26.Dec.2009 Can We Please Fire Mark Banker?

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No, nobody will fire Mark Banker because Mike Riley is too nice of a guy, so we have to cross our fingers and hope that another school takes him off our hands. Christmas just passed, but it’s not too early to think about an early 2010 gift, right?

Most fans complain of Banker’s inability to scheme against the spread (gap cancellation? more like gap creation) . It’s true, he’s horrible in his career against spread offenses, but another equally consistent problem is the secondary. It’s nothing new to note and write about the DBs refusal to turn their heads and make a play on the ball. I asked Cliff Kirkpatrick why nobody grills Banker on this point, and he told me he did ask Banker, and Mark said that a DB is faster when running without looking. Flat out, that kind of logic boarders on mental retardation.

1. What good is running fast if you’re not breaking up the pass?

2. The WR slows down to look for the ball as well.

3. There’s a reason nobody else in college football teaches Banker’s technique.

But Banker’s problems go even deeper. We saw Collins and Dockery miss tackle after tackle in the CW and versus BYU. They were constantly out of position with their bodies’ flailing at the defender. Steve Sanner, the recruiting guru over at rivals.com, tells me he loved Dockery on signing day. Three words: orange-colored glasses. Oh, and dating back to Keith Pankey’s flail at Toby Gerhart in 2008 and more recently with Keaton Kristick’s meltdown at USC, it seems the cancer that is being out of position and flailing has infected the linebacker corp as well. The guy is simply done here. He’s got his head up his ass dreaming of a head coaching gig; he’s said as much. Mike Riley won’t do it, though. He’ll do the family thing to the detriment of the program. This is another chance to replace a coach with a great coach/recruiter that will be missed…unless we’re “poached”, and cross your fingers that we are.

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  • jtlight says:
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    John Neal (Secondary coach at Oregon) teaches that technique. It happened quite a bit during the Civil War, especially when James Rodgers had beaten the Oregon secondary.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      When did James Rodgers go deep on anyone in that game? I’m talking specifically of deep passes where the DB has to rotate hips and turn their head.

      • jtlight says:
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        There were a number of examples of this during the game, but the best would be when James Rodgers beat Talmadge Jackson, and ended up catching an underthrown ball despite pass interference. Jackson never made an attempt to look for the ball, and has played like that most of the season.

        • angrybeaver says:
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          Yeah, I mean maybe that happened, I’m not sure. But looking bigger picture, guys like Chung, Byrd, and Thurmond are playmakers. Sure they get beat, but it’s a bend-don’t-break style that forces a lot of turnovers. Opportunistic is a good word for those guys. I’d take them all over our DBs.

          • jtlight says:
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            I’m guessing the talent level isn’t all that comparable. Those players were taught to play the man when they got beat. If you’re getting beat all the time, it becomes a problem.

  • OSBeavs says:
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    I have taken issue with the way he coaches DB’s but last year made me back off after the performance by our corners. This year I am reminded why I hate it. I always wonder what he tells our safeties because Labourn gave up a ton last year and we kind of wasted the talent of Aflava, as evidence by his nearly full starting rookie year in the league. This year we had great speed and wasted it as well.

    The one piece I hate the most, we give up space to the outside and off tackle (the reason Oregon kills us, not to mention the D lacks discipline). The ends take huge gaps sometimes even on non-passing downs leaving gaps for running room off tackle. Finally, if you read up about the Gap Canecellation he likes to force runners to run wide to the outside. Works well if our OLB’s can keep up and if we are in cover 2 (provided the DB tackles well). If we move to cover 1 or 2man then we get in trouble because the cb’s vacate and our OLB’s are screwed while our DE pursues way too hard into the pocket (they don’t have contain responsibility).

  • BeaverBlog says:
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    Angry- I think you are making more of this than it deserves. Banker may teach poor or not pro technique, but his defenses have performed over the years- better than any defensive coordinator ever at OSU I would guess.

    I think player talent makes up for lame coaches, most of the time. Great coaches can make lemonade out of lemons- no question. But is Banker a dog? I don’t think so.

    I think the coaching staff situation is similar to the player situation- not enough depth. Maybe that’s the real issue.

    I am not worried about coaches schemes, and technique, I am worried about the lack of a coherent recruiting strategy. Players make plays. We need ballers to take OSU to the next level, period.

  • ObjCritic says:
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    I wonder too if Banker has done as much as he’s going to do at OSU, but assuming Banker has topped out, with whom does Riley replace him? Is there a young up-and-comer (e.g. the guy at BSU) or an established DC that would find Corvallis attractive?

    As for the CB’s not turning to look for the ball – that drives me crazy. Somebody with more time or interest could look into it, but I bet OSU’s CB’s are among the pac-10 cellar dwellars in INTs. And that might be o.k. IF you could say they lead the pac-10 in pass break ups or that they limit players to yards-after-the catch because they play the man not the ball, but I really suspect that’s not the case.

    The tackling is troubling as well. With sound, fundamental tackling technique, the Beavs D would be way ahead of where they are in yards per game.

    I’ve brought this up before, but I think next year, the Beavs problem with the D, and particularly the secondary, are even worse. There can be no depth at CB if after 3 years, a highly-ranked recruit like Ross is getting passed by true freshman Poyer for PT in the bowl game. That makes me think Ross was overrated or has been under-coached. That leaves Dockery and Hardin, Reynolds, and Poyer(?). Parker has missed time with injury, correct? So assuming he has ability for CB, he’s still going to be playing catch up.

    I really hope Poyer gets a serious look at FS next year. Besides that, I think the Beavs really have to pray Paea doesn’t get injured, and that LaGrone and Miller make huge gains at DE in order to put a weak secondary in any kind of position for success against TCU, BSU, and the Pac-10 schedule.

    But, getting back to Angry’s point. The offense and its talent clearly seems to be outshining the D right now. It might be productive to replace Banker.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      Rumor is that Ross is leaving the program and transferring to Portland State.

  • JackBeav says:
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    Who’s going to poach him? The only positions available that would possibly draw him would be Notre Dame and Florida… maybe UGA. If he wants to be a head coach, the only open position left is Central Michigan. He’s going to have to lead a mid-major to wins or lead one of the ‘big’ football schools as a DC in order to get a major college head gig.

    Since Banker isn’t the current Pac 10 DC du jour (that would be Mark Stoops) he’s not likely to draw interest from the biggies. Does anyone know if he has kids? If he does then I can understand him just hunkering down in Corvallis until they leave.

    Regardless of whether he leaves or not the Beavs need to coach the DB’s to look for the ball. Hardin has all the talent in the world, and he was a ball-hawk early in the year. But watching a Max Hall pass bounce off the back of his helmet in the end zone was just sickening. If he turns, he has an easy pick. If Hall throws a better pass, BYU has an easy six.

    • JackBeav says:
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      Who in the world intentionally denies knowledge of ball location in a ball sport? It doesn’t even sound intelligent enough to rank as just plain stupid.

      • angrybeaver says:
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        I agree, it makes no sense. I can see it happening once and a while if a player loses his field location, but a philosophy that intentionally denies ball skills is flat out wrong. It’s why we’re all sick of the guy and calling for his head.

      • JackBeav says:
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        If he insists that this is rote philosophy, then I agree. Gap cancellation can be an excellent defense. But it all goes out the window if only nine players are playing downhill. The weakest link will obviously be two passive, flailing CB’s.

        Arizona recognized and adjusted to this… so did UNLV, UCLA and BYU. Three step fades and intentional underthrows beat our corners consistently. I remember sitting at Reser while watching Legedu Nanee feast on those plays. So we know that BSU knows about this as well.

        The problem can be masked with a good D-line getting in a QB’s face. But our combination of inexperience on the front four with a semaphore secondary just makes me cry in the middle of those plays.

        • JackBeav says:
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          I guess I wonder if intermediate or deep sideline passes are not considered gaps which also need to be canceled. Are they not a part of the field?

    • JackBeav says:
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      Sorry… I forgot that Stoops was so du jour that he was already ordered by FSU.

  • mckalk mckalk says:
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    The “not looking for the ball” technique on long passes also causes a lot pass interference calls even when it’s really not. From an officials perspective it looks ugly and they assume there must be some contact.

    I remember when I was younger watching great DB’s always turning their bodies at the last minute and either knocking down the ball or intercepting. Are today’s athletes to amped up or spastic to watch the receivers eyes get big and the route slow down slightly as the clue that the ball is coming?

    I’m kind of bitter at Banker and the defense because this could have been a special season with even a decent defense. I don’t think we are going to see the same performance from the offense again. They will turn the ball over more with a new QB.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      That’s a good point. Our offense turned the ball over at an alarmingly low rate and that can’t be expected to continue.

  • mckalk mckalk says:
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    I don’t know how people feel about Phil Steele, but he shows a lot of good examples in his magazine of how turnover margin can make or break a season. This season was kind of strange because the Beavs did not turn the ball over, but did not create any turnovers either. I think Jacquizz has proven he has amazing ball security, but James has started to cough it up a little bit. McCants makes me nervous every time he touches the ball. You know the new QB is going to throw more than 6 picks in 12 games. If the defense does not become more ball hawking, I think it will be hard to get beyond a 7-5 season.

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