"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
"There's a certain level of confidence and composure he brings to the court," said sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins, who played the bulk of his minutes as a freshman while LeVert sat on the end of the bench in a sweat suit. "When you know you have a player like that on your team of that caliber, it's just like, we're in his hands and he can do a lot of things for this team. It's a comfort. It's nice."
"I just really wanted to see him in a game and I loved what I saw," Beilein said. "He was active. He's got a motor. He's got some things he's got to work on. He doesn't have the strength to (play) the way he'd like to in the Big Ten yet, but that's what we're going to work on in-between (games) without inhibiting his ability to play the next game."
So that game kind of sucked. If you're wondering why this diary is so late in the week, I try to wait until I feel like the foul language will be minimized after we lose.
Despite the video above, I'm not really blaming Borges for this loss. Not entirely anyway. He did not have a very good game. But that could be said for many people. Denard, Hemingway, Vince, Roundtree, Morgan, Floyd, the refs. THE REFS. THE MOTHERFUCKING REFS. But we'll get to that later.
You know when an offense is clicking, it's when guys are wide freaking open. And not just in the passing game. When an offense is in rhythm, running lanes open up too. That really didn't happen on Saturday until the final drive (when Iowa was backed off in prevent). Every pass and running lane was contested. That's partially due to the vanilla cover two. But a larger problem for us is our failure in self-scouting and our lack of an identity on offense.
A lot of what an OC does during gameday is psychological. You're supposed to mess with people's heads. RR was great at this. And the people he targeted most were the outside linebackers, DE's, nickel backs, and safeties. The reason why all forms of the option offense are so strong is because of the ability to always make a player wrong. You read which way he goes, and then go the other way. It's about taking what you're being given.
Which leads us back to Borges's failure this week. Ideally an offense creates an identity by beating a defense in a certain way so much that the DC has to adjust to take away those plays. But when that happens, it opens up the companion play.
Back during Lloydball that script went something like this. Offtackle run, offtackle run, offtackle run, bootleg pass for a TD. It was boring as hell, but when it worked, it was a thing of beauty. Tuman wide open in the Rosebowl, Breaston taking a reverse for a TD, etc.
With Richrod it was more like, zone read/bubble play left, zone read/bubble play right, Denard, Denard, Dena-OH SHIT! TD!
With Borges it is ... uh ... ? What exactly? Brian discussed this at length already, so I'll just add that it feels like we're just throwing random crap at the wall to see what sticks. Borges has called better games and it's hard to establish an identity when your 'bread and butter' plays are getting stuffed. But our best play this season has been for Denard to hold the ball too long in the pocket and then heave a prayer downfield. No one is going to mistake Denard for Andrew Luck, I don't understand why we're trying to use him like that. I don't understand why he's in the pocket reading pass coverages.
What is our base play? A zone read? Then why the hell don't we have the companion bubble screens? Is our base play an I-form Iso? Then where are the reverses that keep the backside DE honest? I'm getting sick of watching the backside end or OLB making a tackle in the opposite B gap. Are we running Denard? Then why are wasting a blocker by handing it off to him?
I understand that we're trying to keep him healthy, but we're losing the numbers game. Every time we go to that Denard Jet Sweep formation, the defense doesn't have to account for him. We hardly ever give him the ball, and we never throw it to him. And why is that the trick play formation we're stuck with? When we came out one week with the diamond Fritz formation and then had the jet sweep thing the next week, I was expecting to see 5 more different variations. Instead we've settled into this one that opposing DC's have figured out.
There's only three games left. It's time to take the reins of our biggest offensive threat. It's time to put in all those counters and companions and make play calls during the game that are, uhm..., like fucking coherent. (I wrote and rewrote that sentence 5 times, and still have an expletive, if not in all caps.)
I understand you're transitioning to a new philosophy and we're under-manned and can't hurt people with the base plays you want to run. But there's only three games left, if we want to win any of them, some of that will have to go out the window. I know you're not trying to use up Denard, but there's only three games left. If not now, when?
I appreciate that we've only lost two games, but there's only three games left and none of them are gonna be any easier than the two we lost. There's only three games left, and none of them are against Minnesota. There's only three games left. It's time to bring out our "A game".
A bad game all around.
So I noticed Brian noticed my noticing of Desmond Morgan getting a good tackle on a kickoff against Purdue. How was his game against Iowa?
It's pretty bad when even the TV guys are pointing out your bad play. (Although Spielman is one of the handfull of guys that knows the game pretty well and points out good and bad LB play)
And Fitz had a great game against Purdue, did that carry over?
Oh. (That's two unblocked middle linebackers on an A gap dive.)
But at least we've still got Denard who has been excellent at reading blockers and -
It's hard to blame any one person on offense when the entire blocking day was sub-par.
Looks ok here. That is a linebacker (and supposedly an above average one) not a DB. So our little slot guy should either go low or try to pin him inside.
Oh. Nevermind. But look, Fitz is leading the play for Denard, so we're still good.
We've got two guys on him, no problem. Except Denard has no place to cut back because Huyge couldn't maintain his backside block.
Still, a 2 on 1 means Denard should be able to bounce it outside.
*sigh* I guess this is where I'm supposed to mention something about teaching cut blocking and then I get pissy about how small blockers should take on big defenders by going low ... but I just can't get too upset about this play. I guess my rage is being reserved for something else...
And about those refs....
They started the game by missing a holding call
And then they decided that pass interference was no longer an enforceable rule.
They actually threw a flag and then talked themselves out of it. Maybe they thought it was uncatchable.
Maybe they're FUCKING BLIND.
And this was on Denard's interception right before the half. Denard has thrown some bad interceptions this year. This was not one of them.
At this point, someone needs to be in the ref's ear. I know Hoke is not the fire and brimstone kind of guy, and that's fine, but we need somebody to be working on the refs. The same thing happened during the Northwestern game, the refs never woke up and gave us a makeup call.
And our receivers need to do a better job of getting the call. Throw your hands up and dive on the ground. Watch some European sissy boys play soccer and learn how to embellish a call. I'm not saying all the time, because 'boy who cried wolf, blah blah blah.' But when you've got a legitimate case, don't be afraid to hop up and down a bit more. Make the ref peek at the video board and maybe you'll get the call next time.
Or just ... fuck.
So there's about 14 points that they owe us.
If this diary seemed overly critical, you win as a team, you lose as a team. Win and there's plenty of credit and high fives to go around, lose and everyone gets shat upon.
Amongst those few that had good games:
Gallon, not as dropsies as Hemingway or Roundtree
Interior O-Line, not as bad as the tackles
Fitz, his running and hole reading were not as bad as his blocking
Demens, not as bad Morgan
Countess, not as bad as Floyd
Martin, ... ok he was still awesome, in fact the entire D-line had a decent game. I guess that's what happens when you've got 3 D-line coaches (Hoke and Mattison are both ex D-line coaches)
Mattison, not as bad as.... well I think I've covered that already.
Vancouver Canucks....The receivers can learn the art of the dive from them, too. Our receivers really didn't seem to try the hard sell on the PIs. Then again, you shouldn't have to scream "Hey, ref. He just did a bad thing!" every time.
Totally agree someone needs to be working the refs. Maybe it's not the "honorable" thing to do, but at a point it just gets ridiculous. This was one of those games were the refs could have used somebody yelling at them everytime they screwed up (which was often)
If you're doing nothing, how do you know when you're finished?
Co-signed on the Denard Jet Sweep comment. I just do not understand the fascination with this play. As it's been run so far, it has 2 possible execution paths: a) Denard runs the sweep, or b) it's play action and Devin passes. If Denard isn't catching the ball or throwing the ball out of this formation, then its utility is no different than just lining Denard up at QB and running the same play with Fitz (modulo Denard magic Hermes feet). Even worse, I think you could at least make an argument for this play if Devin were a dramatically better passer than Denard, but he's not (and IMO is actually less good).
The magic of having Denard run as the QB is that he's the 11th man, which forces defenses into all sorts of pretzely positions they don't like given that they're used to defending only 10 men. When you make him a standard (non-passing) RB, he's just the 10th man. So what's the point? If you want to run him, run him from the QB and take advantage of the extra blocker.