Check The Tape – Charleston Southern September 17, 2012
I do this kind of thing all the time. Watch the game, rewind the play, watch the line, rewind the play, watch the linebackers/receivers/safeties, move on to the next play. Sometimes I have this little self-awareness moment while doing this where I realize my behavior is that of a child playing airline pilot. You pull up a chair, you set a bunch of ketchup bottles on the table for levers and a skillet for a “steering wheel”, and you fly an imaginary plane. I don’t have the technology the a coach or scout has, where they can easily pause and rewind game tape. But there I am, after every game, pulling ketchup levers.
God I love it.
Because I do this often, I kind of have a feel for the talent level of opponents. You watch the Ohio State defensive line and you wonder how on earth we ever gain a yard. You watch Indiana’s secondary and you realize how we threw for so many yards. And then you watch Charleston Southern, and you confirm that this was the worst opponent you’ve ever seen your team play.
I really feel for those kids. Once something like that spirals out of control, it’s impossible to recruit, players quit, and suddenly you’re losing to Division III schools. And then you have to go play a BCS opponent. It’s an impossible hill to climb.
So as I was watching this tape, I’d pause it, thinking “maybe I could screencap that”, and realize that the reason our receiver was so open/linebacker was unblocked/etc. was because Charleston Southern is really struggling to hold together their FCS football program. Which leaves very little tape to check. But I did find a few plays I want to cover. Here we go. *pushes mustard lever*
Actually, first, I want to go a little Good Will Hunting on Tim Beckman.
It’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault.
I know this has been a lifelong dream to coach a Big Ten program, so it has to be extremely disheartening to run out of the tunnel and see crowds similar to your Toledo days (Toledo averaged 22,000 fans per game last year – no chance either crowd was over 30,000 the first two games). Just please know that it’s not your fault. As recent as 5 years ago we sold out four of our six home games. In 2008 I think we cleared 44,000 season tickets. But then 2008 ended without a bowl, and 2009 ended 3-9, and everyone who had said “I’ll give Illini football one last chance” basically quit.
…that has everything to do with Ron Zook. And a little to do with the opponent being Charleston Southern. OK, and some to do with the fact that high definition television has made a dent in the Fickle Five Big Ten programs (Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern) whose stadiums only sell out when they’re winning (or, in the case of Northwestern, never sell out unless the opponent brings 15,000 fans).
Bottom line: once you win, the fans will return. We sold out 27 consecutive games in the 1980′s, and that’s when the stadium had a capacity of 72,000. Show that you have this program pointed in the right direction and sellouts at the current capacity of 60,000 will be no problem. Win it, and they will come.
OK, to the tape. First play is Ayoola’s touchdown. I want to point out the maturation of Michael Heitz. I’ve heard the coaches yell “finish your block, Heitz” many times. And here, his block is the key to Ayoola squeezing out. On the snap, Heitz (#74) pulls to the right and heads into the hole.
Heitz is still on his guy, Thornton has the edge locked down, and Ayoola is off to the endzone. Great run from a very promising freshman. And great blocks from two linemen who kept going until they heard a whistle.
I really should have added Ayoola to “I’ll remember this as the Monheim/Hardee game” on Sunday. Because he had a pretty eye-opening game on tape. Of course there’s that whole Charleston Southern asterisk.
Speaking of Hardee, my favorite thing he did on Saturday was stay on his feet while being tackled. Here’s the long reception he made in the third quarter. Take note of the yard line. Here he just caught the ball at about the CSU 48 yard line. The cornerback is already hanging on him.
Caught the ball at the 48, cornerback clings on immediately, down at the 34. Do that 145 times over the next four year years please, Justin.
Lastly, here’s my favorite play design from Saturday. So good it felt like Arizona State’s offensive coordinator drew it up. O’Toole in the shotgun, single back (Ayoola), Jon Davis at H-back, on WR left, twin WR right. So CSU brings an outside linebacker up to cover the slot receiver.
The slot receiver (Fritz Rock, #20) goes in motion on what looks like a fly sweep (he’ll arrive at the QB just as the ball is snapped). This draws the outside linebacker in and causes both safeties to drift right.
On the snap, O’Toole fakes to Rock first and then Ayoola. The CSU free safety is reading this and charging up to make the play. Which is exactly what we wanted him to do. Notice that Jon Davis (#3) is getting ready to sneak out the back, and the CSU linebacker (#22) is biting on the Ayoola fake.
Now Jon Davis only has one choice. Read which way Justin Hardee is blocking the cornerback. He sees that he’s blocking him to the outside, he cuts in, no safety home, touchdown.
145 more plays this season that are executed just like we drew them up, please.