A View From Section 110

This is the first installment of a semi-regular blog based on conversations from the fans sitting at the top of section 110 many of whom have been attending Spartan Football for over 20 years. You may hear us from time to time start a dee-fense chant or in recent years one of our favorites has been "throw – down field".

Luckily, we may get to start to retire that chant based on the end of the Nevada game and the NMSU game.

I would first like to congratulate Coach Mac and his team on their first FBS (D1A) win and wish them well the rest of the season, they deserve it. This win after a number of close calls dating back to the end of last season may be just what the doctor ordered for this team going forward as they move through the rest of the 2011 schedule and beyond. We can all hope that this will be enough to build the team's confidence that they can win close, hard fought games and can come from behind to secure a win as well as "finish strong" holding off late rallies by their opponents.

Most weeks in the stands our conversations center on the offense or lack there of and when we are going to see the offense open it up. Well, we didn't have to wait long today. I know, Rutley's first run wasn't "opening it up" but the execution on that hand off was near perfect thanks in part to the offensive line getting some good push and sealing off the defensive tackle and linebacker. There was also the fact that the timing of the hand off was fast allowing Rutley to hit the hole at full speed rather then the slow developing hand offs we have gotten used to seeing here at Sparta.

That first score seemed to be the spark that the offense had been missing because during most of the rest of the game, the offensive coaching staff finally seemed to feel confident enough with the guys that they could start playing a more up tempo style of game. We saw many more passes over the middle, many more ten yard plus passes and a better mix of the two utilizing different formations. As we saw they didn't always work but it did make the defense think to adjust to those different formations allowing the run game to flourish with numbers not seen in a few years. Now that Coach Mac and his staff can see that that type of game plan can work, it is now time to work on executing that game plan flawlessly the rest of the season. There are still a few too many dropped balls and miss-reads on the QB or WR's part but those should continue to get better over the next several weeks. Otherwise, an outstanding offensive performance with no sacks or interceptions and few penalties on the offensive side of the ball this week. That is the recipe for success the rest of the season.

On defense, we were all perplexed at the plan coming out of the box playing a little soft. We had been waiting to see this defense play with a lead and with a chip on their shoulder but it really didn't materialize until the middle of the fourth quarter. The DB's still seemed to play way too far off the line and there is still too little of a pass rush. Combine the two and that allows for big gains and too many third and long conversions. The run defense, other then a few long gainers held their own even with Nigos going down on the first play. There were many more runs stopped for little or no gain as a percentage then we have seen in quite some time and that forced the Aggies into quite a few more third and long situations. The defense will need to tighten up quite a bit in the coming weeks if the team wants to sustain the winning ways.

This has grown a little longer then I had planned so a couple more quick observations or questions. Will the defense start to attack more down the stretch rather then the read and react style we have been seeing for the last few seasons? Will we start to get a little more creative on the pass rush and coverage packages? On the offensive side will the staff continue to add packages or are we seeing what we will see the rest of the season?

Us fans at the top of section 110 are starting to like what we see but also are hoping to see better execution of what they are doing now and continued addition of new wrinkles on both sides of the ball as well as on special teams. See you all at the games and Go Spartans.

Phil Paulsen is Contributing Editor for Inside Sparta and owner of Phil's Spartan Athletics Message Board.

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