Friday, September 23, 2016

25 Questions about Tigers



What is their body of work?

This is a good program of late.  They were terrible from 09-13, winning only 13 games.  Justin Fuente turned the program around and were 19-7 over the last two seasons.  They won 44-41 at the Doyt last year.  They are 2-0 this year with an easy win over an FCS team and Kansas, in Kansas.  They beat Kansas 43-7...OU only beat them by 16.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 29, which is a lot.

Who are their statistical leaders?

Jake Elliott is #5 in FG per game.
Arthur Maulet is #2 in passes defended.
Anthony Miller is #12 in receptions per game
Patrick Taylor is #4 in rushing yards per carry
Jake Elliott is #20 in scoring
Jonathan Cook is #5 in solo tackles
Genard Avery is #9 in TFL

What is their turnover ratio?

They are +4 in two games.  They have recovered all four of their opponent's fumbles, which football data guys will tell you is influenced by luck.

Offense:

 How is their QB play?

He's good.  He's no Paxton Lynch, yet.  His name is Riley Ferguson.  He completes 64% at 11.8 per completion, both of which are really good. His efficiency rating is only #3 in the AAC due to only 5 TDs over 2 INT.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are scoring 39 a game but only at 5.5 yards per play.  The first is good, but the second is not.  When there's that kind of disparity, it is usually turnovers, 3rd downs or red zone, and Memphis is nothing special in the last two, so it must be turnovers.

Can they run the ball?


They are 81st in rushing offense.  Most of their runs have come from two guys, one with 8.7 yards per carry and one with 2.9 yards per carry.  Overall, they average 3.9 yards per carry, which is far from great.

Do they pass the ball?

Well, you've seen the QB numbers.  He's completed 41 passes to 12 receivers, but 14 of the 41 have been to Anthony Miller.  The next highest guy has 5.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 54% of their plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are poor on 3rd down at #99 in FBS.

Do they score in the red zone?

No.  They are only 6 of 9 and 4.7 points per trip.

Did they protect the quarterback?

Not really, they give up sacks on 11% of their pass plays.

Defense:

This is a much different situation.  Their offense has been sort of middling, but the defense has been very effective.  Now, they haven't faced the world's roughest schedule, but in terms of projecting to our game, where do you think BG's offense would rank next to Kansas?  Equal?

Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are allowing only 12 PPG, which is 9th in the country.  They are allowing 4.2 yards per play, which is 13th in the country.

Possibly the most disturbing ad I ever saw
Do they defend the run effectively?

Yes, they do.  They allow 3.9 yards per carry which is 43rd in the country and 115 per game, which is 40th. BG is going to need to win some battles here.  They will not survive if they are forced to a pass-only attack.

Can they be passed on?

They are difficult to pass on.  They are #13 in pass defense efficiency.  They allow 60% completions on 7.5 yards per catch,which is next to nothing.  Also, 1 TD over 3 INT.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?


They do.  They allow only 29% conversions which is #30 in the country

Do they defend in the red zone?

Well, they have only allowed 2 red zone trips and 1 TD.

Do they pressure the QB?

No, the only have three sacks in 78 attempts.

Special Teams:

Punting?


They are good.  #12 in net punting in FBS.  They average 48 yards per kick and exactly 0

Punt Return?

Actually good.  They have 9 returns in 2 games, which is a lot, at over 10 yards per return.

Placekicking?

He's 5/6 with a long of 50.  Very good.

Wash your hands before eating
Kickoff?

They are very good holding their opponents to starting on the 23.  Their guy has two returns but averages over 30 yards per return.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 29, which is good.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

First, they are drawing really well in the Liberty Bowl.  They have had 42K and 34K for their first games.  That's going to be a really good environment.  They are coming off the big Kansas win and be playing with high confidence, while the Falcons are still trying to find their way.

They have Ole Miss next week....so maybe there's a chance this game gets forgotten in their minds.

BG is relatively healthy, unlike the MTSU game.  The Falcons are going to have to move the ball against this defense.  Honestly, this has a chance to look like the score of the Kansas game if BG plays as they have in their first three.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

TE Koontz De-Commits

So we have talked about our coaching staff getting highly-ranked commits.  That's just the first step.  You have to keep them and get them enrolled and then turn them into players.  We have no track record to go on, except for people from Texas Tech who say that Jinks was hired to recruit San Antonio.

So, the first of this year's verbals has de-committed.  He is highly ranked TE Travis Koontz.  Here's what I wrote back in May when he committed, which observers even then thought was a shock since he had offers from Maryland, Iowa State and UC at that time.  He also was the #4 TE in Ohio.

So, as I always say at times like this, I wish Travis well.  We want guys who want to be here and this is a huge decision for him, and he needs to feel it is right for him.  Best of luck.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blade Injury Report and Not Surprising QB News


John Wagner has the news on the injury front.  You can see the progression.  Actually, it shows a team getting significantly healthier after finishing the MTSU game.  The three players out on defense does not help at all, but the oline is back to just down 1 and Shannon Smith playing is big, that's a guy we really need.  Getting Valdez back is huge, too.

The other news is that Knapke is starting.  That's zero surprise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Depth Chart Review....

Just a quickie here...the game notes are out and as usual, they are mostly the same.  We know we have some injuries on the O-line, but for now the list is the same as it was last week.

On defense there are some changes.

First, Ben Hale---who has been battling a concussion--is not listed for this week at all.

Second, one of the OLB spots previously listed Jack Walz and James Sanford as co-starters.  Now, both of them are off the depth chart.  Brandon Harris, who started here as a S, is slated to start there and Nillijah Ballew, who has played a lot for us but was out of the lineup earlier this year is listed as back up.

Hale was previously at ROV.  The chart shows Tavarous Wade starting and Sotolongo at backup.  Sotolongo has played quite a bit but was apparently dinged up in the MTSU game.

The other S is still Jamari Bozeman's spot.  Wade was his backup, and he's been replaced by true FR CJ Pickrom.

There's shuffling at corner, too.  For MTSU, it was Mack and Milton starting with Jeffries and Montre Gregory behind him.  For Memphis, it is Mack and Jeffries, with Jackson and Milton behind them.

I think it is safe to say that BG is digging around trying to find ways to tune the secondary up.  Unless James Sanford is injured that's a pretty significant move, since it moves Harris away from a position of need.

And yes, Knapke is still at QB.  If they do make a move, they won't reveal it until the last minute because Morgan can run a little.

We might hear more coming up this week in the real media...on both injuries and playing time.

Monday, September 19, 2016

International Centre for Special Teams Research, Blue Raiders



If you read this blog, you know that I started in 2009 using my own system for evaluating special teams play for Bowling Green.   You can read the full introduction and see the scoring system here, should such a thing interest you.  The basic idea is that you get positive points for good plays outside the middle area of the bell curve on the right and negative points on the left.  The system doesn't care if you get to the 26 or 28 on a kickoff or if you make a short FG...make a long FG or miss an easy one, now we're talking.

The game had the two most important special teams plays of the year, one going each way.  BG had a disastrous play when Ronnie Moore was fielding a punt...it was hard to see, but it might have hit him around the 20 and then it rolled to the ten and he seemed unsure if he had touched it but he didn't fall on it and just kind of slapped at it...removing all doubt about whether he had touched it...and then MTSU recovered.

A few minutes late the tables were turned as MTSU fumbled a punt return and BG recovered.

Both plays led to scores.

They also cancelled themselves out in our system.  BG finished at an even 0.  Even with the cancelling out, MTSU had a big day, going +6 for the game.  BG was hurt mostly by not getting the usual production out of Davidson, who did boom a couple...one ending up in the end zone.  To their credit, MTSU made a bunch of special teams play beyond the fumbles.  Their punter did a great job of pinning us deep in our own territory, and right now, long fields are not our friend.

Here is how it broke out.

BG Positive (+5)

Recover fumbled punt (+3)
61 yard net punt (+1)
KOR to 38 (1)

BG Negative (-5)

Lose muffed punt (-3)
Penalty and punt return give MTSU 54 yard net  (-1)
KOR to 10 (-1)

MTSU Positive (+12)

KO TB (+1)
Recover muffed punt (+3)
KO TB (+1)
BG KOR to 10 (+1)
Punt to 12 (+1)
11 yard PR (+1)
KO TB (+1)
Punt to 10 (+1)
Punt to 2 (+2)


MTSU Negative (-6)

Lose fumbled punt (-3)
Miss 28 yd FG (-1)
BG KOR to 38 (-1)
Miss XP (-1)

JInks presser for this week

Coach Jinks had his presser today.

Not much news.  In fact, not any news.  The only interesting thing was...well...exactly what you would expect.  Coach was asked about the Quarterback position.  This week he said that Knapke is the starter entering practice and that he and Morgan would be evaluated over the course of the week. That's a slight change from where he normally is, which is that Knapke is the starter.

He says that Knapke made way too many mistakes in the MTSU game, but that he gives the team the best chance to win.  Both of these things could be true, depressing though that might be.

He also said he wanted to have this worked out before he entered conference play.  That would mean that there's one more game to figure out who the QB is going to be, based on a best case scenario.  Worst case, it is never settled.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Big MBB Verbal: Derek Koch


In the midst of football, football football, the men's basketball program remains hard at work.  They have landed a commit....you can see the above name, helping to answer what is the biggest remaining issue for the program...some strength and beef inside.

West Salem is in eastern Ohio, kind of between Canton and Youngstown.

This one could be big.  24/7 sports gives him a 2-star composite but ranks him the 4th highest player in Ohio and the #83 PF in the country.  OHHoops.org has the same ranking.

He had offers from Akron, Ball State, Brown, Cornell, Kent, Lehigh, Oakland, Robert Morris, Tennessee Tech, UT and West Virginia according to 24/7.  That's a pretty good list, if accurate...and a big coup for Coach Huger.  Also, those Ivy League offers should indicate a strong academic background.

He was also first-team all-Ohio, the District Player of the Year, and his conference player of the year.

So.  You have to like the sound of all that.  I'm really enthused about the men's basketball program...I just feel like we are on the right trajectory.

Welcome to the Falcons, Derek

Past and Future Opponent Land

Ohio State (3-0)  Smoked OK 45-24
North Dakota (1-2) Beat South Dakota 47-44 in 2 OT
Memphis (2-0)  Beat Kansas 43-7
EMU  (2-1)  Beat Charlotte 37-19
OU (1-2) Lost tough one to TN
UT  (3-0) Destroyed Fresno State
Miami (0-3) Lost 31-24 to WKU
NIU (0-3) Lost 42-28 to San Diego State
Akron  (2-1) Won 65-38 @Marshall
Kent (1-2) Beat Monmouth 27-7
Buffalo (0-2) Lot 38-14 to Nevada

MAC Vs.

FBS:  9-14
P5:  4-7
FCS:  8-3

Soaking Defeat: The Defense

Coach Jinks said after the game that "we have a good defense."

And I more or less agree.  It is a little less good after I got home and looked at the numbers, but in the stadium I felt like the defense had really done all they could be expected to do give the turnovers the offense provided to MTSU.  Much like 2014, I think the defense is good but not great but holding us in games while the offense fails to produce.

The Blue Raiders scored 6 touchdowns.  One was on a 10-yard drive, one was on a 26-yard drive and one was on a 46-yard quick change at the end of the second half in the game's deciding sequence.  So, at least two of those are pretty short fields and the other is a pretty difficult situation.  So point on is that the offense wasn't holding up their end of the bargain.  Even at 28 points allowed, BG has a shot to win the game.

The defense made one deadly mistake....that big pass play on the opening drive of the second half was just a killer and you've got to come out with more focus than that.

It may turn out that the weather worked for BG's defense as well.  MTSU came in passing on about 70% of their downs.  At the Doyt, they passed on 45% of their plays.  Given that they ran at 4.3 yards per attempt...and passed at 9.3 yards per attempt...on a sunny day if the play mix was a little different we might not be feeling so good.

Still, Stockstill was only 18 of 30 in a high-percentage offense and they seemed to be out of rhythm for a lot of the game.  I thought coverage was strong across the middle and a little weaker along the sidelines...and a couple of times their guys just went up and got the ball.

I'm not sure what Dino Babers' year-three plan was, and it may not have existed, but BG is running guys out there in the secondary who were not signees and some have only been with the program since the summer.  Tavarous Wade, walk on.  Montre Gregory, showed up in July.  Cam Jeffries, true freshman.

Further, the defense was playing with its best player in limited position--Austin Valdez did appear but made only 2 tackles--and Brandon Harris was DQ'd for a targeting call that seemed questionable, but they looked at the replay.  Ben Hale did not play.  Not making excuses, just pointing out that there's duct tape being applied to the operation.

I thought early on the defense was effective, tackling in space and controlling the run.  They forced punts on 3 straight drives after BG went down 14 in the 3rd quarter, but the offense failed to capitalize to get us back in the game.  That's a great job to rally after struggles.

Not saying they can't be better, but I think they held their own.

Also, they gave up a big play, but they made one, too, with Mack's INT and near-pick-six setting up one of BG's 3 TDs.

There's a focus on penalties, BG had 8 penalties in the first half, four of them on the defense.  (Fun note.  Only one penalty was called in the 2nd half on both teams).  But, the only one that led to a score by MTSU was the pass interference on their game-tying drive.

MTSU did win 3rd down at 7 of 14...and BG forced only one turnover...and BG had only one sack...but it is a short drop attack that is tough to pressure.

Everyone's going to get a big test Saturday.  Memphis is looking really, really good and I expect adversity to continue to press on our guys.

Soaking Defeat--The Offense

Let's start with the positive.

When BG couldn't grind out a first down against North Dakota to kill the game, Coach challenged his line and his line coach a little bit in the press conference afterwards.  He said, essentially, that we are too good up there not to be able to grind out a first down.

The line came back against Middle Tennessee and played the way we would expect them to.  Coach said after the game that they fought hard--and two of them got injured, Beggan for sure and I think McAuliffe was the other one--and really went to war with the Blue Raiders.  So, good job for our guys responding to the challenge.

You could see the results in the run game.  Coach said that they thought they could run on MTSU, and the weather only made that an easier decision.  In fact, he told the offense that there were only two real plays in the second half....inside zone and outside zone.

And BG had excellent success running the ball.  Credit to the line, and to Coppet and Cleveland, both of whom had big days.  Cleveland 18 for 153 and a score, with a TD, and Coppet was 27 for 117.  That's 8.5 and 4.3 yards per carry respectively.  Donovan Wilson also joined in with 36 yards on 10 carries and 2 TDs....playing the big man role in short yardage scenarios.

He's an interesting stat....those 3 backs only lost 1 yard on all their rushes.  That's pretty good, and probably more of a measurement of the line than the backs.

BG ran for 304 yards overall, which is a good day's work, and it kept BG in the game.  Had BG been one-dimensional in the middle of that monsoon, things could have gotten a lot worse.  BG had third quarter drives of 12 plays and 11 plays...both of which ended turning the ball over on downs in the red zone.  Coach Jinks points to those 4th down plays as examples of BG just needing to learn how to get that extra yard.

So, the line and the running game...positive.

Now, the negatives.

First, you just can't escape the overall issue...yes, BG scored 21 points.  So, that's 3 scoring drives...one of which started at the MTSU 1 and one of them on the MTSU 21.  One of those was a special teams turnover and the other an interception, but they were basically gifts to the offense.  So, for a 60-minute game, the offense generated one real scoring drive...and none in the second half.  That simply is not good enough to win games.

Second, BG had, really, five turnovers.  The muffed punt was technically not a fumble, but that's one and it was Ronnie Moore.  The other four...look this is a fact, were two fumbles by Knapke and two interceptions by Knapke.  Yes, the ball was wet, I get that, but this isn't the first time that this has happened either.  Coach said in the presser that the turnovers cost the team the game, and I think that's certainly hard to argue.

Also, BG's productivity in the passing game was poor.  The Falcons were 18 of 32, which is 56%, with 2 picks, no TD and just 129 yards, which is 4 yards per attempt and 7 yards per completion.  MTSU had double on both of those last numbers in the same rain.

Unless we can really turn into 3 yards and a cloud of dust, we're not going to win games with five turnovers and passing numbers like that.  Coach made reference to the fact we were running into some light boxes...the question is are we going to be able to pass against a heavy box.

I know the Falcon Nation is up in arms about our QB.  I don't want to rip the guy.  He's one of us and as far as I can see he is a stand-up guy playing his heart out for us.  The facts above are facts, though, and beyond that, you all can see what I see on the passing offense.  There's no need to belabor the point.

I know people are screaming for Morgan.  The backup QB is always the most popular guy in any fan base--he's rich with potential and poor of reality.  Yes, I know Morgan looked good against OSU, but he was playing against backups in a blowout game.

There are a couple possibilities here.  First, I believe that if Morgan was clearly better in practice he would be in the game now.  Unless--and this happens--Coach is so addicted to having an experienced QB that he is kind of blinded to the difference...much like when Dave Clawson started Matt Schilz over Matt Johnson for about 25 seconds in '13.

But, on balance, I trust Jinks' judgment on this.  If Morgan was a clearly better, he would be in the game.

Here's the thing.  As I understand it, the concern with Morgan is that he makes some bad decisions...as in the North Dakota game...and OSU for that matter.  Well, here is the thing.  I am not a person who says it can't get worse.  It can always get worse.  But I don't know what kind of decision making you are getting out of the starter...and maybe they are execution errors, not decision errors...but if you are playing Knapke to limit mistakes, that's tough to square.

The Schilz-Johnson comparison is very attractive.  One thing to remember is that Johnson was a redshirt sophomore when he stepped in for Schilz.  Morgan is a redshirt freshman.  That's one less year in the program and could be huge from a development standpoint.  Also, Johnson spent his first two years in the same system...Morgan has spent two years in two systems.  Finally, when Johnson did play as a r-FR, he was not effective.  The light did not come on until the next year.

I think you will see Morgan more and relatively soon.  But, if it was as obvious as it seems to us, it would have happened by now.