October 25, 2005

Dunbar has Wildcats rolling up big numbers

Name the nation's top five offenses. Chances are the same one will be missing from everyone's list. Surprising Northwestern is averaging 529 yards per game, ranking fourth among all Division I-A teams. USC (No. 1), Texas Tech (No. 2), Michigan State (No. 4) and Arizona State (No. 5) make up the rest of the group.

The No. 21 Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) completely outshined Michigan State's high-powered attack in a 49-14 rout of the then-No. 22 Spartans on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., racking up more than 500 yards for the third consecutive game. That performance made Wildcats offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar Rivals.com's Coordinator of the Week.

"Obviously we are playing a lot better," Dunbar told Rivals.com. "We have a lot of creative coaches on this staff and Sunday thru Monday we get together and brainstorm. They come up with a lot of smart ideas and I've been smart enough to listen to them so far.

"We come up with a ways to run the same play from different formations or shifts and our main focus is always to stay balanced."

Dunbar used another balanced game plan (30 runs, 37 passes) to put up big numbers against the Spartans. He also made some key halftime adjustments that led to touchdowns on the Wildcats first two drives of the second half, which sealed the program's first win over a ranked team on the road in five years.

Leading 21-7, the Wildcats took over at their own 35 and Dunbar allowed quarterback Brett Basanez to take control. Dunbar called five consecutive passing plays and Basanez fired completions of 9, 7, 9 and 19 yards. With the ball on the Spartans 17 thanks in part to an offsides penalty, freshman Tyrell Sutton took a handoff for 3 yards. Dunbar then went back to Basanez, who found Eric Peterman on a 14-yard touchdown pass.

"We chart all of our plays in the first half and after the coaches looked at all of them we came up with a list of four or five passing plays we thought had a good chance to be succesful," he said. "It wasn't anything magical. We just went down the checklist."

The next drive displayed the Wildcats' versatility. Sutton started the 81-yard march with a 13-yard run. After another carry resulted in a 1-yard gain, Basanez fired consecutive completions of 18, 8 and 7 yards. Dunbar then turned back to the ground game. Basanez made a 4-yard run followed by Sutton's 11-yard pickup that put the ball on the Spartans' 9. Basanez did the rest, grinding out a 5-yard gain and scoring on a 4-yard run that put his team up 35-7.

Dunbar's two biggest stars finished with impressive stats. Basanez, who has emerged as one of the nation's top quarterbacks, ended up going 24-of-30 for 331 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions. It was the third consecutive game that he passed for more than 300 yards. Sutton had 109 yards and two TDs on 21 carries and also grabbed two passes for 47 yards.

Dunbar was also able to develop a third weapon that opposing defenses must be wary of. Receiver Shaun Herbert had a season-high 10 catches for a career-high 138 yards.

Other coordinators who were considered for this award include:

• Giving up 468 yards is normally not a number defenses are proud of. But, Texas defensive coordinator Gene Chizik is proud of his unit's performance in the No. 2 Longhorns' 52-17 win against then-No. 10 Texas Tech and rightfully so. The Red Raiders, who entered the game averaging more than 600 yards a game, failed to make many big plays and their receivers struggled to get yards after hauling in passes, averaging just 5.3 yards a catch.

• UCLA offense coordinator Tom Cable, who was Rivals.com's Coordinator of the Week two weeks ago, continues to look like a genius. Quarterback Drew Olson fired a school-record six touchdown passes and Heisman candidate Maurice Drew had more than 200 all-purpose yards in the No. 8 Bruins' 51-28 win against Oregon State.

• Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen put together his best performance of the season in the Tigers' 41-24 upset of Nebraska. Christensen kept the ball in the hands of athletic quarterback Brad Smith as much as possible and Smith had a tremendous performance, rushing for 246 yards and three touchdowns and passing for 234 yards and another score.

• Eleventh-ranked Penn State didn't look anything like a team that relies on a stingy defense and a modestly productive offense in 63-10 win at Illinois. With offensive coordinator Galen Hall calling all the plays, the Nittany Lions scored all of their points in the first three quarters and Michael Robinson passed for four touchdowns in the first quarter.

• Ohio State's defense put up a stellar effort against an Indiana offense that has been unexpectedly good under new head coach Terry Hoeppner. Jim Heacock's unit has been amongst the nation's best and showed why against the Hoosiers. Indiana came in ranked 31st in the nation in passing at 253.3 yards per game but managed only 95 against OSU on 15 of 33(45.4 percent). OSU posted four sacks and an interception and held Indiana to 137 total yards, a whopping 274 yards below the Hoosiers' average.



 

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