UCONN v. Pittsburgh - Game Analysis (Long) | The Boneyard

UCONN v. Pittsburgh - Game Analysis (Long)

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Aug 28, 2011
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I spent alot of time rewatching the game and writing my thoughts. Couldn't post earlier because of character limit. So here it is 3 weeks later.

GAME PLAN: I like the game DeLeone called, and I like this offensive scheme alot. He wants to run inside pulling the guard, and will sprinkle a couple sweeps in there. Favors the short passing game, but calls several deep passes a game. And when he called them v. Pitt, they were perfect. Wide open receivers down the field. Only one problem, we couldn't get the ball to them. More on that later. There is nothing wrong with the offensive scheme. It is not overly complicated, but it can be extremely successful. The running game is clicking on all cylinders, but the passing game is not. This is not the fault of Deleone's play calling.

QUARTERBACK: Johnny McEntee was put in position to succeed this game. The running game was clicking, the offensive line was doing a great job, and receivers were getting open. There was absolutely no excuse to have the game he did. Dreadful. It was obvious watching the game that he is extremely scared to get hit. Even the commentators caught on early. He felt a rush when there was none, he left the pocket when there was no reason to, and he slowly ran up field when he should have simply stepped up into the pocket. Many times, Pitt would blitz. McEntee would see the blitzer and panic. What he didn't do, was trust the blocking scheme, and trust his lineman. On one play, as soon as Mcentee saw a blitz he ran. Too bad he didn't get a chance to see Adam Masters pancake the blitzer. His throws were inaccurate, even the 8 yarders. Kash Moore could have had a 200 yard game if McEntee was more accurate. He missed Nick Williams and Moore on sure long tds, overthrowing Williams by 5 yards, and underthrowing a streaking Moore (that was the play two Pitt defenders, in seeming shock that McEntee threw it right at them, collided with each other when going after the ball). He has no pocket presence at all, and I am not sure if that is something you can teach. Know the blocking scheme, know your hot receivers when a blitz comes, and step into the pocket when there is heat from the outside. I though McCummings played well this game. He is fearless, that's for sure, wastes no time turning his shoulders and running up field. Many are clamoring for him to start, but I am extremely wary of his passing. But there is no doubt, if the coaches stubbornly stick with McEntee, which it appears they will do, McCummings needs to be in for whole series'. And can we see Nebrich please? If McEntee fares poorly in the 1st quarter Saturday, put Nebrich in for a quarter! Let's see what he can do. What is there to lose. I, like many fans I am sure, understand that there is a chance we go winless the rest of the way with Nebrich. But if he shows even a little promise, getting him meaningful game experience will help us out a ton next year.

It has been a pleasure to watch McCombs maturation as a runner this year. It is evident he watches film, and takes steps to improve his game. I remember him trying to bounce everything outside, and now he rarely does that at all. He knows the scheme, knows what his lineman are doing (he does a great job cutting off the pulling guards blocks), and makes quick decisions. Love it. He is not a burner, but he is an above average college back who with Ray Graham out, will likely be the Big East's leading rusher. As a freshman. JJL didn't see much time again, it would be nice for someone to give McCombs a breather, especially on passing downs since he is not a very good blocking back (although to his credit he threw some nice blocks this game), and only an average receiver. Get Ruben Franks some more playing time. Kid loves to hit people, and I noticed he is doing an excellent job on specials. Very good blocker.

Kash Moore had a great game, only knock would be that catch towards the end of the game where he had the first down but ran behind the marker and got stopped. He was consistently open, getting separation at will. Would have had an even better game if McEntee could get him the ball. Isaiah Moore had a real tough time against bump and run coverage which is surprising given his size. Once he was jammed he had a real tough time getting to speed. He is much better when he gets a clean release. Pitt obviously knew that and shut him down with bump and run for the most part. I have been extremely critical of the complete lack of effort while blocking by the receiving crew. I just want to say that Isaiah Moore, although ineffective in the pass game, did a tremendous job blocking on the outside. Great to see. Nick Williams was wide open on a long touchdown, 5 to ten steps past the nearest DB, and he was overthrown by 8 yards. And props to John Delahunt on an all around solid day. He was throwing some great blocks, took advantage of the rare pass thrown his way (would have had a td if the qb threw it a little better in the end zone, still great effort) and had a great day on specials. Griffin, while not a great blocker (not for lack of effort, he busts his butt whenever asked to block, working to get position in the defender) is a great asset in the pass game. He made tough catches look routine, and finds holes in the defense with ease. We need to continue to take advantage of the mismatches he presents.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Just a great performance by these guys. I said last week that Mike Ryan is back from whatever caused his early season swoon (I am beginning to think it wasn't too much weight, but slow recovery from injury). Just engulfing defenders. And Steve Greene has taken over Zach Hurds role as the ornery, play to the whistle, guard on the team. Very effective on his trap blocks, Greene has cemented his status on the line. Mo was Mo, great tactician, getting to the 2nd level, helping on double teams. Masters had some great blocks in the running game, pancaking a couple defenders. He remains inconsistent in the passing game, and I think if someone emerges at guard next year, he is moving back to tackle. Friend played alot better than past games, but still needs to get stronger. He made no mental mistakes, and got some push in the running game. This line is quietly coming together after all those changes/position switches.

GAME PLAN: Horrendous job by Don Brown. Absolutely no idea what he was thinking here, and the most frustrating thing: WHERE ARE THE ADJUSTMENTS!?!?!!?? Todd Graham owned Don Brown's D. Knew the defense, exploited it, and continued to exploit it as Brown made no changes. The linebackers looked utterly confused which makes me think they are not learning the system so quickly. So dumb it down for now! Slowly add intricacies! Deleone appears to have learned this, but Brown has not. IDENTIFY WHO YOUR EFFECTIVE BLITZERS ARE!!! Here is a news flash - Jory Johnson is a poor blitzer. So don't blitz him! (I am telling you, do not re watch this defensive game if you don't want to get upset. How frustrating). I expect to see adjustments and changes in the Syracuse game. One scheme I actually liked was the 5 man line on passing downs - Martin and Joseph at ends, Reyes on the nose, Trevardo Williams and Sio Moore standing up (Joseph got a sack out of this formation). The change I would make is Substitute Teddy Jennings for Moore, and put Moore in for Jory Johnson at MLB.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Not sure if it was Mark May or Lou Holtz who said it, but I agree, UCONN has one of the best D Lines in the nation. And that is what frustrates me about this game. We owned the line of scrimmage on O and D. And any coach will tell you, 9 times out of 10, if you win the battle at the line of scrimmage, you win the game. Ooops. What a performance by these guys. And it isn't just the 4 starters, this team is 7 deep on the line with excellent players; Reyes, Martin, Wirth, and Stephens at DT. Williams, Joseph, and Teddy Jennings. Jesse Joseph is back, playing his usual great all around game. Trevardo Williams was all over the place, even playing some linebacker. Ryan Wirth had an awesome day. Everyone played well here. It boggles my mind how this team could be 3-4 with the performance from this D Line. The loss of Reyes and Martin will hurt next year, but Wirth and Stephen should be able to step in and do a great job. These guys are awesome. Reyes is playing at an All American level. Trevardo is playing at an All Big East 1st team level.

LINEBACKERS: Can I give an F -? I saw a bunch of linebackers backpedaling, unsure of what to do and completely messing up coverage responsibilities. Smallwood should not be covering anyone on passing downs. Oof. He seems to not know who his responsibilities are, and his confusion is causing him to stutter step (see the Shanahan td in the first quarter. He had no idea if he was supposed to cover the back or the slot receiver. And I honestly couldn't tell whether Ty Meer Brown or smallwood was supposed to cover Shanahan). What he does do well is hit people in the running game. he is a bruiser with great short area explosiveness. And (do you hear me Don Brown?), he is an excellent blitzer (stupid roughing the passer penalty notwithstanding). Use Smallwood as a run stopper and a blitzer. Do not ask him to cover anyone. With that said, I see a ton of promise in Smallwood. He made some glaring mistakes, but he came up and knocked Pitt players, including lineman, on their back. Love it. Jory Johnson was missing tackles, looked confused on pass coverage, and was not good on blitzes. It appears the coaches think he is the best cover linebacker. If he is, we are in trouble. Stop blitzing him!!! Sio Moore had a terrible game, he was messing up coverages. In his defense, it is a little unfair asking him to cover a slot receiver or run 20 yards downfield with an outside receiver). But Sio was undisciplined in run defense, not aggressive at all. This is what we know about our linebackers - They are not good against the pass. So figure out how to change the scheme so as not to ask them to cover so much. Many college and nfl teams use a safety as a backer in dime and nickel defenses. Why not put Ty Meer Brown up there? He is fast, and is not afraid to hit if the offense wants to run a draw. We don't solve this, I guarantee we don't win another game. All of Pitt's passing yardage came in the middle of the field. Stop making the defense so complicated. It is obvious the linebackers are confused. When you are confused, you are tentative. Dumb down the responsibilities and let them just go out and play. There is talent here.

SECONDARY: Jerome Junior's tenure on the 2 deep should end soon. I don't want to pile on, but he had a very poor game at safety. And it is nothing new this year. He took horrible angles, missed tackles, and looked disinterested. A position or role change is in order. I mentioned above we needed a secondary member to play linebacker on passing downs. Maybe Junior can try that out. But he is not the answer at safety. Time to let another youngster get a chance. I will say, aside from that, the secondary play was not bad. Pitt did all of its damage abusing the linebackers. It is really hard not to get excited about Byron Jones and Ty-Meer Brown. Super fast, and they aren't scared to come up and stick a player. They are going to be good, and their improvement is evident each game. A bright spot in a horrible season.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Really watched kick returns to see if I could see anything amiss. Reuben Frank looked great leading the way for Williams. Mike Osieski has to be more decisive and agressive. Don't wait for the defender, run up field and seek him out. This is what causes nice lanes for Williams to sift through. I did see an improvement from Williams, hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Very dissapointing game. And I came away with 3 glaring issues:
1. QB play is horrendous. And unfortunately, I don't know how much we can improve that this year.
2. Linebacker play is terrible. Might be able to correct this with # 3. . . .
3. Defensive scheme and adjustments are a step below abysmal. Put players in position to succeed. That is not happening right now, and it is not for a lack of talent on defense.


Aug 24, 2011
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great read. i think at the time of the pitt game and still today, the coaches are willing to stick with plans somewhat even if they need change in order to weed out some guys for the future of the program. i feel thats happeing at least on the D side of the ball. i also like frank alot.
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