Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mid-season grades - the defense

The other day I graded out the offense. Now it's time for the defense.
  • Line - C-. Probably either the hardest or the easiest to grade. These are the guys that are supposed to eat up space and create room for the linebackers to do their job. Hard to grade in terms of you can't really look for stats to explain things for you. Easy in terms of just being able to see when they're getting beat and when they are dictating the play. Overall our line play has been a mixed bag: dominating at times of certain games and flat out getting beat in others. In short, the Vandy game saved this from being a D or lower.
  • Linebacker - C+. Could be much higher mostly thanks to Amarlo Herrera and Jarvis. Gilliard has gotten plenty of opponents' jerseys dirty as well. However, the mid term grade for this unit from Columbia was an abject failure. Sucked in on the read option and out of position often. Quite frankly it was reminiscent of the Jancek era. Ouch.
  • Corner - D. Probably the greatest disappointment. I admit I was encouraged by what we saw against Missouri, but it's really been downhill from there. Receivers wandering free without anyone within striking distance to play the ball much less tackle the guy before extra yards are gained. The gut instinct is to say that Rambo's suspension has hurt the corners' consistency with Commings having to move back and forth. I don't know. The only thing I do know is that I've been pretty impressed with Swann's development. Wouldn't mind seeing him start and get more reps.
  • Safety - D. No consistency in the first six games as coaches have had to juggle guys around Commings and Rambo's suspension. Williams continues to lead by example when it comes to fundamental tackling, but he's at his best when he can freelance and count on the underneath coverage while spying and laying waste. Norman filled in admirably for Rambo, and so did Commings. But it still just felt like a makeshift secondary at times. This unit needs to gel, quickly.
These grades have been severely hampered by the last two games in particular. Part of me wants to join in the chorus of people that are willing to throw this all at the feet of the suspensions and some rustiness once those players returned. I don't know about that. However, once the team arrives in Lexington fresh off a bye week I do know that there's no more room for that excuse.
Parting shot - Kentucky averages 18.6 points a game. If they even sniff that much Saturday night it should be a wake up call that wholesale changes are needed in the starting lineup for Jacksonville.

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