Sunday, September 11, 2011

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Central Florida

I don't want to make excuses for Spaz. He's clearly not putting this team in position to win. But after watching this back I still believe the team is not as bad as the score. I think there are two issues that made this much more lopsided than it should have been. Execution and mental errors on offense and a lack of talent at Defensive Tackle. I also think UCF played pretty well. Spaz has said as much. However, he's the coach, not the fan. He needs to manage around the deficiencies and get this team winning.

Offense: D-
I am Chairman of the Chase Rettig fan club, but this was not his best day. I don't know if he is feeling the pressure or feels like he has to force things, but many of our drives stalled based on the decisions he made. He made decent decisions when they blitzed. The problems came when they dropped seven and no one was open. Instead of looking for the big play or forcing a throw, he needs to occasionally tuck and run. If anything it will keep them honest. Chase also seemed off on the first drive regarding the plays. There were two runs where he turned to the backfield and was in the wrong place. I assume he was wrong because the OLine was pulling on the first and because no one moved on the second.

Andre Williams is playing hard and making some nice moves in open field. Between the tackles is still an issue, but I think that is more on the OL. Williams' biggest issue was not pulling in the screen pass we threw him deep in our own end. Kimble looked decent. Maybe we should get him more involved in the passing game. Dan Williams played a little FB but didn't make much of an impact (positive or negative).

Like Rettig, I've often been a defender of our WRs, but this was not their best day either. Coleman should have comeback a bit to help Rettig on the first INT. Larmond also needed to pull in that quick slant that the UCF DB got his hand on. The TEs were decent -- I still think Rettig should go to them more. As a group there were good examples of them blocking.

I don't know why the offensive line can't establish any consistency. I tend to blame coaching but there are other factors in play (like talent and play calling). But maybe it is talent. When our guys our pulling and getting blown up by UCF LBs, maybe they are not that great. But I also think there are some execution issues. These guys don't always seem in sync. White was our best yesterday. Clearly was ok. Wetzel was pretty good. Spinney, Gallick and Richman all had rough days.

I am tempted to give Rogers a pass for this game. He's still trying to figure out what he has and what works in live action. That said, UCF adjusted in this game and we did not. Early in the game they used blitzes and Rettig read them and delivered. Then they dropped guys into coverage and we had no answer. They were keying on the run and we didn't use much play action or misdirection. I think Rogers needs to keep things simple for the OL's sake and for Rettig's confidence. If we are having assignment issues on the opening drive you know there are some teaching and communication issues abound.

Defense: C

It may sound like I am picking on the Dline but they got outclassed. Both Halloway and Edebali got burned on the option. They both played hard but didn't do enough to disrupt their offense. And they were the good part. O'Neal got pushed around all night. Quinn looked okay early but didn't do much as the game progressed. Ricci was a non factor. Harris played a little and got pushed around. Rudolph -- didn't do anything in limited snaps. Murray was meh. We miss Ramsey more than anything right now. So much of what we do is about establishing the DL. If we cannot contain, cannot clog the run and cannot disrupt the pocket, a decent QB will find and connect with open WRs.

Kuechly made plenty of tackles, but they still gave him more trouble than usual. Godfrey faked him out and he got juked by their RBs a few times. KPL was solid. Devitto was better. Clancy got on the field more and played well.

The DBs were actaully better. You could see the difference Fletcher made the minute he got on the field. He closed quickly and read plays well. ALJ wasn't as active but his tackling was better. Noel played very well. Rositano got in. Williams was good. Sylvia showed good instincts and will make a big play soon. Hughes still looks a step slow. In many cases the UCF guys just made good catches.

When we brought pressure it was effective. We just didn't do it enough. I also appreciate that they tried new things. When the front four didn't do anything, we started using just three down lineman more. The defensive formula was working. We held them to under 9 for most of the game. It was only after we didn't score that the defense finally wore down. Plus our system is reliant on turnovers and we came up short in that department too.

Special Teams: C

There wasn't as much to judge this week. Freese fortunately made his kick. Quigley was solid as usual.

Kimble is pretty aggressive but had some nice returns.

Overall: D
Looking back, this might read like the game was much closer than 30-3. In a way it was. Even after were stopped on the 4th down, we still had some big stops on them. But we couldn't capitalize. Since the game wasn't as close, it was hard to nitpick the game management (although failing to challenge the out of bounds pass when it happened right in front of Spaz is head scratching). My biggest issue with Spaz is that we didn't look better from week 1 to week 2. We are not getting better and still making mental errors. When does he, as the head guy, figure out how to fix that?

In my quick review I said we have nine win talent and six win coaching. Many challenged my assessment of the talent. But my biggest issue with Spaz is that I don't feel he is maximizing the talent we have. I also question if he believes in the team. Why not challenge a play? If you are in four-down territory, why not go for a big play on 3rd?

Spaz needs to understand that when he is talking to the media, he is talking to BC fans. When he points out issues with detachment or sarcasm, it comes off like he is just playing the cards he was dealt. That is not cutting it. This is his team and we are still laying eggs. He needs to change something or to use his words "things could get ugly."


philibusters said...

I am not a BC fan, I am a Maryland Terp fan, but I do enjoy reading this blog.

I thought an outsider's perspective may help.

ATLEAGE noted that people disagreed with his assertion that there was 9 win talent on this team. In some ways I agree with other posters. If you have a nice QB, mediocre O-Line, solid WR's, a stud RB, weak DT's, mediocre DE's, a very strong LB corp, and a thin and slightly weak secondary that doesn't sound like a 9-3 team. I think its more accurate to say this had 9-3 potential if things fell into place well for BC this year. For example my Terps surprised people and went 8-4 last year after a 2-10 season. They were a decent team last year and it was not a smoke and mirror teams, still at the start of the season and even in hindsight to more had the potential to go 8-4 or 9-3 rather than 9-3 talent.

I missed the Northwestern game, but watched the UCF game. The defense was solid but got worn down against UCF. The offense was pretty bad.

I think BC needs a little luck this year to have a good season and so far they have not had that luck. What I mean is they are not a bad team, but the margin for error is smaller than it was in say 2007 or 2008. Plus the schedule is tough. At this point I see BC as falling between 7-5 and 5-7 this year with maybe 6 wins being the most likely, followed by 5 wins, followed by 7 regular season wins.

I think things always look different from an outside perspective so I hope this post is taken as just that.

Erik said...

Would love to see some more fullback lead blocking on runs - just to see if it helps.

I'm in the blame the O-Line & Devine camp until I see otherwise. It was our biggest issue last year, as much as we made Tranquil the scapegoat. I have yet to notice a play where a lineman manhandles a defensive player (UCF & NU aren't known for strong D-Lines), our runing backs are hit in the backfield constantly, and Rettig is being pressured. UCF rushes 4 guys against O-Line U and we have ZERO time to set and throw? Whether Devine or talent, that needs to be worked on fast.

Otherwise, we can point to issues on the field, and we need to because that is the team we're stuck with, but going back 4 months you expect to have these guys healthy and available:
CJ Jones
Montel Harris
Shakim Philips
Clyde Lee

As much as you'd like to simply plug in other bodies and move forward, Ten good players missing or banged up is going to have an effect on Wins and Losses and we're seeing it. So it isn't as simple as upgrading one coach or one position.

All we can do is hope they keep working hard and getting better with experience. 3 winnable games coming up right now.

Erik said...

Also, question to debate:
If our offense was lighting up our secondary in August scrimmages, does that validate the departures of Okaroha & Legrand, and Spaziani's comments about their effort and lack of improvement?

mod34b said...

Quigley was solid?

That is debatable. Yes, the punting was good in that there was no punt return yardage from UCF.

But, through 2 games Quigley is averging about 36 yards per punt. That is about 6 yards less than his last two years and a lot lower than leading ACC punters. I wonder if the team is asking him to punt shorter, higher to allow for better coverage? I doubt it, but can't fiqure out why his punts are about 15% shorter this year (and no, I don't think we can blame the coaches for this!)

JoeBu said...

9 win talent? Wow, very debatable. This team will never improve under Spaz, they take on his demeanor. No spirit, cautious, play-not-lose / play-not-to-be-embarrassed. O-Line is brutal, no two ways about it.

Also, now we want Rogers to simply things? So we can go back to how we were under Tranq? Run on the first 2 downs and hope for the best on 3rd and long? No play action, no mis-direction, no uniqure routes, nothing exotic etc?

We are in for a .500 year if we're lucky.

matthew2 said...

well said philibusters.

lizz said...

As a side note, I watched the game at roggies next to legrande and okoroha. They were pretty fired up, making comments about how it should be them out there, etc. Was there ever any further info on the cause of transfer/dismissal? Seemed to have been a curious number of questionable transfers/dismissals that make you wonder about team leadership and chemistry.

Pearl Washington said...


You are spot on with the injuries. Nobody in Div 1 can survuve that other than Oklahoma, Bama, LSU etc.

No depth at all.

No playmakers which is crucial in Div 1 without Montel and Momah. Expectation level should be low.

EL MIZ said...

if there is a silver lining in the two losses, it is that there will be no excuses for Gene and Spaz. we lost to a team that is probably the closest proxy to BC in terms of academic standards, where they fall in their conference, fan expectations, etc. in northwestern -- this takes the "well we can't get the guys we want because our guys actually go to class!" excuse away.

and then we lost to a mid major, which eliminates the "we have a good scheme we just got out-talented by better kids." if a mid-major has better talent than us, we need a regime change.

philibusters i appreciate the outside look.

i was optimistic going into this year because spaz seemed to have changed his tune in the preseason by making positive comments and supporting his players. his press conferences and general coaching attitude since then seem to suggest otherwise. its as if he goes into the games not even expecting to win, and he coaches like it. not only that, it really doesn't seem like he cares. he's in his 60s, he's finally a head coach, this is likely his last job -- its as if he just kind of goes through the motions and hopes for the best instead of working his tail off and aiming for 10 win seasons. the vibe from spaz is "lets get 7 wins and a bowl appearance and i'll stick around" and not "the ACC is weak, we've made the ACC championship, an orange bowl appearance is at our fingertips."

duke, umass, wake, @ clemson are the next 4 before the bye and then an absolutely brutal back stretch. if we aren't at 3-3 by the bye week i'd venture (and hope) that this is the final year from the stash.

and if this is it for spaz, its time to clean house. day and devine were supposed to be the next big things, and we have seen below average production from their positions. spaz himself is basically a re-tread and was passed over when jags first got the gig. clean house and get some new faces in here that will try to put BC in the orange bowl and not the sun bowl.

EL MIZ said...

Erik and Pearl Washington -- Northwestern opened up on the road without their best player (Persa) and they managed to beat us. every team has to deal with injuries and dismissals -- it is on Spaz and the coaching staff to adapt and figure out ways to hide the weaknesses.

the secondary stuff is unfortunate -- you can't expect that you'll have to kick a guy off the team (I have no sympathy for Okohora who by all accounts kept breaking team rules and forced the team's hand) or that a senior starter will transfer. and then the other injuries back there (fletcher) made us thin.

but come on -- every time deals with injuries. it should not be an excuse for listless play, a complete and utter lack of imagination from the coaching staff as pertains to game strategy, and a coach who exudes sarcasm and apathy after losing two winnable games.

downtown_resident said...

Since the end of last season, ASU has lost its starting QB, top CB, #2 LB and #2 WR. They lost a backup DB for the season in the first game. The result? 2-0 and knocking on the door of the top 25. Injuries happen to everybody, so let's quit the excuse-making.

mod34b said...

El Miz -- I listened to that Spaz chat with reporters. Boy, he is Mr Jokey, nonchalant. Never once does Spaz really take personal responsibility for the bad loss. He might even have said "it is what it is"

Someone posted a comment here a few years ago that stuck with me. It was along the lines that you really can't make a life-long #2 guy a #1 guy.

There is a reason Spaz was never a #1 until he was 60 and never, ever would have been a #1 except for the weirdness of the Jags/GDF drama. Spaz is not a leader and never will be a leader.

A #1 lives, breathes, eats and pukes responsibility. Look at Brian Kelly at ND -- he lives in pain for his team. Kelly is not even content in victory. A #2, shrugs his shoulder if he thinks he gave it 'his all' (which he didn't) and moves on win, lose or draw.

Spaz is our #2 (at best)masquerading as a #1.

As for Day and Devine, they are duds too who have tried to posture themselves in Chip Kelly's relflected glory. Why is Devine our OL coach?

mod10aeagle said...

I think it would be impossible for anyone to disagree that BC football is a program going in the wrong direction. We claim that our academic rigor puts many top recruits out of reach, but then we need to simplify our schemes so as not to confuse our so-called student/athletes. That seems contraditory. If, like I did, you flipped back and forth between the BC game and the ND/Michigan game, you saw the contrast in real-time. We may have identical records today, but ND is going to kick our ass. And that's because we're going the other way.

Walter said...

It's easy to say we're going the wrong way when we've only played 2 out of our 12 games and have lost both. It's one thing to say Spaz is a problem, but quite another to say the program is systematically headed for failure.

We haven't had a losing season since 1998 and last year we were well on our way with a 2-5 record. Now, last year's team by no means achieved greatness, but they didn't throw in the towel and still went to a bowl game.

I am more disenchanted with Spaz every game that goes on, but I don't buy the "Number 2 mentality" stuff. If FSU goes on to do what they're supposed to do, would you say that about Jimbo Fisher?

Spaz is a bad coach because he's a bad coach, not because he's had a long affiliation with the school. And, in another way, people clamor that we need new flashy coaches, we need people committed to BC. How is it going to look to those prospective coaches if we fire them on average every two years? And to fire someone with long roots in the program, no less?

Lenny Sienko said...

Coach Spaziani is in his 3rd full season, so he will have had three (3) plus years as head coach at BC on which we are to judge his performance.

Make no mistake about it, BC is paying the price now for the GDF/Jags fiasco.

All we need is a Bucky Dent home run to take us back to 1978.

Bravesbill said...

Miz--hell I'll be glad for a Sun Bowl invite sometime in the next 2-3 years at this point. As for Walter, you would rather have a BC loyalist lead the team to 3 and 4 win seasons over a coach who might leave the program after having success? That's ridiculous. I'd much rather have a coach who can get BC to compete for the division year after year. If he leaves after a few seasons, it means he brought success to the BC program which the next head coach can build on. I'd much rather be a contender every few years than a never-was every year.

EL MIZ said...

Walter, Jags is almost 20 years older than Jimbo. To say that they are in comparable positions is a stretch. Jimbo was brought in to replace a legend who had won 2 national championships. Spaz was a coach for almost a decade, and then was passed over when a new HC was needed.

I also think the argument about program stability is overrated. Urban Meyer isn't gonna be the next coach -- we are going to get someone who is at a smaller school and views BC as a step up. I'd gladly take someone who will "use" the program to get us to an Orange Bowl and then jump ship to a bigger program. I just want a coach that wants to win instead of one who seems content with going 7-6.

How we didn't use the Ryan/Raji years to grow is beyond me, but we have clearly regressed from the Matt Ryan/VA Tech win/ACC championship game appearance in 08 to now.

mod34b said...

Walter -- i hope you are not seriously comparing a highly sought-after assistant coach, Jimbo Fisher, who only took the FSU job after getting head-coach-in-waiting status, with a career nobody like Spaz.

Does Spaz act like a real leader of his team? Does he project leadership with his halftime remarks? in his pressers? in his comments with reporters. Of course, not. Are you happy to have Spaz as the HC? or is Spaz, at best, barely tolerable as a coach. These find young men on our team need and want solid leadership. Let's get them that.

Walter said...

I'm not saying Spaz is Jimbo Fisher, I just don't buy the argument that Spaz couldn't have been a good coach by dint of being within the program for a long time.

And I also disagree completely with the scenario advocated by El Miz, which is hope we get a good coach who will use our program as a stepping stone and then leave. That is the one thing I truly did agree with GDF on. No one is ever going to respect our school if it's only viewed as a convenient stepping stone.

A continuous turnstile of coaches causes so many problems, not the least of which it becomes impossible to know what credit/blame you can assign to who. This is Spaz's third year, so it is valid to begin assessing him on it. But that also means, there's what, two years of players that he had nothing to do with around?

Finally, the demeanor of coaches in general is vastly secondary to the performance on the field. Yeah, it would be nice to see some exuberance/confidence, but I don't honestly believe that has a significant effect on the field. Al Skinner achieved success (and to be fair, it did ultimately contribute to his undoing) by being quiet and cards to the vest. Spaz's horrific strategies get me going, not his offhand comments, which are puzzling, but not crucial.

BarraCuda said...

At this point, I'm less concerned about respect than I am about wins.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to see lowered academic standards, nor troublemakers, nor cheaters. But would I take another Tom Coughlin right now? Yes. In a heartbeat.

EL MIZ said...


regarding spaz being with the program for a while: i think the basic counterpoint to your argument that it shouldn't be held against him is that he was a 60-yr old career assistant coach. could he be a diamond in the rough who nobody had discovered? yea, but its more likely that he had been passed over for head coaching gigs because he never displayed what is traditionally looked for in a head coach.

regarding the stepping stone thing -- i appreciate your point, and held that view for quite some time. but if someone is really going to use BC as a stepping stone, that assumes that there was some success at BC that some bigger school said "wow look at what you did at BC, maybe you can do that at (fill in name of state university here)." while we would lose the coach, we would also have broken the current "ceiling" on BC -- that we are hamstrung by an apathetic fan base, high academic restrictions, and will never get into a BCS bowl. i'll gladly take a guy who is a young assistant somewhere, have him for 3-4 yrs at BC, and have him leave after he wins the ACC with BC and we show up in a BCS Bowl.

hoping for someone who is going to stick around for a while (10+ years) is basically a trade off for winning 8 games and making the tire bowl every year. i'd rather have one great season and the idea that nobody can win at BC and the trade off be a lack of consistency than get a guy like spaz who is going to come here for 10+ years, win 8 games a year, and never win the ACC.

Bravesbill said...