Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Miami

Sorry for the delay in putting this out. I have been on the road a good bit since Thanksgiving and didn't even get to watch the game back until Monday night. It was interesting to have the time to digest it all. Since the game, Gene'e spouted off about Spaz, Spaz has had the clumsy interviews with the Globe and Herald and the football world has taken shots at BC for keeping Spaz. But I see the Miami game as microcosm of what should have been in 2011 and what we may be in 2012.

Offense: B

This is really what Chase Rettig should have been all season. We moved him around out of the pocket early to get him space and some time and he hit his throws. We followed it up with some good protection and he made some darts from the pocket. He stood up to some tough pressure and made really great decisions. It was only later after some failed Bordner stuff and line shuffles, that the happy feet and "run for your life" look came back. But overall it was probably his best game of the season. I think he has a bright future. I just hope another change on offense doesn't screw things up. Josh Bordner also got a bum deal out of the Miami game. It is the most telegraphed offensive set in the country. Against a good defensive team like Miami, his plays are doomed. The fumble was bad, but I blame that more on just Bordner not getting enough reps. Protecting the football comes, in part, from practicing carries and getting hit in games. I think Bordner deserves a shot at becoming our QB, but not at the expense of having a totally different offense for him. That's not a sound strategy for any team.

Finch had another strong game. He hit the holes well and ran hard when we needed to keep drives alive. Williams had some nice tough runs, but also had a few where he got tied up in traffic. Kimble didn't get to do as much.

Anderson and Pantale both played well. I also liked using Anderson as sort of an H-back and having him go out for passes. Pantale found the spaces in Miami's coverage and made some nice catches. He also ran hard after the catch. Swigert was good and BC did a good job of getting him in motion and in space. Elliott made some nice catches.

We used a lot of different offensive line combinations. Some were more effective than others. I hope that next season we stick with one lineup. I think the switches midgame just create confusion. Spinney had probably his best game in a while. Harris Williams looked good at times but also got overpowered on occasion. Richman has similar issues. In pass protection he seemed to struggle, but was good pulling and in run blocking. Solid game from Cleary. Wetzel was good. Betancourt looked good in his time.

I liked the offensive scheme. I thought we planned well for Miami. We had a good mix of conservative plays but also still challenged them deep. We added a few new wrinkles. My complaints were simple: the use of Bordner and going ultraconservative late. Both times they brought Bordner in, it killed drives and momentum. If you want a package for him, why not use it when the team needs a spark? Rettig was playing well. He was making throws. There was no need to pull him.

Defense: B

Edebali also closed out the season with his best game. He brought pressure. He was good in coverage and his tipped pass was a thing of beauty. I don't know if he read the running back's face or just put his hand out there, but it was a great play. Appiah played well again. Holloway was good. Mihalik, Ricci and O'Neal played well albeit in limited snaps. Quinn was fine.

For all his tackles this season, Kuechly didn't change every game. That is not a criticism. Just more fact. He had to do so much and react to so much that many of his tackles were three of four yards down the field. His pass coverage was often a step out of place because he had to do other things too. Yet against Miami it all came together. It was easily his best game in pass defense. He also had some tackles behind the line of scrimmage. I think it shows that if his teammates play a little better, Luke can create real havoc around the field. Divitto played well too and made some nice saving tackles. Duggan wasn't as active. KPL was decent but not near the ball as much.

The first big pass was bad, but I don't think it was Fletcher's fault. I think he was expecting Safety help. The rest of the game was really good for Donnie. Asprilla played well too. The safeties weren't as strong early. On both of Miami's explosive plays, the safeties were out of position to make a stop. As the game wore on, things got better. Hughes looked good late.

I didn't have any problems with the defensive approach. The big plays early were an issues, but I think those were more mistakes and breakdowns as opposed to being caught in the wrong formation or blitzing or failing to adjust. In fact, I think the adjustments were pretty good. We were getting plenty of pressure from the front four so we only blitzed on occasion. As the game progressed we used even more three man fronts. Overall it was a good effort.

Special Teams: B+

Quigley was his usual very good self. Swigert attempted returns in traffic. Since we kept their scoring down, Evans wasn't as busy, but was fine. McCaffrey made another special teams tackle. It was the usual.

Overall: B

It was probably our best game of the season, yet things were still in doubt towards the end. And the fact that they were is on Spaz. As I mentioned up above, the shuffle at OLine doesn't make sense to me. I also think we killed scoring opportunities with the Bordner stuff. We burned timeouts again.

I was glad to see the team rally from a deficit. I also was glad to see us go for it on a fourth down. At the end of the day, the guys had nothing to play for, yet played hard. And winning always feels better than losing.


Tim said...

I'm not as quick to blame all the evils of the world on Spaz as some of you other folks, but even I will heartily agree that the Bordner experiment is an example of plainly stupid play calling / coaching. Even the announcers were commenting on how dumb it is.

mod10aeagle said...

Nice to be talking about players rather than coaches and ADs again. It seems like a long time ago, but I remember my first big impression from the Miami game was that Rettig was very, very good, and the difference was that he actually had time to make reads and throws. I actually got a little excited thinking about what this team might be like if we can get more consistent pass protection.

The second lasting impression was that bringing in Bordner on that play from the two yard line was the dumbest, most indefensible coaching decision since Grady Little left Pedro on the mound.

Knucklehead said...

If you watch the offensive line closely during the miami game the offensive linemen were rotated in and out seemingly based on whether the play was a pass or run.

This accounted for our success in the run and pass.

Obviously in the long run teams will key on the line changes as a tip for whether the play is a pass or run.

We need better players.

It is Spaz's job to recruit

mod34b said...

I thought i was in a time warp reading this.. the game seems like it was eons ago!

I agree on Rettig. At the start of the season Rettig was inaccurate partly because he was trying to throw to the receiver in a spot that was low and away from the defender -- not easy to do. He did not have much success with that.

But in the Miami game balls were crisp, low and away from the defender. He had a really great TD pass into traffic. Also he got rid of the ball quickly on those routes. Line gave him time too.

Spaz and company did improve the team during the course of the season. It is the best thing Spaz did all year (but does not outweigh the many -'s). and why did it take so long this year and last year for the team to gel??

I am also still surprised at how poor Rettig's long ball is. Against Northwestern, Momah was able to catch his crappy throws and sort of hide the fact that Rettig does not have a good long ball. I thought the kid supposedly had a big arm?

DLs and DBs also improved and that too gives me some hope for next year -- despite the coaching.

Big Jack Krack said...

Thanks Atl - I agree that we were better at Miami - and I agree with you "My complaints were simple: the use of Bordner and going ultraconservative late. Both times they brought Bordner in, it killed drives and momentum. If you want a package for him, why not use it when the team needs a spark? Rettig was playing well. He was making throws. There was no need to pull him."

From my vantage point at the game, the HC ordered our Prevent Offense right after the Keuchly pick-6. We voluntarily shut it down for the 4th period, basically. BC fans find that hard to believe. We won in spite of our coaching.

Also, I'm pretty sure that Bordner fumbled in the 2nd quarter at the Miami 14 yard line as well, but since it was 4th down, and he was short anyway - perhaps it didn't count as a fumble. Although its the most telegraphed play in college football (even casual fans know what's coming)I think the guy also might have fumble-itis - and needs to work on that in the off season.

I just screamed in disgust when he fumbled at the Miami 1 yard line - terrible coaching decision.

In terms of Bordner getting a chance next year, I think we'll maybe see Suntrup with a better chance to push Rettig. Bordner can't pass at this point, and he'll need to get much better in that regard as well. I understand it's all about repetitions, etc. - but Josh needs to get a lot better. I hope he will.

Big Jack Krack said...

Like all of our players, I think Bordner gives it his all. I don't mean to be harshly critical.

I don't care how big and strong he is if the defense is licking its chops knowing exactly what's coming. Josh isn't fast enough to get by these guys - it's more like he has to overpower them, and that's tough.

mod10aeagle said...

Mod34 -- I agree regarding Rettig's long ball. I think he has the arm, he just doesn't know how to use it. He either throws it short or too flat, which ends up being long without giving the receiver a chance to get under it. I don't know which is easier to correct, lack of arm strength or poor trajectory/depth perception(?). Either way, it falls on the QB coach to fix it. How do we feel about that?

mod34b said...


I am not sure I agree with you.

yes, the long balls are short or they float in this giant arc. I can't recall a well thrown ball by Rettig over 40 yards. Wait, maybe his first big throw against ND last year???

It seems to me to be an arm strength issue. He is good (and getting better) with short crisp throws, maybe up to 25 yards total air.

But 40-50 yard tosses he does not do well. Silver lining is that we have few receivers that are so fast that by 40 yards from the line they can beat the DB.

mod10aeagle said...

Mod34 - we agree that Rettig hasn't given opposing coaches any reason to fear the deep route. As you said, he showed some arm strength on the shorter (~20 yds) throws, particularly in the Miami game, and that gives me hope that he can learn to throw deeper. Only time will tell.