Posted: 12:52 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013
First off, allow me to apologize to you, the reader, for not having any post-game analysis of the past two games. A family matter made me unable to watch the games live, and a terrible football team made me unwilling to watch the games on Tivo.
This week, I was back at Scott Stadium, cheering on my Hoos. And oh, how sweet it was early on. The Hoos opening drive was a thing of beauty. That was easily the Hoos best drive of the season (that is not saying much). Four runs and six passes is a good ratio, especially against a team that is expecting runs. Sure, the drive required a 4th down conversion on a fake punt. But what a fake it was! And the fake punt wouldn't have been necessary if Darius Jennings hadn't dropped the 3rd down pass. Granted, the pass was high and a bit behind him. But he has to catch that.
The OL was blocking well, Watford was make good decisions, Kevin Parks was running hard. The Hoos 2nd touchdown "drive" was really the result of a wonderful play by Tim Smith on an underthrown deep ball by Watford. Watford threw it into double coverage, across his body, off his back foot. And he threw it 50 yards in the air. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind him throwing this pass. But Tim Smith made the play.
The Hoos 3rd scoring drive was largely the result of the first big play of Smoke's career. He took a pitch to the right and ran 36 yards down the sideline. A couple of David Watford runs led to a Kevin Parks flip into the endzone, over 3 Duke defenders.
That was it. The Hoos offense didn't do anything else for the entire rest of the game. Following that drive, the Hoos next 4 drives each began with either an incomplete pass or a run up the middle. What happened to the toss sweeps that had been successful earlier in the game? Where was the QB draw that Watford had picked up 8 yards on earlier?
Duke started sending rushers up the middle on nearly every play, and the Hoos did not adjust. Watford showed how quickly he can get flustered by pass rushers in his face. Did the Hoos counter by putting an extra blocker in? Perhaps an H-back or FB for blitz pickup? Nope. No adjustments.
The Hoos stopped Duke on their first 6 drives of the game. Duke's first score was largely the result of a big play made off a scramble by Anthony Boone. Nothing the Hoos could really do about that, it was a great play by a very good QB. The Hoos had defended the play well. Boone took off, and just before crossing the line of scrimmage flipped the ball outside to Braxton Deaver for a big gain.Even the touchdown was defended. Again, Boone got out of the pocket and bought time for his man to get open. Once again, credit where credit is due. A good play by a good QB.
From that point on, the Blue Devils basically gashed the Hoos on the ground. Successful runs, supplemented by some play action passes and a few deep shots make for a very good offense. The Hoos, once again, did not adjust their defense to help stop the run. Surely the loss of Brent Urban on the inside of the DL was a factor. The Hoos simply were unable to stop the Blue Devils on the ground in the second half.
I'm honestly not sure which was worse; the lack of adjustments on offense or the lack of adjustments on defense. On offense, the Hoos really had one great drive. The other two scores were largely the result of on big play followed by individual effort by Kevin Parks. The rest of the Hoos drives were foiled by the usual suspects of dropped passes, poor run blocking and David Watford mistakes. The fact that he didn't turn it over was really only some good fortune.
Defensively, the Blue Devils adjusted by running the ball more, and by throwing more quick passes. The Hoos didn't adjust. All too often, Duke WRs were given 10 yard cushions on the line of scrimmage. Those cushions made it too easy for Duke to complete short passes for 6-8 yards a pop. Early in the game, Anthony Boone was struggling with his accuracy, so the large cushions weren't burning the Hoos. Why would the Hoos not change up coverages once Duke adjusted?
Coach Tenuta is known for blitzing. Even without some of his top defensive talent, Tenuta is going to bring pressure. Bringing pressure makes it all the more likely that teams are going to get rid of the ball quickly. This makes press coverage even more important. And yet the Hoos were content to give up the 5 yard pass on almost every down.
I could probably go on, but I simply don't want to. As always, here are some notes: