Saturday, November 05, 2005

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: North Carolina

This season is killing me. We haven’t blown everyone away. We stole the Wake game. But all three losses were winnable. And I think all can be pinned on the coaching staff for their refusal to acknowledge that Quinton Porter is not the best quarterback on the team. I am wrong a lot…but I did see this coming.

I don’t know anything. I don’t have any inside knowledge. But people ask me my opinion often because I obviously spend too much time thinking about BC sports. The most common question is why is Porter starting? I don’t know, but I think it is on TOB. The only way I can explain it, is that in life there is a fine line between your best and worst qualities. TOB’s planning, stubbornness and loyalty are admirable. They built the program we have today. But at the same time, they are exasperating. His tunnel vision, dedication to the system and loyalty to his seniors and staff are the reasons we start the wrong players, and consistently have sloppy special teams and have many questionable calls in key situations.

I am traveling Sunday, so I’ve already subjected myself to a second viewing. This is what I saw.

Offense: D+

The only reason it is not an F is that Matt Ryan moved the ball down the field late to nearly steal another game.

The offensive line was better than it was against Virginia Tech, but not as good as earlier in the season. Ross is struggling. He tripped over Miller on one of his pulls. He got beat bad on pass protection a few times. Not sure what is going on with him. A stupid penalty on Beekman cost us a touchdown. Everyone else looked okay. We tried the second team early. They weren’t as effective as they were against Clemson. So so for them overall. They could’ve beaten UNC all day, but turned it on and off.

The wide receivers were just okay too. Blackmon is getting back in the groove. He let a first down in the second half go through his hands, but I almost expect him to have one of those per game. His called back touchdown was a nice play. Lester had one of his better games. Gonzo’s catch was huge. Even the broadcasters were asking why we didn’t throw to him more. Miller had a nice game catching. But like I said last week, he can’t seem to have a complete game (He missed a few blocks).

The running backs…looked good early. They both had some nice runs on the first scoring drive. Callender was showing his burst. It had me thinking this might be one of his “on” days. Yet in the second half he was not nearly as patient with his reads and our line didn’t help him much. I am not an expert at looking at film. I never played at a level that was beyond the manager standing at the top of bleachers with a camcorder. Most of what I have learned about breaking down plays came from watching Merrill Hodge and Jaworski on NFL Matchup. So when our running backs run into the line or get tripped up, I try to see where the free man came from. Too often the past two seasons it has come from the Tight End’s and/or fullback’s man. Once again the blocking from our non-linemen was at the C level. Not really L.V. or Andre’s fault. Unfortunately they cannot make something out of nothing like past BC backs.

Porter. He had some nice plays. I would say about 20% of his snaps. If the remaining 80% could have just been average we win this game. Instead he subjected us to a series of running when he shouldn’t have. Missing open men. Throwing behind, too late, or at his target’s feet. He had Lester for a long TD twice. Once he underthrew it. The second time he didn’t even see him. I also think he is tipping our plays. On running plays he doesn’t scan the field. On passing plays he will look to both sides, but keep coming back to one side. In this game if he kept going back to one side with his looks before the snap three times or more with his head, 70% of the throws went that way (it could’ve been more, but he ran on a few pass plays). He is not a heady guy, an accurate thrower and starting to take bad sacks (he held the ball too long on a screen for Christ’s sake). For me to say anything else about the kid is just piling on.

Bible and TOB. I’ve certainly been an apologist for both at times. This loss is on them just as much as it is on Porter. Bible’s play calling was poor. In past games I’ve said the routes were there and Porter was not taking advantage or the deep passes. That happened again today, but Bible made a questionable bubble screen call on third and long in the 3rd quarter that killed a drive. I understand that Blackmon is our biggest playmaker and the screen is safest way to get the ball in his hand, but expecting him to break a play over and over, especially late in the game, is asking too much. Call plays that are designed to get the first down! I also think we abandoned the run too early. We had the size advantage. We should’ve kept pounding and pounding like we did in the Tire Bowl.

Supposedly TOB makes the final call on who starts. He is the head guy so the buck stops there. But Bible should be screaming, pleading doing whatever it takes to get Ryan on the field. Many fans are pointing to the Blackmon TD call back as the game changer. Porter followed the play with a bad sack and a bad incomplete. To me the sign that he was done for the day came much earlier. We had two two minute drills before the first half. Both were a mess. Porter’s passes were off and the calls were idiotic. What was Bible thinking and how could a team not rush to spike the ball or know to get to the first down? Just atrocious.

Ryan got lucky that two passes weren’t picked, but the kid can only do so much. His poise is unquestionable. The scoring drive was great. If we had given him one more possession, he might have won the game. Unfortunately, he still might not start next week.

Defense: B-

The team did not allow a touchdown. And they kept their intensity despite getting down on the very first play of the game. But they allowed a mediocre North Carolina to control the clock. First the good. The D line did a good job batting down balls. They also did a great job stuffing the run inside. Raji was killing their center in the first half. Unfortunately they did not get much pressure on pass plays. Baker had way too much time throughout.

The bad was the tackling in the flats. North Carolina had success running to the side and away from Kiwi. The starting linebackers missed a few tackles, but more than that, they couldn’t get off their blocks and seemed a step too slow. Henderson’s roughing the passer cost us three minutes and three points. The second team unit of Dunbar and Pruitt were much better. The secondary is still playing too lose. But it wasn’t all about missed assignments. Give credit to North Carolina’s maligned wideouts. They made some tough catches. As I said, the DBs kept North Carolina out of the endzone, but they could’ve played better. Where is the team that pushed Clemson around?

Special teams: D

They put the team in a hole with a classic breakdown. North Carolina muffed the kick. The coverage team all got down there quickly. But instead of maintaining lanes and making solid tackles, we let a busted return become a 90 yard touchdown. Tackling was questionable on coverage throughout. The coverage was great last week. They have the ability to contain the best special teams in the country (Virginia Tech) yet have breakdowns against UNC. It is all about effort. Blackmon looked better returning the ball. We didn’t do much with his better returns. One good run was called back on a penalty. Troost’s miss was a tough kick. I still feel better about him than I do about Ohliger.

Overall: C-

Losing this game was bad. Seeing Florida State lose later in the day was lemon juice in my paper cut. We could’ve won the division. Sometimes being a BC fan is like being Tantalus from Greek mythology. The decision to stick with Porter is costing us every week. The rest of the season depends all on who starts.


Deacon Drake said...

So I am not the only one that noticed that Dunbar played pretty well and seems fast enough so get through the seams and blow up the stretch and sweep runs before the running back can get get up the field. He should be in there for set downs (where the defense knows whether a run or pass is coming) because his defensive IQ and experience may not be at the level or Henderson or Brown, but he is quick and aggressive and can be of more value than just a role player.

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