The View From Section 241 | The Boneyard

The View From Section 241

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Well, that absolutely sucked. Probably the biggest game of the season, and we just showed no will to win whatsoever. Totally dominated by a very, very mediocre team. And, for the third time this year, were just totally lit up by short and intermediate passes. And the non-effort could not have come at a worse time.

Let's start on Defense, because that is the story today. The D was horrible. Players didn't make plays. Players didn't make tackles. Players didn't tighten in the red zone. But is it really as simple as the players are awful, or they didn't play with passion? Well, let me ask the following question. If our defensive players are awful, how do you explain the defensive efforts against Buffalo, Vandy and USF? How do you explain that we only lost 3 starters from last year's D that carried us to the Fiesta Bowl? I'm sorry, I refuse to believe that a total absence of ability by our defensive players is the answer (and that is not to say that I wouldn't like to keep improving personnel and depth). O.K. -- did they just come out flat last night? It shouldn't happen but it happens? Well, maybe. Goodness knows it's hard to analyze to deeply when you're watching on TV. But let me ask you this -- if the players just don't care, how is it that we stuffed their running game the entire night? How come their backup TB found no room to run all day? You really want me to believe that we played with passion against TB runs and not when the QB kept the ball? That makes no sense. Now, I'm not saying the individual defensive players played well (they clearly did not, and there were too many missed tackles and poor reads) but to me the problem is scheme. Too many of their passing yards were just too easy. They know we're blitzing, they run play action, or move the QB, or something to give their receivers time to free up from undermanned coverage, and they exploit it. That's what I see. And the incredibly disheartening thing is we played conservative D 10 days ago, shut down a mediocre offense and clawed out a win. WTF happened in 10 days that we threw that strategy out the window and went back to a one-trick pony that the opponents were ready for? I am not relieving the players from blame in last night's debacle, but come on. You benched Gary Wilburn after WMU because he couldn't cover anyone, and know I'm watching him in nickel packages trying to cover slot receivers running 30 yards across the field? Wilburn is a young man to admire -- kept his nose clean for 5 years and waited his turn -- but what does that have to do with putting him in a position where you are guaranteeing he will fail? I'm not getting into individual performance beyond that. The effort was too putrid to warrant it.

We didn't lose last night on Offense -- we lost it on D -- but the first half was the worst half of offense I remember since the second half at home when we lost to Pitt in '08. JM just looked utterly lost in the first half. Utterly lost. He was feeling rushes that weren't there at all, or weren't dangerous if he just stepped up and delivered. It was a huge regression game for him. Given that Nebrich was close enough to warrant playing time the first few games, I would have made a change at halftime. And, if no change is made for Syracuse, it has to be made after the next loss. That having been said, I want to be fair to JM. He was much, much better in the 2d half (played a normal game, with it's limitations) and there were times that he looked at receivers who, with time to run their patterns, just didn't get open. I am not smart enough to tell you how much of our passing failures are on the QB, how much are on having not enough WRs who are athletic enough to create space (and our rotation looked very, very thin at WR last night) and how much are on the passing schemes. Frankly, I'm guessing all are contributing. The running game was fine, and I'm now at the point where I'm willing to say that lack of a TB is not an excuse for being 3-5 against a terrible schedule McCombs is, in fact a Big East back. He is not Donald Brown or Jordan Todman or a healthy Terry Caulley, but he is a Big East back and not the reason we're losing. We went back to no RB other than him getting a single carry last night -- I don't get it. I actually think the OL did a pretty good job last night, and if receivers could get open more quickly and the QB could find them and get the ball out, maybe someone would recognize it. But the QB play killed us. I have never been a fan of Deleone but I will say this -- every game, there is a play or two he designs where someone gets wide, wide open in the passing game. We had it twice last night, and only hit on one of them (a good throw to Nick Williams early and maybe ....). I have never thought he was the correct hire, but I will continue to give him every chance until he has a QB.

Specials were better. Some blocking on returns, and coverage was fine. But had no role in the outcome of the game.

So we have a three game homestand, and need to win them all, just to get bowl eligible. The Syracuse game is the last chance to salvage the season. The Syracuse that beat WVU we have no chance against, but that was not the Syracuse that lost to Rutgers, or that struggled to beat Tulane or Toledo. If that Syracuse shows up, we can win. But we can't win with our defense being shredded by short passes, which Syracuse loves to do. We can only win if we play D like we did against USF, with 7 guys in coverage and trying to let 4 pressure the QB. I have no clue if the coaches agree, or could change it now if we wanted to. I have no clue if they're sticking with JM or looking at Nebrich. I'd be o.k. if I had no clue and I thought they did, but .... One last thing on the coaches. I gave them a free pass on being one play late taking a knee last game. They blew it but the chances of it mattering were infintesimal and were celebrating a big win. You just assume they put a procedure in place so they don't mess up the ends of halves again. The TO called with Pitt trying to move into FG ranges was far, far, far worse. I don't know how anyone can defend that happening. That was not poor judgment -- it was an idiotic mistake. And solid coaching staffs don't allow it.

It's football. Players can get emotional, the other team can make mistakes and you can win a game. But I'm guessing the emotion is going to have to come from the players hearts, because, even with Syracuse having abandoned us in the Big EAst, I will be very surprised if the crowd starts the game a week from Saturday with any passion.
 
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Agreed on all accounts.

That cluster bomb is on the players and the coaches.

And a QB change needs to happen now. I'm getting sick of seeing kids on the field who continually are not getting the job done. We're told there must be a reason that kids like Taylor Mack and Nebrich are on the sidelines, but honestly, can it get any worse than this? Go with the youth.
 
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Excellent analysis once again. It was a really hard game for me to watch. I have no idea why our coaches left MAC out there when he clearly was horrible in the first half. Why didn't we use Mccumming more? He was way more effective than MAC in the few series I saw him in. The MAC experiment must be over by now. I rather go with Nebrich at this point if we need a throwing QB and mix in Scott M about 25% of the time.

Couple of things that really bothered me with our coaching. We know Pitt was putting a ton of pressure on MAC all night, why didn't we counter with more slant/screen/quick passes like Pitt was doing to us? We kept setting ourselves up for failure letting MAC making throws he is not capable of making. There were multiple 3rd and 2s we choose to throw vs. run. Why? Our run game was the only one that was working last night.

Our defense was putrid last night. There is no other word to describe it. We kept blitzing and we kept leaving the middle wide open. Pitt WRs were wide open for the most night running across the middle. We made Sunseri looked like Joe Montenna out there. Remember this is the same guy who threw for 50 yards against a mediocre UTAH team the week before. The fact our D already gave up 400+ yards multiple times this year tells me we will be really screwed for the rest of the season if we don't make some adjustments. Teams like Cincy will shred us for maybe 600 yards.

I was pissed watching this game last night. Is coach P the right coach for us? I hope so but I am having my doubts right now.
 
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We lost on offense as well. Let's hear it for the 35 minute QB. Against WV you kept harping on the "good" 35 minutes, now JMc had a "good: second half 30 minutes. At least you are not "seeing progress" this time. The kid just does not have the upside to spend 8 games getting him reps to get to this stage. A Kragthorpean error is judgement. The offense can not work with this QB. One busted coverage for 62 yards (almost didn't get it off) and a meaningless late drive. The defensive backs cover our WR like a blanket as are not afraid of turning their back on QB 'cause he can't move and/or prolong the play - this is a very serious problem. Also allows wild, hard to block pass rush schemes as no fear of QB running or extending the play. Uconns offense is very much the problem unless you are going to hold opponents to under 20. Even a good D, hard to do that. McCombs is not a starting BE RB, don't care if he averages over 100 yards per game. Leaves much to much yardage ungained either due to bad cuts, lack of power or going down easily. Can't think of a single BE team, or for that matter any AQ school I'vew seen on TV where he would start, much less take every carry as RB.

The defensive scheme (at least aggressive pass rush schemes) seems to telegraph what is open, especially passes to RB's, TE's up the middle and slants. D is playing slow like unsure. An agressive defense has a lot of players hitting, our D guys seemed to run up to plays and sort of stop at the end. Don't want late hits, but do expect hits. D looks like when we played Navy years ago and they ran and actually passed all over us, D players looked unsure as if each one had been given "assignments" that they were incapable of doing, or that made them unsure of what to do leading to late reactions. Syracuse offense did to WV what Pitt did to Uconn and looked as good if not better than Pitt; our coaches may not be Lombardi, Parcells or Leach but I know they need to coach a lot smarter than the D schemes made them look or the sticking with JMc at QB makes them look - time to start showing it. Next game D must take away short passing game and O starts new QB.

This may be the very exceptional case of a head coaching hire being so bad that one and done may need to be on the table.
 
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Nice write up, agree mostly. Liked what I saw in Nick Williams, they should bring him in more on certain plays.
 
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One thing that's important to realize. Is that this game changed very much when Graham went out on the first possession I think PItt had, maybe the second.

Ray Graham, was the pittsburgh offense. We were geared up to stop it. That guy was the 2nd leading rusher in the nation, and was the 2nd leading receiver on their team. He was the go to guy. The QB situation was a mess.

After Graham went out, Pittsburgh rallied around their fallen guy, Sunseri played a gritty and tough game that we all know he's capable of, and our entire defensive game plan was shot to hell in the first quarter.

We made necessary adjustments after the half, but our guys just simply weren't fundamentally good enough to make the adjustments they needed to on the field when it came to changing the entire complexions of the game.

The linebackers needed to change all their reads. The DBs' - all of them. and then they changed to a zone based system in the second half.

Yet another learning experience.

When you play the exact same defense, exact same offense, exact same schemes week in and week out, players don't go through what these guys are going through.

What happens is that you end up with type of football we played for years, and you win a lot, but when you go up against a team that's got more talent in key spots, you lose.

I like being a team that shows multiple ability to play the game, rather than playing the same thing every down.

We need to get the palyers we've got up to speed, and every week, EVERY WEEK has been a learning experience at becoming a better, more rounded, adaptive football player, at every position, and more improtantly, we need to take what we're doing and go out and recruit guys that want to come here and be put in the spotlight, and in position to make plays, and then go make them.
 
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One thing that's important to realize. Is that this game changed very much when Graham went out on the first possession I think PItt had, maybe the second.

Ray Graham, was the pittsburgh offense. We were geared up to stop it. That guy was the 2nd leading rusher in the nation, and was the 2nd leading receiver on their team. He was the go to guy. The QB situation was a mess.

After Graham went out, Pittsburgh rallied around their fallen guy, Sunseri played a gritty and tough game that we all know he's capable of, and our entire defensive game plan was shot to hell in the first quarter.

We made necessary adjustments after the half, but our guys just simply weren't fundamentally good enough to make the adjustments they needed to on the field when it came to changing the entire complexions of the game.

The linebackers needed to change all their reads. The DBs' - all of them. and then they changed to a zone based system in the second half.

Yet another learning experience.

When you play the exact same defense, exact same offense, exact same schemes week in and week out, players don't go through what these guys are going through.

What happens is that you end up with type of football we played for years, and you win a lot, but when you go up against a team that's got more talent in key spots, you lose.

I like being a team that shows multiple ability to play the game, rather than playing the same thing every down.

We need to get the palyers we've got up to speed, and every week, EVERY WEEK has been a learning experience at becoming a better, more rounded, adaptive football player, at every position, and more improtantly, we need to take what we're doing and go out and recruit guys that want to come here and be put in the spotlight, and in position to make plays, and then go make them.

With all due respect, using the other team's best player going down as an excuse for our play is absurd.
 
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I'm not using it as an excuse!!! I'ts a fact. EXCUSE! There are no excuses.

You really think we werent' entirely game planned on D aroudn stopping Graham? I guarantee we were. When he went out, everything we were prepared for and practiced for in this game, went out too. that guy was in on something 65-70% of the entire pittsburgh offense up until yesterday.

Players and coaches were put in position to adjust. The adjustments by the coaches didn't come noticeably until after the half.

The linebackers and safeties were put in position to make plays that they weren't prepared for as the Pitt offense went to a different go to play, and they ran it more than once, that play to the TE across the field, and or defense failed.

That's not blaming our failure on one of their players going out, it's pointing out what happened. We had to adjust, and we actually did, but we failed to make plays in pass defense.

This is not a new trend for this team defensively this year. If you've got an issue with the defense on this team, it's got to be in pass defense.
 
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The kid just does not have the upside to spend 8 games getting him reps to get to this stage. The offense can not work with this QB. One busted coverage for 62 yards (almost didn't get it off) and a meaningless late drive. The defensive backs cover our WR like a blanket as are not afraid of turning their back on QB 'cause he can't move and/or prolong the play - this is a very serious problem. Also allows wild, hard to block pass rush schemes as no fear of QB running or extending the play. Uconns offense is very much the problem unless you are going to hold opponents to under 20. Even a good D, hard to do that.
This may be the very exceptional case of a head coaching hire being so bad that one and done may need to be on the table.

A very insightful analysis, Husky. PP may actually know less than RE about a modern college football offense.
 
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I would hate to think how badly Sunseri would've carved us up had we been forced to respect the run more than we were.

For God's sake Carl, Graham was out of the game on the first series. We had an entire game to adjust the plan accordingly. We blitzed our way to 35 points. There is a time and a place for blitz packages. There is a reason teams don't blitz on nearly every down. We saw those reasons first hand last night.
 
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I didn't see what a lot of people are writing around here, but then again, that's not new. I know what I think I saw, and if there's anything on film that I'm not seeing, it will have to do with what was going on at the line of scrimmage, but in general, I think we had good control of that line on both sides, which makes a game like that so much more frustrating, because I saw a team that on defense from the linebackers and DB"s continues to have big problems on identifying offensive formations, pass route runners, and then taking away the routes and getting good coverage position, while playing some of the best run defense in the country. I see an offense that has options to move the ball all over the place, but fails to actually get the ball there regularly. I see a kicking game that was more than adequate to play well enough to contribute to the win, and was by far our best phase of the game last night, I can't believe the things I'm reading about special teams around here. Maybe people saw things that I didn't.

I'm not writing anything else on this game until I can look at again.
 
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Thanks BL. I said enough, already, on other posts, so I will not get specific. Reminded me of last year's game against Louisville. But we had a serviceable Zach and Todman to lean on. The D played better too. It's kind of a turning point in many ways. Hopefully the seniors can show the way.
 
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And the incredibly disheartening thing is we played conservative D 10 days ago, shut down a mediocre offense and clawed out a win. WTF happened in 10 days that we threw that strategy out the window and went back to a one-trick pony that the opponents were ready for?

I didn't understand it either. We needed to make them beat us instead of opening holes for an experienced QB exploit. Short of them hacking our signals that's the only explanation I can come up with.
 
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To me it comes down to two types of plays that are absolutely are tearing us up.

1. Crossing patterns - Whether we are in Man or Zone, we have very slow/poor recognition of this play, and it has carried over game after game.
2. Play-action Boot Pass - Our Backside DEs crash HARD on running plays(will enough consistency that to my eye it has to be schematic)

We seem to play a "soft edge" on rollouts and never, ever hold up backs coming out of the backfield. What is so peculiar about this is that we can hold up fine against the run without overcommitting. We really should be playing pass first and the running defense will take care of itself.

Very frustrating... as I said to another Boneyarder while watching the WMU game: "Solve your problems with... F#@K...."
 
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To me it comes down to two types of plays that are absolutely are tearing us up.

1. Crossing patterns - Whether we are in Man or Zone, we have very slow/poor recognition of this play, and it has carried over game after game.
2. Play-action Boot Pass - Our Backside DEs crash HARD on running plays(will enough consistency that to my eye it has to be schematic)

We seem to play a "soft edge" on rollouts and never, ever hold up backs coming out of the backfield. What is so peculiar about this is that we can hold up fine against the run without overcommitting. We really should be playing pass first and the running defense will take care of itself.

Very frustrating... as I said to another Boneyarder while watching the WMU game: "Solve your problems with... F#@K...."

And yet, we didn't have this problem last year, and of our starting day back 7 six of them started all or a good part of last year (only Smallwood is new, and while Jones and Brown didn't play they've both beaten out players who did). So if it's not the coaching, WTF is it?
 
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We will just have to see if this coaching staff can step up. They will get through next season to prove themselves, but that's it. A new AD is not going to put up with them if progress is not very evident.

That was a very uninspired team last night and I don't remember seeing much if any of that in the modern UCONN football era. Slogans are really great, but they don't put ball carriers on the ground - tackling does.

We will be a 7+ point dog to the Orange at home. Very disappointing.

Thanks biz.
 
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To me it comes down to two types of plays that are absolutely are tearing us up.

1. Crossing patterns - Whether we are in Man or Zone, we have very slow/poor recognition of this play, and it has carried over game after game.
2. Play-action Boot Pass - Our Backside DEs crash HARD on running plays(will enough consistency that to my eye it has to be schematic)

We seem to play a "soft edge" on rollouts and never, ever hold up backs coming out of the backfield. What is so peculiar about this is that we can hold up fine against the run without overcommitting. We really should be playing pass first and the running defense will take care of itself.

Very frustrating... as I said to another Boneyarder while watching the WMU game: "Solve your problems with... F#@K...."
I honestly don't know how they can't recognize these patterns yet, they've only seen about a trillion of them. Are they just getting smoked on it because they're blitzing every stinking down? Excuse my ignorance here, I have very little X and O football knowledge, I'm just learning, really. But it really looks like they pick up the blitz every single time and they get smoked with slants.
 
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And yet, we didn't have this problem last year, and of our starting day back 7 six of them started all or a good part of last year (only Smallwood is new, and while Jones and Brown didn't play they've both beaten out players who did). So if it's not the coaching, WTF is it?

Hard to say, really. Lack of senior leadership from Lutrus and Lloyd, Todman and Sherman? Lack of Wreh-Wilson out there to lock down a receiver? No offensive production leading to demoralized and gassed defense? Learning an entirely new system from scratch?

I'm not quite ready to blame it all on Pasqualoni yet, though his inability to make a change at QB was... puzzling at best.
 
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Hard to say, really. Lack of senior leadership from Lutrus and Lloyd, Todman and Sherman? Lack of Wreh-Wilson out there to lock down a receiver? No offensive production leading to demoralized and gassed defense? Learning an entirely new system from scratch?

I'm not quite ready to blame it all on Pasqualoni yet, though his inability to make a change at QB was... puzzling at best.

Doesn't his lack of ability to make a change at QB = not WAS puzzling but IS puzzling - as he is still sticking with JMc.
 
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Business Lawyer we do have a QB - his name is McCummings.

I only hope that he turns out to be what you think he is destined to be.

If he throws 20 times a game we will put up 70 pts because he throws a TD every other pass. ;)
 
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Business Lawyer we do have a QB - his name is McCummings.

I am not a huge fan of thinking that fans can pick starters given how much less information they have than the coaches. Having said that, if I have to make a decision today I'm starting Nebrich. And whether Nebrich or JM starts, I am increasing McCummings # of snaps.

From what we've seen of McCummings, he is very dangerous running a particular package of plays that the other team is only secondarily focused on. I'd like to see him out there more. But from what I've seen of him I would not challenge the coaches' determination that he isn't ready yet to be an every down QB, because he will turn it over too much and not make plays from the pocket.

Just my opinion.
 
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I am not a huge fan of thinking that fans can pick starters given how much less information they have than the coaches. Having said that, if I have to make a decision today I'm starting Nebrich. And whether Nebrich or JM starts, I am increasing McCummings # of snaps.

From what we've seen of McCummings, he is very dangerous running a particular package of plays that the other team is only secondarily focused on. I'd like to see him out there more. But from what I've seen of him I would not challenge the coaches' determination that he isn't ready yet to be an every down QB, because he will turn it over too much and not make plays from the pocket.

Just my opinion.

This is exactly where I'm at. I don't see McCummings as an every down QB yet. Play Nebrich. His redshirt is already toast and his upside is way higher than JM's. Start to develop the kids.
 
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This is exactly where I'm at. I don't see McCummings as an every down QB yet. Play Nebrich. His redshirt is already toast and his upside is way higher than JM's. Start to develop the kids.

Seems like the very, very , very obvious answer. So obvious that a head coach could not go 8 games into the season and not come to this conclusion. It can't be that the 3 QB's were so close that the head coach couldn't pick a starter, then based on what have seen early in the season up to game 8 and still conclude that JMc should be the starter. Just doesn't go together - if so close and plan A doesn't work shouldn't plan B be implemented, guess obviously yes unless "you actually think from performance to date that plan A is actually working"; to that I say "hell of a plan A expectations to have what has occurred to date be defined as PRODUCTION".
 
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Seems like the very, very , very obvious answer. So obvious that a head coach could not go 8 games into the season and not come to this conclusion. It can't be that the 3 QB's were so close that the head coach couldn't pick a starter, then based on what have seen early in the season up to game 8 and still conclude that JMc should be the starter. Just doesn't go together - if so close and plan A doesn't work shouldn't plan B be implemented, guess obviously yes unless "you actually think from performance to date that plan A is actually working"; to that I say "hell of a plan A expectations to have what has occurred to date be defined as PRODUCTION".
I've been thinking the same thing for the past couple of games. makes me think that PP is just a stubborn old coot who refuses to be swayed by fan opinion, booster's opinion, Lou Holtz's or Mark May's opinion, beat writers, etc, even to the detriment of the w/l column. I mean if many fans on The Boneyard feel this way then you can bet that Mr Burton kicked in the TV several days ago.
 
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