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Check The Tape – Indiana October 30, 2012

I had a class once that did a bridge building exercise. You know the drill – build a bridge out of balsa wood, then they weigh the bridge, then they put weights on the bridge until it breaks, and the bridge that has the best material-to-strength ratio wins.

Mine didn’t win. In fact, it didn’t win so much that on the final, there was this essay question:

“Despite an ENORMOUS amount of material, Robert’s bridge failed because…”

That’s an exact quote. And the word “enormous” was in all caps. I was more excited about the fame than I was embarrassed by the call-out. Good times.

I’m reminded of that story when watching this tape. I feel like this tape could be it’s own coaching clinic. And there could be a quiz at the end of the clinic, with questions like “despite an ENORMOUS amount of yards, Illini Football failed against Indiana because…” Man, I could write a great essay under those parameters.

What would the clinic cover? I’m glad you asked.

Bullet Point #1: Encourage Your Teammates

Before the game your team is fired up. The losing streak must end. Let’s do this. Here we go.

Freshman Eaton Spence is on kick coverage, and he makes a pretty solid ankle tackle just before the 25 yard line.

And he’s pretty excited about that tackle. Here he is giving the 80′s hair metal guitar player “I just rocked that solo and now I’m going to jump off the amp” kick:

Given that this is the first play of the game, and the team is fired up, certainly his teammates are going to celebrate, right? I mean, this is prime slap-on-the-helmet time, right?

Here’s Spence (#27) heading off the field with his coverage teammates nowhere to be found.

Surely Jonathan Brown or Terry Hawthorne will say something though, right?

OK, fine, so they didn’t, but his head coach is standing right there. He’ll say something, right?

The lesson. If your team doesn’t congratulate the guy who made the ankle tackle on the opening kickoff – if he just walks to the sideline without a single person saying a word to him – you’re not much of a team.

Bullet Point #2: When it’s third and goal at the one, DON’T TAKE THE SNAP AT THE SIX.

I’m only going to use one photo for these last three points. We’ll call this one “things that make Woody and Bo roll over in their graves”.

OK, fine, it’s a shotgun spread. Urban Meyer at Florida would put Tim Tebow in the shotgun on third and goal from the one.

But when it’s third and goal, and you’re trailing by 10 but have a chance to climb right back in it, and you only need one yard, do you really want your ballcarrier getting the ball at the SIX?

Like I said, it’s a shotgun spread. So most plays will start there. But that play right there was my least favorite play call of the season. Third and goal from the one, we MUST get a touchdown, and we run the same play that just got us to the one. “Hey, it just worked there, so it has to work again”.

The lesson: running a wildcat play for the quarterback on third and goal from the one is inviting trouble. Running a wildcat play for the quarterback on third and goal from the one when you just ran that same play on second and goal in the second quarter (our second touchdown)… foolishness.

Bullet Point #3: Be Disciplined Or You Won’t Play

This one is really easy. If ever your player does this…

…you need to revisit your practice structure. The defense had, what, two late hits and a 15 yard facemask? With each of those penalties coming from a senior leader? Incomprehensible.

The lesson: Disciplined play on the field in late October starts with spring ball. We have four games left and we’re still trying to figure it out.

Bullet Point #4: When You Fumble A Punt By Diving For It, Maybe Don’t Dive For More Punts

Tommy Davis screwed up. A punt started to fade on him in the wind, and he should have bailed, but he kept on, thinking he could get to it. He dove. He fumbled. We lost.

And Davis lost his return job (at least for the rest of the game). The next time Indiana punted, Darius Millines was back to receive.

And then at the end of the third quarter, Millines did this:

Can you IMAGINE if Millines would have dropped that punt after he dove for it? Do you understand how many fans would have had enough and made their way onto the field to have a chat with the coaching staff? Seriously, if Millines had dropped that punt, it’s all Illinois fans would be talking about this week. “We fumble a punt by diving for it, we bench the guy who muffed it, and then his replacement dives for a punt and fumbles.” It would have been a story we tell our grandkids.

The lesson: Teach discipline the first chance you get with every player you coach. Because if you don’t, you might have two players dive for punts in the same game.

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8 Comments
BexleyIllini October 30th, 2012

Robert, good article but utterly depressing. Everyone knew this team had little depth this year, but the coaching downgrade comes as a surprise (except for Joe John, he did call it).

illiniranger October 30th, 2012

our team is utterly slapstick. this was funny when it was a movie called “Necessary Roughness.” but remember in that movie how the team gets better and they have a tie with KU and then they beat their big, bad, rival in the last game?!?!? EVEN THE TEXAS STATE ARMADILLOS GOT BETTER AS THE SEASON PROGRESSED!!!!!
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the diving for the punt thing is just, ZOMG YOU GUYS!!! how in the world does that happen. like you would think this would have been discussed.
.
do you guys think Ed “Straight Arrow” Gennero is available to coach the team next year?

mongoose October 30th, 2012

Thanks for the tape review. It seemed that our secondary was not covering the IU receivers very well. What does the tape show?

Illinigrad October 30th, 2012

This is the worse looking and most poorly coached IL team I have ever seen. The tale of the tape is a horror show. The ankle tackle and lack of response is just beyond belief.

Is Ed “Straight Arrow” Gennero available?

travelmaster October 30th, 2012

Robert,
It’s really a sad state of affairs when a Big10 college football player has to be taught not to dive for a fair catch. Not to hit a guy five yards out of bounds. To congratulate your teammates when they make a good play. Are you kidden me?
These things are learned in grade school PeeWee football!
So these transgressions and lack of good judgement are on the players. It’s also on the coaches for not making certain the players know the basics and weed out the players who are undisciplined, unaware of consequences and whos actions are hurting the team. This is not rocket science.

ghengis khan October 30th, 2012

Robert,

Did you see the tweet from the ESPN big ten blogger with Indiana’s D Coordinator saying that was there worst game of the year? AND WE STILL ONLY SCORED 17 POINTS!

bart34 October 31st, 2012

I have to agree with travelmaster. I played football in high school and never had to have a coach tell anyone one on the team “don’t hit a player after he is out of bounds”. “If it is 4th down, they might be trying a hard count to draw you off sides”, “if you have to run 20 yards and dive foe the punt, just let it go”. I’m going to cut DY some slack because he was giving great effort. But all these poor judgement plays were by “Seniors”. Do kids have so much organized for them that they just can’t think any more?

Not trying to defend TB, but I’m guessing no other B1G coach has had to spend time coaching these no brainer issues. Holy cow, what in the world were they thinking.

Harry Lime October 31st, 2012

In all fairness, it looks to me like Beckman is clapping and looking right at Spence, very possibly congratulating him. Clearly no other players a responding, though. OTOH, I’ve seen fans on message boards railing against Illini players for showing emotion after making a good tackle down the field after a 10 or 15 yd. gain. Tackling a kick returner at the 25 is not a big deal on the face of it. We really can’t have it both ways.