Monday, September 24, 2012

Third down conversions deflate Hobbs defense against Oñate

  There is no debating what cost the Hobbs football team during a 55-42 loss to Oñate on Friday at Watson Stadium.
  The Eagles’ defense.
  The Knights did whatever they wanted against Hobbs for four quarters while racking up 599 yards of offense, holding the ball for 34 minutes, 16 seconds (remember, there are only 48 minutes in a game) and scoring touchdowns on eight of their 10 drives.
  Oñate’s ground game ate up Hobbs for 364 yards on 63 carries – but it wasn’t as if the Knights were taking big chunks at a time. In fact of the 63 carries, only seven were for 10 yards or more (in contrast, nine of the Knights’ 12 completions through the air were for more than 10 yards).
  But where Hobbs’ defense just couldn’t get it done was on third down.
  The Knights were faced with third down 15 times during the game. In other words, there were 15 times where Hobbs’ defense had a chance to get off the field and give an explosive Eagles offense an opportunity.
  Guess how many stops the Eagles got on third down.
  Not 10.
  Not seven.
  Not five.
  Three. That’s it. Three stops out of 15 chances.
  It’s tough to beat any team that goes 12-for-15 on third-down conversions no matter how many points you can put up.
  Conversions on third down are killers for defenses. Two downs of hard work to keep that team from the imaginary line 10 yards down field gone to waste.
  Whether it was a breakdown in coverage, a breakdown in assignment or a missed tackle – Hobbs just couldn’t stop Oñate on third down.
  It’s like poking a tiny hole in a car tire with each conversion – it slowly lets the air out until its impossible for the car to reach its destination.
  The Eagles just don’t have the depth and personnel on defense to compliment an offense that isn’t going to hold onto the ball very long whether they score (Hobbs averaged 1 minute, 12 seconds on scoring drives Friday) or have to punt.
  But it can get better. Forcing so many third downs shows the Eagles are doing something right on first and second down.
  While physical errors are often hard to correct, there were enough mental errors (missed assignments, blown coverages) Friday against Oñate that if corrected, the Eagles can improve defensively.
  The Eagles this season aren’t going to be winning 14-7 games or holding teams to two touchdowns or less.
  But with Hobbs’ offense averaging 35 points and 433 yards per game, if the defense can keep teams under 30 points, the Eagles will have a chance.
  Like I’ve said before, this is a program in the first season of a complete makeover, and much like remodeling the inside of a house, sometimes it’s going to look worse before it gets better.