Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Duke
One of the reasons I like reading Michigan blog MGOBlog is because Brian works in game theory and probabilities into his reviews. In the one of his wrap ups of the crazy Notre Dame-Michigan game Brian quoted Brady Hoke on the final :08 seconds:
“With eight seconds left? We had two timeouts, so we were at least going to give it a shot in the endzone. If Denard would have scrambled and got tackled, I think we had enough time to call a timeout. I may have gone for the touchdown and gone for the win [anyway]. Why not? I mean, you play to win. That was a good win.”
Spaz drives me nuts in a lot of ways, but what confounds me is his unwillingness to adjust his style or strategy as the game conditions change. Forget that he's blown double-digit leads before, the biggest concern is that with the game on the line, he limited his number of opportunities to score! He spiked the ball when he didn't need to. He kept running without taking a shot into the endzone. If you are ahead you can rationalize conservatism and playing for the kick. When you are down, you cannot. You need to press until you take the lead!! Later, in the defense section, I will get into Spaz's signature scheme coming back to haunt him.
Spaz apologists can shift blame to multiple people, but no one else controls our approach, time management and strategy. The missed kicks hurt, but Spaz had lost the game long before with his approach.
Rettig has moments of brilliance, some moments where he shows his age and then makes some flat out bad throws. What concerns me about the bad throws is that there is often no need. He has time. He has enough strength and often has good footwork, so I don't know why some of these are off. On the bright side Rettig looked great and made good decisions on the broken plays. Maybe we should use more shot gun and just let him chuck it over and over.
Swigert made some nice catches. Larmond was good. Coleman made a nice catch, but is still raw. For example, he should have been ready for Rettig's back shoulder throw. Pantale and Anderson were good...I wish we tried to get it to them in the redzone.
Kimble's TD was nice, but I was more impressed with some of his catches in traffic. He has good hands and uses his body well in one-on-one matchups. Carrying the ball wasn't as effective. It was nice to see Finch back. He might be better at cutting and blasting through the hole than the other two guys. Williams showed great power but still doesn't have that elusiveness nor instincts in traffic. Dan Williams did a great job as a lead blocker.
Wetzel and Clearly both played well. Too bad the interior guys weren't as strong. I don't know what is up with Richman. It doesn't seem like he is 100% as he had some mental lapses (missing late blitzers) and got overpowered. Gallik was ok. White probably had his most uneven performance of the season. Vardaro was ok.
There were simple plays I liked that were perfect calls at the perfect time: like Kimble's screen. We also had some more play action and downfield throws. All of that was positive. Yet there were still multiple drives that were just ugly. Even though we didn't win, I think Brock called a decent game. I don't think he was the problem.
I've been killing the DTs, but this week the DEs didn't do much. Quinn made the most news with his boneheaded penalties. He also started flushing their pocket late in the game. Now we need him to wreck havoc earlier in the game. Ricci was ok. Rudolph was ok. Harris Williams was fine. But as a group they just didn't make enough plays.
I don't want to diminish Kuechly's big day, but KPL was just as good. Luke covered more ground, but KPL was able to be disruptive in their backfield, had some great plays closing on their runners and is getting better in pass coverage. Divitto was solid. Clancy was fine. A few other LBs got on the field but didn't make big plays.
Fletcher was good again. Noel was really good...he did a great job tackling and also helped out on tackles in his area. Louis-Jean was pretty good but didn't play as much. The bigger issue were the safeties. Sylvia has really good instincts but his good plays were negated by his bad ones. He's also got to wrap people up and not just throw his body around. Williams screwed up on their TD where he didn't get the player or the ball. Rositano looked ok. Hughes looked better but still didn't make a big impact play.
We faced this same offense last year and watched them move the ball at will. Why did we think this year would be any different? We couldn't get pressure. We couldn't stop the run. We gave them the flats and they took it. We finally went to man coverage but still gave them huge cushions. What was that going to accomplish? They could still complete the passes. I understand that our defense is built on forcing the other team to make precise passes...and it is usually effective. But when facing a team that wants to dink and dunk in the passing game, you have to mix it up.
Special Teams: F
Freese made two nice kicks...oh, yeah, he also missed an XP and the game-winning field goal. I hate killing a kicker, but he's got to make the easy ones. They're more important since they are a higher percentage play.
The big head scratcher was the squib to end the first half. But are we really surprised by failure to grasp time, distance and timeouts?
I don't know why we started doing the Rugby style punts. Quigley's been one of our most consistent performers. Why screw it up.
Rositano's block was nice. (Did you know that was the first block during Spaz's tenure?).
Our kick returns were fine.
Some would say that losing to Duke would earn an 'F.' I went with a 'D' because we did have a chance to win the game. BC is close, unfortunately the schedule starts to get tougher
I lost hope in Spaz a long time ago. Now my hope lies with the players and assistants. BC is a special place and this team is better than its record. I hope that pride and competence make a difference and we start winning some games despite of the clueless game management from our head coach.