On Monday, Missouri Defensive Coordinator Dave Steckel talked about the three-man front that the Tigers showed in the second half at Indiana, and other aspects of Missouri’s early-season defense.
“It was all pre-meditated,” explained Coach Steckel, who prefers “Stec”, and who then quipped, “I think I just used an SAT word.”
“We have this one package,” began Stec, as he explained the genesis of the three-man front Missouri utilized in the second half at Indiana. “We practiced it in Spring Football, and we practiced it during summer camp. And then, we made a conscious decision when we do our summer studies to use this package against Indiana. Then to keep carrying it forward, we made the final decision Tuesday to save it until the second half. So, that’s how that transpired. It wasn’t like we invented it on Tuesday. So, we used it in the spring, we practiced it, we game-planned it in the summer-time, we worked it in summer ball, and we made the final decision to use it in the second half on Tuesday.”
To simplify, Coach Steckel explained that the Missouri defense was in their nickel package, but just substituted a linebacker for a defensive lineman.
“It was really our nickel package, but we just switched a D-lineman and a linebacker,” explained Stec.
As it turned out, the Tigers introduced the three-man front at the same time that starting MLB Andrew Wilson was able to take the field following his first-half suspension for targeting.
“What it does is it creates a different alignment for (their) O-line, for run-blocking schemes, and which way they’re going to use protection,” explained Stec. “So, it’s more what it does different for them than it does for us. To us, we think it’s really simple. Yet, it’s complex, hopefully, we think it’s complex for the O-line………………………………………… It was just premeditated to change things up.”
On four third-quarter possessions, Indiana managed just one first down. Early in the fourth quarter, Missouri extended their lead to 38-14 before Indiana hit a big play for a touchdown.
“I was very disappointed in the fourth quarter,” said Stec. “I was very disappointed in the big plays that we gave up. In our world, we (gave up) four (big plays). That’s disappointing! Any time you let that mental edge break down, that’s when something bad happens. I’m going to take responsibility for the one big play, because I let my mental edge down, and I got all mad. I ran a blitz when there was no need in the world I should have done that. So, I put the kids in a disadvantageous position. And that’s important, because you know, I yell at them all the time. So I’ve got to yell at me when I screw up.”
Coach Steckel explained that his normal method for making in game calls involves what he calls a “gut feeling”.
“To me it’s always a gut feeling,” said Stec. “It really is. I think there’s tendencies that we have on them. We say, “okay, in this situation, we want to be in this scenario”. And sometimes, it’s just, “Hey, now I feel good doing this”. We play it really big on tendencies. However, sometimes you’ve just got to go with what you’re going with, you know……………………………….. Here’s what gut feeling is. You start calling what you think is working. That’s when your gut changes things……………………………………….. That was working, so I kept going to it. Then, what happened was, I went to it once too often, and they hit us on a big play, which is my fault. ”
Through three games, the Missouri defense has come up with 9 interceptions. Coach Steckel talked about how much they work on getting turnovers.
“Last year, we didn’t get interceptions, but we got fumble recoveries,” said Stec, referring to the fact that Missouri has caused just 2 fumbles thus far in 2013, and doesn’t yet have a fumble recovery. “We preach the same things over and over. We do the same ball drills over and over. However this year, guys are guys are getting their hands on balls and they’re making those catches. It’s being in the right place at the right time…………………………………… It’s being in the right place at the right time. Being at the right spot you’re supposed to be in, which is playing the defense correctly.”