Sunday, September 04, 2011

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Northwestern

My gut reaction to Saturday's loss was: "we are going to lose every game." The defense gave up a lot of yardage and we only managed 17 points. It felt just like last year. But I have hope after watching things back. As usual things aren't as bad as they appeared live. This frustrating loss can be contained. There were only a few issues (which are mostly fixable). If the coaching staff does its job, we should be okay.

Offense: B-
Rettig won't be the issue this year. You could see it from how he reacted to the decisions he made. The defensive pressure mounted (as did the emotional pressure) and he kept getting up. While some of his throws were off, there weren't many mental errors. I am not going to give him too much blame for the sacks/intentional groundings. Those will decrease as our play calling becomes more honed. Oh, did you notice he threw for 375 yards? I felt really good about Rettig prior to the season and feel like yesterday validated most of my optimism. If he can stay upright and get a little more accurate on all his throws, he can have a big year and a big career.

Andre Williams reminds me a lot of William Green. While that sounds like hype, from me it is a backhanded compliment. Like Green, Williams is a powerful runner who can be great in space. However, one thing Green never became great at was patience on holes and feeling traffic. Green ran behind a better line than Williams, but I do think he needs to improve as a runner between the tackles. Watching the game, I felt much better about Williams as a pass blocker. He did a good job picking up the blitzers and late rushers. Kimble wasn't as good in his limited opportunities to pass block. Kimble also didn't do much with his chances to carry the ball.

Momah had some drops but that shouldn't smudge his career day as a WR. He showed good ability to adjust his routes and he made some big plays. With his size, I feel like we are finally taking advantage of what he should be doing. Larmond doesn't look 100%, but it was still a very good first day back. Swigert's hands remain impressive although, I think he needs to work on his blocking a bit. Amidon looked good. Coleman only go one ball thrown his way and couldn't pull it in.

When I spoke of things that could be fixed, the Offensive Line was one of my primary points. Put aside the mental mistakes, I actually think we have decent talent here. The problem is they are being asked to do things they can't do well. When things were kept simple, they actually executed well. I think if we simplify the game plan, the guys will be okay. Use less pulling and movement. Use a few more zone runs and see what happens. Whatever is done, as a group they need to do a better job getting to the second level. If they don't, our running game will never be consistently explosive. Individually, I thought White had the best day. Spinney looked good early but then seemed lost on some plays where he was pulling. He also had the killer penalty (more on that later). Cleary was okay. Richman got in for a bit but was ineffective. Wetzel was fine. Gallick had the toughest day. He got blown up a few times and caught in traffic a few other times. Some are calling it one of the worst OL days they've seen at BC. I wouldn't say it was that bad, but it wasn't good. Now the questions is can Devine, Rogers and the five guys on the field get on one page? I think they can and the key will be to keep it simple.

Considering we only scored 17, I actually liked the way Rogers called the game. In the redzone he mixed up the play calling instead of the run, run, run, kick pattern we are so used to. Rogers tried to revisit plays that worked. He mixed in a good amount of run and pass, which made the play action more effective. The variety of plays seemed pretty deep considering it is a new offense and this was game 1. I also appreciate that he made adjustments. For example, the line couldn't sustain some of the pass protection as the game drew on, so he used more shotgun and short drops.

Defense: C-
The defensive tackles were a big part of our problem. Not only did they not make one big play, but they didn't even do what they are required to do in BC's scheme -- clog the middle. The guys got pushed and contained. It is my biggest worry since I don't see any new DTs coming to save the day. The defensive ends were actually decent. Holloway had a sack, but was also fairly disruptive. Edebali also made some nice plays. The big surprises were Wujciak and Abdesmad. They didn't get as many snaps, but both showed good motors and good contain. Wujciak actually got into the backfield a few times too.

KPL covered a lot of space and made some nice tackles. He needs to time his blitzes a bit better. Kuechly played well. The interception was him taking advantage of a bad throw. However, he couldn't do it all and most of their big plays happened when he was blocked downfield. Clancy played well and should probably get more playing time. Devitto had some great moments but also had some problems. In part because of playing the field side, he is asked to cover a lot of space (which became a problem that I will explain in a bit). He is probably best playing closer to the line and rushing the passer on occasion. He's got great strength -- as he showed on the sack.

Albert Louis-Jean got hammered by some BC fans for playing so far off. That's not really his fault. He's asked to do that. What becomes a problem is when he, Devitto and Williams all played very deep and left a ton of open space on their side of the field. There has to be better coordination on the field side. The biggest issue with ALJ was the inconsistent tackling. Our corners don't need great speed but they do need to be great tacklers. That's just how we've designed it and it is where we missed Fletcher. On the other side Jones was very good. Hughes was somewhat hesitant. Syvlia made some nice plays in limited time. I bet he will get even more time next week. Noel wasn't near much of the action but also didn't make a big impact on D (although he made a nice special teams play).

What is there to say about our defensive scheme? It was the standard Spaz/McG D. We just faced a team that executed well and played against our weaknesses. My concern and criticism is that some of the guys didn't seem ready (field side) and we didn't have any solutions to shore up the DTs.

Special Teams: D

The missed FGs were killers. I hope it was just a one-time issue for Freese. Quigley had some nice kickoffs and good punting. I appreciate Swigert being fairly aggressive with the punt returns. Kimble's kick returns were solid.

Overall: C

I guess what frustrates me most is that we were close. 479 total offensive yards! But I feel the big Spaz issues remain. We butchered the clock at the end of the half. Came out with no momentum and then ran a sloppy two-minute drill in the final drive. Just take the last sequence. We get the first down with 18 seconds left. We have one timeout. The best move is to kill the clock. But because NU had an injured player we went ahead wasted time and then had a penalty. Mental mistake for sure, but it is too common under Spaz. He lacks feel for the game. Killing the clock my of kept Spinney from being jumpy.

I am not without hope. We have potential in many places and we've shown we can move the ball. If Spaz can help the defense and figure out how to cover for our lack of talent at DT and lack of experience at CB, we should be okay.


dixieagle said...

Key words: "if the coaching staff does its job."

BCAlum2000 said...

Well said. The primary issues are the OL, DL and the defensive backfield. Getting Fletcher back will help in the defensive backfield. I think Sylvia needs more playing time as well. Louis Jean should be allowed to learn as the nickel back. On the DL, keeping Ramsey healthy is now more key than ever. He has always had the injuries issues. Quinn is turning into a complete and utter bust. If Ramsey is healthy, we at least have the ability to semi-clog the middle. If he is off the field, BC is in deep, deep trouble. On the OL, the coaches need to stop putting people out of position. Enough is enough with this "best five" garbage. If Richman is healthy, get him back in at G and get Spinney back to C. Galik is the future, not the present. This offense actually has a lot of potential playmakers especially when Montel returns. They will be completely wasted however if the issues on the lines are not fixed.

Big Jack Krack said...

Let's see - we beat UCF 34-7 three years ago. Now we are 6 1/2 points underdogs.

They beat Georgia in a bowl game last year - what are we doing?

It's not easy being a season ticket holder from a long distance away. I am going to the UCF game, Miami and maybe Clemson. I am flying to Boston for Wake, FSU and NC State.

I'd like the coaches to make my travels a little more enjoyable. I must say that I am beginning to lose my optimism, and that's sad.

Let's go players. You may have to work for bad bosses one day - so you may as well learn how to overcome playing for bad coaches. Persevere and win in spite of them.

JBQ said...

Good news is that Hezlich made the cut with the Giants as did Albright (257 lb linebacker) with the Cowboys. Claiborne (Bucs) and McCluskey (Chargers) were not as fortunate.

mod34b said...

What was the issue with Freese's misses? On the really bad shank, did anyone see the replay? Where was issue: snapper or holder or Freese?

This is a little ominous. A kicker without confidence can spell big trouble.. Just ask Clemson!

And, Freese was so good last year too. Maybe another sign of poor pre-season prep by the coaches.

Big Jack Krack said...

I don't think the holder is a QB type, as has always been the case in years past.

C. Scanz said...

People now want to blame even the missed FGs on the coaching staff? Give me a break. And there were no timeouts left for BC when they got the 1st down from the 18. Spaz and his staff could have made some adjustments, but they continue to get an unfair share of the criticism. I thought Spaz should have called a timeout when Northwestern was driving at the end of the half, that we should have gone for it on 4th and goal in the 1st quarter, and we should have made an adjustment with out DB coverage scheme. Other than that, the issue was a lack of execution by the players. Rettig should've spiked it with 18 seconds on the clock and he still should've spiked it with 4 seconds after the penalty, but that is something a QB should know. Also, I was impressed with Rettig for the most part, but he missed a wide open Momah in the corner of the end zone that should have been 6 points. He seems to have trouble with accuracy with throws to the far side of the field (ie that toss to Momah and a couple to the RBs in the flats). I think the worst component of the entire game, however, was the DBs providing so much cushion. Jam the receivers at the line, give your D-line a chance to get pressure, and force Northwestern to throw under pressure into the middle of the field or deep.

Lastly, we heard all this talk about the TEs becoming more involved. Aside from Rettig's desperation shuffle pass to Pantale for a lucky first down...what happened?

TheFive said...

Word on EA is that Momah tore his ACL and is out for the season.

blist said...

I listened to the game on the radio and it seemed to me more than NW beat us than we lost it. That said, I'm not fan of wasting the 38 seconds at the end of the half and not adjusting to NW's fast pace in the first half and the other factors folks have mentioned. I just don't put this one on Spaz, but do think a more dynamic coach could have altered the flow of this one and maybe changed the result. I'm encouraged by the Offense and you have to believe the D will be better, since it always is. the Orange Bowl is still there for us.
Speaking of coaching, Steve Donahue was a guest on the WEEI at halftime and he is such a great addition - upbeat, excited and really into being a part of the BC community. He even tweeted from the women's field hockey game yesterday! Also a guest, for you expansion nuts, was Big10 commish Delany.

JBQ said...

From another website, McCluskey was cut by Raiders, Claiborne may be on practice squad for Bucs, Scaife is on injured reserve with Chargers. Herlich and Albright were success stories. From previous comments, the holder may be the source of a problem for Freese. This would be bad coaching that it wasn't worked out in camp. If Momah is indeed out with an ACL, he was hurt on special teams and kickoff coverage. He was on the ground after a kickoff and barely got off the field. This would be a killer and he is a senior. Could he get a medical reshirt? One confusing situation after another!

Big Jack Krack said...

If this is true, I feel very bad for the guy. Has he already graduated? Mr. Momah - get your Masters Degree compliments of the Special Teams Coach and build towards a successful career.

I believe that Albright also got a bad injury on kickoff coverage. You don't put tall guys who are also top players on your kickoff coverage. Where do they get these coaches?

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

Don't think it was mentioned here yet, but I think it was really cool that Rettig came out in the post-game and immediately said that he was to blame for the Spinney false start, and that none of it was on Spinney. Really cool move, bet his line loves the guy.

BCAlum2000 said...

Momah is done for the season. BC has already applied for a 6th year I believe. Wish the kid well. Second time he has lost a season to a knee injury. BC loses a big weapon here. He wasnt the fastest by any means, but his size alone resulted in massive mismatches. Coleman, who is 6'4" himself, and has much more upside in my opinion due to his speed, really needs to step up. Evans will now not be redshirted. BC could really use Phillips and Lee right now.

The Sean McMahon said...

The expanded playbook sure didn't get brought out for this one. Seemed like they played not to lose, instead of to win. Taking a knee with 38 seconds until halftime summed that up well.

Why is Momah playing special teams? He's your number one receiver.

After the interception Retting tried being too perfect and got a little gun shy. There is no way he shouldn't get a pass off on that last play. That was embarassing.

Bravesbill said...

C Scanz, you're right BC had no timeouts with 18 seconds left. However, coming out of an injury time out, BC burned 4 seconds in a long count before Spinney's false start. Who knows how many more seconds would have been wasted without that penalty. It seemed like the coaches and players didn't know the clock was running. That is solely on the coaches.