My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Scouting Report: UNH Defense

Hopefully you have had the night to digest the monumental task that awaits the Colgate defense on Saturday. It will not be easy.

Today, it's time to look at what the Colgate offense will be going up against when the Wildcats play 'D'. Thankfully, while it's proved to be good enough this year so far, it is not at the same level as their offense.

Defensive Line

Derek Stank is the senior tackle that anchors this line. He's had five and half sacks and tackles for a loss this year. Brent Barbato at defensive end has had a nice season with some big plays to his credit, like four sacks and two fumbles recovered. He is actually a former teammate of Colgate defensive tackle Pat Nolan - both going to Exeter Area High School in New Hampshire.


New Hampshire gives up a little over 143 yards per game on the ground. Redshirt freshman Matt Parent has had a great coming out season and has teamed up with senior E.J. Dewitt to anchor the linebacking corps.


This secondary gave up about 1,000 more yards in the air than Colgate this season and had 21 touchdowns scored on them. Both are some of the highest numbers in the country.

On the flip side though, Corey Graham has three interceptions to his credit as well as 81 tackles from his cornerback position. Baron Flenory at strong safety matches Graham's interception output and adds three sacks to go with his 72 tackles. One telling stat, though, is that free safety Jeff Pammer actually leads all of the Wildcats in tackles with 107 and the next closest tackler is fellow defensive back Graham with his 81. Almost 20% of all tackles made this year have been by this duo.

Whenever your secondary are your leading tacklers, there has to be something there to exploit with the run.

Colgate Matchup

You might have already noticed the first temptation that is there: exploit the secondary in the air. They are giving up yardage, touchdowns and points. I think that is a siren song and a recipe for disaster for Colgate. A high speed passing game benefits the type of tempo that New Hampshire wants. They play the gamble of trying to outscore you, and by the 10-1 record and slew of blowouts on the books, they are quite good at it.

Another reason to avoid the pass first mentality is the turnover ratio; whether by fortune or skill, the Wildcats have excelled in this area. In fact, their one loss to William and Mary earlier this year could partly be attributed to the turnovers going the other way (along with special team play). With Saraceno's history, one has to imagine the Wildcats will be focused on Jordan Scott and will almost dare Saraceno to beat them in the air.

It may sound crazy, but we have to do exactly what they will be trying to prevent us from doing: establish the running game and take up chunks of clock on every possesion. Winning the field possession battle is not as important a factor for us. UNH can often move the ball at will. It will be more important to limit the amount of time they can have to put points on the board.

We have to go with Scott early and often, and looking at this team on paper, we might just have some success with that. As always, the play of our receivers will be the key to keeping the Wildcats honest. If Saraceno can stay patient and take the routes UNH gives him as opposed to looking for the home run ball, we too might be able to move the ball very effectively against this defense and put up a fair share of points.

Offensive Keys to the Game

1. Like it needs saying: Limit turnovers. We do that and we've improved out chances of winning 1000%.
2. Establish Jordan Scott between the tackles. He is proving good enough to break 7 and 10 yards or more type runs every time he touches the ball.
3. Avoid the home run ball. Too often we look for the big score in double coverage because our receivers are so talented; but against this crew, they will give you the 80 yards passing in exchange for a pick and seven points by their offense.
4. Time of possession. We will need the ball for 35 minutes or more to have a chance to win this one.
5. Go back to the playmakers even if they make mistakes. We've done a good job of having confidence in our skill players even after they fumble or throw a bad pass. This crew has got it done all season long after bad plays, and they are the ones that are going to have any chance of winning this one.
6. Just like the defense, go out there and have fun. No one gives us a chance, so you've got nothing to lose.

Tomorrow's installment: Special Teams.

(By the way, if one could find some defensive player pictures, I'd use them. The UNH website is all Santos and Ball!)


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