Thursday, September 20, 2018

25 Whammy questions

Remember the 70's
What is their body of work?

So, in historic terms, Miami is one of the traditional powers in the MAC.  Over the last 10 years, they were in the bottom three for record.  Two years ago, they started 0-6 and things looked really bad, but then they won their last 6 and made a bowl game.  Things were looked up for last year, but Ragland was injured and they fell backwards.  This year was really supposed to be the year--they were on Phil Steele's Most Improved Team list.  And this year is not off to a good start, at 0-3, massive injuries and only 3 points in the last 2 games. 

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They are very experienced.  Phil Steele had them ranked #7 in terms of experience.  They have 30 upperclassmen on the two-deep, based on their published two-deep.

Who are their statistical leaders?

De'Andre Montgomery is #20 in the nation in tackles.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are -2.

Offense:

How is their QB play expected to be?

Well, it was supposed to be pretty good.  Gus Ragland is a 5th-year senior who is among the top QBs in the MAC.  He's struggling this year, at #9 in the MAC and #106 in the country in efficiency.  He's completed only 54% with 3 TD over 2 INT and 10.4 yards per reception.  He's mostly a passing QB.

What was their scoring and yards per play?

They are really struggling.  They are scoring 10 PPG and 4.5 yards per play.  That's last in scoring and 123rd in yards per play.  (BG is actually even lower).

Can they run the ball?

They are really struggling, at 3.1 yards per carry.  That's 126th in the nation.  They've rotated a bunch of guys through, and no one has carried very much.

Do they pass the ball?

Well, as noted, their QB play has not been as expected.  Further, their All-MAC 1st team WR Andrew Gardner is out for the season.

How is their run/pass balance?

No, they have run on only 40% of their overall plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Not good at 35%. 

Did they score in the red zone?

They average 5.2 points per trip, which is good, but they have only 6 redzone trips in 3 games.

Did they protect the quarterback?

Yes, they do.  They've only given up sacks on 2.7% of their pass attempts.

Defense:

Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are allowing 27 PPG and only 4.7 yards per play.  The scoring is just average but the yards per play is #34 in FBS.

Do they defend the run effectively?

That's a very good question.  They do.  This is going to be the game's key confrontation.  They allow only 3.6 yards per carry and BG has struggled to run the ball.  The o-line is going to need to win some battles to open some space.

Can they be passed on?

Yes, they are #94 in passing efficiency defense.  They allow almost 60% completions at 11.2 per completion and 6 TDs and 1 INT.

Did they get off the field on 3rd down?


They are not great, at 42%.

Do they defend in the red zone?

No.  They allow 5.8 points per trip.

Did they pressure the QB?

Not bad.  They get sacks on 6.3% of their pass defenses.

Special Teams:

Punting?

Their net is 38 per punt, which is pretty average.  They are getting excellent yardage, but have given up 7 returns for 11 yards per.  Also his name is Kyle Kramer and BG used to have a d-back named Kyle Kramer.

Punt Return?

They have a good player back there, but he only has 5 returns for 22 yards.

Placekicking?

He made his only FG at 37 yards this year.  Overall, he is 14 of 20 with a 45 long.

Kickoff?

Not bad.  Teams start on the 24.

Kickoff Return?

They start on their 24.




First, this Miami is the craziest thing going.  From the game where Don Nehlen forgot what down it was to the mud bowl to the fog game to the fumble last year....this series just brings crazy shit and its usually bad for BG.  In fact, Miami has won 6 of the last 7 games at the Doyt.

Both teams need a win badly.  That's going to make for a spirited contest, I suspect. 

Things to watch for include whether BG's defense can stop Miami's weak running attack and whether BG can move the ball against Miami's defense, which is not bad.

Last year's game was crazy.  BG had all but lost the game when Miami tried a trick play near the goal line and fumbled.  BG then did the only thing that could have kept Miami in the game by returning the fumble for a score and then Miami almost came down and tied the game anyway.

With the injury issues at Miami--along with their offensive struggles--you'd like to think BG will get the win and get to 2-2.  Somewhere in Oxford someone is having the same exact thought.




Monday, September 17, 2018

Final Thoughts

One or two last things.'


First, I wonder how about the heat yesterday impacted the game.  We sit on the west side, in the same shade as the EKU players.  When we went down for halftime, it was 20 degrees hotter in the sun--where our bench was.  Also, as always, the east side looks directly into the sun.  Has to have been an issue, don't know how much.

Nice crowd, announced at more than for the Indiana  Maryland game.  Beautiful day...too bad it wasn't that way the week before.  As always, there's a slow attrition as the game goes on, starting after the band show and continuing through the game, even for a close game.  You just don't have a lot of fans truly engaged in the result.  I don't know how to change that.

I will say this.  The crowd was hungry for a win and reacted with excitement, regardless of who we were playing.

One issue is that the game proceeds at a glacial pace inside the stadium.  That's nobody's fault, but the TV and the replays just grind the game along.  It isn't as bad on TV, but it makes for a long day at the stadium and I'm sure has something to do with the attrition.

Last thing.  Special teams were a big question mark coming into the year--kicking in particular.  BG's punting hasn't been great but has been generally acceptable, and the placekicking has been as good as it needs to be.  Needham made his only FG attempt and all his XPs and I don't think we've been forcing fourth downs like we did in Jinks I.

We gave up a big KOR and had one OB against EKU, but the kickoff and punt coverage has been good and there was a turnover netted.  Teams average starting from kickoffs on the 22.  That part of the team has been better than expected.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Past and Future Opponent Land

Oregon  (3-0)  Beat San Jose State 35-22
Maryland (2-1) Lost 35-14 to Temple
EKU (1-2) NA
Miami (0-3)  Lost 26-3 to Minnesota.  Have scored 3 points in last 2 weeks.
Georgia Tech (1-2) Lost 24-19 to Pitt
Toledo (1-1) Lost to University of Miami
WMU (1-2) Destroyed Delaware State
Ohio (1-1) Lost 41-35 to Virginia
Kent (1-2) lost 63-10 to Penn State
CMU (0-3) Lost to NIU 24-16
Akron (2-0) Beat Northwestern in Evanston
Buffalo (3-0) Beat EMU 35-28

MAC vs. P5:  2-15
MAC vs.  FCS:  9-0
MAC vs Group of 5:  1-2
East vs. West:  1-0, East

James Morgan threw 2 TD passes to lead FIU over UMass.

Sweet Victory: The Offense

Now, to take a look at the offense.  Much like the defense, this was our first opportunity to look at the offense against someone they should be able to handle.

They did well, but I would submit that they are not at the level advertised.  We were kind of expecting a high-flying offense, mixing run and pass and darting down the field, putting pressure on the other team's offenses, forcing them out of the run, etc.  We haven't had that offense yet.

Yes, they scored 42 points.  However, that benefitted from two short fields on turnovers.  Against EKU, BG averaged 4.8 yards per play, a full yard less than they averaged in MAC games last year.  That's not where it needs to be if the plan is to outscore the opponent.

The biggest issue is that BG is not running the ball effectively.  BG had 4.2 yards per carry, sacks adjusted.  Last year in MAC play BG averaged nearly 5 per carry.  Coach said in the presser before the EKU game that he expected more out of the line, and from the way I saw it the line did not win enough battles at the line Saturday.  BG often had very little room to run, the line of scrimmage was often not moved at all, etc. 

Again, this was a line BG should have been able to handle.  The o-line play is going to have to open up more holes for BG's rush offense to get going and then open up matchups for the pass game.

Speaking of which.  Scotty Miller didn't play at all, first of all.  Here's the thing.  Doege had pretty good numbers.  He completed 72% of his passes and had 4 TDs over 1 pick.  However, BG had only 9 yards per completion, which is sort of a ball-control passing attack, but not the shock and awe stuff we thought we were going to get.

I guess I would just say this.  If you thought SO Jarett Doege was going to be SO Matt Johnson...he's not there yet.  First, Matt Johnson was a redshirt sophomore.  But, Doege still has a lot of room to improve.  He threw a pick where he tried to be Brett Farve and actually got away with something similar two other times.  He didn't see a WR receiver on a perfectly-executed flea flicker.  He tends to hold onto the ball too long.

I don't mean to be critical.  He's clearly effective.  But he can be better and BG will need him to be.

One last note.  With Hargrove out in the concussion protocol, BG brought true FR Rico Frye up and he was effective.  He carried 7 times for 37 yards and was getting carries while BG was trying to run the clock out.  He certainly looked good.  What's exciting is that with the new rules, BG can use him in 3 other games and still redshirt him.

Sweet Victory: The Defense

EKU ran the ball 56 times and passed it 21.  They were in the game until the last play while completing only six passes.

How?

BG cannot stop the run.  Until they do, there's no reason for anyone to pass the ball against them.  When a reporter asked Coach if team would take that exact strategy, his answer was "wouldn't you?"

Yes, you would.  No exaggeration.  If BG doesn't figure out how to stop the run, they could lose them all from here on in.  All these midwestern MAC boys would like to buckle it up and plow a team over, maybe except Kent.  I'm not saying that will happen or I expect it to happen, but until BG figures out how to stop the run, they are at risk of not being anybody. (More on the offense in another post, but we're also not in win-the-shootout territory, either).

Also, just for our own mental health we can forget that we play Georgia Tech for the moment.

Coach said that BG's issue is tackling.  His claim is that the players are getting into the right position and filling the right gaps and just not executing the tackles.  I don't know which way I would prefer it.  Coaches have said it is hard to adjust tackling during the season.  (Clawson used to testily say "they know how to tackle" when asked this question.)

For my money, it did seem to me on a couple of their long runs we did have them hemmed in until someone took a bad angle and McCleskey was good enough to make one miss into big yardage.  Anyway, it will need to get fixed.  Prior to this game, we were able to talk about all the NFL players on the other side of the ball from us.  Not so with EKU.  Most, if not all, of the offenses we face from here on in will be better.

If you reverse out the sacks, EKU had 7.2 yards per rush.  They had 7 guys run the ball and only one averaged less than 5 yards per carry.  They had precisely zero negative yard rushes, sacks excluded.  They made 18 rushing first downs.  It was no contest.

From the start, the defense was going to be a struggle and injuries have made it worse.  As tough as it is, for the program to advance this year they are going to need to improve and be good enough to win, at least, by Saturday.

The defense does have promising players.  Karl Brooks is playing as a true FR and was a late signee and even missed part of fall camp.  He had 9 tackles, a sack and two hurries.  Jerry McBride is a junior and seemed to be in the Belton spot and led the team in tackles.  He's a junior.  Khole Abrams-Coleman had 10 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered it.  He's a true SO.  Kyle Junior is a stalwart.  Roland Walder seems to have some upside, too.

There is promise and we have proven defensive coaches.  Now they have to do something very difficult, which is turn around a floundering ship in stormy seas.


Sweet Victory: The Overview

And there it is.

Sweet Victory.

Flawed, perhaps.  Not encouraging perhaps.  But, nonetheless, the 600+-day home losing dought and the five-game losing streak overall are now over.  BG has won a football game.

Like all of the FCS games of the Jinks era, it came down to the final play.

The game certainly did not start off like it was going to end this way.  In fact, BG started the game like you would have expected them to start playing Oregon.  EKU

BG got the opening kickoff and made a couple first downs before they got behind the chains and then sacked and had to punt.  EKU started on their own 31 following a 25-yard BG punt and proceeded to unload an 11-play drive to get the opening TD.  They converted a 3rd and 6 and a 3rd and 7 on the drive and were up 7-0.

BG's offense responded with a 3 and out and then EKU went on a 7-play, all running drive for 59 yards to take a 14-0 lead.

Coach seemed to dismiss these drives in the post-game presser, saying, "they went on a couple long drives,"  but at this point the Colonels were in control of the game and BG was bending and breaking.

To their credit, BG did not stop playing.  The offense got its mojo back and scored early in the 2nd to make it 14-7.

The Falcon defense responded next, getting EKU off the field with one first down.  The offense went three and out but this time Timmerman nailed a 52-yard punt and the Colonel receiver muffed it while backing up, possibly in the sun, and BG recovered at the 19.

Two plays later Doege hit Morris to tie the game at 14.

On EKU's next drive they made a couple first downs and then fumbled and McBride picked the ball up and ran it to the EKU 22 and a couple plays later Andrew Clair scored and BG had a 21-14 lead.

The Falcons were unable to stand success however, and let EKU rip off a 68 yard run on the very first play from scrimmage.  21-21.

There were about five minutes left in the half.  BG had the ball on what was shaping up to be an important drive.  Aided by a key third-down DPI penalty, BG was able to score on a Doege-Phoutavong connection with less than a minute to play to go up 28-21.

EKU had the last possession of the half and actually drove to the BG 25 before missing a FG.

EKU got the ball and the defense forced them to a 3 and out.  BG had the ball, and Doege was under pressure and tried a Brett-Farve-flick-pass and it was picked.  (He's still a sophomore and not even through a full season).  EKU converted that into the trying touchdown.

The teams traded a couple three and outs until EKU fumbled again late in the 3rd and BG converted Doege to Phoutavong again to take a 34-28 lead (extra point was missed on a poor snap).

EKU took the ball with about 3 minutes left in the 3rd near midfield after a big KOR.  They scored 6 plays later to take a 35-34 lead into the 3rd quarter.

BG took the ball and appeared to be down to the EKU 13, before offensive pass interference stalled the drive and Doege pooched the ball deep in EKU territory. 

EKU stalled on a penalty of their own and BG got the ball on its 35 with 9:11 to go.  BG got to the 49 and then the key play of the game occurred.  Phoutavong made a sideline tiptoe catch for 18 yards and there was roughing the passer on top of it and BG was on the 18 and then Morris caught the TD pass that gave BG the lead.  BG went for 2 to go out 42-35.

EKU started its drive with 6:47 left.  BG stuffed a 2nd down run to force the Colonels into a passing down and they had to punt.

BG took the ball with 4:37 left.  Clearly, here, you'd like to run the game out, but that didn't happen.  EKU used all three time outs, but BG failed to convert on 3rd and 2, had a penalty and then was sacked on 3rd and 13.  BG got a 48 yard punt and EKU started on its 32 with 3:00 left.

They were forced to throw the ball--about 33% of the Colonel's passing attempts happened on the last drive.  EKU converted a 4th and 4 in the first series, but BG seemed to have them under control with a sack back to the BG 44 with less than :30 left.  But on the very next play EKU hit a 29-yard pass to the 15 with :11 left.  They got two shots at the end zone.  The second was was in the corner to their big TE and Brandon Harris was on the coverage.  There was a lot of contact, but the officials let them play for the last play and the incomplete pass gave BG the victory.

Never easy.  Down to the last play.  But a win, nonetheless.

More to come.

Friday, September 14, 2018

25 Questions for The Colonel

 What is their body of work?

Eastern Kentucky has a proud football tradition.  They have been struggling for a couple years, but have solid recruiting and would appear to be on the upswing.  They have won I-AA titles.  They beat Morehead State 49-23 and lost @Marshall 32-16 in a game that had about that deficit for the whole time.  Morehead State is picked 8th in their conference and Marshall beat Miami by 7 in Oxford, for comparison purposes.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They are a very young team, with 20.

Who were their statistical leaders?

LJ Scott was #2 in KOR last year.  He's #11 so far this year.  He's also #5 in rushing TDs.
Aaron Patrick is #14 in sacks.

What was their turnover ratio?

They were -5 last year and even this year..

Offense:

 How is their QB play expected to be?

They have played 2 QBs in both of their games so far.  They have rFR Dakota Allen and rSo Austin Scott.  They have alternated through the game.  Allen is the better passer and I assume Scott is more of a runner.  They are a run-focused team.

What was their scoring and yards per play?

Overall, they are scoring 32 points per game on 5 yards per play.  No surprise...much better against Morehead than against Marshall.

Can they run the ball?

They can run the ball.  They average 5 yards per rush...only 3.1 against Marshall.  This will be a key test for BG.  The Falcons have to stop the run.

Do they pass the ball?

They are not very good.  They have 48 passing yards against Marshall.  Allen is decent, with 58% completions but less than 10 per completion. Scott is 6 of 14 for 23 yards.  TE Dan Paul has both of their TD catches.

How was their run/pass balance?

They have run on 66% of their plays.

Did they convert on 3rd Down?

They are good at 45%.

Did they score in the red zone?

They average 5 yards per trip, which is pretty good.

Did they protect the quarterback?

No.  They give up sacks on 14% of their passes.

Defense:

Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are allowing 27.5 PPG and 5.2 yards per play.  Marshall scored 32 on 5.5 per play.

Did they defend the run effectively?

Yes.  They have only allowed 3.2 yards per carry.  Marshall had 3.2 yards per carry as well.  This will also be a key battleground for the game.

Can they be passed on?

They are OK.  They allow 60% completions of 11.3 YPC. 

Did they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are very good, allowing 31%. 

Do they defend in the red zone?

They allow 5.6 points per trip, which is not good.

Did they pressure the QB?

Not bad.  They get sacks on 7.4% of their pass defenses.

Special Teams:

Punting?

They have a new punter averaging 38 yards per punt net, which is decent.

Punt Return?

Good.  They have a block and 11 yard per return.

Placekicking?

Also new.  He's 3 of 4 with a long of 38.

Kickoff?

Not bad.  Teams start on the 26.

Kickoff Return?

They started on the 28.  Their KOR is averaging a 28 yards return.



A couple things.

First, our program is in a place where you are nowhere near sure we will win this game, and you should be.  Last year, BG lost their FCS game to South Dakota, a ranked FCS team.  These guys are not ranked, are young and should be someone BG can beat.   (BG also barely beat their first FCS opponent during the first season for Jinks).

Second, this is a huge game for the program.  They can't afford to lose this game---their 7th in a row at home.  The fact that THIS is a huge game is not a good look, but that's what it is.

Third, I wouldn't expect much in the way of a crowd Saturday and it still remains a potential let down game for BG.  Shouldn't be, but it wouldn't surprise me.

BG badly needs a win.  I suspect they get it and I hope it is a comfortable win.  

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blade: Hassan Belton, out for year

So, from The Blade, as feared, Hassan Belton will miss the season with a knee injury.  Wish him well on his rehab and hope he gets back to full health.  A good time to remember that these young men put their bodies at risk to play this sport.

He is able to take a medical redshirt and will have two years of eligibility.

Belton was brought in as a JUCO to try and shore up BG's LB corps, which was hit by graduation and unexpected attrition.  He was here in the Spring and looked like he might be a contributor.

On the two-deep, he was backed up by Eldrige Salguero, a JUCO who was added in June.  It would not surprise me to have Jerry Judd or Jerry Roberts, the other backup LBs, get reps or start at that position.  All three have played this year, but have not generated any stats.

This makes a tough job even tougher.  Since Fall camp, BG has lost Konowalski and Belton, both of who were expected to be seasoned players and contributors.  As Coach says, next man up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Meet EKU

So, I think it is fair to say that BG fans don't know too much about Eastern Kentucky.  So let's learn a little more (as opposed to being "I-don't-even-know-where-that-is guy")

It is in Richmond, Kentucky,  which is a little south-east of Lexington.  Both Daniel Boone and Kit Carson were born in this area and it was the sight of the Battle of Richmond, a big Confederate victory in the Civil War.

The school has about 14,000 undergraduates.

They are the Colonels.

Notable Alumni
Rex Ryan
Lee Majors (real name Harvey Yeary)
Earle Combs (Yankee great)
Thaksin Shinawatra – former Prime Minister of Thailand

The school has a strong football heritage.

22 OVC conference titles and two Division I-AA National Championships in 1979 and 1982.

All-time, they are 3-1 vs. BG

1940 EKU won 48-0
1949 EKU won 21-13
1950 EKU won 34-7
2003 BG won 63-13

Their Coach is Mark Elder

  • 3rd season
  • Coached at Tennessee, UC, CMU.
  • Known as a great recruiter and has ranked FCS classes in all of his 3 years.  Last was #11
  • Off to a 7-15 start at EKU

Monday, September 10, 2018

Jinks Presser

So, Coach had his weekly presser.

The biggest takeaway is that BG was physically beat up by Maryland and that the ramifications of that will extend at least into the EKU game.  There sound like there are a number of injuries, but Coach only dealt with them when specifically asked.  With that in mind:

Scott Miller is DTD and is not expected to practice "anytime soon"
Dorian Hendrix was injured and it appears to be serious
Hargrove is seeing a Dr and his concussion status was unknown.

Also, after the presser The Blade tweeted that FR WR Julian Ortega-Jones will miss the season with a knee injury and that Hassan Belton "didn't look good."

Again, there were other references to injuries, but those were the specifics I've seen.  It will be a test of our depth this Saturday and possibly beyond that.

Overall, Coach is earnestly promising that the team is on the right track.  He says the offense is playing clean and the defense was in the right place most of the time Saturday and just needs to execute better.  We all earnestly hope he's right.

Three other things.

Jamari Bozeman is not injured/did not have a setback.  They felt Garth was able to get himself in the right place better for that game so he got the start.

With Motes and Hendrix down, Brian Sanders is going to train to be a TE.  Coach says defensive ends are just tight ends who can't catch, so should be no problem.  We don't really need him to catch the ball anyway. (That part Coach didn't say).

He expects more out of the o-line.  This is something I had wondered about.  Certainly, they were overmatched in the first two games, but I had wondered if they still might have been making mental errors.  At least a couple times rushers were turned completely loose on the edge.  Coach promises--promises--we will be able to run the ball this year.