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It's great to be 3-1. A lot of teams wish they could be 3-1. That's where we are. We have a lot of improvement to do, much like we thought we would at this time of year with his team, given the fact of the number of injuries we have had. We're moving along.
Coach Addazio would later get into the injury situation in a little bit more detail, but I think the coach is in a much different spot than he was a week. We've gone through one week of the week-to-week progress of this team, and while there's a lot to crunch, there's a lot left to do. Talking about it doesn't do a whole lot, so it's mostly just to say, "Hey we're 3-1. We won three games but we could be substantially better. I could get into all of that, but everyone already knows that."
On the NIU game...
I will start with offense. As I said, you have the stats. We rushed for 234 [yards]. We had five explosive runs. We had three explosive passes. Our time of possession was 38 minutes. We had 18 first downs. That's a total of eight explosives for 146 yards and two touchdowns. We had a couple of good drives. We also had some poor drives. We missed some opportunities: a couple of play actions that were there, wide-open, and that is where we need to get better. We are very inconsistent right now and that has a lot to do with a lot of things. Most specifically, that would be the youth of our unit coupled with some obviously very key injuries right now.
This is exactly what I alluded to in the weekly kickoff. I think the BC offense is very much in a world of progress. They hit an extreme rough patch last week after the Florida State game, having been hit with the first major set back after two weeks of doing enough to win football games. That they performed well enough to win is encouraging, even as they take injuries.
In the kickoff post, I alluded to the fact that neither quarterback did enough to grab the starting job. Both Troy Flutie and Jeff Smith did some things well. Other things they didn't. They took steps forward, and they took steps backwards (or, in some cases, didn't move). I didn't think either QB played particularly poorly, but I didn't think either didn't play all that bad either. They missed some plays, executed some others.
If you think about it, though, the offense hasn't really had a single game with which to get into a flow. The offense against Maine didn't play practically at all against Howard. It took on Florida State, but it looked different by game's end. It was completely revamped against NIU. Now there will be new looks with the injuries sustained against Duke. We're almost halfway into the season, and there has been zero continuity. That takes its toll on all facets, from how the coach calls the game to how the players execute the game (not to mention the intricacies between the two).
The coach continued with the defense, talking about how they played great. I don't think any of us will dispute that. Then he touched on special teams.
On special teams, Sherman [Alston] had two returns for 21 yards average which was good. We wanted to get better there. He had the one where he slipped, which is too bad. Other than that, he would have had a pretty good day on punt returns. We have a young freshman [Colton Lichtenberg] who got involved that kicked a critical field goal, which is great. Obviously, the thing that wasn't so great was the kickoff return [for a touchdown] at the end. The only way we could have let them into the game was through that play and we did that. We kicked a poor kick about the 30 and the thing was gone, which we have to get handled. That is where we were regarding last week's game. But again, they were a quality opponent.
NIU was a quality opponent, and at times, they did what they had to do. They moved the ball into field goal range, and they returned a kickoff for a touchdown. That's not coachspeak. That's the truth. Regardless of how well the defense played, BC very well could've lost to that team. If a team makes more plays then the other one, they're worthy of winning. It's that simple.
From this perspective, though, you can't look at the other team and say, "Well they were good." You have to look back and wonder about what needed to be fixed. BC needed to fix the punt return unit and improve their average starting field position. They started four drives from their own 40 yard line or further. That's substantially better than their own 19 yard line. It's getting better, but, like anything else, it's just the first steps. They are not perfect and need to work to get better.
We will be without Jon Hilliman. Jon Hilliman had surgery on his foot. He'll be lost for an extended period of time. Myles Willis will be questionable. Louis Addazio will be questionable at best. This was a physical game that took a real toll on us from a personnel standpoint. Our office right now is just getting hit with a lot of injury. We are now down our two starting tight ends, our quarterback, our starting tailback; we lost our center so we are down a fair amount of guys on offense right now, which is a very young offense to begin with. That is something we an't do anything about other than the fact. It affects everything you do, especially in the middle of a game...We didn't have anyone else available at that point in time. They were all out. Every one of them. Outlow was out from the beginning of the game. Hilliman was out at that point of the game. And Willis was out in the game at that point. We found a way to win given all the adversity. That's a good thing. When you start complaining about wins, it's probably a good thing. You could be complaining about a loss. You are complaining about wins...Dig in, claw, fight, and learn how todeal with adversity, which is what the offense is dealing with a lot of right now. Mostly with injuries. And I just breezed by the quarterback position. If you lose your quarterback, you've lost a lot.
Like I've said over and over, when you sustain injuries, you're resetting your offense. You have a bunch of guys going down to Duke that have not played substantial time together. In the middle of a game, when you take an injury, you have to regroup and almost set an entirely new game plan on the fly. That puts a ton of pressure on other players. Someone has to step up.
I'd love to sit back and point out who that person is, but there's no way to determine who plays the hero role. Arguably, the most important player on the roster was Tyler Rouse. After getting blown up on a kickoff, he wobbled off the field. He clearly passed a medical exam and concussion protocol, then had to come back in the game as the only healthy running back. That's toughness, and that's huge. I'm done talking about if he should've been in the game; clearly he was cleared by the medical staff. His snaps were so important because of what was happening around him.
But that's what happens with injuries. You look for the next man up. It stinks, and you feel bad for the kids. You never want to see anyone get hurt, let alone severely. You never want to see a guy go into surgery, but you have to sit back for a second. Look at the tenacity of the football players in uniform. Like Grant said, decisions are made in nanoseconds; one mistake is the difference between winning and losing. Now throw an injury into the mix. The next man up has to be able to be ready to do it. There's no feeling bad for the situation. You feel bad for the kids, but the next man has to be up, ready to play.