picks. Part of the problem arose from training camp when we shuffled players around. Part of the problem was inconsistency from certain players. When the scheduled softened up and we moved Richman back to guard and Spinney to Center, things finally clicked. I even think we looked better with Cleary at RT. But then many of the same old problems arose against Nevada. BC had problems with speed and assignments. I will acknowledge that our one dimensional offense didn't help the OLine. Since the opposing Defenses didn't respect our ability to pass, our Line was often left to block seven or eight unrushing guys. But that doesn't excuse the general inconsistency. We have talent. We have a tradition. Was it the scheme? Was it the coaching? We'll find out in 2011.

3. The passing offense. I was going to complain about our failure to use the Tight Ends in the passing game, but what's the point? How can you gripe about one position, when you only had 180 completions on the entire season? We were only good for 13 completions a game. This is in 2010 when all the rules enable passing. This is in an era when teams play uptempo and the very pace of play enables extra snaps that should naturally feature a pass attempt or two. We were so flawed at one of the basic offensive concepts that we only completed 180 passes in a 13 game season. If you want to look on the bright side, it was a three completion improvement over 2009! Some will say our passing numbers with Crane/Davis were also bad. But 2008's offense was better and Crane and Davis also produced positive rushing yards. At the end of the day, we were terrible at throwing the ball in two years under Tranq. We used five different starters at QB and never developed even a few fundamental plays. Thankfully it should get better next year.


JBQ said...

Outstanding assessment. It was stated here previously about the possible blocking scheme problems. It also appears that is why Thomas Claiborne got in so much "hot water". He evidently challenged the blocking scheme.

mmason said...

Bill, your tone certainly speaks volumes of truth--Fundamentally Frustrated is what I hear you saying, and that nails it. The lowest PPG avg since the 80's, 180 total pass completions in 13 games, 5 QB's, the RRPP foxtrot, poor clock mgmt, Spaz making glib w/ the media and putting it on the players, No Guts No Glory play calling, Lack of Imagination--and one of the best Defenses against the Run in BC history. Frustration That. On the other hand, as you said, the Talent is There.

Coaches better step up big next time around. No more excuses...

Big Jack Krack said...

Remember Foley to Mitchell down the middle? Mitchell was special, but maybe Pantale is also - and Anderson and others, but how do we know?

You're right on Bill.

I'm with you mmason - Coaches had better step up big next time around. No more excuses...

What's up with the OC selection?

JBQ - I relate to Claiborne in this deal. I hope he still gets drafted. I have been around long enough to know that a coach or coasches can fall short - and I also know if a player or players don't believe in their coaches - or maybe even don't respect them - there are serious problems and the result is not good - it is underachievement for sure.

Our coaches showed that for whatever reason, they could not or would not make adjustments during the season.

They never "coached up" IMO - and if that's the case, it's a disgrace.

This is Spaz's ONE MORE YEAR to show he's got the stuff.

Big Jack Krack said...

"The next several years are going to be very good years around here. There is no need to panic." - GDF 11/10/10.

Hey Gene - what happens when Spaz continues with RRPP?

mod34b said...

Let's talk Rettig. He is ranked 111 out of 116 QBs in the QB rating (see ESPN). Given how relatively little he threw, you would think he be more accurate. (e.g., coaches held his hand all season and tried to give him pretty easy and makable pass plays and avoided risky low percentage passes)

Let's talk Spaz. As I understand the system, he has nothing or little to do with the offense. Its all on Tranq, Day and Devine.

So we all blame Tranq, but the guy is not dumb. He obviously lacked confidence in ability of Rettig/receivers. what did he NOT see? If he could successfully push Rettig more, you would think he would. Look at the bowl, he gave Rettig 34 pass plays, and he only completed 14 passes.

Maybe Rettig was started too early. Maybe he has not been groomed right, and not coached right. Is it mostly a receiver problem (i do not think so) But he is not presently a good QB. He is, I repeat, 111/116 in FBS QBs. Something ain't clicking somewhere.

mod34b said...

one more

Spaz is a real embarassment every time he gives a presser or speaks at half time.

i cringe.

GDF has got to get him some PR help.

Galvin said...

I am not yet worried about Rettig. The execution was poor, but the schemes and play calling didn't help him one bit. Most importantly, he is a true freshman. Most 18 year olds wouldn't perform that well even with gifted receivers and great play calling. Its simply the most difficult position in the game. I saw some things he did that bode well for us - he doesn't seem to be afraid to take hits when making throws, he's semi-mobile and every now and then showed very nice touch on throws. Next year will tell us a lot more (like Bill said). Let's hope our new OC will really coach 'em up.

Andrew said...


Not sure about this "easy make-able pass" business. Last I checked, throwing on third and long can be pretty tough. Additionally, the shoddy offensive line didn't do him too many favors. How about a mention of the 3 or more bad drops in the Nevada game.

Obviously he is young and needs to improve, but I don't think he was given the greatest chance to succeed. Routes seemed to often be very basic, WR get to the sticks (sometimes) and work back to the ball, curls or outs (rarely happened). I'd love to see more crossings patterns and TE involvement.

Some rollouts on third and short seemed to click at some point during the season. Rettig is pretty mobile, lets see him on the move (and not running for his life)

Galvin said...

And Mod I agree with you about spaz and his dour appearances. Seems like beat writers like him though. Maybe he's hiding his charm when doing tv.

mod34b said...

andrew -- 17/34 is not very impressive either.

shoddy line? Rettig usually had plenty of time, he got sacked /c he did not make quick decisions

galvin -- yes moments of great promise, but still overall he and BC pass game were really bad last season

kid has huge potentail ..but a long way to go to realize that potential

ps. makable is a word; so is makeable!

Scott said...

The game management issues sound more like a pet peeve than anything responsible for our real problem (offensive woes).

The Big let down and problem was the offensive line. That's first on the list, by a long-shot.

As for passing attempts/completions, that's not the issue. We averaged 27 pass attempts per game, which is low, but still means we passed 43% of the time. By comparison:
- GA Tech 25%
- Va. Tech 37%
- Wake 39%
- FSU 44%
- MD 47%
- Miami 47%
- Clemson 47%
- UNC 49%

Only UVA, NC State, and Duke passed more than they ran, for obvious reasons. Bottom line, our run/pass mix is the same neighborhood, which is kind of shocking.

13 completions on 27 attempts is a performance problem, but not entirely surprising given serious QB issues (Shinki/Marsco suck, Rettig a frosh) and so many young WRs. It also doesn't take into account that BC milked the clock, as both BC and our opponents has far fewer offensive snaps per game than normal.

Next year the we need to see the completion percentage go up, but I expect the run/pass mix to stay aroudn 44%. I just hope we get more first downs, and an extra 10-15 snaps per game because of it.

McDaid said...

Scott - great stuff and extremely well said.

Let's be candid here - what the hell was Tranq supposed to do with Dave Shinskie as his QB?!?! Bill Walsh or God couldn't score points if they had Uncle Dave running the offense!

And this feeds into the OLine issues - an unstable QB creates uncertainty on the Line. Each QB brings different aspects of a play-book, all of which the OLine must adjsut to. Further, the upper classmen were taught to Zone Block for the first two years and now have had to unlearn that and revert to more a traditional scheme. All of which spells problems and I don't think we can pass judgement - yet. Is it cause for concern / monitoring? Absolutely. Can we say the coaches failed? Definitely not.

All this said, I could care less about Tranq but I can't judge the guy when he didn't have a QB for 2 years. Think for a moment if Coughlin was coach and he had a Shinskie, Polo and then a TRUE FROSH QB - how many passes per game do you think he'd complete / game?! 180 sounds about right.

Big Jack Krack said...

I think McCluskey should have been a fixture in the backfield as the lead blocker and occasional outlet or ball carrier.

We constantly ran Harris and later Williams up the middle without a lead blocker.


Bravesbill said...

McDaid--how about varying the playcalling up a little bit. RRPP is not the receipe for success. When everybody in the stadium knows what play is coming, you hardly have any chance of success.

mod34b said...

Interview with Nevada DC. Nevada did not think much of our receivers...and changed up its pass scheme to man-to-man.

Maybe Chase was expecting zone and became confused?

RGJ: You were able to use a man-to-man defense almost exclusively in the Kraft Bowl. How important was that in that game, and looking forward, how important is it to have that luxury?

Buh: We used it a lot more than we ever have. It's very important. It's an area we want to move into. Obviously, we felt as a staff that we matched up very well against their perimeter receivers, so we took advantage of that. And we knew by doing that it allowed us to put some guys closer to the box to help us with the run game. It was perfect for this game, and we only did that because we felt that the matchup was there. We have that in our package, but we won't ever do it just for the sake of doing it. Now, as our personnel improves, as the players grow in this scheme, we'll probably, hopefully, move into those more aggressive coverage schemes.

Scott said...

So the Nevada DC basically said BC had the worse/slower receivers of any other team they faced in the Mountain West. So they went one-one-one, and devote the other 8 to the box, basically after the first series.

That is why losing Gunnell, Jarvis, Larmond and Phillips hurt so much. It left us with no one the other team feared or had to respect. I noticed Lee played a ton that game, but he wasn't able to run by people, maybe because of the brace.

WI_Eagle said...

FWIW, the cumulative stats of our primary starter each of the past 3 years (Crane '08, Shinskie '09, Rettig '10) vs. Matty Ice's 2007.

418/790 52.9% 5008 YDS 31 TD 36 INT
388/649 59.8% 4507 YDS 31 TD 19 INT

Big Jack Krack said...

Our pass patterns were very straightforward and unimaginative.

Coleman might have helped out if he wasn't hurt.

When you have young receivers who do not have blazing speed, wouldn't you at least try to run some picks to bump one of the defenders off the other, etc.? I know they are supposed to be illegal, but I see them run by other teams all the time.

Since our running game was stuffed after the touchdown, maybe the old man should have tried something completely different - after all it was a Bowl Game!!!! Show the other team something completely different - you had 6 weeks to think about it and prepare.

Wouldn't it have been fun if, for example, he went empty backfield and stacked the receivers?

Do something - try something - the coaches are teachers, aren't they?

They just mailed it in.

Scott said...

Does anyone know the status of WRs for that game? I didn't realize Coleman and Momah were out, and was surprised to see Lee a bit gimpy and sporting a knee brace.

Dustbowl said...

Even tho Nevada presented a never-before-seen defense , no adjustments were made by our coaches. Amazing!!!

McDaid said...

Re: the "variety" thing: More variety = more pass plays = the 111th ranked QB in lieu of one of our best halfbacks ever.

1) No point going suggesting that more "variety" would've opened up the running game. No DC with half a brain is changing his scheme to respect a passing game that features a virgin QB throwing to receivers who are as sly as maimed turtles (slight paraphrase of Nevada's DC), and

2) Given point 1, I fail to see how running on 2nd and 10 is better than 1st and 10.

Again, I don't want to defend Tranq, but the disparity in options b/w 1) our 111th passing game 2) our best halfback ever with a strong offensive line is extreme. As an OC, that doesn't leave you with much choice.

Big Jack Krack said...

McDaid - I was speaking about the Nevada game in particular on my last post on this thread. We didn't have the services of "one of our best halfbacks ever".

Williams made a brilliant 30 yard touchdown run - but thereafter, our running game was completely stuffed. 24 attempts for 60 yards.

With 6 weeks to focus on it and I guess 15 extra practice sessions, you'd think the coaches might have built in some new looks for the bowl game. What the heck - try to WIN THE GAME.

Nah - why would I be dumb enough to think that? Lack, loss, limitation!!!!!!!

Playing to win would have made me proud - playing to keep it close leaves me with a bad taste. God bless our defense.

Scott - I think Momah was in the game early, but he either got injured, or the coaches sat him down and went exclusively with the youth. Coleman's injury was announced a week or ten days before the game, as I recall.

Mod34b - As the HC, Spaziani IS responsible for the offense - just as much as his defense. If the coaches aren't getting the job done, he must get in their faces and insist on an "Ever to Excel" effort.

Tranquill gave the QB 34 throws, but didn't give him anything but a plain vanilla game plan with young WRs. I wasn't impressed at all - tough team to watch. He forgot all about McCluskey - why, because he was a senior?

I am very happy that Gary Tranquill is gone. Why Spaz chose him in the first place is beyond me. The man was incapable of in-game adjustments (let's see - they're playing our WR's man to man and loading the box with 8 defenders - with 48 years of experience, what will I ever do now?) I think I'll take a nap.

Good by, coach - and if wee never see you again, have a great retirement.

Scott said...

Does anyone know the status of C.Lee's knee, and whether that was an issue this year?

He had a knee brace and slight gimp (perhaps getting used to the brace), and he seemed quick but not the track burner I expected. Just wondering if that's why he lost ground to Amigon, and if there is hope for next year?

EL MIZ said...

i agree with most about the underwhelming strategy showed by the coaching staff this year. Spaz/Tranquill/et al left MUCH to be desired on the offensive end, and leaving it at that is an understatement. I am not really sure what the issue was on a whole, starting Shinskie/Marcsovetra to start the year was clearly not the right move and I thought set us back big time, but there was no improvement from Rettig in November to Rettig in January, which is somewhat alarming.

Rettig threw a deep TD pass to Swigert in his first game against ND and seemingly never threw deep again.

On a whole the offense was extraordinarily predictable. All kidding aside, for much of the season I could predict what was coming next. ("Here comes another draw" or "dive up the middle" being the two most common). As a fan watching on TV, one can only imagine what the opposing D's thought (and comments from, I believe, VA Tech players, FSU players, and Nevada coaches all support the assumption that defenses knew what was coming).

Tranquill was an utter joke of OC and I am thrilled he has purpotedly retired. Good riddance!

Many freshman showed flashes of the future on offense (Rettig looks like he has the tools, Andre Williams absolutely dominated Syracuse, Swigert looks like a solid slot receiver), so not all was lost.

The D was great throughout the year and has been the strong point of this, so for that we must give credit where credit is due with Spaziani and the rest of the D staff. Kuechly is my favorite player to watch, possibly in BC history, and I look forward to his continued dominance next year. An All-American as a true sophomore at BC, who would've thought!?

The recruiting class next year looks excellent, dare I say the best (on paper) since the 04 recruiting class that had Toal as a 5-star (and also Raji, Ron Brace, and Brandon Robinson). I think Louis-Jean and Duggan will both contribute right away on D, and I pray that Curtric Evans can provide us with some much needed hands and speed on offense. (And Colin Larmond will be back too, which will be huge).

Overall I am happy with the direction of the program but next year is a very telling year. These are now Spaz's players so no more blaming the TOB/Jags "leaving the cupboard empty" excuse. Valid or not, now Spaz has made his bed with his recruits and its time for him to sleep in it.

And seriously, spice it up a little on offense and give the dour sideline thing a break. What happened to the towel on the shoulder enthusiastic Spaz? Just because you're a head coach doesn't mean you have to degenerate into some sour curmudgeon, come on man, you're a HC now, lighten up!

EL MIZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mod34b said...

Why does everyone just assume it was Tranquill's choice to run a predictable and ineffective offense?

There remains the very large issue of the player's ability to execute and to make plays.

It also remains troubling that Ryan Day -- the receivers coach -- might be the OC. The receivers were not good. Indeed, in more than one game, the TV announcers were openly mocking the BC receivers. How does a guy like Day go from bad receiver coaching to OC.

EL MIZ said...

"Why does everyone just assume it was Tranquill's choice to run a predictable and ineffective offense?

There remains the very large issue of the player's ability to execute and to make plays."

We returned how many starters on the offensive line (including one who will likely be one of the first 20 players taken in April's NFL draft) and an all-ACC running back?

Aren't coaches supposed to coach execution? I just don't understand, it seems like you are hinting at the BC players being somehow mentally incapable of remembering what to do or not having the talent.

If that's the case, we have an absolutely humongous offensive line, a senior fullback who was good at blocking, an all-ACC running back with good backups, we could've just run the ball down people's throats all year.

Whatever the problem was, it was a coach issue. If the players can't execute, either talent-wise or whatever, then the coaches should've recruited players who could. Or they should coach them so they can execute.

mod34b said...

"Whatever the problem was, it was a coach issue"

So Rettig missing 20 of 34 throws is a coaching issue?

EL MIZ said...

the fact that, as a fan, i knew when the throws were coming was a coaching issue, yes or no?

players from va tech, florida state, and nevada all remarked how they knew what was coming each time. how is that a player issue?

and if BC didn't have the receivers or QB (if rettig throwing 20 out of 34 passes for incompletion IS a player issue), like i said earlier, the scheme should've been adapted to the players. how did BC not have the pieces to have a power running game this year? they had an offensive line that weighed more than the NE Pats o-line, an all-ACC running back, a solid back up and 3rd string RB, a good fullback and good TEs. why didn't we run the ball more? surely this isn't montel harris' fault.

Bravesbill said...

Mixing up running plays would have been nice as well. Running the ball up the middle every running play isn't a recipe for success. And as for Rettig completing only 14 passes, it's impossible to complete passes in third and long situations when the other team knows that a short pass is coming. When the defense knows a passing play is coming and knows the exact short routes of the receiving personnel because they are never varied, there's no way Rettig will have success.

Scott said...

I get wanting to be balanced and unpredictable, however, I don't think was the problem against Nevada.

When the defense puts 8 in the box playing run first, and clearly goes man-up on the WRs, they are the ones tipping their hand ... they are DARING you to pass.

That's when you are supposed to pass, and if you're any good, you are supposed to beat it.

Lack of deep threat and dropped balls was a big problem. But our pass protection was pretty spotty too, and Rettig looked surprised and flustered. They last two issues are partially (and perhaps mostly) on the coaches ... and perhaps some of the WRs problems (getting open) is a function of the design of the play and preparation ... but i have no way to know that.

Bravesbill said...

"When the defense puts 8 in the box playing run first, and clearly goes man-up on the WRs, they are the ones tipping their hand ... they are DARING you to pass."

And yet when that happened, BC always ran the ball on first and second down. Nevada knew BC was going to run on first and second down so they played 8 in the box. BC didn't really try to pass until it was third and long and Nevada was able to drop back into a zone or bring some heat. Varied playcalling and unpredictability could have caught Nevada offguard and forced them to adjust.