Sunday, October 28, 2007

Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Virginia Tech

The storyline coming out of this game was that BC played two games – one bad one for 58 minutes and one great one for 2. Watching it back showed that wasn’t really the case. Sure things greatly improved at the end, but you could see signs of life well before the last two minutes. The team showed they could move the ball against the Hokies much earlier yet something would stall or trip them up just before the explosion. Also before I get into the usual grades, let me recognize the following guys who are getting overlooked in the Ryan-Callender hook up. Without them BC doesn’t win this game:

Brandon Robinson – huge catches on both drives and a great job on punt coverage
Allan Smith – another guy who did a great job on punt coverage making Ayers work look even better
Ryan Purvis – solid catches, but most importantly he was the guy who first plopped on the onsides kick sending it back to Pruitt
Tyrone Pruitt
– not only did he get the onsides, he had one of the best games of his career

Offense: C+

Ryan’s deeds in the last two minutes certainly offset his uneven performance prior to the heroics. Sure guys were dropping balls on him and he was rushed in the pocket, but he did hurry some passes. The best example of him pressing was the second INT. Time was running down and he forced it. Thankfully the defense bailed him out. The best part about the final two drives was Ryan’s understanding of where everyone was and where the pressure was coming from. He stepped up in the pocket or rolled as needed and still set his feet to make throws. One other note – everyone said Ryan picked apart VT’s prevent. And while the Hokies did use a lot of 3-man fronts on the final two drives, they did mix in some blitz and Ryan burned them.

AC made the most important play of the game. Other than that he never got going. A couple of good runs were called back. He couldn’t get open on screens. VT did a good job making him a nonfactor. LV ran well but still struggles in the passing game. Ryan Thompson is a Tight End, but as long as he is playing fullback I have to grade him here…and it wasn’t good. We really missed McLuskey. Thompson did not block well and his assignments blew up our runs on three different occasions.

As I noted before, Purvis was critical to the win. He did a good job getting open and holding onto the ball. Loyte dropped two wet balls and never seemed to get back on the field. Brandon Robinson made big play after big play. Considering he got knocked out last year going over the middle, his continued willingness to fit for balls in traffic shows how tough he is. Challenger had a quiet night but still made some key plays in the fourth quarter. Gunnell recovered from his early mistake to make a big play at the end. Jarvis struggled with the footing and weather. Megwa was MIA.

The offensive line was the source or much of the criticism during the game. Some of it was deserved. Some of it wasn’t. First the good. Matt Tennant had the best game of the bunch. While his counterparts on VT were slipping and dropping snaps in the wet weather, Tennant handled it and the silent counts well. Our most successful run plays came off of Tennant’s cheeks. He also avowed major mistakes. Hall also had a decent game and was really hustling as Ryan rolled around. Ramsey played okay, but still has problems with faster players and he got busted for holding on the final drive. Fortunately Ryan bailed him out two plays later. Cherilus had an awful first half. He was missing assignments or getting beat with speed rushes. He played better in the second half, but still remained a liability. The announcers made a lot of Castonzo’s struggles, but he wasn’t that bad. He had some problems early but was much better than Cherilus.

The announcers and the message boards were fairly critical of the game Logan called. I didn’t have the same gripes. Let me address the two issues that surfaced most often. First “why doesn’t BC ‘chip’ the edge rushers?” This is sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. VT was generating a lot of pressure with just four and sometimes even three rushers. If Logan had kept an extra blocker in and gone max protect (like Bible used to do against VT) then you are left with just two or three guys trying to make plays against 7 VT defenders. That gets very difficult. Instead Logan asked his senior QB to get rid of the ball quick…in a monsoon. It had limited success, but I don’t think the alternative would have been much better. The second issue was with calling screens repeatedly versus running more. I cannot really fault Logan with this either. The screens are what we do best. VT was ready and we missed our best downfield blocker in Poles. Logan kept going back (I’m guessing) with the hope of finally catching them by surprise. Was it stubborn? Sure. Was it successful? No. But it is a game of chess out there and sometimes the other guys responds. As far as running more, the stretch plays were defeated by VT’s speed. The inside/traps runs had some success, but were hampered by Thompson getting blown up as the lead blocker.

If you’re going to question Logan’s play calling, then I think you have to offset that with his mentoring to Jags. Notice that Jags mentioned Logan telling him “we will overcome this” during the game. Sure it is simple and could be put on a motivational poster that you’d find in the Sharper Image but a Head Coach needs a sounding board and needs reassurances too. Logan plays that role for Jags. And the calmness and confidence seems to be carrying over to the players. In that role Logan is invaluable.

Defense: A-

Not the best night for the defensive line. For the first time this season they really got pushed around and they still had trouble generating much pass rush. Albright had the best game of the group. He was making plays continuously. Brace was okay, but not the dominant player he’s been of late. Scafe had a strong game. The “ssshhing” penalty was borderline, but the kid makes plays and hustles. Brady Smith also surprises me with the number of plays he makes all over the field. The guy moves well and has a great motor. Giles – non factor. Larkin – hustled but didn’t make a ton of plays. Rossi continues to get better. Ramella -- no noticeable contributions. Willette seems buried behind the younger guys.

Tyrone Pruitt had the game of his life. Not only did he pick up the onsides, but he was making plays all over the field and wrapping up well. Can’t say Dunbar played as well. In fact it was probably his worst game in three years. He was one of the main reasons VT ran the ball well as he kept getting neutralized. He also couldn’t close on Glennon (which shocked me). Herzy had a good game. His only issue was covering Boone in pass coverage. Herzy was there with him – just couldn’t bring the big man down by himself. Akins had trouble early in pass coverage but rebounded to make some plays later on. McLaughlin played well in limited time. Francois also played well (and on special teams too).

The DBs were pretty good. Tribble got his biggest test of the season and only got burned once. Morris played well. Anderson was less of a factor. Silva did not do his normal run stopping, but was good in pass coverage. Silva’s pass interference call was BS. He made a great play on the ball.

Spaz’s team held them to 10 points. And both scoring drives came off of questionable penalties. Overall, great day. My only gripe is that we were in base D for the vast majority. Only one blitz in the first half. In the second half we used a little more blitz with success. We also used less three down lineman than we have all season. Maybe the conditions played a factor with the vanilla schemes. I hope Spaz doesn’t get this conservative down the stretch. The variety of looks at the beginning of the season was exciting and effective

Special Teams: A-

Ayers was clutch. Nearly every punt was perfect. His work was critical to keeping the scores low. The gunners – Tribble and Robinson were good and Allan Smith also kept getting downfield quickly.

Tribble did a good job of attempting punt returns early. However, as the game went on, he became more hesitant and started fair catching or letting them roll.

The onsides was great. Purvis made the first play and Pruitt hung on for his life.

Overall: B+

Even if we hadn’t comeback I don’t think I would have been overly harsh with my grades. The conditions were severe. That is what makes the win that much more special. It was a real test of character. It may turn out to be the pinnacle of the season, but I think it is a glimpse of something bigger. Now enough looking ahead – let’s focus on Florida State.


BCNorCal07 said...

I don't know if you give the O-line enough credit for the last drive. (Not that I would improve their grade for the game because they weren't very good for most of the game.) The thing that struck me about watching Matty scramble play-after-play was how the offensive linemen refused to give up on the play. It seemed like on every play one or two of them were rushing back to chop the VTech defensive linemen who were chasing Matty. If Gos (I couldn't tell who else was running around looking for guys to block) doesn't even delay some of those guys, Matty never has a chance.

Can't wait for FSU. Herbstreit said in the OSU-PSU game that he wants to be at BC next weekend for Gameday.


eagles8 said...

to follow-up on a comment/question i posted the other day, oregon's athletic site is reporting that college gameday will be visiting eugene for a second time this season next saturday.

disappointing, though i'm not too surprised given that the alternative to the heights was a #4 vs #5 matchup

Eagle in Brighton said...

I don't know if this is overconfidence, but under good conditions, I feel like BC can run with/handle all of our last four opponents. I think any struggle would come from sloppiness (from overconfidence, "look-ahead games," etc.).

With their storied past, the fact it's a night game, national TV, etc- I expect a good performance v. FSU. I know Clemson is a tough place to play, but I feel the same about going into Death Valley.

Maryland away ("looking-ahead") and Miami (record doesn't equal talent, school vacation will decreases home field advantage while increasing distractions) will necessitate particular focus in my mind.

4-0 down the stretch is tough, but I have the utmost faith in these guys. Just don't discount Maryland/Miami if you allow yourself to look ahead.

Big Jack Krack said...

Thanks for your great game analysis.

As I said below - The weather for Saturday night doesn't look bad at this point and it shouldn't have any effect on the outcome.
Sat Nov 3 Partly Cloudy
53°/48° 10%

Let's close out the 3rd quarter of our season with a strong performance against FSU.

Brian said...

Not looking ahead or anything, but if we are in the ACC championship against Virginia Tech, I like our chances. A neutral field, hopefully better weather conditions, and hopefully BC travels well. Also, I'm confident in Logan's play calling the second time around after seeing VTech once this season. Special teams will have to have another great game though. I don't think VTech showed that they can move the ball against our defense (two scoring drives, both on questionable calls; I still think the VTech receiver didn't get his feet in on that TD).

You hate to be put into a double jeopardy situation playing VTech again, but after UVA stumbled last week to TOB, this looks like the way its shaping up.

Go Eagles!

Scott said...

Why did the Eagles only run 14 times? VT did 30+.

crazer said...

I think you missed the biggest reason the O struggled, the conditions. The field was a mess, maybe it looked OK on TV but sitting in the stadium you could see big chunks of sod come up all over the place. There was no timing on pass plays, receivers were slipping coming out of breaks. Ryan's first int was a clear example, the ball was thrown before the receiver came out of his break and when he went down the VT player was right there. On the run our O is designed around cutting back to the hole, no way to do that effectively Thursday night. Also our smallish lines were at a disadvantage, no way to get footing to deal with big fast VT linemen. All that said Ryan seemed off, but I think on a dry field we would have won by a comfortable margin.

DC Eagles 05 said...

I assume that Herbstreit will be doing the BC game since it's the ABC night game. If Gameday is in Oregon can he actually make it to Boston for the start of the game?

I'm sure he was advocating for BC because flying across the country on Saturday was the last thing he wanted to do.

Brian said...

Let's be honest. Gameday didn't want to go back to Eugene because they are based in Bristol, CT. BC would have been ideal for the Gameday crew (short trip, etc.). Although I don't blame them for going to Autzen for the second time this season for the two highest ranked teams in the Pac 10 squaring off.

I'm still holding out hope that gameday visits Clemson in a few weeks if they can keep winning (it will be BC v. a top 15-20 Clemson squad).