So I managed to properly set my DVR to record the game last Saturday unlike the prior week (surely due to first game of the season jitters) and began my review of the game last night. I only made it through the first few series before heavy eyes forced me to bed, but I'll finish tonight as Sweet Polly Purebred is taking an early flight to the wedding we're scheduled to attend this Saturday (curses to all who schedule weddings on fall Saturdays -- don't doubt me when I say I'll try to watch the game during the ceremony on BTN2Go or ESPN3 or however it might be available).
Here's how the breakdown went: I rewatch every offensive play four times. The first few at full speed, stopping the first run through pre-snap to note the two formations. The second time after I know the play, I pause it presnap again to determine what McGloin is seeing and what he might be pointing out and why. After this I might rewatch it one or two more times to determine the specific parts of the field to pay better attention to, which at that point I re-watch frame-by-frame in slow motion.
In the play breakdowns that follow, I'll keep it somewhat informal, but still in the Mgoblog manner, note particular pluses and minuses for various reasons. Keep in mind that not scoring a particular player means they didn't do a particularly bad or good job, but that they were adequate in their responsibilities and not to blame for a particular play failing. I also don't want to aggregate the scoring as it is unscientific and not comprehensive enough to judge a player on a full game basis, but rather play by play. Furthermore, I can only go on what I see happening. I don't have access to the playbook and can't with 100% certainty point out what McGloin's progressions are or what a given blockers responsibilities are beyond simple speculation.
The rewatch was frustrating. Mostly because plays were there to be made and there weren't that many complete breakdowns. But rather, one missed block or missed assignment here or there was enough to turn 8+ yard carries into 2 yard runs, potential touchdown passes into hurried incompletions, etc. And these mistakes were rarely the same player over and over either getting beaten by his counterpart physically or without appropriate mental focus. That, of course, is not to say that there aren't weak spots that either need to be improved or replaced, but it's a young season, with a lot of young players, in an entirely new offense. In other words, much can be forgiven.
With that said, I did grow a bit concerned with the overall play-calling upon further review. I suspect on first watch I was overwhelmed by the shear variety of plays, formations, personnel groupings, and adjustments that the team showed. UVa (not to be called Syracuse as I repeatedly typed in my notes) also seemed a little overwhelmed on the first drive, as numerous players pointed out responsibilities for either their teammates or their own edification. After this, UVa seemed to want to simplify things on their linebackers who struggled on the first series. Basically telling them to pin their ears back and play aggressively as they began to blitz quite a bit as well as play downhill vs. runs (and get caught in play-action).
Which brings me to my next point, it seems as though BOB was getting too cute with calls and that the offense is currently lacking a personality, trying to be too many things at once, rarely finding a rhythm. Two straight power plays with Dukes net a 3rd and 1, which we then go shotgun. I'm fine with the occasional mix up, but I can't help but think the offense would have more potency and consistency if the personality shift was more of a drive-to-drive basis rather than a play-to-play basis. For example, execute a drive or two in power formations with play-action off it. Or go full spread for a while and run misdirections, traps, and draws from the spread.
Plays (part 1):
1st and 10
RT blocks down, TE Gilliam 1 on 1 w/ DE who makes the play - Day for 2, Gilliam for being beaten -1
2nd and 8
Shotgun, guard pulls, Dieffenbach gets blown up by LB, 2 yards for Day
3rd and 6
pass for first down - good protection against 4 man rush (Line pass pro +1)
1st and 10
We run Zwinak offtackle to the weak side. UVa slants towards strong side and rolls LBs over top right into the teeth of the run. PSU is left with 4 men (including Zordich leading) blocking 5 defenders. Zwinak for 2. Playcall -1
2nd and 8
Playaction boot, McGloin misses throw
3rd and 8
UVa rushes 4, no pressure, mcg steps up in pocket runs, slides just short of the first down (pass pro +1)
4th and 1
UVa nobody over nose, McGloin follows Stank for first
Real push came from RG (Urschel) and RT doubling the DT and putting him on his back.
-1 UVa for alignment
1st and 10
Flea flicker with max protect. Only 2 in route (ARob post, Kersey cross), 8 blocking 4, no pressure and vice versa 2 receivers vs 7 in coverage.
-1 PSU playcall. Rather than max protect w/ 2 TEs and the RB staying in, could've used a TE leaking behind the LBs who bit hard on the show-run, but then had zero responsibility. So really it was 2 receivers vs 3 DBs, with LBs in no-man's land and the strong safety spying a TE in blocking. McG had Kersey who was several steps ahead of his corner open on cross - good throw and its six. FckItGoinDeep -1
2nd and 10
shotgun 4-wide, UVa blitzes, draw runs away from blitz. Day for 6, if Kersey doesn't loaf on his blocking and whiff on the corner, Day goes for 15.
Playcall +1, Kersey -1 for watching the corner make the play
Dieffenbach rolls up 3/4s of DL +1
DSmith kicks out DE adequately
3rd and 4
zone blitz, LBs scissor as DE drops into flat on boundary side
McG hits Kenney on slant
Stank doesnt release his double in time to pick up the first blitzer -.5
but McG gets it out of his hand in time McG +1 to make up for it
Kenney probably could've disguised his slant a bit better route as DB reads it, hits him as he makes the grab, both safeties cleared out middle of field deep, had Kenney generated a bit more separation or broken the tackle he's gone, but it works to get...
4th and 1
Good push from interior line (+1's around), DE slants down into position to possibly disrupt play (a riskier playcall to outside would've gained miles) 78 Farrell belly flops on the crashing DE to get him to ground (+1) as Zordich stumbles around the dog pile for the first. DSmith, laboring with a knee may have knocked a man into next week +1.
1 and 10
Double TE ace vs 4-man rush. Again, we keep both TE's in for max pro - very likely a design dump? Once again Kersey gets behind safeties very quickly (mcg -1)
Day loses his LB into the flat - McG nice dump off to the open man for 16 (mcg +1)
...again, works, but Kersey was open for 6 as UVa safeties feet were flat-footed in no man's land as Kersey ran past.
1 and 10
Double tight ace again
trap off guard - Urschel blocks down and crumples a man +1, Dieff pulls and kicks out the OLB +1. Farrell blocks down. The double TE is overpowering UVa's 7 man box at this point. Day for 5. At this point, I'm beginning to think we could've worked these power sets with Play-action all day long, particularly after UVa became more aggressive.
2 and 5
iso - reasonably well blocked Zordich meets his man in the hole and its a stalemate, Day runs up the back of Z (Day -1) rather than cutting to space away from help which was plentiful to the field side, as the play Iso'd the LB on that side with other 2 LBs pinched inside the play (and Stank who released to the next level). I hate to say it somebody like Silas or Belton gets the 5 for the 1st
PSU gets a break 15 yard penalty for continuing w/o helmet
1st and goal
Motion zordich to create strength however Gilliam lets blitzing OLB get inside of him (-1)...who then only gets a hand on Day but slows him enough for help to finish him off. Might be on Zordich for doubling down on DE rather than helping Gilliam. Unfortunate, had them outnumbered as they only shifted a safety to the strength and we only gained 1 yard.
2nd and goal from 8
Day -1 blocks the DE that DSmith is already blocking, letting the stunting LB through inside. RB rule of thumb in pass pro is inside out. Mike Patrick is an idiot. The first of many well disguised blitzes by UVa, gets to McGloin and forces an incompletion.
3rd and goal from 8
UVa's LBs are completely confused at the snap by formation and motion, the most confused tries to blitz (late) who then gets chipped by Kyle Carter who then releases wide open, McG finds him for 6
playcall +1, right side of line copes well with the clumsy, slow, confused blitz as Uva brought 6 men.
1 and 10
I-form power to strong side/boundary
Everything goes as planned except the pulling guard 75 Shrive (-1) then whiffs on his assignment, the MLB who tackles Day in the hole for his signature 2 yard gain. If Shrive doesn't grasp at air, there was room to run. It looks almost as if Shrive was running the play to where he thought the LB 'should be' rather than finding where the LB actually was and basically runs right past him.
2 and 8
Bunch right, gaping hole available, but Day puts his head down into the DE who has locked horns with Farrell RT (-.5 for not winning) Day -1 for not running/bouncing into the gaping hole.
pushes the half blocked man for 3. Plenty of room was available. Playcall +1
3 and 5
Really well disguised blitz by UVa...
Well maybe not that well disguised b/c McG points the guy out before hand (+.5)
LB adjusts his posture 45 degrees outwards like he's only paying attention to the TE in the slot, OL doesn't adequately slide to the right b/c there was really nowhere else for the blitz to come from as the LG is left w/ no one to block. Putting this half on Stank for not calling the slide -.5 and half on 75 Shrive -.5 for not picking it up.
Missed FG (worth noting that Jesse James didn't bother blocking here though it didn't result in a blocked kick like the later XP)
1st and 10
Shotgun offtackle to the boundary/weakside..one of those big boy plays with a whole lot of carnage in the trenches
UVa LBs recover enough to hold Dukes to 4 - though we basically had 3 blocking 4. Urschel tried to get out to second level but was first held then tackled from behind by the DE. Urschel, asked for a flag. Very dangerous play by UVa DE
2 and 6
i form ISO to weak/field side, asking four to block four, but one is left free, safety also crashes down. PSU outnumbered. Zordich squares man in hole (+.5). Dukes, however, hits it so hard and fast that he drags dudes for 5 like a meteor picking up detritus. Dukes +1 Gress does a good job sealing his man out (+.5).
3 and 1
shotgun 3 wide.
slow developing belly to Zwinak. horrid playcall. horrid. especially at a time calling for more Dukes power or at least some form of PA off it. Zwinak loses 1 as the LBs read the OL shooting off the ball (run) and Gress whiffs on the LB that sticks Zwinak in the hole. Gress -1
playcall -1 -- however, if Gress doesn't whiff it probably gains the 1st.
1 and 10
PA bootleg that UVa lbs bite hard on, McG to ARob for 9 (hard to tell from limited camera angles, but again looks like Kersey is streaking deep w/ little attention from either the secondary or McG)
playcall (+1) bides time for McG who probably could've been more aggressive. At this point, I'm wondering if McG has no confidence in Kersey or (and since it's not just Kersey he misses open deep) if McGloin's tendency to force things has been so coached out of him that there is no option for making the RIGHT choice, but only the SAFE choice. Perhaps not a bad strategy though in order to avoid turnovers.
2nd and 1
Play happening during highlight - hard to tell, but Matt Lehman gets blown up -1 by the guy who then stops Day for 0. Afterwards Lehman appears to ask DSmith whose man was that? The tire tracks on your chest suggest it was yours, Matt.
3rd and 1
shotgun four wide
Uva brings 6 vs 6 in protection, McG makes two miss (!) than goes insane and throws it up for grabs to a well-covered Lehman and just so happens to come down with it (+1). Another really well disguised blitz by UVa, but the Safeties rolled up position behind the LB (clue 1) who was playing inside leverage on the TE in slot (clue 2), tells me DSmith (-1) needs to pick up the outside blitz (the first man to McG) and the line should slide to the side without RB help. Lehman makes the hot read (+1), but McG isn't looking his way until it's desperation heave time. Blind squirrels and all that.
1 and 10
McG clearly picks out his target before the play here as Kyle Carter goes to post up an LB on a hitch. After contact the LB horse collars KC and takes him to the ground (refs -1), McG throws it away as the routes are all designed for quick reads...Lehman was open on other side of field and McG had time, so McG -1
-- side note: mike patrick is still a first rate dickhole --
2 and 10
i form - hitch to ARob to pick on the deep cushion the corners are providing
playcall (which appeared to be made at the line by McG) +1 - though good job by the corner to come up and stop play for just 4
3 and 6
McG reads blitz and adjusts at line to WR screen (+1) however safety makes a good aggressive play and makes the stop. It was all on him to prevent something bigger (like a 1st down). Though I'd like to see Robinson running towards the ball as he makes the catch with momentum bringing the RG Dieffenbach more into play who is trying in vain to get out in time before the safety. Safety wins.
Fake punt, Carson is our leading rusher at this point.
1 and 10
ace backfield double tight, a formation we've had good success with thus far.
This play frustrates. Power to the field side, guard pulls and weak side LB shoots the gap left by the pulling guard hitting Day for a loss. I have to put this on DSmith (who blocked nobody, -1) as the only other guy to fill that gap was Stank who was doing a great job sealing the nose. Play should've gone for at least 5 before it was Day vs the corner. DSmith -1
Kudos to the LB for the read. UVa's LBs are really aggressive and downhill at this point.
2nd and 12?
Clever little draw (playcall +1) to Day that, again, should've gone for more except Gress (-1) lost his leverage and clumsily fell backwards as the DE shifted back towards the play. Day for 3. If Gress stays inside his man and seals him outside, this likely goes for 8 or so.
sideline penalty on Syracuse, I mean UVa
and then another TO as the playclock isn't reset. (refs -1)
3 and 4
shotgun single sidecar
Guh. The DE lined up well outside the TE beats both Lehman (-1) and Gress (-1) to the edge and hits McG as he throws...and it looks like he's going to ARob on a hitch and go. Risky against the blitz, but it was there. McG gets hurt for trusting his blockers. Two of them failed him badly. Another play which could've gone for six if not for one little issue, that of McG needing another split second to deliver the ball.
4 and 4 Bench in
Lehman's available in the flat against another scissor blitz (appears to be a VA fave) and it's handled well enough, Pass Pro +1 (Urschel could've been a little quicker letting go of his first man (-.5), but Bench gets jittery and tucks it when his first read isn't there. However, Lehman was available for the first. Instead, sacked. Bench -1
1 and 10 after Hill int
i form strong side to the boundary
fullback belly. Urschel a little slow to gain the advantage, but eventually he does, which causes Zordich to bounce it for 4.
2 and 6
Even if Dieffenbach wasn't beaten -1 this wasn't going anywhere. Shotgun draw, but no OL even released to the second level. LBs were free to eat popcorn and watch their boy on the DL, beat Dieffenbach and stop Dukes single handedly. Too many draws. Too many draws with Dukes. Either more power or more spread. Team needs an identity and we're being too cute, outsmarting ourselves.
3 and 8
5 wide - delay of game.
3 and 13
Zwinak splits wide for 5 wide empty
Gress is absurdly slow to react to the snap allowing the DE to kill McG again.
mike patrick, still a dick.
So far in the game, McGloin is making good presnap reads and adjustments, but the OL isn't getting the right slide protections communicated to handle some of the overload blitzes. However, post-snap McG could be making some better reads. Donovan Smith is a monster when he gets his mits on a man, but sometimes some mental issues leave him standing around with nothing to do. Gress and Shrive are really struggling at this point. Dukes has shown good burst and power, while Day is limited physically and hesitant to hit holes when they are there.