Monday, December 29, 2014

Second viewing thoughts and grades: Pinstripe Bowl

In the post game the media focused on BC and Addazio losing so many close games this year. Addazio mentioned it too. But this game somewhat captured the issues the lead to losing close games: not being aggressive enough when ahead, defensive letdowns and critical player mistakes. That is not bad luck. That is bad coaching. Plus the luck aspect of these games tends to even out. BC was 3-4 this year in games decided by less than seven points. We are 5-5 under those same parameters in Addazio's two years. There isn't a secret formula to winning tight games. The key to being a great is not being in close games very often.

This was a tough loss and the missed opportunities abound.

Offense: B

Murphy did what we've come to expect. He was off on some of his touch passes early. His throws got better late, as Penn State went heavy zone and guys found open spots. The pass to Dudeck was sharp. I thought he made good decisions on when to keep the ball on the zone reads. His running overall was very good. He did a good job waiting on blocks and then exploding.

Hilliman ran very well. There were a few runs outside the tackles where I felt he waited a bit too long to turn it up field, but that is nitpicking. Against the best rush defense in college football he ran well in space and in traffic. Willis didn't get many touches but was fine when he ran. Outlow wasn't the change of pace we've seen, but a lot of his late touches went to Murphy and Hilliman. He was effective in the passing game. Wolford blocked well.

Bordner nearly had a TD but Murphy's pass was a little high. I still think he should have pulled it down. Dudeck's catch was great. Phillips played well, but still had a few drops. The WRs and TEs blocked pretty well. Crimmins had a nice catch.

Overall the offensive line played well. Gallik got a lot of TV time because of the blood, but he did play well. He won most of his matchups in the game. Vardaro also played well. Kramer got called for some penalties, but was decent. Silberman also got hit with a costly penalty. Betancourt was fine.

I know many dislike Day, but this loss was not on the offense. We ran against the best run defense in the country and scored 30 points. The passing game was not great, but adequate given the previous 12 games this season. We had some good new wrinkles -- like the throwback to Border that didn't work. Plus we had some straight pocket plays that worked more than they have this season. The biggest complaints coming out of the game were Alston's lack of touches and continuing to run the ball late in the game. Alston should have touched the ball more. One pass was bad and the other was a drop. I would have liked a jet sweep, even if he had just been a decoy. As for running late...I have no problem with it. It is what we do well. It tends to break open games and it eats clock. It is not like we were overly stubborn. We had critical and successful pass plays on the final scoring drive and in OT.

Defense: D

The Defensive Line started the game off well but as a group couldn't generate enough pressure as the game wore on. Mihalik made a big sack early but didn't go much later. Kavalec had another quiet game. Wujciak was fine. Moore was okay.

The LBs were the best part of the defense. Despite Penn State's passing success, the LBs were not the issue with our pass coverage (as they have been in other games).  Daniels played well and even looked good after he got injured. Duggan played well. Milano was very active and looked good. Keyes was fine but wasn't used aggressively in blitzes.

The DBs had a rough night. They were asked to do a lot and none of it worked well. When they played off, Penn State just ate up yards. Asprilla tackled well but gave up way too many catches. Simmons had similar issues and tipped the TD pass the wrong way. Brown missed a few INT opportunities. Moore was okay. Sylvia was okay.

I put the majority of this loss on Brown's schemes. We were not ready for their pace. They caught us unready due to switches. The blitz didn't disrupt much. A bad offense scored 31 on us. The worst part is allowing game winning drives in the fourth quarter and going 9 for 17 on third down. These are recurring issues. I understand we might not have the most talent or the right talent for this scheme. If that is true or even if the coaches think it is true, then you have to adjust. But once again we were playing confused, passive D with the game on the line and it cost us. Statistically Brown's D had a good season but I still think we are as limited on that side of the ball as we are on offense. If we had just been better in the passing game on just one more drive, we win that game.

Special Teams: C

Willis had one really good return and was solid on the others. (I will get into the Penn State onsides attempt in the section below.) Alston didn't get to do much. We obviously didn't attempt a FG.

The coverage teams were good.

Knoll is obviously a head case. That may be correctable this offseason. I hope for his sake it is. However, going into the game Addazio needed to find a better, more consistent solution. There has to be someone on that roster -- not just a kicker -- who can make 7 out of 10 point after attempts. Knoll didn't lose the game by himself, but that was not a good Special Teams day.

Overall: C+

Addazio hasn't been perfect, but he's been much better than I expected. In my opinion this was the worst game of his BC tenure. We lost other games and come out flat more than once, but most of that could be explained away by talent or timing within the season or just a bad matchup. This was not a good Penn State team, yet they looked more talented and set the tempo from the start. They weren't bothered by our pressure and didn't fold when we built up a big second half lead. Even Penn State's failed onside kick showed a level of coaching and preparation that we didn't have. They saw a BC mistake in how we fielded kickoffs and nearly exploited it. That is what you are supposed to do with three weeks of bowl prep.

Losing the game on a missed extra point is brutal, the game shouldn't have come down to that. This isn't shake everything up type of loss, but it was a reminder that Addazio is not Midas. He still needs to upgrade talent, still needs to do a better job with bowl prep and cannot let his schemes be so one dimensional.


Teej said...

one wrong analysis. we hit a field goal to go up 24-21 then gave up that drive to tie it at the end...

Mr. Tambourine MAn said...

Perhaps some issues caused by his emphasis on recruiting during this period?

CT said...

Everybody recruits now.

I don't understand not getting your fastest guy the ball a few times, but this is a talent issue. Not giving the staff a free pass, but losing to a six win team from the Big 10? That conference is awful. Really. I've watched it.

There is much work ahead.

Having a fence around Massachusetts just won't get it. Like, ever.

EL MIZ said...

the Defense's inability to substitute and get enough players on the field was an embarrassment. we got flagged for it once, and on the Simmons near pick/PSU TD we were also racing guys on and off.

just like CSU, Alston not touching the ball was truly mindboggling. and also just like CSU, the inability to get stops on the last drive really hurt. two 3rd and longs in the bowl game, and i believe a 3rd and long and a 4th and long in the CSU game - gotta be able to at least pressure the offense. all those plays the QB had time, looked at multiple receivers, and found a gap in coverage - if we can't cover, why not send the farm and force them to make a play?

a frustrating way to end the season, but looking at the big picture, we have overachieved vis-a-vis where our expectations were when addazio took over and even before this season.

we have 4 QBs next year who will be in competition - hopefully one will be able to pass as well as run.

also, how can we get more talent on the D side of the ball. sorely lacking.

8 PAT's missed in an entire season is something i'd imagine most HS teams don't even do - either get a new ST coach or a new kicker, but that's a joke.

BarraCuda said...

I've thought the same thing many times this season, namely that most high schools must make more XPs than our kickers did this year, though I wasn't sure. While I wasn't able to find any comprehensive stats for Massachusetts football, I found a database of stats for the entire state of Iowa. This past season in Iowa 186 high schools attempted at least 20 XP kicks. 153 of them, or 82.3%, made at least 70% of their tries.

Hoib said...

I think the biggest talent upgrade needs to happen in the defensive backfield. Playing this type of defensive scheme it's crucial that we get better there. The problem is we've never been very good there over the years, so a new recruiting approach is neccessary at that position.

On offense I thought Murphy's throwing improved greatly as the year went on, what didn't improve was the receiving. I think therefore we will continue to see a heavy run first approach to make up for the lack of talent at WR & DB, until the talent level there gets to where it needs to be I think we will continue to throw less than 20 times a game. The results so far have been much better than most have expexted playing this way, so if it ain't broke don't fix it. Ga Tech does pretty well using this appraoch.

Now to the kicking. That's the easiest thing to do. Find one, w/ as Bill Raftery says, onions! Forget about high school. I wonder if you add up all the teams in the power 5 if there was a total of 8 misses.

This is the to do list. After watching Daz for 2 years now, the surprise for me will be if we take a step back next year.