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Defensive grades: coming out flat leads to defeat

Spotting a team 28 points before you actually start playing is a risky strategy.

Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

After last weeks domination, the defense decided to really throw the fans a curve-ball. Instead of just being bad or totally dominating, they did both. After getting pantsed in the first half, the defense shut down West Virginia’s offense. In the end, it was just too little too late.

Secondary: C-

370 passing yards to Will Grier is not terrible. I watched the defensive backs make some good plays on the ball and once we started pressing the coverage I thought our boys ran with that talented receiving corp well after halftime.

The big issues with the secondary is that they continue to get beat over the top, which forced Gibbs to loosen up the coverage. This allows a quarterback to just walk up and down the field with minimal effort on 5-8 yard passes.

We have to find a way to start winning those deep balls where the coverage looks alright and we just get beat anyways. Too many times the corners and safeties are right there, and just do not make the play.

Linebackers: B-

In the first half, our linebackers looked out of place and slow. Even Dakota Allen missed tackles and blew assignments.

But in the second half, they showed their talent. They were stronger in coverage, and filled holes much faster. We need that second half performance for a whole game, but you have to like the recovery these guys made to make this a respectable game.

Defensive Line: D

That first half was ugly. The defensive line looked out of shape, and was getting blown off the ball. This put the linebackers in a bad spot of having to take on blockers instead of making plays. There was virtually zero pressure, and they just got whipped.

In the second half, the intensity changed. They started stonewalling blockers, and generated some organic pressure on Grier. It was not a perfect performance in that half, but in the second half they took some of the load on their shoulders.

Coaching: F+

Gibbs is apparently a wizard at making adjustments. But the failing grade is well deserved. You cannot be so blatantly unprepared. No one looked ready and that falls squarely on the coaching staff.

I love a good second half adjustment, but if you just roll over for a half of football you will lose almost every time. You can have a mediocre half and make a recovery at halftime, but even the best adjustments usually will not overcome just getting taken to the woodshed.

Our offense was struggling so the defense needed to be ready to go and they were not. The fans deserve better than that.

If you want butts to stay in the seats, start playing when the game starts. The fans owe you their support to show up, the coaches owe the fans to have the team ready to keep everyone entertained and in their seats. They really let us all down by subjecting the fan base to a half, especially that first quarter, of unwatchable football..

I love the fight this defense showed, and Gibbs made the most of a horrible start. But we need that effort from the opening kick, not when our backs are up against the wall.