...especially in light of this team's big-picture goals. I know what the stats say: 9th in the nation in total & scoring, no runs of 20+ yards, just to name a couple. This is more of an "eye-test" thing.
Here's what I see: Defensive ends that lose contain on a *regular* basis. Ryan Shazier, despite all of his briliance, inexplicably badly missing a couple-few tackles every game. Curtis Grant still, a la Etienne Sabino, displaying almost none of the attributes of an LB that *instinctively* knows how to play football (at least by the historical standards of that position in this program). A back seven woefully exploitable by any team with, 1st, any idea how to attack it, & 2nd, the athletes to implement the idea. A vulnerability to rushing schemes, as seen against Iowa in the 1st half, that seems unfixable in real time.
Make no mistake: I think we are going to win every game left on the schedule, but it's the games NOT on the schedule that I'm worried about. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Sparty, for all of their offensive woes this year, put up 29 on Michigan in the rain, & could maybe have scored more if not for some bad drops. I am not - repeat not - *comparing* our defense to Michigan's, but they are undoubtedly competently coached under Mattison.
Then there's the possibility of making it to the MNC game - that "big-picture goal" I mentioned - where we would almost certainly face Alabama, Florida State, or Oregon. I can say with certainty, no matter what any stats say, that at this point I don't want this defense anywhere NEAR those 3 teams. Sorry. I'm not saying we'd lose those games - I am loving what's going on with the offense, & I'm not at all worried about the team being in the proper frame of mind with Urban in charge - but, still. Like I said, it's an eye-test thing, a general feeling I have.
I know there've been a lot of youth & injury issues, & thus plenty of room to grow & improve; & there is certainly a lot of football to be played yet. I'll continue to follow Ross's breakdowns each week, & hopefully it'll turn out that I've been unnecessarily worried, but it doesn't feel like that right now. Right now it feels like I'm not worried enough.