Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Notre Dame
This game was frustrating because we did so many things right. We had the perfect defense in place for them. Our special teams were excellent. But the offense couldn't do their part. The same problems plagued us and there is no reason things should be this bad with only one game left. It is a real shame that we are not going to a bowl game. The offensive guys could use the practice reps.
Rettig was very inconsistent. He made some great throws and some awful ones. As Mayock pointed out a lot of it is his footwork as the pocket collapses. But that doesn't explain it all. There are still some times when he has time and is a little off. Bordner seems like a tough kid and a hard runner. If he plays more, he'll get better at his reads (see below).
Finch played well and has a good feel for holes. Kimble also ran well. Williams was not as effective. Obviously in space Williams is great and he can run over anyone. Yet when things are clogged up, he doesn't have Kimble or Finch's knack for finding softness. Sinkovic played well.
The Tight ends were very good. We finally got to Pantale and he delivered. Anderson had a nice catch and blocked well. Swigert made some nice catches and in finally winning one on one battles. Larmond had a bad drop but also had a nice catch. Amidon was fine. Coleman made a nice catch.
Spinney was probably our best OLinemen Saturday, which makes sense since he was one of the only one now to get yanked out at some point. Richman, Harris Williams and Bettancourt all had snaps at LT, RG and RT respectively. Of the backups, I think Harris Williams was the most effective. Ian White struggled and missed some blocks. Cleary was fine. Wetzel was pretty good. Vardaro struggled.
My biggest problem with the offensive play calling is how we use Bordner. As long as he doesn't throw the football, it is a pure gimmick. I don't mind gimmicks if we benefit. But I feel like it slows the offense and hurts Rettig's rhythm. Plus it doesn't take long for the other team to figure it out. For example, it looks like we actually are using Chip Kelly's play design on the Bordner plays. In those Kelly leaves the DT unblocked and he is the read for the QB. But our plays developed so late and Bordner is not experienced in reading yet so the plays got blown up. ow that is not really Bordner's fault. If he was running this all game he'd have a better feel for when to keep it (see Chris Crane). If he had been in this offense all year, maybe we would throw it with him. It looked like he was going to throw on his roll to the right but he pulled it and ran. So right now it is a pure gimmick. What I would rather see is more of Rettig in the shotgun. We finally attempted nearly 40 passes (welcome to the 21st century). Now we just need to improve on the accuracy, blocking and catching on those plays.
I think we've found our next great DT. Appiah has the elements. He wins one on one battles. He clogged the pocket and he hustles. We dropped him into coverage a few times and he was making tackles downfield. Ricci played well. Quinn had one of his better games. O'Neal was good. Holloway played well and timed the INT well. Mihalik played well as did Edebali. Dan Williams played DE too and contributed.
Notre Dame seemed to focus on Kuechly early. They doubled him a good bit. They ran at him so that their blockers could focus on him. Although it slowed him a bit, he still made plenty of big plays. Divitto didn't play as well. Given his position he has to over a lot of space and sometimes it seems like he might be a step slow. KPL was back and made some nice plays. With him back, Duggan didn't play as much. Lawrence played a little but wasn't in on any tackles.
The announcers kept harping on Fletcher, but he had a decent game...considering all that he was asked. He missed the INT and had a stupid penalty. But he also did a good job of containing. He closed well and tackled well and made a few nice plays in coverage. Asprilla was also good and very active tackling. ALJ played a little. The bigger problem in our secondary were the Safeties. Sylvia had some missed tackles and stupid penalties. Hughes tackled better but still wasn't great in coverage. Rositano missed some chances at big plays.
The defense was well planned. We were aggressive early with blitzes and then as the game progressed dropped a lot of guys into coverage. It was classic BC, but it played well against Notre Dame.
Special Teams: A
In general I think Spaz is too quick to punt but Quigley paid off. Also credit to the overage team for getting downfield and fielding the punts deep in the ND end of the field. Evans was good in his returns. Swigert made some good decisions fielding the punts.
I appreciate the fire the team showed. The game was clearly chippy. However, that resulted in costly penalties. I also hated Spaz sitting on the ball at the end of the first half. It amazes me that no one has talked to him about this. Why haven't any of the assistants showed him the stats on wasting possessions? How can a man with so much football under his belt not realize that points are a premium for this team and he needs to adjust? When he does that, it gives fuel to the fire for those who think Spaz just wants to keep some games close.
As I said, Spaz has now lost three straight to some mediocre Notre Dame teams. I guess we shouldn't expect anything different as long as he is in charge.