Sunday, September 18, 2016

Soaking Defeat: The Defense

Coach Jinks said after the game that "we have a good defense."

And I more or less agree.  It is a little less good after I got home and looked at the numbers, but in the stadium I felt like the defense had really done all they could be expected to do give the turnovers the offense provided to MTSU.  Much like 2014, I think the defense is good but not great but holding us in games while the offense fails to produce.

The Blue Raiders scored 6 touchdowns.  One was on a 10-yard drive, one was on a 26-yard drive and one was on a 46-yard quick change at the end of the second half in the game's deciding sequence.  So, at least two of those are pretty short fields and the other is a pretty difficult situation.  So point on is that the offense wasn't holding up their end of the bargain.  Even at 28 points allowed, BG has a shot to win the game.

The defense made one deadly mistake....that big pass play on the opening drive of the second half was just a killer and you've got to come out with more focus than that.

It may turn out that the weather worked for BG's defense as well.  MTSU came in passing on about 70% of their downs.  At the Doyt, they passed on 45% of their plays.  Given that they ran at 4.3 yards per attempt...and passed at 9.3 yards per attempt...on a sunny day if the play mix was a little different we might not be feeling so good.

Still, Stockstill was only 18 of 30 in a high-percentage offense and they seemed to be out of rhythm for a lot of the game.  I thought coverage was strong across the middle and a little weaker along the sidelines...and a couple of times their guys just went up and got the ball.

I'm not sure what Dino Babers' year-three plan was, and it may not have existed, but BG is running guys out there in the secondary who were not signees and some have only been with the program since the summer.  Tavarous Wade, walk on.  Montre Gregory, showed up in July.  Cam Jeffries, true freshman.

Further, the defense was playing with its best player in limited position--Austin Valdez did appear but made only 2 tackles--and Brandon Harris was DQ'd for a targeting call that seemed questionable, but they looked at the replay.  Ben Hale did not play.  Not making excuses, just pointing out that there's duct tape being applied to the operation.

I thought early on the defense was effective, tackling in space and controlling the run.  They forced punts on 3 straight drives after BG went down 14 in the 3rd quarter, but the offense failed to capitalize to get us back in the game.  That's a great job to rally after struggles.

Not saying they can't be better, but I think they held their own.

Also, they gave up a big play, but they made one, too, with Mack's INT and near-pick-six setting up one of BG's 3 TDs.

There's a focus on penalties, BG had 8 penalties in the first half, four of them on the defense.  (Fun note.  Only one penalty was called in the 2nd half on both teams).  But, the only one that led to a score by MTSU was the pass interference on their game-tying drive.

MTSU did win 3rd down at 7 of 14...and BG forced only one turnover...and BG had only one sack...but it is a short drop attack that is tough to pressure.

Everyone's going to get a big test Saturday.  Memphis is looking really, really good and I expect adversity to continue to press on our guys.

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