November 6, 2008
I don't know where to begin, with the bad taste from North Carolina still fresh you would think that BC would correct its mistakes against Clemson.
1. The rash of turnovers via interceptions were eliminated against Clemson. Crane protected the ball. No interceptions, no sacks. The benefit of lack of turnovers though was clearly a side effect of not executing the offense at a high level. Whether it was play-calling or checkdowns there was only one big play and that came off a breakdown in protection where Crane scambled and tossed the ball to the corner of the endzone for a touchdown. For BC to beat Notre Dame they must dictate tempo like they did at North Carolina State. They must challenge the defense downfield and balance with the run. Easy to say, but throws need to be called down field if only to keep the defense honest.
2. Running back Josh Haden hits the hole hard. He continues to improve and needs to be more involved in the offense. He had 71 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. Getting Haden 25 touches a game is a must. He has good hands and should be able to get into space and create mismatches. This weekends game vs. Notre Dame may be Haden's coming out party.
3. The BC defense continues to be the heart and soul of the team. However the Achilles heal continues to be one or two big plays. ND will test the defense off play action. Expect quarterback Jimmy Clausen and coach Charlie Weis to throw the ball deep off play action on first down at least once each half. They will attack the middle of the field so safety play will be key in keeping the big play in check. BC may counteract the deep ball by playing off the wideouts but watch for double moves and hitch and go's. What will be key is how the Notre Dame offensive line plays. BC must get pressure on the Clausen to win this game.
4. Special teams got BC back into the game and also gave it away. A fake punt and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown ignited Alumni. As fast as Alumni expoded with excitement it was deflated with the huge kickoff return by C.J. Spiller. Add a few missed field goals and you get a mixed bag come film review. A more consistent effort needs to be in place for this weekend.
5. Coach Jags plays to win. Calling for a fake punt in your own territory could be called crazy, gutsy or stupid. Anyway you look at it, it was a huge vote of confidence to the defense. Being able to call plays with your foot on the gas needs to return to the offense. While confidence usually brings out the best the coaches and players must trust their instincts and play to win. Overthinking curtails the athletic ability of some players. Hopefully Crane can execute with his athletic ability and make plays that were left on the field during the Clemson game.
6. I think it has been three or four times this year where a toss-reverse-pass option has been called and I don't think we have a completion yet. This play was called early in the Clemson game and Jeff Smith made a good decision and ran the ball for a short gain rather than throw into coverage. This play needs to be set up. Any and all trick plays need to be set up. A true reverse needs to be run and would draw the corners up and put pressure on the safety.
7. More important than trick plays is the need to execute a screen pass. Having the quarterback in the shotgun constantly prevents the offense to open up the field for the running backs and linemen to set up the screen. Getting Haden and Montel Harris and even James McCluskey more involved in the offense can pull the linebackers up and open the middle of the field for the tight end Ryan Purvis(who has been under utilized).
8. A warm November day is called for this weekend. An occasional shower shouldn't dampen any exicitement for the faithful. This game is more than just BC/ND. This is a turning point for the season. A win and BC can garner the confidence needed to finish the season and who knows what could happen with dvisional games against Florida State, Wake Forest and Maryland. This is the last quarter of the season, a strong finish is possible and must start here.
9. Will Dominique Davis get some snaps to add a wrinkle to the offense? After the bland offensive attack last weekend I don't know how he doesn't get any snaps this week. If only to bring back the option to the offense.
10. What gives me hope this weekend is the fight that was put forth in the second half of the game vs. Clemson. Down 17-0 BC fought back, actually took the lead and was in position to win the game on its last possession. Notre Dame is coming off a heartbreaking loss in OT to Pittsburgh so a strong showing is expected. The winner becomes bowl eligible. The recent history is well known and will be in the heads of both teams. It will be exciting as usual.
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