Tuggle’s first two passes were terrible. Once was in the wrong zip code and one was nearly picked. From then on, he settled down and started to look very promising. He distributed the ball well. He made good decisions on running. His long passes were a mixed bag as far as timing, but he showed he has more than enough arm for this level. His stat line wasn’t dominating, but I felt he had the better day and I think he has the better sense of the pocket and a better football IQ. Shinskie on the other was not as good in my opinion. He has a good enough arm and is probably more athletic than you would expect, but his decisions were not great. He also has a tendency to lock in on one target. That will get him burned against better competition. For example on his INT he put up too much air, under threw it and threw into double coverage. A Clemson DB would have picked it off and probably stayed on his feet. Marscovetra’s looked fine in his limited action. In my mind the job should now be Tuggle’s until he does something to lose it.
I said before the season the WRs are very talented. Gunnell showed great hands and great route adjustments. Larmond obviously has real raw speed, but is also doing well in space and in pulling in tough throws. I was glad Megwa got back in the flow of things.
Pantale had a few nice catches. My bigger concern with the FBacks/HBacks/TEs was the blocking. They did not open many holes, did not get to the second level quickly or effectively, and they got plain beat/blown up several times. It wasn’t pretty and is a definite area to work on.
Harris earned every yard yesterday. Other than one long run where he wasn’t touched until he was 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, he got hit early and didn’t have much to work with. Haden had a few decent runs, but was also dealing with poor blocking up front. Haden also blew two blitz picks ups by my count. I liked Finch’s combination or balance and power, but most of his yards were in garbage time.
Although not as bad as I initially thought, the offensive line was not good. Castonzo did not dominate the guys across from him and totally blew his assignment that got Shinskie planted into the turf. Cleary struggled in the run packages (both zone and man). He shared snaps with Richman who looked ok. Tennant was pretty good but did have few unfocused moments in the pass blocking. He also didn’t look great when pulling during our running game. Last year many of the holes came from Tennant’s area. Not so against KSU. Claiborne had some rough moments early in the game. Admittedly he got better later in the game and did a great job picking up oncoming Safeties when KSU delayed blitz. Lapham, in his first game of the year, was the most consistent of the starters. The second teamers got in and looked adequate. As I said, the mistakes weren’t as plentiful as they felt watching live. However, they were going up against a small Kent State front seven. We should have dominated but didn’t. The grab bag approach (some zone, some man) doesn’t seem to be working as the traps didn’t open much and the zone stretches didn’t create much. This group had four guys return and were great last year. They shouldn’t struggle this much, even when the other team is crowding the line. If they don’t get things together against Clemson, we will have real tough time going forward.
So far I have no problem with Tranquill’s play calling. It has been conservative but with a good mix of run pass. He’s also been taking what the defense’s give him. Kent State loaded the box, so we threw. The QBs are further along than I predicted at this point. The WRs look great. The only issue so far has been the blocking (by everyone). The line has underachieved so far, the RBs look like it is not an emphasis for them any more, and the HBacks/TEs have been liabilities. If Tranq is going to have a big year, the blocking needs to improve soon.
The defensive line has raised some of the same concerns I have about the offensive line. They haven’t been terrible…just not as dominant as I think they should be. Albright has played real smart and covered a lot of ground...yet didn’t get to the QB. Giles is proving to be good at DT and is creating a lot of penetration…yet didn’t make a big play. Scafe was productive…yet many of his tackles came off the line of scrimmage. Holloway got his first sack...yet also had a dumb personal foul. Newman covered a lot of ground but no big plays. Ramella lost contain a few times.
The linebackers were nearly perfect. Kuechly is getting a lot of attention, but let’s talk for a minute about the other guys (who’ve been very, very good). LeGrande is making a great adjustment to replacing Herzy. He’s looked good in the run game. His tackling has been solid and he’s done a great job in the passing game including his INT. DiSanzo has also been very good. The stats only credited him with one tackle, but he was more involved than that. The long lost Darius Bagan had the best game of his BC career. He was also very active. Morrissey looked good and seems to have a good feel for this defense and positioning. He made a few key tackles and tipped the ball on Clancy’s INT. Clancy looked good. Kuechly was very good, but my main criticism is that he bit on play fakes hard. It’s not a surprise since I think he is trying to tackle everything he sees. That aggressiveness is good but good teams will pick up on that. We also allowed a few big passing plays over the middle that caught Morrissey and Kuechly out of position or in mismatches.
The DBs didn’t get to do much. Rollins was active but mostly in snuffing out run plays. Fletcher and Johnson also had big days just coming up to stop the run or close out on short passes. Bowman had another one of his kill-shot tackles (he’s going to be very intimidating as the season wears on). Davis did most of his work in special teams. Noel looked good for a freshman.
Defensively our scheme was pretty vanilla. We only blitzed five times. In fact we rushed three and dropped eight more often than sent pressure. This is to be expected since we didn’t need to do anything special and you want to save wrinkles for Clemson. We shut down their two biggest weapons in Jarvis and Morgan. The only sustained drive and the only scoring came in garbage time. No complaints from me.
Special Teams: B
Other than his one kick out of bounds, Quigley was the star of the game. His kickoffs were solid and deep. His punting was fantastic as he managed to pin Kent State repeatedly.
Gunnell and Lee weren’t able to do much with the punt returns.
The kick coverage was solid and as I mentioned, Wes Davis was really hustling on Special Teams.
Jeff Smith returned a kick for the first time in eons and looked good doing so.
As I said yesterday, Spaz had the team ready and the game was never in doubt. That shouldn’t mean much against a low-level MAC team but a look at college football scoreboards shows that you should take nothing for granted. We need to play better in the trenches once ACC play begins, but this was undoubtedly a good start to the season.