Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Clemson
We didn't play well. Our passing was the only thing working and even that wasn't perfect. But it is good enough that we are going to steal a game or two. But to steal a game we need our defense to make more plays. They didn't on Saturday so we didn't deserve to win this game. The second viewing confirmed that. But you can see how this team could get on a roll. But will Spaz be willing and able to put it together?
Rettig played well, but wasn't as sharp as some of his earlier games. He forced a few things and his footwork got sloppy. I don't know if he is getting frustrated or feels he has to do too much. What is getting better is his improvisation on broken plays. But overall he still made some great throws. Darts right dowfield and into tight spot. The first INT was not his fault. The second one was on him. He was too late getting off the pass and forced it.
Andre Williams is limited but he's basically all we have. The good news: he's getting very good at blitz pick up. He's also good in space. But most of our rushing issues were not really his fault. Dudeck looked good catching the ball, but he's got to get to the first down market. Sinkovec was involved in some of our best runs as a lead blocker.
When you pass a lot, someone is going to get to pad his stats. That's not the case with Amidon. He played really well. His route running is very, very good. If you look at his first TD, he made a pivot and cut so fast that he pulled away. He still had a drop, but is now a reliable real weapon. Coleman is playing better and had a few nice catches. I am glad to see Evans stepping up. He made some nice plays and is putting his early season drops behind him. Swigert made some nice catches. His throw was risky, but it worked. Parsons was okay. Larmond was on the field but wasn't thrown to.
Williams couldn't run much because our offensive line was not good. Collectively they can't get a push or to the second level on run plays. Wetzel and White were okay. Cleary was okay but had a killer holding call and he and Vardaro seemed to have some assignment issues. Vardaro struggles when he's asked to move or pull. He also allowed a blitzer in untouched while he was doubleteaming someone else. Gallik had a rough game. He got penalized before the half and got beat multiple times. With Gallik and Vardaro struggling the most, I think it might be time to give their backups a shot or shift White back to Center.
As I have been hammering home, we do one thing well and that is pass. Doug Martin called 28 rushes. Those are wasted opportunities. I appreciate the new wrinkles he added to take advantage of Williams. Like the toss with one side overloaded. He also called a lot of off tackle runs (Williams' comfort zone), but none of it was great. Some of Williams best stuff were draws when the field is spread. I am sure part of the reason we ran so much was to keep the game close. That's a common strategy against high powered teams like Clemson. But I think you defeat the strategic purpose if you don't run well. Our OL pass blocks well. We have a maturing group of pass catchers. We have a very good QB. Throw!!! If you want to control clocks than do it off of draws or short passes.
The defensive line wasn't bad, but they have to start making more plays. They rarely make tackles in the backfield and didn't force Clemson into many broken plays. Quinn made a big play on the third and short late in the game. Mihalik had one of his better games and is at least using his height to disrupt passes. Borcich made a few plays. Abdesmad was okay. Appiah didn't do much. Neither did Ricci.
KPL played really well early. He had multiple tackles but then got banged up. Clancy was pretty good and had a huge stop on the 4th down when we needed one. But Boyd did get off a few easy passes in Clancy's area. Divitto was better but his shoulder block on Boyd on a crucial 3rd down was a big mistake. Duggan looked good and should be getting more snaps. At least he made some plays behind the line of scrimmage. Keyes was very active and needs to be on the field more. We should use more 3-4 from here on out just so our linebackers have more chances to make plays.
Like the defensive line, the secondary needs to make more plays. Other than Sylvia's INT, they didn't do much. When BC's D is at its best, we close quickly on quickouts to WRs. Clemson gashed us with that same play. Jones got burned multiple times. Asprilla was ok. All the Safeties had a rough day. They missed tackles. They got faked out on play action. They also didn't help on the deep plays. Rositano played more than Noel. On McDowell's TD run, I have no idea what Rositano was doing, but he was really out of position. Not a good day. Sylvia missed tackles and also didn't help the corners much.
Have you ever felt so helpless watching BC on defense? McGovern mixed it up. We used a lot of three man fronts. We blitzed a fair bit yet we still allowed 576 yards. There were so many huge holes in some of the zones, it was hard to tell if the guys we missing assignments or if we just can't cover. I like McGovern. It amazes me that he and Spaz ant come up with some gameplan that gets us off the field. I hope we stick with the three man more in future games, if only to get better players on the field. But at this point what he is doing is not working.
Special Teams: D
Freese was solid. I also like Evans' aggressiveness on his returns. Our kick coverage was decent, although not as effective as last week. The problem was the punting. We've been spoiled for nearly eight years with great and consistent punting. That's not the case this year. Levano's two bad early punts killed our momentum and put the D in a huge hole.
Aside from sticking with the run too long (as noted above), this was not a bad game strategically. I whined about the use of timeouts, but that wasn't why we lost the game. I also didn't mind the pooch punt nor going for the field goal down three scores. Spaz was appropriately aggressive on the other 4th downs. He didn't do anything to screw things up. That's improvement. But now he needs to do something about the defense. Even though we sort of hang around in these games, the defense is bad. He's stuck with the players he recruited, so it is now up to him and McGovern to smoke and mirror things for a few weeks.
The good news for Spaz is that we have Army next. The bad news is that they are unconventional, so the carryover from what we've done or what we will do later in the season is minimal. But it is his chance to right the ship.