Monday, October 08, 2007

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Bowling Green

Before I get into this game, can I just comment on the broadcast for a moment? I am glad ESPN continues to expand and put as many games as possible on as many channels as possible. I’ll pay whatever the cost to get ESPN U, ESPN 4, etc. as long as I can watch more BC. However, I really think the producers need to focus on the actual game. For those of you who didn’t see Saturday’s broadcast, it had long interviews with Jerry York and Doug Flutie in the first half. Both are BC legends that could make for interesting interviews...just not during the actual game. Couldn’t this have been done at halftime or in the second half when the game was out of reach? The play-by-play man Clay Matvick started ignoring game action to for these long talks with York and Flutie. It drove me nuts. (The also need a better spotter, because they kept confusing Pruitt and Dunbar and Callender and Whitworth.)

One note about the grading. I am not getting into the second teamers much in this report. It was good to see Crane out there as well as some of the second units on the offensive line and in the defense, but at that point the game had a scrimmage feel and probably isn’t a good indicator of what Crane would be like if he was thrust into action unexpectedly against a top team.

Offense: A

Matt Ryan looked very sharp. With the exception of two slants he was hitting guys in stride. After seemingly forcing things for a few weeks, he gladly took the dump off passes in the flats to AC and the Tight Ends. He still stretched the field on a deep ball that Megwa should have pulled in. Even when he forced a few things or the play broke down, he put the ball only where BC could get it. The numbers weren’t mind blowing, but a smart, controlled performance is a great way to end this stretch of games.

Andre Callender has become another player. Prior to this year the AC image that stuck with me was at Clemson in 2005 when from the stands I saw TOB rip into him when AC asked out of the game. I don’t know if he’s matured or having fun or is just in a better system, but the kid is running hard, making smart plays and doing the little things. He’s also really adjusted to the new blocking. I expect him to have a big second half. He sees the hole pretty well and is now making good cuts into it. The same cannot be said of LV who always hesitates a second too long on his cuts or makes a move towards the hole only to cutback into nothing. While AC blossomed under the new staff, I think AJ Brooks is officially done. That fumble was bad. He’s in his fourth year in the program and with his second staff. He shouldn’t be making mistakes like that.

Another guy who has taken his game to the next level is Ryan Poles. Poles looked lost last year. Not so this season. Take the Callender touchdown on the screen pass. The lineman furthest downfield who gave him the final block was Poles. He is moving real well and playing with a purpose. If he keeps this up, he’ll be drafted. Cherilus played pretty well but got flagged for another stupid penalty. This time it was hands to the face which he can add to his holding and false starts on the season. I may be sounding a little harsh, but I guess I am frustrated. Gos is the most talented guy on the line. He should avoid this stuff. Tennant played well and once again many of the cutbacks were in his area. Hall and Ramsey kept rotating series. Not sure why. Both looked good so it doesn’t appear that bad play was an issue. Can someone ask Jags at the next presser. Castonzo played well again.

The wide receivers had a few drops, but overall played well. Purvis had a great catch in traffic. Jarvis made up for his drop with a great catch and run on his TD. Megwa missed a TD chance, but played well. Robinson was able to get into the endzone. Momah caught a ball and it looks like we’ll be using him more near the goalline for jump balls. The real puzzler is Kevin Challenger. He is not even getting thrown to. I can only see portions of the field on the TV coverage, so I have no idea if he is having trouble getting open. But our passing game seems to be a meritocracy – get open and Ryan will find you.

I liked the play calling from Logan. In games where the offense has been less crisp there was a feeling that we were going to try things regardless of what the other team did. Not this game. Bowling Green had trouble with the run, so we ran on them early. They were giving us the underneath stuff and the flats and we took it. Great overall performance.

Defense: B+

The defensive line finally got to a QB. It was mostly a product of the blitzing from his side, but at least Albright closed the deal. He is playing better. Brace still looked good. I was glad Larkin got to make a big play.

The linebackers were a mixed bag. Dunbar and Herzy played well. Pruitt would make a great play and then look slow a few plays later. Francois seems to be getting back to his old form and was effective at creating disruption on the late blitz. McLaughlin looked slow and I am worried about his pass coverage abilities as we play better teams. Akins looked better.

When you play a team like Bowling Green, you’re going to give up a lot of yards through the air. The DBs deserve credit for keeping the guys in front of them for the most part, making good tackles and of course getting the INTs. Silva gets the game ball, but Tribble saved a TD with a great play on the ball in the corner of the end zone near the band. Tribble is also doing a good job on run support. Anderson had one of his better days. Morris was solid.

Spaz had the team prepared. I am not worried about the yardage since it was his classic scheme of keeping guys in front and forcing them to make mistakes. I also appreciate that he continues to blitz. It hasn't been effective this year but was on Saturday. We need to mix it in, especailly as teams adjust to our different packages. We also used a fair amount of three down lineman. If Scafe and Smith are dinged up, look for more of it in the coming weeks.

Special Team: B

Good: Yeah for Aponavicius. He made a long FG. Smith, even with a few cobwebs, showed he is a difference maker on kick returns. Let’s hope he stays on the field.

The bad: Our kickoffs and kick coverage reverted back to terrible. Bennett was all over the place and the tackling was awful.

Overall: A-

A very good game. Things will get a lot tougher over the next two months, so I am glad the team is entering this stretch on a high note.

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