The defense had a solid game, but it was far from perfect. There were some things that Ball State did that played right into our hands, and helped us along. I say that not entirely sure if it was just great scouting by Skladany and company knowing Ball State’s tendencies, or if Ball State underestimated our defense’s aggressiveness.
Let’s look at three plays where there was some read-option looks. Ball State may have a called hand-off here with an option look, or Wenning just read it poorly. Judging by how few times Wenning runs in general these have to be the former. Wenning does such a great job deciding when to throw the ball away when there isn’t a pass that I can’t believe he is that poor at reading these scenarios. Conversely, the success of the North Texas reads are a testament to Derek Thompson’s decision-making.
Here, Ball State gives a packaged play look. WR #8 looks to be setting up for a quick screen. This was one of a few situations like this throughout the game. On a true read, Wenning would likely have seen the advantage outside and hit the WR. The second read is the North Texas DE crashing. Wenning could have kept it and got a good five or six yards.
Let’s watch Derek Thompson run the same thing:
DT is reading the DE #11 and keeps when he sees him clearly unconcerned with the QB keeper. The Mean Green have been very run-heavy, and Reggie Pegram and Brandin Byrd had already got some good gains. This is just great play-calling by Mike Canales, and even better execution by the entire offense.
Here is another Ball State read look situation:
If this is a straight handoff call, then the TE completely misses his block. He should be hitting Chad Polk crashing down. Instead he floats off into space. Wenning had a nice seam there that likely would have gained more than the handoff did. Also of note: the WR #2 has tons of space to catch and run. Watch for CUSA teams to look to exploit that.
Let’s watch UNT run this thing better:
Again, Ball State is over-pursuing the potential Brelan Chancellor jet sweep. (That may have been a good idea after all. It looks like Brelan had tons of space to run.) North Texas caught Ball State in man coverage. This very well may have been a called run the whole time. If it was they did a great job selling the fake by pulling the guard. I doubt it though. It was an inverted-veer look
In taking a look at some of the turnovers forced, I noticed that mostly they were just the result of solid hits by Lairamie Lee and Zach Orr. James Jones’ was really just fortune smiling on him. The other forced turnover was Hitstick Lee showing some ball skills. Watching live I thought it was just a great jump by Lee, saving Kenny Buyers from getting beat for a first down. Instead it looks like Skladany baited Keith Wenning into that throw.
Because Ball State needed a first down here, I bet the progression was the Dig, then the TE. Most coaches teach a deep-to-short read progression, however. Wenning made the right throw … if the safety was playing over the top. He wasn’t. I’m wondering if we knew that Ball State liked to throw short stuff and so hedged our bets, accordingly. They did hit some longer outside stuff against Hilbert Jackson, but it looks like they missed a few opportunities. I pointed out that Wenning should have gone to the top mostly because he was reading that side of the field but if he looked over at Zac Whitfield, he would have saw Marcus Trice peeking in, and Zac beat by about a yard or two.