Brian: I’ve finally had a chance to watch the Virginia game on replay on ESPN 360. I want my 2 hours back. It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day it’s a win. In an ugly affair, the Eagles were able to stop Virginia on 4th and 1 just inches short of the first down marker to preserve the win. Let’s start with the "bend but don’t break" approach to the Cavaliers final drive. Now I know that this has been a calling card of the Frank Spaziani/Bill McGovern defensive era, but the Cavalier offense hadn't moved the ball that effectively all season. Man coverage had worked all game and the Virginia offense was only to manage 3 points against the BC defense. The Eagles were obviously able to get the win, but do you like the decision to switch to soft zone coverage late in the fourth quarter? Or was the final drive a little too close to comfort?
Jeff: The final was too close for comfort but for that, I blame the offense, not the defense. What you forget to mention in your quick synopsis of the game, for those who didn't see it, is that if Virginia had converted that 4th down then BC they still would have only had 0:16 left to get in the endzone. I really don't have any problems with the defense that the Eagles played in the end. Ideally, the Eagles would've gotten one more first down on the previous possession to melt the clock away a little more or completely. And to go back further than that, the Eagles should've scored more than 14 points all day. First, Shinskie throws a bad pick in the endzone on the opening possession after BC moved the ball at will down the field. Then, Colin Larmond Jr. had a long touchdown pass placed in his hands that he just dropped. That was easily the worst drop of the season and Boston College should have scored more than 14 points Saturday. They probably should've put up 28 or more. If they had, Virginia had no chance of keeping pace.
Brian: This was a game of inches, writes the Washington Post. Virginia QB Jameel Sewell wasn’t happy with the spot of the Cavaliers final offensive play.
The play that left the Cavaliers irritated was Sewell's run, which came on a fourth and one with 26 seconds remaining at the Boston College 12-yard line. Virginia had already brought the ball 67 yards without a timeout, but it needed just 12 more to win the game and one more to keep the drive alive.
The play was a designed pass, with Sewell in the shotgun. As Sewell dropped back and quickly scanned the field, he spotted an open lane -- not an open receiver. Sewell figured he could pick up the first down and the Cavaliers would have a few shots at the end zone. The plan was stymied by Boston College defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey near the line of scrimmage. There appeared to be brief confusion about the spot. A measurement was called, and the Cavaliers came a few chain lengths short.
"I thought I had it," Sewell said. "Looks can be deceiving."
In your opinion, did he get the first down?
Jeff: As I was watching I never doubted that the Eagles had stopped him short. I know my eyes are biased but the play was reviewed and stood so I think they got it right.
Brian: On offense, what was up with the playcalling in the third quarter? The Eagles got away from the running game in the third, with Montel Harris only carrying the ball 3 times for 6 yards. In the fourth quarter, the Eagles got back to the running game to wrap up the win. Harris finished with 151 yards on 38 carries. Why get away from the running game in the third quarter when it was so successful the other three quarters?
Jeff: Did you see all the dropped passes leading up to the Shinskie interception? People always talk about how some quarterbacks throw a catchable ball. Supposedly Matt Ryan throws a very catchable ball. I've never been running a route and tried to catch a Matt Ryan pass vs. a Michael Vick pass but to me watching on TV, the Shinskie passes look more like Matt Ryan passes than Michael Vick passes. However, our receivers are just not helping out Shinskie and the team at all. Anyway, the passing game was working on paper. Receivers were open often but they just were not catching the ball or Shinskie wasn't scanning the field quick enough. Surprisingly, I was not too upset with playcalling Saturday, largely just execution.
Brian: You mention Shinskie. Shinskie didn’t have a good game. He didn’t necessarily have a bad game either. His receivers certainly left him out to dry a little bit, including the dropped TD pass to Colin Larmond Jr. you mentioned earlier. Not sure if it’s a lack of chemistry between Shinskie and the receivers, but this receiving corps was touted in the preseason as one of the best in the conference and they are straight up dropping passes they shouldn’t. Next year the Eagles lose three senior receivers to graduation - Rich Gunnell, Justin Jarvis and Clarence Megwa. Looking ahead to next season, are you at all concerned that this trend of dropped passes will continue with the loss of a good number of receivers to graduation?
Jeff: You bring up the chemistry thing and maybe that is a factor. If it is though, that is an area that should improve leaps and bounds after Shinskie goes through spring and summer workouts with the team. Even though Shinskie is a true freshman and other true freshman have started at other colleges before, it is still rare for a guy who was so late in the recruiting process to come on and start. Maybe the chemistry thing is a big issue. Regardless, I am not too worried about next year because the senior receivers have been a little disappointing this year ... Rich Gunnell included.