“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
"The experience he has from last year is starting to show," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "He’s making shots, and he made some gutsy plays against Portland. He’s got a confidence about him that he can get the job done."
Conference play has come, and Big Ten teams can safely retreat to their thunderdomes to clobber each other in peace, insulated from the braying mockery of the national media. There is still upheaval. Michigan has fallen apart. Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke have been confined to the Touliers Palace.
Tackling Technique: A tale of two coaching staffs.
I have spent the last two seasons looking at tackling technique. You can find my review of 2010 here.
What I found was that as a team, we sucked at it; We tackled poorly as LB's, we tackled poorly in space, we tackled poorly as a team.
The idea is simple enough; no tackling = no defense = Lots of points./yards and anguished Brian screams.
A change in coaching staff brought a breath of fresh air, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
As we all know, our defense was astoundingly better this year, the question I found myself asking was 'exactly what is the difference?".
A quick review of good tackles vs. missed tackles vs. missed bad form tackles:
(Made Tackles - Missed Tackles) / (1 + Bad Form Tackles)
Calculating this way makes the bad form tackles have an extremely large effect on your number. Essentially, miss and it will decrease. Miss badly and it will decrease a lot.
The idea here is that any number greater than 1 is a solid indicator that this player brought down more than they missed, and if they missed it more than likely is due to being beat athletically not technically.
This also has an indirect correlation to who made the most tackles.
(Made Tackles) / (Made Tackles + Missed Tackles)
This score is a true representative of how likely it is a player will bring the ball carrier down when presented with a tackling opportunity.
What to draw from this is that we tackled a LOT better in space. . You will notice that we no longer essentially depended on Martin, Demens or Kovacs to bring down the ball carrier. This is a good thing.
Also, our dependence on our front 7 to make tackles has decreased, which is due to our secondary bringing down ball carriers in the open field.
This might seem like a baseless claim:
Percentage by Position:
Efficiency by Position:
Our CB's and DB's all had significant increases in both percentage and efficiency.
The breakdown by year.
As you can see, our freshman turned the corner early and our upperclassmen came to play.
Take home points and observations.
Kovacs is the lynchpin of this defense. He has progressed steadily since 2010, and having a second year in system I would not be surprised to see him win All B10 honors.
Tackling wise, Morgan improved a lot over the season. He should be a very good linebacker in the future, especially adding muscle in the off season. When he got beat, he invariably got beat athletically.
Thomas Gordon is a good one. Extremely solid in run support. My only concern here is that both Gordon and Kovacs are solid run stoppers but lack elite speed to be a true FS. Would like to see Kovacs roll up to nickel back and test Marvin Robinson at the FS on 3rd and 6+. This would allow Kovacs to blitz closer to the line as well.
I really like Courtney Avery. Dude just plays with a nose for the football.. he is the defensive backfield equivalent of Jake Ryan.
Jake Ryan plays like his hair is on fire. Love this dude. (Blasphemous to insinuate the flow is flamable.) He needs to learn to turn his ballistic missle technique into a heat seaking missle technique.
Demens will be a solid B10 linebacker. While I think that Bolden and Co. have a higher ceiling, I think that Demens will be the solid Mike we have been looking for for a solid 4 years.
JT Floyd. Hot damn. While it seems that he still shies a little bit away from contact, he also is tackling a lot better.
All our first year players played above their heads. It would stand to reason that they might regress a bit in year two. However, our Freshman were (with the exception of Ryan ) true freshman. This leaves me hope that they can also potentially take a large step as their bodies catch up to their abilities.
I am not as worried as most about our defensive line. While they will be missed, if the front 4 can just occupy the front 5 of whoever, we will be in great shape.
Breakout Defenders for 2012:
Clark (I know)
Totally baseless speculation: Richard Ash will have an impact this year.