I have an overwhelming feeling that the first half of this game may be a bit more that a little boring , as ball control and wearing down Northeastern's Defense is going to be the mantra. Our Offensive line is VERY good, make no doubt about it. They are going to be working hard to make holes for the small back to shoot through. And even though I am certain that Northeastern is aware that will be the early game plan, I don't think they will be able to stop it . Imposing our will.
If you had asked me at the end of last year who our staring LB's would be for the first game of the season, I am pretty darn sure I wouldn't have come up with Dominick LeGrande, Luke Kuechly, and Alex DiSanzo.....er make that Dan Williams.
We've heard great things about LeGrande since his conversion from Safety, and Kuechly is arguably getting the most press as a true frosh at LB since Herzy or Toal. I haven't heard a lick about DiSanzo either way, so this game will be my first introduction (was to be, but now that he's out, I'll get my first introduction to Dan Williams).
ALSO, now since DiSanzo is out and Williams is in, Steve Conroy is reporting that LeGrande will move over to SAM and Williams will cover the weakside. Sheesh. Enough already. Give me a depth chart I can write and article with!
The biggest problem with really young and experienced LB's isn't the physical portion of the game as much as it is the ability to quickly diagnose the offensive play, read, and react to the ball. Even the best of players can look far less than stellar if they're green at reading and reacting (Mac's first playing time comes to mind, now he's a beast).
So my biggest concern, and the real key to the game for the Eagles as far as I'm concerned is the play of our linebackers, specifically their ability to quickly read and react to the plays that will unfold in front of them.
(edited 9:25AM 9/3 w/DiSanzo injury, Williams inserted)
(edited again 9:45AM 9/3 w/LB position changes)
For that reason, I expect to see the LB's on their toes leaning forward at the snap, the safeties creeping up not too far into the first half. That will lead to some one on one coverage deep for Richie Gunns and Larmond, with Jarvis and Flutie likely running the slower crossing routes.
If Tuggle and / or Shinskie can hit these guys who will very likely be in single coverage, it could mean a big numbers game by the offense.
If there's one story that's been beaten to death in the "hey, we saw this coming, we have known this for eons" category, it's the fact that BJ Raji and Ron Brace have graduated and moved on to the NFL (did you know that??). I'll also say how amazing it is that they've gotten ten fold better since they left the team. I think we'll have to start calling that the Matt Ryan effect (remember those who campaigned that Brian Brohm and Andre Woodson were far superior). As soon as they leave The Heights, they become the reason we won.
Pardon me, I'm just still bitter that I haven't been paid on a Matt Ryan / Andre Woodson wager I made a couple years by a "friend" of mine. Where was I...
Oh yes, Giles. We've known for a while we would have to replace Brace and Raji. We had all assumed that it would have been Scafe and Ramsey. Now, Giles has a great motor on him, but pure size is my main concern over technique. He's played with some success at DE, but it's a different mentality at DT. I'm personally very surprised that Ramsey was not able to grab the horns on this position, but I guess the staff knows better than I do (let's hope so!). I have plenty of faith in Damik Scafe, and if Giles can play well, we'll be able to stuff the middle and stifle the Northeastern rushing attack.
The great Sid Vicious tale.. remember 50 years ago when he was grasped outta the student section like a fan would be out of a Bon Jovi concert?
No fumbled hand-offs, no fumbles when scrambling from the pocket, holding on to the football when (if?) you're sacked, and keeping two hands on it should the QB rush past the LOS.
If we don't turn the ball over in our own backfield, I honestly feel like we'll be fine (and have a pretty good shot at a shutout).
Wesley chose: OL run block, Montel in the middle, Albright rush, Sid kicks, Richie Gunns tough catches
BCMike chose: Young LB play, Hitting the play action, Giles at DT, no dumb QB fumbles, Haden on screens