The rockford file: Notes on the Nebraska game

rockford

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After further review of the first half:

• If Coney Durr makes two tackles, it's likely a one-score game at the half. Listen, I know these players are still little more than kids, so I'm not trying to rip anyone. But it appeared Durr completely botched his assignments on two rushes that went for a combined 100 yards and two TDs in the first half. On the first run he had contain responsibility, but misread the play and got sucked inside, then reacted poorly and failed to get a piece of the runner even though he was unblocked. Forty yards later it was 7-0. Later in the first quarter, there was another run to Durr's side. The Gophers had numbers, with a LB, CB, and S at the point of attack, while Nebraska only had two receivers available to block. Durr was untouched but failed to get in position and whiffed on the tackle. Sixty yards, touchdown. Everybody makes mistakes, but these were the kind of plays that can cause a guy to fall so far down the depth chart he doesn't make a noise when he lands.

• If Tyler Johnson stops dropping easy catches and keeps making the really tough ones, he's going to have a remarkable career. He currently has 47 receptions for 705 yards (second in the B1G), and has dropped somewhere around 10 passes that hit him in the hands.

• Johnson is a matchup nightmare coming out of the backfield. The Gophs lined him up as a running back twice in the first half, forcing Nebraska to try covering him with a LB. Johnson used approximately 1% of his athletic ability to make the LB look silly. QB Zack Annexstad connected with him for 12 yards the first time. The second time, the pocket collapsed slightly early, and ZA had to get the ball out. It was incomplete. The one drawback to using Johnson in the backfield is that it takes longer for him to get into a route, so the protection has to be there.

• Anyone who thinks ZA should have been replaced based on his first-half performance is a knucklehead. He was 9-for-20 for 135 yards. Give him the two drops by Johnson and he's over 150 yards passing at the half. BTN had a graphic at the start of the game, pointing out that since 2000, only seven B1G freshman QBs have passed for more than 1,100 yards. ZA is one of them. Anyone calling for him to be benched is likely named Morgan.

• Rashod Bateman seems to have serious difficulty in getting separation from DBs. The true freshman has all the athletic ability you could want, but his route-running needs improvement.

• The first half was not the dumpster fire I expected. The Gophers should have been in this game.

Hoping to get through the second half tonight. Looking forward to seeing how Morgan looked, and what the hell else happened with the defense.

JTG
 

tikited

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Anyone who thinks ZA should have been replaced based on his first-half performance is a knucklehead. He was 9-for-20 for 135 yards. Give him the two drops by Johnson and he's over 150 yards passing at the half. BTN had a graphic at the start of the game, pointing out that since 2000, only seven B1G freshman QBs have passed for more than 1,100 yards. ZA is one of them. Anyone calling for him to be benched is likely named Morgan.
Good stuff overall, but if Morgan doesn't get the start on Friday I will officially start worrying about Fleck's decision making abilities. ZA is a sitting duck back there. Kid can't move at all.
 

Pompous Elitist

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Yeah, if ZA starts and struggles again it is a major stain on PJs coaching. It’s undeniable Morgan gave the team a huge spark with his option running. Will that continue? Will Morgan perform when he’s not coming off the bench? All unknowable. It’s possible he’ll really struggle as ZA has vs Big Ten defenses. However, I don’t know how you pull the hot hand for a guy that’s obviously still not 100% and hasn’t shown anything vs real defenses.
 

Pompous Elitist

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The first half was not the dumpster fire I expected.
I chuckled. 398 yards and however many points, vs 8 on offense and a buck something yards is the definition of a dumpster fire. I guess we have different standards.
 

WorkingMyTailOff

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Thanks Rockford. Not sure if this was first or second half but there was a play (the play after Martin went out briefly with an injury) where Julian Huff came in for him and clearly should have plugged the hole, but over ran and got behind a bunch of blockers allowing Nebraska’s other rb to go untouched for a huge gain. I think was the drive after the gophers scored to make it 26-22.
The Huff bros are sometimes a liability and that is an understatement.
 

rockford

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No doubt ZA's mobility is limited by injuries. I was at the opener, and thought he moved quite well. That hasn't been the case since he tweaked his ankle.

That being said, it seems to me he's having a fairly remarkable season for a freshman -- at least in terms of what we're used to seeing from QBs. If Morgan is an upgrade, I will be pleasantly surprised.

Maybe my opinion will change after watching the second half.

JTG
 

CWCWCW

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I was very impressed with Durr at OSU. He was playing very well up to the targeting penalty.
I'm not sure what went on at Nebraska, but that was brutal to watch. I hope he gets an opportunity to bounce back.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

rockford

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I chuckled. 398 yards and however many points, vs 8 on offense and a buck something yards is the definition of a dumpster fire. I guess we have different standards.
If Durr makes the two plays I mentioned, it's likely 14-7 or 14-8 at the half.

JTG
 

rockford

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I was very impressed with Durr at OSU. He was playing very well up to the targeting penalty.
I'm not sure what went on at Nebraska, but that was brutal to watch. I hope he gets an opportunity to bounce back.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
In all fairness, he made two nice plays on quick passes in the first half where he came up fast and made sure tackles for minimal gains. I wish the kid nothing but the best.

JTG
 

PMWinSTP

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I really liked those plays with TJ in the backfield...nice wrinkle.
 

rockford

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I chuckled. 398 yards and however many points, vs 8 on offense and a buck something yards is the definition of a dumpster fire. I guess we have different standards.
Nearly half of those yards came on three plays -- the two I mentioned involving Durr, and one where Martinez scrambled for 55 yards. On that last play, it was 3rd and 1. DT Sam Renner had Martinez in his sights for a 4-yard loss, but missed the tackle (he appeared to drop his eyes). LB Kamal Martin had a crack at Martinez after a gain of four yards, but couldn't make the play (it was a tough one). 50 yards later it was first and goal.

Take away those three plays and it's likely a close game at the half.

JTG
 

Face The Facts

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What are you seeing on the line backers?

On a couple of those long runs, it appears #21 is getting escorted away from making a tackle rather easily.
 

John Galt

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Yeah, if ZA starts and struggles again it is a major stain on PJs coaching. It’s undeniable Morgan gave the team a huge spark with his option running. Will that continue? Will Morgan perform when he’s not coming off the bench? All unknowable. It’s possible he’ll really struggle as ZA has vs Big Ten defenses. However, I don’t know how you pull the hot hand for a guy that’s obviously still not 100% and hasn’t shown anything vs real defenses.
Kind of like how you talked up Croft after Michigan St last year?

A lot of QBs can look good in the 2nd half when your team is down by 20. Maybe the defense is playing a different scheme. Or maybe Nebraska wasn't prepared for TM as there is no film on him.
 

rockford

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What are you seeing on the line backers?

On a couple of those long runs, it appears #21 is getting escorted away from making a tackle rather easily.
I haven't been focusing much on defense, cuz it takes forever to get through the tape the way it is. But I do jot down a few notes on every play. I noted Martin (#21) with making a couple nice tackles. The only other time he shows up in my notes was on a 22-yard run that set up Nebraska's third TD. I'm not sure if it was a scheme issue or someone was out of position, but it looked like Martin was forced to step up and fill the hole off tackle, leaving no one to contain ... and the running back bounced outside. There's a chance DL Winston Delattiboudere was supposed to have contain on that play, but it's tough to know.

JTG
 

Winona Gopher

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After further review of the first half:

• If Coney Durr makes two tackles, it's likely a one-score game at the half. Listen, I know these players are still little more than kids, so I'm not trying to rip anyone. But it appeared Durr completely botched his assignments on two rushes that went for a combined 100 yards and two TDs in the first half. On the first run he had contain responsibility, but misread the play and got sucked inside, then reacted poorly and failed to get a piece of the runner even though he was unblocked. Forty yards later it was 7-0. Later in the first quarter, there was another run to Durr's side. The Gophers had numbers, with a LB, CB, and S at the point of attack, while Nebraska only had two receivers available to block. Durr was untouched but failed to get in position and whiffed on the tackle. Sixty yards, touchdown. Everybody makes mistakes, but these were the kind of plays that can cause a guy to fall so far down the depth chart he doesn't make a noise when he lands.

JTG
I agreed with most of your post, but this part in particular should get more attention. Durr was in the right spot both times and simply whiffed tackles that went for long gains. Not saying it's all his fault, but those 2 big plays were reasons why Gophers were in a big hole early. Missed tackles were a big problem vs. Nebraska. Seemingly a Gopher LB or DT would have a RB dead to rights only to whiff on the tackle which was a stark contrast to the Ohio St and Iowa games.
 

Iceland12

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What are you seeing on the line backers?

On a couple of those long runs, it appears #21 is getting escorted away from making a tackle rather easily.
He's got a name, Kamal Martin. He's a Junior from Burnsville. You show all kinds of respect, and excuse mistakes for Coach Fleck. You could learn, or at least look up, the name for somebody who puts their body on the line for "your team" before you call him out.
 

rockford

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Yeah, if ZA starts and struggles again it is a major stain on PJs coaching. It’s undeniable Morgan gave the team a huge spark with his option running. Will that continue? Will Morgan perform when he’s not coming off the bench? All unknowable. It’s possible he’ll really struggle as ZA has vs Big Ten defenses. However, I don’t know how you pull the hot hand for a guy that’s obviously still not 100% and hasn’t shown anything vs real defenses.
I have to wonder, when exactly was ZA struggling in the first half? He threw 20 passes (on a windy day), only one or two of which weren't on target, IIRC. On one sack he took, he got his helmet ripped off 2.54 seconds after the snap. On another play, he was forced to deliver the ball in about two seconds, and connected with Bateman for about 15 yards.

An open question for those that want ZA out: What exactly is your standard? If you're upset about the "long-ball jump balls" we saw in previous games (which account for most of his interceptions), I don't think we can lay blame for all of them at his feet.

JTG
 

Face The Facts

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He's got a name, Kamal Martin. He's a Junior from Burnsville. You show all kinds of respect, and excuse mistakes for Coach Fleck. You could learn, or at least look up, the name for somebody who puts their body on the line for "your team" before you call him out.
I know his name, but in questioning it, I feel it's better to refer to him by number than directly naming him like I'm calling him out.
If it's positive, I'll use names, if it's questioning a possible negative, I'll use numbers.
 

Iceland12

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I have to wonder, when exactly was ZA struggling in the first half? He threw 20 passes (on a windy day), only one or two of which weren't on target, IIRC. On one sack he took, he got his helmet ripped off 2.54 seconds after the snap. On another play, he was forced to deliver the ball in about two seconds, and connected with Bateman for about 15 yards.

An open question for those that want ZA out: What exactly is your standard? If you're upset about the "long-ball jump balls" we saw in previous games (which account for most of his interceptions), I don't think we can lay blame for all of them at his feet.

JTG
No my standard is simple. Any guy playing QB who can't run or move to escape pressure because of a bad leg or foot shouldn't be playing. Fleck and Company did the same thing with Croft last year when he and his coaching staff were perfectly willing to let Croft take all the heat for not running when he needed to. That stopped when Croft directly answered a question about it when he said "Coach told me not to run because they had to keep me playing".

When the question was redirected they admitted that Croft was playing on a bad leg. Which a lot of people were okay with because they didn't like the kid.

Now it seems very apparent that there are a few people on the board who don't give a damn about the players on the field now. All the talk of "wait until next year, or 2020, or 2021, etc." betrays that.

Why anybody would think that playing a guy on a bad ankle over playing a healthy guy that looked pretty good is..

Well what would be the reason?
 
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Iceland12

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I know his name, but in questioning it, I feel it's better to refer to him by number than directly naming him like I'm calling him out.
If it's positive, I'll use names, if it's questioning a possible negative, I'll use numbers.
B.S.
 

rockford

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No my standard is simple. Any guy playing QB who can't run or move to escape pressure because of a bad leg or foot shouldn't be playing. Fleck and Company did the same thing with Croft last year when he and his coaching staff were perfectly willing to let Croft take all the heat for not running when he needed to. That stopped when Croft directly answered a question about it when he said "Coach told me not to run because they had to keep be playing".

When the question was redirected they admitted that Croft was playing on a bad leg.
That's a good explanation of your reasoning. In fact, it seemed to me that ZA chose discretion over valor on a couple plays in the first half, and I wondered if he was told to protect himself.

Some things are easy to analyze from that outside. Others are unknowable. No way to know what the medical staff is saying.

JTG
 

John Galt

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Nearly half of those yards came on three plays -- the two I mentioned involving Durr, and one where Martinez scrambled for 55 yards. On that last play, it was 3rd and 1. DT Sam Renner had Martinez in his sights for a 4-yard loss, but missed the tackle (he appeared to drop his eyes). LB Kamal Martin had a crack at Martinez after a gain of four yards, but couldn't make the play (it was a tough one). 50 yards later it was first and goal.

Take away those three plays and it's likely a close game at the half.

JTG
I get what you're saying, but giving up big plays is part of the game. We haven't been getting enough of them on offense, and we keep giving them up on defense. The fact that one missed tackle leads to an 80 yard TD run tells me the scheme isn't right and there aren't enough players swarming to the ball.
 

Iceland12

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Not really. Your reply was a lie. You wanted me to say "Great! You knew the player's name but you don't use names when you're being negative."

You should have just said you forgot his name. It happens.

1. Carter Coughlin's penalty took them from 4th down and punting to running out the clock and scoring the final 7. On that same drive, on the TD, the right DE gets sucked inside. (game was well over at this point but made things look worse.
2. Second to last TD (I believe) Barber gets fooled and misses his gap and their RB looks faster than Robert Smith against our secondary. Re-watch that play sometime and look how fast he pulls away from our DB.
3. Early drive, 3rd and 15 down to 4th and 2.
4. It's a shame our backup to Winfield (of all locations) appears to be a walk-on. Talk about a drop off in talent.
5. Two possessions in the red-zone with turnovers. One fumble, one pick. Decent drives up until that point.

I thought the offense actually moved the ball fairly well, but Maryland was WELL WELL WELL prepared for the bubble screens. Those seemed to be our best drive killers along with TJ dropping the ball.

I love the work from our TE, but he's not a pure receiver, that's evident.
Our D-line and O-line both need work.
ZA didn't have his best game, but if he had an extra 1-2 seconds each time he drops back, he'd probably play better.

Gopher eliminate some mistakes and it's a better game.

Our WR's are good enough to win Big Ten games (as long as TJ doesn't keep dropping passes).
 

rockford

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I get what you're saying, but giving up big plays is part of the game. We haven't been getting enough of them on offense, and we keep giving them up on defense. The fact that one missed tackle leads to an 80 yard TD run tells me the scheme isn't right and there aren't enough players swarming to the ball.
Yep, it all comes down to making plays.

I couldn't watch the game live. My only clue on how it was progressing was based on the angst of the game thread here. I was expecting a total disaster, with no sign of competence anywhere.

Instead, it seems like a lot of games: two fairly even teams where a handful of plays (or missed plays) make all the difference.

JTG
 

Face The Facts

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Not really. Your reply was a lie. You wanted me to say "Great! You knew the player's name but you don't use names when you're being negative."

You should have just said you forgot his name. It happens.
I'm sorry I made you upset.
I apologize for not using his name in asking if the other poster felt he had handled a couple plays correctly.

Although I didn't intend it as a slight to Kamal Martin, I now see how it could have offended other fans of him in that it seemed like a slight, rather than a better way to communicate a question about a defensive player from a defensive unit that had a really rough day.

In the future, I'll try to do a better job of using the players names to not upset anyone.
 

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KAMAL MARTIN IS TO BLAME

I'm sorry I made you upset.
I apologize for not using his name in asking if the other poster felt he had handled a couple plays correctly.

Although I didn't intend it as a slight to Kamal Martin, I now see how it could have offended other fans of him in that it seemed like a slight, rather than a better way to communicate a question about a defensive player from a defensive unit that had a really rough day.

In the future, I'll try to do a better job of using the players names to not upset anyone.
Kamal Martin was the outside backer on both long runs. Our DE was not shaded outside shoulder, which means Martin is responsible for contain. On both runs he got sucked inside, which left the 165 pound Durr to take on a 230 running back. I thought after the first long run they would fix it. They didn't. Either Robb Smith is a terrible D coordinator who doesn't adjust after glaring mistakes, or Martin gets told and makes the same stupid mistake again. (Maybe its both) So, so frustrating. PJ don't talk about youth and inexperience on D. Those were upperclassmen getting embarrassed by an 0-6 squad. Smith has not impressed; 2nd year, and players on D still look like they have no clue out there.
 

Pompous Elitist

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Kind of like how you talked up Croft after Michigan St last year?

A lot of QBs can look good in the 2nd half when your team is down by 20. Maybe the defense is playing a different scheme. Or maybe Nebraska wasn't prepared for TM as there is no film on him.
Yeah that’s pretty much what I said. And, Croft did have moments particularly vs MSU. Most of the time he didn’t, but he wa running for his life and had either one or zero receiving options.

We had a few non con sparks of brilliance from ZA but otherwise he’s been a liability IMO.
 

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The first touchdown is cover 3 (3 deep...corners and FS have deep 1/3). Durr doesn't have contain on cover 3!

It would be the DE or OLB depending on the call. It appears it'd be the DE based on his location (outside shoulder of OT) and the OLB's agrressiveness sucking inside on the ride.

True, Durr missed the tackle, but he for sure doesn't have contain.
 
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GopherWeatherGuy

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No my standard is simple. Any guy playing QB who can't run or move to escape pressure because of a bad leg or foot shouldn't be playing. Fleck and Company did the same thing with Croft last year when he and his coaching staff were perfectly willing to let Croft take all the heat for not running when he needed to. That stopped when Croft directly answered a question about it when he said "Coach told me not to run because they had to keep me playing".

When the question was redirected they admitted that Croft was playing on a bad leg. Which a lot of people were okay with because they didn't like the kid.

Now it seems very apparent that there are a few people on the board who don't give a damn about the players on the field now. All the talk of "wait until next year, or 2020, or 2021, etc." betrays that.

Why anybody would think that playing a guy on a bad ankle over playing a healthy guy that looked pretty good is..

Well what would be the reason?
The reason could be that the coaching staff feels that Annexstad is the better QB? The same reason why Leidner always played injured.
 
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