We're starting a new trend this year, where everyone at Blogger So Dear has a weekly column. I was thinking about what idea I could do and came up with the idea of a grading system. I don't claim to be an expert. These grades are simply my opinions based on my observations of the games as well as the box score. I would love to hear everyone's input on the grades. With that said, it's time to open the report card...
Normally this unit consists of only one player, but with a quarterback battle as well as a trick play, three players are responsible for this unit's grade. In doing these grades, I will be taking rush yards into account. I believe a problem that people often have is distinguishing between passer and quarterback. So, if a quarterback has a poor passing day, but has a solid day on the ground, then I will be more favorable in my grading. Ted Stachitas had a poor passing day, going 0-4 with an interception, however he was productive on the ground. He led the team with 77 rush yards on just 9 carries, including one 23 yard run for a touchdown. Marshall Williams was very impressive in his one pass attempt against Duke. Williams threw a beautiful 81 yard pass to Chris Givens on a wide receiver reverse pass. Then we have the emergence of a star in the making. Tanner Price was very impressive against Duke's defense. He was 12 for 19 for 190 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He also rushed for 56 yards and 1 touchdown.
Running backs: C
Josh Harris was impressive late in the game. He was an absolute workhorse and was a first down waiting to happen. I'm very excited about seeing Price and Harris team up for the next 4 years. However, early in the game Josh Adams and Brandon Pengergrass were nonexistent. They combined for 15 yards on 8 carries. That simply isn't getting it done. In my opinion, Harris needs to take over as the starter.
Offensive Line B
They allowed 0 sacks, which was impressive, but Duke's defensive line isn't exactly the second coming of the Steel Curtain. I'm not sure for whom to asses blame with regards to the running game. My instinct tells me to blame the running backs due to the fact that they didn't allow a sack, and Harris was spectacular, but I'm still not positive. Against Stanford our offensive line will have to play even better. With Andrew Luck at the helm, Stanford is certainly going to put up points against our defense. Our offensive line is going to have to do an excellent job at keeping Tanner Price upright and creating lanes for Josh Harris and company.
Wide Receivers: A+
What other grade could I give? Our receivers combined for a total of 13 catches for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns. Chris Givens was a star in his first game back after serving his one game suspension against Presbyterian. Along with Price and Harris, Givens will complete a great triple threat for years to come. Marshall Williams only caught 2 balls, but he had 2 touchdowns. Those were in addition to his 81 yard strike to the aforementioned Chris Givens. Danny Demby also contributed by making his first career touchdown reception as a Demon Deacon. I believe that the wide receivers have the most talent of any unit on this team and that they will continue to impress for the remainder of the season.
Defensive Line: C-
This unit must get better if this team is going to beat Stanford. Andrew Luck is arguably the best quarterback in the country, and we cannot allow him to have time in the pocket. If we do, then he will complete passes with surgical precision. Recording only 1 sack against a small Duke offensive line is not acceptable. They are also responsible for allowing Desmond Scott to rush for 122 yards on just 11 carries, including one 63 yard touchdown run.
Joey Ehrmann was a standout on Sautrday. He is a very aggressive, fundamentally sound, smart and instinctive player. Hunter Haynes made one spectacular play, keeping the ball alive long enough for Alex Frye to come up with the interception. As a whole, the unit was inconsistent. They were helpful in run support at times, but there were also times where they had less of an impact. The same can be said when they were in pass coverage. They look a little slow at times, but hopefully their instincts continue to grow and they improve as a unit.
The only thing saving this unit from receiving an F is the fact that they intercepted 3 passes. Josh Bush repeatedly got burned in the first half, and thankfully Grobe made the executive decision to put A.J. Marshall on the field in the second half. For the most part, Kenny Okoro played great, including a potential game winning interception. However, he nearly cost the team the game with his abysmal coverage on Duke's last offensive possession. Alex Frye played very well, and I believe that he will continue to make plays all year. Our secondary is very young, and I look for them to get better throughout the year. It doesn't help that the defensive line doesn't apply pressure, but the secondary still needs to perform better. Given their youth, I expect them to get better throughout the year, but they will face a very daunting task this week.
Special Teams: C-
The kicking unit almost cost us the game. We cannot afford to botch extra points and give up 2 free points against better teams. I was impressed with our return game. Michael Campanaro appears to have a natural instinct in the return game. Shane Popham did an adequate job in the punting game. We did a great job blocking a punt and taking it back for a touchdown. Early in the game we did a poor job of kickoff coverage, but that improved throughout the game. If our snapping/holding issue can get resolved, then this score will certainly go up next week.