Decided: it’s 14.9 times more fun to check tape when you win. Science!
This one probably needs a disclaimer: it’s Purdue. They’re really bad on tape. So when we make a devastating block, yes, it’s awesome, but it’s Purdue. They’re us one year ago.
Which reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about. For a long time I’ve referenced Indiana’s drop when Kevin Wilson was hired. They were 5-7 under Bill Lynch, hire a better coach, and go 1-11. Then Tim Beckman takes over for Ron Zook after a 6-6 season and goes 2-10.
And now this year it’s even more frequent. Purdue was in a bowl last year but they fired Danny Hope anyway. They hire a better coach… and are winless in the conference and headed for 1-11. NC State was in a bowl last year but they fired Tom O’Brien anyway. They hired Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois… and are winless in conference and headed for 3-9. Arkansas had a tough season under interim coach John L. Smith. But they still have more talent than Illinois, Purdue, and NC State combined. They hire Bret Bielema… and are winless in conference and headed for 3-9.
Rebuilds almost always take time. “But he took over a bowl team” really doesn’t mean much. New systems are almost always confusing. Talent rarely matches the scheme you’re trying to implement. Sometimes you’re Jim Mora and you take over a talented team and simply tweak the playcalling. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
Alrighty then. Not sure why I felt the need for that mini-rant, but there it is. To the tape.
Make Your Choice
Good offensive coordinatin’ is about making a defender choose. And sometimes, even when they choose correctly, you still get a big gain.
Here’s the Jon Davis catch in the first quarter. The play is designed for the two receivers to draw the corner and safety, the tailback to draw the linebacker, and (hopefully) Jon Davis turns it upfield in space all to himself.
Going well so far. The middle linebacker is rushing the passer, so there’s one less player to cover that side of the field. Which means the outside linebacker either has to choose Josh Ferguson coming out of the backfield or turn and go with Jon Davis. Miles Osei and STEVEHULL are streaking deep and dragging the corner and safety with them.
Jon Davis makes his turn up the field, and the linebacker decides to leave Ferguson alone (the field side outside linebacker probably has that responsibility now) and run with him. That’s the right choice here.
Nate has two options here. Nearly everyone has been dragged deep, so a dump to Ferguson here is an easy 15 yards.
But he likely reads that the safety doesn’t have time to drift over to Davis, so he likes his chances there one on one with the linebacker.
This is such an athletic play by Davis. Identifies the path of the ball and starts to turn.
Spots the ground after he catches it.
And gets the foot down.
Here’s the safety arriving too late, and Davis high-pointing the ball.
And getting a foot down.
Fantastic play. Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse will likely be huge parts of the offense next year. They have 44 catches between them so far – with all the wide receivers graduating, I’d like to see them get 44 catches apiece next season.
Here’s the play the announcers thought was a busted play. Ya been Cubited, BTN announcers.
This is similar to the long bomb we completed to Hull in the Wisconsin game. Sell the QB run, then have him back up and throw it. Here’s the formation at the snap:
Keep an eye on the cornerback as Scheelhaase tucks and runs.
He identifies the run and let’s Hull run right on by. Now it’s up to the safety (in the box).
But Nate backpedals back into a pocket, leaving only the safety to cover Hull.
…and Hull is pretty much all by himself.
Picking up 20 yards
This is where the announcers were saying that we “somehow” made something out of this “busted play”. #Cubited.
You Mean I Can’t Just Run And Catch Passes?
If you’ve ever wondered why certain freshmen receivers don’t play very much, the answer is almost always “blocking”. In high school they could just run and jump and catch. If they want to play in college, they’ll have to learn how to block.
I like freshman WR Dionte Taylor. I think he’ll be a big part of our offense in a few years. But he has a few things to learn about blocking first.
Here he is lined up on the numbers, first down.
The pitch is going to Josh Ferguson running his way, so Taylor has a cornerback to block.
And he engages that corner, but, um…
Look again at the screencap above. If Taylor pins his guy to the outside, Ferguson might have scored on this play. I didn’t see any safety help come into view. But the corner sent Taylor flying and made the tackle:
Again, you take any college receiver, go back to their freshman year, and you’ll find film like this. It just takes time. So the next time you find yourself saying “why don’t we pass to so-and-so more”, there’s your answer.
There’s Lucky, And Then There’s This
There is now a five-pack of lucky bounces that have gone against us in the last 10 years. Five plays that leave you with “why do these bounces always happen to us?” feelings. They are: 1) Rose Bowl forced fumble that bounced straight up in the air and hit a USC receiver in stride, 2) Rose Bowl bounce to Joe McKnight, 3) Fresno State 2-point conversion deflection, 4) Terry Hawthorne deflects a pass in the 2nd overtime at Michigan and it deflects right to their receiver in the endzone, and now 5) we force a fumble at Purdue and they have a guy trailing the play who picks it up and runs 35 yards.
So how was he trailing the play anyway? The box shows the ballcarrier, but the arrow is pointing to Akeem Hunt will pick up the fumble.
As the returner slips a couple tackles from Tyler White and Cedric Doxy, Hunt is blocking TJ Neal.
Neal sheds the block by shoving Hunt behind the play. Well isn’t that fortunate.
So as Dillan Cazley and Mike Svetina force the fumble, there’s Hunt trailing the play.
The bounce the ball makes here is unreal. It hits right and Hunt’s feet…
but instead of bouncing back towards the endzone (where Doxy could have likely picked it up), it pops up right into his hands.
So he can now, you know, take it 35 yards and get tackled at the 50:
Some day a ball will bounce like that for us. It’s gonna happen. Luck always evens out. It has to.
Chunky And Teko
You’ve heard it a lot from me this fall, but here it is in pictures. The future of this defense: Chunky Clements and Teko Powell.
This is the TFL that Chunky made, but I was maybe more impressed by Powell on the play.
Here’s Chunky lined up at defensive end (how dumb do I feel for yesterday’s “Chunky is at DT right now but I’m guessing he moves back to DE next year” yesterday? Then I check the tape and he’s already back at DE.)
Purdue’s left tackle and left guard completely whiff on Chunky. But watch Teko. The right guard chucks him as he comes across his face.
And then the right tackle tries to cut him.
But Teko steps out of that and is in the backfield. Oh, hi Chunky, nice tackle.
So if the tailback steps out of this tackle by Chunky (he didn’t), Teko was there to clean him up.
Another angle on Teko. Right guard across his face.
Here comes the right tackle.
Tries to cut him.
Teko isn’t having it. Oh, hi Chunky, nice tackle.
That’s the future. Chunky pass rush, Teko clog up the middle. Too bad they’re true-frosh and true-soph. We need them to be seniors by August.
Defensive play of the day goes to Mike Svetina. This… this is just fantastic. Svetina slides up to the line of scrimmage at the snap.
Tight end tries to take him on.
He maintains his balance and sends the tight end stumbling.
Now both the pulling guard and the tight end are double teaming Svetina.
But he’s not having that, either.
He gets the corner, there’s the ballcarrier…
Tackled for no gain.
He’s still out of position (an inside ‘backer playing outside), but that’s all we can do this year. In the next two seasons, I expect much more like this out of Svetina.
OK, a little more Teko before we’re finished. This kind of film makes the coaches very happy. Teko is at DT here.
He starts the pass rush.
But after the ball is thrown to the tight end underneath, he turns and pursues the play.
And when the tight end spins out of TJ Neal’s tackle.
Guess who is there to clean him up.
I’m not sayin’ but I’m just sayin’ – Teko and Chunky are the future.
Not To Be Outdone
But it wasn’t all just great defensive plays on Saturday. Here’s Teddy Karras going beastmode. On the snap, Teddy takes on a defensive tackle.
And Teddy decides “you know what? I’m going to take him over there.”
So he does.
And with the defensive tackle out of the way, Josh Ferguson has a big seam for a 15 yard gain.
Two more years of that. The last one hopefully an All Big Ten year, too.
Play(s) Of The Game
Two plays of the game, really. Two PBU’s.
Eleven minutes to go, the receiver has a step on Jaylen Dunlap.
Not so fast my friend.
1:15 to go, the receiver has a step on V’Angelo Bentley.
Not so fast my friend.
And with that, an Illini win. Finally.
Now let’s go take it out on the Wildkittens.