Friday, August 29, 2014

Coaching Points: Rutgers vs Washington St, 2014

LINK

Preface
I watched the first half of this game and highlights

Offense
Rutgers was mostly a single back, 11 personnel unit. Mixing in 12 personnel near the goal line. Run heavy for the most part, when they did throw, they typically threw deep and away from underneath coverage.

Defense
3-4 base, with a designated Rush end to make it behave a bit more like an Under front than a true 3-4. Lots of twists and slants to get the DL in one-gap situations. Mostly zone behind.




They've found themselves a RB
Washington St isn't a team that I'd call stout up front, so it's a bit difficult to say how the blocking will fare against stronger competition. But they did at least seem consistent getting into their blocks and Paul James showed very good vision while running for 170+ yards. People's is a nice change of pace guy, mostly as a scat type, that will eventually factor into the pass game more. The Nova INT could have possibly been mitigated if he turned faster, but that was an awful decision from Nova that should have never happened. You don't throw a dump off high when a LB is over the top with his eyes through his man to the QB. You turf that ball at his feet.

Nova
Outside of the really bad INT, Nova looked alright. He's never going to be a spectacular thrower, and he needs to clean up some of his decisions, but by simplifying some of the passing concepts and focusing mostly on him throwing to the intermediate outside, they can give him some fairly easy reads and keep the defense away from the box a bit. He continues to be strong in holding up with people at his feet, but he needs to continue to improve his pocket awareness, relying too much on bailing backwards and fading on throws and not maneuvering in the pocket well enough to give himself good throwing lanes or ability to step into throws. Not great accuracy underneath, but it was good enough in this game. I did think that his passing seemed improved (I didn't watch much of him last year), he threw with pretty good rotation and got the ball on receivers with pretty good pace. He won't be throwing lasers with great accuracy, but if he can have a good, consistent rotation on some of his deep and intermediate throws and give his receivers a chance on the short throws, it should at least make DBs respect the pass.

Tackling in Space
I was actually quite happy with how Rutgers tackled in space. They did a good job getting to the football when it was in front of them and bringing down ball carriers. They are still a bit undersized I think at spots, but they can run a bit and when they get in the area they can limit extra yardage. That's a good sign of desire and will to be a better defense.

Coverage
Unfortunately, passion doesn't make up for poor technique in coverage, which Rutgers still displayed. If anyone is going to take advantage of some lapses in technique it'll be Leach. In this case, Rutgers played some Cover 2, Cover 3, and I think sprinkled in some Cover 4 near the redzone. But, they struggled with eye discipline, they struggled with leverage, and they struggled with redirecting underneath. Particularly at the safety level, they seemed a step slow on making reads and got beat by having their eyes on the wrong keys several times (including a slip screen play). Whether Rutgers will continue to run multiple zone concepts and hope to scheme opponents or not is unknown, but if opponents can protect a bit to get into some 2x2 combination routes that attack intermediate and deep, then Rutgers may struggle to prevent offenses from moving. They were decent at times getting some pressure, but even that was inconsistent, but they really need to improve on the back end for the defense to take form.

Conclusions
I think a lot of B1G fans just went from penning in a win against the folks from New Jersey to rethinking it a bit. This was a solid first showing to many B1G fans. Of importance, many B1G fans won't be as good at attacking soft zones as WSU was, and Rutgers pension for flying forward on defense and tackling in space should see their defense perform better than it did on this day. Offense needs to improve, I think upfront they are solid but not spectacular, and bigger DLs won't allow quite as much from Rutgers in the run game. Nova can help out a little bit but is still somewhat limited in other areas. Either way though, this was a good first showing for a team that has some fight, and just gave the B1G a win over a major non-conference opponent, on the road nonetheless.


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