DISSA AND DATA -- Chewing on some stuff from Tuesday’s weekly football media luncheon:
THE RUNNING GAME – Asked about the problems with the running game, Coach Frank Tavani said, “I think there are a variety of issues. Some of it falls on us (coaches). You’ve got to have some patience with it and got to keep doing things. Don’t just run a play and then, if it doesn’t work, that you don’t call it again. Obviously, we’ve shown great ability to throw the ball, but also have shown that’s not getting it done. Some of it has been with the backs, some with the line. As soon as you mold the group together, then you have missing parts up front and they’re trying to regroup. I can say some is on us as well as far as emphasis in practice and following through with what you practice and getting those things called in the game and not to get impatient and move away from it. It’s a two-way street I’m evaluating it heavily.
THE DEFENSE & FRESHMEN – The woes of the defensive unit the past two games have been well chronicled, and when Coach Tavani was asked about the problem Tuesday, he said, “Too many young kids out there. That’s the bottom line. That’s not an excuse. Too many freshmen. In the secondary, they’re making some mistakes, but they’re going to be very, very good. I had individual interviews with all our freshmen, completed them just this morning. We’ve used quite a few young people. Anybody who loses arguably the best linebacker (Brandon Bryant) in the conference, that’s a hole in your defense. Say what you want, but I’d like to Nick Saban lose his best defensive linebackers and see what happens to his defense. We are missing his play and his leadership and and how much he cares. He’s on the sideline on crutches and he’s burned up like he had played.” For the record, freshman Demetrius Breedlove very quietly made his first career start last Saturday. He has nine tackles for the year. Other freshmen who have at least one tackle include Eric Mitchell (24), Dante Lonardo (freshman eligibility, 15), Tre Jordan (10)J, Colin Thorne (3), Strasburger (3), Kevin Hutchinson (3), Nick Pearson (3), Dmitry Smith (3), Mike Dunn (1), Yasir Thomas (1).
PERSONNEL -- When he was asked about running back Tyler West, Coach Tavani said, “He’s been out with a hamstring pull. He was in blue (no contact) yesterday and still didn’t look 100 percent. He pulled his hamstring two weeks ago in special teams practice, and at this time of year, that’s not taking care of yourself. A soft tissue injury means you’re not hydrating properly and taking care of yourself.” (West and) Tommy Strasburger, a freshman who Tavani said “showed potential to help us at safety, where we could use help,” were hurt in the same practice, same injury, and Strasburger is still out. Tavani also said freshman running back Mike Dunn had been moved to defense last week to prepare to play because he had played outside backer and safety in high school, “so it was pretty natural. But giving what we’re looking at because we don’t know C.J. Amill’s status for a couple of days with a hip pointer, Dunn was moved back to offense “and he’s one of the three backs we’re preparing to play in this football game.” Others would be DeSean Brown and Rajhan Meriwether, who had four carries in the last two series of the Army game.