(Written by Ken Crawford)
Spent some time over on CGB yesterday evening reading what people thought about our defensive struggles. There are still a lot of people deflecting blame from the coaching staff regarding the defensive woes over there.
Simply stated, while the youth of the defense (much of which is because of injuries) is a big factor, it is not THE factor.
First of all, most of these injuries are not new. The coaching staff has known who they were going to be missing for some time now. That gave them a significant amount time to train replacements and make scheme adjustments. It isn’t like 4 guys went down on Thursday’s practice. Most of them have been missing all season and it was known for a good number of them about mid-way through fall camp they were hurt. So we’re talking about a full month, PLUS THREE GAMES, where these injuries have been known to the world. It is the coaches job to make adjustments for these sorts of things.
Secondly, we have big weaknesses in areas where we still have depth. By way of example, yeah, the defensive line lost Jalil, but where are the rest of the highly touted guys? Where are Moala and Coleman? It’s not like they’re getting double teamed or given special attention. Or if you want to look in the secondary, McClure is getting schooled out there and he’s always been projected to be a starter this season and has a pretty strong history in his early years as a backup.
In fact, McClure is the perfect case study to determine what’s going on, at least from how I see things.
McClure has a lot of talent, showed a lot of promise in year’s past and has a fair amount of experience for a non-starter. If he’s having trouble, one of three things are true:
- He’s being coached poorly to use wrong technique.
- The scheme being used puts him in a difficult situation.
- He’s personally not giving the effort (which could include the effort to learn) he should be.
Numbers 1 and 2 would be the fault of the coaching staff, so if we can eliminate number 3 I think we can safely point to the coaching staff as the problem. And while it is not definitive evidence, the fact that we’re seeing defensive problems throughout the defense and not just with a player or two, it suggests it’s not effort issues, particularly considering that if there’s one thing Dykes has done exceptionally, it’s to get these young men to buy into bringing a strong effort.
Thus, personally, I think the main issue is coaching.
And more specifically I think the problem is a poor scheme setting the defense up for failure.
I said before the season that I was leery of the move back to the 4-3 but was willing to be open-minded, particularly since the lines between a 4-3 and a 3-4 have blended in the most innovative defenses. Well, this IS NOT an innovative defense. This is an old-school Big-10, completely unprepared for modern college offenses, we’ll just be playing a lot of 2 linebacker nickle, defense.
I’m just not seeing anything that makes me impressed with the scheme. I’m seeing cornerbacks being put on islands play after play and asked to do the near impossible. I’m seeing safeties and linebackers who have the same assignments over and over again. I’m seeing formations that pre-snap are obviously exploitable with no post-snap adjustments to take it away. Heck, just in general I’m not seeing a lot of deception or hiding of schemes.
Sorry folks, we’ve got a weak defensive staff right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to find out a few weeks from now that everything is clicking and all of a sudden Buh and company have taken their game to the next level. I’m open to the possibility that Buh is very talented but in a bit over his head and with time will improve dramatically. I’m willing to be a bit patient. Nobody needs to be fired.
But I don’t have to delude myself into thinking my patience is waiting for for some players to get healthy, when in fact what I’m waiting for is the coaching staff to figure out its incompetence.