For those of you who have been reading these recaps over the years, there is somewhat of a pattern. I am almost always more optimistic after watching the game a second time. Perhaps taking away the emotion allows me to view things with a more evenhanded perspective. Or perhaps the subtleties make me realize that the plays didn't just go wrong because "BC is cursed." Other teams make plays too. Watching back the Kent State game made me feel better. BC still has some glaring weaknesses, but most are correctable. With some tweaks here and there by the coaching staff, this team can compete and beat every team on our schedule.
I only marked Shinskie down for six bad throws. Seriously! Sure, he got lucky on Swigert's TD, but overall he improved and made a few nice passes. He still locked in at times (the Lee TD) and still aired some of his early throws, like the pass intended for Montel, but he got better. So now that he has shown that he can spread the ball around, and hit spots, I would like to see him work in more slants and crossing routes. Marscovetra's two series didn't show us much. I didn't like the INT, but I think the limited playing time and the low scoring game (at the time he entered) invite a young QB to take risks and force things.
Harris got the touches, but couldn't find his holes or his rhythm. Most of his troubles were due to the offensive line and Kent State's scheme, but Montel did lose one carry. Fortunately BC held on. The much bigger problem with Harris was his pass protection and blitz pick up. It is so strange too to watch it happen. Since Sirmans took over as RB coach, our running backs have been great at picking up blockers. Saturday was the sloppiest effort since Sirmans has come aboard. Harris was slow to react and didn't do his usual solid job of keeping guys off the QB. Phifer was good in mop up duty. McCluskey got plenty of reps as a lead blocker but didn't get to do much else. (Let's throw him the ball soon.)
The WRs and TEs were excellent. I only counted two drops. Lee especially did a great job of pulling down tough passes. Swigert did a nice job adjusting in traffic on his TD. Pantale and Anderson both played well. Coleman continues to play beyond his years (for a guy who hasn't played much football, he showed a good football IQ in recovering a fumble).
The biggest problem on the whole day was the offensive line. I know Kent State crammed the box and made an effort to stop the run, but there is no excuse for some of the things that happened. Too many times Kent State DEs and LBs were allowed to run freely into the BC backfield while our lineman turned the wrong way and blocked no one. And some of the mistakes came from some of our smartest and most consistent players like Claiborne and Castonzo. What was going on? Were the line calls not getting communicated? Can experienced Seniors be that lost? What ever is wrong is coachable, because this unit has talent. Coaching OLine is probably the hardest job in football. Not because it is technical, but the opposite. The techniques are pretty basic. What is hard is getting five ginormous men to act in concert together. BC did not show that unity this weekend. From the outside and as a long time observer, I think there must be communication issues. How else can you explain guys letting men run free. Communication mix ups would also explain why and how Harris was so out of place on pass protection. One other note about the oline: Spinney looked pretty good when he filled in for the injured Nathan Richman.
I am neutral on Gary Tranquill and this game had all the elements that leave me torn on our ancient OC. I think Tranq does a good job making adjustments, but I think we waste too many possessions trying to figure out what will work. Aside from wasting time, my problem with the "testing/probing" mentality is that you never establish an identity and it seems to create confusion. I also think we need a little variety in the red zone.
Alex Albright had his best game in years. In addition to his INT, he also was in on many tackles and showed the burst that has been missing since 2007. Newman played well early but then didn't do as much late. Scafe looked pretty good as did Ramsey. Rudolph made a few plays. Although no one broke the game open, I liked the hustle and discipline of some of the young guys like O'Neal and Kasim Edebali.
I still can't get over how much ground Luke Kuechly is able to cover. His speed is very underrated. He had another solid game and I only saw one missed tackle. Herzy continues to look better with each play. He made some nice open field tackles. KPL was good although he got a little tangled up in pass coverage. Morrissey was OK. It was nice to see DiSanzo back on the field. He missed an early tackle but settled down for a nice game. The others are still not being used much...which is a shame.
All the DBs looked better than last week. Donnie Fletcher had a nice game (including special teams). Davis got a little lucky with the INT, but turned it into something big. Noel made a big play and showed great awareness.
This was a pretty conservative plan but it worked. I would hope that all the wrinkles are being saved for ACC opponents. I also can't complain since the plan was close to what I recommend Thursday: "Giving Spencer multiple looks"
Special Teams: B+
Aside from Freese's shanked opening kick off, Special Teams played well. The kick and punt coverage were much better (with special mention for LeGrande).
Quigley was fine.
I know Gause scared some people with his sloppy and reckless form, but I think the aggressiveness is just what BC needs. It is so much better than watching endless fair catches.
If the offensive line had played better, I would have given the whole game a better grade. We have two weeks to fix that and Harris' blocking issues. Other teams will see what Kent State did and challenge BC with a crowded box until BC shows it can handle the pressure and stunts. That's on Spaz to make sure we are ready. But overall I felt he had the team ready for this game and made adjustments as needed. Now let's hope he has the team peaking when we take on Virginia Tech in two weeks.