Northwestern Spring Practice: Defense - Part II

After the final scrimmage, the NU Coaches always talk with the media about the Spring Practices, changes that were made, what the team accomplished and who stepped up.<br><br> Here's Part II: <b>Defense 2</b>

Last year Defensive Coordinator Greg Colby took a lot of heat on the Purple Reign message boards for some pretty shakey defensive play.
Forget that all 4 defensive coaches were new to their positions, and that one of the defenses' two Seniors was out for the season after 6 plays, or that NU was starting a whole bunch of Freshmen, Northwestern fans had become used to a defense that was usually able to keep the opponents' score below our own.

Having the Big 10's most prolific offense didn't hurt the defense either, but last year it seemed the wheels fell off and all the coaches could say was wait until next year when they get more experience.

Greg Colby is the man who is responsible for a more agressive style of play by the Wildcats this Spring:

NU showed a very different look, with 5 defensive backs, but really, you're playing a safety up with the linebackers?
Absolutely. Its good, it'll do it every time. It gives them a chance to wrestle players to the ground, a lot of pressure, that's what we're trying to get and we started out that way, kind of had a lull in the middle and came back the last week and did a pretty good job with that - what we're trying to do. The kids are getting a good feel for it.

They're doing a good job and running around and trying to make some things happen.

What about the young players, like Jeff Bakes?
We feel real good about Jeff in the secondary, as well as Louis Ayeni, I feel both of those guys are going to help us a lot. All those young guys, I think, came on just as we thought ... most of those guys will do well in the Fall. We've still got the first two weeks of contact but I think we're getting a good feel for where we're at, I think we've got a good group, I'm real pleased with them.
Any Surprises?
No, not really. I think we had a couple guys had a really good spring.

Barry Cofield [DE 6-5 275] had a great spring, came on really strong.

Tim McGarigle [LB 6-1 215] who we knew was going to be good has come on strong.

Hope I don't miss anybody. Secondary-wise, we thought Louis [Ayeni], and we thought Jeff [Backes] would really give us some speed and some agression, agressive play, and they have. So that was a pleasant surprise seeing that that really came true.

And you have 3 Linebackers [Pat Durr, Ryan Peterson, and Eric Vanderhorst] wearing jogging suits...are they ready to come to Kenosha?
That's the plan...Pat's coming along really well, we're just being careful with him. He should be back ready to go

Eric Vanderhorst and Ryan Peterson, we're not sure, they've got kind of lingering nagging type things we'll just have to see how they come along.

How do you move everyone around when those 3 come back?
We have a pretty good idea. We're going to put Pat in at the Mike backer in the 4-3 that's where he's been and in the 3-3 package he'll be one of the outside guys, probably, because Timmy [McGarigle] is real solid in that middle spot. Because the 3 backers are almost interchangeable, it would be hard to peg him in one of the  3.
So there we have it - the basic reading on the New NU Defense. Its still classified as a 4-3, but there's a 3-4 package and a 3-3 package and probably some other packages we haven't seen yet.

I do expect this one to be better at stopping the run, just because there are more players dedicated to stopping the run, and it appeared to me that the D linemen were better at shedding blocks and tieing up more than one Offensive linemen.

The big question still remains however:

Was the defense that good?
Or was the Offense that bad.

We'll know on August 30th.

Next up in the Offense...

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