This will be a two part series. Just like any good educator, we're going to go over the uglies first, then give some kudos afterward. So today is about where we have failed to achieve our goals, lacking, needing Improvement, etc.
Wesley will start us off today.
1W) Return Game
I have seen 75 people return the ball, and have yet to see a GREAT return, I am not sure what exactly is going on here.
But it is VERY important to have a great return, every time. As I have stated before it is very helpful especially for a your Frosh QB to start at the 30 vs 20, or 40 vs 30, as it opens up the playbook considerably.. I guess I was spoiled by the Jeff Smith returns of past.. But I would like to have a good reliable decent return…
2M) The road woes need to stop
I hear you on the kickoff returns, Wesley. BC currently ranks 84th in D1A. Not good.
For my first pick, I'm going with the road woes. Listen, I don't know if Uncle Dave is buying the kids beer and they're up until 5am playing quarters or what--but the road trips this year have resulted in disastrous, painful, soul-crushing losses...especially for those of us who made the trip(s).
To be fair, VT really is a very, VERY good team and I think we might have had our hands full if we had played it inside Conte Forum let alone Alumni Stadium...but the fact remains that BOTH times our offense has appeared anemic at best and inept at worst; with the blame falling everywhere from the QB to the OC and everyone in between.
I wish I knew what was wrong, because I'd love to give specific direction on how to change it. Spaz and Co. will have a chance to cure the away blues this weekend at South Bend. Let's hope they find a way to cure what's been ailing us.
3W) Throw Haden the dang ball
Haden runs a great wheel route, I would actually say he could probably be more dangerous on short dump passes than he is as a RB, and I think he is a pretty good RB.. Heck he would even be great as a Wes Welker type slot.. But I have been really disappointed to see him not catch but a handful of passes so far this season.
4M) QB: Pick your guy and let's go
I'm a big believer in the adage "if you have two quarterbacks you have none". Well, we had four at one point, so that left us...what, in a black hole? It certainly felt like it.
One of the toughest parts about being a head coach (I would imagine, seeing how GDF never offered me the contract I was *SURE* was coming my way) is that you get the blame when things go wrong, and they're often, if not always, based on the decisions you had to make. That's what you're paid to do...make tough decisions...and recruit...and develop players...and do the rubber chicken circuit...but most of all, seriously--often, many times a day; you have draw a line in the sand. You have to take a stand. You have to pick one QB and move on with it.
At this point, it looks like Uncle Dave is our quarterback. But is anyone really sure? Marsco came in and looked decent against the 2nd stringers in Blacksburg. Tuggle loyalists are still waiting for Justin to get back on the field. Others just think we're biding our time until Rettig or Bordner comes in next year.
I believe the offense needs consistency at QB, I really do. The O-Line needs to get comfy with what he does. You need to build rapport with your receivers, and the QB, certainly the case with our club, needs the time behind center out on the field to mature and learn the game at the D1A level.
So we failed this early on, but now that we look to have picked Shinskie as our man, let's stick with him and see how much better we can get.
5W) TE's do more than block
When your opponent throws 8-9 in the box, you know what works GREAT? Throwing it just past the box.. haha..
Wow.. I know you didn’t see that one coming.. but really , we have some great TE, I am extra partial to Pantale/ Anderson.. But all of our TEs are great atheletes, and I feel underused in our throwing game… they should be a young QBs BFF.
6M) The strength of the defense was supposed to be our secondary
Wesley, I'm not looking up the stats but it seemed like we were using the TE's a lot more earlier in the year. I haven't seen as much out of Anderson, McMichael, and Pantale as I would like to. I hope the staff starts finding ways to use them more, too.
I still believe we have more talent back there in our secondary than we have in years past, possibly recent memory....but the numbers just don't show that. Here are the passing yards that BC has given up the past four games: 354, 341, 206, 315. The 206 was vs. VT where they were content just to run the ball down our throats most of the game. Even with the respectable 206 vs. VT, that's an average of over 300 yards/game through the air. That's just not good.
What about INT's? Hasn't BC has been in the top five the past three years? Currently we rank t43rd....and teams have been passing MORE on us than they have in years prior. The guys in the secondary need to step it up and start picking more balls off and making more plays.
Don't get me wrong, I understand our pass rush isn't exactly the same in years past and one affects the other, etc., but I still expect more out of such a talented group.
7W) Blitz more
When QBs are throwing for over 300 yards on you.. and you have essentially the same secondary , you know what you are missing, and that is the guys in the middle putting pressure on the QB.. I really feel like we have to find a way to pressure a QB, especially coming up with Notre Dame and Central Michigan, both of which have GREAT QBs… and that’s not just by my standards.. both without a doubt have a future in the NFL.. If they have 10 seconds to throw the ball on every down, we are going to help them put together a draft tape.
8M) Lack of pressure on the QB (front four)
I agree with you on the blitzing, Wesley. We have to force the QB's to make some quick decisions. Most of the guys we have played so far (and will play, if we include The Emu and Disco Dan LeFevour) are smart enough to pick us apart if we give them time, hoping waiting for them to make a mistake. However, I understand we can't Tenuta our opponents and blitz on every down...
Therefore I think a big area of improvement is getting pressure on the QB with our front four. Ramella had a good game last week vs. NC State, but really hasn't stepped up the way we had hoped in the pass rush game. Albright, as our readers surely know, is a fan favorite and we really like what he does when he's in there and healthy...but that's not often enough at this point. Giles has filled in admirably stopping up the middle, but never seems to generate a push. Scafe seems to be immovable backwards...but we also haven't seen a Raji-like or even Brace-like push to collapse the pocket in memory. We've also sparingly seen Holloway and Ramsey, who have both gotten a couple of sacks but overall we need to see them more.
I think as a unit they've done an admirable job filling Ron, BJ's, and Nick's shoes on the RUN, but they really need to step up the pass rush.
I am not a fan of letting the opponent start at the 40 every time they get the ball.
I at least want to make them fight to get there.. pooch kickoffs and punts aren’t my favorite thing to see.. I understand their purpose, but they make me cringe everytime they happen.. so instead of masking the obvious problem being KO coverage.. I am hoping that we correct it.
I was not a math major but I think that 60 yards to a TD < 80 yards…
So BOOT it!!
10M) No more dropsies
I hear you loud and clear on the kickoffs. I have to say I was very happy with last week's efforts despite a dangerous return man. I think maybe the staff was just spooked by Spiller's punt return and figured the neutered safe approach was the way to go. Seems like they're moving away from that now, or so we hope.
This may be a case of the most recent memory being the strongest, but does it seem like our WR's are dropping more passes than they have in years past? Richie Gunns seemed ready to step up in his senior season, but hasn't been as consistent as I remember him being last year.
Larmond is showing us great promise for the future and looks like he could be a star...but he's dropped numerous balls that are almost all big gainers. He had three last week alone, and the quit on the fly pattern at VT still haunts me. He's still a young guy and learning, but the drops have to stop. In fairness to Larmond specifically, it seems that he's usually making a very athletic play on the ball so his degree of difficulty has been a little tougher than others...but still, just catch the ball, this goes to all of the WR's.
Wesley drafted: Return game, under-utilizing Haden, TE's catching, more blitzing, kickoffs
BCMike drafted: Road woes, QB indecision, secondary, front four pass rush, WR drops