Today's review of taped plays was very much like previous weeks, but more so. We started with special teams, then defense and finally offense. Today was even more of a clinic about the fundamentals of why things worked and why we did certain things. For a football wonk like me it was very enjoyable.
The coach talked about the philosophy of our special teams play and how the physical nature of our kickoff coverage is a signature for the whole program. It tells the opponents just what they are facing. Among those who don't usually get a lot of publicity, the tape showed special play by Ryan Ting and Oscar Lua on kick off coverage.
The defensive plays were numerous and brought several rounds of applause. In my opinion, Matt Grootegoed's performance was the most spectacular we saw today. He made several tackles behind the line of scrimmage on running plays and on screen passes. Matt also was successful on sacking the QB. On one play he and Darnell Bing had a coordinated blitz, which worked to perfection. Another standout was Lofa Tatupu who made several tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Mike Patterson did very well on penetration into the Arizona backfield - we are really going to miss him next year.
Dallas Sartz was very good on covering short routes and tipped the pass that Justin Wyatt intercepted. The second interception by Lawrence Jackson was a textbook example of coverage by a DL dropping back off the line. LoJack looked very athletic to me on his return. We looked at the play on which Manuel Wright was hurt and it was a cheap shot that should have been a penalty.
The offensive plays started with several passes to Dominique Byrd. Quick outs, delayed middle screens, and a bootleg by Matt Leinart hitting DB on a crossing route. There were several completions to Dwayne Jarrett shown. It looks to me like Dwayne is becoming more physical in his run-after-catch production. He is beginning to break tackles and that adds a lot to the offense. The Desmond Reed pass to DJ was a favorite and we looked at it several times from both angles. One of the big elements for success was how well Desmond sold the run and then how quickly he got rid of the ball catching the Arizona CB out of position.
Jason Mitchell had several catches including the long one from Matt Cassel to set up the Hershel Dennis TD. On the TD pass to David Kirtman, Matt Leinart waited long enough for David to cross the goal line and then pulled the trigger.
All of the TD's from LenDale White were analyzed over and over. The blocking was superb on all. Everyone on the line did very well with Byers getting the most attention. On the long run by LenDale, it was particularly interesting to note that the final two blocks were delivered by Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. A little behind LenDale, Lee Webb just crushed one defender.
In the Q & A, Pete was particularly entertaining with quick repartee. There were questions about fumbling and placekicking. Pete got around to giving the basic answers that you've read in the newspapers but let me just say that the coach is not happy with us losing the turnover margin for the first time this season. The coach was quite specific about the officiating on several plays including the recovered lateral that wasn't called. In case anyone still has doubts, the staff is taking ND very seriously, in fact Pete pointed out that a win against us would make their season. As usual there were several questions on recruiting to which Pete gave non-specific answers.
At the end, Pete gave a thorough explanation of his philosophy about team preparation. He believes that we should not give too much credit to or emphasis on the opponent each week. My understanding of his approach is that we practice against ourselves in order to improve every week regardless of who the opponent is. It is working so who's to quarrel but it certainly is different. Especially as we approach the ND and UCLA games.
The meeting was adjourned for two weeks. There will not be a MMQB next Monday after the bye.