During the game, I felt Flutie was terrible and Smith was underutilized. It wasn't that simple, so I sort of understand what Addazio is facing. However, that doesn't justify how they were used and it certainly doesn't explain how we nearly gave this game away. Yet with all of that, I still feel better about the team than I did Saturday. We are so close to everything clicking. The D is there. Can the rest of the team catch up?
Flutie's passes were bad. Not particularly crisp, fast nor accurate. The TD was a good decision. The INT was a terrible decision. His running wasn't good either. He's not fast enough to escape on the option read. He did make a few better touch passes in the second half. And despite his limitations, he seems poised. Smith has great speed and looks very comfortable. The fumble that he recovered was unfortunate. He's got to be more careful. I don't know if you can judge anything off of his passes.
Hilliman looked better. He had more power and explosiveness. Outlow and Willis were non-factors and according to Daz, neither was healthy late in the game. Rouse was fine in mop up duty. Wolford and Wilson were fine.
Callinan did a good job staying in bounds on the TD catch. Swigert looked fine. Alston finally made a big play in a traditional pass pattern. Smith was fine, although his blocking is still not great. He looked good on the sweep even if it didn't break.
The Offensive Line played relatively well. Other than some penalties, there weren't many mistakes. Not many misses either. Williams looked better. Baker was fine at Center. Bowen was good. Lindstrom was better than last week too.
The running game was more effective with Smith. There was no debate. Yet he didn't get the most possessions. I don't know if that is Daz or Fitch or both, but it was frustrating. I felt Fitch should have called more zone options with Smith. Just having him there softened the middle and created holes for Hilliman. Why not run it until NIU shows that it can stop the play? Or create some play action passes for Smith out of it? I also hated switching QBs mid-drive. How does that allow anyone on offense get in rhythm? I don't know how much of our issues are being forced on Fitch, but it is his job to make lemonade out of the lemons. Through four games he hasn't shown he can do that.
The DLine looked great. Wujciak kept pushing their line back. Landry wasn't as disruptive as last week, but still showed a lot of productivity. Abdesmad played well. Kelly finally made a play.
Strachan played his best game. Daniels was pretty good and fortunately the dropped pass late didn't determine the game. Schwab is also coming around.
Johnson's INT was a great play. Moore played really well again. Simmons was very active. Yiadom was good.
Once again, Brown kept things simple and it worked. We gave them different looks and had the DL twisting without exposing the DBs or LBs. We also stayed aggressive late. It brings in the big play, but we had dominated to that point, it didn't make sense to go with excessive prevent.
Special Teams: C-
On a good day, some of the big Special Teams' plays would earn an "A" for the unit. But Special Teams nearly cost BC the game.
The kick return was a complete breakdown. As the announcers said, the shorter kick seemed intentional, yet there didn't seem to be a fail safe? Or at least any player who knew he was the fail safe.
The highlight was Milano's block.
Howell's punts were fine until late. Willis' one return was fine. Alston showed a little more aggressiveness.
Other than the bad kickoff, Lichtenberg looked ok.
Winning close games is luck. Play enough and some will break your way and others won't. The best coaches press their advantages and push relentlessly so that a close game cannot be stolen. Steve Addazio's ultra conservative game management and some bad special teams nearly gave this game away. You could watch this game ten times and not be able to ignore that. As I said, the kick return was a total breakdown. But how does that happen? The play is designed to prevent a big return. How is there not anyone back?
As for the QB decision, I still think we didn't use Smith enough. Even if he makes BC one-dimensional, that one dimension was more effective than Flutie's two dimensions.
Winning while things are falling apart does deserve credit, but we need to show improvement on Offense soon and we need him to pull out more stops, not go more conservative.