Following the loss in DC to the Georgetown Hoyas, a loss that saw the 'Saders score only 7 points, many questioned the offense, and rightfully so. For the third straight game, the "O" scored in single digits. This was the first time since 1992 that Holy Cross scored in single digits for three straight games. But, like any good coaches and players do (and make no mistake, there are some very good players and coaches on the Holy Cross football team), adjustments were made. For anyone who watched the game, the offense had a new flare to it. The field was spread open more, we were more aggressive with our passing game, especially taking chances down the field, and we ran the quarterback draw to perfection. Ryan Taggart is not the most prolific passer, but his speed, agility, and legs are superior to many quarterbacks. The offensive play calling used his legs beautifully on Saturday. Before I start rambling, I will slow myself down and begin to break down what went right, and what did not.
What went right against Fordham:
- The first class of six of Holy Cross' best inducted into the Ring of Fame. I will refer you to that post to read more about that: http://chuchurahrah.blogspot.com/2010/10/remarks-at-building-brandring-of-fame.html
- We were back in the friendly confines of Fitton Field. The last loss at Fitton was against a top 5 UMASS team back in September of 2008. Hopefully we continue this hot streak in The Woo this weekend against Brown.
- Bill Edger was back in the lineup and healthy. He was our leading receiver on Saturday, and probably does not get enough credit for all he does. I get a feeling if he was healthy enough to play against Georgetown we may have had more success on offense.
- The offensive play book was opened up. As I already alluded to, I really liked the fact we elected to throw the ball down the field more (probably because Edge was back), and also let Taggart utilize his legs. Fordham was probably one of the weaker defenses we will run into all year, but the middle of the field was open all day, and Taggart took advantage of that.
- Just looking at the statistics from the game: 32 first downs, 500 total yards, 30+ in time of possession, 13 for 18 on 3rd down!
- 13 for 18...All about extending drives, moving the chains, keeping the offense on the field, and the defense off.
- Easily, Ryan Taggart's best performance of his career. He looked very comfortable running the offense, something he did not look against UMASS, Harvard, and Georgetown, and made solid reads throughout the game.
- Josh Hauser had 3 catches for 35 yards. If he can become another weapon in the offense alongside Alex Schneider, it would merely add another option for Taggart.
- Of the eight drives throughout the game for Holy Cross, six ended in scores and just two punts. If we can score on 50% of our drives, I would be elated.
- Offensive line did a solid job throughout as Taggart and Watson were never sacked.
What did not go right against Fordham:
- Defense needs to tighten up and not let the opposition back into the game. We were up 23-14, and then the Rams come down and scored, and then after being up 36-24, they scored late again to get within five.
- Fordham was actually within one defensive stop of forcing HC to punt, but fortunately Taggart used his legs, lowered his shoulder, and picked up the yardage for the first down.
- In the last three games, the opposition's quarterback has nearly been the leading rusher for their respective team. Andrew Hatch (Harvard) had 62 yards (Gino Gordon had 66), Scott Darby (Georgetown) had 101, and Blake Wayne (Fordham) had 114.
- What does this all mean? The defensive line and linebackers have to work on containing the QB when a pass play breaks down and the QB tucks it in and runs.
- Kicking game needs to be crisper. Missing two extra points and only averaging 33 yards a punt may come back to haunt us. If Fordham were to have scored late in the game, those two extra points would have been important. Also, we know there will be even closer games than this down the line; converting on these opportunities is pertinent.
- Forcing more than two "3 and outs" not only benefits the defense as they get off the field sooner, but also enables the offense to get in a rhythm.
While this was a great win against an individually talented Fordham team--I did not believe they were that great as a whole--this was nothing more than a game to get Holy Cross back on track. The players know and believe this is a good team, and finally getting closer to putting a complete game together was a very positive sign. Brown will be a great test this weekend as we move closer and closer to the final four games against our Patriot League brethren.
Kevin Doyle '11