WKU defense: Stop thinking

15 09 2010

Western Kentucky defensive coordinator Clint Bowen has posed the ultimate challenge to his unit this week.

Stop thinking, without turning your brain off.

Both Bowen and coach Willie Taggart stressed an emphasis on improving tackling fundamentals in between the Nebraska and Kentucky games. And despite allowing 63 points to the Wildcats on Saturday, both felt that they got what they wanted in terms of improved tackling.

The bigger problem Saturday for the WKU defense? Mental miscues. Being out of position. Not giving yourself a chance to make a play.

Bowen calls it paralysis by analysis – something he says has to stop.

“A lot of it is guys just turning it loose and playing,” Bowen said. “Going out there, having fun. Let’s roll the balls out there and just play. Stop the paralysis by analysis. When things become more natural, guys get quicker and we get better.

“It’s much easier said than done, especially when you have to get mad at them for making a mistake. But it’s reps, it’s time, it’s doing things over and over again. But that’s what football is. It’s a game of repetition. Seeing it and doing it and eventually getting it to where it’s second nature. We’re not quite there yet.”

Bowen pulled few punches in explaining how far his defense had to go during spring practice and again during fall camp. He also hasn’t been shy to admit that the group has shown a great deal of improvement between then and now.

But improving in practice and getting the job done on game day is a different story altogether.

“We’re getting there, he said. “Teaching a new system, getting kids to understand it and then going out and executing it on game day is a challenge. Getting all 11 guys hitting at the same time is kind of our problem right now.

“Honestly though, we really aren’t that far off. Everyone needs to take care of their job, and do it with urgency. If that happens, everything takes care of itself and we get better in a hurry.

“We’re still trying to figure out who does what on game day. Some kids react different on game day, and we’re still learning a lot of that. Who shows up on game day? We need to find those guys and get them on the field. We’ll still figuring that out.”

One thing Bowen said he feels will help his youthful unit in the long run is the competition it faced during the season’s first two weeks.

“I thought the competition thing was great,” he said. “Nebraska was a good team, Kentucky was a good team and they both came out and played like good teams should. Practice is different than games, you get in that mode and then when the game hits – things get a lot faster.

“And it’s pointed out to our kids that when we talk about bending your knees, getting down there and playing fast – that’s what we mean. There’s a very small margin of error in Division 1 football – and Nebraska and Kentucky have proven that to our guys. And I think we’ve seen a little more urgency from our guys because of that.”

For more on the WKU defense, see Thursday’s Daily News.

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