Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Virginia Tech
This was a rough game to watch back because we had our moments. But we are still so flawed on the offensive line that it ripples into our QB play, our play calling and even our defensive strategy. I still fault Spaz for most of this as you will see below. We are not playing to win and we are not getting better on the in key areas. That's on the coach.
Rettig's game fell into what has become his pattern for the season. He was really off on some throws. He held the ball too long at times. He forced some throws. And then he would do something awesome. The kid is tough and is getting no time. But we need him to be better with his throws and decision making. I am still a big believer and think he will be very good, but right now he is still very inconsistent. I like to believe that if we gave him better protection he would be a great QB.
Larmond started strong but we need more. The fumble was terrible and although VT was jumping him early, he's got to win some of those battles. Swigert's hands weren't great. Elliot did okay. Coleman caught a tough pass. Amidon was ok. Anderson made a really nice catch. Pantale made a nice play. Both Tight Ends need to be more involved in our passing.
Finch is one of the bright spots. He runs hard. He shows good vision. He's good catching the ball and he can make some things out of nothing. He still needs to get a bit more consistent on blitz pick up. Williams ran through some tackles but at this point probably doesn't have Finch's vision...which you need with this line. Sinkovec was at FB. He wasn't as good as Dan Williams. I would get into the logic of switching them around at this point in the season, but there are so many head scratching roster decisions surrounding this team that it is best captured in another post.
The good news regarding the offensive line: our guys blocked someone on the screens. The bad news was most everything else. Cleary played pretty well. Spinney was okay. Everyone else was bad. White got beat a few times. At lot of pressure came from Wetzel's side when he was blocking no one. But missed assignments are nothing new with this crew. Vardaro struggled.
I don't know what Dave Brock is trying to accomplish with this scheme. You see moments of aggressiveness (which we need) but they are often random or desperate. We don't build towards them with things like play action. I also think he needs to keep things simple at this point. We are so limited in so many ways that we need to play to our strengths and make Rettig as comfortable as possible. Take Rettig's TD run. It was a classic zone-option read. Why don't we use that play more often? Chris Crane showed that a well executed zone-option read can open things up. We also have no answer for their aggressiveness against us. There are numerous reasons for our offensive struggles, but at some point Brock's got to get more points on the board.
The DLine didn't change the game, but they were solid enough. Ricci is starting to play better. Appiah also looked good. Rudolph got some snaps. Mihalik is playing well considering his inexperience. Dan Williams was fine back on this side of the ball (although we should have kept him on O). The bigger disappointment was that Holloway and Edebali didn't make any big plays. Both are very experienced and have shown some flashes, but neither have really stepped it up this year. We need that at some point.
We have the best collection of linebackers you'll ever see on a one win team. Keyes looked good...especially adding pressure from the edge. KPL played well. Duggan was good in limited time. Divitto was also good on the edge. Kuechly was effective. The only LB who didn't have a great game was Clancy. He seemed a step behind especially in pass coverage. When he and ALJ were on the same side of the field they got burned a few times by the quick out/bubble screens.
Noel looked good and made some good tackles for losses. Fletcher had a bit of a rough day in run support and in pass coverage. ALJ still plays way too far off and allows some easy throws. He also had trouble tackling against the bubbles. Asprilla looked good and made some tackles. Williams didn't play a ton but was ok. Hughes needs to stop throwing himself at people and start wrapping up on tackles. Rositano was ok. Sylvia was very good at times and bad at others. He hustles and is a pretty good tackler but made a stupid personal foul penalty.
We went with a heavy dose of 3-4 throughout the game. I appreciate it on two fronts. First, we have good depth at LB and are thin at DL. Second, it is something new. So many teams are ready for BC just based on the fact that we rarely diverge from our base and blueprint. I also liked that we blitzed heavily in the first half. The challenge was the second half. We continued to blitz but not at the same frequency nor the same effectiveness. My biggest problem was easing up before the first half. It only allowed three points, but it changed the mentality of the game.
Special Teams: B-
The Special Teams have actually been a bright spot on the season. Evans hasn't broken anything but still had good returns. So did Swigert on his one chance. Quigley kicked well. (Although he had a touchback on Spaz's dumb punt.)
I appreciate that BC tried new things. I appreciate that we showed some spark in the first half. But the inept handling of the last drive before the half cannot be ignored. Curious play calling. Head scratching clock management. Disorganization out of a timeout. Ultra conservative decision making on offense. Then capping it all off with passive Defense that allowed VT to move the ball down the field with ease. As I've said, that has nothing to do with injuries. It has nothing to do with past coaches. It was purely cowardice and ineptitude from this head coach.
Then later in the game after our second TD, the announcers and VT are expecting an onside kick. There was 9:12 left. We needed multiple possessions to keep any hope of staying in the game. Spaz kicked it. We wouldn't get the ball back until 3:43 after they scored again.
Spaz made an effort to show more passion. At the half he tried to fire up the team in the tunnel. What I don't think he understands is that while the "rah rah" is a nice first step, this team needs a lot more. We need a coach who is also willing to take chances and have his team prepared.