There were plenty of mistakes Saturday, but it was going to be tough to beat Clemson under any circumstance. In person and watching it back, the Tigers are impressive. I think they are going to win the ACC and make the playoffs. As for BC, I did see progress. Hopefully enough progress to turn the season around.
Smith's numbers weren't impressive. In fact they weren't very good. But I don't think they tell the whole story. On the road, in a very noisy environment, he stayed cool. He made a few nice passes. He avoided bad mistakes like potential INTs and used speed to avoid some sacks. I would like him to be a little more aggressive calling his own number on runs. His throws when scrambling weren't great. I don't know if it a balance issue, or he just rushes or he wants to put it where only a BC guy can get it. But he's getting better.
Glad to see Willis back. He made a big difference with his speed and knowing when and where to hit the hole. Rouse wasn't as productive running, but did have a nice reception. Outlow was okay. He still has some issues around the line and slipping by the first tackler. Gowins was fine in limited action. Wofford had a nice catch, but had some issues blocking.
Like Flutie, I don't like the extra baggage of criticizing a player with the last name Addazio, but Louie wasn't good. He should have caught Smith's pass on his deep route. His blocking was not great either. Sweeney's blocks weren't great either. Robinson looked good and also drew contact. Callinan wasn't targeted. Smith made one nice catch. Swigert made a smart decision on his potential pass play. Overall I think the WRs and Tight Ends are really underperforming. Do we have Clemson-like talent there? No, but I don't think the talent we have is being used well. I also don't think the guys are going a great job blocking or turning their few passes into bigger plays.
I actually thought the Offensive line looked a little better. The interior took big steps. Baker and Hendren were much improved. I am really disappointed in Williams. He looks slow and at times lost out there. Montiero got extensive playing time and was a mixed bag. He made some errors but looked okay at other times.
This is what I expected from BC and what we probably should have been doing earlier in the season. We used a lot of big packages and unbalanced lines. We don't have the same TE or OL talent as Addazio's first two years, but the jumbo packages gave Clemson some issues, gave Smith decent protection and moved the chains on occasion. I still think we need to create more based off of Smith's strengths, but that can be done within the frame work of the jumbo packages. Things in general were simpler and they moved the ball better. My biggest gripe was the lack of aggressiveness once we started falling behind. This is Offense, but I am pointing the finger at Addazio and Fitch. Issue 1: the final possession of the first half. We were moving the ball in the air with help from the refs. We burned two timeouts with confusion out of a timeout. Things are not ideal, but they are moving the ball. And then the run to the one yard line. The play was dead with 13 seconds and BC had a timeout. Addazio wasted six seconds while everyone looked around deciding what to do. He followed it with a kick. His rational was that he didn't trust Smith to avoid a sack with 13 seconds left. That is pretty lame. With 13 seconds he can take a shotgun snap and not even move. Make one pass into the endzone or throw it away and then kick the field goal.
Obviously the punt from deep into Clemson territory was bad, but I thought all the four down territory decisions have been awful. Look at what Clemson did on a 4 and 1 when the game was still close. They went for it. Why? They have better players. But also because it a a better play than a long field goal attempt or a short punt.
I also want to see Fitch push the ball downfield more with long pocket passes.
For a group that has carried the Defense most of the season, the DLine picked the wrong game to letup. They weren't bad, but they weren't great. They didn't get enough pressure on Watson and didn't bring him down an a few chances. Wujciak couldn't make due with his usual power moves. Landry never made a game changing play. Kavalec was ok. Ray played a bit. Abdesmad made a few nice tackles.
Daniels played well. He was very active. Milano made plenty of big plays and played well overall, but did have a missed tackle in pass coverage early. Strachan looked good in pass coverage.
The DBs let up a lot of yardage and were called for a lot of penalties, but I thought they played really well. Clemson took a high risk, high reward strategy and their receivers made multiple great plays. It was rarely a case of a BC guy being out of place or getting beat. Moore stumbled a bit on one of the TD go patterns, but looked very good overall. Simmons and Johnson both made good plays. Yiadom wasn't targeted very often. The one DB who struggled a bit was McClary.
This was the first game where BC couldn't get lots of pressure with their front four alone. That's why Watson had time and that's why the DBs were in a track meet all night. Brown adjusted and started blitzing more, but it was a little too late. We probably won't face an Oline as good as Clemson again (maybe Notre Dame's), so this won't be as much of an issue. But Brown is going to have to start mixing things up so that the opposing QBs are more confused when they drop back.
Special Teams: B
Howell had his best day punting of the season. The punt coverage was also very good. Alston didn't screw up but he didn't do anything of note.
Congrats to Knoll on making a kick.
I don't know if I would say everything got fixed this week. It is more like all the previous issues were less terrible. Clock management was still statistically dumb but you could rationalize some of the decisions Addazio made. The offense still didn't score enough to win, but did score. You could call it baby steps, I guess.
But a fourth loss is still hard to swallow. Adazzio needs to regroup and win. It is not that his job would suddenly be in trouble. That's not how BC works. But showing progress and turning that progress into victories is crucial for building the program and credibility.
The announcers mentioned that Addazio told them that this team is young and to "get your licks in now." I don't care for the bluster, but I hope he backs it up. Addazio gave away two wins. Now is the time to go steal two back.