1. Whats wrong with the defense?
It really seemed like the turning point in the season was the second quarter against La Tech. Prior to that we had a solid defense outing against Texas, beat up on a bad SMU offense, and shut La Tech down in the first quarter. Since then we just haven’t looked good. Even against Nicholls we gave up big run lanes, with their starting back rushing for 95 yards on us, despite not having a passing threat to back us off.
We have really struggled getting off blocks and wrapping up. Anytime a team runs the ball at will, you’ll hear people saying they’re driving us 3 yards off the ball. That wasn’t really the case, as much as they were just sealing us off and not letting us get our run fits.
Another thing we desperately need is a star on defense. You always heard how this team would miss the senior leadership. How about the senior playmaking ability? The ability to strip a ball loose by Marcus Trice, and scoop it up and score by Zach Orr, like when we were down last year against Rice. Or ability of Bellazin to get consistent pressure, allowing us to not have to blitz as much. We need someone to step up and give us some of that.
We have a bend but don’t break defense. We’ll give up yards. We’re built on makng big plays and forcing turnovers. You don’t have a chance to make big plays or win on third down if you’re giving up 50+ yard touchdowns and having zero picks and zero sacks just isn’t making plays.
Here is the problem with this defense. It’s built on the core principles of bend don’t break like you mentioned, which is similar to a Tampa 2 defense. The problem is we don’t have a LB like Zach Orr to cover the middle of the field like he did last year. That’s a pretty big problem to have if you’re going to play bend but don’t break. Also in that type of system it’s all about your DL being quick and disruptive. They have to be able to get pressure on the QB without the aide of a blitz. Well so far this year our guys have struggled with that. So QBs that are fairly accurate are getting plenty of time to pick apart our defense.
The other problem is that these guys are coached to be aggressive and force turnovers and all that jazz. See ball get ball. Sometimes that causes players to forget about their reads and keys. They get out of position and boom a big play happens.
Bottom line is this is a defense with average talent. There are no playmakers like you eluded too. So defenses that are faced with that problem must play with excellent fundamentals and technique. We haven’t done that this year and that’s why we have given up so many big plays. I do feel like as the year progresses we should start to see the defense play better.
2. How has Dajon performed under your expectations so far? Do you like the offensive play calling since he has taken over at QB
I think Dajon has played great so far. The mistakes are just going to happen, but he’s been able to bounce back well and make big plays. It may sound simple, but he’s clearly capable of throwing touchdown passes. We’ve had times in the past where we’d get down to the red zone but just could not throw the ball in the endzone. We just need him to protect the ball better than he did against Indiana, but that’ll come with experience. Dajon is capable of that. He’s developing before our eyes, and it’s fun to watch that kind of talent develop, as a fan.
I like the playcalling. No need to try and fit a square peg through a round hole. He’s a dynamic, dual-threat guy. The offense has been tailored to utilize those talents and not just line up under center and have him hand off twice and throw on third down. I hope we see a lot of Jimmerson this game (15+ touches), Jeffery Wilson when he gets healthy, and Evans and Ivery. Jimmerson and Wilson’s greatest strength is their cutting ability. In this offense that ability is magnified. Still use Pegram, mainly short yardage, but those guys are your best cutters and speed-wise, most suited for this offense.
Dajon has impressed me with his poise and ability to move on after mistakes. The question I have moving forward is how does he and Coach Canales react once teams force him to beat them from the pocket? We all know they like to get Dajon out on those sprint roll outs. What happens when teams take that away. Can Dajon sit in the pocket and read the defense and make good decisions? He gets a little ancy sometimes when he has to sit back and read the defense. You see his mechanics suffer when the pocket starts to collapse. There are also those times when he know where he is going with the ball and he delivers is beautifully. So you know he can do it, just needs to trust what he is seeing and that comes with time. If he gets more help from the running game he could have a really good day on Saturday.
Final thought can you imagine if we were still rotating between Greer and McNulty? I don’t want to because that would be a night mare. We needed Dajon because is the only hope we have to making a bowl game.
3. Always seems like we’re talking about finding play makers. Give me your top 5 for this year’s offense.
#1. Dajon – we need him to be, he has talent at the most important position, and he dictates so much of what the defense does.
#2. Carlos Harris – just keeps getting open. We need that to continue.
#3 Darvin Kidsy – he has to catch the ball with more consistency. He’s possibly our best YAC receiver, we just need the catch secured before YAC can occur. We need him to be a solid number 2 receiver.
#4. A number 3 receiver – doesn’t matter too much who this is. TE Marcus Smith, Darius Terrell, Skip Caldwell, it doesn’t matter. We need someone here capable of catching more than 2 passes a game.
#5. Jeffery Wilson – a healthy Jeffery Wilson would make a great running mate in the backfield with Dajon for years. He was listed #1 on the depth chart before his injury, and he did start against La Tech. His ability to catch the ball can help as well.
#1 Dajon Williams – Is there really any question here? He can beat teams throwing and running. UNT needs him to continue to grow and mature as the leader of this offense. Once he gets comfortable with this offense he could be really special.
#2 Carlos Harris – He has been the most consistent play maker and has benefited the most after Dajon took over at QB. You wonder though if the work load is too much. I know Carlos is a beast with a big heart and huge competitor, but you don’t want him taking all those hits.
#3 Darvin Kidsy – Kidsy just needs ways to get involved. The dude makes plays with the ball in his hands and I think most UNT fans would agree. Maybe get him touches on kick off returns too. Do what ever you can to get him more touches. He should be targeted at least 20 %. 237 All purpose yards. 16.9 Yards per touch.
#4 Antoinne Jimmerson – Jimmerson is a fan favorite when he is not auditioning for “Dancing with the Stars” in the backfield. He is the most explosive healthy back. The point is he needs 10+ touches per game. In games where he has had at least 10 carries he has 809 yards rushing, 4.81 ypc, 7 TDs. He like most backs needs those carries to get going.
#5 Marcus Smith – 5 catches and 2 TDs. He needs to get more looks down the middle of the field. I love the looks we are getting him off the play action calls. Once Dajon settles in I see more plays and completions to Marcus.
4. What are your feelings about the UAB game? How crucial is this game if UNT is going to get back to a bowl?
Yeah, this could easily be a turning point game. Lose and you have a real uphill battle. Win and you have some confidence and a real legitimate shot at getting a winning streak going at home against a very beatable opponent.
This is the type of opponent who, if we’re going to be a bowl team, we need to be able to slow down and put up plenty of points against. It looks like we’ll find out more about our team than we have against any opponent this season. But we absolutely need a quick start. Playing on the road is hard enough. We can’t afford to dig ourselves in a big hole again.
This is one of those games where UNT needs to come out like IU did last week. Yeah, I know it’s on the road and all, but we need to come out and put UAB in its place. I know Coach Mac probably challenged his OL this week to do something. Start being the road graders that we thought you’d be. We are going to have to put up over 200 + yards rushing to beat this UAB team.
I do think this is a crucial game if UNT is going to get back to a bowl. It’s not must win time mathematically, but its must win time mentally. This is a young team and it needs to get the good mojo rolling. A road loss to UAB could seriously damage this team’s mental resolve.
5. Give us the latest on the recruiting front
We had a parting with our now former JUCO CB commit Zavian Bingham, who tore his ACL. It was a very tough situation that is, unfortunately, part of recruiting. Hope Bingham can catch on some place else.
As for the rest of recruiting, the weekend of the Southern Miss game (next weekend) is going to be a huge game and showcase for recruits. We have a lot of visitors expected to be on hand for visits, including some big name guys. The last time we had a big weekend for visitors was against SMU, and we got two commitments after that weekend. Another big chance for us to impress some recruits.