I had wrote about this back in January or February on the other site, and I saw it brought up on another message board. So I think it’s important to talk about it now. So I grabbed my data from a few months back and want to dive into it.
When the staff first got here, you heard things like “teaching how to win” and “changing the culture” or even “Riley culture”. But the one glaring thing that stood out to me was how bad things got for us in the second half. Take a look at the trend right here:
2018 we lost the second half 152 to 163, and were 4-5-1 against P5 opponents.
2019 we lost the second half 127-147, and were 3-6-1 against P5 opponents.
2020 we lost the second half 60-113, and were 1-6-1 against P5 opponents.
That is a pretty awful trend, and quite frankly something I didn’t expect when this staff showed up. I heard a lot about how we needed leaders, and Frost inherited a bare cupboard, etc. But if that’s the case, why is the second half going the way it is? There are 4 reasons in my opinion that this could be happening…
First reason is a lot of times people bring up depth as an issue for second half woes. You get worn down because your same guys are on the field all the time. Another great indicator of depth is special teams and how you do there, it’s no secret we were awful there. The problem I have with depth being the issue, or a valid reason, is each year we are getting worse in this category. So even if it is depth, whos fault is that? In year 3 if it is depth, I think that’s more of an indictment on this staff than a reason.
The other one is “lack of leadership” but I again don’t really buy into that one for the same reason I don’t buy into depth. So Frost was given a bare cupboard, but the reason we were good in the second half was because he inherited good leadership and then from that our leadership has gotten worse every year? Quite honestly, if this is the reason we are probably in trouble.
So that leaves us with two others that I assume are the reasons:
Other coaches adjusting to us, and us not adjusting. Quite frankly, Frost and staff do pretty good at the beginning of most games scheming up. But once the opposing coaches figure out what we are attacking, we seem a bit dead in the water. Didn’t we score on THE Ohio State first drive last year? But what adjustments are we really messing up? Because for example in 2019 against Iowa, our defense started with 4 straight 3 and outs! In fact, out of the 7 possessions Iowa had in the second half, they had 5 punts, 1 fumble, and a field goal, and we STILL LOST. We were tied going into the 4th quarter with the Hawkeyes, and we couldn’t muster a score in 4 attempts.
That was 2019 of course, but it’s pretty evident that we need Frost and Lubick to do much better adjusting out of the half and even during the course of the game. It’s pretty evident that is where we can improve tremendously.
Lastly, could it be strength and conditioning? It’s no secret i’m one of the only people in the state that dislikes what we do in the weight room, but if we are truly a leader and innovator in this area, shouldn’t the second half start to be better for us? In 2019 we got outscored 34-14 in year 2 of our S/C in Boulder, and I heard such atrocious excuses like “you can’t prepare for that altitude.” You had the opposing FIRST YEAR COACH saying this:
For the record, I don’t think it’s that we are weak or things like that. I just think HOW we train makes our bodies just get worn the heck out. And further, what worries me is we have really good depth defensively, but defensive adjustments haven’t been our problem (see the 2019 Iowa description I gave). So it’s up to our offense to be better with adjustments and to not wear down in the 2nd half. Can we do it?
Something to keep an eye on.