October 28, 2006
There is a lot of talk about the program taking the next step, has the program reached its highest point, is it stagnant? A big part of that equation was not playing "down" to the level of the competition when they played inferior teams.
If the Eagles have indeed taken the next step into the elite category, and there is way too much football left for that to be fully determined, they have at least cleared the aforementioned hurdle.
On a day suited for fish and surfers alone, the Eagles outclassed the University of Buffalo Bulls in such dramatic fashion, one has to wonder whether or not Buffalo should be playing Division 1 football. The Bulls were not able to move the ball into BC territory on offense even once today. The only time Buffalo was across the fifty was on a Johnny Ayers blocked punt late in the 4th quarter and BC moved the ball at will, averaging 5.1 yards per carry before sacks were accounted for. The offensive line was just too much for the overmatched Bulls and BC's linebackers looked otherworldly compared to those trying to block them.
BC did not punt in the game (two attempts, one was blocked and the other was a personal foul, roughing the kicker, on the Bulls) and were never really challenged. Chris Crane earned his first career start and while the elements did not lend to holding on to the ball, he was very athletic when running the ball and showed arm strength on a number of passes and seemed to be a very effective leader.
As was expected, BC stuck to some fairly basic schemes while running the ball and tried to keep the passing game short with a lot of quick passes the wide receivers and a lot of screens. The offense did put the ball in the air a lot more than was expected, especially later in the game. Chris Crane was 17 of 26 for 142 yards on the day and that's not bad at all considering the weather and the style of offense BC stuck with.
The running game was very good today but again, it was to be expected. Not much in the way of counters but once again, not to anyone's surprise. However, the BC running backs were caught from behind by the backside defense ends on a number of occasions.
Andre Callender was the leading rusher on the day with 16 carries for 88 yards for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. L.V. Whitworth led in the average category with 8.4 yards per carry for a total of 85 yards. A.J. Brooks saw his first action of the season at tailback and scored the first touchdown of his career. I am well aware that this was Buffalo but his vision and cut back abilities are very strong and he refused to go down when hit in the backfield on multiple occasions.
EagleNation finally got to see speedster Jeff Smith line up in the backfield and while he did not break anything for significant yardage, he did do a very good job when BC was in max protect.
Defensively, the Eagles were stellar. The Bulls, as mentioned above, did not cross the mid field strip until the 4 quarter and it wasn't on offense. The Buffalo offensive line simply could not handle B.J. Raji and as a result had to double and triple team him. This left the running lanes wide open and the BC linebackers had a field day. Mid way through the third quarter, Mark Herzlich had garnered 12.5 tackles and had forced a fumble. Kevin Akins was also on fire and virtually unstoppable on the blitz.
Jamie Silva has a beautiful finger tip, toe tapping catch interception that, were it any other opponent, would make every highlight reel in the nation.
The numbers on defense are simply gaudy. BC held the Bulls to -12 net yard rushing. Yes you heard that correctly. Buffalo completed 15 passes for 104 yards but with the -12 yards rushing, they kept the Bulls under 100 yards of total offense.
On special teams, it seemed there was not a play gone by where Mike McLaughlin wasn't making a tackle or having his name called. SuperFan Steve was golden again as he was 2 for 3 on the day with field goals from 30 and 25 yards.
All in all, it was a day for the starters to take a deep breath, for BC to get healthy (Ryan, foot and Dunbar, shoulder) and for the Eagles to make a statement to the college football world that they now do what good teams do.
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