Monday Morning Quarterback

Monday Morning Quarterback is having a rough go of it this year. Just when it looked like there would be plenty of things to pick at, the team wins two big league games against good teams. The good news is the last one left some questions that can be mulled over this week about how the staff is approaching these games.

If before the game, someone had said FSU would have the ball for 39 plays, over 15 minutes and rack up 234 yards in the second half, I would have assumed a blowout. Throw in two TD's and a missed field goal, along with 411 yards of total offense and I would have been convinced the Seminoles had a huge night at BC's expense.

Instead it was BC that won the game. Despite all the great statistics for Monday Morning Quarterback to feast on, it is the scoreboard that matters. Whether you win my fifty or win by five, the win counts the same. In that regard, any critique of the game has to include the obvious fact the coaching staff and players did what they had to do to win the game.

That does not mean there are no nits to pick. The first one that comes to mind is the kicking game. BC kicked off five times on Saturday. Each time they elected to pooch kick it. The result was FSU started each series in positive territory. They started those drives at their 30, 32, 40, 40 and 41 yard line. That's rough 70 free yards given up by the kicking game.

The reason, supposedly, is they did not want to let the Florida State kick returners burn them for a big run back. That makes some sense, if the kick returners are good. Florida State is 115th in the nation in this category. They are second worse in the conference. FSU is averaging 15 yards per return. Unless Quigley was hurting and could not kick it into the end zone, the strategy made no sense.

There seems to be an assumption at work here that is not supported by the facts. That is, the Florida State players are simply too fast for the Boston College players. That may be true at some spots, but the BC coaches seemed to be giving Florida State respect they have yet to earn this year.

Similarly, the defense played like they were facing a team full of track starts. The coverage was backed up all day and BC did not take any chances with the blitz. They were in deep, umbrella zone all night. This allowed Ponder to sit back and wait for receivers to clear. Throughout the second half, we saw Ponder with forever to throw as the BC secondary tried to chase around Florida State receivers.

The fact is, BC has no pass rush right now. If you cannot get pressure with four, you're not going to get pressure with five. The only answer is you either bring more than one guy on the blitz, leaving your secondary in single coverage, or you drop eight and hope to confuse the quarterback. Otherwise it is just pitch and catch like we saw in the second half.

To give credit where credit is due, they did decide to start dropping eight and rushing just three. This is what stymied the final two drives for Florida State. On their second to last drive, they stalled at the 19 when Ponder could not find a soft spot in the zone. On their final drive, Ponder was clearly confused when BC dropped eight. The result was three incompletions to end the drive.

The other thing that deserves mention is the play calling in the third quarter. OK, maybe BC thought they could beat up the FSU defense a little with the running game. They had lit them up through the air in the first half; a little power football was not a bad idea. There is not harm in running it a little to see if the defense has any heart.

On the other hand, there is an old saying in football. That is, you keep doing what works until the other guys figure out how to stop it. The first two drives of the second half were a clear departure from what had worked in the first half. Instead of the balance we saw early, it was all safe running plays.

In the first half, BC ran the ball 17 times and threw it 15 times. That's a nice mix that clearly worked. The offensive line was also giving Shinskie great protection. Further, Shinskie was in a nice rhythm, hitting several big passes. In other words, the offense was crisp and confident. Why not stick with it until FSU stops it?

All in all, this is a young team playing way above expectations. More important, it is not dumb luck. They are playing well, but have room to improve. Whatever complaints we have about coaching decisions don't mean much when the score board is in favor of the good guys. That said, it is not just the players that can improve, so can the coaches.


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