Don’t get me wrong: we are called Sack Ave, but we pride ourselves on stopping the run first here. That’s why we have the name Sack Ave – we shut down the run, and then we go get the quarterback.
Going into Kansas week, we’d played against dual-threat quarterbacks the last couple of weeks. From our coach Brian Early and defensive coordinator Doug Belk, we realized Jalon Daniels was going to be the most dynamic, the most dangerous quarterback we had played. That’s the problem we’ve been having lately; it’s not the run game from the running backs that’s been killing us. It’s been the run game from the quarterbacks.
Our job as a d-line was to keep him contained in the pocket, and we did that most of the time. He would slip out through some of the B gaps, but that’s something we can fix on our part. Where he really hurt us was in the run-pass option game. It’s a collective thing with the defense, and there’s no one unit to blame. The d-line bottled up the dive, but in a sense, those plays are read-option. There’s a nuance to the run-pass option. That’s where the dynamic part came in, he would keep the ball, and we overpursued. It was one big play after another.
Certain people were out of gaps, even I did it myself, and Coach Early wasn’t happy. He sets a standard that he doesn’t like to get the ball run on us. From running backs to quarterbacks, it doesn’t matter; we need to shut it down. As the game went on, we kept trying to fix it, and it didn’t work, so we’re gonna be extra prepared this week for it.
It’s little stuff that started in practice, some guys messing up (including myself). Things I need to communicate more with the d-line and talk to the linebackers so we can be on the same page for the next game. It’s just miscommunications on where to be and who needs to be where when he keeps the read.
Coming into the week, we had a read on where the flow of their line was going. It was probably 7 or 8 times out of ten it would tell us where the flow of the ball was going and the play was going. I was supposed to communicate that to our defensive line. If the coaches yelled out deep right, the flow was going to the right. So it was just a Roger/Louie call.
After the game, the d-linemen talked about our alignment and assignment and what we could have done better. Obviously, a lot of us are furious about it. We let down the fans, our teammates, and our coaches.
We have to be better and just realize how it started in the week before we got to the game. It’s just little things that fans won’t notice. It’s not really us practicing bad it’s just running off the field, repeating the calls, repeating the hand signals coming on the field, lineman assignments, just being locked in, even on a walk-through day.
We’re really mad about it, and spirits were lowkey down. The next day, we went over the film and realized why things happened the way they did. Now we just have to get back on the drawing board.
Most of it is easily fixable, just something we have to go practice every day. There’s obviously a reason why they got so many rushing yards from the QB, and it’s been happening a lot. It’s a collective group problem. I’m not going to blame coaches; we’re the people out on the field. So it is really our fault if anybodys. We have to take that initiative to get better and see how to stop it.
I made mistakes like everyone. I had a lack of discipline with my eye control. I’m looking all in the backfield, looking at everything instead of looking at my assignment. My assignment is the dive, and I have to keep my eyes out of the backfield. On one play, the QB ran a boot, but I got stuck and jumped on the running back, and the QB took it out. I think it was tackled for like four yards, but four yards hurts us. I should have been reading that more, not having my eyes everywhere.
We can’t dwell on that. We did what we did, but Kansas is dead and gone. The week starts again, and it’s time to wipe the board clean and focus on Rice.
Rice has more explosive athletes than last year, and they have little nuances in their game that will mess with us, too. But I think if we shut down that running back and keep that quarterback contained, we’ll come out with a W.
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