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Grading The Defense - Coastal Carolina

We were all pleased with the results on Saturday I'm sure, but there were definitely some things to work on. Let's take a look at the defense and see how each unit did.

Defensive Line

You would be hard pressed to ask for a better game from the defensive line. The Chanticleers were held to just 52 yards on 32 attempts for a puny 1.6 yards per carry. The defensive tackles were stuffing the middle and the ends were getting good pressure off the edge. Aaron Maybin was a beast coming around the left tackle all day like the kid was standing in a foot of mud. He recorded 2 sacks and five tackles. Not bad for a guy that wasn't even listed on the depth chart earlier in the week. Jared Odrick was credited with a sack, though I could have sworn he had two by my count. Redshirt freshman Eric Latimore also got a sack on the day.

The only knock I have on them is they were a little too aggressive at times. The Chants were letting them go on the jailbreak screen and we were still falling for it late in the game. The quarterback sucked them in and dunked the ball over their heads for a 15 yard gain. They have to learn to read that and adjust. That guy in front of you isn't putting up a fight for a reason.

Final Grade: B+


I didn't come away from this game feeling any better about our linebacker situation. Coastal Carolina was killing us on screens and dump passes throughout the first half. But I don't blame the linebackers for this entirely. The coaches were calling a lot of blitzes early in the game and the Chanticleers were making us pay for it. That tells me we're not very good at disguising and timing our blitzes which is partly a coaching issue and partly a player ability issue.

Josh Hull looks like a serviceable run stopper, but he's not a blitzer. He was a step late in getting to the quarterback every time. Sales and Gbadyu have tons of athletic ability but don't seem to have the anticipation we're used to seeing in Sean Lee or Paul Posluszny, though Bani did snag the only interception on the day. The only linebacker that appeared to have any play making ability was Navarro Bowman. He was probably the most disruptive of the linebackers and was also a major factor on special teams when he wasn't trying to pick up fumbles instead of falling on them.

Final Grade: B-


Defensive Backs

I was really expecting a better showing from our secondary. We should never give up 198 yards passing against a team like Coastal Carolina. There were just too many blown coverages. Rubin and Scirrotto completely blew it on the touchdown pass. Looking at the tape it appeared the defense was in man-to-man and they both covered the same guy. Clearly one of them was wrong. Couple it with the fact Hull was blitzing on the play and you have a guy running down the field all by himself.

And all day long it just seemed like they weren't getting a good jump on the ball. Scirrotto had the best chance at an interception and he just plain dropped it. But in their defense the coaches were calling just two very basic coverages so as not to give too much away on film.

Final Grade: C


Defensive Coaching

Tough to say in a game like this. The coverages were very basic throughout the game. They were very aggressive early and Coastal Carolina made them pay. But after giving up long drives in the first half they adjusted and toned it down keeping the linebackers at home. From there the Chanticleers didn't do much. When the game was well in hand they did a good job of getting younger players in the game. Jack Crawford and Mike Mauti both played meaning they will not be redshirted this year.

The Chants ran a lot of no huddle and the players didn't look like they were ready for it.  We get a few teams in the coming weeks like Oregon State, Illinois, and Indiana who like to go no huddle so we'll have to tighten that up.

Final Grade: B


Special Teams

I can't say I have any complaints here. Boone only had one punt but he boomed it 46 yards witha one yard return. Kelly only had one chip shot field goal attempt from 21 yards. I would have liked to see him get a no pressure attempt from 45 or 50 yards to build some confidence but it didn't work out that way.

The kick return game was outstanding with Wallace getting a 35 yard return and of course Williams taking one the distance. Several people commented in the open thread that Williams looks a step faster this year and I have to agree. Last year he would catch a ball and studder step his way to a 15 yard return. This year he appears to make an effort to just get up field first and then find a hole to shoot through. If he can keep doing this he could have a big year. He also had a nice 14-yard punt return he almost broke open.

The kickoff coverage team looked much improved, but I'm not getting too excited. It's just Coastal Carolina. But I feel better seeing players out there like Bowman, Timmons, Stupar, and Mauti. We're putting some good athletes out there unlike last year so I'm confident we'll be alright.

Final Grade: A