So, the word is official...the ACC's Pittsburgh Panthers will roll into Detroit and join the Falcons for the Little Caesar's Bowl on December 26.
Obviously, there will be a lot of time to dissect the game between then and now. Just a quick look at their team...
They were 6-6 this year. They have two nice wins...they beat Duke and they beat Notre Dame. The Duke win was on the road. They have also beaten New Mexico (3-9), Virginia (2-10), Old Dominion (8-4, hybrid FBS/FBS schedule), and Syracuse (6-6).
They lost to Florida State (like you don't already know), Virginia Tech (8-4), Navy (7-4), Georgia Tech (7-5), North Carolina (6-6) and Miami (9-3), so really, no bad losses...maybe Navy, but I mean no stinking awful losses.
They finished 6th in the ACC Coastal.
Again, more to come. I think this is a good matchup for us. This is a team from a BCS Conference and they have some nice wins and would be a top echelon MAC team. We have beaten them within recent memory, however, and they were probably better than this year's team. I think it is an excellent opportunity for us, and I am looking forward to it.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
So, the word is official...the ACC's Pittsburgh Panthers will roll into Detroit and join the Falcons for the Little Caesar's Bowl on December 26.
We'll be announcing #BGSUFootball's opponent at 8:45 EST! Who's going bowling in Detroit? #LCPB #MACtion
— Little Caesars Bowl (@LCPizzaBowl) December 8, 2013
It is official. BG will be playing an unknown opponent in the Pizza Bowl...though as you can see above, we will know at 8:45 or before. Rumors on the web are saying Pitt...but the Sun Belt is supposedly the Big 10 backup, which might make it WKU. Stay tuned for the announcement of the team. Pitt would be a good opponent for us. Winnable and a name brand. Happy to be playing anybody as the champions of the Mid-American Conference.
Five MAC teams will be bowling. NIU plays Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Buffalo plays San Diego State in the Potato Bowl. Ball State plays Arkansas State in the Go Daddy Bowl. And, in the surprise announcement, Ohio will play East Carolina in the Beef O'Brady Bowl.
Lets see, one, two, three, four, five..that's all of them, right?
Right. Toledo got left out. Loss to Akron apparently hurt. I can't construct a rationale for how OU goes ahead of UT, but I don't understand everything in the world that makes me happy. Some things you just enjoy.
So, in all the football excitement, we need to take a second to talk about a very interesting men's basketball game yesterday.
First, the game was on FoxSports1, an experience in ear-torture that was matched only by whoever was doing color for the OSU game last night...also on FOX. Oww. Really guys. It isn't as easy as it looks but it isn't as difficult as you are making it look. I'd love to listen to the Voice of the Falcons, but I can never get the audio to sync up with the video.
Anyway, BG played Xavier really tough. I know this is not the greatest XU team in memory, but they're still Xavier and the game was still on their court. Combined with the WKU game, I think BG is playing pretty well right now and is exceeding the expectations we had, even with Chauncey Orr now lost for the season.
It was a game BG probably should have won, in fact.
The first half was closely played. BG was down 7 with 4 minutes left but then closed out on an 11-0 run to lead by 4 at the break.
The 2nd half was pretty closely played, but XU was inching their lead out to 5 and then lead by 11 with just under 6 minutes left to go.
Just as they did in the first half--and just as they typically have not--BG rallied again. On consecutive possessions, Henderson had an old-school 3, Parker a put back and Clark a 3FG and in 1:20 or so, BG had the lead back to 3. Another minute after that Richaun Holmes had a dunk-and-one and the game was tied.
BG was down one with about 1:30 left to go and got the stop they needed on a Stanbrook missed layup. On the other end, Holmes scored again and BG had a 1 point lead. BG got another stop on a Holmes block and had the ball, the lead, and :45 to play.
BG worked clock and with :15 Clarke missed a shot in the paint. However BG got the offensive rebound...still up 1. XU now had to foul and fouled Henderson. He split the pair, leaving BG only up 2. Semoj Christon dtew a foul on Parker (fouling him out) and the guy who has struggled at the line this year nailed them both to tie the game.
BG had one more shot put missed a desperation 3.
Overtime was not kind, as XU went 17-5. BG was short-handed to start with, and Parker had fouled out and Sealey (according to the Cincy paper) had sprained his ankle and BG was gassed.
The free throws in regulation were the tragedy. BG played a good team very tough on the road...and really might have been 1 FT short of the upset.
The game stats are distorted by the overtime. You can see them below. I don't know what they would have looked like at the end of regulation, but I'm suspecting they are more favorable to the Falcons.
The biggest issue was FT shooting. With the current NCAA foul blitz (there were 48 fouls called in the game--with overtime, remember) and 64 FTs attempted. Xavier, which had been a dreadful FT shooting team, made 23 out of 33. BG, which has been not much better, shot 18 of 31 (58%). This is the wrong time in college basketball to struggle at the line.
Richaun Holmes had a great game for BG. He had a career-high 26 on 9 of 15 shooting, 9 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. He played 39 minutes, which could also be a career-high. Either way, he had a great night. Parker was in foul trouble and had an off night, but Holmes and Parker give BG a couple weapons on offense and the success BG has had this year has mostly been due to that.
Henderson and Clarke both had 13 points, but possession-costly scoring. Clarke was 5 of 17 from the field and 2 of 7 from 3, while Henderson was 4 of 11 and 1 of 6. Clarke had 5 assists over 3 turnovers and Henderson also had 3 turnovers.
As mentioned, Craig Sealey, who is still rehabbing from surgery, had a sprained ankle. No idea on a prognosis, but it puts BG in a real bind. Basically, you have Holmes, Parker, Henderson, Black and Clarke with Tisdale off the bench and that is it for now if Sealey is down and the refs are calling fouls like crazy.
Anyway, BG is playing better than anticipated and should have won this game. Injuries and depth are going to be challenges, though.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Everyone knows what NIU did to UT and BSU in the 2nd half of their games. No one thought it was over.
BG has had some pretty good third quarters, too. And one more after last night.
NIU took the opening kickoff and did what you would expect, driving 64 yards in 7 plays for a TD. Lynch had 33 of those yards on the ground, they were aided by a personal foul on BG and they got the score. 31-20.
No spoiler alert here. That was it. They would not score another meaningful TD and the game would never be any closer.
BG struck big on the first play from scrimmage, hitting Alex Bayer for 44 yards. Hard to describe what a difference that makes...onside kick fails, one play later BG is on the NIU 31. BG drove to the 8 and then stalled out and Tate missed a short FG. Didn't really see it, but it looked to me like there were problems with the hold.
Down 11, this is a big opportunity for NIU. They drove to the BG 32 using no pass plays but then BG stopped Lynch for 2, got an INC and then on 3rd and 8 they ran Lynch again and he made only 3 on a great defensive mosh pit tackle for BG and NIU was back in FG formation. This time, they badly missed a 44 yarder that might have been tipped at the line. Anyway, BG stopped the drive. That's the key thing here.
Starting on the BG 27, the Falcon offense went for the kill. A Travis Greene 12 yard run and a 20 yard completion to to Alex Bayer put BG on the NIU 36. On 3rd and 9 BG ran Hopgood, who got 5 yards. I think BG figured they would go on 4th and they did.
It was the kind of play that makes Matt Johnson the great QB he is. He went to pass, everything was covered, but he escaped through the smallest crease and scrambled for the first down. It was reviewed, but he had it. BG got down to the 22, but then NIU got a huge intentional ground/sack that killed the drive on the 34. (Note, the 4th Quarter had just started).
BG sent Tyler Tate out. Listen, for all the struggles of the BG kicking game, they sent Tyler Tate out for a 52 yd FG. And the dude nailed it.
34-20. Big difference.
On the next drive, NIU went for a long ball. It was one of those long balls where you can see the safety coming over the whole way, you just know you got a shot at it. I lost sight of the ball, but it ended up in the hands of Aaron Foster who ran the ball back to the NIU 20, and a couple plays later Johnson was scrambling around on 3rd down and in the chaos shoveled the ball forward to Travis Greene who was standing on the goal line and BG had a 40-20 lead with 10 minutes left.
You don't wait this long and think its over. You know you have to close the deal. NIU needed to score fast--obviously--and drove to the BG 43. From there, Lynch got 2 yards, an incompletion and then no yards. BG was just swarming Lynch by this point. NIU called timeout and went for it, but DJ Lynch blitzed and Jordan Lynch threw an incomplete pass and BG had the ball back with 8:00 left.
BG then went to work on the clock. Travis Greene got 33 yards and then BG ran that Matt Johnson read play that worked against Buffalo and it worked again and BG was on the 13. NIU stiffened up and BG had fourth down from the 16. They decided to go for it and Greene ran the ball in from there and BG had the 47-20 lead. Drive chewed up 5:26. There's 2:44 left.
NIU got one more garbage TD that came right about the time Dave Clawson wore Gatorade. And let the celebration begin.
More coming...but here's the thing. BG moved the ball almost at will and the defense stopped the NIU drives. That was how a championship was made.
Oh, sweet victory. Still walking on air this morning...the Falcons broke the 21 year drought and won the MAC Championship and did it convincingly.
Let there be no doubt. We were the better team last night.
It was a great atmosphere. Great crowd. BG fans cheering their team, NIU fans cheering their team...just a very exciting night for a game.
And, of course, the Falcons won. They won, they won, they won.
Doesn't grow old. MAC Champion Bowling Green Falcons.
How did it happen? In general--and I'll go into this a lot more--BG had an awesome game plan on offense and executed it perfectly. Meanwhile, on defense, they stopped drives. NIU got some numbers and they made some yards, but BG stopped drives and kept NIU out of the end zone. The Falcons played a great fundamental football game on defense, a great team game, and stopped the supposedly unstoppable NIU offense.
BG got the opening kickoff and marched right down the field. The first 34 came from Ronnie Moore on a reception and a run and then Travis Greene ripped off 13 yards. On first and 10 from the 28, Johnson found Tyler Beck who ran over several guys to get in the end zone. 75 yards, 5 plays, 2:08.
NIU answered right back, but as John Wagner noted in The Blade, how they did it was a predictor of what would come. They drove 73 yards, but in 11 plays, converting a 3rd and 12 before scoring. (It was an incredible catch by their guy, by the way, just incredible).
BG struck right back, getting a 61 yard completion to Ronnie Moore on the very next play from scrimmage. BG drove to the 11, got pushed back by a false start and had to kick a FG to take a 10-7 lead.
And then the defense made a stop that set the game in motion. Jordan Lynch ran for 1 yard and then they got a 7 yard pass. On 3rd and 2 they went to Lynch again...and he got 1 yard.
That's a 3 and out. Starting on its own 24, BG got 15 yards on 3 carries from Travis Greene and then Matt Johnson hit Ronnie Moore twice for 61 yards, including a 36 yd TD catch where Ronnie Moore was completely and totally wide open in the secondary.
The tone for the game was now set. BG was up 17-7. NIU was two scores behind and would be the chaser for the remainder of the night.
NIU took the ball on their own 18 and started to go to the air. They drove to the BG 35, but then BG got them into a 3rd and 9 and got the incomplete pass and their mercurial kicker, Matthew Sims, nailed a 51 yd FG to cut it to 17-10. Still, it was huge that BG stopped the drive.
BG went 3 and out and punted (for the only time, as it turned out). NIU drove to the BG 29 on two plays, but here again, the defense stopped the drive, on 2 incompletions and a 1 yard run by Jordan Lynch. Another Sims FG made it 17-13.
They came right back and tried a surprise onside kick. They recovered it, but they were offsides and they made an illegal block (no longer are you allowed to just run down and plow over the guys helplessly waiting for the ball and they got the call).
BG was then penalized on the kickoff return and started on its own 12. BG just gashed the NIU defense, going 88 yards in 9 plays, finishing on a 22 yard TD pass from Johnson to Heath Jackson who was in the usually wide open middle of the NIU defense. BG led 24-13. The game would never again be a one-score game.
But you don't know that at the time. Everyone remembers the 3rd Quarters NIU had against BSU and Toledo. You knew they had the ability to come back.
NIU went back to work, converting 2 3rd downs to get to the BG 38. Once again....the Falcons stopped the drive (two incompletions and a blowed-up screen by DJ Lynch for -3) and NIU tried a 58 yard FG and missed.
There was 2:32 left in the first half. What followed was clearly the game's wildest sequence.
Travis Greene had made a great run for over 20 yards and was around midfield when he fumbled and NIU recovered. 1:22 left now and a big danger point. If NIU gets a TD and it is 24-20 going into the locker room? That's a new game.
First, NIU made only 4 yards on its first two plays and nearly gave up a pick 6. Then, on 3rd down, Lynch rolled left with protection. BG got a great surge from its line--it looked like their guys were right on top of Lynch--and his pass was deflected by the line and intercepted by Ted Ouellet.
BG had the ball its 49 with about a minute left. Now, the worm has turned...you feared 24-20 and you know could make it 31-13.
And they did. Two completions to Heath Jackson for 13 yards, a 3rd and 10 completion to Alex Bayer to get to the 26, followed by a Johnson scramble for 7 and then two passes to Bayer for the remaining 19 and the TD. 31-13, heading to the half.
We all paused for air. The Ford Field DJ played, "You Dropped a Bomb on Me." And we had...BG dropped a bomb on NIU.
Second half next.
(Edited for correct half for onside kick and Beck TD run).
Lots more to come tomorrow....actually, later today. It is late.
But this is what it feels like.
So many good feelings. I'm so proud of our team, guys who kept working when things were bad, guys who looked around and took stock after the Toledo game and essentially were never challenged again for the remainder of the season.
So proud of our Coaches for doing things the right way, for building a team concept, for taking a long term approach to building a program.
So proud of the team for their performance in the big game. They took a team that no one thought they could beat and completely dominated them. This was a team all but ticketed for a BCS bowl...and BG beat them handily.
So proud of our fans. Great turn out tonight, and the best and most energetic crowd I remember as a Falcon fan. It was a great night for the Falcon Nation, and I'm so happy everyone got to enjoy it.
There have been so many disappointments over the years, so many times when the team was one play short or one game short. It has been 21 years...and this is what victory feels like.
Seeing our Coach take that trophy, having the players come over and celebrate with the fans, and then the Ay-Ziggy-Zoomba with the band...unforgettable...they have absolutely earned it and it was great that we could celebrate with them.
Coach said on his first day as Falcon coach that every player should leave with a diploma in one hand and a championship ring in the other. That's the philosophy we need and there's about 100 guys out there who have one of those hands taken care of.
I know there's talk about Coach leaving. If that's what he wants, he's earned it. He did something Urban Meyer never did...bring a MAC title home to the Doyt.
So, thank you to the players and the coaches whose hard work and commitment allowed us to feel so good tonight. Thank you.
Friday, December 06, 2013
OK, people....the football excitement is all around us, so just a quick respite to peek in on the men's basketball team, which plays tomorrow at Xavier. The game will be on Fox Sports1, if that is the kind of thing that interests you.
Xavier is 5-3 on the season. They started off the year with 5 straight home games and won them all, beating Tennessee, Morehead State, Miami (OH) (by 26) and a couple of chum opponents. Then, they went to the Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas and came back with a nasty rash and a couple of sea urchin stings.
First, they lost by 3 to a very good Iowa team. Then, as often happens in these tournaments, things spiraled on them and they lost to Tennessee (a team they had already beaten) by 15 and then to USC.
This is their first action in the week since returning from Atlantis.
The program is under the microscope a little bit. They have moved from the A-10 to the Big East, which is not as big a jump as you might think, but it is much higher visibility and is perceived to be the big time.
To top it off, ESPN picked them to finish 8th in the conference. Bruce Pearl thinks they might be one of the most underrated teams in the country.
X was 17-14 last year, which is an unusual down season for them. Prior to that, they had 20+ wins in 18 out of 20 seasons. They added WMU transfer Matt Stainbrook and have a couple guys back who were ineligible.
BG has played the Musketeers once in the Orr era, losing 101-57 in Cincy. BG actually leads the all-time series 6-5 thanks to a 6-2 run in the 40s and 50s.
Xavier has been an efficient offensive team, at 1.08 points per possession. (Note: the NCAA rules are having an impact. Typically, the median was 1.02, but this year it is 1.05 or 1.06...which is 2-3 points per game, depending on tempo.) Anyway, BG's is only .99.
They are shooting 48% and 35% but with a very low proportion of 3s. They are not especially great taking care of the ball. Most notably, they are getting offensive efficiency without shooting FTs effectively...they are among the 10 worst FT shooting teams in D1.
They are a very good rebounding team, on both sides of the glass.
On the defensive side, they are holding teams to .94 points per possession. They defend the shot well (40% and 29%), prevent 2nd shots and do a decent job with turnovers.
Xavier is led by 6'3" SO PG Semoj Christian. He's a big player, potential NBA draft pick...etc. He's scoring 15 PPG on 49% shooting, which is more efficient than last year. He'd be all world if he could make a FT, which he cannot, despite getting a lot of practice. (51% down from 67% last year). He's the real deal, though and BG will be challenged to guard him.
XU plays a deep rotation. 11 players average more than 14 minutes. This impacts the stats of the players who are not Christian. The next leading scorer is a familiar face, former WMU Bronco Matt Stainbrook. He is scoring 10.8 on 55% shooting with 7.9 rebounds per game in only 24 average minutes, which is effective.
They have four other guys who are productive players--Davis, Philmore, Martin and Farr--especially given the minutes they play.
All in all, this promises to be a challenge for the Falcons. XU is very good at home and I would expect the Falcons to have to play the very best game to remain competitive with Musketeers. I don't think it helps that they have had a week to stew on the trip to the Bahamas.
A Falcon team loses @OSU and @Wisconsin and then reels off 8 straight to win the MAC. In those days, you had to win the MAC to go bowling and BG beat Nevada in the "punter takes the snap in the face mask game."
Where we you? If you were a current Falcon player, there is a good chance you had not even been born yet.
The team was coached by Gary Blackney. Captains were Erik White, Artie Mangham and Dave Bielinski.
MAC Champions. Hasn't happened again.
In between, there was a fat punter, the dark Blackney years, Urban Meyer, Big Ben, the dark Brandon years and through it was one common thread. No MAC titles.
2003. Remember where you were?
I was at the Doyt for the December matchup with Miami. In those days, the MAC Championship was on home field. It was cold. BG had no answer to Big Ben. Tacklers bounced off him and he would send single receivers out against a full BG backfield and find the guy open. BG put up a tough fight, but Miami was just unstoppable.
I remember leaving the stadium. I had to pass down the tunnel under a mob of Miami fans who leaned over the railing and taunted me.
A great season...the GameDay season...the Motor City Bowl season...just not a championship season.
Now BG has just its 2nd chance to win the MAC title since the division format started...and the program's first conference title since 1992.
It has been a long time and way too long.
The fact that BG is running up against the MAC's most dominant QB since Big Ben should not be lost on anyone...certainly, BG has drawn tough assignments in the two games.
I think I shared a lot of people's surprise at the line, which was only 3 points. Clearly, BG is getting the respect it deserves. After losing 2 in a row, I think the Falcons found a way to raise their game and I think they are clearly playing their best football right now. If one team has heavier pressure, it isn't us...NIU has a lot riding on this game.
I don't know how it is going to turn out, but I believe our guys will be ready to play. I believe the team is as good as it can be right now. And I believe they will have a plan to win. The game is the game...but I have confidence our guys won't flinch and will bring their best game. And I believe they will make us proud.
Let's get it started!
Quick note, the Blade is reporting that Chauncey Orr is having knee surgery and will miss the remainder of the season. I feel badly for Chauncey, who has always been a warrior on the floor and who has improved his game as much as anyone we have had recently. I'm sure he's incredibly disappointed and we send him best wishes for a full recovery.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
|You are looking live....|
Hard for it to be much better. One regular season loss in 2 seasons, Orange Bowl berth last year followed up with an undefeated year this year. They are the real deal.
How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?
Jordan Lynch #18 in All-purpose yards, #2 in points responsible for, #3 in rushing TDs, #3 in rushing yards, #7 in scoring, and #4 in total offense.
Jimmie Ward is #5 in interceptions.
Matthew Sims #15 in FGs and #9 in scoring.
ALL STATS BELOW CONFERENCE GAMES ONLY
What is their turnover ratio?
+8. #2 in the MAC, tied with BG.
|How big is the whole enchilada?|
How is their QB Play?
Couldn't be much better. Two-time MAC offensive player of the year, Lynch is 4th in pass efficiency in MAC and #1 in rushing yards. Averages 7.7 yards per rush.
What is their scoring and yards per play?
Leads the MAC with 42.6 points per game and 7.4 yards per play. Next best team had 6.8 yards per play.
Can they run the ball?
Of course, they can. Beyond Lynch, Cameron Stingley averages 5.9 yards per carry.
Do they pass the ball?
They can. They are 3rd in pass efficiency and 5th in pass yards per game. They have two receivers averaging 16+ yards per reception and neither one is Tommylee Harris.
How is their run/pass balance?
They run on 63% runs, which is very high.
Do they convert on 3rd Down?
Yes. Tied with BG for MAC lead at 49.5%
Do they score in the red zone?
With mind-boggling 44 trips in 8 games, they are getting 5.2 points per trip.
Do they protect the quarterback?
They have allowed only 5 sacks in 8 games.
Topline: Scoring and yards per play.
They are very good...3rd in the MAC in scoring defense and #2 in yards per play allowed.
|Diesel. Because you can't hate|
Tied with BG for first with 3.7 yards per rush allowed.
Can they be passed on?
They are 3rd in the MAC in pass efficiency defense...50% completions, 9 TD/9 INT. Only hole is they allow 12.5 points per reception.
Do they get off the field on 3rd down?
They are OK, 5th in the MAC. (39.7%).
Do they defend in the red zone?
They allow fewer than 3 trips per game and allow only 4.6 points per trip, both of which are good.
Do they pressure the QB?
They are 7th in the MAC in sacks. They give up a lot of pass attempts, so it is only 4.2% of passing attempts, which is below average.
|Did you say the #5 ranked defense in FBS?|
They are 7th in the MAC in net punting...blocked once, no TDs allowed.
They are 8th in punt return average.
Sims has been inconsistent, getting votes of confidence, etc. He's 15 of 23, but 12 of 14 inside 30 and 3 of 9 outside 40. Long is 51, blocked once.
They are 4th in kickoff coverage. Allowed 1 TD.
They are 3rd in KO returns, 1 TD and that's with Lewis missing a couple games.
NIU is a very good team and the best team on BG's schedule this year.
The answers to the questions above show that. And, NIU played a tougher West schedule than BG did.
That being said, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I believe that if BG plays its very best game, it can win this game.
Here's what Coach Elko said to Dave Hackenberg.
“Very few offenses have the firepower Northern Illinois does and very few defenses have accomplished the things our guys have by buying into team defense instead of making individual plays,” Elko said. “As a result, it’s like two freight trains headed at each other.”What will it require?
- The MAC's leading defense to play as advertised for 60 minutes. NIU has multiple weapons, and BG has to win the individual battles with them all. Stopping Lynch is the first step.
- The BG offense to hit on all cylinders. We can't have dropped passes and bad penalties. BG's offense must consume time and put points on the board.
- BG is also going to need big plays like in the Buffalo game.
Having said that, I'm proud of our guys and I can't wait to see them tomorrow night. This has been a very good season and they have earned the right to play for the title. I believe we are playing our best football and 100% believe that we can climb this mountain.
Falcon Fodder has BGSU injury news heading into tomorrow night's big game....the news is pretty static and no worse than it was last week. Justin Ford is out...he has not been cleared due to concussive symptoms. Fred Coppet has the same issue and is doubtful. That's the whole report...unless, as Falcon Fodder points out, we forget about Martin, Cohen, Gallon, Delk, Hunter, etc.
One thing Coach Clawson mentioned is that BG's d-line is as healthy as they have been all year. The slowing pace of the games in November actually helped them heal. They played at a high level against Buffalo and will certainly be needed on the Ford Field turf Friday.
Coach Clawson met with the media yesterday for the final time in the regular season, as he prepares his team for the championship game on Friday.
He did not have a lot of newsworthy stuff to say...however...
There was one good moment. Coach Clawson is normally very mild-mannered and even tempered. Someone asked if he had addressed rumors of his departure with the team, and he cut the person off very sharply. He said it was disrespectful of the team and what they had accomplished this year. I don't know who asked the question--I didn't recognize the voice--but Coach was clearly irritated at the question.
Coach also joked a little bit in response to a question about the amount of money that the conference stands to make if NIU makes a BCS game. He said that the other 12 ADs, administrators, etc at all the other MAC schools are all rooting for NIU. He also noted that teams in the other AQ conferences are rooting for BG...so the Falcons can open a slot up by taking the Huskies out. He said he had expected a fruit basket from some of those teams, but alas has heard nothing.
There were a number of questions about Jordan Lynch. He said everything you would expect--Lynch would be an all-MAC TB and an all-MAC QB if he never ran. He said you can't simulate his skills on the scout team. He said that the biggest key was kind of obvious, but BG needs to tackle Lynch. He has made game-changing plays on broken tackles this season.
Coach said that NIU runs the same play out of different formations. What that means is that they might run a specific play that forces (for example) DJ Lynch to defend a Jordan Lynch run. If BG is defending it, then they can use a different formation and force another player to make the play. It makes them very difficult to defend.
Finally, coach was asked about how BG ended up with the best defense in the MAC and only one player on the first team. Coach waffled a little and then said that BG has a great team defense, so you don't get buys who generate the big numbers. Also, Oullet, Campbell and Martin were all injured, which lowered (or in Campbell's case eliminated) their MAC ranking.
He said that Coach Elko uses a "mosh pit" tackling method.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
The All-MAC teams are out, as well as the award winners. BG is well represented and absent a couple of minor quibbles, I think BG was treated fairly.
First, the specialty awards:
Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner: QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Coach of the Year: Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Jordan Lynch
Northern Illinois Defensive Player of the Year: LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
Special Teams Player of the Year: K Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo
Freshman of the Year: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
I have no real issues here. Lynch and Mack are obvious choices and I am glad they did not insult Lynch by giving the offensive award to someone else (since he had the Leadership Award). Detmer and Davis were also both clear choices.
I don't even quibble with Rod Carey. Too often Coach of the Year is a surrogate for "most improved team" and I think you can recognize that excellence is not an accident. Having said that, I think you could have made a case for the long-term coaching jobs done by Clawson and Lembo. Both programs have built themselves up over years, something that can only be about Coaching. Just a note, no argument with Carey.
10 Falcons made the All-MAC teams.
David Kekuewa, OL
Dominic Flewellyn, OL
Boo Boo Gates, S
Alex Huettel, OL
Travis Greene, RB
DJ Lynch, LB
Gabe Martin, LB
Ted Ouellet, DL
Ryan Burbrink, Punt Return
Alex Bayer, TE
A few comments. (You can see the whole list here)
Matt Johnson deserved to be 3rd team. No, he's not ahead of Wenning and Lynch, but he deserved 3rd team. It went to Terrance Owens, who is a Senior and I suspect that's what's going on here (and he's a good player). But Johnson had a better year.
It is instructive that BG had the dominant defense in the MAC and played only one defender on the first team. Instructive in that it shows the team concept that BG plays so effectively. Credit to the voters for including Gabe Martin despite his injury. Thought you'd see Cam Truss somewhere, so that is certainly a quibble, and Paul Swan might have had an All-MAC year too.
Travis Greene deserved 1st team over Branden Oliver, who generated big numbers based on high numbers of carries.
Note: Dri Archer, 3rd team. Who'd a thunk?
Finally, all 3 of BG's senior lineman made All-MAC 1st or 2nd. It was a program priority to rebuild the line, and Clawson got it done. Also, going to be a challenge for next year.
Boo Boo has now been first-team All-MAC twice. Bayer, Oullet, Martin and Flewellyn are also repeat players.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Let me say this...these new interpretations had better yield a pretty good college basketball product over the years because right now it is creating a pretty turgid spectator event. More on that later.
This was a really nice win for BG. They were slight underdogs on their home floor and brought a complete game to get the win over a team that I would suspect would be a decent team in the MAC. But, the Falcons held a double-digit lead for most of the 2nd half and had a very convincing and solid win.
So, there has been plenty of doom and gloom for the team, and last night they played a really nice game and beat a quality opponent...credit is due.
It did not start out with much promise. WKU jumped out to a 9-0 lead. BG called time out and switched to a press than fell back into a zone defense. It worked. BG went on a 23-5 run to take a 9-point lead of their own with about 7 minutes left in the half.
WKU battled back and tied the game with 1:00 or so left in the first half and BG led by 2 at the break.
Coach Hopson said that their expected that WKU would spend half time preparing for the zone, so BG came out in the 2nd half in a man defense again--the same defense that had led to a 9-0 WKU lead. Except, BG went on a 15-0 run, holding the 'Toppers scoreless for 6:30. At that point, the Falcons were up 17 and essentially never led by 10 for the remainder of the game as they salted away a convincing victory.
Coach Orr has talked about BG being able to play both man and zone effectively, but this is the first time I can remember us being able to use both in the same game so effectively.
The main storyline was free throws. Oy. The refs called 52 fouls in this game and there were 69 free throws attempted by both teams. In a regulation game. In the past games, that would have spelled doom for BG. Except last night BG was nailing 70% of its FTs and 78% in the 2nd half while WKU shot a dismal 44%. That's 29 of 42 for BG...a +17 advantage at the line for the game.
Not that BG generated that advantage from the same number of fouls (26 each way) meaning that BG's fouls were more likely to be shooting and come from attacking the basket.
This was not a program record for FTs attempted. The record was actually set in 1953...against WKU. No kidding.
BG shot 42 free throws and attempted only 46 Field Goals, making the free throw ratio .91, the highest since January, 2006 when BG won at the MAC Center making 34 of 35 FTs.
From the field, BG had a typical shooting night, with 43.5%. The other difference in the game was that BG got some efficient 3FG shooting...going 5 of 11. Overall, BG had 1.09 points per possession, which is a very good offensive night.
The defense was also effective. WKU shot only 34% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc. They were heavily 3-dependent. They made 13 2FGs and 8 3FGs, so that helped their effective FG% a little bit, but it was still below their average. On paper they did well on the offensive boards, but it seemed like a decent number of those were long boards from the barrage of 3s they took.
Like I said, a very complete team victory.
On an individual basis, the continuing story continues to be the break-out season for Spencer Parker. He has made a huge difference for this team. He is long and athletic and presents match up issues and he attacks the basket, something BG has had trouble with in the past couple years. He had 20 efficient points (on 5 of 7 shooting and 9 of 12 from line) to go with 6 rebounds. He did make 6 turnovers, but as he corrects that, I think he gets better.
Richaun Holmes also had a very nice night. He had 18...4 of 10 shooting but 9 of 10 from the line and added 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
The Falcons also got a nice contribution from Craig Sealey, who is not 100% healthy following off-season surgery. He provided points in the first half run for BG, and ended up with 13 and 8 rebounds in 28 minutes. If he ever gets to the point where he contributes like this on a regular basis, this team takes clear step forward.
Anthony Henderson also had a nice game, with 12 points and 3 of 5 beyond the arc. He doesn't need to make a ton of those shots, but anything threat at all is meaningful as the team tries to cobble together an offensive attack.
Jehvon Clarke struggled a little bit, with 3 of 10 shooting and 6 assists over 4 turnovers.
BG played without Chauncey Orr...the Blade says his knee continues to experience swelling.
Anyway, last night was a good night for the Falcons and something I hope they can build on. The issue is consistency--especially from the line--but you can't have two good games until you have one.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Shaun Joplin was named the MAC East Offensive player of the week for his performance in the Big Game at Buffalo last Friday.
He is well deserving. Joplin had 6 grabs for a career high 149 yards, with all but 10 of those yards coming in the 2nd Half. He was truly a difference maker for the Falcons in the game's decisive moments. He made great individual plays. So congrats, Shaun. ENJOY! But not too much. #beatniu
Here is what the MAC said in their release:
Senior wide receiver Shaun Joplin (Sylvania, Ohio) caught six passes for a career-high 149 yards and a touchdown as the Falcons clinched a spot in the MAC Championship game for the first time since 2003 with a 24-7 win over Buffalo. Joplin, who had just one catch for 10 yards in the first half, exploded with five catches for 139 yards in the second half. On the first drive of the second half, Joplin would catch a pass for 31 yards down to the Buffalo 19-yard line. On the next drive, quarterback Matt Johnson found Joplin in the corner of the end zone. Joplin was able to get his feet down in-bounds to secure the 23-yard touchdown reception, giving the Falcons the lead for good. In the fourth quarter, with the Falcons leading just 17-7, Johnson found Joplin on consecutive plays to set the Falcons up for a score. The second catch, which Joplin out-jumped a receiver and then juked a defender, would go for 62 yards down to the Buffalo seven-yard line. On the next play, the Falcons would score to ice the game.
BG has now had 12 straight positive games--an entire regular season. Special teams have been very good this year, excelling early with big plays but then also excelling with the little things that do make a big difference. BG was +7 and UB +5. This was the best game by a BG opponent this year, led by an incredible performance by the UB punter. (The whole dumb thing is explained here.)
BG Positive Plays: (+10)
BG 40 yd FG (+1)
BG fumble recover on punt (+3)
BG KO Ret to 35 (+1)
BG Punt inside 10 (+2)
BG Punt inside 20 (+1)
BG Punt inside 20 (+1)
BG KO Ret to 37 (+1)
BG Negative plays (-3)
BG 22 yd net punt (-1)
UB KO Ret to 41 (-1)
UB KO Ret to 36 (-1)
UB Positive Plays (+10)
UB punt inside 20 (+1)
UB punt inside 10 (+2)
UB 47 yd net punt (+1)
UB KO Ret to 41 (+1)
UB punt inside 10 (+2)
UB 46 yd net punt (+1)
UB punt inside 20 (+1)
UB KO Ret to 36 (+1)
UB Negative Plays (-5)
UB loses fumble on punt (-3)
BG KO Ret to 35 (-1)
BG KO Ret to 37 (-1)