Sunday, October 25, 2009

This is a process

So, our pass defense is bad. Like, really, really, really bad. Just awful.

But, even though they spent much of the day making the nation's 106th ranked pass offense look like the next coming of the Greatest Show on Turf, the pass defense did get some turnovers, and ultimately did enough to bail out our offense and get that ugly BC monkey off our back.

And while I was watching that game and pining for the return of Michael Floyd, I kept reminding myself that we are ALMOST there. We're clearly not ACTUALLY there, but we're getting close. I had to remind myself that this is a team that is still growing, and that once we get healthy, we should be a great team.

But after watching that game, the other thing I couldn't help thinking was that Corwin Brown is not a good coach. I like Corwin, and I've heard him speak a few times. He's a GREAT recruiter, and he can motivate as well as anyone I've ever seen. But, it just doesn't seem like he's doing a very good job of teaching these kids the fundamental skills necessary to defend against the pass.

Yes, it's hard to defend against the pass when we aren't getting any pressure on the quarterback. And for that reason, I'm done with this Jon Tenuta experiment as well. If this is what's going to happen when we blitz 80% of the time, I don't want it.

And what's really frustrating about this abysmal pass defense is that, on paper, the defensive secondary was supposed to be the strength of this defense.

Indeed, if this defense were well coached and playing up to the level of their talent, we would easily be undefeated and clearly in the middle of the National Championship conversation.

And we SHOULD be in the thick of the conversation next year - especially if Jimmy comes back.

So, I'm now advocating for a change. I don't want to get rid of Coach Weis - he has rebuilt the foundation of this football program, and his offense is clearly not the problem (although, I'm sick of settling for field goals). What I'm advocating for is a wholesale change on the defensive side of the ball.

Swarbrick should work with Coach Weis to identify the best defensive coordinator in the country, and do whatever it takes to lure them to South Bend. I would essentially make him a co-head coach, and let him handle the defense. Let Coach Weis handle the offense. And if we can teach the kids on this defense the fundamentals of defense, we can win a title.

We don't need any more players - the talent is there. It's not a talent issue. Indeed, I don't even think it's a scheme issue. I think this team is lacking in someone who is teaching the fundamentals of sound defensive football.

I watched the practice video from last week, and although it's just a snippet, I was frustrated by the lack of direction being given to the secondary in a tackling drill. They were basically being told to do "whatever it takes" to make the tackle. They weren't being corrected on form and technique.

Maybe that happens in some other drill, I don't know. But I do know that, as a long-time swim teacher, you need to take every opportunity that presents itself as a teaching moment to help correct mistakes and errors.

So, lets make a change. Get someone in here capable of developing the skill sets necessary to be successful.

Because from my seats, this is unacceptable.


Gilligan said...

I almost feel that if it isn't coaching then our seconday is really football stupid. when seem to be running cover 2 man and the problem arises when the corner thinks he has inside help the safety is helping outside and vice versa. If it is the players then it is a missing piece that needs to be adressed in recruiting. However it is nice to really have just 1 missing piece instead of multiple.

Ken said...

While I am no expert by any means, I will take the blame off of brown and put it more on tenuta. Last year Corwin was DC and calling, but now with Tenuta scheming and over blitzing it is leaving wide open spots all over the field.

I will agree that it is not the players, but I would like to see some better scheming in terms of the pass.

pablo said...

I respectfully disagree that fundamentals are the primary issue. Even if they were, that doesn't make Corwin a bad coach. The only reason why we think our secondary should be better on paper is because we have seen them play better over the last two years (with Corwin as their coach). If they have regressed in that aspect, then it's worth considering whether Corwin's new responsibilities as associate head coach are distracting him from watching tape of the secondary and figuring out how to correct mistakes. Additionally, I think a lot of this falls squarely on the players. Frankly, there have been a bunch of plays where the guy in coverage just looks like he's doggin' it. How this can happen with such a deep rotation is beyond me, but it's quite apparent at times and Sergio's post-game comments even admitted as much.

All of that aside, I'm fairly convinced that the dispositive issue is mental mistakes and blown assignments. Again, this is often plainly apparent (see Smith, Harrison. All f***ing season) and has been consistently noted in players' and coaches' comments. You don't get as wide open as opposing receivers have been because of bad fundamentals. We wanted to think that the Tenuta defensive transition was going to be seemless because he was there last year, but clearly that has not been the case.

Another defensive coaching turnover is ABSOLUTELY not the answer -- it's the problem. Tenuta needs to go back to the drawing board with Corwin and they need to figure out what these guys can handle mentally and stick with it ... and cut back on the excessive blitzing when it isn't working.

btw, for all the shit that's been said about Rick Minter, everyone seems to forget that our defense improved dramatically during his tenure as our D-coordinator and he did it with below-average talent and zero-depth all over the field. just thought that fact deserved some attention.

roland said...

Respectfully I disagree that Weis is not the problem. Currently on paper he is the worst coach in ND history. It has taken me a while to come to this, but despite all the talk of game preparation, schematic advantages, and offensive genius the team simply look poorly prepared and plays as such.

Anonymous said...

The players on the field should be held accountable for their poor play.

Ted said...

I agree that the program is almost there. Let's not, however, make the same mistake with Tenuta and Brown that some of the lesser informed people wanted to do with Weis (and still do).

I believe that the biggest problem is the youth of the front 7. Pass defense is so much better with strong pressure. We do not get pressure even with blitzing. The defensive front is, developmentally, where the offense was last year. The only returning starter from 2008 is Brian Smith. I guess you could argue that I. Williams was, but if you remember, he missed many games last year because it was felt he wa unsuited for some of the offenses we were facing. He was viewed as a run stuffer only. I just think some additional patience is needed here. Remember the complaining about Weis not being able to develop an offense (his expertise) last year?

Tenuta has not forgotten how to coach.

Anonymous said...

First, I believe the post on DLB is very good.

All of us can comment about what we believe is wrong, but I really wonder how many of us have the knowledge to identify the problems and what should be done about them. I don't.

Firing the HC, DC, or someone else may be part of the answer, but if we do that, we will see a number of very talented young men leaving Notre Dame or not coming to our university in the next recruiting class.

Some ND fans said that if we lost to USC, our next recruiting class would disappear. Well I be damned, it hasn't happened and in fact we are still very much in the hunt for many of the best recruits in the current class. Read the comments of the young men and their parents who were at Notre Dame that weekend. I often wonder if anyone ever really pays attention. In short, they think the world of Charlie Weis...are they telling something we just cannot absorb? Perhaps many fans are too stupid to figure it out.

I firmly believe that. To those who advocate firing so many members of the coaching staff you had better consider all of the likely consequences. I have yet to see a single advocate of firing suggest that in their diatribe.

I did like the idea in one of the comments that Charlie should sit down Jack Swarbrick and discuss what should be done to take us to the next level...excellence in all facets of the the game of football.

Clay said...

"I would essentially make him a co-head coach, and let him handle the defense. Let Coach Weis handle the offense." Sorry, but that is an AWFUL idea. A ship can only have one captain, and a George dividied against itself cannot stand. Obviously we have the talent--the secondary is full of 4 and 5 star guys. The only guy that wasn't very highly touted is, strangely enough, our best player--former 3 star recruit K-Mac.

I think it's mostly scheme. Our corner and safety blitzes get picked up EVERY time and lead to open receivers EVERY time. They are just awful. We do seem to have some success when we blitz the LB's. It's hard to say what the problem is. Maybe because our DL is so thin, we play our LB's and safetys close and our pass coverage suffers as a result. Maybe our corners are also overrated, but I don't think that's it. I think we're just asking our corners to do too much because we're selling out against the run and using LB's and safetys to blitz on passing downs. Who knows? Beat Washington State.


Clay said...

also, tednict is right. for all of our bluster and know-it-all-ism, few if any of us fans truly know enough about the situation to be able to say (a) what is wrong or (b) how to fix it. how can we say who screwed up on a play on D if we don'w know what coverage is called. if the free safety is supposed to blitz or play run support, you can't blame him for giving up a big pass play. everyone thought McCarthy blew the coverage late in the game against Purdue, but Weis pointed out that the RB out of the backfield wasn't K-Mac's assignment.

Pablo, I don't know where you get that our players are dogging it. this team has a tremendous amount of heart and i just don't see them dogging it. The fact remains that too often, opposing WR's are WIDE f-ing open. Our run D has really stiffened, though. Based on Weis' comments, our improved run D appears to have come at the expense of our pass D. Hopefully we'll see more balanced D as the season progresses. But I almost put my head through the wall (plater, not sheetrock) when BC converted that 4th and 17.

Hopp said...

I would just like to see the secondary learn how to catch the ball. I've seen way too many interceptions go right through the hands of our d-backs. Kyle's second interception should have been picked by McNeil. Earlier this year, Golden was getting criticized for dropping TD passes, but our secondary has dropped plenty of easy pick-six passes. That being said, still great to break the streak against another team and get a W.