[Ed. note -- Edited, front page'd]
Entering our third year of the Spaz reign, for the first time in a long time, I am not sure what to expect. I'll start with this. I have forever been the Spaz apologist -- simply in love with his defenses -- but for the first time on Sunday night, I really doubted Spaz as a head coach. There were numerous decisions and actions that I just couldn't find any rationale behind.
Here are just a sampling of Spaz's WTF moments on Sunday:
- The halftime interview, one word "Anemic." Now Spaz's assessment, while accurate, was ridiculous. Let's just be glad none of the players got to see or hear this going into the second half. I think this could have been handled better, but Spaz has never sugar-coated things, for better or worse.
- Clock management. We were never "out" of this game and we wasted two timeouts in the second half. How can a head coach waste timeouts in a one possession game? Down 20-10, in field goal range on 4th and 7 with just under four minutes left, we waste one not to set up a for sure first down play and go for six, but to kick an expected field goal. Was the field goal kicking unit not ready? With two timeouts we could have technically got the ball back even after the Rettig interception.
- Offensive playcalling in the fourth quarter. Tranquill, assist to Spaz. Let's forget the rest of the game for a second, and see how we approached the fourth quarter down 10 points. Now I'm not an X's and O's guy, but there are a few things that stood out. Predictable and lopsided play calling -- run, run, run, pass, pass, pass -- and all but abandoned the run in the fourth quarter. If it was Rettig making the wrong decisions, use a timeout to calm the kid down and tell him not to feel like he had to throw a touchdown or throw for a 30-yard gain every time. When we rolled Rettig out, it was fairly successful, why not go with what works, why not design some qb runs? Keeping drives alive was our main problem, but it seemed we were going for the homerun too often, which just wastes downs. BC can win without a prolific offense, they just need to manage the game and the clock. It's Spaz's responsibility to manage Tranquil, and he either didn't see anything wrong (problem), or doesn't manage his personnel well (problem). If we had gotten blown out, I wouldn't have been as harsh on the playcalling, but we had more than a chance to win this game.
- Use of challenges in the first half. We did not use a single challenge in the first half, and left timeouts on the board. 1st half timeouts are less valuable, especially if you are getting the ball back at half, so why not challenge a couple of these borderline catches for first downs on the sideline. I can think of two throws on Nevada's first scoring drive that were worthy of being looked at again.
- Sideline demeanor. As a coach I believe you have two responsibilities outside of the X's and O's, 1. Work the refs 2. Instill confidence in your team. Spaz failed to work the refs for missed calls and was even seen smiling and joking around with the line judges. I'm sorry the refs are not your friends, you are down in the game, get fired up and fight for your team. As a head coach, you either need to be passionate or be level headed, you can't have your team look over and see you shaking your head or covering your eyes. For the defensive side of the ball, Spaz gets fired up, but for the offensive side of the ball, i just don't see the same fire. The offense is the red-headed step child at BC, but you have to be there for them. Now I don't have a Spaz cam, but from TV you just kept seeing this blank look on Spaz's face. I had that same look, but BC is not paying me to coach this team. We all know the offense was atrocious, but step in and show us why you are the head coach.
- Special Teams. We gave up a TD (ouch), and punted 9 times, but kicked 3 field goals. Our defense got key turnovers, our offense provided very little, why not break out some trick plays? Defense wins championships but points win games. Our Special teams could have contributed, and what's the risk, let our defense step up and stop them, they've been doing it all year. I was calling for this all year, maybe if we had used a Flutie fake FG or test Quigley's arm we could know whether this was or was not a viable option.
I'm holding onto hope that Spaz continues to grow as head coach, hopefully you can teach an old dog new tricks.
The positives of the bowl game:
- Keeping Montel Out. Smartest move for the long run, so soon after surgery. If anything, having Montel on the sideline "healthy" added fuel to the ninja fire, I expect him to train hard in the offseason and be determined not to let Williams outshine him.
- Defense continues to amaze. Spaz continues to provide BC with a top 5 rushing defense, and had it not been for some missed tackles, our numbers would have been even more staggering. Holding Nevada's offense to 13 points is no small feat, and I liked the energy I saw from the defensive backs.
- Andrew Williams still a beast. No it wasn't a Syracuse-esque performance, but he showed good burst, and still picked up yards against a defense that didn't have to respect the pass.
- Rettig is a Competitor. Not even horrible playcalling, dropped balls, or INTs could shake this kid. I like what I see from this kid, and hoping he can develop some consistency with his receiving corps.
Now with all this being said, I'm afraid if we let Spaz go next year, with that goes our defense. Spaz has done a lot for our program, and continues to bring in elite defensive talent. I think good defenses attract offensive players too, knowing they are in a position to win every game.
Even during the Matty Ice reign, I thought the offense got way too much credit and still think Spaz was just as responsible, as DC, for our greatest season in recent history. Our defensive scheme, even if fans don't appreciate the bend don't break mentality, kept us in every game and continues to give our offense a chance to win.
What can we look forward to? Tranquil is as good as gone, and WR Coach Ryan Day will fill his shoes as the next offensive coordinator. My big question is what will Ryan Day do with WRs who don't show up? The freshmen group overachieved all year (and they were still average at best) and were the reason the score wasn't closer in the first half, with three drops for first downs. Rettig goes through his progressions and has to force throws a majority of the time, because we get absolutely no separation. Receivers? Routes? Speed? Playcalling? What is the problem?
Talk me off the ledge, or push me off.