There were a handful of defensive performances that caught our eye over the weekend.
We felt that the following staff's preparation and execution of their game plan really showed in week 1.
THE FOOTBALLSCOOP DEFENSIVE STAFF'S OF THE WEEK:
Michigan State: Opening up with Chris Petersen and Boise State is always tough, but Pat Narduzzi and the defensive staff put together a game plan that turned this one a defensive battle the entire night. The Spartans defense picked up right where the left off last season by allowing only 206 total yards, with only 37 yards rushing on 24 attempts (1.5 yards per rush). The defense allowed only 5 of 14 third down conversions and also forced a fumble and an interception. Despite the final score of 17-13, the Michigan State defense did not allow an offensive touchdown, even when backed up after an interception inside of their own 25. The defense played so well that Boise State was the only team in the country to force 4 or more turnovers and lose.
Ohio State: Ohio State took on in state opponent Miami Saturday in Luke Fickell's debut as the defensive coordinator, along with Everett Whithers. The Buckeyes allowed only 12 first downs the entire game (and 0-2 on fourth down), and forced three turnovers before the night was through. Most impressively, the RedHawks were held to -1 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
Eastern Washington: Whenever a defensive staff from the FCS can put together a game plan to beat an FBS opponent, it's worth noticing. Over the weekend, John Graham and the Eastern Washington staff helped hold Idaho to 3 points on their way to a 20-3 win. Eastern Washington forced two turnovers and allowed Idaho to gain only 10 first downs the entire contest (going 2-15 on third down conversions). EWU allowed for only 164 passing yards on 50% completions and allowed just over 2.5 yards per carry on the ground (73 yards on 28 carries).
Illinois: The Fighting Illini were another defense that picked up right where they left off last season. Against a Western Michigan squad that was one of the best passing offenses last year, the Illini allowed only 5.6 yards per pass on 28 of 47 completions. Defensive coordinator Tim Banks and the defensive staff put together a plan that forced the Bronco's to put the ball in the air all game after allowing -6 yards on the ground in 19 attempts while also forcing a fumble. Attacking the Illini through the air also proved to be risky, as three different players recorded interceptions.
Alabama: In the marquee game of the weekend, the defensive game plan at Alabama combined with the speed and athleticism on defense was the key to Kirby Smart's domination on defense of the Wolverines. Bama allowed Michigan to convert on only 3-12 first downs and gave up just 69 yards on 20 carries (2.4 yards per). The passing defense was also impressive, allowing 200 yards through the air on 11 completions and 27 attempts, but after taking a closer look at the numbers you see that 115 of that came on two long pass plays. The Alabama defense came up with 3 interceptions including one pick 6 in the second quarter to put them up 31-0. Perhaps most impressively, the Tide held Denard Robinson to just 27 yards on 10 carries with a long run of just 9 yards.