Random Thoughts: Risks & Responsibility

daCoach got another week to prepare for his team's opener. It gave him time to think about getting his defensive team going, and maybe think about what's missing on the Northwestern Wildcats' defense too...

All that rain on the East Coast gave me another week to prepare a game play...
You see, I'm in the same position as Greg Colby with our youth football team, the Cardinals.

Yes, I do get dressed up in Red on Saturdays, and stand on the sidelines calling defensive signals, without the benefit of being upstairs above the action. I'm kinda like a hybrid Colby-Fitz, yelling colors from the sidelines and trying to get 12 year old linebackers and DEs to play their positions and tackle.
No, it ain't easy, but how does this all fit into NU's defensive woes...
During the NIU game, I got a call from our family's football coaching guru, David, who said that the Cats on the field were over pursuing, they often ran right past the play. I'm sure the coaches pointed that out during the film sessions the next Sunday.

Since that game, NU shuffled the defensive line a couple of times, and changed several defensive back positions. Nothing seems to have been fixed, or has it?

Coach Walker says he likes the play of the present defense backfield and its very hard to analyze defensive back play from the TV - they only show you the D-backs when they either make a great play or miss a coverage. Lately all you see from NU are blown coverages leading to some pretty tough comments from fans.
Several of the defensive "mistakes" we had last Saturday were screen passes, caused by the schemes we were playing to stop Calhoun.
The guys up front were in a contain mode trying to shut down both Scotto's happy feet, and Calhoun's ability to run the ball off plays where he bounces outside. The Cats' defense really did take that running game away, but when they did, they opened up a seam for a short screen pass play either outside or over the middle. Those screens get an offensive tackle or guard in front of the receiver, with only a defensive back left on the coverage.

That D-back has to somehow get in behind the 300 lbs tackle and get to the back after breaking off coverage of a wide receiver. He's also supposed to have help, either from a linebacker or the other safety, but sometimes they're isolated on both the lineman and running back. Its like a pick in basketball and sometimes you can't win against an experienced QB.
OK, so here goes - coach Walker is right, we do need to start taking risks,
But we also need to take those risks with some intelligence.

When I've been able to see the entire field on TV during a pass play, it appeared that our guys were still thinking out what coverage we were supposed to be in, coverages where the missing senior leadership, Jeff Backes and Bryan Hienz, would have recognized the offensive set and made sure that the other guys in the backfield, Cole, Battle, McPherson or Smith, would have been in the right position or at least close to the right position to better defend the play.

In other words, we're trying to use our speed to break up the plays, trying to recover from missing the coverage due to inexperience. We should be one week better, instead we seem to be stagnating.

Both McPherson and Smith took risks Saturday against a pretty experienced Wisconsin Quarterback and came away with the ball. This week, the opportunity for risk will again be there. Our D-Backs just need to step up, make the reads, cover and take a chance at making the play.

And as San Diego Coach Marty Shottenheimer told his media folks after their loss Monday,
"You have to play with passion and emotion, but you can't play out of control," Schottenheimer said. "You have to have a presence about you.
One of "Coach Roy's Rules" comes from an old sales training class, "If it is to be, it is up to me."

I pound it into the heads of my O-Linemen, anyone with a blocking assignment on offense, and all of my defensive players.

It the rule means that when the ball is in motion, every player has to step up and make it happen, because it is up to me the player.

Its something that I think Coach Waker is saying to the Northwestern Defense...

"If it is to be, it is up to me."

-- da Coach

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