Sunday, September 16, 2012

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Northwestern

This was a terrible game to watch back. There were dozens of plays that could have turned the game in another direction. Wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity. If we are at home during bowl season, this will be a game that everyone looks back on as one of the reasons. Hopefully the coaches and players will use the bye week to regroup.

Offense: C-

I thought Rettig played better than he did against Maine. He made tight throws and did a good job looking beyond his first read. By my count he had nine throws that were either dropped or missed by his teammates. If just two of those are pulled in, Rettig is over 300 yards and we probably win the game. But it is not just throwing, he's also getting much better about buying time in the pocket. The one nitpick might be some of his deep balls. A few were overthrown or thrown out of bounds. But he was the reason this game was even close.

The running backs are getting much of the blame, but the problems weren't really on them (other than Finch).  In general this week, the holes weren't there. Kimble looked good and I think we need to use him more. If only as a outlet for Rettig on passing plays. Williams didn't do much but this week it wasn't about missing holes or waiting for blocks to develop. Finch couldn't get much going. The fumble was bad. At this point he needs to know to use two hands in traffic. I don't know why this is still an issue.

For me the most confusing part of this team is the offensive line. They've done a great job as a unit pass blocking. Running blocking is a different issue. Most of our runs were zones and the guys failed to get much of a push or to the second level. On a few occasions they did trap and pull and it wasn't successful. Individually Cleary was good, but needs to get better push running. White played well. He and Wetzel had great blocks on our fourth down play (it was our best run design of the day). Vardaro struggled. He was beat on pass plays a few times and struggled on some run plays too. Gallik was okay but had a terrible drive-killing snap and a bad penalty late.

Coleman is really coming along. His hands are improving as are his route. We need to get him the ball more. Elliot looked good. Evans was fine. Amidon made some nice plays and is cleary Rettig's primary target, but he's got to improve on the drops. The first drive should have ended in a TD and there were a few other plays that could have been made. He's clearly playing hard and carrying the offense nearly as much as Chase, but we have very little room for error and the drops are terrible.

We ran the ball 21 times and that felt like ten times too many. It wasn't anything complex. Just normal inside zone runs, but the holes weren't there and we killed drives. What I would like to see is Kimble and Williams in the backfield together. Whenever we do use that formation, it causes great play action opportunities. I wish Martin would just throw, throw and throw some more and then go to the run when we are up or the other team is not waiting for it.

Defense: D+

The defensive line remains a disappointment. We can't close on a QB, we can't collapse a pocket and we missed tons of tackles. Plus it seemed like they were constantly a step slow. Appiah played better and seemed to get more active as the game went on, but he's still not playing as well as he did at the conclusion of last year. He needs to disrupt the line more. I don't know what's going on with Mihalik. He never seems to be near the action and hasn't built on last year's promise. Ricci and Quinn were non-factors. Rudolph was okay but didn't do much. Edebali has his usual hustling self but didn't get on the field much after getting knocked for a loop. Wujciak got extended time but didn't get to do much. All of the Ends struggled with contain. We got burned by cutbacks repeatedly. Abdesmad played but did make big plays. These guys have to do more. There were plenty of problems on D, but these guys were No. 1. If they weren't missing tackles they were getting pushed around. That's got to stop.

Clancy played his heart out. He's not covering mistakes like Kuechly but he is still covering a lot of ground and very productive. KPL got called for a killer penalty early but made up for it with some great plays late in the fourth. Steele Divitto is struggling. He missed more tackles than any other linebacker. And teams keep throwing at him in coverage. I think we need to play more nickle and give him a break. He's still talented and still made plays but he is the weak link among the LBs. Duggan played a bit and was fine.

It was a weird day for the DBs. I thought they struggled early but played better as the game progressed. Sylvia is trying to make big plays and might be the only guy who didn't miss a tackle on Saturday. Rositano missed some tackles and didn't play much later in the game. Noel missed some early tackles but made a huge hit that forced a NU fumble (of course we didn't get it). One things that I don't know for sure -- but I believe based on watching the game back, is that the safeties got beat as much as the corners on the deep balls. There was no safety help on NU's biggest pass play. Jones is a good tackler but still struggles in coverage. Asprilla was okay. Richardson played a bit and was fine.

Kain Colter is an average college quarterback. He was their backup last year and was in the middle of a QB controversy prior to this game. Yet for the second year in a row, he looked like an All-America candidate against us. How did we not adjust? Why didn't we spy him more. Why weren't we ready for his cutbacks? Why did we wait so long to bring linebacker blitzes? Where were the corner blitzes? It was a terrible game plan. Sure we kept them out of the endzone most of the day, but they picked us apart and we couldn't get them off the field. Also, why aren't we using the second team LBs more? Our guys were out there for 100 plays! Mix it up. See if someone can make a play.

Special Teams: B-

The kick returns were solid. I like how Evans runs with confidence.

Freese made all his kicks.

The punt coverage was fine.

We didn't return a punt.

Overall: D+

Two things killed us against Northwestern last year. We scored before the half and then allowed the Cats to march right down the field to answer. We also did a poor job containing Colter. That is why so much of Saturday seemed like deja vu. Spaz is a defensive guy. Could he not add or do anything that would have helped us? Why didn't we blitz more early? Spaz laid the foundation for our bend but don't break philosophy and it killed us Saturday.

His clock management wasn't as bad, but Matty416 made great point about Spaz needing to kick a field goal late. When completed a pass to Amidon to NU's 19 yardline, we should have kicked the field goal. There were 23 seconds left and we needed two scores. If we were going to win, that was the only way to pull it off. But I don't think Spaz was thinking like that. He never does.


Ryan Miller said...

So I'll grant you that our defense is bad. One subpar linebacker is par for the course, but we don't seem able to recruit the athletes we need at D-back, and I have no idea what's going on up front. And they were bad in this game, allowing a ton of yards and plays. But still, they held an offense that has also put up yards against other teams to 22 points. And it wasn't like our offense was keeping drives alive to keep Northwestern off the field and rest our defense, either.

The offense, on the other hand, despite reasonable quarterback play, managed only 13 points against one of the most porous defenses around. Yes, maybe we should run it less, but that obviously allows defenses to cheat on the passing game. What I don't understand is why the receivers can't catch and the O-line can't run-block. That's just coaching.

In short, though, how can a 13-point offense get a higher grade than a 22 point defense when you're playing a team with a better offense than defense?

Tim said...

Agree with Ryan. After 57 minutes of football, our D held NW to 15 points (zero TD's!) in their own house. NW's final score was essentially in garbage time.

The BC offense lost this game.

EL MIZ said...

the offense being pinned on the 1 yard line was spiffy's fault. he should've just called a fair catch and caught the punt at the 11 or 12. instead he ran out from under it even though there was good hangtime and northwestern already had players down there. he should lose points for that.

the BC offense has the same problem it had against miami: we are kicking FGs when we should be getting scores. that was the difference again. i expect no improvement or adjustment given that this team is coached by Spaz, and anticipate this will happen again and again this season, followed by Spaz blaming the players.

agree that the "Bend don't break" was basically effective this game: we gave up no TDs on the road and were in the game until the end. if the offense executes this is a W. clancy played his heart out.

i don't know why duggan isn't playing over devitto. devitto's play hasn't been good and we could use some new life. at least give them the same amount of time to see who contributes more.

our D-Line freaking stinks. this was the first time i saw the time in person this season and they are just wholly unimpressive. no push, no real aggression down there, i'm not sure they do anything well. i continue to think we are better suited for a 3-4 given that our LB is probably the deepest unit on the team, and DL is probably the weakest. why not swap out an ineffective player for an effective one?

we currently have 3 DL commits for next year and 2 linebacker commits. last year we had 4 linebacker commits and only 1 DL commit. a coach who wanted to put in a 3-4 would be able to hit the ground running given the depth at LB and general lack of skill/depth on the d-line.

mod34b said...

Ryan, BC's talent is not subpar to NWU's. BC has better talent than NWU. See my post in last comment

Tim and MIZ - It is the offense fault? The D was "was basically effective this game".

You have got to be kidding!

BC defense was horrible by any measure: time of possession; yards allowed; plays run; allowing 4.9 yards per run; 5.6 yards per play; allowing 34 first downs; allowing 75% conversion on 3rd down; 100 % conversion of 3rd down outside redZone in first 3Q; allowing almost 300 yards rushing; 0 picks over 40 passes

BC was unable to stop the NWU offense in the first 3 quarters AT ALL. They had drive after drive of 51, 70, 73, 79, 54 and 94 yards. Just atroicus defense.

NWU ran 100 plays to BC's 65 plays. That is a bad joke about our defense.

Offense had big problems too - drops, no rushing - but the offense had the ball a lot less than they should have had it.

NO THIS "L" is 75% on the Defense.

mod34b said...

BC is ranked #119/123 FBS schools in 3rd down conversion against other FBS schools. BC allows opponents close to a 60% conversion rate.

Can't wait for FSU, GT and CLemson!

Knucklehead said...

The Offense, Defense and special teams need to play like a TEAM.

If the offense scores the defense needs to show some fire and make a stop.

If the Defense giveS up a long drive the g.damned WR's and RB's need to make plays.

When there is a chance on the final drive and the offense and defense have been getting their ass kicked all day the kick returner needs to field the g.damned ball and not let it bounce over his head.

The ONLY player on this team who cares is the Quarterback.

Someone besides Rettig on that team needs to pretend that they want to be playing football at Boston College.

The head coach sucks and he is done.

The players need to show some attitude/desire or else people are going to start to think that they do not care. If they don't care they ought to have their scholarships revoked when Spaz is let go.

Someone over their needs to light a fire under the entire program.

Like I have said in the past the best coaches at that school have been militaristic types: Coughlin, O'B.

The next coach needs to be the Hawaiian guy from Navy. Pay his ass and bring him in.

We need a Jim Harbaugh type STAT.

EL MIZ said...

Mod -- i agree that the D looked awful. but it was 15-10 after 3 quarters. offense has gotta score some touchdowns.

doesn't really matter where the % of responsibility for loss is applied -- there was a lack of execution in all tenets of the game. D couldn't tackle or get stops, offense couldn't convert or extend drives or hold onto the ball, nobody stepped up.

knucklehead - agree on the need for an authoritarian coach. this program is S-O-F-T. sat behind BC bench yesterday and there seemed to be little enthusiasm or aggression. guys were joking around. new coach should clean house -- if you don't buy in you're gone.

Ryan Miller said...

Overall, agree with El Miz. But just to press the point...Cats scoring 29ppg, we held them to 22. Cats allowing 22ppg, we scored 13.

Stats like possession time and plays don't really help because the offense leaving the field affects them as much as the defense putting the offense back on the field. I know you hate "bend but don't break" and I agree that it isn't much fun to watch, but in this game it worked.

And it's not about the redzone, either. Sure, 8 more points would have been nice, but it wouldn't have won us the ballgame, and you're going to settle sometimes. Just look back at the drive chart: we punted 5 times, that's all there is to it. Third down conversion failure was the overwhelmingly most important issue in this game.

mod34b said...

3rd-6, N.W.40 14:32 K. Colter rushed to the right for 10 yard gain
3rd-5, BC45 13:32 K. Colter passed to V. Mark to the left for 5 yard gain. Boston Coll. committed 15 yard penalty
3rd-2, N.W.33 7:34 K. Colter rushed up the middle for 6 yard gain
3rd-2, N.W.49 0:50 T. Siemian passed to M. Trumpy to the left for 4 yard gain
3rd-6, N.W.20 10:12 T. Siemian passed to T. Jones down the middle for 14 yard gain
3rd-3, N.W.41 8:40 T. Siemian passed to C. Jones to the left for 12 yard gain
3rd-4, BC41 7:47 V. Mark rushed up the middle for 6 yard gain
3rd-1, N.W.47 1:03 V. Mark rushed up the middle for 4 yard gain
That was NWU 3rd down work outside of BC redzone through 3Qs. No Stops until 3:30 left in 3rd. Our third down failure is a direct result of using "bend don't break"

But Notice that when there is no room left on the field (when NWU was in the Redzone) we did not use bend-don't-break. Guess what?? the defense held on 3rd every time in the redzone. Amazing. Imagine if we tried that aggressive approach in the open field??

Bravesbill said...

Knucklehead--I would like to point out that I was an advocate for Jim Harbaugh after TOB left and Harbaugh was coming out of USD. I was almost laughed off this blog.

Ryan--The defense deserves a ton of blame even if it gave up only FGs primarily. First, NU killed BC in TOP, thereby limiting the possessions BC had. Give BC two more possessions, and they may have been able to pull it out. Second, keeping the offense off the field for 10 minutes at a time prevents the offense from establishing any sort of rythmn. Not to mention the fact that all this downtime has negative effects on QBs much like it does on pitchers in MLB. Some of Rettig's bad passes can probably be attributed to the fact that it was difficult to keep his arm warm.