Second viewing thougths and grade report: Central Michigan
I missed watching the 4th quarter live while trick-or-treating. I watched the whole second half back after the kids went to sleep and then the whole game back after the wife went to bed. Through all the viewings I couldn’t put my finger on why the second half was so much better than the first. It was a series of little things that clicked, that didn’t click in the first. You can chalk it up to being “flat”, but that's sort of subjective. Ultimately I think we stopped trying to force things and took what they gave us. Hopefully any "flatness" doesn't come out in the final three games.
Shinskie had trouble with the long ball yesterday. Maybe it was the wind but for whatever reason, his deep passes, which have been pretty good, were missing their targets. What I liked about Shinskie’s day though was his improving feel for the pocket. One time he stood through the rush and then took off on a short run. Other times including the bootlegs, he got rid of the ball at just the right time. He seems comfortable on the crossing and slant patterns. And he made the most of a few broken plays – like the pass to Anderson. We hoped for a bounce back performance after last week and we got one.
Harris didn’t bust a series of big plays, but put together a solid, even day. He also got in the passing game for the first time in a while. McCluskey relieved him on our thin depth chart and looked fine. We should really make an effort to get him into the passing game since he looked good as a pass catcher last year.
Gunnell out of the slot might be the biggest no brainer in football. The past two weeks he has shown the ability to burn the safeties or LBs covering him and he is finding the spots in the zone on crossing routes. Larmond stretched the field, Shinskie just didn’t connect with him enough. Jarvis made a big play. Nice to see Flutie get the ball, but he’s got to get to the first down marker on those third and shorts.
With things shuffled a bit, the offensive line did not miss a beat. There was trouble running the ball early, but that was more due to CMU crowding the line. Claiborne got a lot of attention for his pulling but Cleary had his best game of the year. Richman was fine. Tennant was solid. Castanzo looked good.
Pantale looks good in the passing game but yesterday he impressed me with his blocking. He did a good job getting to the second level and helping Harris extend some of his runs. Anderson had a big play for the first time in a while.
I can’t confirm that we do, but I assume that we are scripting our first few series (everyone does). What bothers me is that our scripted plays seemed to struggle so much. For example, yesterday, CMU seemed ready for our running and crowded the line. Our counter were some deep balls, but the wind probably made connecting on those more difficult. Later, when we were probably off the script, we started killing them with short passes. I was glad we made the adjustment. I just wish we showed a little more flexibility early. But I do want to give the offensive staff for getting more guys involved and for not limiting anything based our limited running back group.
It was nice to have Scafe back. He’s not 100% but looked very good. Although the Dline didn’t get to LeFevour all that much they were able to flush him out. Much of that pressure came up the middle from Scafe. Giles and Rossi were fine. O’Neal looked okay. Newman had a solid game. Ramella was good.
At times this year, Kuechly has probably been a bit overpraised. Not yesterday. He was everywhere and made some big plays, including the INT. Morrissey was a bit more helter skelter. He had some great plays and then some that weren’t so great. And it wasn’t a case of him looking good in the pass game but not in the run or vice versa. He just was a bit inconsistent, but overall he was solid. LeGrande was good. DiSanzo was ok. Thompson and Clancy got on the field late and were okay.
Although Central Michigan completed 24 passes, it wasn’t because the DBs had a bad day. Much of the Chipps success was due to dump offs and check downs. Bowman looked good. Davis was active. Rollins played well as did Fletcher. Gause was fine.
Special Teams: B
Quigley is doing a great job of pinning back the other team on punts. He's really developing well.
The kick offs were good too.
I am frustrated by the continued fair catches on punts. Hopefully we get aggressive soon.
Not much to go on via the kick returns. They were fine but we only had two.
I had a bit of concern when we did not look sharp early and let CMU hang around most of the first half. Then to the staff’s credit, we made adjustments and pulled away. There were no distractions. There was no sense of malaise. We put Notre Dame and the transfers behind us and won. We have now achieved our first benchmark for success. There is still so much to play for. Let's hope Spaz gets the guys peaking at the right time.