Defensive Discussions, Week 11 In The Big Ten: Pryor v. Angerer, Clay v. Graham

Here's the questions I asked last week with some answers -

Will Wisconsin go for the jugular early against Indiana? Nope. The Badgers ran their base 4-3 and showed tremendous confidence in their corners, a confidence that Chappell exploited as the game went on. Although O'Brien Schofield had a couple impact plays, the Badgers never blitzed and stayed contently in their zone.

Will Illinois bring pressure against Adam Weber? Clay Nurse and co had 7 sacks, so the answer is most definitely YES...I think that's the most in the Big Ten for a single game this year. Another quick example of why I tear my hair out at Weber dropping back so much behind that horrible pass blocking line.

How will Greg Robinson stop the bleeding against Purdue? He won't. But it's looking more and more like a talent issue in Ann Arbor - Robinson has altered his players and his schemes but no one makes plays. The safeties are the worst in Michigan history.

Who will smash Pryor first? No one. Pryor's legs helped OSU pick up huge first downs and avoid getting stuck in 3rd and long.

How will Northwestern stop Brandon Wegher? Pressure and stacking the box. The Wildcats attacked with their base defense, but this time their playmakers made a difference. After ending Ricky Stanzi's regular season, the Wildcats forced Iowa to throw into deep zones by jamming LB's into gaps at the LOS. Wegher had 63 yards and the Iowa QB's were a predictable 13-36 passing.

So onto this weeks' questions...

How will Iowa contain TP? I checked BHGP for some analysis on this. Finding none, I checked my DVR for a hint on the Iowa defensive gameplan for the monster game on Sat. Frankly (and any semi-coherent Iowa fan will know this), Iowa doesn't exactly mix up its defensive schemes. That 4-3 depends on the individual talent and toughness of every player, not on blitzing, stunting, or mixed coverages. In fact, Indiana burnt Iowa 3-4 times when the Hawkeyes blitzed. So when TP and the Buckeye shotgun attack comes 'acallin', expect more of the same. A linebacker will spy Pryor and I expect the DE's will take wider splits to force TP back into Klug. The OSU power run game has been consistently okay, but Iowa won't fear it thanks to the experience of Angerer and Hunter.

How will Northwestern slow the sudden threat of Illinois' downfield passing attack? Charest completed passes of 42, 31, 27, 24, 23, 17, and 14 yards last week against Mini. This new facet has been added because Juice was incompetent at throwing the ball and what does Zook have to lose by giving his future QB some experience? Northwestern has put it's pants on after early season defensive debacles, due mostly to injuries and missed tackles. Now that Wootton has turned into a probable double team drawer and the linebackers are actually tackling, it seems some early blitzes to rile young Charest might be in line. Don't sleep on this Wildcat D - every single position has improved throughout the season, even while playing harder opponents.

Make sure to go back and submit your picks for Week 11 of the Obligatory Predictions Contest. Weekly winners get a chance to write 500 words on the site.

Will NO IT WON'T HAPPEN Michigan be able HAHA WRONG FAIL to slow John Clay? Um. IDK. Early season Michigan was a comeback team, but if Wisconsin takes a lead on the back of it's Student Body Right/Left/Middle running game, this contest is over. DE Brandon Graham is a 1st Team All Big 10 Performer, probably the best run stopping DE in the conference, while Martin and Van Bergen are above average defensive lineman. If the DE's can shoot up field and kill the off tackles/sweeps (like Graham has been doing regularly), the Wolverines stand a chance. If not, the horrendous LB's get to handfight 320 lb. linemen while I cry softly in my man cave.

Can Indiana continue it's yard gobbling offensive form against a solid PSU defense? Penn State's defense has been the cause of zero of it's big game problems this year. If Ray Small doesn't slash a 40 yard punt return at the start of last weeks game, it's a 10-7 game late into the 4th quarter. And it's so obvious why they succeed - probably the Big Ten's best collection of linebackers in the last 10 years (Lee, Bowman, Hull) and a good front four. But Indiana has come out firing on all cylinders against just about everyone except Virginia - I'm talking trick plays, constant misdirection, incredibly effective slants to big receivers. Indiana does break down when Chappell gets pressured and I'm sure a Penn State defensive coach noticed this. So pressure early? Is that a Penn State MO? Or will they follow the Wisconsin route (sit back in zone coverage and forget about blitzing)?

The Spartans play a decent passing offense. Will we finally see some wrinkles in the Big Ten's worst pass defense? No. Next question. Narduzzi doesn't wrinkle, he simply watches his talented front 7 stop everyone's run game while the bedraggled secondary gives up lots of points and yards. And when he does switch to a 3-3, THIS HAPPENS.


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