Misi benefited from the stout play of the defensive line in Miami’s base 4-3 alignment by being allowed to run free from sideline to sideline and not have to deal so much with big offensive linemen. By game’s end he had a team-high 11 tackles (10 solo), including one tackle for a 4-yard loss on Texans running back Arian Foster on a screen pass early in the third quarter.
“I was really pleased with Koa and made mention of it to the entire group,” said Coyle, who is in his first year as a defensive coordinator. “He didn’t do everything perfect, but Koa Misi came to play and it showed in everything he did. He played with great tenacity. He flew around the field and was making plays on the opposite side of the field, diving, laying out, scratching and just reaching for ankles and played physical at the point of attack when they did try to run to him. I think he did a really good job against the lead play with the fullback.”
In the first half, Misi showcased his speed and quickness in getting from the left side of the field all the way to the boundary on the right side on a couple of Foster sweeps and holding him to short gains. He also chased down Houston quarterback Matt Schaub on a scramble and held him to a 2-yard gain and he held his own in pass coverage.
The Raiders will test Misi again on Sunday with the shifty Darren McFadden at running back, but the second-round selection out of Utah in the 2010 NFL Draft feels up to the task.
“To tell you the truth I didn’t know I was going to make that many tackles,” Misi said. “There were other guys in there and they should have been credited for some of those tackles, but I felt really good just running around and being able to come off blocks and make plays. It’s a whole different ballgame back there and it’s fun. I’m having a good time and I feel real comfortable with the position right now and I’ve taken it real serious. There are still a lot of things I need to learn but it definitely opens it up for me to be able to run around a little bit more than last year.”
Misi divulged that Coyle told him early on to study hard and work on his technique because this defense was designed for his position to be very involved at all times. To that end, Coyle saw some of that against the Texans.
“I’m really pleased with his effort and he’s got to continue to get more and more comfortable because he has a great motor,” Coyle said. “When he’s confident and he knows what he’s doing I think this guy is going to really progress. He’s in a little bit of a new environment there but he showed it yesterday because once he got into the game it was all systems go. He was playing hard and that was encouraging and I think the rest of the group, everybody should really take notice of a guy that went out there and really played hard every snap.”