Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Northeastern
Thanks to some readers I was able to access ESPN 360 (remotely) last night. Watching the replay actually dampered my perception a bit. Yes it was still a dominant performance, but Northeastern was not much of a test. Shinskie even said in the Sunday articles that the pace and speed of the game was not as fast as a BC practice. At the end of the day, we got just what we needed out of the game: confidence and experience. One other note, I only watched this one time.
Despite the statistical difference, I think Tuggle had the best day. He showed more than enough arm strength, good touch and a good understanding of when to run. The big mistake, that the announcers noted, was his hesitation on the bootleg in the redzone. Regardless, I like what I saw and felt he made better decisions than Shinskie. The good news on Shinskie is that he's got a big arm and can put it in a tight spot. He also looked much better than a guy who hasn't played football in seven years should. That said, I was concerned about his decisions. He forced a few passes that he is less likely to get away with against an ACC team. Hopefully that will change as he gets used to the offense and watches more film. Marscovetra looked fine, but I can't read too much into what he did. His passes were easy reads and all the throws were in garbage time. Boek's limited snaps were also hard to judge or grade due to the third stringers he was surrounded by.
Harris picked up just where he left off. Most impressive, obviously, is his ability to shed the first contact. He showed no problem with the new blocking scheme in front of him. Haden actually may excel more in this scheme than the zone. Now instead of waiting for something to develop, he can burst into where the hole should be. He looked good. Finch was obviously the pleasant surprise. Now that his redshirt is burned, I hope they use him regularly. He looks like he can pound it a bit more than the other two guys. Smith saw garbage time. He still has a burst but I am not going to get my hopes up.
The wide receivers didn't get much of a test. Larmond's grab was nice and it was nice to see Megwa back (although he dinged his hand). Glad to see Flutie catch a TD. His elevation on Shinskie's long throw showed good athleticism and timing. Not much else to say aside from I liked the WRs' downfield blocking.
Pantale showed nice hands and blocked well. The other Hback/TEs were not factors.
In the preseason we heard that the offensive line would be using a mix of schemes. I saw more of the trapping and pulling then we've seen in years. The guys seemed comfortable in the new style. We’ll know more when they face ACC size and speed. Castonzo and Cleary looked fine with a few big plays coming from their area. Tennant dominated and Claiborne looked good. Goodman was the lone lineman who struggled. He’s a freshman so that is to be expected, however, the mistakes (getting beat on the edge, wrong assignments) will kill us against a real opponent.
I am comfortable with what we saw from Tranq on Saturday. The offense was perfectly conventional. There were a few player combos that were unique (Harris and Haden on the field together). We didn’t do anything embarrassing or questionable. The switch in line scheme didn’t hurt our productivity. All four QBs looked well coached. There will be plenty of times where I will question Tranquill…Saturday won’t be one of them.
The defensive line was actually a bit of a letdown. Sure they clogged up NU’s ground game, but I was actually surprised they didn’t generate more pressure on passing downs. Scafe looked fine. I was glad to see Albright back and he was near the ball throughout. Giles was fine...as was Ramella. Neither did anything to stand out. It seemed like Rossi was near the action but he only logged one tackle. I am not worried about this group, but I expected more dominance considering the opponent.
If the defensive line played like they were in a bit of a fog, the linebackers were flying around and certainly exceeding expectations. Kuechly was the star of the game -- active and productive. He seems like the perfect MLB for this sort of defense. LeGrande didn’t get as much attention from the broadcasters, but he was also very good and covered a lot of ground. DiSanzo showed no signs of shoulder issues and was very instinctive. The second teamers like Morrissey and Clancy both looked good too. The best part this unit was that all of these guys seemed to understand where to be and seemed to be good tacklers.
It was harder to judge the DBs since they were rarely tested. Fletcher made plenty of tacklers from his corner spot. Gause did too. Bowman leveled the Northeastern QB. True freshman Jim Noel made a few nice plays.
It was pretty standard defense for McGovern’s first outing as DC. I am sure that most of that was due to the Huskies. Why break out the twists or new looks against a DIAA team? You save those for the conference games. McGovern does deserve credit as he had a lot of guys playing for the first time and they all seemed to know where they needed to be and made good plays.
Special Teams: A-
Gunnell looked great on his returns. I hope he remains aggressive on the returns.
Not much to say about our one kick return.
Quigley’s punts were fine.
The only concern were the kickoffs. We gave Northeastern decent field position throughout. Let’s get that corrected quickly.
This is one of those games where the sum of the parts was greater than the individual. We weren’t perfect in any aspect, but it was a “perfect” start. The guys seemed focused, happy to be playing and played smart. If Spaz can do that every game, he will be wildly successful.