This continues our look back at grading the "5 Things I Want To See From The Cougars" at San Diego State. I covered the defensive tackles here. Next up: The linebackers.
What I Wrote:
Sure tackling from the linebackers. Hillman is fast. Hillman is slippery. And that combination means that a blown tackle will lead to a long touchdown. The linebackers have met every challenge put before them this year; if they do a great job containing Hillman -- who has as much big-play ability as anyone left on WSU's schedule -- I'll be on that bandwagon just like I'm on this one.
The Grade: B-
In general, the linebackers were OK in this department. Of the 12 missed tackles I counted in the game, only four came from the linebackers -- two for Alex Hoffman-Ellis and one each for C.J. Mizell and Sekope Kaufusi. In fact, there were a number of times where Hillman looked like he might be poised to break a big run, only needing to beat a linebacker, and the Cougar was able to hang on long enough for help to come bring Hillman all the way down.
However, in order to miss a tackle you have to be in position to make a tackle, and there were a number of times where the linebackers got themselves marginally out of position by taking bad angles at Hillman. They looked like guys who just weren't used to playing against a running back that fast and agile, which is reasonably understandable given that they had not seen anything like him before the game. It's not a huge point of concern, as defenders of any ability level are rarely able to square up Hillman.
When they were there to make the tackle, they almost always made the tackle, and that was a positive.