The talking is over, the season is underway and Boston College is 1-0. Clearly UMass was everything that we thought they would be, a giant hot mess on offense, coupled with a defense that struggled to stop almost everything BC threw at them. The score was a lot closer than what we saw on the field, so let's dissect Saturday's game.
Tyler Murphy: Opening props has to go to the new quarterback. BC fans got their introduction to the GS signal caller, and it looks like we may have a better idea of what he can and can't do. First of, he is faster and more mobile than I expected. On some of the read options where he correctly read the coverage and took off, Murphy got past defensive linemen very quickly. Having a quarterback that can move the ball with his feet when plays break down is going to be a nice perk to have, and something BC hasn't had in years.
That being said, I don't he is going to spectacular in terms of a vertical passer. Most of his longer passes were to wide open receivers (the Bordner TD) comes to mind, and the spirals weren't very tight. That is fine, I liked how Day and Addazio have schemed to work around this weakness. The bubble screens and short passes were right on for the most part, and the young receivers will only get better. Also I worry a little that Murphy locks in too much on his receivers, when they actually went for a longer pass, his head tracked one target and followed him for 3-4 seconds. He improved by the second half, but that is certainly something he is going to need to work on.
Tyler Rouse & Myles Willis: Last year both of these running backs looked like quick backs that wouldn't be able to take the wear and tear of running it 20 times in a game. Yesterday my mind was completely changed. Both Willis and Rouse did a superb job of mixing up both a physical running game, and using their speed to cut to the outside. It's exciting to see that BC has backs now that they can sub in and out. This will prevent the wear down and injuries that befell Andre Williams at the end of last season. Also a shout out to Jon Hilliman who had a solid first outing. He came in mostly during garbage time, but I could see the making of a very physical back that could be a tool for Day to use later in the season.
Josh Bordner: I said it earlier this summer, but I expected that there was going to be some humble pie on my plate regarding his transition to WR. During the spring there were times when I laughed off Bordner, saying he wouldn't be much of a target. Yes, I was wrong. I WAS WRONG. This was only a game against UMass, but Bordner looked like everything Addazio said he was going to be. He had solid hands, ran good routes, I loved his blocking on runs, and basically caught the touchdown pass that put the game out of reach. Addazio had him lining up all over the field. Really happy for this kid, he deserves a shot to shine, and it looks like this season will be his chance.
Dan Crimmins: Also need to give credit when credit is due. Didn't expect much out of Crimmins before this season, but clearly he has worked hard on his game from last season. He had seven catches yesterday, and most importantly no drops. He is a big target, albeit not overly fast, but it was encouraging to watch him take such a large step forward yesterday.
The Entire Offensive Line: In terms of technical play, you couldn't have asked for a better game out of the front line of the Eagles. They opened up holes on the running game, they kept Murphy on his feet, they played physical, they moved well on outside runs. They dominated that game up front. When my father looked at me at the end of the first and said how can this only be 6-0? I said to him, "Dad, two stupid penalties killed drives, the offensive line is killing UMass, they will dictate the pace the second half and BC will do whatever they want on offense". Looks like I was right.
The Front Seven On Defense: All the talk going into today will certainly be the play of Tyler Murphy, and believe me he deserves the accolades. But if I were to praise one group on the field, it was that front 7 for BC. Man did they play awesome. They were in the backfield on almost every passing play, they must have hit Blake Frohnapel a dozen times. They didn't allow him to step up into any of his passes because the pocket was collapsing on almost every play, and UMass's running game was almost completely non existent. Josh Keyes looked like the real deal out there, Steven Daniels patrolled the center like a champ, the defensive tackle rotation did excellent, and I loved the played out of Malachi Moore and Brian Mihalik. They were flying off the edge and getting pressure extremely well all game.
The Stats: BC's domination of the Minutemen can easily be quantified just by looking at the statistics. They out produced them in yards 511-202 (that's even with BC stepping on the brakes in the 4th), the Eagles held the ball for 42 minutes to UMass's 17. BC held UMass to 55 yards on the ground, BC converted 9-17 on third down (2-3 on 4th).
The BC students: Dan is going to get into this more in another post, but can I just say how proud I am of our students? The entire endzone was completely filled with gold. It was awesome and just one of those moments where I am really proud to say that I am an Eagle. Pat yourselves on the back BC students, that was just an awesome showing.
First half passing attack Many of us kind of half expected BC to come out and look a little sloppy on offense, and that is what we saw, specifically out the passing attack. When BC actually decided to pass, receivers were covered, they struggled to get open, and Murphy was quick to tuck it and run. Shakim Phillips wasn't on the field often, and they just all seemed out of sync.
Tyler Murphy's tendency to take a hit: Murphy was exhilarating to watch when he ran, he was fast, he could cut and looked almost like a Denard Robinson out there with the football. The one concerning thing I saw, which may just be me being a worrier was that he took a lot of hits. I love his tenacity to go for the extra yard, but he needs to remember he is one hit away from being knocked out of the game. Also I am not ready for Darius Wade time yet.
Cornerback play Listen I don't know if it was a system thing, or Don Brown's tendency to let the blitz force a QB to make a bad pass, but there were probably 3 passes in the first half I noticed where Frohnapel went back to pass and launched one maybe 25-30 yards and the WR he was trying to hit (usually Taje Sharpe) usually had a step or two on the defender. Thankfully he missed on them. Good quarterbacks are going to hit that pass more often than not, which is disconcerting because if BC allows those big plays they are going to be letting up easy TD's.
The Offensive Penalties: Brutal. There was one holding call against a BC blocker (blanking and haven't seen the recap but I think it was Mike Giacone) that clearly looked like a pancake block on replay. But there were false starts, there were multiple holding that killed two drives in the first half. If BC didn't make those mistakes, we are talking about a pretty epic beatdown of the Minutemen. Also, don't care about the Bench Warning penalties, I love seeing the coach and players fired up, and in a game like that I'll take those any day over a coach who looks half asleep and disinterested.
The Blown Coverage 77 Yard Touchdown Pass: I talked with Dan Rubin about this just to make sure we were on the same page on what happened (because I was at the game I didn't see a replay). Here is what we agreed upon, Bryce Jones was covering Tajae Sharpe, released him to the safety Sean Sylvia, who then proceeded to blow the coverage and Sharpe was left wide open. Guessing Sylvia heard a mouthful when he got to bench because it appeared that he spent a good chunk of the remainder of the game riding the pine. These were the kind of mistakes we saw multiple times last year, BC can't afford to do that. Tyler Boyd is coming here next week, the coverage game is going to be crucial.
Blake Frohnapfel: For the past six months I have had to listen to UMass fans clamor about the "QB from Marshall". Nothing he did yesterday impressed me. Good luck Minutemen, it's going to be a long season.
Harris Williams' injury: Last year BC escaped the season without losing an offensive linemen to injury. Given the brutality that kind of situation has to be rare. Yesterday, Harris Williams a senior guard went down in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Austin Tedesco asked Addazio after the game and it sounds like he will be missing some time. Aaron Kramer stepped in and did a fine job after the injury, but again it looks like we may be seeing another freshman added to the two deep for Pittsburgh.
Tyler Murph's interception: Bad pass. Thrown into double coverage and it looked like he threw it behind the receiver. Not much to say about this play, other than it was VERY ugly.