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    BLOG: Upon Further Review

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    * So. While looking at the tape of his team's romp over Indiana, did 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald see anything new and unexpected?

    "Not really," he said. "We still won. Thank goodness."

    * One person he did not see on that tape was Will linebacker Bryce McNaul, who is still his team's fourth-leading tackler despite missing the Hoosier game with back spasms. Another he did not see was defensive end Tyler Scott, who was emerging as his team's most-consistent defender before a neck stinger sidelined him the last two Saturdays. What he did see was a bunch of missed tackles and Indiana rolling up 319 net rushing yards.

    "Guys have got to do a better job picking up the flag and we've got to do a better job putting them in some situations (where they can be productive)," Fitzgerald would say of those realities. "It's unacceptable the way that we're playing now. We've got to play better. We've got to coach them better. I think that's pretty obvious."

    "That was definitely an issue. I think it was some guys were over-thinking things," senior corner Jordan Mabin soon echoed when asked about those missed tackles. "They kind of up-tempoed us a little bit and I think some guys tried to over-think, tried to get in the perfect position, tried to make the perfect call instead of just going out and reacting. We watched film this (Monday) morning and that's what it looked like. So in those situations, when it's high tempo and quick, we've just got to play and stop thinking too much. Just react and play."

    * Last week, while discussing the "baller" (his term) Kain Colter, Fitzgerald noted that he was cutting it loose, that he was not fearing failure, that he was not worrying about making mistakes, and then he added this. "For whatever reason, when you have a lack of success, I think sometimes that other aspect manifests within your psyche and it slows you down because you're worrying about making that mistake that might hurt the team. Then you play a little slower."

    We passed this observation along to Mabin and wondered if that -- people fearing failure, people worrying about making mistakes -- was a problem with the 'Cat defense.

    He thought for long seconds. "I would say it was just people thinking too much and so they were slow to react," he then said. "I don't know if it was because they were afraid to make mistakes. They were trying to be perfect, that's what I think it was. Everyone was trying to be perfect. Make the perfect call. Be in the perfect spot. Make the perfect play. They were over thinking instead of (understanding), 'If I mess up, as long as I go hard, I'll push the ball back inside.' I think with this game coming up at Nebraska, from everything we hear, what the atmosphere is, I know that gets my energy flowing, my juices pumping. It's all you can ask for as a competitor and it brings out the best in me. That's how I feel personally and that's how I think other guys on the team feel as well. In those situations it does let you play a little bit looser. This is everything. You look around, this is awesome, you feel good, you feel pumped up, it lets you just play with an attitude."

    Was over-thinking a problem just in Bloomington or has that been a problem over the long haul?

    "Yeah. Oh, yeah. I think that's been the issue sometimes since the beginning of the season. We have a lot of new guys in there at new positions for the first time and it comes with experience, getting that relaxed calm. I think that was a big issue at the beginning of the year. 'I've got to be perfect.' Like I said, trying not to mess up, trying to do the right thing instead of just playing fast. You might mess up, but if you're playing fast, who knows, you could turn a bad into a good. Playing with reckless abandon. That's what defenses are, flying around having fun. You see the Ravens, that's all they do. Fly around and have fun."

    * Mabin would also offer this little tidbit about his unit: "I know we didn't play the type of defense, the full game that we expected of ourselves. But I think we definitely took strides and it started in practice this past week. It was one of our best weeks of practices. I know guys took ownership and just took personal pride. If we let up a play in practice, we got on each other. That's one of the biggest things we were lacking earlier in the season, that peer-to-peer attitude and not letting things happen in practice. i think we took big strides in practice last week and then in the game, we played a pretty solid game. As a secondary, I think we played one of our best games as a secondary. But we've got to play as a unit. We've still got a ways to go, but I think we're going in the right direction."

    * Quarterback Dan Persa, who missed last Tuesday's practice after going down with turf toe against Penn State, took all his scheduled reps against the Hoosiers, performed brilliantly and emerged with no further damage. "Kind of reminds me of when I played with (former running back) Darnell (Autry)," said Fitzgerald. "He never practiced on Tuesday, he was always in the cold tub. But Danny's a tough guy. We need everybody in our program to have that kind of attitude. He's got more issues going on below his knees than anybody else and he keeps battling through it. His toughness is spectacular, unbelievable."

    * Some quick notes: Fitzgerald is understandably cautious when discussing both injuries and personnel moves. But the depth chart for Saturday's Nebraska game shows McNaul and Scott as starters and Quentin Williams starting ahead of Vince Browne at right defensive end. . . Running back Adonis Smith, who did not play against the Hoosiers, is not on the two-deep.But when asked about his absence last Saturday, Fitzgerald said he had been dinged up and missed some practices the previous week and "Without practicing, my philosophy, very rarely am I going to play a guy who doesn't practice a lot and get a lot of work in the game plan. So hopefully he'll be healthy this week.". . . Superback Drake Dunsmore, who caught four touchdown passes against the Hoosiers, was named the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Week.

    * With nothing new and unexpected on film, and with an inaugural road trip up ahead, much talked Monday turned toward the 'Cats coming visit to once-beaten and No. 9 Nebraska. "Our All-Big Ten level players need to play All-Big Ten on Saturday. We can't go out there and not play well and not coach our guys well and expect to win," Fitzgerald would say of that trip, and that led to this revealing exchange.

    Who are his All-Big Ten level players?

    "I think Jordan's played pretty well all season long. I think Jack's (defensive tackle Jack DiNardo) been pretty consistent when he's been healthy. I think (safety) Brian (Peters) at times has been very, very efficient, consistent. He's got to clean up his tackling. If he does that, he's going to have big games."

    Tyler Scott?

    "Problem is he's missed multiple games. Unless you're Dan Persa, typically you don't get named All Big Ten if you miss a couple games."

    Did Scott work out Monday?

    "Mmm-Mmm."

    Is he hopeful for Saturday?

    "Absolutely."

    * Obviously, in that enumeration of names, Fitzgerald was thinking only of his defense, which shows clearly enough where his deepest concern lies.

    * And finally, Fitzgerald, on the victory over the Hoosiers: "It was great to get a win. Obviously, the bed felt a little more comfortable Saturday night, the food tasted a little bit better. Then I had to watch Nebraska and it all started tasting terrible again."

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