Saturday, November 10, 2007

Falcons Beat Eagles, Get 6th Win

Well, it was a crazy night at Rynearson, where about 4,000 people enjoyed entertaining college football on a cool and comfortable late fall night in SE Michigan. We won our ninth straight game over the Eagles, but it wasn't easy and wasn't pretty. But it was a win.

And it was our sixth win, ensuring at least a .500 season. So, it was important. I'm going to start out my analysis by looking at some uncommonly revealing and frank comments from the coach in the post game, and then add what I need when its done. My comments below are in orange.

"I just want to say some things about this team that I think need to be said. We got bowl eligible tonight, which is huge for this football program right now. Considering less than 12 months ago we were struggling. For us to come back and get bowl eligible and win six football games right now from where we were less than a year ago is a huge credit to the kids in this program. We had to hire six new coaches in the off season. It's a huge credit to those guys to come in and rally these kids and put us in the position to get to a bowl game. The six wins make us bowl eligible but it would be nice to win seven games and to win eight. There are only two teams in the conference that are bowl eligible, and there are only three or four more who have a chance to get that way. We are already there, but we need to take care of business the next couple of weeks and just see what happens. I think it's a great tribute to these kids to win six games, and Frank Solich told me going off the field after the Ohio game that `Coach you have a heck of a team. Just trying to have a winning season is huge in the MAC', and Frank is right it is huge. We have a winning season and I can't say enough about the kids in this program. They did a great job and tonight we really showed, that after making sloppy mistakes we were able to make the plays in the end....

Wow, is that a mouthful. I'm very surprised he came in with what seems like such a defensive statement. I mean, I know we're doing better. But, I don't think I would have spiked the ball just yet. I mean, if we lose to Buffalo and Toledo (again) and finish 6-6, I don't think its going to look quite so good and I doubt we're going to a bowl game. Its better, but its not exactly an absolute success.

No doubt, winning is hard. And, no doubt, this year's team is better than last year's, who absolutely, positively would not have won this game last season. But, I just think I might have banked one more win (for a real winning season) before I said things like this.

I thought it was interesting he mentioned the new coaches. This is an excellent point, and it is a credit to him as a head coach, to be able to bring in the right people and also make sure they gel, etc.

Obviously, he is still smarting from the criticism from last year, which is a good thing. Personal pride is a good quality, if it makes you more effective, and I think the team is clearly better. And, nearly everyone is back, so next year should be good, too.

"...It's great that Sean O'Drobinak, a fifth-year senior, who played tight end his whole career until we moved him to defense, even though he was apprehensive about it. He did a great job jumping up and batting it down on fourth down. That's this football team right now, guys like that making plays. That was huge."

Well, he did make a big play. Suffice it to say, we hadn't made too many stops over the course of the day, and we really needed one there. They ran pretty crazy on us. It was fourth down, and he got in the right place and knocked it down. For those of us who witnessed his (deserved) profanity-laden tirade at his linemates earlier in the game, it was nice to see him make the play.

Last year those plays down the stretch didn't seem to happen as often for you, what's different about this year?
"We have short term memory. This program is back, and we're going to continue to win. We have great kids and great coaches in this program. Our facilities are second to none now, so the sky is the limit for Bowling Green right now."

Well, the opening statement doesn't sound like it came from someone with a short term memory...just saying.

OK, I don't think we're ready to say we're back. But, everything else I agree with. The sky should be the limit, and we want to see this coach take our team to the sky. Or a MAC Championship.

And last year we would have lost this game. Never would have made that final drive.

What do you think about your troubles against their running game?

"I think their offensive line was very physical. They did a nice job knocking us off the ball. We have to do a better job with that, there is no question. You can't give up 260 yards rushing and expect to win. We have been winning games giving up those rushing yards and it's tough with teams holding on to the ball that long. You think it's going to catch up with us, but it hasn't yet, so hopefully we can keep working on it and fix that, and do better against stopping the run."

This is 100% right, except for part of it.....OK, seriously. Their line might have been physical, but by that standard, so is every line we have come across for weeks, because everyone runs on us. Yes, I guess Pierre Walker is a decent little back, but he averages about 50/game and he got a CAREER HIGH against us.

But he's right about one thing. You can't keep winning like that. We have gotten it done, but you can't count on it. The Rockets, for one, will run on us all day. We simply gotta get it fixed. I don't think its going to be fast....we fundamentally don't tackle well and the line rarely gets nearly anyone until they are past the line and the zone play appears to eat us alive. And, just to make a point, until we get it figured out, we can't really be back and ready to run the table.

Comment on Chris Bullock's big gains near the end...
"We made an adjustment and went to a trap play that we hadn't run all game. We've run that play for years and we didn't run it tonight because they were running inside twists where the nose guard and tackle were twisting. Sometimes you can trap that and pop it and it be good, and sometimes you can't. We felt like we could pop it. Three of those big runs by Bullock were the quick trap and Chris did a good job in there."

This was fascinating. This is exactly the kind of thing we simply never seemed to do last year. Seemed like if the QB draw was in the game plan, we kept running it. This ability to make an adjustment probably won us the game. I couldn't believe I was seeing Chris Bullock in there. But, it was exactly what we needed, and showed a resourcefulness for us to run something that wasn't even in the game plan. Nice job, Coach McCall. We had to have that drive, and we delivered it.

Some other points---all me below.

Quick, name our punter! That's what I thought. Over the last two games, our offense has been positively unstoppable....and the only thing that has allowed our run defense to not sink us. Not counting running out the clock, we have 19 drives over the last two games. In that we have:

10 TDs
4 FGs (14/19 would be a good redzone %, much less for all drives).
1 missed FG
2 Turnovers
1 TO on downs
1 punt.

Yeah, 1 punt. And that was in the Akron game when the outcome was decided. We are moving the ball.

We blew 2 opportunities in red zone. Winovich fumbled once inside the 5 and we had a dropped TD pass in the end zone at the end of the second quarter. Of course, we also recovered our own fumble in the end zone for a lucky break. Point is, we scored 39, and it could have been much worse.

And speaking of going for it at the end of the second, my inclination is to go for the field goal. But, you have to say, the receiver was there and we just didn't execute. Hard to blame the coach for that.

I'm out of gas. More tomorrow.....

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