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After a few worrying moments early, Scully put in a strong performance in the #15 jersey for the Eagles. His solidity under the high ball was impressive, as was his running ability from deep.
Early on, the Eagles were put under pressure thanks to two kicks – obviously Russia wanted to test the debutant fullback. Both times the ball didn’t get caught even though Scully was in position to catch it. That was because the Cal grad backed off to let more veteran players (Kevin Swiryn in one instance, Todd Clever in the other) take the ball.
The key thing for Scully was that he learned from that.
“He struggled for the first 20 minutes, but he got stronger and stronger as
the game went on,” said O’Sullivan. “Blaine realized he needed to claim
those balls. We knew he was going to be tested. A lot of guys make that
first mistake and go into themselves and can’t get out of it. He recovered
and got better as the game went on.”
When he called for the ball, Scully was money. He ran his weaving counterattacks well. And another example of how he learned as he went. In the second half, Scully fielded a kick and took off downfield. He tried to work a scissor with Paul Emerick, but waited too long, eventually trying a backhand pass while being tackled. Emerick was surprised to get the ball, and dropped it.
Minutes later, Scully was in the same position. This time he ran a scissor with Emerick before contact. The result was a beautiful movement that ended in a try for Tai Enosa.
“For a guy to come out of college and then get thrown in at fullback to
play that way was an hell of an ask for a young player,” said O’Sullivan.
“He made the adjustments and did very well.”
Scully’s performance changes the face of the USA backline. If he can play fullback, it means Chris Wyles might be free to play outside center. If that is the case, then perhaps Paul Emerick could play some at inside center.
To be fair, Andrew Suniula was effective in the #12 jersey Saturday, busting the line a few times, helping set up two tries and scoring another. However the center had trouble with his long passes. Out wide, Colin Hawley didn’t put much of a foot wrong, while Kevin Swiryn has had better games for the USA, and could perhaps benefit from some time off this July.
The wings, it seems, aren’t a concern for the Eagles. What is a concern is what to do in the midfield, and Scully’s performance in some ways made things clearer – he is the front-runner now for backup fullback – it has muddied the waters as well.