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Issue: Alabama Discipline

Diagnosis: FIX

Fox College Football

Fox College Football

Back in my Maintenance Report from Week 2, I diagnosed at the time for Alabama fans to 'cautiously monitor' their teams discipline issues on the field. I wrote at the time that a staple of the Alabama dynasty has been disciplined teams and said that, "this will be an Achilles heel that will bite them later."

Well indeed the discipline issues have bit the Crimson Tide and cost them in a Top 6 encounter with rival Tennessee. 

The Tide were flagged 17 times, the most in program history, in a 52-49 defeat.

While most folks have been wanting to predict the demise of Saban and his dynasty, he seems to have every few years a "down" team that goes 10-3 or 11-2 and isn't in the playoff or national championship picture. The more I watch this team, the more inclined I am to believe this might be the "down" year for Alabama, and I use "down" in quotes because for most programs 10 or 11 wins is a fantastic or great season. 

Let's take a look at their schedule going forward. The Tide start with a game this week with "The Pirate" Mike Leach and Mississippi State. They follow that up with back-to-back road games against a competent LSU squad who are playing light years ahead of their Florida State performance in Week 1, followed by a Top 10 showdown with Ole Miss. The Rebels' offense is just as dynamic with Tennessee with Jaxson Dart and Jonathan Mingo combination as lethal as any in the country, something DeMarcco Hellams might want to take note of.


Issue: Penn State Rush Defense

Diagnosis: FIX

I have to give the Nittany Lions credit, they have to take pride in the fact they held the Michigan Wolverines ground game 22 yards short of running a quarter mile. Maybe my attempt at humor failed here, but if it didn't the Nittany Lions gave little to no resistance stopping the Wolverines ground game allowing 418 yards. That's the third most rushing yards surrendered in program history (452 to Michigan State in 1997 and 425 to Notre Dame in 1989). 

This week the Nittany Lions host Minnesota for their annual White Out game that will feature Mohamed Ibrahim and the 16th best running game in the country. Maybe the Lions may attempt to stack the box, we will see.

Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) runs for a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second half Oct. 15, 2022 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. 

Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) runs for a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second half Oct. 15, 2022 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. 


Issue: Notre Dame Offense

Diagnosis: FIX

It has been a tumultuous first season for head coach Marcus Freeman in South Bend. If one thing has plagued his first season, it is his inept offense. That unit was the primary culprit in a loss to rival Stanford at Notre Dame Stadium. The Cardinal defense entering the Notre Dame surrendered 32.6 points per game, and their offense is without running back E.J. Smith is out for the season. 

All the Irish could do is muster 14 points, 301 yards of total offense, committed two turnovers, and were only 3 for 12 on third downs. Drew Pyne, in for the injured Tyler Buchner who is out for the season, completed less than 50% of his passes against the struggling Cardinal. The Irish have been desperate to find vertical threats to compliment All-American tight end Michael Mayer. Lorenzo Styles has been here and there this season, he had a breakout performance in last season's Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State. This season, I feel the quarterback position, between Buchner and Pyne, has been the issue for Styles not being able to take his game up. 

The one bright spot for the Irish was impact freshman Tobias Merriweather caught his first pass for the Irish in his career on a highlight 41 yard touchdown reception who should see more looks to help the anemic offense.

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The Irish ground game has been more consistent than the passing game this season. They are averaging 170.9 yards per game on the ground, and that has been righted by sophomores Audric Estime and Logan Diggs

Lastly, the much maligned offensive coordinator Tommy Rees might be in the crosshairs this offseason if he cannot get the Irish offense to improve in the second half.

Oct 15, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Tobias Merriweather (15) catches a pass for a touchdown as Stanford Cardinal safety Kendall Williamson (21) defends in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium.

Oct 15, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Tobias Merriweather (15) catches a pass for a touchdown as Stanford Cardinal safety Kendall Williamson (21) defends in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium.


Issue: Southern Cal Defense 

Diagnosis: Cautiously Monitor

The Trojans return again this week to the Maintenance Report, but this time it will be the defensive side of the ball that gets the prognosis. Entering last week's showdown with the Utah Utes, the Southern Cal defense was leading the nation in sacks and turnovers demonstrating their proclivity to come up with the big play. 

Utah was really the first true test for the Trojans, as the Utes are their first opponent who has the playmakers and the ability to compete athletically on both sides of the ball. 

The Trojan defense stymied the Utes in the first half, but in the second half, a 36-21 rally gave Utah the upset. USC is now 71st in total defense (70th passing and 77th rushing), with a Top 40 scoring defense at 22.1 points per game surrendered, indicating a bend but don't break defense, but also the competition the Trojans have faced haven't necessarily been elite. 

Arizona hosts the Trojans this week and they possess a Top 10 passing offense, this is a game in my mind goes one of two ways: Southern Cal routs Arizona considering the Wildcats are at the bottom of the country in most defensive statistics, or, this is another Pac-12 shootout where Caleb Williams will have to throw the Trojans to win.

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans linebacker Eric Gentry (18) trips up Utah Utes wide receiver Money Parks (10) in the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans linebacker Eric Gentry (18) trips up Utah Utes wide receiver Money Parks (10) in the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium.


Issue: Oklahoma State Defense

Diagnosis: FIX (near PANIC mode!)

In the Week 1 Maintenance Report, I wrote following a putrid defensive performance following the Central Michigan game, "The Cowboys allowed 546 yards of total offense, 6.2 yards per play, 31 first downs, and the Chippewas were allowed to possess the ball for over 36 minutes. If Oklahoma State looks to return to the Big XII Championship Game, Mike Gundy needs to examine his defense and look how new defensive coordinator Derek Mason is calling games."

Oklahoma State traditionally opens the season with three tune up games before entering conference play, and as conference play has opened, this is how the Cowboys defense has faired: 

OpponentPoints AllowedFirst Downs AllowedTotal Yards AllowedOpp. Time of Possession

Baylor

25

21

457

29:14

Texas Tech

31

30

527

32:02

TCU

43

27

510

33:05

The defense has been getting gashed through the air surrendering nearly 301 yards per game which is 126th in the nation and nearly 100 yards more than they surrendered last season in Jim Knowles defense. While Oklahoma State possesses a potent offense that is No. 4 in the nation in scoring at 45.3 points per game, it will be their defense that will hold them back from any championship aspirations if they don't fix it.