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NMU defense out to prove trip to Findlay was a fluke

Wildcats, Newberry, look to rebound at home Thursday

September 5, 2012
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - After Northern Michigan University gave up 45 points in its opener at Findlay last week, first-year defensive coordinator Brian Newberry is placing a sign in all his players' lockers - "DYJ!" - ahead of Thursday's home opener against NCAA Division III Wisconsin-La Crosse at 7 p.m. inside the Superior Dome.

Do your job.

"What we have is a young, inexperienced group trying to make plays and not doing their job," Newberry said. "When you go back and look at the film, we're so close. You have 10 guys doing the right thing and one guy doing the wrong thing because he's trying to make a play.

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"It wasn't because of a lack of effort. It wasn't because we have bad football players. It was not understanding we have to have 11 guys doing their job in order for this thing to work."

The 45 points allowed in the defeat was the most a Newberry defense has ever surrendered, the coordinator said according to his recollection.

The Oilers also posted 522 yards of total offense with 309 coming through the air and 213 on the ground.

Findlay averaged 22.1 yards per completion, with four passing plays going for 40 or more yards, including 40- and 46-yard touchdown receptions that occurred within 2 1/2 minutes of each other in the third quarter, turning a 17-point deficit into an insurmountable 31-point hole.

On the drive prior to those scores, the Oilers used a 53-yard pass play to set up its first TD of the half, putting NMU down 24-7.

"What we told the team, the defense, is we made just as many mistakes up front, just as many mistakes at linebacker, as we did in the secondary," Newberry said.

"Giving up 45 points is completely unacceptable. We're much better than that."

UW-La Crosse isn't as pass-happy of a team as Findlay, having thrown only 14 times for 67 yards in a 21-17 victory last week over North Central College (Ill.), which dropped from No. 6 to No. 13 in this week's poll.

UWL is coming off a 3-7 season in 2011 and a seventh-place finish in the eight-school Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Conference - home of the defending three-time Division III champions from UW-Whitewater - after averaging 18.9 points, 155.2 yards rushing and 154.9 yards passing per game last season.

Newberry said his defense will need to be prepared for the Eagles rushing attack, as well as a quarterback who can use play action and manage the game well.

If the Wildcats do their job, they can have success, said Newberry, who added the same goes for him.

The 'Cats defensive coordinator said he needs to find ways to bring more pressure - even if senior Zach Anderson is facing double and triple teams all night long - as well as plan more safer coverages for his defensive backs.

"I have to know when I can take chances and when I can't," Newberry said.

"I have to simplify the game plan a little bit, understand what we can and can't do. I have to put our kids in a better position to be successful. If they understand to do their job, 11 guys executing, we'll be alright."

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.



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