That’s getting a ton of run now that we lost the first game of year 4 against a team we were supposed to beat, and are now 12-21 with an uphill battle to get to a bowl game. There’s a ton of pros/cons, but let me lay out my thoughts.
First, I don’t think it’s any secret I am absolutely not on the Duval train. The guy has 2 winning seasons in 11 tries but yet everyone says “he’s elite” or “we finally look like a B1G team”. Well, what’s that getting us?
If you followed any of my stuff on the other site, I pointed out how I didn’t think that was possible at all. The fastest sprinters in the world do not try to put on a bunch of weight, they try to be as fast as possible. At Oregon, they had a speed oriented program that was designed by Jim Radcliffe that emphasized “bullets over bowling balls.” They were playing for natties and winning conference titles, but still always struggled with Stanford. Finally, Helfrich says “enough is enough” and shifts the philosophy from speed and athleticism for everyone, to gain weight. He tells all the linemen to put on 20 pounds, waking them up to drink protein shakes at 3AM. It actually worked for a year or two, they beat Stanford, but Radcliffe could see a fall coming. How on earth were you supposed to be fast and good in space while emphasizing power and weight gains? All of a sudden they fall off a cliff, go 4-8, and Helfrich is fired. Radcliffe called it, but no one listened.
The “combine Oregon Speed with Husker Power” goes completely against physics. The bigger you are, typically the slower you are. Go watch the dude putting 5 plates on the squat rack at Good Life Fitness and most of them struggle to get underneath the bar, they can’t move. But once they have the bar on their shoulders, they move it like it’s nothing. If you listen to our ILB coach Ruud, he talks about how different the game is now. “It used to be played in a phone booth.” Our strength training dominated 90s football, but now we are spreading people out and getting people 1 on 1. We aren’t good at that.
But our S/C coach has verbatim said “if you are doing what we did back in the 90s and didn’t fall for that ‘functional training’ term (he put functional in air quotes) which I don’t even know what that means… you’re way ahead of the teams that went another route.” Just think about that statement. Now ask yourself if football has changed since the 90s, ask yourself if it’s more wide open now? There’s been some pretty great innovations for S/C the last 30 years like what Ballou and Rhea did at Indiana before being plucked to Alabama by Saban. I just have a hard time believing that Husker Power in the 90s was the first time in the history of anything that got it right on try 1.
Last thing on this so I can reference an article if you don’t believe me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when our two draft picks (Jaimes and Farniok) spoke with NFL scouts they were told “get more flexible, show you can bend, and lose weight to be more athletic.” We put a premium on weight gain and power, but when it is a sacrifice for how you move, I think you get the results we are seeing now.
We just can’t bend at all once we start getting guys in our program for extended amounts of time.
But take it one step further. Our S/C program some how makes it unsafe to sprint close to the season. Say that out loud.
Do you guys test speed like you do with strength? Did you see gains in that area as well in terms of speed?
“We test in the winter and we test at the beginning of the summer. Obviously, you don’t risk it right before camp.
That’s so hard to read. Really tough. For me… I just think Frost could be more what he wanted to be if our S/C was speed oriented. But i’ve come to the realization that Frost and Duval are going to stay together. Just like I’ve told people I wish I could have seen what Riley and Mark Phillip could do with their own plan, I wish I could see what Frost and his offense are capable of with a different S/C philosophy. And if I hear one more person say “we finally look like a B1G team” while neglecting our record and how we couldn’t even push the Illinois lines around… i’m going to lose it again.
But let’s move past that. Sorry for the rant. The main issue people bring up is they think our whole staff isn’t FBS worthy and we should have done something different. A lot of people were clamoring to hire a Power 5 worthy defensive coordinator. Heck, one of the big reasons we got Frost over Florida is because Florida told him he couldn’t bring his whole staff and had to hire some cream of the crop assistants. That helped move the needle our way.
There’s two things with that. First, I completely get where Frost was at wanting to bring his whole staff (even S/C). You just went 13-0, were named coach of the year, I mean if it’s not broke why fix it? It’s really tough to say “you helped me there but you won’t be able to help me here.” Secondly, comfortability with your staff goes a very long way. These guys are spending a ton of time together, and a position coach knowing what the goal is of your scheme so you can have faith in him to teach it appropriately during individual drill periods goes a very long way.
However, if you can’t bounce ideas off each other and have a good back and forth discussion, and instead everything is “this is what we are doing” while people nod their heads… I think you get 12-21. Greg Austin is about the only guy that does that to Frost, and I think worlds are colliding there. Heck, think back to when Bo lost Carl and the defense kind of falling apart. You have to have those guys that challenge you.
You also have to have guys that have the passion. We got rid of our old OC for a new OC that told Chris Petersen he was burned out and didn’t want to coach anymore. Went back to Colorado to work at a credit union, and Frost started sending him film for help. We then bring him on (a guy that was burnt out a year prior) to be the OC at a P5 program in desperate need of some help. I actually applauded the hire from Frost, as he moved on from someone he was familiar with and went a different direction. But he brought someone in he may be even more familiar with. Now you add the comments where Frost said the playbook went out the window when they came in an even front, and Lubick giving comments that they had a whole play sheet for an even front, and you wonder if this staff is on the same page?
But the bottom line is that Chinander is the one that people didn’t want, and he’s the glue keeping this thing even remotely presentable right now. Offensively we have a mess, as i’m of big of a Ryan Held fan as their is, but we just aren’t producing there. But is that an OL issue? For as much opinion as Greg Austin has, we sure don’t get much accomplished. How can we struggle to move Illinois off the ball in year 4? And i’m not sure what Verduzco’s deal is, Martinez doesn’t look any better in game 30 than he did in game 1 of his career.
Again, I was ok with it. I understood people who didn’t want Chinander. But the real issue is offense, and I don’t think anyone was clamoring to get rid of his offensive people, as it was working at UCF. But what do we do? The defensive staff appear to all be on the same page, they have kids coming back for their final years, while offensive players are transferring out in droves and our offense was the worst offense this century (yes even worse than 2009, hard to believe right?)
What scares me is I think 5-7 keeps Frost around, but if we don’t make a bowl there are going to be some “you need to make a change or two” from the higher-ups. Is Frost willing to do that? Is he able to go outside his comfort zone and bring in some coaches he may not be as familiar with and just has a solid recommendation? It worked for Chinander with Tuioti. We will see.