Randy played well beyond what the stats show in this game (15 of 29 for 232 yards), though the most telling stats are revealing. 4 TDs and 0 INTs reflect well upon his decision making, and his sackless day was a strong testament to his scrambling and tackle-breaking abilities. Some of Fasani's scrambles were truly special, and stack up as the finest ever seen in Cardinal and White. He looked like a father running around the backyard while his 5 and 6 year-old sons try to chase and bring him down - truly a man against boys. The punchline of those scrambles were the resultant plays, including an eye-popping cross field run that found Nick Sebes for a TD after breaking out of two would-be-sacks. Looking at the endzone, he made some better and some lesser decisions. Throwing the lob to Teyo with a sub-six-foot corner on him is a good idea. Throwing a lob to little Luke with a six-foot-four corner on him is not a good idea. I expect the world of Randy, and know he can deliver, so I'm a little hard in denying him the "A" he wants. He'll tell you there was a lot of rust out there, especially with his 1-for-6 start. If defenses continue to blitz Randy, he'll have to pick up his accuracy when throwing on the run. There were some open receivers he missed or threw behind after spectacular evasive maneuvers. "High Frequency" RF should hit better than 51% of his passes. No more fumbles, too. Chris Lewis got a smattering of snaps, with mostly handoffs and just one pass attempt. He rolled out to his left and made a very nice throw across his body, which Luke Powell stretched for along the sideline. Hit Luke in the hands and bounced off, but was a very fine play from "Hollywood".
Did I oversell Teyo Johnson? I don't think so. He's showing us just a glimpse at how his package of size, strength, speed, hands and open-field elusiveness can break game-changing plays. The seemingly effortless TD against his diminutive defender should be the model for Stanford's red-zone offense, with Teyo and the tight ends at Diedrick's and Fasani's disposal. My one suggestion: don't stop and give the spin move two yards in front of your defender - you almost spun right into his arms. Ryan Wells was of course the breakout player of the game, even in the face of Teyo's day. Wells has been a straight-line runner more known for his kick returns than receiving the last couple of years, but has taken the early lead in the "playmaker" category. His two big TDs (46 and 69 yards) found him open and making good runs after the catch. There his speed kept him out of the reach of would-be tacklers, and both times he ran out of arms around his legs. Wells wasn't just a lucky guy with two big plays - he took more big time hits than any one else in the game. Two that stuck out were decleaters on a punt return and a quick-out when Stanford was on their own 1 1/2 yardline. His icepacks equal the magnitude of his plays. Sebes made one catch for a TD off Fasani's great scramble, but the rest of the receivers were quiet. "Cool Hand" Luke was a non-factor except for a big block on one Wells TD run, and no other receivers caught any balls. Notable that both Brandon Royster and Greg Camarillo got plenty of snaps. As a unit, they boys showed that they can give Randy targets, though they need to convert the balls that hit them in the hands. I counted at least 3 bad drops.
Kerry "Canuck" Carter was the man in this game who provided the second biggest surprise upside. Sure, he ran for 4 TDs and 123 yards last year against $C, but this may have been his most impressive game at Stanford. There were no big runs; there was "just" one touchdown. But KC ran stronger and bigger than we've seen before. He ran through tackles and carried tacklers to really fight for yards. His consistency was also impressive, seemingly picking up five yards each and every time he touched the ball. The stats bear that out, with a couple of losses and one "long" ball for just 12 yards. Kerry really did pick up five yards each and every time he carried. That is a powerful tool for Bill Diedrick as he draws up the offense, allowing KC to run on 1st down or 3rd down. My beef (and hence less than a straight "A") is that KC didn't break anything big. I want defensive coordinators to keep their LBs off the line with the fear that we can go long, but Carter doesn't show the speed to do that at this time. ergo sum Brian Allen still gets reps. BA didn't break anything longer than 12 yards either, but provided some nifty running inside and outside. His 1st down pickup when Stanford was pinned back on their own 2-yardline was huge. Justin Faust got in the game late and had two shots to show his stuff. His second run went for 10 yards up the middle, and showed his balance of power and speed that should continue to beg for carries. Casey "More and More and" Moore and Jared Newberry were mostly needed to block, as BC blitzed early and often. Still, Casey got three carries and picked up 5 or 6 yards each time. Power running that hit the hole quickly. All-around balanced attack for 158 yards at 4.4 yards per carry.
As with the FBs, the blitzing BC defense forced the TEs into a primarily blocking role. Brett Pierce got most of the snaps, with Matt Wright substituting in, and several 2-TE sets. The blocking was good, though often not enough to help pick up blitzing linebackers. My other concern is that the TEs aren't moving enough and coming back when Fasani scrambles. If they are going to be a more integral part of this year's passing game, they have to make themselves targets on broken and improvisational plays. Nice heads-up play for Wright to fly to the ball on the Brian Allen fumble and wrap it up.
There were times during the game that I had a significantly lower grade in mind, but I thought the run blocking was pretty good, and will not grade too harshly on the pass protection against the blitz. Still, the line has to share in the blame for the endless pressure Randy faced for four quarters. I watched them closely, and there were at least a couple of times that I saw an individual on the line just get blown off the ball. Once on the interior, once outside. I'm hoping this was a particularly good Boston College d-line, and that this won't become a habit. Thought Heitmann was easily the steadiest of the front five (no surprise), and thought Kwame showed marked improvement over his game play last season. He's now approaching "dominant" status in run blocking.
No knock against Willie Howard, but this defensive line is going to be just fine, and could be better than the 2000 edition. They engine in this machine is Matt Leonard, and he started off the 2001 campaign with a bang. Two huge sacks, totaling 18 yards. The first sack incredibly came as Leonard was double-teamed, with no LB blitz behind him. At the ends, Austin Lee put a lot of pressure on St. Pierre, even though it didn't show up in the sack category. Marcus Hoover surprised by starting on Saturday, though Louis Hobson got plenty of work as the game went on. Hobson showed good pursuit - promising. In pass rushing situations, Amon Gordon came in as a down lineman, but had some challenging moments. His greatest playmaking opportunity came on the BC 3rd and long in the 2nd half where Amon had a clear shot at a sack on St. Pierre. A little move by St. Pierre made Amon miss badly, and the ensuing scamper picked up an improbable 1st down... and led to a painfully successful and long BC drive. Overall, pretty good debut by this group, but room for plenty of improvement.
These guys get most of the credit for containing William Green, and they were excellent across the board. Coy "Live" Wire and Matt Friedrichs were all over the field, keeping the safeties from having to make too many tackles against the run. Anthony Gabriel acquitted himself pretty well in his first game outside, consistently penetrating the line of scrimmage and making big hits. 3 1/2 tackles for a loss are a strong statement in his opening effort. The trio combined for 15 tackles, and showed the most speed for this unit we've seen in a long time at the Farm. I'll look for more blitzing pressure on the QB in the coming games, and hope we can reach a point where we aren't quite so pleased to limit a RB to 103 yards rushing.
This looks like a harsh grade, given that BC was held to just 202 yards passing at a 41% completion rate, with two picks. Brian Taylor and Simba Hordari both deserve plenty of credit for those big plays. There were some good passes broken up in tight coverage by Fernandez, White, Hodari, Carter and Taylor. Simba gave help that was needed a few times, and Colin Branch did a great job against the run (4 1/2 tackles, including one for a loss). Still, I felt throughout the game that a better quarterback (and St. Pierre looked significantly below average to me) would have hit the open receivers and broken some very big plays. There were more than a few times that single coverage couldn't hold up, and BC receivers had 3-yard separation. I'm nervous about what a better QB might do if this is the coverage we give throughout this season. Tank was also a bit conspicuous by his absence in the big play category.
Special Teams: B
The punting was a mixed bag, with one bad shank, one that EJ muffed and never got off, two inside the 10-yardline and a couple average boots. The uglies never impacted the game and hurt us, but there is still a lot of work to do. On the other hand, the placekicking by Biselli was solid. Hit his PATs and one field goal attempt - 41 yards and plenty of air to spare. I'm greedy and want to see the kickoffs in the endzone like '99, instead of the average to about the 5 or 7-yardline. at least one went deep and drew a touchback. Kick coverage was fair, but no better. Punt coverage was hard to gauge, given a mix of miffs and untouched balls. The long snapping was commendable, in that it didn't draw your attention at any time. Exactly what it should be - automatic and without fail. That wasn't assured with Drew Caylor taking over duties, but he is off to a decent start. "Cool Hand" Luke Powell had one excellent punt return, with open-field maneuvers you can't teach. But those kudos were short-lived, when he shied away from a punt he should have fair caught, letting it roll down to the 3-yardline. Ryan Wells did quite well on kick returns, and is accelerating north-south quickly after the catch. You have to get to top speed as soon as possible on kick returns, not waiting and shifting around for some cavernous hole like so many kids today. BC had a FG blocked and missed another FG and PAT. We'll take a little credit for that. Stanford "won" special teams, but needs to be better.
Tyrone got the troops ready to play, and despite some missed plays looked like his team had as much gametime under their belts as BC. Diedrick called a good game, and particularly deserves kudos for calling the quick-outs early in the 2nd half to response to the blitz. The offense was balanced and looked very efficient at times. I'd like to see more efficient use of roll-outs, and a pass to a darned tight end before the middle of the fourth quarter. We have a better TE corps than probably any team we'll face this year, but opponents (including BC) still throw more to them. On defense, I thought Kent Baer had a good plan in place, containing Green awfully well and putting increasing pressure on St. Pierre. We're seeing better defense under "Grizzly" Baer as he has stronger and faster athletes. Not seeing Torrence or Wilson in the game (except for very late mop-up action for LT) among the top five cornerbacks was disappointing from the defensive coaches, though.
In addition to all of the comments above by unit, I thought this team came out and played like a bowl-bound team. The missed plays on offense and defense are currently ascribed to opening day cobwebs, and I don't think I'm being too critical to comment on them. Particularly, the poor offensive start and poor defensive finish (unacceptable 4th quarter TD) were well below the abilities of this team. The players and coaches all were disappointed as well with those stretches, but are hungry to get better and more consistent. The improvement from this first game to second should be substantial, and is expected.