Watching the game live was tense. It constantly felt like USC might light up the scoreboard with a big play. The second time around you realize how dominant this performance was. The final score doesn't even indicate how BC controlled the game from the 2nd quarter to the finish. There was a lot to like about the whole performance.
As I tweeted, Tyler Murphy didn't complete a pass in the second half, yet BC extended our lead. He really didn't need to throw much. USC couldn't stop him and he made great decisions on the zone reads and options. His passes in general were more crisp although still not great. I also liked that he was quick to run when his first passing reads weren't there. He had some wide open players that he ignored but I think that will improve with film study. Overall though, this was the Murphy we needed: run first and keep the threat of the pass in his backpocket.
There had been some talk about Willis and Rouse's decline after the Pitt game. I think this game reinforced that both are still good and just needed better blocking. Hilliman made the most of his first extended time. The announcers talked up his potential as the big back, but he was more than just that. He showed great speed on the TDs and enough instinct to reach for the pylon. Wofford blocked well and it was noted by Blackledge.
The WRs were bad again as a group. While their opportunities continue to decrease, they are not helping themselves with the continued drops. Bordner, Crimmins, Alston and Callinan are dropped or missed catchable balls. But it wasn't all bad. Alston proved to be a real threat with the ball. He's listed as a WR, but I think he's going to be like our version of Percy Harvin and will probably get more handoffs than passes this year. Bordner blocked really well.
The Offensive Line played very well. Gallik led the way and other than a mix up on a late coming rusher, had a pretty steady night. He looked very good moving too. Kramer played well and had no big issues. The pass protection was much better. Silberman didn't look as lost and didn't have any noticeable issues.
I thought the play calling was very good. What I appreciated most is that many of the plays built off of previous ones. For example the option...and then they option with the end around to Alston...and then the fake end around to Alston. We also incorporated the dive into our zone reads, which is a wrinkle I haven't seen before (the Dive is more a staple of Navy and Georgia Tech). I would still like to see Murphy roll or bootleg more, but after last week's disaster in passing, this week was good. Day planned the game well and called it even better.
Kavalec had another solid game. He can shed blockers and is a solid tackler. Although he wasn't credited with a tackle, I thought Wujciak did a good job penetrating and disrupting their run game. I didn't think Mihalik played as well. He got pushed around a bit and lost contain a few times. On the other End Moore seemed to get blocked down too. Landry looked good and remains very active. Adebayo had a nice play. Gutapfel looked good.
Daniels made plenty of tackles, but I think he was responsible for a few different USC RBs coming out of the backfield uncovered. I cannot be sure but looking back he seems like the fall guy (I don't think Brown would ask the DEs to wait and cover). Keyes looked much better than last week. I don't know why the tackling was so different but he was like a new player. Of the young guys, Lezzer looked good and so did Strizak.
As a group I thought the DBs played well. They made most of their tackles, were very active and played well in coverage. Asprilla had one of his better games. He was good in one on one coverage and made plenty of tackles in support of the run. Bryce Jones also had a good game. Milano was a nice surprise and a sure tackler. Sylvia made a mistake in Special Teams (see below) but was solid otherwise.
We gave up 317 passing yards but it didn't feel like that and I assume that was by design. Brown left Kessler confused and exploited many of USC's blocking issues. Most of the passing yards came in short passes where we gave the Trojans space. It was a mix of bend but don't break and pressure. Brown did a good job of mixing things up and was able to generate a lot of the pressure with only four rushers. But the tackling improved and so did the run D and for that Brown deserves credit.
Special Teams: B
The missed PAT and missed FG didn't matter but should be a concern to coaches (and fans).
Howell's punts were nice and the punt coverage was good. The kick coverage wasn't as good. Sylvia got out of his lane on their big return. However, the squibs worked well and our coverage improved with it.
Willis was solid on his kick returns. Alston made good decisions on his punt returns.
The hands team didn't have to do much, but at least they were ready and didn't screw it up.
This was not a perfect game, but I will ignore that because of the momentous win. Beating USC is nice, but the biggest reason for recognizing Addazio is the difference between last week and this one. BC corrected most of their major errors and regrouped after a frustrating loss. That is a sign of a good coach and a good staff. I know I am oversimplifying again but the core result is clear. This coach and staff have the attention and belief of their players and are making them better each week.
As for game management, I am glad Addazio pushed for scoring late in the first half. It made the difference. The kick on 3rd down was a little funky, but as he explained to Holly Rowe, they were trying to see if they could catch USC off guard and 19 seconds wasn't enough to do much. You'd like things to be a little more crisp in those situations, but the fact Addazio has an aggressive mindset is important. When we were nursing the lead, I also thought he used his second half timeouts well. Saving them is ideal, but making sure that we don't make killer mistakes is more important.
Addazio always seems to be riding a fine line with expectations. This win raised them. I am not worried about how we handle Maine next week, but the rest of the schedule will be tough. He passed the regrouping challenge. Now he needs to get this team to execute every week.