Believe it or not, watching this game back made me feel much better. We still have some uncorrectable flaws but the coaches put together a good game plan and nearly everyone delivered.
Ryan’s game and numbers didn’t make for good copy or highlights, but he played really well. After watching it again, you could see him adjusting and learning and then attacking ND. His passes for the most part were sharp. He moved well in the pocket. He threw it away when he had to. The pick 6 INT hurt an otherwise very good day, but he and the team responded with another score. But to look deeper into what I saw the second time around, let’s take each TD pass as an example of Ryan’s poise and smarts.
--Callender TD pass: the announcers gave Logan the credit for the great design of the play. Watching it back, I think Logan’s QB deserved credit. We are in 3rd and practically goal. We have two WRs to the strong side right and one WR left. AC is in the backfield with Ryan. As they line up Ryan notices that ND does not have an extra DB in, so he quickly tells AC what to do (this was all after the huddle broke). I am saying he told AC what to do from their exchange. If it was all Logan, I don't think he'd add their conversation and motion just for effect. AC splits out wide left and is in single coverage on an LB. Matchup favors BC. Ryan takes a quick drop and then fires it into AC for the easy score. All improvised based on Ryan just looking at the coverage at the line.
-- Challenger TD pass: As Jags mentioned, ND copied UMass’ formula of blitzing from the edges and overloading one side. With 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, ND came heavy from at our left side. Ryan tossed it away. Fast forward to the final TD drive. We are in the red zone and ND shows the same look. Ryan knows what is coming and knows what to do. He gets the ball and makes a quick and perfect throw. TD. The game is locked down.
I gave AC props yesterday. He deserved them. Good running day and he seems much more explosive than he ever did under the old strength and conditioning program. Speaking of explosive, once LV finally hit the right hole, he took off. Good running and pass catching from both.
The offensive line was tested and made some mistakes, but overall played well. I hope Poles is ok because he was off to another strong start. Hall came in and played well. Tennant was also good and seems very vocal when calling out the defenders at the line. Ramsey still seems a little slow on the stretch runs, but he did a great job on the screens and is hustling. They never really tested Castonzo, but he looked good. That leaves us with Cherilus. Gos had a horrible day. The penalties are inexcusable. He didn’t even block well in the first half. He settled down in the second and at least blocked better. I don’t know what the problem is with him. He’s making mistakes you wouldn’t expect from a first-time starter, let alone a potential first-round draft pick. Penalties have always been an issue with Gos. I hoped he would correct that this year. Instead of fixing it, he’s added uneven play. We need him to play much better this next five games. And if he wants to hear his name called on the first day of the NFL Draft he’ll need to refocus. One other note on the Oline – when we needed to kill clock, they got great push.
When I wrote about uncorrectable flaws in the intro, I was talking about the WRs. They are good guys and their holding onto balls, but they are smallish and not particularly fast, therefore they are susceptible to physical press coverage. It was that way last year. New staff, same issue. But you can scheme around that (which we did) and the guys can make plays when given the chance (which they did). Good game from nearly everyone. Challenger was back to old form. Some good tough catches in traffic from Gunnell and Megwa. BRob had a nice day. We were shorthanded with the TEs, but Purvis had some really nice catches.
Logan called a great game. Our early schemes created some big plays in the first drive. We converted in the red zone. Once we realized they were blitzing, he kept nailing them with screens. He killed clock for the first time when we had the lead. Our mix of run pass was great. He got creative too, like having AC and LV in the backfield together. Very good day.
The other uncorrectable flaw -- the pass rush. We played well, but just don’t have any closers and that’s why Clausen and Sharpley kept getting away from our pressure.
The defensive line played well. ND realized early they weren’t going to run. We used a ton of 3-down linemen. Albright got a lot of attention on the broadcast and he earned it. He created all sorts of disruptions and is playing like he did last year. Brace played well early but seemed to fade late. Brady Smith’s was part of the biggest play of the game – when he was held on their last TD grasp. It doesn't appear that his ankle is bothering him. Ramella looked ok. Giles made some nice moves and holds his edge well. Also, hats off to Nick Rossi. He may not be the most talented guy out there, but he hustles.
The linebackers carried the day. Dunbar had his best game of the year and was very active. He tipped the ball the Pruitt picked. Herzy is going a great job as a stand up rusher. Akins played better. McLaughlin had his best game of the season too and has become a good tackler. Pruitt’s INT was huge.
The corners had another strong game. Morris and Tribble both played tight and tackled well. Silva did his usual run stopping. Anderson had the most trouble and should have pulled in that pick.
Spaz did a good job. For a team that blitzed as often as we did, we should have had more sacks, but overall a good job mixing things up. The run D remains strong and we didn’t allow any big pass plays beyond the safeties.
Special teams: B
Despite the blocked FG and the sliced extra point, it was our best special teams day of the year. Vicious’ kick offs went relatively deep. His one short kick caught them off guard and they sat on the ball. The kick coverage was good. Ayer had an okay day. Tribble fair caught everything, but did not let the punts bounce and roll. Unfortunately Jeff Smith did not get a chance to do anything.
This game was not nearly as close or as sloppy as it seemed the first time around. The refs really upset the flow of the game The two roughing the passers – both borderline. The late hit called on Tribble was borderline. The block in the back on BRob when we were punting was a borderline call. The holding on Ramsey on Callender’s big screen was a bush league call. All of those calls either negated our drives or kept theirs alive. This game was not as close as the score.
Looking ahead is over. We are in the heart of our ACC schedule and entering the most critical run in the history of BC football. Let’s do it.