It may go against the grain in the Big 12, but the concept of needing to step things up on defense may be starting to spread. Texas head coach Charlie Strong suggested this weekend the only way the Longhorns would be able to compete for a Big 12 title in 2014 would be to play great defense. Given his get tough act on the program recently, that makes plenty of sense, but one coach who is more known for his offensive tendencies is also getting on board with the defensive motivation in fall camp. Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury is mindful of just how important it will be this fall for his defense to get bigger and tougher.
“I think the biggest deal is getting those new defensive linemen acclimated to how we practice, how we play, understanding the schemes because they’ve got to come and play right away and they know that,” Kingsbury said when speaking with the media as fall camp opened Sunday (via Dallas Morning News). This was in response to Kingsbury’s first goal this fall camp.
Texas Tech was ranked seventh in the Big 12 in total defense last fall, allowing an average of 418.7 yards per game. The Red Raiders also allowed 30.8 points per game. Sometimes teams with the kind of offense Texas Tech offers will have some higher defensive numbers, but in a five-game losing streak last season Texas Tech allowed no fewer than 38 points in each game (38 @ Oklahoma, 52 vs. Oklahoma State, 49 vs. Kansas State, 63 vs. Baylor and 41 at Texas) and lost four of those games by double digit margins. If Texas Tech is going to climb the Big 12 ladder, that is a trend that needs to be reversed against programs they are trying to catch in the conference. Perhaps it starts with the attitude, which appears to be changing.
“This is a group of violent people — very, very violent people,” defensive end Branden Jackson said of the newcomers to The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “It’s kind of scary sometimes when we get out there and we’re just doing things that are non-contact, but these guys play full-speed all the time.”
Nobody expects Texas Tech to turn into Michigan State or Stanford on defense this season, but if they could play more like UCLA or Ohio State, that would be a good start.
Jim Harbaugh has been known for using a bit of hyperbole from time to time but it sounds as though he was really, really, really upset at a call in the final few minutes of No. 2 Michigan’s 41-8 win over Illinois on Saturday.
Wolverines quarterback John O’Korn had completed a third-and-nine pass to Drake Harris that officials had marked short of the first down by nearly two yards. Harbaugh quickly challenged the spot but Big Ten replay officials upheld the call to force a fourth down decision that was a little longer than it should have been according to the coach.
“I’ve never seen a worse call in the game of football,” Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. “My understanding of the rules and the review system is it’s the spot, it’s to get the correct spot.”
Michigan won the game in blowout fashion of course and the call was irrelevant to the final score as the Wolverines got the first down on the next play and then kneeled down to end the game. But the comments and decision to challenge a call over a few feet does show the level to which Harbaugh will compete on the field.
Apparently that is something that is now well-known by Big Ten officials too.
Clemson running back Wayne Gallman has been dealing with the aftereffects of a concussion that knocked him out of the team’s win over N.C. State.
He seemed pretty clear on what he thought about the hit that caused that concussion however, telling the Associated Press that the play was “dirty.”
“You saw him lead with his head,” Gallman said of Wolfpack defensive back Dravious Wright. “He came with his head.
“I wanted somebody to hurt him that was in the game if they could.”
Gallman was knocked out on the play and said he didn’t recall anything until a few minutes later. Clemson apparently sent video of the hit to the ACC office, but was told that it was a legal play (no flag was thrown on it either).
The tailback was held out of some of the Tigers practices last week as they rested on their bye but added that he will be good to go for this week’s matchup with Florida State in a game that could seal the ACC Atlantic division for Clemson with a win.
Gallman, a redshirt junior, is expected by many to enter the NFL Draft after the season so it means he likely won’t be facing N.C. State again on the field so it looks like he’ll have to take his frustration about the play out on the Seminoles on Saturday.
Oklahoma’s defense has not had the best of weeks.
The Sooners gave up 59 points on Saturday to Texas Tech and allowed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to set an FBS record for total offense as he did just about whatever he wanted in the passing game. While the team ultimately won the game, giving up that many points and yards has naturally led to some questions about Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator.
Head coach Bob Stoops isn’t having any of that however, and it’s not just because the coordinator in question is his brother Mike Stoops.
“It’s all of us, too. It isn’t just my brother and I. It’s also coach [Kerry] Cooks, coach [Calvin] Thibodeaux, coach [Tim] Kish, everybody in there,” Stoops said Monday, according to the Associated Press. “It’s the same coordinator that also led the league in every defensive category a year ago, and made it to the final four. We’re not running a new defense. He didn’t bring in something different. It’s the same defense. If it’s worked before, it’ll work again, and I’ve got confidence in it. And I’m also part of what we’re doing.”
Oklahoma is ranked 16th in the country and remain one of the favorites to win the Big 12 this season but it’s clear that they won’t be doing that if things don’t improve on the defensive side of the ball. The Sooners are allowing over 40 points per game in conference play and are last in the league in pass defense.
Luckily there is a cure for some those defensive ills coming up this week as Oklahoma hosts 1-6 Kansas for homecoming. It’s probably safe in saying the defense will be able to bounce back against the lowly Jayhawks but if they struggle again, you can bet those calls for Stoops to make some changes on his coaching staff will grow even louder.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has missed the team’s last two games dealing with a host of injuries but it turns out that one might be more serious than was initially indicated.
Rosen was hurt in two separate incidents in the Bruins’ loss at Arizona State three weeks ago. While he appears to have recovered from a minor lower leg injury, he has yet to play for the team in losses to Washington State and Utah as the result of his shoulder injury.
Backup Mike Fafaul has taken over and thrown for nearly 800 yards in Rosen’s absence but it’s clear that the team needs their star quarterback back if they want to end their current three-game losing streak and get a chance to make a bowl game.
If there’s one bit of good news it’s that the signal-caller is getting some extra time to rest up as UCLA is on their bye this week before traveling to Colorado next Thursday.