Monday, November 20, 2006

Grade Report and Second Viewing Thoughts: Maryland

Another solid win. The team did what it had to do. Maryland is a good team and we made them look bad. Let’s hope the Terps play better next week as we’ll need their help. Now onto the grades.

Offense: B

Ryan played well and didn’t have to do anything heroic. He was errant with a few passes but that is being nitpicky. I found it interesting that the announcers shared O’Brien’s insight into Ryan’s knowledge of the offense. I’m paraphrasing, but basically Ryan knows the offense so well he knows what he can exploit as soon as he sees the defense line up. This is why I think our offense is more explosive than it has ever been under Bible. Ryan has the arm, the knowledge and the confidence to take advantage of the whole field, not just his first read.

Whitworth’s numbers were okay, but I wasn’t impressed. Open field, he was above average, but I thought his reads were lacking. Sometimes he is too quick to give up on a hole and runs into space…where he is often caught. After a good showing against Duke, Callender became an after thought Saturday. No explanation that I could think of.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends had another solid day. The best catch of the day was Sele’s third down conversion on 3rd and 19. Gonzo did a good job of finding gaps in Maryland’s coverage and did a good job with the run after the catch on his TD. Robinson has come a long way this season. This game was a perfect example. He dropped a catchable pass on a 3rd and short slant early. Later in the game Ryan came back to him on the same route. He caught the ball in motion on his hip, held on and burst into the endzone. Purvis and Thompson also had some nice runs after catchs.

I thought the line played really well. Beekman had his best game of the year and was sharp throughout. Cherilus’s play has been excellent this year…too bad he ruins it with stupid penalties. Hall played well and moved really well. The only guy who struggled was Poles. He got pushed around a few plays and stumbled pulling.

I thought Bible called a good game. Starting off with a 14 point lead can change philosophy, but we seemed to remain aggressive. (It wasn’t until the second half that we eased off.) What most impresses me about Bible this year is our third down plays. Yes we still ran one well short with Robinson on a drag route, but more than ever, I am pleasantly surprised by how many good options we create on 3rd down. The Sele catch being the most recent example.

Defense: A

The line was okay again. They did a good job with the run, but really didn’t generate much pressure on Hollenbach. One thing that puzzled me: lack of substitutions. Willis against Duke was the first sign, but Saturday the first team got the vast majority of snaps. Bell and Giles got in a few plays, but everyone else was on the bench. Not sure why. One other note about the Dline – Raji was better than he has been against the run all year. He did a good job shedding blocks and staying focused. Last year he was excellent against the run. This year…not so much, so the Maryland improvement was appreciated.

Dunbar took all the headlines and deserves credit for his speed and athleticism, but Toal deserves credit too. He was involved in both turnovers and is playing like a new man. Pruitt was less active. Like the defensive line, the linebacker rotation has become much more limited. Francois, Herzlich and Akins barely saw the field.

Excellent overall day from the defensive backs. Big plays from Silva, including a pick. Anam delivered the devastating hit that got the ball rolling. Glasper put in a solid performance. Tribble had the best day. He is our best coverage guy, had a great return on his INT, but most importantly, has turned himself into a really good, smart tackler. His play has been outstanding this year.

Special teams: B

Sib Vicious continues to show he is human, but his PATs are so dead solid perfect that I’ll take the limited FG range.

Ohliger keeps leaving kickoffs short.

Tribble did a better job judging when to catch the punts and when to let them hit the ground.

Smith is close to breaking another.

Solid day from Ayers. I also want to mention how good our punt coverage has been this year. Regardless of the gunner (Sele, Ross, Anam) they’ve all been right on top of the ball on punts. I get on our special teams, so I should recognize noticeable improvements.

Overall: A-

The offense was good, but the defense did so much the overall grade needs to be high. If we play like this next week hopefully bowl organizers will be intrigued by our potential and TV market.

No comments: