Monday, September 8, 2008

In the stable:
Tackling woes nearly bite Western Michigan's football team
by Graham Couch Kalamazoo Gazette

Monday September 08, 2008, 2:49 AM

KALAMAZOOAfter suffering through so many Sundays during the 2007 season, Bill Cubit will take a victory no matter how it's packaged.

However, Western Michigan University's football coach also made it clear Sunday that the positive feeling from Saturday night's 29-26 victory over Northern Illinois will be fleeting if his team doesn't tackle better.

The Broncos' inability to wrap-up made the situation a bit dicey in the final minute against NIU, which attempted an onside kick that would have given it the ball back with about 30 seconds to play, trailing by three

Cubit said Northern Illinois' 80-yard touchdown drive, which began with 2:28 remaining, wasn't a result of a prevent defense, but of poor defensive execution.
"We missed way too many tackles," Cubit said. "That was our biggest problem on defense. We didn't get off the field real well."

The result: WMU's offense ran only 62 plays, far short of its goal of 75.
Some of the issue may have been NIU's personnel, including tough-to-bring down freshman running back Me'co Brown (13 carries, 54 yards), who was featured much more than starter Justin Anderson, and fleet-footed third-string quarterback DeMarcus Grady (seven carries, 43 yards), who wasn't expected to play.
"They did have good athletes," said WMU junior linebacker Austin Pritchard (four tackles Saturday), part of a veteran defense that isn't known for this problem. "But, to be real honest, there's no excuse for missing tackles. If you get your hands on them, you should be able to get them down."
Cure for Thompson's fumbling: More hittingThe knock on Glenis Thompson early in his career at WMU was that he couldn't hang on to the football -- a serious problem if your role is that of a bruising running back.
Saturday, on his only carry, Thompson coughed up the ball again just across midfield with WMU leading 14-10 early in the third quarter.
Cubit said part of the junior running back's problem is he simply doesn't get hit enough. In practice, in an effort to keep the running backs fresh, the defense runs up to them or past them, rather than tacklingthem.
And Thompson doesn't get enough carries in games (he has four in two games) to get used to the pounding.
Cubit said late in fall camp that Thompson would play a big role in the offense, though his propensity to turn the ball over may limit that.
"We're going to have to make people come up and hit him more, rather than just running past him," Cubit said of practice. "We've got to get him used to getting hit. In the spring, we hit a little more and he didn't have this problem."
Cubit praises students, school presidentCubit called the atmosphere and turnout in the student section at Waldo Stadium Saturday night "the best ever" in his time at WMU, including his three years as an assistant during the late 1990s, when the program was winning consistently.
"They stayed and enjoyed themselves and it was a big, big help to us," Cubit said of a section that used to be known for checking out at halftime in favor of other nightlife activities. " ... I'm really happy with how they were."
Cubit said he's spoken to the freshman class the last three years, and graduate assistant and former linebacker Matt Ludeman addressed them, as well, letting the freshmen know how much they were needed.
"You've got to give them a reason to get there," Cubit said, adding that how his team handles itself on campus and in the community is important. "Once they get there and have a good time, it's 'Hey, this is the thing to do.'
"The university as a whole has done a nice job promoting school spirit. ... (WMU President) Dr. (John) Dunn is out there having lunch with students. He's out there and they relate to him. I think he promotes a lot more pride in the university than we've had in the past."
To read what students have to say on this matter, visit the WMU weblog at
Preparing for the Kibbie DomeThe University of Idaho plays in the 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome, the smallest Division I college football venue.
"You don't see them too much," Cubit said of the smallish dome. "There's a difference in the air. The great thing is we have the indoor (Seelye Center). I think that'll help. You can't make that big a deal out of it. Just go out there and just play."
Cubit said he'll likely use the Seelye Center for at least one practice this week.
Eastern Time in IdahoCubit said he'll keep the Broncos on Eastern Time when they make the trip to Moscow, Idaho, which is in the Pacific Time Zone.
"It's the first time I've ever had to go over the (upcoming) itinerary with the staff on a Sunday," Cubit said.

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