Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Miami
Sorry for the delay in putting this out. I have been on the road a good bit since Thanksgiving and didn't even get to watch the game back until Monday night. It was interesting to have the time to digest it all. Since the game, Gene'e spouted off about Spaz, Spaz has had the clumsy interviews with the Globe and Herald and the football world has taken shots at BC for keeping Spaz. But I see the Miami game as microcosm of what should have been in 2011 and what we may be in 2012.
This is really what Chase Rettig should have been all season. We moved him around out of the pocket early to get him space and some time and he hit his throws. We followed it up with some good protection and he made some darts from the pocket. He stood up to some tough pressure and made really great decisions. It was only later after some failed Bordner stuff and line shuffles, that the happy feet and "run for your life" look came back. But overall it was probably his best game of the season. I think he has a bright future. I just hope another change on offense doesn't screw things up. Josh Bordner also got a bum deal out of the Miami game. It is the most telegraphed offensive set in the country. Against a good defensive team like Miami, his plays are doomed. The fumble was bad, but I blame that more on just Bordner not getting enough reps. Protecting the football comes, in part, from practicing carries and getting hit in games. I think Bordner deserves a shot at becoming our QB, but not at the expense of having a totally different offense for him. That's not a sound strategy for any team.
Finch had another strong game. He hit the holes well and ran hard when we needed to keep drives alive. Williams had some nice tough runs, but also had a few where he got tied up in traffic. Kimble didn't get to do as much.
Anderson and Pantale both played well. I also liked using Anderson as sort of an H-back and having him go out for passes. Pantale found the spaces in Miami's coverage and made some nice catches. He also ran hard after the catch. Swigert was good and BC did a good job of getting him in motion and in space. Elliott made some nice catches.
We used a lot of different offensive line combinations. Some were more effective than others. I hope that next season we stick with one lineup. I think the switches midgame just create confusion. Spinney had probably his best game in a while. Harris Williams looked good at times but also got overpowered on occasion. Richman has similar issues. In pass protection he seemed to struggle, but was good pulling and in run blocking. Solid game from Cleary. Wetzel was good. Betancourt looked good in his time.
I liked the offensive scheme. I thought we planned well for Miami. We had a good mix of conservative plays but also still challenged them deep. We added a few new wrinkles. My complaints were simple: the use of Bordner and going ultraconservative late. Both times they brought Bordner in, it killed drives and momentum. If you want a package for him, why not use it when the team needs a spark? Rettig was playing well. He was making throws. There was no need to pull him.
Edebali also closed out the season with his best game. He brought pressure. He was good in coverage and his tipped pass was a thing of beauty. I don't know if he read the running back's face or just put his hand out there, but it was a great play. Appiah played well again. Holloway was good. Mihalik, Ricci and O'Neal played well albeit in limited snaps. Quinn was fine.
For all his tackles this season, Kuechly didn't change every game. That is not a criticism. Just more fact. He had to do so much and react to so much that many of his tackles were three of four yards down the field. His pass coverage was often a step out of place because he had to do other things too. Yet against Miami it all came together. It was easily his best game in pass defense. He also had some tackles behind the line of scrimmage. I think it shows that if his teammates play a little better, Luke can create real havoc around the field. Divitto played well too and made some nice saving tackles. Duggan wasn't as active. KPL was decent but not near the ball as much.
The first big pass was bad, but I don't think it was Fletcher's fault. I think he was expecting Safety help. The rest of the game was really good for Donnie. Asprilla played well too. The safeties weren't as strong early. On both of Miami's explosive plays, the safeties were out of position to make a stop. As the game wore on, things got better. Hughes looked good late.
I didn't have any problems with the defensive approach. The big plays early were an issues, but I think those were more mistakes and breakdowns as opposed to being caught in the wrong formation or blitzing or failing to adjust. In fact, I think the adjustments were pretty good. We were getting plenty of pressure from the front four so we only blitzed on occasion. As the game progressed we used even more three man fronts. Overall it was a good effort.
Special Teams: B+
Quigley was his usual very good self. Swigert attempted returns in traffic. Since we kept their scoring down, Evans wasn't as busy, but was fine. McCaffrey made another special teams tackle. It was the usual.
It was probably our best game of the season, yet things were still in doubt towards the end. And the fact that they were is on Spaz. As I mentioned up above, the shuffle at OLine doesn't make sense to me. I also think we killed scoring opportunities with the Bordner stuff. We burned timeouts again.
I was glad to see the team rally from a deficit. I also was glad to see us go for it on a fourth down. At the end of the day, the guys had nothing to play for, yet played hard. And winning always feels better than losing.