October 10, 2007

Offense clicks against Bowling Green

BC finally got the blowout the fans were waiting for when they drubbed Bowling Green this past weekend. The defense scored two touchdowns but it was the offense that clicked on all cylinders led by running back Andre Callender. EA's Nick Balk breaks down the positional grades.

Quarterback: A

Matt Ryan returned to form in throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions. He averaged a cool 9.8 yards per attempt, a number that was enhanced by short passes that turned into big gains of 51 yards and 71 yards by Andre Callender and Justin Jarvis, respectively. Ryan did not miss many open receivers like he did in the two previous games, completing 75% of his passes. It was his best game since Georgia Tech, and Eagle fans can only hope that this week's Heisman hype will not be a distraction for the normally grounded Ryan, as the team prepares for South Bend Catholic.

Running Backs: B

Andre Callender had one of his best all-around games as an Eagle, gaining 158 yards between fifteen carries and five catches. It is encouraging that he is finally becoming the every-down type of back that Eagle fans envisioned when he came to the Heights as a four-star recruit. His blocking was again solid. While none of the running backs fumbled, it is concerning that they collectively failed to break a gain of more than ten yards in thirty two-attempts against the porous Bowling Green defense. Hopefully a healthy Jeff Smith will complement Callender's consistency with an ability to break off big plays.

Wide Receivers: C+

Brandon Robinson and Kevin Challenger were limited to one catch each, which makes the numbers that Ryan put up all the more outstanding. While the backs and tight ends were impressive in pass-catching, the receivers were wholly unimpressive. Jarvis continues to be an enigma, catching for over 100 yards, but dropping two passes. Ifeanyi Momah received a couple throws, but dropped a possible touchdown, as did Clarence Megwa on a spectacular throw from Ryan. Hopefully, the lack of action for the receivers was an aberration, as Ryan simply was choosing to take what the defense was giving him.

Tight Ends: B+

Ryan Purvis, Jonathan Loyte, and Ryan Thompson have been invaluable weapons in the passing attack. This week they rotated for 10 catches and 70 yards. It would have been nice if they had been able to help open up a few more gaping holes for the running backs, but if the tight ends continue to be a point of emphasis this week in South Bend, it could be a long afternoon for the Irish defense.

Offensive Line: B+

Bowling Green had zero sacks this week, which is very important against an inferior opponent. The fact that Ryan has avoided getting banged up like last year bodes well for the rest of the season. While it would have been nice to bust some big gains in the running game, the O-line gets a mulligan this week due to the zero sacks and workmanlike performances of Callender and Whitworth running behind them.

Defensive Line: B

The defense continues to get little pressure on the quarterback, although part of this is attributable to game-planning. Ron Brace has been an immovable force clogging the middle, but the quarterback was continually able to scramble outside the pocket when there was little pressure from the defensive ends. Fortunately, while some of these scrambles resulted in rushing gains, others resulted in interceptions. Nick Larkin's interception and subsequent touchdown on the botched screen pass was not only a tremendous play physically, but also mentally, as he was able to read the play and avoid being fooled.

Linebackers: A-

The linebackers have been nothing short of awesome this year, and BC's ranking of third in the country in rushing defense is evidence of this fact. Bowling Green averaged a whopping 2.8 yards per carry against the Eagles, which actually makes it one of the best rushing attacks of a BC opponent this year. The linebackers will have a great opportunity to continue wreaking havoc on opponents' offense when they play against the seemingly incompetent offense of Notre Dame this weekend.

Secondary: B+

The 401 yards of passing that the defense surrendered this week is alarming, but the six interceptions were the main reason that this game was such a blowout. It was reminiscent of the 2004 game against West Virginia and the 2006 game against Virginia Tech, both BC victories in which turnovers played a huge part. Jamie Silva's three interceptions were instrumental, just as Dejaun Tribble's three interceptions were against Wake Forest. Taji Morris needs to improve into a shut-down type corner, or else he will be repeatedly burned as the opposing offenses improve in the second half of the season.

Special Teams: B

This was the best performance so far this year by the special teams. Steve Aponavicius nailed a forty-five yard field goal for a career long, but Billy Bennett continues to struggle on the kickoffs. Additionally, the coverage of kickoffs this week was pour, as Bowling Green average 21.8 yards per return despite several squib kicks. Smith's fumble of the opening kickoff might have been due to nerves, as he broke two returns past midfield later in the game. Robinson added a long return as well. Special Teams is an area that continues to lack consistency, but hopefully the return of Smith will help the unit improve drastically.


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