September 16, 2007

Ryan, offense shines against GTech

OK, maybe we should re-think this Matt Ryan Heisman thing a little bit.

A little bit.

While Ryan remains an extreme longshot to match Doug Flutie's feat, he showed a national TV audience Saturday night just how special he is.

We said here at the start of the season the only way he gets into the race for college football's big trophy is for BC to go 6-0 and for him to shine. Well, we didn't know how bad Notre Dame was (don't you just hate that?), so the 6-0 possibility is now 7-0, the Eagles have won the three tough games in the lot and Ryan has starred.

OK, he wasn't great in the NC State game. His numbers would have been better had his receivers held onto the ball more often but he admitted he was a tick off the whole day. But he was special in the opener and more than special against Georgia Tech.

While the offensive line made sure he didn't get hurt by simply grabbing any would-be sackers and throwing them to the ground, Ryan was brilliant in his second career-high for yards in the first three weeks of the season.

I admit coming into the season I felt Ryan was a tad overrated by the home folks. Not that he wasn't very, very good, but I just thought the Heisman hype was just that; hype. Now, after watching what he's done, what he did to an aggressive Georgia Tech team Saturday night, and listening to what Bob Davie was saying about him - well, it's no longer hype.

And make no mistake about it, this was, in its own way, one of the biggest games in the history of the BC program. Face it, a loss to Tech would have had people saying the same things all over again - BC can't win the big one. It can compete, go to bowls every year but there's always something. The Eagles were 7-point underdogs in a game I thought they'd win (even said so on the NFL Network Thursday) - I thought they were battle tested and Tech hadn't played anyone.

But I have to admit - again - I thought Georgia Tech was better than this. I still think this may have been a preview of the ACC title game. But it was clear which was the better of the two teams in this football game. BC won by two touchdowns and it could have been more. This was a shining light in the history of this program; and hats off to Jeff Jagodzinski and his staff for the preparation (do you love Steve Logan, or what?)

The polls will be adjusted again this week and BC should keep climbing. The Eagles should be a Top 10 team by the time they go to Virginia Tech. A loss in any of the four games coming up means this team isn't all that good - but it's not going to happen. For one thing, Ryan won't LET it happen. And as was pointed out on an ESPN broadcast that was full of mistakes but also of energetic reporting, Ryan will clean up in the stat column against the upcoming opponents.

Negatives Saturday night? Sure, there were too many penalties. Sure BC has had trouble handling kicks here and there. Sure, the Eagles could have led by more when it was 14-0.

Ummmm, that's about all I can think of. You?

And how about that rushing defense? This team has lost three key guys from the front seven and it just hasn't mattered. Take away that long meaningless run late in the NC State game, and the rushing yardage is almost nothing by three ACC opponents.

As they said on TV, wasn't this league supposed to be too quick for BC?

That team could have flown home without a plane early Sunday morning. The Eagles had gone into hostile territory - again - and come away with a win that raised the road record to 19-8 since the start of the 2003 season. Did those guys look intimidated by the road to you?

The ACC isn't off to a great start. BC is - and is there any reason this team can't win this conference?

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