Watching this game back, I kept focusing on our talent. In my opinion we have better talent than NC State. Much better, actually. We have real player makers on both sides, where I didn't see that same on their side of the ball. If we are so much better, how do I explain such a close game? Well, the areas where we struggle bring down the whole team. But there is something there. Now it is up to the staff to get them to execute at their talent level.
Towles was his usual mixed bag. I think at this point we need to emphasize what he does well and keep him away from the problems. What looked good: the quick throws on slants and skinny posts and running on option plays. What didn't work, deep drops where he had to survey the whole field. He makes bad decisions back there. Look at the number of penalties called on him. He also floated too many passes.
Hilliman looked solid. He showed a little burst and also made some nice cuts. Jones didn't get as many touches. It seemed like he was in the dog house after the fumble. However, the pass play was huge. Willis looked good on the outside stuff. The delayed draws up the middle were are bit of a cluster.
The WRs and TEs were great. Jeff Smith's run was great, but he also pulled in some tough catches. Walker also showed good hands. Sweeney was great all around. His blocking was crucial on some of our longer run plays.
The OLine was better but still not great. As a unit, the pass blocking was good. Towles had time on most of his throws. When the OLine has to move, is when things become a problem. We are not good at screening, especially to the left side with Johnson and Monteiro. Things were better when we pulled guards on the sweeps. Baker played well and did something I've never seen before. In the second quarter on a Hilliman draw, he basically pushed a Johnson -- who had already fallen and was on all fours -- into one DT and then kept moving forward to block other guys for Hilliman.
My initial reaction to Loeffler calling so many gimmick plays (Wildcat, RB throws) was that they were a waste of time. My gut tells me that BC shouldn't be using practice time on those plays when we can't do the basics well. But thinking back on it, I understand why he's doing it. We are desperate and need to get creative. We know the guys can't be consistent on base plays, so why not do things like get Smith the ball on running plays or have Jones throw a TD. Doing it the other way wasn't working.
Landry changed the game. He was good against the run and pass. Hopefully he starts drawing more double teams and opening things up for others. Kavalec also had a great game. He was able to run down some plays even after they were beyond the line of scrimmage. Gutaphel was critical to stopping the run. Allen looked good (as do many of our younger DLinemen). Ray played well.
Schwab's INT was beautiful. (Too bad we didn't capitalize). Milano was very active. Strachan looked healthy.
Moore's INT closed out the game, but he has some nice plays prior to that. The only problem he really had all day was slipping. Johnson made some nice plays. Harris was burned for the TD, but that was the risk of not playing anyone deep. Torres was good.
PP called a good game. We shutdown their run and had them guessing on passing plays. I think bringing pressure with guys like Landry helps open other things, so I hope he keeps it up.
Special Teams: C-
The Special teams weren't good. We had a kick blocked. We kicked off out of bounds. We allowed a huge run back late in the game. We need to clean it up. Hopefully Knolls is oky.
One thing that seemed clear live, in the postgame clips and during the game, is that these guys haven't checked out. I don't know who deserves credit for this attitude, but it is a huge compliment to the players and even to Addazio.
Now that we've won, people are wondering how the opinion on Addazio can change so quickly. A win will do that. But I don't think anyone really changed their opinion. Is he suddenly a good game manager? Nope. Are either sides of the ball smooth units? Has he turned Towles into a great QB or finally shaped up the line? Nope. But we are doing a better job of covering our mistakes and playing to our strengths (see Landry). I think Daz will do plenty to frustrate in the home stretch, but considering where we've been and where we are, this was a good game.