Addazio, and some of his apologists, are blaming inexperience and/or execution for the utter cluster of the final five minutes. I've heard and read "this team is only three plays away from being 5-1." Anyone who says that in defense of Saturday is missing the big picture. I hope Addazio is smart enough to see beyond that nonsense. The reality is that if you play in enough close games, luck and randomness is amplified and things are not always going to go your way. Addazio is 6-7 at BC in close games (decided by seven points or less) and 1-2 in close games this year. Because he is not preparing this team well and because he is not pressing every in-game opportunity, BC is finding itself in close games. Play enough of those close games and some are going to go blow up in your face. Even if we had miraculously scored a TD in the final minute, the final score would have been 7-3. BC is -- and was -- more than four points better than Wake. The reason the game was close is because Steve Addazio's management during the week and during the game.
But injuries...and fumbles...and missed kicks...blah, blah, blah.
Everything that went wrong on Saturday comes back to how things were handled in the offseason, how things have been handled since Wade's injury, and how Daz managed the game Saturday.
1. The confusion on the final possession. If Smith is getting all the snaps during the week, then the team has more time to practice two minute drills/late-game situations. That's on Daz. If Daz doesn't insist on huddling and then follow it with a run up the middle, that one play doesn't eat all the time. That's on Daz. If Daz has just a more basic understanding of time and the clock he wouldn't assume anything about getting a second play off after a run in under 29 seconds. That's on Daz.
2. Not having more timeouts. The first TO of the second half was burned when he was yo-yo-ing Flutie in. That's on Daz. Playing one QB cuts down on burned timeouts and probably cuts down on some of the false starts that plagued the team on Saturday.
3. Flutie fumbling trying to push for the first down. Why are we even putting him in that situation? He's "more experienced" in what? He's played about as much as Smith in live game action. If anything putting him in there in a pressure-packed situation when he is trying to prove he is the "Man" will lead to mistakes like that.
4. The missed field goals. Last season ended with a missed field goal. Addazio fired his Special Teams Coach. He's had months to find anyone who can hit a chip shot. Not having a reliable kicker also kept playing for Overtime off the table. Without a reliable kicker OT would have probably ended in a loss too, but the Defense might have stopped Wake altogether.
5. The inability to score. Wade's injury, the young OL, the QB rotation, the new play caller, Hilliman, Spaz's recruits, bad luck, etc. It all matters. But every team deals with similar stuff. BC's inability to score is a wholesale failure in approach and practice. First, Daz's preferred style of clock eating and conservatism is going to lead to low scores. You are shortening the game and limiting chances to score. I have no problem shortening the game when we are less talented (FSU, Clemson) or ahead. But in a game where you have a talent advantage or need to score, you cannot be so deliberate. This is not my theory or my discovery. It is now a proven, much reviewed football game theory. Daz is shooting himself in the foot there. Second, when things fall apart, good coaches regroup. During the week they go back to basics and figure out what CAN the team do and build from there. It looks like BC did that a bit (read option with Smith) but Addazio and/or Fitch didn't have the confidence to stick with it. Third, it seems like Addazio doesn't know what he wants to do offensively. His first two years BC played power, with spread principles, with a run first mentality. It was a mix of old Florida, Stanford and a little bit of Chip Kelly thrown in. It wasn't dominant, but it was unconventional enough and successful enough for BC to win. Even as the personnel changed from Year 1 to Year 2, the approach, play calling and philosophy didn't. I don't know if Day kept it all glued together or Addazio and Fitch have overreacted to every injury or every freshmen mistake, but we are not using the mix we had in Year 1 and Year 2. The OL is not as great yet, but that is not the problem. The Tight Ends and WRs are not blocking well (that's coaching). We wasted numerous snaps on a QB who is not a running threat (Flutie) and hasn't shown he can be a passer to take advantage of the other team's aggressiveness. We are not playing to our roster's strengths, we are not coaching up the young guys and we abandoned what worked for Year 1 and Year 2 for a "throw shit against the wall" approach. That is why we are not scoring.
Neither QB was good, but Smith was better. His running threat opens other plays. His passes aren't great but are sharper and have more zip. I don't think "knowing the offense" is really his problem. I think his decisions reading the defense in passing situations are. On a short out to an open guy, he can zip it. When he rolled in the redzone, he hesitated. Ironically when he rolls, his passes get worse. I don't know if he is waiting for the guys to get wide open or is just been told to throw it where it cannot be picked, but he's better passing from the pocket. His running is good and he would have had two running TDs if not for bad downfield blocking by his teammmates. I feel for Flutie. I wish his last name was Jones, so there wouldn't be so much baggage with this issue. He's not fast enough to make something out of broken plays. His passes are not any better than Smith's. (They are arguably worse.) His decision making on passes and using the clock is not great.
Gowins looked really good. The fumble wasn't a freshman mistake. The Wake kid made a perfect tackle and placed his helmet right on the ball. Outlow was a bit of a disappointment. He didn't block well and got tripped up in traffic a bit. Rouse was okay. No idea what he was doing on the last play. Wofford played well.
The Offensive Line wasn't bad but they were inconsistent. Hendren noticeably made some mistakes. Harris screwed up and fell down a few times. The interior in general got beat a bit by Wake crashing the gaps. Lindstrom struggled too. Baker played well. Bowen was fine.
Callinan made some great catches. Even the one that was called back. He blocked well. Addazio did not block all that well. Alston did not play well. The first INT was on him. Smith was okay, but he is not a good blocker either. Jackson didn't pull in the one pass thrown his way.
Who deserves the blame for our Offense is up for debate. From what I know, Addazio sets the vision and agenda and Fitch calls the plays. I have no idea who is making the Flutie/Smith call in-game but the changing mid drive is moronic. Other than the Smith/Flutie issues, my biggest play calling gripe is calling as many passes as we do. The play action doesn't work because neither QB is willing or confident enough to come out of the fake and make a throw. And then the play breaks down. I also hate the traditional pass plays because we don't pass block well yet.
Abdesmad had his best game in years. He showed more speed than we've seen from him. Wujciak dominated again and is headed towards an All Conference season. Kavalec had another strong game. Gutapfel and Landry were both fine.
The Linebackers were outstanding. Easily their best game as group. Daniels was all over the place. Strachan's INT was a great athletic play. Milano played really well. The forced fumble at the end was amazing. Schwab looked good.
The DBs weren't really tested. Wofford only passed 25 times and many were way off and non-issues. A few of Wake's big passes were coverage breakdowns, not guys getting beat. Moore did lose a tough battle on a long pass, but was pretty good. Johnson made a nice play on the INT. Simmons looked good.
Brown called a great game. The Defense is playing on such a high level that Brown doesn't even need to blitz that much. Just the hint of the blitz often does enough to screw up the other team. And we get plenty of pressure when we need it.
Special Teams: F
Walker looked good on returns. Alston showed more aggressiveness, but still let some punts roll too far. Nothing else needs to be said about the place kicking. Howell is gimpy still. His punts were a mixed bag.
The only thing keeping the whole game from an "F" was the Defense.
Writing after a game like that can lead to overreaction, but I hold with my belief that Addazio is not going to be a special coach at BC. If this is how he is managing the rough spots and this is how he is preparing BC for tight games, he will never do enough for us to break through. You can win with Addazio's mismanaged games if you have an overwhelming talent advantage. BC will never have that. So for BC to have a ACC winning season, we will need peak BC-level talent and a coach who will make all the right in game calls.
For now I think Addazio will be TOBish. To his credit, the BC-era TOB would have a bounce back game after one like this. Can Addazio? I will have more on what Addazio needs to do this year and going forward in posts this week.