14.Sep.2010 The Problem with Beating Louisville

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"I think this front seven can be very good, but we're going to have to tighten some things down."

-Mike Riley

Riley told us there will be no changes in the starting lineup, either on offense or defense. -Oregonian

Delaying the inevitable is never a good thing. Whether it's breaking up with a lady, paying your bills, believing you can "hold it in", or, in the case of football–putting the correct personnel on the field.

Last season, during game two against UNLV, many arm-chair coaches saw that #28 was being beaten for some big plays and rightly called for his head…er…helmet. Nonetheless, Riley stuck with him. The following week, #28 was toasted harder than a narcoleptic camper's marshmallow stick–two more touchdowns as Cincinnati rolled by 10. Dare I mention it took even longer for the staff to replace Frahm with LaGrone.

That was all very unfortunate, but it's in the past and therefore it would be fine, so long as Mike Riley learned from it. The problem is, he hasn't. He has convinced himself this current front seven, and specifically the linebackers, can be good.

Let's concede that he's right. That the front seven can be good. The best case scenario in that situation still has the Beavers being blitzkrieged by Oregon. Simply put, the linebackers who played versus TCU–even if they are playing at 101% of their potential– cannot and will not beat the Ducks. What Riley is essentially saying is, "We have a bunch of either (a) slow teams or (b) pro offenses coming up on the schedule, and they are going to make our defense look pretty good."

Get ready for the smoke and mirror show. Sure, Louisville and Arizona State will make the defense look stout. But spread and/or speed teams are going to stretch and gut the Beavers unless they make changes now. Given the current lineup, you can chalk these games up as loses: Arizona, California, USC, and Oregon. Boise State will out coach the Beavers, play with more urgency and intensity, and execute. That's six loses, Beavlettes, and that's assuming the winnable games go to the good guys.

This coaching staff needs to tailor their schemes to the personnel they have, rather than the personnel they wish they had. What they have on the roster is a damn good 4-2-5:

CB: Dockery and Poyer

LB: Roberson, Doctor

DL: Miller, Paea, Olander, Henry

S: Collins, Mitchell

Rover/nickle: Hardin (Collins/Hardin can be interchanged, but this lineup would require a smaller learning curve).

or, a good 4-3-4:

CB: Dockery and Poyer

MLB: Roberson

OLB: Doctor, Collins

DL: Miller, Paea, Olander, Henry

S: Hardin, and Mitchell

That's team speed and tackling I can get behind and feel confident in. Put those guys on the field, let them take their lumps now during the OOC, and have a great team once Pac-10 play begins.

A man can dream, right?

The harsh reality: The Beavers took 3+ days off last week and did…nothing…instead of working on a scheme like this. The head coach comes out today and says there will be no changes…anywhere.

Therefore, much like last year, adjustments won't happen until week 3 or beyond. And therein lies the problem in beating Louisville–it's going to delay the inevitable. The Beavers will win by 10 to 13 points. On defense they will look "pretty good" due to Louisville's ineptitude, and the same front seven will take the field versus Boise State. That's not what we want, folks. Trust me.

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  • Mike says:
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    I like to disagree with you when I can, but this is painfully correct.

    I believe that because our ‘gap-cancellation’ scheme works so well against pro offenses, in spite of changing weaknesses from year to year, Riley/Banker are unwilling to change it. We need to change, because so many college teams are running some sort of spread or option. As far as right now, this week, we need the best 11 men on the field, which would most likely be your 4-2-5, but the coaches want to fit the players into the obsolescing scheme so badly that they won’t adapt.

    • Beavker Beavker says:
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      Nebraska has one of the better defenses in the country, as they did last year (#1 in pts. allowed), and they basically run a 4-2-5 most of the time. They are thin, inexperienced at LB, and relative to their 2ndary and D line, not as talented yet in the LB category. It suits them fine. You just need a nice LB/Safety hybrid or two. I think the Beavers have a couple.

  • Bill says:
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    When I was a boy I watched the great pumpkin out run the players coming onto the field where they lost the game and I was happy. Now I am a man who watches a team who is ever so close yet so far and I’m let down. Is it because I know better now?
    Come on Riley, stop teasing us and take these guys to the next level so I can be a boy again!

  • BeavGirl BeavGirl says:
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    it kind of enrages me when people in leadership roles are happy with mediocrity when they could be making actual changes. no beav fan should be happy with the status quo, or a B- team. suuucks. send riley a link to this post. ha

  • mckalk mckalk says:
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    Angry,
    If a 6-6 season comes to fruition and the Beavs keep losing to spread option teams, do you think DeCarolis will do anything? Also,why is the mainstream media so quiet on the topic?

  • ObjCritic says:
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    Riley is too passive and his contract is too weak. He has a season where the Rodgers are together for the last time, he has a bye week in the pre-season and extra time to practice for those players making position switches, the toughest conference opponents are at home, USC can’t go to a bowl…and he’s not willing to go for the rose bowl.

    Riley can eek out a 6-7 win season and keep adding to his lifetime contract and keep his buddy Banker employed. Meanwhile, the Ducks, Az, and Utah will spread the beavers, UCLA may someday be able to shoot the “pistol,” and OSU would find itself out-schemed by not one or two conference teams, but a good portion of their CONFERENCE schedule.

  • Josh says:
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    I used to be a huge Riley fan – I still am actually, but more and more he is turning me away from my belief in him. I like our offensive setup. I believe the pro-style offense is the best because it brings balance; however, the defense MUST change now! We aren’t USC or Ohio State who can play a 4-3-4 against these spread read-option offenses because we don’t have the athletes. We have good athletes, but not great. It is therefore the coaches job to put our good athletes in the best scheme possible to allow for the greatest amount of success. Unfortunately, the 4-3-4, doesn’t work with the players that we have. We must change to either a 4-2-5 or at a minimum go with a 4-3-4 with the greatest amount of team speed! I loved it when our defense was built completely around speed. Our 2000 defense would eat up the read-option because we had lightning fast ends and linebackers.

  • Beavocalypse says:
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    Stop being right 90% of the time, Angry, it’s getting obnoxious.

  • VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    I too was shocked by the lack of changes and time off coming from these two weeks.

    However, reflecting on what best to do by reading this article, I would say no changes until after Louisville also. Angry almost made this point for me. We should make an unknown but hopefully good step in the right direction for this D and scheme.

    But for now what we do have is a known unit/shceme that can and should beat Louisville. Why risk confusing our D before a certain W.

    So if it aint broke don’t fix it, yet. In other words get the win this week with the current system, we know it works. And switch next week for where we know the current system will not work.

    I believe we can beat Bosie, but I don’t believe we can do it by using the same schemes everyone knows we run.

    So I am comfortable to sit back and enjoy the home opener at this point. And hope for some innovation come Boise time.

    If we see no innovation then but rather another embarrassing loss. I will come back and say you were right.

    • angry angry says:
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      The difference between the 4-2 and 4-3 isn’t much, so they could easily have begun the adjustment during the bye and still played their standard 4.3 versus Louisville. The 4-3 is not a bad defense–it is versatile should be able to defend any offense. The problem the Beavers face is teams are too fast on the edge, and there’s where the extra DB/LB hybrid (and guys like Doctor) would work wonders. It should be the defense for spread teams. If Banker loves the 4-3, then run it versus slower/pro offenses. It’s fine in those situations. Also, a 4-3 with faster OLB would work.

      I’m hearing Louisville runs a spread similar to TCU, which has me concerned. Haven’t researched them much yet so I don’t know.

  • ObjCritic says:
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    Here’s a great read on the 4-2-5 defense as TCU runs it. The elegant (how often is that word used in football?) thing about it to me is that it makes the game simple for TCU’s defense, difficult for the opposition.

    http://www.shakinthesouthland.com/2009/09/inside-tcu-4-2-5-defense.html

    Read Patterson’s comments in the grey boxes and you’ll see what I mean. The coaches have broken everything down so its simplified for their defense, and the defense they can use their speed. Angry pointed out this D shut down Adrian Peterson and CJ Spiller. To his credit, Quizz actually had more yards than either of them I think.

    OSU wouldn’t have to run it full-time. They could use it as a package and more predominantly against spread offenses. They would get players like Doctor more reps and diversify the team’s capacity to play defense.

    Riley was quoted in one article as saying Louisville should run the same plays that Dalton/TCU did on 3rd downs, because OSU never proved they could stop it. It will be interesting to see if he’s right and if OSU has learned anything.

    Also read where Riley said the emphasis is going to have to be on pass blocking, which means Quizz will likely be on his own again on running plays.

  • ean says:
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    tough not to agree. The LB’s were not getting it done verse TCU. Time to get guys time that need it. I think this is one of Riley’s biggest downfalls. I mean he likes to play guys that have earned it and that is a noble thought but to win the most games it is not about earning anything it is about talent. I mean look at Eugene. Costa clearly has done more to earn the coaches trust but Thomas has more talent.

  • AntiAngry says:
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    First things first. I have given you A LOT of crap over this site, because many times IMO it’s to personal. However the last 2 weeks or so its more just critical of what is wrong and not so much bashing players/coaches, etc.

    Obviously in the minority on this site, but I don’t see the big deal in giving the guys the weekend off, this week. The schedule is what it is, and they have been going full on for over a month counting fall camp. They did practice Monday, what is something OSU typically does not do on a ‘normal’ week. Plus, the coaches need to recruit. You’ve said it should take a back seat in season, but the other coaches around the country will be making visits during their bye weeks. If a player is between OSU and say UO, UW, etc and they make in home visits and OSU doesn’t. Who do you think they’ll choose? You have to recruit.

    As for OSU’s defense, something needs to change (Banker!). He’s great against the pro style teams. Even when OSU had some very solid defenses (06, 07, 08) and beat teams that ran the spread. It was because OSU out scored them (Hawaii, Mizzu, Oregon, etc) not because Banker stopped them. Moving Collins to LB (which, lets not give the coaches credit there, it was Collins who suggested it to the coaches) will give OSU more speed. And I am sure you’ve read the same articles I have, talking about Collins coming in at certain points and playing more of a 4-2-5. I suspect we’ll see more of that Sat and hopefully even more of that against BSU.

    • Beavocalypse says:
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      Anti-Angry- I’m glad you’ve seen the light, brother. Angrybeav isn’t trying to be a negative nancy all the time, he’s just making acute observations and he has at least an 85% of making a correct call.

      True, his stance can seem abrasive at times but if you give him a chance, he’ll give you a chance.

      Or at least he’s given my belligerent rants fair consideration.

    • angry says:
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      Send out some coaches to recruit, not all. And I’m not saying a full 20 hour week of practice, but how about using some of that time to get Collins up to speed and/or install some packages that can actually defend the perimeter. If I heard they were doing something, I’d write nothing, but what I heard Riley say was, “3 days off and no changes on either side of the ball.”

  • angry angry says:
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    Banker’s quote:

    “If you really look at it, they got one legitimate touchdown without us giving it to them,’’ said Banker disgustedly.

    “We could have won that game. We could have controlled that game.’’

    Okaaaaaay, Mark. And if I were Barack Obama I’d be president.

    • mckalk mckalk says:
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      I wondered if you were pulling your hair out at the “coach speak” from Banker. He knows that Riley has his back for now.

  • Castornation says:
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    Most of you folks run circles around me in respect to your analysis of the team and games. I am learning a lot. After watching the TCU game I still don’t know how we were still in it. Seems we were better on the pass than the run and that was usually where we got our stops. I didn’t know why they passed when we couldn’t stop the run, even up the middle.
    I would like to see more hitting return like I saw with Afalava. Doctor and Hardin have made some impressive hits. Speed and schemes discussed by the resident experts, sounds to me like the answer, but I would also like to see punishing “legal” hits. “If you run on us or catch the ball we’re going to make you pay”. Not in the secondary, but on the line.

    • angry angry says:
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      Yeah I mean that’s a valid point. Some of the past defenses made “dumb” mistakes, but those types of penalties do tend to intimidate.

      I don’t understand why TCU passed the ball once. I really don’t. They would have won by three touchdowns, with the only defense being the clock, if they ran the ball every play.

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