In an earlier post this year (Show me the money, not so fast...), I explained the economics associated with the assistant coaches at BSU and the correlation these should present. First was that the expectation is that the product should be in comparison to the cost: BSU average pay is in the top 25% percentile of assistant coaches; ergo, they should be in the top 25. The second point was that a quality staff allows the head coach to focus his energy on the strategy of the team.
Understanding where I came from will give you an insight into where I am going. The trends seen this year are symptomatic of a greater problem in BSUs overall strategy and the leadership in place to allow for improvement in the coming years.
True, all teams experience the fluctuation of wins and losses, up and down seasons. This current team is no exception. Or is it?
I would postulate the following: if you are knowingly playing a team that struggles against the pass, succeeds against the run and has virtually no red zone defense what will your game strategy be? Furthermore you have a young, very mobile quarterback who has completed over 70% of his throws and 6 capable receivers with over 10 receptions this year. (Including a phenom in Shane Williams-Rhodes)
Enter SDSU. They have held 4 teams to under 100 yards rushing but give up over 260 yards passing per game (including one game with 367 yards passing and only 10 rushing yards allowed).
What I saw was a carbon copy of every game we have played up until this point. It was devoid of any analysis of the opponents tendencies and weaknesses and the opportunities they posed. It showed not only a lack of creativity but also the inability to execute when called upon to produce such; evidence that a unique game plan was not implemented during the week’s preparation. In short, it did nothing more than feed into Rocky Long’s own game plan in his attempt to confuse and harass Grant Hedrick.
The success that SDSU had in accomplishing their goals it did little to instill any confidence that we are poised to move forward in the future. This is not an issue of talent, skill or player abilities. This is a question of whether or not BSU is able to live up to its heritage as a force to be reckoned with or be relegated to a mid tier player in a lower level conference.
This was arguably the most lackluster play calling of Chris Peterson's career and worst ever offensive output in a single half of play. How many plays did we utilize in the first half of this nature: Play action pass? Designed roll out? Short-to-Long route progression check downs? Quick audible screens (AKA "safety valve"?) The short answer is ZERO. An average play caller would look to establish a team’s given strengths. A great play caller would immediately counter what is the anticipated defensive scheme with what MAY exploit the expected. Game after game BSU starts with their strengths and guess what? The defense KNOWS what to expect thereby resulting in the weak starts we have experienced in nearly every game this year. The status quo is safe some will say. Wait till the second half to make adjustments. Wait until we see what they present. Wait until next year.
Back to my earlier argument: is the product worth the cost? Other than BSU fans, who will keep watching this brand of football if it slips further into mediocrity?