Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rocket Game Story Part II: Ground War

Basically, our defense deserves a huge amount of credit.  Last year, while BG's offense went into the 2nd quarter without a first down, UT was scoring at will on their end.  This year, while BG's offense went into the 2nd quarter without a first down, BG's defense held them scoreless until the 3rd quarter.

In other words, the defense kept BG in the game and gave the offense a chance to win.  Clearly, UT found a way to exploit us, but the defense did as much as could be expected.

To start with, I thought they did a great job with Eric Paige.  The CBs just exploded a couple of those little screens they throw to him on the edge and when he got the ball, he didn't break any huge plays.  BG forced five straight punts in the first half, and did a very credible job with a team that can score points in bunches.

The second half was less good.  Coach said we started to get worn down, and UT went almost exclusively to the run and they had only one drive that did not result in a TD in the second half.  In general, however, they were not big plays, and UT had to move their way down the field.

UT ran for 268 yards with was 5.7 yards per rush, which is a very high number.  They ran the ball 47 times and passed only 22 times.  They threw only 5 passes in the second half.

Coach felt we tackled reasonably well, but UT pushes the pile.  We'd make contact 3-4 yards down field and the pile would push until it was a gain of 6 or 7 yards.  They were getting excellent push...when they double teamed one of our lineman, coach said that they would push him right into a LB, making an effective triple team.  Their guys are stronger than our guys, and BG needs to get to where we are the stronger team.

BG made only two tackles for loss in the entire game.  That's pretty good, when, except for penalties, you can run your offense with only 2 negative plays.

The biggest single play that was disappointing for the defense came in the 4th.  It was 3rd and 9 from the UT 8 yard line.  Down 7, if BG gets a stop the offense has a clear chance to get into the end zone.  UT drops back to pass and runs a pretty long developing play.  They are in max protect and run a receiver right into the middle of their defense.  The catch and run was 59 yards and UT scored shortly after that to take a two score lead.  That's one of the 3 plays that Coach mentioned as being critical...a stop there makes a huge difference.

The defense has improved even for being incredibly young.  The D-line is improved, but yesterday we saw the gap between where our D-line is and where the top O-lines in the MAC are.  This wasn't running built on missed tackles.  It was running built on blocking and strength.  If teams always know they can run on you, they will.

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