Tag Archives: defense

Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Wait for the Return of SEC Football

It has come: the time of the year when the football world starts to get boring. The college football season is over. The bowl season is over. The NFL season is over. The Super Bowl has been won. The high school recruits have made their decisions. The NFL combine has showcased our athletes. In the football world, this is the time of the year when we do a lot of waiting. And the more I think about it, the harder it gets for me to patiently await the start of the 2016 season for SEC football teams. I can think of countless reasons I am anxiously awaiting SEC football returning to my screen and to my college town, but I have decided to only subject you to ten of those reasons.

  1. The tailgating: I know, tailgating is a common practice for football fans everywhere. But a tailgate in SEC country is something that is often imitated but never duplicated. If you have ever lived in an SEC college town, then you know this. Sure, our teams are better so we don’t need to be as drunk to tolerate however they play that weekend, but we all know football and beer go hand-in-hand anyways. Or football and bourbon…that, too.
  2. The match-ups: We also all know by now that there are some obvious perennial powerhouse teams in the SEC (I’m looking at you, Bama). But that fact does not prevent us from watching interesting matchups every single week, especially those deep-seeded rivalries in our conference like the Iron Bowl. Even in a down year, either team can win one of those rivalry games. And that unpredictability is just plain awesome.
  3. The defense: There are rules by now that take out a little bit of the excitement that has come along with defensive hits in college football. But even though they have softened the game up, we still get to witness some pretty amazing defensive plays down here. The defensive talent on SEC football teams is unparalleled. And everybody knows the key to winning, especially in the SEC, is defense.
  4. The anticipation: This one is pretty self-explanatory. We wait all off-season until our team gets to kick off their season. We wake up too early that day and wait until our game starts. Then, before we know it, the game is over. So almost every week, we get an entire week of down time. During that down time we can scout the opponents and our anticipation for the next game grows. And with the teams we play throughout the season down here, that anticipation almost never fades.
  5. The playoffs: The BCS was a flawed system. The playoffs are a flawed system as well. But at least they are a bit less flawed. There are always going to be a number of biased voters involved in choosing the “best” teams. So having the teams that were deemed part of the top four face off at the end of the year is much better than just giving that chance to the supposed top two. Not that it was a problem for SEC football before, but we almost definitely will be represented on a yearly basis now.
  6. The coaches: College football coaches are a special breed. The coaches in the SEC are even more special. Just last week, a couple of the SEC coaches and a couple Big Ten coaches had a little fun on Twitter. But how can we forget Nick Saban’s extremely embarrassing dance moves, Les Miles and his affinity for grass, or Will Muschamp’s very colorful language? Week in and week out in either half of the conference, you are sure to be entertained by the whole cast of coaches.
  7. The Saturdays: To be completely honest, I am not really sure what to do with myself on most Saturdays. But once the football season starts, I know what I will be doing for hours on end every single Saturday. Even on my team’s bye weekends I know I will be able to find another good conference game to watch. Ahh, the joys of the SEC!
  8. The tradition: If you have ever been to an SEC football game, then you will understand how incredible the tradition is. Tennessee fans will be drunkenly singing Rocky Top, Bama fans obnoxiously yelling “Roll Tide,” Auburn fans constantly saying “War Eagle,” and Ole Miss fans adding their “Hotty Toddy” (whatever that means) to the mix. Any true SEC fan can agree that being a part of their team’s tradition is an experience like no other. That tradition forms an immediate bond between every single fan in the stadium and even fans across the country.
  9. The emotions: An SEC fan can experience the full range of emotions in just a matter of minutes. The perfect example: last year, Tennessee visited Florida. The Vols took a convincing lead over the Gators. My dad was a little smug and definitely very happy. Meanwhile I was visibly upset. Then Florida mounted a crazy comeback and won the game. I was in a state of disbelief; I could barely even form a sentence. Meanwhile my dad could barely stomach a single bite of food. That game caused both my dad and me to experience more emotion than we would have watching an Oscar-nominated drama. And SEC football does that for the rest of the fans on a regular basis too.
  10. The pride: Last but not least, here in SEC Country there are two kinds of pride that many of us can understand. There is the obvious pride that goes along with your favorite team winning a game or having a good season. Then there is the SEC pride that comes from the realization that your team is a part of the best conference in college football. I prefer Gator pride any day, but my SEC pride will do when my Gators are not able to deliver.

I am a woman of my word. I said that I would only subject you to ten of my reasons, and that is what I did. But if you want some more SEC love you can interact with me on Twitter, @OGKristenB! Or even if you are just as bored as I am waiting for football to come back into your life then you can find me on Twitter to empathize. After all, misery loves company.

Tribe Time Now Weekend Update Ep. 6: Winning Out the Season

In this week’s episode of Tribe Time Now: Weekend Update…

Host Joe Coblitz (@BRBBlog) of Burning River Baseball welcomes in Jim Berdysz (@JBirdman27) of Indians Baseball Insider discuss the most recent week in Indians baseball focusing on the Rangers series and the increased offense. In addition, they make a plea to stop being so mean to Lonnie Chisenhall, Jose Ramirez and David Murphy. After the past comes the future and it looks to be a good one with Yan Gomes, Mike Aviles and Shaun Marcum all scheduled to come back this week. They discuss the ramifications of that as well in addition to who is the most likely to be cut.

 

Topics:

  • Recap & Winning Every Game for the Rest of the year
  • Zach Walters’ woes & the Return of Mike Aviles & Yan Gomes
  • Stop Being mean to Lonnie Chisenhall
  • Stop Being Mean to Jose Ramirez & Why Lindor Should be Up Now
  • Who To Cut & Why David Murphy Isn’t A Good Option
  • The Return of Shaun Marcum & What to Expect

 

Links

 

Tribe Time Now online, all the time:

Multidimensional Athleticism

Dimension can be defined as the length, width, height, or depth, of something. Or it can simply mean a part of something. It is safe to say there are different interpretations of the word, dimension, which can be applied to a lot of different things. It can be applied to our multi-dimensional universe and the hidden matter surrounding us or a big-budget animated movie made for a different viewing pleasure. In today’s NHL, players must be able to compete at high levels on a multi-dimensional platform. Offense, defense, and character are all attributes required to compete in the NHL reflecting different dimensions a player can have.

Offensive and defensive skills are self-explanatory and every player needs this skill set. Some defensemen may not be required to produce offensively, but they must be able to read offensive plays during the game and should be able to complete a crisp break out pass to relieve the opponent’s offensive pressure. Offensemen are required to play defense as well. Some are better than others, but as soon as the puck leaves an offenseman’s stick, that player is on the defensive side of the puck. Even goalies should have an offensive awareness. Ever since Jacques Plante, there has been an evolution in how goalies handle the puck and can dictate plays above the goal line and below the goal line in the designated trapezoid. Goaltenders are capable of and have scored points before.

The third dimension is character. Now, character is something that is often discussed as a measuring tool, however, character is not something that can be measured. Character is an intangible that can define a player from a fourth-line enforce to a third-line checking forward. Character can be measured as to how a player maximizes his or her skill set. Or maybe it can be measured by a player’s pedigree and how many trophies he or she has on the mantle. Then there are other things to consider like commitment to professionalism to the job of being a professional athlete and/or the attitude a player projects in the locker room. Should a player’s character reflect in figures given with contracts? Does character equate to or does it matter as much as skill?

For example, Mike Richards. Mike Richards has had an up-and-down year, figuratively and literally. His offensive numbers were okay with five goals and ten assists, but General Manager, Dean Lombardi did not think it was enough and waived him. Richards cleared waivers (meaning teams decided to not claim the two time Stanley-Cup Champion) and now he and his big contract are playing for the Manchester Monarchs (soon to be Ontario Reign).

During his time in Philidelphia, a young Richards was known as a young, two-way superstar. Captaining a Philidelphia Flyers team to a Stanley Cup Final after coming back from a zero-three series deficit against a strong Boston Bruins team. His trade to Los Angeles was a blockbuster. The Kings felt they were lacking the depth at center and leadership to be a contender and that trade, along with Jeff Carter that year at the deadline, took the Kings to that elite level. Richards has won at every level he has played at, but his character was always rumored. Dry Island and explicit photos have driven people to the idea that he had a bad attitude and partied too much.

As an older player with a history of concussions and a contract only as bad as David Clarkson’s and Dave Bolland’s, Richards seemed to not only have the same drive, but not the same offensive and defensive skills either. While his offensive numbers had been slipping, he was still good defensively, and one would think the character is still there as he has his name engraved on the cup twice in the last two years, but he was waived. Does not have a roster spot on an NHL team. Begging the question, does character hold as much value as cheap, young talent that is willing to work harder for that player’s position?

While the Richards situation is an example of a player’s multi-dimensional skill set being tested. Reports illustrate Richards not being upset and in good spirits when showing up to his new locker room. He reported to Manchester and is playing for the team. It seems like that takes some kind of character. On a side note, I do not think fans have seen the last of Mike Richards in a hockey uniform. I see him playing in the NHL again. A big reason as to why Richard’s skill set and character could not be traded and was waived is his contract. Unfortunately, a players contract serves as the ultimate dimension because money is the only resource needed to keep a career or organization afloat.

Browns Overcome Injuries – Embarrass Steelers

Validation. The rematch between Pittsburgh and Cleveland did not disappoint Browns fans as the good guys win 31-10, proving to all critics that Cleveland is here and the league should take notice.

The game on Sunday was the first time this season we have seen both the offense and defense play a full four quarters. While there were a few hiccups the first couple of drives for Brian Hoyer and the offense, a deep play action pass to Jordan Cameron that went for 42 yards seemed to open up the floodgates.

Once again, the offensive play calling was dominated by the running backs, with Ben Tate rushing 25 times for 78 yards and two scores and Isaiah Crowell running for 77 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Terrance West was a surprise healthy scratch for the game.

-5344ab007f5c3d23With the Browns finding so much success with the run, that left Hoyer with only 17 passing attempts—completing a meager 8 of them. While a 47% completion percentage leaves much to be desired, Brian Hoyer’s shortest completion of the day was to Jordan Cameron for 9 yards towards the end of the third quarter. Hoyer’s longest pass also went Cameron’s way on a perfectly thrown 51 yard bomb for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter.

Something we aren’t used to this year is the team holding a convincing lead. The Browns defense came through in a big way, holding the Roethlisberger and the Steelers to a field goal until a garbage time touchdown to Lance Moore with about 2:45 left in the game. The Browns held the Steelers to 10 points while forcing five QB hits and two sacks. Buster Skrine also collected an interception after a John Hughes pass deflection.

What is most impressive about the success of the defense is they were without three key defensive linemen in Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn. Not only that, but Armonty Bryant went down in the second quarter with a knee injury—what we now know is a torn right ACL which will unfortunately end his season. The importance of the depth of the defensive line cannot be overstated. With Bryant’s promising season being cut short, its next man up once again.

The offense was not spared from the injury bug, as Alex Mack suffered a fractured fibula and could also be done for the season (undetermined at time of writing this article). Joe Thomas admitted he became emotional after the injury to his fellow Pro Bowl teammate. One positive that came from this injury is the offense was not stunted because of Mack’s departure. John Greco moved over to center and Paul McQuistan came off the bench to replace Greco at right guard. The loss of Mack is a huge concern going forward, as the Browns have relied on the success of the running game this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns

The camaraderie shown by the entire Browns team to Alex Mack shows why they have found success this year compared to others. Despite not having a quote “superstar” on the field this year, they have come together and have played as a team. The heart is there. While they haven’t played perfect football, they pick each other up and fight for each other. Joe Haden and Paul Kruger, who both were very questionable to play, suited up to take on the division rival. Haden ended up making a highlight pass defense on Antonio Brown, soaring over Brown in the end zone, knocking the ball away.

It is fantastic to have won against the Steelers, but it is time to look forward. In the next three weeks, the Browns will be traveling to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars, then it is home against the Raiders and Buccaneers—a combined record of 1-16 between the three teams. The only win from these teams is when Tampa Bay traveled to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers 27-24 in week four. The Jaguars nearly won week five as well as this past week. The opponents? Pittsburgh and Tennessee, the Browns’ last two games that vaulted them from a 1-2 record to 3-2.

While it is fun to look ahead to the next three opponents, dreaming of a 6-2 record, the Browns need to focus on this week against the Jaguars. Playoff teams beat teams they are supposed to beat. By all accounts, the Browns are supposed to beat Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay. Cleveland can’t play down to their opponent. They’ll need to build off their momentum heading into Cincinnati for the week 10 Thursday night game.

But to get to 6-2, you must first attain 4-2.

Go Browns.

Buckeyes' Pounding of Terps Easy as ABC

Maryland was coming off two impressive road wins in which they outscored their opponents by a combined score of 71-35. The Terps were back home and the hype surrounding a matchup with 20th-ranked Ohio State was enhanced by the mid-week news of Byrd Stadium selling out for the first time since 2008. ESPN’s well-known college football analyst Todd McShay paced the sidelines with a microphone. ABC’s Skycam hovered above the field as the game would be nationally broadcast across the country on the network. The stage was set for the Terps to prove to the country that they could hang with the “big boys” of the Big Ten.
What followed was one of the most disheartening, lop-sided losses in recent memory.
On Ohio State’s very first possession the Buckeyes marched downfield with ease. Several running plays and three minutes later Ohio State capped off their opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. It was about to be a very, very long day for Maryland.

Ohio State ran around, through, and even over the Maryland defense on Saturday. Photo courtesy thelantern.com
Ohio State ran around, through, and even over the Maryland defense on Saturday. Photo courtesy thelantern.com

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett finished the day with four touchdowns through the air and another on the ground. He found open receivers with ease and the Maryland defense seemed to miss more tackles than they made. By comparison, Maryland’s C.J. Brown was unproductive to say the least, throwing for just 71 yards and an interception before getting pulled in favor of Caleb Rowe after the first half. Rowe didn’t fare much better, as the backup quarterback threw three interceptions before the final whistle.
It is easy to place the blame on starting quarterback C.J. Brown for his inefficiency and poor decision making. His interception late in the first half set up a 1-yard TD pass from Barrett to put the Buckeyes up 31-10 at the half. It is easy to blame the defense for allowing Ohio State to play the role of varsity in a varsity/JV matchup. There was more than enough blame to go around, but it begins and ends with the Maryland coaching staff. Maryland was overmatched both offensively and defensively but the game plan on both sides of the ball was more than questionable.
The Terps failed to find any success against a vulnerable Ohio State defense that is susceptible to giving up big plays. The Buckeyes allowed three touchdowns the week before on plays of 60, 83, and 78 yards. Maryland was not able to take advantage of the Buckeyes’ secondary simply because they never attempted to. An essential reason the Terps defeated both Syracuse and Indiana was that the offense wasn’t afraid to stretch the opposing defense by taking shots downfield. Against Syracuse, C.J. Brown finished a yard shy of his career high in passing yards with 280, and both Brown and Caleb Rowe found great success through the air against Indiana. The game plan in these games included allowing the quarterback to throw over the middle and to stretch the defense with deep passes, whether they were completed or not. Against Ohio State, inexplicably, the offense reverted back to a much too conservative approach centered on quick passes to receivers at the line of scrimmage and designed quarterback options. The Buckeyes were ready for it every time. It is awfully difficult to move the ball vertically when almost every offensive play is horizontal by design. C.J. Brown has unquestionably had his share of struggles throwing the ball this season, but that does not excuse the offensive approach the Maryland coaching staff implemented against Ohio State. The coaching staff practically set up him for failure.
On Sunday Maryland head coach Randy Edsall reaffirmed that C.J. Brown is the starting quarterback going forward, despite the decision to replace him with Caleb Rowe for the second half of Saturday’s game. Edsall said, “C.J.’s our quarterback, Caleb’s our backup. There’s no controversy here, so don’t try to start one.” When asked why he made the change after the half, Esdall answered that he knew the offense would have to throw the ball more in the second half to catch up. Did he not know Maryland would need to throw the ball in the first half to keep up?
The defensive game plan was also questionable, but there is more to it than acknowledging the 45 offensive points put up by the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s only loss of the year came against a Virginia Tech team that held Buckeye running backs to a combined total of 56 rushing yards and forced three J.T. Barrett interceptions. The Hokies brought pressure from all angles and notched seven sacks, primarily utilizing defensive schemes that kept four defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage in an effort to first stop the run. Instead of taking a page out of VT’s book, the Terps came out in more of a pass-protection defense with only three downed lineman. The Buckeyes took advantage as running back Ezekiel Elliott paced the offense with 139 rushing yards, over 100 yards more than he recorded against Virginia Tech.
Maryland finished the game with four sacks but really was not able to pressure Barrett into making quick decisions after taking the snap. The defense afforded him too much time with the ball in his hands, allowing the Buckeye quarterback the opportunity to find his target after an offensive play had fully developed. This was a major factor contributing to Ohio State’s success in the air on Saturday as Barrett finished with four touchdowns. It was known Ohio State would score points, but instead of the defense dropping back to defend against the pass, the Terps should have focused on getting pressure on Barrett and making him uncomfortable.
The Terrapin defense allowed the Buckeyes to gain 533 total offensive yards, in part because of numerous missed tackles. Photo courtesy cleveland.com.
The Terrapin defense allowed the Buckeyes to gain 533 total offensive yards, in part because of numerous missed tackles. Photo courtesy cleveland.com.

The lone bright spot for Maryland was a Brad Craddock 57-yard field goal in the first half. He is now 11 for 11 on the season and is just one of three kickers in the country with at least 10 attempts to have a perfect field goal percentage.
Oh, and that sellout? Let’s just say Ohio State fans travel well.
The Terps get a much needed bye before the Homecoming game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Byrd Stadium on October 18.

Browns Fantasy Football Update Week 2

It’s a whole new ball game for the Browns now that they beat the Saints. They have proven that they can beat a really good team increasing their odds of getting into the post season, but which individual players will help your fantasy team make the playoffs?

QB- Brian Hoyer: I think Hoyer will be one of those guys who puts up 12-14 points like clockwork. Should be a decent QB2 with if he stays consistent.

QB- Johnny Manziel: Manziel took his first snaps in his game against Saints and threw an incompletion and handed the ball off. Unless Manziel is starting he should not be on your fantasy team.

RB- Ben Tate: The Browns are hoping that this will be the last game that Ben Tate misses. Having a bye week next week helps.

RB- Terrance West: West is a must start as long as Ben Tate is on the shelf. Is a high upside RB2 this week for fantasy. Is currently tied for 12th among RB in fantasy points. His value will decrease a bit when Tate comes back.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- Despite running well against the Saints he only had 5 points. Only an emergency starter despite the fact that he has scored more points than Matt Forte and Frank Gore.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- Is a WR2 or 3 in PPR leagues. Will be top target for the Browns for the time being. I’m expecting a lot of games with around 8 catches for 70 yards. Not worth owning in standard leagues.

WR- Miles Austin- Had 6 catches on 10 target with a TD against the Saints. I just don’t believe there is enough room for 2 fantasy  relevant wide receivers on the Browns, especially once Jordan Cameron comes back.

TE- Jordan Cameron- Right now it is unknown whether or not Cameron will take the field against the Ravens. Should be ready for week 5 against the Titans.

K- Billy Cundiff- He’s not a relevant fantasy kicker.

DEF- The Browns are worth picking up against the Ravens and could be this years Chiefs or Panthers. Definitely worth adding.

How the Cavaliers 'Big Three' should fit together

Kevin Love was introduced to the Cleveland Cavaliers media on Tuesday, has already found a place to reside in downtown Cleveland and is ready to get to work with LeBron James and company. Now that the reality of a “Big Three” in Cleveland is starting to sink in, it’s time to take a look at what they can actually do on a basketball court during their first season together.

On paper, the current Cavs roster looks nearly perfect–outside of that rim protector/shot blocker everyone is yearning for–and it appears that their offense will be almost un-guardable. Nearly every team struggles at least a bit in the first season after making significant changes. Even the Miami Heat got off to a rocky start during their first stint together in 2010 as James and Dwyane Wade learned to play off of one another. They still managed to pull things together and reach the NBA Finals though. The 2007 Boston Celtics were one of the exceptions when it came to a first-year learning curve. The trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen went 66-16 their first season together and won the NBA championship. I’m expecting more of a transition period for the 2014-15 Cavs, but the notion that those expectations aren’t crazy is pretty incredible.

Now, Love obviously isn’t the defensive player that Garnett was, which was a key part to the Celtics championship run, but Pierce also isn’t on the same level as James. The Celtics ‘Big Three’ were also nearing the end of their prime as Pierce was 29, Garnett was 31 and Allen was 32. For the Cavs, James is 29, Love is 25 and Kyrie Irving is 22. Not only does this current Cavs team have an opportunity to be great this season and make it to the Finals, but they also have plenty of time to grow together and improve, unlike the 2007 Celtics.

So how will the Cavs perform on the court during the first season of the “Big Three?” Well, the defense will be a work in progress, but probably not as bad as most people are projecting. The Cavs weren’t horrible last season on defense, putting up a 107.7 defensive rating, which was good for 19th in the league and actually ranked higher than their offense. That’s by no means good, but the addition of James and Shawn Marion alone should improve that rating. Then, if Irving, Waiters and Love can be average on defense, the Cavs should at least be able to get by this first season without a prominent rim-protector. That just goes to show how good they are going to be on the other end of the floor.

The Cavs should realistically have one of the best–if not THE best–offenses in the league this season. Trios of all-star players have joined forces many times throughout NBA history, but the combination of James, Love and Irving is unique. Not only do all three players have high basketball IQ’s, but they also all have excellent court-vision and passing abilities. On top of those important qualities, all three players are gifted scorers as well. We all know how unique of a player James is. He had the fifth highest usage rate in the league last season at 30.9% (with Love and Irving close behind) while shooting 56.7% (fourth in the league) from the field. James and Irving are both players who do well with the ball in their hands, which is something that James and Wade struggled with at first in Miami. Fortunately, Irving learned how to play off the ball some last season and James is one of the best facilitators in the league. James is also one of the deadliest catch-and-shoot players in the league, so playing off of Irving will be an added luxury for him. Throw in Love, Dion Waiters and Mike Miller (also good spot-up shooters), and the Cavs vast offensive weapons seem almost immeasurable. Then enters Love, who touched the ball 86.2 times per game last season (the only non-point guard in the top-ten). Even with all of those touches, Love only possessed the ball for 2.4 minutes per game, which doesn’t even rank in the top 100 (h/t to FanSided’s Matt Shantz). This shows how unselfish of a player Love really is and how talented he is at passing out of the post, which should accelerate this transition for Cleveland’s new “Big Three.”

Grantland contributor Kirk Goldsberry also does a great job of breaking down the hot spots for the Cavs “Big Three” and how they will mesh together on paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, all three players like that left wing and they are all very efficient inside. If you look at Goldsberry’s heat maps for Mike Miller and Waiters, however, they stand to benefit greatly from open looks around the perimeter. Miller is very efficient from both corners and the right wing, while Waiters is efficient from the top of the key and should get plenty of open looks playing alongside the “Big Three.”

 

 

 

It’s true that everything on paper doesn’t always translate into success on the court, but it’s almost certain that the Cavs’ offense is going to be elite right from the start. Once this team has time to jell and develop chemistry, watch out league. The roster looks to be just about complete, but I wouldn’t rule out another move before the start of the season. The Cavs still have John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy’s unguaranteed contracts to use for trade purposes, and David Griffin is surely still looking to bolster the frontcourt defense. Regardless, it’s safe to say Cavs fans are going to be able to enjoy a fun product of basketball this season.

Three Quarter Domination

With the college season finally underway the opening game of the season is the all-important game to start the season off on the right foot for every team. After weeks of game planning and practices teams have adjusted their rosters in such a way as to make them as successful as possible. Many of these decisions and game plans have occurred in the practice facility and out of the general public’s eyes, but once kickoff occurs the fans have the opportunity to see all of the hard work of their team come to fruition out on the gridiron.
For Gopher’s fans they finally got the opportunity to watch their team in action, and this game was not a disappointment for fans. At least it was not too disappointing. As has been the tradition of the past few years the Gophers play a relatively easy non-conference schedule. Despite the fact that the Panthers of Eastern Illinois are a good team does not change that they were out-played by a larger team with better access to better players. Thus it should not come as a surprise that the Gophers were able to win this game and win it rather easily. With a final box score of 42-20 with the Gophers on top, many would call this game a blowout. However when looking at the whole story that is not the case.
For three quarters it was a blowout. The Gophers scored a touchdown in each of the first three quarters giving them a commanding 21-0 lead headed into the fourth. One touchdown even came due to a special teams block by Eric Murray showing the teams ability to score in different ways. A lead like that is all that a coach and fans could ask for heading into the final quarter. Nevertheless this is what worries me about this game. While the Gophers outscored the Panthers 21-20 in the final quarter it feels as though they let the foot off the gas in the fourth. But hey a win is a win. Right?
Yes and no. While putting up the W is very impominnesota_mascot-25110rtant to the team and the fans, it is not the only thing.  The Gophers had a 35-0 lead when the Panthers started gaining success, and outscored the Gophers 20-7 in under ten minutes. This shows that the Gophers were unable to finish this game strong and keep the dominance up through the final quarter. While there were subs in at certain points and the win was never truly in doubt, the team needs to keep its big players on the field and playing in situations where the opponent looks likely to score. This is a concern that I have with this team moving forward. There were definite bright moments that came with the victory that included Berkley Edwards 4 carries for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns and David Cobb played well as the primary back. However the passing game struggled and the secondary of the Gophers struggled as well.  Mitch Leidner only completed around 52% of his passes against a defense that was not all that tough. How he will fare against a more skilled secondary and a better pass rush once the Big Ten schedule begins is not a thought I enjoy entertaining. Similarly the secondary gave up over 300 yards passing against a team that should not have moved the ball so easily. Granted, as I said the subs were playing at certain points during the game when the Panthers moved the ball well, but the Gophers need to have their first string defense in the game until the end if so they can handle the pressures of the Big Ten season as well as the general length of a standard game.
While it is exciting as a fan to get the opening win, I hope this fourth quarter will serve as a cautionary tale for the coaching staff and the players. Hopefully it will show the need and the importance of finishing games strong rather than coasting through the last quarter and allowing the opponent to exploit weaknesses so easily.

Oklahoma's Front Seven Might Be The Best In The Country

Mike Stoops, Tim Kish, Bobby Wright, and Jerry Montgomery all serve as defensive coaches on the Oklahoma staff. They also all helped implement the 3-4 defense to Oklahoma as of 2013.
Way back when Oklahoma and USC were the premier teams in college football, before the SEC was known as the best conference and before Tim Tebow, there was a defensive coach for the Sooners named Mike Stoops who made Oklahoma known for their tough and aggressive defenses. He helped the Sooners to two national championship games and a three BCS games in his five years with the Sooners. He then later became the head coach at Arizona, where he lead them to three straight bowl games but was eventually fired after seven and a half seasons with the Wildcats. He was then hired once again as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator under older brother, Bob Stoops. He’s been the coordinator ever since and changed Oklahoma to a 3-4 base defense last season. He also brought in some help from Arizona with him to OU, linebackers coach Tim Kish.
Kish has been coaching linebackers since 1984, so he’s been in the business for quite some time. He spent eight seasons with Arizona and served as the interim head coach after Stoops was fired, but didn’t remain on the staff afterwards. He followed Stoops to Oklahoma in 2012, and has remained with the Sooners ever since.
Bobby Jack Wright has more Big 12 championship rings than any player or coach in history. But besides that he’s been coaching the Oklahoma defense since 1999 and has served as the assistant defensive coordinator since 2005. Wright helped coach Sooner greats Roy Williams and Tommie Harris early in his career at Oklahoma.
Jerry Montgomery is one of the best defensive line coaches in college football. Before he was doing it at Oklahoma, he was doing it at Michigan under Brady Hoke. He is an excellent recruiter and is great at using talent he recruits. He’s a big reason why Oklahoma beat Alabama last year in the Sugar Bowl and why the defense played great against Oklahoma State as well.

Charles Tapper
Charles Tapper, 91, Should have a good year at DT

Those four coaches all got to Oklahoma one way or another and they all helped Oklahoma in their three year transition into a 3-4 defense. The two year process started out with a lot of struggles. In 2012, the Sooners were manhandled by Notre Dame at home and then got ran over by Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. The year before they lost a shootout to Texas Tech at home, once again got outgunned by RG3 and Baylor, and then slaughtered in the Bedlam series against Oklahoma State. Oklahoma’s defense was not playing to it’s potential, which is a big reason why last spring the staff decided to implement the 3-4 defense.
The 3-4 defense is becoming more and more popular in college football. Basically, it’s substituting a linemen for a linebacker. Oklahoma’s linebackers struggled greatly in 2012 with linebackers despite the talent being there, with a 3-4 defense it puts more linebackers on the field to where it’s less thinking and more doing for the linebackers. It also confuses the opposing quarterbacks to where he has to guess which linebacker is coming in where. It creates more confusion and more possibilities for the defense to get to the quarterback.
It works when you have a great run stopper, a great pass rusher, and an athletic defensive end. Oklahoma’s roster happens to have all three this upcoming season ( and a couple others who help shape this 3-4 defense).
LB Eric Striker is a quarterbacks worst nightmare. (6.5 sacks)
LB Frank Shannon is a tackling machine. (55 tackles, 1 int)
DE Geneo Grissom had two touchdowns last season playing at defensive end. (40 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 Int, 1 FR, 2 TD’s)
Joining the three headed monster in the front seven include :
DT Charles Tapper who is just a beast of his own. (5.5 sacks, 49 tackles, 9 TFL)
DT Jordan Phillips (injured last season)
DT Jordan Wade (17 tackles, two blocked field goals)
LB  Dominique Alexander (50 tackles, 2 FF)
All four of those players should make All Big-12 first team, and I wouldn’t be surpised if Striker was a first team all american. The front seven as a whole is just downright a scary roster. One of, if not the best in the entire country.
They should all also help the Oklahoma defense turn out to be one of the best defenses in the country next season. That group is a big reason why Phil Steele has the Oklahoma defense ranked 4th in the country in his power rankings. It should be the best in the Big 12, and should compete with Alabama, Florida State, and Michigan State for the best in the country.
The only concern is the youth in the defensive back area, but senior safety Julian Wilson should help the youngsters in the secondary. I’m also excited to see what freshman safety Steven Parker can do. He was highly recrutied out of high school and should have an immediate impact at Oklahoma. Cornerback Zack Sanchez is one of the best young corners in the country after making the FWAA Freshmen All-American team this past year, but his big plays barely overshadow the mistakes he made last season. Becoming more consistent should be key for the young defensive back. When you have a great pass rusher like Eric Striker it helps out the pass game too.
The Sooners as a whole have a very talented defense, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be considered one of the best in the nation. With a favorable schedule getting their two best offensive opponents at home (Kansas State and Baylor) the Sooners may have a chance to run the table in the very competitive Big 12 this season. But it all starts with the front seven.