Emotionally most losses are easy to watch back. I am usually spent and over things by the time I hit play on my DVR remote. This was different. This game reinforced how close things were. We should have won this game. I am not blaming anyone. The team lost it together, but there were enough plays in all three phases that would have made a difference. If just one of those plays (a field goal, wrapping up Winston, a fumbled exchange) goes our way, we probably win.
QBs reads are not exclusive to passing. I felt Murphy's reads on the zone option were just okay. He handed off a few times when the DE was crashing and/or unblocked. I also felt he should have kept it a few times when he was left with big holes. His passing was decent. The adjustment on the TD to Phillips was very good.
As a group, the running backs were great. Hilliman ran hard and looked like Montel Harris where he always fell forward another two yards when tackled. Outlow was also really explosive. His run when BC was pinned on the final drive was great. It was an example of making something out of nothing. Willis ran well. Rouse didn't do much, but had a great heads up play on the bad snap. Wofford was good blocking in the power I plus he caught a few.
The OLine was solid too. Although he didn't get called out on TV, I thought Vardaro had the best game. The leftside was really strong. Betancourt played well too. The announcers talked up Kramer and he probably had one of his better games. Gallik was solid and did a decent job with the slick ball.
I haven't mentioned Louie Addazio much this year, but he blocked really well. Bordner played well and provided the key block on Murphy's TD run. Darmstatter made a nice grab. Alston was good and I am glad he finally got the shovel pass inside.
I left talk for the Bordner pass in the overall section. Feel free to skip down there, if you don't want to talk about the other plays. I liked Day's approach. It was run heavy and started with between the tackles and used more counters and sweeps once we had softened them up. My biggest challenge wasn't with the runs. It was not calling enough runs for Murphy. Or giving him some rollout options where his choice is run pass. He's our best player and I feel like he should have had a few more carries.
Wujciak played really well. He helped collapse the line and slowed things down between the tackles. He is really coming into his own this season. Kavalec and Mihalik were quiet, especially when compared to some of their games earlier in the season. Gutapfel looked good. Adebayo and Landry played fewer snaps and they were fine but not impactful.
It was a weird game for Keyes. I said he would be the key to the pass rush, but they didn't use him like that. He played a lot more coverage while Daniels and Strizak blitzed. He was decent in that role. When he did blitz he drew a holding call. Daniels was okay overall and stopping the run, but couldn't get to Winston. Strizak looked good, but also didn't close as much as we needed on the blitz. Duggan had a limited role.
Brown was really good. The INT was a bit about being in the right place at the right time, but overall he was very active and made a lot of important tackles. Asprilla played well, especially in coverage. Simmons was good. Moore got a little lucky in coverage, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.
Don Brown told the announcers that he has to blitz to get pressure. I understand and agree. He did mix it up a bit by using Keyes less (almost like a decoy). It created some pressure on Winston. Just not enough. But once again with the game on the line, the opposing offense moved the ball down the field. It's frustrating, but in this game, it didn't feel like a coaching or scheme issue. It felt like a talent one.
Special Teams: B
Howell's punting was good. His kickoffs were good too. His field goal miss was frustrating, but not terrible. It looked better than some of the other misses we've had this year. The conditions were not great either (just look at what happened to the nation's best kicker Aguayo). Knoll's kick was fine.
Willis had a decent kick return. Alston didn't get to do much on the punt returns. His one return was short and uneventful.
The kick and punt coverage was fine. Considering where it has been and going against Florida State, that was an improvement.
Let's address the second Bordner pass. This seems like it will be the lasting memory of the game for some and a black mark against Day and/or Addazio. First, any gimmick in that situation is ultimately Daz's call. They clearly worked on it and Addazio is a former play caller. If he didn't like the call he vetoes it. Others feel like the play was too risky given what was on the line. Also, they don't understand the logic of a trick play when BC was successfully moving the ball on the ground. My justification is that we ran it on first down and third down with little success. Running on second could have been a challenge too. Ultimately what happened was an incomplete pass on second down. Would you be upset if Murphy had just thrown an conventional incomplete instead? I didn't love the call and thought the execution was iffy, but it still resulted in Murphy nearly catching the ball. If he brings that in, Daz and Day are heroes.
Overall I thought Addazio managed the game well. We stayed with our plan even as we fall behind. The team was motivated and mostly performed well. You might quibble with waiting on the timeouts during the final Florida State drive but we never stopped them. There is no good time to use a timeout if the other team keeps converting. The use and mix of kickers is less a strategy/management issue and more of a recruiting one. At this point Daz is just trying to mask the problem and use whoever makes sense in the given moment.
It was far from a perfect game or a perfect coaching performance. But Addazio continues to do most of the right things in these sorts of games. Eventually we will start to win more of them.
The bigger issue is we now are in the middle of the predictable losing streak. We need to soundly defeat Syracuse next week to prove the staff's ability to manage a season.