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Things I Learned Tonight

In my previous post I stated that there weren't a lot of things to takeaway from tonight's game, either good or bad. But there are a couple of conclusions that can be made on the back of tonight's game. For a start I was starting to think that the reason the UC Pass Defense has been so suspect this year was a combination between a lack of pass rush and bad play by the corner backs. The pass rush issue is valid, the play of the corners isn't. Johnson got beat by Bogan on a streak but that was pretty much the only play that Daniels was able to exploit either Reuben Johnson or Cameron Cheatham. Both of them played well tonight, both of them have been pretty solid this year. If you want to place the blame on someone it has to go on the shoulders of Drew Frey. He is an abomination in coverage. In the past two games UC has given up three passing TD's. All three of them lie at the feet of Frey. I have be pretty resolute avoiding making such unnecessarily declarative negative statements about individual players. But I can't hold off anymore. Both of BJ Daniels TD's through the air were gifts by Drew Frey. On the second TD Frey made two mistakes, first biting way too hard on the play fake and letting Hornes run right behind him on a deep crossing pattern. Hornes caught the ball in the zone that was Frey's responsibility with no one within 10 yards of him. Second after seeing his man catch the ball in his zone Frey flew back to the ball, failed to break down, missed the tackle, and impeded the progress of at least two, possibly three Bearcats in pursuit of Hornes I know that Frey is the elder statesmen of the defense and a well respected member of the team, but he has to sit down. Chris Williams is better in coverage and is much more likely than Frey is to wrap a guy up one on one.  Williams is a better player today, and has a much higher ceiling than Frey.

Second the lack of adjustments in the running game was startling. Isaiah Pead has exploded in recent weeks, and that is all down to one basic play, the outside zone. That is the go to play in the running game for this offense its predicated on stringing out a defense until the linemen and/or linebackers loose gap responsibility. A back is supposed to run towards the outside half of his tackle, but can turn it up where ever he finds a whole. It has worked because UC has a fairly athletic line, particularly at tackle now that C.J. Cobb is playing guard. Sam Griffin, and Alex Hoffman / Sean Hooey are all really athletic guys who can get out there and set the edge on the outside zone. They have certainly been more athletic than the D-Lines the past few weeks. Now the typical compliment to the outside zone is the inside zone, perfect for when a defense is flowing too fast to the sideline to set the edge on the outside zone. They work in combination. Trouble is that the outside zone has been working so well in recent weeks that the inside zone has seemingly disappeared from the playbook. Its understandable, if Pead is your back and you seal the edge its 10 yards, almost every time. But tonight against a fast defense that was flowing so hard to the sideline the inside zone was there, pretty much all night. The linebackers were so eager to abandon the middle to flow to the outside that they abandoned the middle of the field every time. The adjustment made was to go to these pin and pull counter looks which almost never work out of a shotgun formation. That is the equivalent of using a grinder to cut off the head of a nail when the back end of a hammer would do. I had put to rest some of my concerns about this coaching staff in recent weeks. And I am not in a panic about the coaching, but it's pretty clear that this staff is much better game planning than it is making in game adjustments.