Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Babers Presser

Coach had his presser today...not much to say, but he did have the answer to one question I had wondered about.

Which is what he would do with someone who is not 100%.

He said that they were pushing guys to get back for UT because it is a rivalry game.  If there are players who are not 100% and they think they can get them there for the championship game, they will sit them out for the Ball State game.

Which makes perfect sense to me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Other RedHawks Arriving at Stroh

On Tuesday, BG has an excellent chance to run its start to 3-0.  By the modest recent success of this program, even 2-0 is a good start.  It is the first time BG has won 2 straight to win the season since 03-04 and that was a year in which both of the first two wins were non D1 wins and BG went on to lose its next 5.  The last time BG had a real start to the year was in 99-00...that sad, star-crossed, half court shot year of heartbreak.  That year, BG won its first 6.

Anyway, the next opponent for BG is Southeast Missouri State...the RedHawks.  Let's just dispense with this right away.  They are coached by a guy named Dickey Nutt.  I'm sure he has heard them all.

The RedHawks play in the Ohio Valley Conference, where they were picked to be 2nd in their division of the OVC and Blue Ribbon had them the same.  While they are 2-2, there are a ton of unanswered questions and for what it is worth, I think playing BG on the road is their toughest test to date.

They played their first two games without their pre-season all-OVC Jarekious Bradley, who was injured, and 6'7" Sr. John Langford, who was suspended.  They proceeded to lose to @Loyola Marymount and San Diego (neutral floor), two mid-range West Coast Conference teams.  They beat Hannibal-LaGrange (obviously non D1) at home and then went back on the road to beat Central Arkansas by 6....Central Arkansas is historically one of the weakest D1 programs with four sub 300 RPI seasons in the last 5 years, and the fifth was 287.

So, we don't really know what we have.  I suspect they are better than their record looks but how much better remains to be seen.

As mentioned, Bradley is 6'5" and a good player.  He scored 19 PPG on 49.8% shooting and 38% 3FG shooting.  He also had 6.3 RPG.  He's only played 2 games this year, but he does seem to be moving in the same direction now as he gets healthy.

The RedHawks do have some size.  Their 2nd leading scorer is 6'9" Nino Johnson, who is scoring 14.5 PPG on 69% shooting and 6 RPG.  Antonius Cleveland is 6'.5" and scoring 12 PPG on 54% shooting and 5.5 RPG and the formerly suspended John Langford is 11.5 PPG on 67% shooting.

Their leading rebounds is actually Aaron Adeyoe, who gets 6.25 RPG. I'm not sure if anyone keeps track of this stuff, but Adeyoe might hold a unique place in Falcon history...because if he plays on Tuesday he will have played against BG in 3 different uniforms.  He started at Ball State, transferred to Western Kentucky and now to SE MO.

This team might well remind you of a lot of BG teams.  They shoot a high overall % (46.7%), but it is heavily 2FG based and they are hitting only 27% of their 3FGs.  The overall mix is an average EFG%, but size is the one thing BG does not have, however, and for this reason the RedHawks might present a matchup issue for the Falcons.

Defensively they have been pretty good, at .932 points per possession, but that is partly schedule dependent at this point.  They are vulnerable to the 3FG--allowing 42% to be made, so the new look Falcons would hope to be able to take advantage of that.  They are getting turnovers on 25% of their possessions and they have been very effective preventing offensive rebounds.

So, if you want the positive, this is not the best team in the OVC and the MAC has been doing well against the OVC in recent years.  They have shown nothing this year that indicates they are a particularly strong team, but they could still be putting things together and getting the chemistry arranged and their depth inside will test the Falcons.  On the other hand, BG is stronger at the guard and with some outside shooting, and should be able to take advantage.

It will be interesting to see, but I do like BG's chances of making it 3-0.

Gabe Martin MAC East Defensive POTW

Gabe Martin was awarded the MAC East Defensive Player of the Week for BG today.  He had a big game against UT...from the MAC release:

Bowling Green senior linebacker Gabe Martin (Grand Blanc, Mich.) recorded a game-high 12 tackles, and tied his career high with 2.5 tackles for loss, in a 27-20 loss at Toledo. Early in the fourth quarter, Martin blocked a Toledo field goal, which allowed the Falcons' offense to tie the game on the very next possession. Martin was also integral in forcing a fumble, as he drove a lineman back into the quarterback, before one of his teammates came and knocked the ball loose for the Falcons to recover.

Martin has been a great player for the Falcons.  He's a senior and he has been an absolute warrior.  Coach even got a little choked up when he talked about Martin accepting--without hestitation--a position change in the middle of his senior year.  He was injured for the MAC title game last year and I am thrilled we are getting him back and let's win him one on the field.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Babers: "Hell, I might sign it"

So this one is sure to get tongues wagging...there have been some rumors out there of potential bigger jobs for Dino Babers after just 1 season at the Doyt.  Illinois is one place mentioned...but he does get mentioned elsewhere.

Which is kind of ironic, because there is a decent-sized population of Falcon fans who don't think Dino Babers has done a good job at BG this year at all.  I guess is just depends on your perspective.

The WKU game hit everyone hard.  I think everyone got off on the wrong foot and I think it has been hard to bring it around.  I'm not sure the Babers style has been a good fit and I think the off-season Falcon Fast hype was probably ill-advised.  Then, there was all the bandwagon stuff after the Indiana game to be followed by a history-making failure at Wisconsin...you get the idea.

The first narrative was that Babers didn't care about defense (ignoring the injuries and the record at EIU) and then as the defense improved it has been to focus on the lack of offense, which flies in the face of all the FalconFast rhetoric we heard.

For the record, I think Babers has done a good job.  I wouldn't put it down as an overwhelming success, but he has done a good job.  He kept the team afloat with serious injury issues.  The defense has established itself and is probably as good as we might have expected after the injuries healed.  The offense lost its starting QB and the Indiana game probably gave people an inflated idea of what to expect from our offense week in and week out.

The biggest issue I would have is that BG made its season beating the other weak teams in our weak division.  BG has not beaten a team with a winning record and has lost both games to the top teams in the MAC West, and, you know, last year we won the conference.  To sum it up, I think Babers has done a good job of keeping the team from completely sinking but in-conference has won the games you'd expect the team to win and no others.  And he didn't beat Toledo.  And WKU was a complete disaster that should not have happened.

But, it will come down to 1 game.  Win on 12/5 and the season is a success by anyone's standards.

USA Today lays out the case for Babers...which is the Briles pedigree combined with enough success as a head coach to convince people that he can make the adjustment.

The article also talks about the fact that Babers had such a long apprenticeship before getting his shot at being a head coach.  (Babers is 53).  Babers makes the claim that he appreciates where he is in life, that he probably only has one more job ahead of him, and that it isn't about getting a job for big money and "getting fired in five years."

Here he says what should get the attention of the Falcon Nation.

"If someone threw me a contract with about 15 years on it right now, at (Bowling Green)? Hell, I might sign it," he said. "Not that I'm not ambitious. But I'm really happy with what I'm doing. It's not about going somewhere to make $2 million more and getting fired after five years. I haven't waited around that long just to make money. It's got to be more than that.

"That financial gain really has no interest to me. I really only get to do it once, and if I do it right I'm going to get the opportunity one more time. What I'm interested in is having an opportunity to win."


OK.  First, coaches sign contracts all the time and then leave (Babers had one at EIU, Clawson had one at BG, etc) so signing a 15-year deal is far from a commitment to staying here for 15 years.  Nor, in fact, would it indicate BG's intent to keep him for 15 years...Coaches are let go with time on their contracts, as BG did with Gregg Brandon.

Having said that, I don't think Babers is a BS artist.  I think when he describes his mindset, I think he is being honest.  Maybe not...maybe a really big offer from Illinois would be more attractive in reality than he imagines it would be.  And, he did leave EIU after two years.

The point is that a lot of the fans I hear from would be almost relieved to see him leave after a year and here is a national paper talking about him being attractive...more attractive than he is among the fan base here.

He said all along the you'd see the biggest improvement in the 2nd year.  I'm not 100% thrilled that we didn't get a coach who was committed to winning in year one and I'm not 100% convinced Babers will succeed at BG, but I am more convinced than unconvinced.  We haven't see how he recruits--anywhere--so that is an open question that no one has an answer to.

The best case would be to win on December 5 but whoever wins the West will be heavily favored.  If that doesn't happen and Babers returns, he will face an off-season with a lot of doubt, which comes with the territory.  As a Coach, you should expect to have to convince people.

Past and Future Opponent Land--West continues to kill East

Western Kentucky (6-5) Bowl-eligible with win over UTSA.
VMI (2-10) Lost to arch-rival The Citadel
Indiana (3-8) Put scare into OSU but lost.
Wisconsin (9-2) Beat Iowa in close game.
UMass (3-8) Lost to Akron
Buffalo (4-6) KSU game was cancelled.  Buffalo loses shot at bowl eligibility.
Ohio U (5-6) Threatened but lost to NIU.
WMU (8-3) Beat arch-rival WMU
Akron (5-6)  Beat UMass
Kent (1-9) Buffalo game cancelled. Kent loses shot at Buffalo.
Ball State (4-7) Beat EMU

MAC vs. Power 5: 4-22
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 3-12
MAC vs. FCS: 11-2
East vs. West: West leads 15-3

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Looking Ahead: Ball State

As the dust settles on the BG defeat to UT on Wednesday, we look ahead to next Friday and Ball State.  BG has a couple of extra days to get ready for that one, but then have a normal one-week turnaround to play for the MAC title.

Ball State is having a very disappointing year.  They were huge last year and everyone thought Pete Lembo was going to go elsewhere--in fact, he was highly mentioned for the job Clawson eventually got.  Things just didn't shake out for him, and that left Lembo back in Muncie.  There was some debate on how good Ball State would be...they had big losses, including QB Keith Wenning.  As it turns out, they have had a long year.

The primary issue has been injuries.  This Star-Press article calls the injuries "absurd" and Lembo says they are the worst he has had in his career.  They have mostly hit the defense...and in that case, impacted a dozen players who were expected to be in the rotation.

For different reasons, one thing to watch for is how each team will play when it has nothing to accomplish.  For example, Ball State's season will end Friday.  How much will they bring to the game?

Differently, BG's season will continue regardless of the result.  It will be interesting to see how BG handles injured players in the game.  For example, BG's top two RBs did not play in Toledo.  If they are a close call--say 90%--would BG play them against Ball State, or would they be held back for the Championship game.

Should that be the case, you wonder what we will do.  Obviously, the loss to Toledo has only made the Falcon Nation more ouchy about what has gone down this year.  The one saving grace is that for all the ways people might be disappointed in the year, BG is one game from going back-to-back.  So, my view would be that you don't play anyone who isn't 100%.  We saw in the UT game how much we need Greene and Coppet.

We'll see what Coach does.

Friday, November 21, 2014

ICSTR...Rocket Edition

Final words on the UT game...both teams had positive special teams performance.  On the plus side, BG blocked two kicks and put 4 punts deep in UT territory.  BG only had 3 negative plays--each of them a big UT kick return.  BG finished +4 for the game.

UT also had a good game.  They buried two punts, had the 3 big KO returns and one KO touchback.  They were only +3, as they gave up the two blocked kicks and the big KO return plus added a 16 yard punt.

BG Pos (+8)
BG blocks XP (+1)
BG Punt to UT 12  (+1)
BG punt to UT 16  (+1)
BG Punt to UT 9  (+1)
BG Blocks FG (+2)
BG KO ret to 37  (+1)
BG Punt to UT 10  (+1)

BG Neg (-4)
UT KO return to 35 (-1)
UT KO Ret to BG 19 (-2)
UT KO Ret to 48 (-1)

UT Pos (+8)
UT KO TB  (+1)
UT KO return to 35  (+1)
UT Punt to BG 10 (+1)
UT Punt to BG 7 (+2)
UT KO Ret to BG 19 (+2)
UT KO Ret to 48 (+1)

UT Neg (-5)
BG Blocks XP (-1)
UT 16 yard punt (-1)
BG Blocks FG (-2)
BG KO ret to 37 (-1)

Stats and Benchmark Report, Rocket Edition

My view is that this week we can get a lot out of all this.

Starting for BG's offense...I think it magnifies just how ineffective BG's offense was.  Running was weak and passing was actually weaker on a per play basis.  BG was poor on 3rd down, gave up way too many sacks for the number of attempts...BG only redeemed itself by not having any turnovers.  The offensive effort was probably the worst this year with the exception of Wisconsin.  When you can't run the ball but you still have to run the ball 45% of the time...and when the other team is stopping the run while not over-committing men to the box and opening the pass...that's a terrible offensive game.  I felt like BG invested way too many plays in going deep.  I assume they were trying to open the box up, but the result was a lot of missed plays on low percentage passes, especially with that wind.

The UT offense/BG defense had many of the same issues.  In fact, UT's passing offense was not effective at all.  More than 1 in 5 of their attempts resulted in a sack or INT and when you deduct sacks they had about 40 yards passing.  They also fumbled, were just OK on 3rd down, etc.  What they were was good in the red zone and most of all dominant in the run game.  Sack Adjusted, UT averaged 6.9 yards per run and ran the ball on more than two out of 3 plays.  Essentially, when it came to offense there was only one thing that worked for either team, and it was enough for UT to win the game.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Falcon Men Now 2-0, Beat Wright State

The Chris Jans era continued its strong start as the Falcons played a pre-UT Football matinee contest and broke a tight game open in the second half and finished with a 70-55 win.  The Falcons are now 2-0 on the young year and while the quality of the competition is yet to be demonstrated, hungry Falcon fans will take the two wins any day.

As you can see below, the game was nip and tuck for the first 30 minutes.  The Raiders led by 1 at the half and BG was up 3 with 10 minutes left to play.  From there BG went on a 21-9 run to close the game out and give BG the victory, eventually going away.

My preview covered Wright State--they are certainly down a couple of guys.  Having said that, we are happy to see our boys winning and playing well in the balance.

For the second straight game, the difference has been...wait for it....SHOOTING.  No, really.  Like shooting the ball into the basket.

BG shot 43% from the field overall--which isn't great--but they shot 45% from beyond the arc and got to the line 24 times, making 19 of them.  Meanwhile, Wright State only shot 33% and 27% and turned the ball over 18 times.

On your fancy advanced statistics, BG had 1.03 points per possession--which is overall pretty average--but Wright State had .81 points per possession, which is pretty much undateable.

The Falcons have had different players power each victory, something else that is a good sign.  Jehvon Clarke had a big game in game 1, but he was quiet in this.  Both Richaun Holmes and Spencer Parker also struggled on the offensive side of the court (Parker had 14 points but on 4 of 12 shooting).

In Game 2, it was Zack Denny who scored 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting and 4 of 4 from beyond the arc.  Joseph and Holmes added 9 as well.

Holmes may have struggled on offense, he had a big day on the defensive side, leading the team with 8 rebounds and blocking 5 shots.  Denny had 7 rebounds and Parker 6.  Jovon Austin led the team with 4 assists.

BG continued to use a lot of depth.  BG had 9 players get over 10 minutes of play and no player went more than 28.

BG has a few days off before South-something Missouri State arrives on Tuesday.  So far, the Falcons are off to a good start and I think we all look forward to seeing it continue.

Sadness Accrues: Falcons Lose to UT again

Look, the sun did come up.

So there's that.

A couple of quick notes.

Coach Babers said in his presser that the game would come down to whether BG could run the ball and whether BG could stop the run.  The answer to both of those questions was NO, and therefore the answer to the game was that UT won.

Obviously, where the offense is concerned the focus of fans is on the QB.  It isn't the philosophy of this blog to rip players.  Knapke can play better and needs to improve his accuracy (and I think he would tell you that).  But, there were other issues too, including the weather, drops and Lewis just a little out of bounds on what would have been a dramatic and potentially game changing TD...as well as a running game that was without its top 2 backs.

Ultimately, BG lost this game on the line of scrimmage, going both ways.  BG rarely won the battles to get space for Givens.  In fact, the only time BG was able to get running going was Ronnie Moore in the wildcat--in other words, by using a formation that left passing completely off the table.  And on defense, UT was able to get huge numbers behind Kareem Hunt (mostly) and implement a devastating zone read look with Macon at QB when they needed it.  UT won the game up front.

Relating again to the QB, Coach Babers said the team was in a "funk" and that they needed a "spark" which is why they put Callaway in.  And it worked, he got BG right down the field and scored a critical TD.  After that, it didn't go so well, as UT threw big pressure at the true freshman and BG failed to protect him and that was enough to keep the Falcons from getting the tying score.  Callaway had made a huge throw on the run to Burbrink, and it seems in retrospect that they might have protected him a little by getting him out on the move, but I'm sure they had their reasons.

Coach also said there is no quarterback controversy.  Knapke will start against Ball State.  He said that in so many words.  Of course, life isn't that simple.  If coaches got to decide when there was a QB controversy, there would never be one.  Many Falcon fans have been frustrated with Knapke, and even the little taste of success that Callaway had will jump into their heads every time Knapke misses a throw.

The defense gave up a ton of yards but survived on getting turnovers.  One INT was a bad throw by Woodside, but another one was on pressure where his arm was hit while throwing and BG forced Macon to fumble under pressure as well.  In total, BG picked up 4 turnovers and was hamstrung only by the offense's inability to capitalize on short fields.

The final thing that was frustrating in crunch time came on the 4th and long play where BG was down 7.  The Falcons sent their FG team out--which made no sense at all, since a FG would still leave BG a touchdown short and we had struggled all day to even get that close.  The Falcons had to use a timeout to get the offense out there.  If they had those timeouts in the last possession, they could have saved another :45, and that might have allowed them to use playcalls that would put Callaway under less pressure.

And then there's this...

It was a great football game last night.  Drama, big plays, punches and counter punches, certainly worthy of the rivalry.  Love our guy being ready to lace it up again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Falcons Lose Again....

It was an opera of a football game.  Reversals of fortune, miracle plays, surprise actors upon the stage.  A great football game.  Much as we hate them, give UT credit.  They were the better team.  Congrats.  A 5th straight loss...stinging.

Honestly, that was a great football game.  BG simply cannot beat a team like UT without more offensive production.  Callaway kept things alive, but in the end the line couldn't protect him.  BG had opportunities that they failed to cash in on throughout the game.  This one is 100% on the offense, and not just on the starting QB but I think there was a lack of execution from beginning to end.

Remember, UT won with their #2 and #4 QBs in the game.

The sun will come up tomorrow.

More later.

It is now!

Almost Game Time!!! Go Falcons!!

Never forget....

Don't let your kids see this.

There they are....the history of Rocky Rockets.  Honestly, it is hard to say much.  The second guy from the right has to be the creepiest mascot I ever saw...I wonder how many dollars were spent on therapy bills from children traumatized by this "Rocky."  Then you look all the way to the left and you're like, yeah, uh, I didn't know Rockets have noses.  Or, the second from the left...when, stinging from comparisons between their mascot and marital aids, they decided to just randomly put a motorcycle helmet on "Rocky."

Sunrise in the Falcon Nation

Sunrise in the Falcon Nation...on Rocket Day!  Love your team today!

The Power of the Falcon.