Coaching Points: Wisconsin vs Alabama, 2015
Defense: One-gap 3-4, mostly Cover 1
- Offense sections are short; WR separation a huge issue that snowballed on the offense and you can't pass much more judgement than that.
- Did like what I saw out of the TE unit.
- DL had an awful game overall. Didn't maintain gaps, weren't very disruptive, and didn't maintain hardly a single double team.
- Still like the OLBs, they held the edge well for the most part and applied some strong pressure. Still some concerns in space.
- ILBs had hard task due to DL play; but didn't do enough when blitzing and caught too many blocks when trying to read the play.
- CBs were better in man but zone coverage still an issue.
I actually thought Stave looked pretty good. He was making some very difficult throws into tight windows that had nice tight spirals and were getting into pin-point locations they needed to be. A few times I thought he may have held onto the ball a bit long, but again, there was really tight coverage behind the play. I really think the problems stem from elsewhere.
What impressed me most was his ability to adjust his trajectory and pace on some longer throws. The first down throw to Erickson was a beautiful example, where he put the ball over the 2nd level and underneath the 3rd level. He also threw some bullets into tightly covered underneath players that were great throws. The issues for Wisconsin are elsewhere.
I can't pass judgement on the RBs from this game. The holes weren't open up front and there just isn't much more you can say. I'm still a believer in Clement.
I will add that I was very impressed with Ogunbowale as a receiver. Stave threw him the ball quite a bit, but didn't always make it easy on him (sometimes throwing behind him or with an odd pace for how close he was) and Ogunbowale was very smooth with his hands and then trying to make something happen.
FBs need to improve as blockers, they got beat up quite a bit.
Where does this team get separation? I really like Erickson against soft zone coverage, he knows how to work into space and he has really good hands, runs good routes, and all that. But no one was able to pull away from Alabama defenders. What that means is that Bama was able to play either man coverage or match up coverage and focus on stopping the run. No one could get open downfield, thus forcing Stave to hold onto the ball and then try to find someone underneath.
I do think Wisconsin is good enough on offense to be good this season, including at WR. Not many teams can do what the Tide did in this game. But this was not a recipe for success.
I thought Tight End was actually a bright spot on offense in this game. Yes, the gameplan required them to get a lot of underneath catches, but they made the most of it and it wasn't all easy.
TBD - Bama has one of the best front 7s in football, and were allowed to bring an 8th in the box besides. I'm going to wait to even talk about how they'll perform this year.
Anyone want to show up? Goldberg handled his blocks, he was strong at the point of attack, and made some plays because of it. He was also primarily responsible for the 2nd Henry TD run when he got blasted out of his gap by about 3 yards. A few of the DEs did a thing or two sporadically. But for the most part, this was a reversion to last year for the DL, which is not a good thing. Sheehy I don't think maintained a double team all night, as Alabama's already great OL was able to combo the NT straight to the ILBs on nearly every play. Sheehy had an awful game and was primarily responsible for Henry's first TD run, missing an arm tackle in his gap because he didn't get off a block well enough. Obasih is athletic but has the same issues as he's always had, getting washed out at times, standing up, and not consistently using his hands. Alec James flashed a play or two, but otherwise was very meh.
Worse yet, not only were they not holding up to doubles, but they weren't getting off blocks. These guys stayed glued to blocks outside of Goldberg. If you aren't going to keep your LBs clean, at least make some plays yourself, but if you do neither, you're going to have a bad night on defense.
It's unlikely Wisconsin will have to face a better OL this year, but this is a primary reason that got toasted by OSU last season as well. The DL play needs to improve, and I thought it looked improved in Spring, but looked a huge step down in this one.
Schobert had a mostly good game. He showed off a great combination of speed and size on a couple pass rushes and was mostly solid in the run game. You'll note (just like last year against OSU) that almost the entire run success was between the tackles. Maybe they could have squeezed down on a few gaps here or there, but that's asking a lot, as I think there was also a play where Schobert did squeeze down too far and though his outside arm was free, he wasn't able to make the tackle on the bounce. It really starts on the interior of the DL. I still think Wisconsin has a great set of OLBs.
I will say that they can still be attacked when forced to play in space a bit. There were several times when the dropping OLB looked uncomfortable.
Not the best night for a unit that I thought was going to be solid coming into the season. A lot of the issues stem from the issues up front, but the ILBs aren't without fault.
First, I'll say that Aranda was forced to blitz the ILBs (particularly Edwards) a lot to try to make up for the poor play at the NT position. He was trying to slice through the OL on the inside gaps to cause some havoc, and it simply didn't work. Often times, this took Edwards out of position a bit, but he also didn't consistently make the most out of these blitzes. You'd like to see him get lower, time his blitzes better, and really give a good pop on the OL to prevent them from getting push. Form a wall at the LOS by stopping their momentum. I think they'll be able to do that against some lesser teams, but not Alabama.
Bama's focus seemed to be to get a double out onto Jacobs, which isn't Jacob's strength. Jacob's looked great taking on blocks in the Spring, but that was against a questionable offensive line that was rotating guys and against an offense he was comfortable with. Here, he didn't do as well. He was hesitant a bit with his reads, and he's a bit undersized to boot. Combine that with the fact that Bama's OL was getting out to him almost immediately, it means he had no momentum or strength to counter Alabama's blocks. This means he was catching blocks. Undersized guys catching blocks get put on skates, and they have trouble getting off of said blocks because they don't have the length to get inside the blocker and shed. Jacobs needs to be an attacking player because that's his only way to get inside blockers and pop them with his shoulder pads and then make plays. He needs to do a bit better himself, but the DL needs to do a lot better to help him. He'll look better in future games though, trust me, the Bama OL doesn't roll through every game.
I thought Shelton looked much better in man coverage, making a couple really nice plays and flashing some recovery ability when he was beat. I really liked how he played for the most part in man coverage. Hillary didn't have his best game however. And this is still a team that struggles a bit in zone, they are too soft back there, too often covering space rather than a man in a zone. With the issues up front, it limited what they were able to do on the backend (and they were forced to commit more guys forward, one of whom wasn't Caputo due to injury), and that really hurt them.