Because I had the holiday weekend to read reactions to the game before I had the chance to watch it back, I was a bit surprised by the split among the fanbase. Many thought Brown looked good for a RSF. Others saw him as a mess. I am in the former crew. Watching it back, BC's mistakes and missed opportunities were even more noticeable, but I still think there are enough pieces to compete this season.
Brown made a few bad throws and a few bad decisions, but he also kept his head up and played with maturity. I like his arm strength. What he needs to do now is work his progressions and make better decisions on when to run. There were a few plays when he could have run to daylight but he threw it out of bounds. His whole upside is still unknown, but I think the first game was good.
During the game, I made many comments about Hilliman. In review they probably weren't all fair. But it was fair to say he did not play well. I know it is hard to look great when defenders are at your feet, but the guy hesitates too much, tries to many cuts and is not great in a crowd. He's not elusive or at the Andre Williams level where he can break tackles. He was decent catching the ball but also inconsistent in pass blocking. Dillon looked good in limited action. He ran hard and found holes.
The OL was bad. Aside from the rotations, some of the issues were just poor play. Baker got pushed around and had a bad snap. Lazard struggled. Maybe going from WVU's near stand up style to our power will be a harder adjustment than previously thought. Monteiro was inconsistent. Christ Lindstrom was okay. Schmal was just ok.
Walker's drop set the tone for the game -- near big plays with execution issues. He did have some nice catches later. White looked great and really went up for the ball. I liked the Smith and Smith end arounds. They both ran them well.
Many of our blocking issues can also be pointed at the Tight Ends. When the other team is crowding the box, we need everyone near the line blocking someone. Garrison wiffed a few times. Marten and Sweeney did too.
Some of Loeffler's play calling was good but a lot of it was head scratching. Why did we keep trying the tosses and power runs with Hilliman? NIU was waiting for it and they stopped it most of the time. When you run 92 plays, can't you figure out an alternative to their run stopping earlier? All things considered, the change in offense is refreshing but the inefficiency is too familiar. If you run 90+ plays and are only scoring 23 points, you are not a great offense.
Much was made of Landry's ho hum stats. I thought he played pretty well when he was on the field. He drew a lot of attention and forced them to run away from him. I thought Allen did not play as well. He really struggled when NIU isolated him on the zone reads. The interior guys were fine.
The LBs were quiet. Each had a big hit or two but their productivity was down. Schwab was the best of the bunch and was ok in pass coverage. Strachan made a big stop but did not have consistent impact throughout the game. Richardson made a big hit early and then disappeared.
Denis had his best game yet. Good coverage and an INT. Harris made some bad plays. Both led to scores. The late hit was dumb but I can live with it. The running with a slow QB instead of stopping him was really dumb. I don't know why they targeted Moore. He missed an INT but played okay. Yiadom was good.
Considering their lack of talent and experience at QB and OLine, I thought we would bring more pressure. I don't know if the new pace of play will force us to be more conservative, but it raised questions on Friday night. Why not put more pressure on? For the most part, when we did, it led to bad throws. I also think there was some general first game sloppiness and confusion. If that doesn't get corrected, then you know it was a coaching issue.
Special Teams: B+
I know making a big deal out of three converted field goals is setting expectations low, but holy cow! BC made three relatively pressure filled FGs! I don't know if Lichtenberg is going to be dead solid perfect all season, but it was a good start.
Schulze-Geisthovel also looked very good. If he is consistently getting touchbacks it will be a huge asset.
Knoll's punts weren't all pretty but they were effective.
I liked what I saw from Glines on the kick returns. He's pretty aggressive and confident. I think he has the potential to break one.
Addazio made some clear improvements in his game management. He used timeouts well before the half and was also aggressive on 4th downs. But it still came down to a missed FG to win the game a game that never should have been that close. As I mentioned in the previous sections, I understand how the new tempo will require more substitution. But a key point will be not falling apart when your best players are not on the field.
While I found the silence on the QB starter unnecessary, it did not mess things up and he was willing to put the game in Brown's hands. That speaks to his confidence. Now he just needs to fix the mistakes and help this team reach its potential.