Matt Ryan played fairly well, throwing for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns, but his performance was far from perfect. On one hand, he made some great throws, and BC ripped off numerous gains of 30-plus yards. He made several, tap-the-button, touch throws that reminded observers why he is a legitimate Heisman candidate. On the other hand, he threw 2 interceptions, bringing his total for the season to 16. He also made a costly, careless fumble, as he was trying to evade the pressure of the Hurricanes' pass-rush. For BC to have a chance against the strong Virginia Tech defense, Ryan will have to avoid making any catastrophic mistakes, just he was able to do the first time the teams met.
Running Backs: B+
The running backs game another solid performance, with L.V. Whitworth receiving a touchdown and Andre Callender rushing for a touchdown. Both are reliable in running and passing situations, which has made for a nice combination. While Callender again got most of the touches, the ability to have two backs switching off so that both remain rested throughout the course of the game was utilized. Callender leads the team in both rushing yards and receptions, so it is very surprising that he was left off the All-ACC Teams that were announced on Monday. Despite the lack of accolades, he has put together a very good season.
Wide Receivers: A-
The receivers put forth one of their best performances of the year. While there were a couple of drops, they played very well on the whole. Rich Gunnell's 49 yard scamper after making the first tackler miss set BC up for the decisive touchdown. That touchdown was spectacular, as Clarence Megwa laid out fully to reel in Ryan's pass. While it seems that the early-season problem of dropped passes has been corrected, the receivers do need to be more aggressive in situations in which defenders have opportunities for interceptions. There have been several instances, including last game, in which the receivers have not helped Ryan as much as they could have.
Tight Ends: B+
Ryan Purvis has been fantastic all season, as evidenced by his selection to the first team of All-ACC, and this last game against Miami was no exception. He made 3 receptions for 67 yards, and his ability to get open against Virginia Tech, particularly in the seam, will be key this weekend. Jon Loyte added a reception but fumbled. His is a solid run-blocker, but possible contributions in the passing game will be contingent on his ability to hold on to the ball.
Offensive Line: B+
The offensive line submitted a solid, if unspectacular, performance against the Miami Hurricanes. They, for the first time in recent memory, held the opponent without a sack on Saturday. One of the keys for them is to avoid silly penalties. Their continued ability to use their quickness on screen passes is important to this offense. More than perhaps any other unit, they will be tested against Virginia Tech as there is no doubt that they were dominated in the first game against the Hokies. If they are able give Ryan some semblance of protection, especially when Tech is only rushing three lineman, then BC will have an excellent shot to prevail.
Defensive Line: B
Miami's running backs were able to gain 128 yards on the ground, and the D-line was unable to generate much pressure on the opposing QB. Once defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani began assisting them with blitzes, the team was able to generate three sacks. Despite their lack of seemingly game-changing plays, this unit has been very solid. The 128 yards by Miami were a bit of an aberration. If Ron Brace continues to clog the middle, no opposing team will be able to win the game simply by running the ball right down BC's throat.
The linebackers, once again, played very well, and they have been the strength on defense all year. Kevin Akins stepped up, registering two sacks for the Eagles. Mark Herzlich had six tackles, including 1.5 for losses. As Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Tyronne Pruitt get healthier, Eagle fans can expect the defense to continue playing very well. It would appear that the breakdowns of the Florida State and Maryland game behind this team, as the defense is capable of keeping the team in the game even when the offense is struggling to put points on the board.
Considering the continued loss of lockdown cornerback DeJuan Tribble, the secondary was superb against Miami. While at times it seemed that the Miami offense was nickel and diming BC down the field, Hurricane quarterback Kyle Wright finished with only 198 yards on 43 attempts. Additionally, Roderick Rollins and Deleon Gause have contributed in the run defense, combining for ten tackles. Jamie Silva, fresh off his nomination for the Jim Thorpe Award, led the team with 8 tackles.
Special Teams: B+
The kickoffs were the most drastic improvement of the entire game. Rather than giving the ball to the opponent between the 40 and 45 yard line after squib kicks, the coaching staff allowed Steve Aponavicius and the return coverage team to kick the ball deep. This unit did not disappoint, as Sid Viscous kept the ball inbounds, and the Hurricanes started with the ball typically between the 25 and 30. Aponavicius did miss a 31 yard field goal, but, on the whole, it was a solid effort by the special teams.
Nick can be e-mail at Nicholas.Balk@gmail.com
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