- Ryan Taggart performed exceptionally. Aside from several misfires to open targets, he delivered many catchable balls (some of which were dropped), and even delivered a few balls out there that were reminiscent of #9. His management of the offense and good decision making by not forcing any throws into tight coverage was a very good sign.
- Any questions regarding the offensive line, which lost three starters from last year's team, were answered Saturday. The line gave Taggart sufficient protection throughout the game and opened up solid running lanes for both Sam Auffant and Eddie Houghton.
- Bill Edger's (photo above) performance at wide receiver reminded me of the days when Brett McDermott was running routes up and down Fitton Field. Edger was great on the outside as he had 7 catches for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. He burned Howard's cornerback multiple times and appears to be the go-to receiver on this year's squad.
- The kicking game of Rob Dornfried and Don Lemieux performed beautifully, as was expected. Dornfried going 5/5 on PATs and 1/1 on field goals, and Lemieux booting 4 kickoffs through the endzone and crushing a 63 yard punt were all impressive. I've said it before, and I will say it again, Holy Cross will have the best kicking game in the Patriot League in 2010.
- On the defensive side of the ball, I was extremely impressed with the play of first year starter Cav Koch. Although he was flagged for two pass interference calls, one of which was pretty questionable, Koch was solid throughout the game up until his injury in the 3rd quarter. I believe the injury was nothing more than a bad cramp, and he should be ready for UMASS this weekend.
- Defensive End /Outside Linebacker Rory Sullivan seemed to be in the offensive backfield all game, and deterred many plays the Bison attempted to run.
- The entire linebacking core, particularly the play of Sean Lamkin, Ricky Otis, and CJ Martin, was solid all game. In my opinion, the play of these three will determine whether the Crusaders leave Amherst with a win next weekend. UMASS has maybe the best running game we will see all year.
As for what did not go right . . . and there are not many:
- I would have liked to have seen Alex Schneider be more of a target. He was only thrown to a few times, and having him become a major part of the offense will alleviate some pressure on Taggart to find open wide receivers. He is the biggest target on the field, and should have the ball thrown his way more often.
- First year starting center Sean Whited, who is taking over for the ageless Chris Smith, was solid all game with the blocking schemes and calling out assignments, but his shotgun snaps were a little low at times and need to come up.
- The offense needs to limit the "3-and-out" series. Granted, series like these inevitably happen during the course of a football game, but there was a stretch between the first and second quarter when the offense failed to move the sticks too many times.
- Going off of my last point, the time of possession needs to move closer to 30-30. Against bigger and better teams, an offense may wear down our defense. UMASS loves to run the ball and may eat up a lot of clock; sustaining long drives will help both our offense and defense.
One final note on the Howard game: Willie Carter, #12 and the Bison's stud receiver, was one of the best players we will see all year. Some of the catches he made were in double coverage, and our defensive backs -- although they were in perfect position -- still could not defend Carter.
Game one is done and out of the way. First game jitters are out of the team's system, and we are now ready to play two of the tougher games on our schedule: UMASS and Harvard.
Look for a preview to the UMASS game this weekend in the coming days. The writer for www.minutemennation.net/ has asked to team up and create a preview to this weekend's tilt.
Go Cross Go! 1-0 and now on to the Minutemen.
Kevin Doyle '11