After some time to reflect, I thought I'd add some thoughts about this game that you wouldn't get right away from just glancing at the box score.
How conservative was this offense, really?
Let's breakdown every time we passed the ball:
- After a 2 yd loss by some Perez Ashford running trickeration, it's 2nd and 12 and Grady passes to WR Martel Moore for 7 yds. It's 3rd and 5, QB DeMarcus Grady passes to Landon Cox who is one yard short of the 1st down. Drive result: Salerno Punt.
- It's 3rd and 7, Grady completes a pass to Moore again just past the 1st down marker. Drive result: Spann 42 yd TD. 7-0 Huskies.
- After two Me'co Brown rushes for a net -16 yds, it's now 3rd and 26. Pass to Moore is incomplete. Drive result: Salerno 44 yd FG. 10-0 Huskies.
- It's 2nd and 9, Grady is about to pass, but gets sacked for for a 6 yd loss. Next play it's 3rd and 15 and a pass to Me'co nets only those 6 yds that got lost. Drive result: Wilber Punt. 17-0 Huskies after that Ashford TD.
- On a 2 and 7, Grady passes to his out man Martel Moore for 3 yds. This drive was stalled by a 15 yd personal foul penalty on Marcus Lewis. Drive result: Salerno Punt. 17-0 Huskies still.
- It's 2nd and 7, pass incomplete to TE Reed Cunningham. Then on 3rd and 7, pass incomplete to Cox as Grady was pressured into making a throw. Drive result: Wilber Punt, 17-7 Huskies.
- On 1st and 10, Grady throws up a pass to Cox and he makes the circus catch for 33 yds. It's 1st down after a scramble by Grady. He steps back to pass but then Me'co throws a terrible block and the QB goes down in a hurry. Miami recovers #3's fumble, 17-7 Huskies
- After 10 straight running plays, it's 3rd and goal, making it painstakingly obvious we were going to try and pass the ball. Of course this was further back than originally because of an illegal substitution. Drive result: Salerno 25 yd FG. 20-10 Huskies.
The 20-2 Run to Pass ratio on 1st down wasn't exactly the right way to do things. I know we're a run-first team, but it doesn't hurt to mix things up a little bit. What I don't get is that in the 3rd quarter we passed twice on 1st down in the same drive and that 2nd attempt resulted in a turnover.
The running game was working. You don't average 5.2 ypc and not have it being effective. The gameplan was fine.
Here are the bigger reasons the drives stalled that you can blame:
- Me'co's backwards running for -16 yds
- Grady gets sacked for -6 yds
- Marcus Lewis 15 yd penalty
- Grady gets sacked again and turns the ball over
Grady needs to work on getting the ball off faster, because he's not always going to have time to throw back there. The problem is that we don't want him to become a run-first quarterback. He'll get a lot of playing time and experience in these next three games hopefully.
The pre-halftime Victory Formation
The situation: Garrett Barnas runs the ball up to our own 46 yd line. The offense comes out, looks confused and then DeMarcus Grady uses the final timeout of the half. Only 29 seconds were left where we could have thrown some passes downfield and set up a field goal attempt. Instead, Coach Kill wanted to take a knee in this situation. This was a move not to win the game, but to NOT LOSE the game. The fans were extremely upset at this point, but I can see where Kill was coming from with his inexperienced QB and the fear that Miami might take an interception back and kill Grady's confidence.
Were we ever really in danger of losing this game?
Yes, for 2 plays. After Miami scored a TD to make it 16-20 Huskies, I was extremely nervous that the Redhawks were only within 4 pts of winning the game. An onside recovered by us and a Chad Spann TD later, those fears were quenched. The rest of the game, Northern Illinois was up by at least 7 points after the 17-0 flurry of a 1st quarter.
YOU LACK DISCIPLINE!
One thing you would only get from watching the game would be how undisciplined the defense played. We pretty much sent the house at the QB, disregarding their non-existent running game. Needless, I was disappointed by how the secondary looked all game. 348 yds given up through the air is not good any way you look at it.
Both Chris Smith & Patrick George had pass interference penalties, but both drives ended up in blocked field goals anyways. I guess sometimes it's worth it if you don't want to give up the big play. Both CBs got beat a couple times and it looked like the mediocre Miami WRs were taking them to school
- CB Patrick George pushes some guy when he was already out of bounds late in the 2nd quarter. No-call.
- S Mike Sobol always trying to makes a play gets in a helmet-to-helmet hit a little after a play was dead.
- Three plays later, Chris Smith also hits a guy late out of bounds. This time, the refs pick it up. This was the same time NIU was having substitution issues and has 12 men on the field.
I'm not mad about these late hits, especially the Sobol one. These guys were just trying to be aggressive and make plays. It did get a little excessive with the sideline hits though. I'd rather have an aggressive than a passive DB all day. Marcus Lewis on offense even got caught trying to make a block below the waist a little after the play that netted a negative 15 yds. I want this defense to B-E be aggressive, just do it with your head screwed on straight, please.
John Kimble...er Coach Kill wants to see you in his office