Second viewing thoughts and grade report: Maine
I apologize for the delay in reviewing the game. In a way it wasn't really a second viewing yet wasn't a first time viewing. My ESPN3 was really delayed and out of sync Saturday. I would see an update on the blog or twitter and then see it unfold in the game a few minutes later. It has a bit of a numbing effect. Like when Murphy threw the INT, I couldn't believe it. But 30 seconds or so later when I finally saw it, I was able to process it and watch it in a different manner. I was less angry but more anxious that the game would slip away. Fortunately things settled down and BC took control.
In the other games I blamed the passing issues on the Wide Receivers more than Murphy. I cannot do that this week. Even when he's not rushed or under pressure some of his passes and decisions are off...like the INT. I think getting him moving is a solution though since it might get him thinking less about mechanics and fundamentals and just getting the ball to the receiver in a catchable spot. The first TD was once again a matter of him making one guy miss and then taking off. He made good reads on the zone reads all day. I was glad Wade got some playing time. Given the circumstances I don't know if you can read much more into it than what we saw with the Spring Game, but his passing motion looked a little tighter.
Welcome to the party, Marcus Outlow! But like Wade, I don't know if we can read as much into his numbers since it was in the second half and while the game was out of reach. I did like getting him involved in the passing game. We need more of that with all the RBs. Hilliman was good. Willis is getting the touches but not the explosive plays. I think he is close to breaking one though. Wolford got a catch. He can be a bigger factor in the passing game if we do more play action.
Alston is considered a WR, but considering how we use him on the jet sweep, it is almost like he's a running back. I would love to see a play fake on the sweep and then a deep pass to him on a wheel route. I am impressed by Bordner's ability to weave and catch the ball in traffic off the shovel pass. He also had a nice run after the catch on the TD. Despite the early drops I think the transition to WR is going well. Dudeck finally got some balls his way. He's not explosive or a big blocker, but at least he's sure handed.
The OLine was good. Our early sluggish issues were not upfront. The Vardaro injury is what you fear in a game like this, but I assume he'll be back shortly. I thought Gallik had another solid game. Rarely do our breakdowns occur in his area.
I felt Day called a good game. There was no new wrinkles and nothing exotic. Our early issues were more about execution than trying to get too cute against Maine. When we needed to take control in the score and the tempo, he went to our bread and butter plays. There was some chirping on the message boards and twitter that we should have passed more, but together we passed more than 20 times in a blowout. I still don't know if he has a good feel for how to use Murphy's arm, but they are getting there.
I thought the Defensive Line was the most consistent unit of the D. They were ready from the start and didn't make many mistakes. They got good push and stopped the run. Wujciak dominated his matchups. Moore did well. Mihalik was fine.
I don't what happened during the Pitt game, but Keyes has been much better since. He was active and better tackling. Duggan played well in his return. I was glad to see Strachan get extended time. He looked good.
Johnson got more time than usual and made the most of it. Asprilla was fine early.Williams was good. Jones was ok.
Like the offensive scheme, the defense was hardly exotic. We didn't dial up nearly as many looks and blitzes as normal. After Maine's early success and big play, they showed Brown talking to the guys on the sideline. Obviously I don't know what he said, but he wasn't going nuts. Perhaps the calm helped and guys just did their respective jobs. As the game wore on we forced more short series without doing much. The B- is really due to allowing a guy to get that open that early in the game, but other than that and few penalties, it was a solid performance.
Special Teams: B
The kick coverage was just okay. It wasn't as if a bunch of tackles were missed or we had breakdowns like the USC game. But the returns all went a little longer than I would have hoped. I don't know if it is an airtime issue. It is hard to tell from the stream. The punts were fine.
Willis looked strong on our returns. I think he will break one soon as he's getting good speed and making the first guy miss. A bit better blocking and he'll make more miss. Alston didn't get to do much on the punt returns.
The PAT issues continue. I think this is all an after effect of having two kickers (yanks, low kicks, etc). Howell was fine on the FGs.
The biggest takeaway is the win. Did the team come out fired up? No. Did we work out the kinks in the passing game? No. Did the defense avoid mental mistakes? No. But none of that really matters. These games vs FCS teams are pretty useless. Avoid enough mistakes to win. Addazio kept his cool and kept it vanilla on both sides of the ball and that was enough. He also got some extended playing time for the second teamers. Now the key is to turn the sloppy play into a solid week of prep for Colorado State.