Line Play: We know nothing till ND

Submitted by Chi-Blue on September 8th, 2012 at 7:10 PM

As I saw in the open game thread there is much chatter about our team as a whole, but especially our defensive line. Here's the thing though we really won't learn anything more about our team until we play ND in my opinion. The verdict is nowhere near being in yet. 

Alabama - Light years ahead of us, or really about 3 if we keep recruiting the way we have. Both lines were way better and they showed why they will again challenge for a national crown.

Air Force - They run such a different scheme that I really think its hard to evaluate our team after watching that. I know we looked as if we had no discipline, but thats really difficult to gauge a team when going against an offense that our defense has probably never seen in their career all the way back to PW.

UMASS - Lost to Indiana today by like 40 points . . . really they did. We wont know anymore after the slaughter next week either.

Notre Dame. This is where we will fianally get an idea of how good we are. They have a pretty good defensive line and LB's. Offensive line is nothing special, but seems like a more typical type of line that we will see in BIG play.

Wait till ND until we pronounce any verdict on the line.

Where was Demens??



September 8th, 2012 at 9:04 PM ^

I stand by my Friday predictions for this game:  AF will rack up a ton of yards like they always do, our offense will roll, people will freak out by our DL getting cut by guys under 6' tall, and we will still know nothing about this team.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:13 PM ^

I agree. Air Force is so different from everything else we'll see this year that we can't look at anything from this game to predict how we'll look down the road.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:17 PM ^

I disagree. I think we've seen enough to know we are in some trouble. The DL in particular was lacking push quite often. Of course they were getting cut but they knew that was going to happen going in. They should have been prepared for that. Also, I guess we shouldn't be surprised but the OL can't run a power running game effectively. I'm worried for sure about our line play. It's fair to evaluate it even with the dominance of Alabama and the uniqueness of Air Force.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:23 PM ^

That's rough on the DL.  There's literally nothing the interior DL can do when a guy 4" shorter than you dives at your knees.  You can beat a cut block, but at that point, there's nothing they can do because either the FB is just going to dive a head for 2-3 yards, or the QB will be at the tackle by the time they recover.  There's a reason the always cut.  Because it works while running the triple option.  It's more on the LBs and perimeter players to beat their cuts because they have time to recover and make a play.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:49 PM ^

concerned about how badly it seemd to me that our LB's/CB's played in space, specifically on the pitch plays. I saw constant overruns leading to whiffed tackles, as well as real hesitancy in space when confronted with the QB with the ball in his hands. It is true that some of that was a new scheme to react to that we don't see, but some it seemed to me was just poor technique. Maybe the coaches on the board can shed more light on that, but it was another concerning factor. Watching Braxton Miller in the early game and then thinking about this game, there's a lot of work to do.


September 9th, 2012 at 12:19 AM ^

There definitely seemed to be some missed assignments out there.  Last year we generally used a safety (typically Kovacs) to cover the pitch man on the option but today his role seemed to be as more of a deep safety, and on several plays it seemed like no one had the pitch man at all.  It was odd.  We generally did a good job on the first two options (the FB and QB) and then left the TB alone to easily convert the first down.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:51 PM ^

I agree in re: run blocking. Pass pro was good even last week (though partially because of Bama's contain strategy). But the AF DL are all 260 lbs or fewer; one would hope Michigan could overpower them. It'll also be interesting to see in UFR if Fitz missed holes or if there weren't any for him.


September 8th, 2012 at 8:17 PM ^

That is definitely a good point you make about the DL play today. Right now it's the OL that's most concerning, IMO. 

It was one thing when our backs couldn't do much running the ball against the Alabama defense, but Fitz is way too talented to only gain 8 yards on 7 carries vs Air Force. Our run blocking really, really needs to improve so this offense doesn't depend on Denard alone. 

I'm not sure if this can be attributed to the loss of one single player but...David Molk...please come home!




September 8th, 2012 at 7:18 PM ^

If we pound the snot out of them, it will be difficult to conclude anything since they're UMass.

If we struggle, holy hell, it's 2010 all over again.


September 9th, 2012 at 1:30 AM ^

We need to stop playing any games unless the opponent is ranked in the top 10.  A win against anyone else is totally meaningless because we are supposed to beat them.

Maybe Team 133 can do a car wash next week instead of playing.  I saw a motor home so big, the owner would have to pay at least $50-60 to have it washed.  Thats a lot of money right?

I would so rather do something else on a Saturday than to play a meaningless team.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:19 PM ^

I think I have seen enough from his rushing abilities that Jake Ryan needs his hand down and rush the passer.  Ross may get more playing time over desmond as well, but thats a different thread.

Magnum P.I.

September 8th, 2012 at 7:20 PM ^

It's the offensive line that I'm 'more concerned about after that game. Our RBs had seven yards on eight carries. Seven yards on eight carries. That's less than one yard per carry. Against a defensive line averaging about 230 lbs. Unreal.

One Inch Woody…

September 8th, 2012 at 7:29 PM ^

Key word: 8 carries.

Running backs need to establish a rhythm also, and if you only give them 8 carries, you might as well not run them at all. The reason why we only gave them 8 carries is because Denard had like 20, and I really don't think you can say "not getting a push" when Denard pretty much mauled them on the ground. They also kept loading up against the run (as all teams will do), which was why the passing game was so open a lot of the time.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:45 PM ^

Bc we just played the lightest "stacked" box we are going to see all year. Denard is not accurate or consistent  enought to make teams pay for loading the box so this is why we are worried. Our last real offensive possession all we needed was a first down and the game was over and we couldn't get it.

If we can't run against an AF stacked box then we have problems. Sure Denard will be denard but that also means he will be stuffed by good defenses too.

UM is a one trick pony route now on O and that is not good. esp when your interor DL and LBs are soft like melted butter





Magnum P.I.

September 8th, 2012 at 7:55 PM ^

Denard threw the ball okay today. Had a couple of good throws. But you hate to see him throw a duck on the most important pass of the game.

As for Fitz. He had eight chances. You should be able to get more than two yards on at least one of those carries against Air Force's DL. He didn't. That's not an issue of sample size. I don't blame him entirely--he was getting hit at the line of scrimmage on every handoff.


September 9th, 2012 at 1:05 AM ^

When Fitz got his few carries, you can't even say that the o-line didn't get push. He was actually getting contact before he even got to the line of scrimmage. Something was really off today, and  we just need to figure out what the problem is before ND. It isn't like the individual players aren't good, but for some reason, the whole was much less than the sum of the parts today . . . 

Magnum P.I.

September 8th, 2012 at 7:20 PM ^

It's the offensive line that I'm 'more concerned about after that game. Our RBs had seven yards on eight carries. Seven yards on eight carries. That's less than one yard per carry. Against a defensive line averaging about 230 lbs. Unreal.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:44 PM ^

You keep your feet moving, your head on a swivel and your blocker more than an arm's length away. When they go for the cut, you grab the back of their shoulder pads, shed the block and fill your gap. It's really not that hard if you're expecting it. The triple option is much more common in high school and I'm sure lots of people reading this blog have faced it themselves before. I know I have.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:20 PM ^

We did learn about defending the edges today, however.  This has to improve because we will see teams besdies AF run the option. Also, O line run blocking for Toussaint was problematic.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:21 PM ^

both true and at the same time slightly overblown. My concern was the zero amount of daylight opened up by our offensive line on RB carries, against a D-line of AF's that was outweighed by 50 lbs a man. Scheme didn't impact that, nor did the fact that our D-line did not look to get much push at all against their small line. Having said that, I agree with the OP that conclusions cannot yet be drawn, but if this thread is about line play specifically, put me down as somewhat concerned on both lines.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:27 PM ^

The run blocking is deffinately a concern.  It baffled me how ineffective our RBs were.  It seems clear that Borges wants blocking schemes that our players were not recruited nor trained the majority of their careers for.  I have a hard time believing that the departure of Molk is such a significant downgrade that our OL can't handle the AF DL and LBs while last year they could handle Ill, Neb, and OSU once Borges figured out how to they worked.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:57 PM ^

My thoughts exactly.  It's that "push" that forces the pitch early and when you can do that, good things happen for the defense.  We didn't get that push very often at all.  our I-formation runs are still just wasted plays in my opinion.  The good thing is that it's early and we have good coaches so they should hopefully be able to fix it.


September 8th, 2012 at 7:21 PM ^

And if UMASS runs for 250? 

Saw very little to be positive and Western Kentucky shut down Alabama on the ground.

Yes the Hilltoppers stopped Bama for 56 yards rushing through 3 quarters.