I apologize for the tardiness of this post and the disjointed feel. I never had a chance to watch the game back uninterrupted and only just got around to finishing it Wednesday. Watching it back was much better than watching it live though. During the game, I kept worrying that our failed scoring opportunities would haunt us or that a mistake might be coming. The second viewing showed how much BC controlled the game. If we had been a little more aggressive, the game could have been over after the first quarter.
Let me join in the chorus that praised Murphy. Watching the game back, it became even more clear that he's not going to be shaken. He had a good clock in his head on when to run or when to keep the ball. Even the option like play, he pitched at the last second. His one INT was a bad throw, but most of his passes were pretty good.
Willis didn't look like Andre Williams, but he did the best job of shedding tackles. Rouse had some nice runs on the edge. I was glad to see Hillman get some touches. But as a group we do need bigger plays. Someone has to make a player miss and break a five yard gain into a 50 yard scoring run.
The WRs weren't dynamic but they were effective. Crimmins showed solid hands. Bordner looked comfortable and made the most of being wide open on his TD catch. Phillips got his hand on a potential TD but couldn't pull it in. That would be a more crucial mistake against a better team.
I worried about losing Williams, yet Kramer played very well in his absence. In fact, the unit didn't miss a beat. Gallik had a strong game and help open up many of the lanes in the middle. Silberman looked good. Betancourt had the biggest issues, but it wasn't poor play as much as it was penalties. When he wasn't getting called for something, he actually won many of his battles.
It wasn't just Murphy that looked different. We were much more Oregon this week than Stanford. I liked the heavy motion of the end around (very Oregon). That will keep teams honest. I also like doing the bubble screen when the three WRs are clustered wide together. It is another Oregon staple, but we are doing it with basically three skinny Tight Ends. That will create mismatches going forward. Like so much of the game, this was a watered down version of what we might do this year. It worked well enough. The early drive killers were penalties, not bad calls.
The Defensive line as a group looked very good. Wujciak wasn't credited with many tackles, but winning his battles and disrupting their runs. Mihalik was also very active and was able to get to the QB. If they control the line like they did against UMass, the D could surprise many people this season.
We saw a healthy mix of rotations at LB. That's a good signal that we finally have depth. Duggan was fine. Keyes made the flashier plays and showed good speed on his delays. Daniels got plenty of time and look fine (though certainly not dominant as one blogger boldly predicted over the summer).
The secondary looked like the weak link. There were a few situations where there seemed to be confusion between the Safeties and Corners about coverage. If UMass' passing had been more accurate, the Minutemen could have exploited more big plays (plenty of guys were open). Williams made a bone-headed late hit that kept a drive alive, but overall the tackling by the DBs was much better.
Like the offense, this scheme was pretty vanilla. We rarely blitzed and played base personnel often. When UMass went four wide, we did counter with a nickel package.
Special Teams: B-
The few kick returns were solid. We didn't get to show much on the punts as the pinned us back. Howell punted well, but I am a bit worried about his field goals. The miss was close enough that he needs to make that in a tight game.
The gameplan was solid. But I thought the best bit of coaching by Addazio was the halftime. Instead of getting frustrated with not converting the early drives into TDs, the team remained poised. You could see it in how he led them back on the field. And we kept running the ball without changing the gameplan. We used the timeouts well enough and at least attempted a two-minute drill. I didn't love the rotating kickers, but I understand why he did it.
The main point of this game was not to screw it up. I found it encouraging, but we should know a lot more about the team after the Pitt game.