Sunday, October 31, 2010

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Clemson

I think this was the sort of team we hoped for earlier in the year. We played ultra conservatively (I'll get to that later), established the run, and frustrated the other team with our defense. It's a good model when you have some limitations, but as we saw yesterday, it also makes for some tense and frustrating moments. BC dominated that game, yet Clemson still had a chance to steal it. But the victory is what is important and now let's run the table.

Offense: C+

Chase Rettig didn't wow anyone, but I kept asking myself this: "would we have won with this game with Shinskie or Marsco?" I say no. It was the little things that I think he does well, like moving within the pocket to make a play. Hitting crossing routes in tight coverage. He's also resilient. Take the pick 6 for example. After that he came back and was still willing to throw downfield and take chances. He wasn't perfect though. His floater that they intercepted was sloppy. He still has trouble with the short slants. He had a few open men that he missed and he underthrew Momah's big catch. But overall, another big and important step for our young QB.

All the running backs played well. Harris was obviously the player of the game. We saw what we already know -- he fights for extra yards and he's got great vision. What we also saw this week was Harris's ability in the open field (on a pass) and that he is getting better at non-zone blocking runs. Some of his better runs inside were between tackles on traps. McCluskey had a nice day and continues to block well. I also think we should use him more in the passing game. I like what I saw from Williams.

The OLine looked good again. Although Spinney got overpowered on some plays early, he hung in there and had a good second half. Cleary looked good at Right Tackle and we didn't miss Lapham. Richman and Claiborne were fine. Castonzo played well (although the false start late in the game could have been a killer).

The WRs didn't light it up, but they showed that they can get separation and win one on one battles. I was glad to see Momah redeem himself after a few rough games. Swigert did his usual job of getting open and making tough catches. Pantale was solid -- and I thought both TEs blocked well. Lee was back in action and I hope we get him the ball soon.

There are moments of brilliance in the play calling -- like throwing to Harris and McCluskey when they are completely uncovered. There was some aggresiveness -- like the throws to Momah. Yet we still had maddening playcalling near the redzone. Points are precious yet we never try anything new in an effort to score TDs. Why not call play action on 1st and goal? We dominated that game and had a dominant performance from our OLine and only had 16 points to show for it. That is on the play calling. I also had a huge problem with our clock eating 3.5 minute drill to end the half with a field goal. Spaz told Raycom that he knew what he has (which I interpreted to mean that he was playing it safe and to our strengths), but once again it is a wasted opportunity. You can't pad a three point lead with 30 minutes to play!

Defense: B+

Scafe played well. I know he got called for a roughing the passer, but his aggression is much needed. Ramsey was strong. Quinn had a dumb penalty. Edebali and Holloway both played well. What I liked most about Edebali is that he motors. There were so many times when we just rushed three that he was the one still chasing Parker and forcing him into a bad throw.

More good tip balls from Herzy. He also made some good open field tackles -- which is impressive with just one hand. KPL was better but still allowed a pass over the middle in what looked like his zone. After some early and unusual missed tackles, Kuechly was great. I am surprised he hasn't had more INTs with the way he closes on people. Devitto made some big plays in special teams.

Chris Fox had a heck of a game. I don't know if they decided to pick on him or it was just timing but he was in the middle of a lot of action and came out ahead. Fletcher wasn't tested but still had a nice INT. All the safeties were good, but I want to make mention of Okoroha. He showed good speed and made a score saving tackle early in the game that helped set the tone.

Overall I thought the defensive gameplan was good. We did our usual of shutting down the run and forcing them to pass. In the second half things got a little too close for comfort but the strategy won out in the end. I do want to make mention of our use of second teamers tough (and this will sort of sound like a criticism). I thought all our backups played well. Nice games from Holloway and Fox and Okoroha. This compliments previous weeks where guys like Noel and Edebali stepped up. I make mention of this because I always felt Spaz's defenses were always at there best when we rotated a lot of guys in and out. Our second teamers were often as good as the first. Yet in the past two years we've gotten away from that. My guess is that the coaches feel there is a huge talent drop off. As the past few weeks are showing, maybe there is talent on the bench. And you never know who will step up and make a difference. That's why I wish Head Coach Spaz and DC McGovern would start to remember what DC Spaz and position coach McGovern did so well in their previous roles -- and use their second teamers more.

Special Teams: B

The squib was well timed and well executed. We didn't do much in the return game but avoided mistakes. Freese deserves credit for making his kicks on a windy day when his counterpart wasn't.

Overall: B

Because so many people think I hate Spaz, let me congratulate him first. As I've mentioned before the difference between disaster and greatness is not that far. Spaz's team was petering on the edge of total meltdown and he got them to respond for a week. Now let's make it two weeks in a row. As for the game, the squib was a good idea. Spaz and the staff also deserve credit for having the second teamers ready to go. As I've hinted at, my biggest problem with what he did was wasting time on the final possession of the first half. With wind like that in Alumni, the field goal wasn't a gimme and a touchdown would have put the game away. But most of all, that sort of conservatism sends a message to his team about Spaz's faith in them. He obviously knows emotion plays a part in the game (see him trying to get guys pumped up in the tunnel). Doesn't he think the FG instead of TD mentality will carry over to his players? Forget recruiting or managing the staff or being the face of the program for a moment. All those things are part of his job. But the ingame decisions are huge and for a team like BC can make a difference between a bowl season and a losing one. The field goal didn't come back to haunt him but playing like that will.

But I believe things are turning and hope he has it figured out. There is no one around who will be happier to eat crow if we win out.


Are you serious? said...

The Vikings decided to go for a touchdown at the end of the first half against the Patriots yesterday in a 7-7 game instead of kicking a field goal. They have arguably the best running back in the NFL. How did that work out for them?

Kicking a field goal in that situation was the right move considering how much they have struggled in the red zone this season. It would've been deflating for the team to come away with nothing. It also shows the coach trusts his defense to hold a lead.

Greg said...

They didn't have to try for a touchdown "instead of kicking a field goal." It was third down, they could have thrown to Momah in the back of the endzone, or the like. Obviously there would have been some risk to there is for any pass. But having lost 5 in a row, I thought the coaching staff would really go for a win, pull out all the stops.

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...


Any reason that Insider isn't posting anything on Duggan's commitment? Is there any reason to believe that isn't a done deal?

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

Sterlin Pfifer: I originally thought this was kind of a blow to the program and an indication that Spaz was losing the program. Now that I'm swelled with optimism after our win, is it reasonable to think that Pfifer realized that he was going to be the odd man out on the depth chart if Finch comes back at full strength. I think we've all liked the brief glimpses from Williams, Finch looked good last year, and I've heard nothing but good things regarding Kimble's potential.

Maybe he just didn't see a place for himself?

Ryan said...

Did Are ou serious even watch the game? They burned 3:30 of the clock on that drive solely running the ball and taking no risks. That speaks to an absolute lack of faith in your team to produce a TD. It wasn't kick a field goal or get nothing. It was take a few shots at the endzone or attempt a long field goal with difficult wind. Awful/cowardly coaching all around there.

eagle1331 said...

Are you serious? - The cowboys went for it on 4th and goal (1 yrd line) to end the 1st half yesterday. They didn't get it. If they kicked the FG it was a 1 possession game going into the 2nd half. Now, they still ended up getting routed, but it may have made a difference as it was a huge boost to the other team and killer for the Dallas offense..

neenan said...

Let's give Spaz some credit, he knows his realisitc limits and said as much himself.

When you are outgunned by a team such as Clemson, the Redzone is not the place to be, and not the place to break in a green QB. We were able to fool a poorly coached Clemson team with the wheel to Harris andthe pass to McCloskey (2 of our 9 completions), but Spaz knew we would not fool them in the Redzone. We have not fooled anyone in the Redzone.

The Redzone is where the athlete vs elite athlete problem BC has really shows up.

Are you serious? said...

Ryan- exactly how much faith do you have in this team to produce a touchdown on any given drive? Spaz said that he knows what his team has which is a good running game. Taking shots at the end zone this year has led to more turnovers than touchdowns.

They had a 6 point lead at the half. If you knew before the game that in the 4th quarter BC could have a 3 point or a 6 point lead with Clemson having a shot at the end to tie or win which would you prefer?

I'd like to see them go for touchdowns obviously but they are playing to their strengths which may not impress anyone but it got the job done Saturday.

eagle1331- excellent point

Greg said...

With this logic, why ever go for it in the red zone??? We can't score there, so always kick a field goal if you get in range, isn't that basically the sentiment. Why limit it to the end of half, it isn't like we only had 6 seconds left, they had time.

Danny Boy said...

We haven't fooled anyone in the redzone because we haven't tried to fool anyone. Teams know we'll be running between the tackles ad nauseam and they stack the box accordingly. We have had some turnovers in the redzone, but how many of those were with our current QB? We aren't operating with the same guys at the start of the season. We shouldn't hold Shinskie and Marsco's lack of judgment against Rettig. We are starting fresh with him, lets not carry any preconceived notions into it.

Right now, we are who teams think we are. Its up to our coaches to use that to our advantage.

EagleManhattan said...

My God ive never seen a more embarrassing group of bad coaching apologists. For those using the nfl examples, this was 3rd down not fourth. Nor was it the end of the game with the game in the bag a la ND. This was a free shot at the end zone. An incompletion stops the clock just as a spike. This was Spaz deciding to bend over and take it, telling his team he had no confidence in them to take advantage of a FREE SHOT. Percentage wise it was a horrible call. Even the dumbest coaches in football would tell you that a turnover is less likely than an incompletion there. It was an example of complete cowardice overruling rational thought. How the hell anyone can objectively or even sympathetically agree is beyond me.

EagleManhattan said...

With 30 mins left in the game, your not coaching to force them to try and score a touchdown. One score wins it and they whiffed on two makable shots that would have tied it. You dont play 30 mins like its the second to last posession of the game. Thats ridiculous... and just stupid.

EagleManhattan said...

You're*. Stupid swype.

mod10aeagle said...

Get me an English major to do a little compare/contrast on Dabo's comments coming back onto the field after halftime and Spaz's post-game on-field comments. Wait a minute, I was an English major! The tone of these coaches just couldn't be more different. Granted, his team ultimately lost, but Dabo clearly expects much, much more from his players than Spaz does. At least, that's what comes through in their comments. So, for Spaz, ending the half without a last minute pick-six is victory, whereas for Dabo, I think settling for a field goal there would've meant compromise, lack of commitment, lack of heart on the part of his players.

We can argue that both coaches are being realistic based on the relative talent on their rosters, but I do believe there's truth to the adage (typically heard in regard to education) that people often perform up to the level of expectations and rarely beyond.

Claver2010 said...

I think we should have taken a knee, we weren't going to score a TD anyways right?

God you are a bunch of merrymen. We just beat our first BCS program and it's November.