I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the game itself. I'll go over some basics which should help with understanding what really happened on both sides of the ball. I want to spend the majority of this post talking about what's coming. I've learned a lot about what was going on behind the scenes that very few knew about, and about the changes, most of which will be very positive.
As far as our offense goes Murray is something else. The major issue this week is he tried to do too much. He tried to completely carry the team. He does carry this team, but he can't try to do everything by himself. His run in the 4th quarter was a thing of beauty and I knew he was gone as soon as he broke the LOS. His interception was clearly trying to do too much. There is a cardinal rule for QBs that you don't throw back across your body into the middle of the field as it will be picked and that's exactly what happened. He'll learn from that. On the fumble he said it all in the post game presser. He took too big a risk with the way he was holding the ball......as my coach used to say....carrying it like a loaf of bread. He should have secured the ball and then if he gets away he does. and if he doesn't and gets sacked, it's better than a turn over. We had just gotten the momentum and promptly gave it right back to them and with the way our offense had been working, we would probably have overcome the sack and gotten a first down anyway.
I thought Sermon had his best game of the year. Sutton was OK, but I still think Brooks is the better RB but he's still learning. There was a busted play that was mentioned by the announcer and Brooks went the wrong way and yet Murray still made positive yardage. We didn't see Brooks again after that play. Let's hope he gets plenty of reps during the bye week and sharpens up his overall game. I thought the whorns did a really good job with their big physical corners taking away some of our routes. Lamb and Brown still found a few plays, mostly because of their superior talent.
Calcaterra re-injured his shoulder when he fell on it again and didn't return. He's still questionable. I'm hoping he responds to treatment and rest with the bye week.
The O Line is a good and bad situation. Their pass pro has been pretty good. Run blocking has been somewhat inconsistent. Powers has a bum ankle and was like 80%. Samia just doesn't get his feet set right sometimes and loses leverage. Remember as well, that running is mostly about out numbering or out leveraging the defense at the point of attack. The whorns were very well prepared. They knew our tendencies and put our run game in situations where they out numbered us. I though Riley adjust very quickly with some nice calls to keep their LBs and safeties at home and not cheating into gaps.
On to the defense. I've heard people say that we were pushed off the line, and they were more physical than we were. In some ways that's true, but not for the obvious reasons. Some of it was poor schemes and some of it was being outweighed by 30 lbs and some of it was being out numbered at the point of attack. I do think in some cases, they were more physical because they wanted this game more than we did and I'm about to get into that in a moment. I think in some ways our defense thought they could win this game fairly easily and soon got a lesson in who wanted it more.
As far as the scheme goes, we have DEs playing DT, we have LBs playing DE, we have Safeties playing LB, and CBs who don't turn to look for the ball. The whorns had us perfectly scouted, knew what coverage we were in by our formation, and schemed offensive running plays to take advantage of all those size differentials I just listed. As soon as Mike saw that they had us at the LOS, he would try to audible us into a different coverage set and it was too late. At the time the ball was snapped, we had half the defense in one coverage, and the other half in another coverage because not everyone got the change from the sideline. This game reminded me on defense of what we used to joke about as the meerkat offense.
There were two reasons for our lack of ability to match their physicality. One was scheme, and the other was discord and descension in this team. This had been a pretty closely guarded secret until everything broke this week. Players were not happy with the schemes, who was playing and who wasn't. Why some players were benched for mistakes and not others. Mike has a hot temper, we all know that. What we didn't know was how much of that was coming out at practice and the hostility coming from his mouth to the players. There was an incident at practice on Wednesday where Mike went off on T J Pledger, and from what I know it wasn't pretty.
Then there was a very heated argument between Mike and Buzzy and then one between Mike and Riley at halftime, and that was the final straw for Lincoln. I knew something was in the works just by watching the post game presser. Mike is now gone, Ruffin is the interim and Diaco is now outside LBs coach. Ruffin will be in the booth and Diaco will call the plays from the sideline.
What I'm being told is we will be running a base 4-2-5 or 4-3-4 and that is what we have been practicing all week. At this point, this is how we line up:
DT: Gallimore, Overton, Famatau, Lott
DE: Bledsoe, Mann, Perkins and Redmon who will play against TCU.
Free Safety: Broiles
Strong Safety: Barnes
Now this is what is happening at practice this week, and just like in the spring it could be very fluid. I put an asterisk next to Kelly again for a reason. He is considering red shirting again this year. As much as he and everyone else thought he had WILL down, you could see himself banging his hand against his helmet when he made numerous mistakes against the whorns. Let's just say he's a much better SAM backer than WILL. The other thing about this is it puts Draper back in the mix at WILL and all the coaches feel that is a huge positive for this defense. Mike Stoops had something against Draper and he was close to transferring out of the program because of it. IF Kelly red shirts, he take's Draper's place on the scout team, There are potentially a lot of moving pieces here again and I'm going to try to stay on top of as much of it as I can. I'm just glad we have a bye week to make some decisions and implement some changes. I'm sure there will be situation where we will see a 3-3-5 and some other variations.
When you look at Ruffin's defense at TT, it was once of the best they had in 20 years. He tends towards a one gap scheme that attacks and is very aggressive. Ruffin is very patient with his players, he teaches rather than screams and yet he holds them accountable and if they make a mistake, they come out of the game. That is great for the defense as they now know that they have to play and execute or be riding the pine. It also helps that most of the tension between players and players and players and "coaches" are now gone and everyone can focus on their game and getting better each week. There is also a lot of info leaking out about how much more intense and physical practices are this week. According to my sources, the morale is so greatly improved that it seems like a different team on defense. It will be interesting to see how much improvement we can make from a tackling, effort, scheme, physicality and getting in the right gap in two weeks. I also think it will be fascinating to see personnel grouping changes, and seeing guys put in a position to succeed rather than going up against someone who is clearly a much larger person. I'll also be interested to see how the DBs change the way they play, as we're certainly going to have to have improvement there or there are going to be at least three more shoot outs that will come down to who has the ball last.
I'm very tired and it's hard to keep my eyes open. I'm sure I've forgotten some things, and left a few things out. As always, I'll answer questions and if I don't know, I'll do my best to find out.