It shouldn't go without notice.....this year's schedule is really strong. Two BCS games, two games against solid mid-major competition, and no I-AA teams. The only thing that would make it better was if it was all on Saturday and there were six home games. But, this schedule is pretty good.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Dave Hackenberg's column in The Blade from the MAC meetings runs today. He talks to Antonio Smith about the GMAC bowl cheap shot that is a minor YouTube sensation, as well as whether you can learn from defeat--even the worst bowl loss in history. Its a pretty good read...
Oh, and here's the hit, if you can stand to see it again.
Posted by Orange at 6:49 PM
Whatever happened to putting the depth chart into the spring prospectus? I guess there's some good new information that wasn't there before, but I would think the media and dangerously obsessed restraining order fans might have liked to see it.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The Falcon Nation stands in shock today, as we learn in Ryan's Bladeblog that Anthony Turner has been moved from RB to WR. As Ryan says, he probably couldn't start in front of Turner or Ransom, and we gotta get him onto the field. But, his running took us to a bowl game--I mean, he saved our offense. There were also hints during the spring that Coach wasn't entirely happy with AT, if I recall correctly.
Ryan wonders where he fits, since he probably doesn't start ahead of Partridge, Barnes or Parks. I'd take issue with Parks--I don't know how good a receiver AT will be, but he could easily start in front of Parks, who has not been consistently productive. Perhaps another year away from that injury will bring Parks closer to what we hope him to be. (And there's no guarantee everyone stays healthy all year).
AT does bring slash-like qualities at a slot position. He is a threat to run and throw, and would be real dangerous on those little screens to the sideline we used to throw to Sharon. One missed tackle, and it will be good night.
Let's hope this is a good problem to have, and let's hope AT can make the adjustment to being a WR. It could take some time.
Posted by Orange at 10:43 PM
Hey, a couple more MAC Media Day Updates....
The MAC is combining its instant replay program with the Big Ten. MAC officiating is sub-par in my opinion. Personally, I think this can only help, and agree with what the Commissioner says below. Kudos to him for taking steps to address the issue, as opposed to pretending everything is perfect.
“We strongly believe that this marks the next natural step in regionalizing another of the important functions of college football officiating, with a goal towards further increased consistency and professionalism,” said Chryst. “For several years, the Big Ten and MAC have been collaborating in those areas that make sense; particularly in regard to combined clinics and pre-season training and development. As the importance of the instant replay function continues to grow, this broader approach should help increase performance from all those involved.”Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette is an excellent report and has a blog on our blog roll to the left here. He commented on the officiating issue:
Carl Paganelli, the coordinator of MAC officials for the last 11 seasons, somewhat admitted the league's officiating woes and pointed to the fact that it's a feeder to the Big Ten and not on equal footing. Last season, MAC officials called 14 penalties per game to about 12.5 in the Big Ten, Paganelli said. The MAC led the nation with 78 personal foul calls.
Couch also discussed the issue of a fourth bowl game, and the GMAC Bowl. Read away.
The MAC predictions are out from the Media Day, which is today at Ford Field in Detroit. The media makes its annual picks, which is normally about the same as receiving a kiss from a black widow spider.
A few comments. The narrative here says BG got 17 first place votes. The final count only shows BG a little ahead of Miami, which means that significant portions of the MAC media must have picked BG below second. And, for reasons I will outline in a couple weeks, I don't think that's an unthinkable scenario.
Having said that, like everything else in the media, these picks are all about chalk. The media is all about conventional wisdom, and then when you start averaging it across multiple people, and, well, welcome to the bell curve.
(As an aside, if you want a great read about these circle jerk opportunities--this time about the Big 10--read Mgoblog accounts here and here of Big 10 media Day. I rarely hear an interesting interview with a coach or athlete because they are more or less trained never to say anything interesting. And, rarely are they asked an interesting question).
The other thing I would say today is that I think winning yet another title just gets really tough for Central. I know they have the best player and a good program, but winning year after year is tough.
I am entering the picks from the online blogs, the MAC media, and a couple publications along with mine into a spreadsheet. In December, we'll see who picked better and who picked worse.
If you are interested, you can follow the MAC Media Day here.
Here are their picks, for whatever it is worth.
WEST DIVISION (6-5-4-3-2-1 point system)
2. Ball State 168
4. Toledo 98
EAST DIVISION (7-6-5-4-3-2-1)
3. Buffalo 145
Monday, July 28, 2008
More on the stats ranks, BG has won 61.5% of its MAC games, all time. That's 67% at home and 56% on the road, the latter of which is additional evidence for my earlier post that there is not a huge home field advantage in the MAC.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I looked on this website just for yucks, but was shocked to find out that Miami OH has won 71% of its football games all time, which is the 15th highest among current I-A teams. With a 59% records, BG is actually #26, which is pretty good, too. We have 477 program wins, 23 from the 500 mark. Toledo is #52, just for the record
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
You know, I'm really rooting for Corey Partridge to stay healthy and put in a full season. He's a senior and a true warrior, playing in games where he could hardly lift his arm. And, I'd love to see him rewarded with a full-season, about 100 grabs and All-MAC honors. He is a great player and a great Falcon.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
OK, I ran the gloom and doom post earlier today--there are troubling signs for our program in terms of the athletes who are coming to our school. There have been significant departures. Let's look at how they all shake out, along with some other news from Ryan's talk with Coach Brandon.
First, the D-Line has been hard hit. Ryan writes:
- Hardwick was a projected starter and Barrow would have been in the two-deep.
- That leaves Michael Ream and Nick Torresso as your likes starters, with a couple redshirt freshmen and Nick Davis, who is coming off serious knee surgery.
We had D-Line problems last year. We sucked defending against the run. And, if we can't defend the run at least a little this year, we're not going to win the MAC. The D-Line has now passed the O-Line as the biggest concern on this football team, in my opinion.
Second, in positive news, Tyler Sheehan appears to be solid as starting QB with Andrew Beam in the back up role. We are, however, not deep at QB. Behind those two is true Fr. Aaron Pankratz and some walk ons.
Third, Eric Ransom is making huge progress. This is really important, He makes an enormous difference on the offensive side of the ball.
Its a troubling time in the Falcon Nation. It has not been a good off-season, by any measure. Let's look at the latest news, and then sum up via an article from Ryan Autullo in The Blade.
In his blog, Ryan drops the news that we have some departures from the program. Nate Brown, a QB/LB who was highly decorated from his high school days has been removed from the team for academic reasons. Also, the accused home invaders Barrow and Hardwick are formally off the team, as is Tarell Lewis, a DB who was on the two-deep. There is speculation he could be the third player said to be involved in the home invasion, but there is no official word on that.
The Nate Brown thing hurts, because he had a good chance to be a really good player. He was said to be the #54 QB in the country, and was ranked higher coming in that Omar was. Of course, now we see why he ended up at BG--he couldn't make the grades.
Even more, he is the second star player from his class to leave the program quickly--the other is Glen Stanley. Yes, Willie Geter, Eric Ransom and Vrvilo are producing out of this class already, but two of the recruits that really made the class stand out have made little to no contribution.
In other words, Nate Brown contributed as much at BG as Benjy Kennedy did.
So, do we have a problem? Ryan steps up into the print edition this morning in the Blade to pose that question. Here's Ryan's grim summary.
Seven members of the team and a former captain have run into legal trouble since BG's last game. The charges range from underage consumption of alcohol, to felony drug trafficking, to aggravated burglary. There are also some academic issues. Brandon has dismissed two promising young players, including quarterback Nate Brown, because of poor grades. Linebacker Glen Stanley was removed from the team during the spring.
Seven! That's awful, and completely unacceptable. Coach Brandon's responses are:
- Recruiting rules mean they spend less time with players, which in turn means that they have less time to judge character.
- He believes in giving second and third chances to 18-22 year old men.
- English Majors who get arrested don't make the paper.
OK, then. To take it point by point:
- Seems like a number of other schools figured our Nate Brown might not be able to make grades, so if they had time, why didn't we?
- I agree with giving second chances, and even thirds. I know a lot of fans are from the "zero tolerance" school of discipline. I just don't see where that makes sense. College age students are immature by definition and will do stupid things. I myself benefitted from second chances here and there, and I think it makes some sense. You worry, though, when poor behavior becomes part of a program's culture that you might have problems.
- Show me the English major indicted for home invasion.
Coach's statements are typical of the way he normally responds under pressure, which is to make excuses and place blame elsewhere. This is a shame, because I believe his personal philosophy and expectation is different from that. Most fans would have been satisfied with everything he said if he started it with "this is completely unacceptable for our program." And I think that's actually how he feels.
It is unacceptable to me, as a fan. I'd rather lose than be embarassed as we have been in the past few months. I don't believe that's the choice--I think you can win and win doing things the right way, and that's what I expect, I think our AD expects that, and I believe that Coach Brandon expects that too.
I'll look at the on the field implications of all this in my next post.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Ali Alaboody, from Fordson HS in th Detroit area, has committed to BG. They make him sound like a super-athletic RB who could run out of the slot sometimes. Reading the description I linked to...you gotta like what you read here. He had some Big 10 interest, too, which is not surprising. Welcome to the Falcons, Ali.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Recruiting analysis. The departure of a couple of our highest rated athletes (Glen Stanley, Virgil Robinson, for example), I believe call a crucial issue into question when evaluating MAC recruiting. Players like those who had credentials to suggest they could play BCS ball often come with baggage--eg, there are serious questions if they can stay eligible. We're willing to give them a chance, and we should, I guess.
But, when you see these star-studded recruiting classes in February, the first key test is whether they ever make it onto the field. For our purposes, you might have to remove a star right off the top.
Just another wrench in the gears of how we perceive and evaluate recruiting on the leading edge of the game, and another reason you really have to wait to see them play....
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Home field advantage. We know what it means in basketball, but what does it mean in football in the MAC. Before I started, my gut instinct was that it means less than it does in basketball. I would have expected home teams to win about 60% of their home games in our conference. Let's see:
Counting conference games only, the home team was 27-21 in the MAC, which is 56.3%. I actually think this is pretty remarkable. There simply is not a huge home field advantage in the aggregate in the MAC. Not to put too fine a point on it, but an even split would be 24-24 so there are only three games advantage over 13 teams.
That got me thinking, though. Maybe some outliers are dragging that figure down. These 7 MAC teams had winning home records:
- BG (3-1)
- Buffalo (3-1)
- CMU (2-1)
- Miami (3-0)
- Ohio (3-1)
- Temple (3-1)
- Toledo (3-1)
So, put another way, 7 of the 13 teams in the MAC had winning records at home. That's less than you would expect, for sure. These teams were 20-6, however, but that's a little misleading because except for Miami, each of those teams is really only one game over a .500 record.
Except for Toledo and Temple, they also represent the best teams in the conference. (with such a small universe, the reasoning gets pretty circular in a hurry, they almost HAVE to be the teams with the best record).
Akron and Ball State were 2-2 at home, meaning that counting nine of the thirteen teams in the MAC, teams were 24-10. (71%)
The final four. Ouch. Damn.
- Kent 0-4
- EMU 1-2
- NIU 1-2
- WMU 1-3
Sorry tale: 3-11.
So, the conclusion of our little study: it is hard to beat a good team on the road in the MAC. There remain woeful teams in our conference who are beatable even on their home field, but a road win still has value in the MAC, especially when playing a contender. Its just not as widespread or as pervasive as in basketball.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
At one point, the MAC TV schedule showed the BG-Pitt game starting at noon. Some intrepid posters on AZZ.com found this thread on the Pitt boards that notes that the game is now off those schedules and listed as TBA. Speculation runs from noon Saturday to Sunday night! The Pirates are at home on Saturday night, perhaps influencing the decision. Of course, with Monday as a holiday, everyone wonders if there might not be a chance to get an ESPN appearence.
All of this is pretty much in the category of uninformed speculation....welcome to the Internets!
I've blogged before about my feelings that the MAC is falling behind from its glory days of only five years ago, when Leftwich, Rothlisberger, Hoeppner and Meyer roamed MAC venues. I thought it would be interesting to see how the MAC fared against OOC competition.
I started first with BCS Conferences. As you can imagine, the story is not pretty. Overall, we were 5-36 against the BCS, broken down as you see below. (And no, Temple dude, you guys LOST to Connecticut. Is football a one play game? Give it a rest.)
- ACC 0-3
- Big East 1-8
- Big Ten 2-16
- Big 12 2-6
- SEC 0-3
And who, you might ask, are the BCS teams that lost to the MAC? Let's just say its not an honor roll of BCS teams. Not one BCS Bowl team lost to a MAC team.
- Syracuse (home game for MAC).
- Iowa State (twice--one of them in MAC venue)
You could argue, in fact, that no BCS team should ever lose to a MAC team, given that their head coaches earn more than our entire staff does. And, you absolutely cannot argue that the fact that these games were almost all on the road makes it very difficult for the MAC to win. Only 7 BCS teams played in MAC venues, and that includes Cincinnati @ Miami.
Still, hard as it is, it just seems like it used to happen more often than it does now.
While we're at it, let's look at non-BCS games, too. We were 7-5 in those games, if you count Western Kentucky as I-A. That includes wins over:
- Louisiana-Lafayette (on the road)
- Idaho (on the road)
- Western Kentucky (twice)
And losses to:
- Tulsa (AHHHHH!)
- Navy (twice)
The other interesting thing about this is the sheer number of games we play against the BCS (41) and non-BCS (12). I guess that's the role money plays, and the desire for that 12th game by the big boys. Our AD says he wants to try and adjust this....let's see how it goes.
Finally, the I-AA/FCS, where no fan wants us to go, and where you never want to lose. I think most MAC fans would be surprised to know that the MAC played only 7 games against the FCS. And, only two of those were losses....ND State and Southern Illinois (two very strong I-AA teams that would probably compete well in the MAC) picked up wins.
Meanwhile, the MAC defeated Delaware State, Howard, Gardner-Webb, Liberty and Central Connecticut State.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Ryan of The Blade tells us the picks he sent in to the MAC office for the media selections, to be announced at media day on the 29th of July. He pretty much went with chalk (admitting he was being conservative), which is a typical media thing to do. He has us winning the East and losing to CMU in the MAC Championship game. You can check it out here.....
When we think of great Falcons, we often forget Martin Bayless. He had a strong pro career, and was a great Falcon who to this day is the MAC Career Interception leader, even though today's players often play in more games. Here's something I didn't know. He once had an interception is SIX straight games over two seasons! Are you kidding me? Teams didn't throw as much in those days, either.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Andy Moore, an assistant basketball coach for the men's program has left to go to EMU. We brought him over from Tommy Amaker's staff but he never moved down here, and this is closer to home. Expect a new hire. As far as uninformed commentary, well, its hard to know how well an assistant coach is doing if you aren't around. I do have confidence Coach Orr will find someone with ability.
For your consideration:
Do we under-appreciate Freddie Barnes at WR? I submit we may. Every time he catches the ball, I think, hey, there's that guy who used to be a QB. He still doesn't look quite right. But, look at this:
- THAT GUY had 82 catches last year, third most in our history.
- That guy has 102 catches in two seasons.
- If that guy keeps up this pace, he has a good shot at the career record of 232 by Charles Sharon.
- Oh, and it wasn't all dink and dunk--his yardage last year was the sixth most in the program's history.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Our best time of possession quarter was 14:03 in the first against Toledo. Can you believe that? I'd forgotten all about that, and how great it was.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Things that are on my nerves for which no relief is in sight
- The endless, disgusting fawning over Yankee Stadium. People, its no more a 'cathedral of baseball' than Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, or, for that matter, Tiger Stadium, and I would argue less than Wrigley or Fenway. When you start dragging the pope into it, you gotta check your bearings. May need a vomit bucket for tonight's all-star game.
- Brett Favre's drama queen act. The tearful good bye, the tearful hello. Are you kidding me? The Packers are 100% in the right, but, in the end, they may have no choice but to release him. Brett is a goof.
One thing that has been on my nerves for which I have been relieved.
- Billy Packer. Ah, sweet relief. His firing is about 10 years too late. He has been fingernails against my chalkboard for years. I captured my feelings pretty well here.
Posted by Orange at 7:02 PM
On our bowl game run in the final four games, we controlled the clock in the fourth quarter in three of those games. Check this out:
The Buffalo figure is our second best quarter for the entire season, in fact. Hard to lose a game when you have the ball that long in the fourth quarter (I wish there was some way to figure out how often that happened).
Monday, July 14, 2008
The BGSU Athletics people are putting out more interesting stuff than they ever used to. I've already blogged on the cool third down stuff, but they also have some nice stuff on drives.
I have often thought that studying drives would be an interesting way of looking at football. If you can't evaluate each and every play, and total game aggregation is sometimes misleading, than perhaps this is a different way to aggregate the game.
For example, we had 45 TD drives last season (all games). 13 of them, or more than 25%, were over 80 yards.
I think that's surprising. But whether its surprising or not (our opponents were 11 in 48, or roughly the same), I think it raises questions about field position. Such as:
- Would this mean that "going for it" in the red zone makes even less sense.
- Should all punts be fair caught?
- Should we evaluate punters on how they pin teams inside the ten instead of the 20?
The problem is that the data does not list opportunities, so the probability of scoring is not known here. Still, the conclusion is pretty hard to miss....long drives are not a rare occurrence at all, and maybe field position is overrated.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
If we don't have a full house for the Minnesota game, it will be a total embarrassment for our program. Our first Big Ten game at the Doyt....and if that team has to run across the field to a half-full (half-empty, whatever) set of stands, I will be sick.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Everyone is worried about the D-Line. I mean, we lost some guys to graduation, and then some of the returning players are having run-ins with the law. And, we were awful against the run last year.
Clearly, this has the potential to be a season-wrecker. If we can't get off the field while teams push out line around....well, you can't outscore that.
One idea, though. The great thing about the Omar-led teams was that we started so freaking fast. If we lost the coin flip and the other team deferred, I used to say, "well, I guess they decided to be down 7-0." Because we raced down the field.
We have plenty of skill players on offense this year. I think one way for us to keep winning is to pull out all the stops right from the bat, and shoot to score big in the first quarter. That will take the run away from the other team, and take the pressure off our D.
I know it isn't as easy as that. But at least part of it has to be a strategy and a mindset. Don't view it as a marathon. More like shock and awe. Except we want it to actually work.
Anyway, just some musings in the middle of July, awaiting the first kickoff.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Ryan blogs the situation with the home invasion arrests. A couple of key points.
First, he worries about a promising season "losing air."
Second, he worries about the D-Line.
Third, he says BG has lost the ability to knock UT for its discipline problems. And about that he is 100% right.
Finally, he notes that a third player may have been involved. And that sounds bad.
The Sentinel recently did a story on Azz.com, the spiritual capital of the Falcon Nation. Great to see some publicity. I started reading AZZ shortly after the big Northwestern upset, and it has greatly enhanced my time as a Falcon Fan. Check it out.
Note also the strong personal tie the webmaster, Grant Cummings has, and how the project is a tribute to his Father. Very touching stuff. As someone who remembers going to games with my own late Father, I can understand.
Posted by Orange at 6:38 AM
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Back on November 1, we noted that Coach Brandon had said that Tyler had struggled following the WKU game last year, due to injury. And, that he was healthy. We compared the numbers, and found the following:
First four games 127 of 190, 1304 yards, 10 Tds, 4 Ints, 10 sacks, 66.8% and 6.9 yds/attempt
Last four games 76 of 136, 848 yards, 5 Tds, 6 INT, 14 sacks, 55.9% and 6.2 yds/attempt
Now that we are tying up loose ends in the July doldrums, I thought we might take a look back and see what he did for the FINAL four games. No doubt, he was healthier, but I'd also like to go back and test another theory, too.
First, the comparison.
First 4 games 127 of 190, 1304 yards, 10 Tds, 4 Ints, 10 sacks, 66.8% and 6.9 yds/attempt
Middle 4 games 76 of 136, 848 yards, 5 Tds, 6 INT, 14 sacks, 55.9% and 6.2 yds/attempt
Final 4 Games 86-131, 971 yards, 10 Tds, 1 INT, 65.6% 3 sacks, 7.4 yds/attempt
Dang. We DO see marked improvement during the last four games, when we made our run to the bowl game. This all bears out the idea that Tyler was healthier and ready to go coming down the stretch. His completion % was comparable with the first third of the season, but his TD/INT ratio, sacks, and yards per attempt were significantly improved. We did throw lots less, but with a high percentage and lots fewer mistakes. And, the combined sacks and INT for the last group (4) is much improved over the middle part (20) despite comparable attempts.
Now, I had a theory I wanted to test: that following the Miami debacle (in the middle group) that we put together a much stronger running attack which also freed a healthy Tyler Sheehan to produce. Let's check that out.
First 4 games: 106-410, 3.86 yards per rush
Second 4 games, 118-444, 3.76 yards per rush
Third 4 games, 160-750 4.69 yards per rush
Well, you have some pretty significant stuff here. First, the running game was pretty much the same for the first and second parts of the season. (Remember Coach lecturing us that BG is a passing team?). That worked for the first part of the year, and then didn't work when Tyler wasn't healthy and maybe other teams were catching on that we weren't running. Once we got AT into the acct for the final four games, we ran the ball much more often, had almost as many yards as in the first eight games combined, and had a respectable yards per rush.
So, to sum up the conclusion, I think the evidence bears out that Tyler Sheehan did return to form in the final four games, aided both by his own returning health (presumably) and maturity, but also by a stronger running game to get defenses guessing.
Remember, we ran all the time in this offense when Urban Meyer coached here, and Coach Brandon was OC. If you can can run, the pressure on the LBs is incredible, and those holes will open up for the quick hitters.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
According to the Blade, a second BG player is wanted in a home invasion....
Bowling Green Police Lt. Tony Hetrick said officers attempted to serve the warrant on Mr. Hardwick Saturday night at his Bowling Green apartment but found the apartment vacant.
The Falcons picked up a new verbal, that's Eric Jordan of Sandusky, Ohio. The Blue Streak is a top flight RB but is projected at LB or DB at BG, according to this story. He had a serious injury his sophomore but rallied the next year. Welcome to the Falcons, Eric.
Monday, July 07, 2008
People always talk about circling dates on calendars. I don't know if anyone actually does. But, if you do, and you care about MAC football, you should circle October 18, when both the MAC East and MAC West titles might be decided.
In Bowling Green, the Miami Redhawks will be in town. Many people see these two teams tangling for the title in the East division, and Miami's lopsided win in Oxford last year won them the East. Should be a good one in an old and traditional rivalry.
Meanwhile, in Mt. Pleasant, the ascendant W. Michigan Broncos will go on the road to take on the two-time MAC Champ CMU Chippewas. WMU has a great defense to contest the CMU attack, and should be able to move the ball, and could be experienced enough to win this game on the road. This game has all the elements, and then you add that these teams are arch-rivals. Steel cage grudge match territory.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Found this little tidbit. Lots of people in the Falcon Nation think Gregg Brandon can't coach. Well....if that's true (and I don't think it is) then why do other coaches seek him out? Here, the OC from Missouri made a stop in BG to talk football with our coach. Just asking. (Of course he works for a program we have a two game winning streak over, so I guess its just natural.)
Saturday, July 05, 2008
The Blade has the story of a local NWO player coming to BG to play football. His name is T.J. Fatinikun and he is from Perrysburg.
He had a huge sophomore season, but was injured during his senior year. He's fast (4.6) but small. We'll look to bulk him up, I would assume.
From reading his comments, he wants to play really badly and I like that.
Some other commits, courtesy AZZ.com
Austin Collier, QB
Alex Bayer, TE
Ricky Steele, DB
Paul Swan, OLB
Chris Jones, DT
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Ryan's back with his final cross-examination on his Blade Blog, which you can read here.
A few comments. I haven't predicted game by game yet, but I think we could easily lose all four of our non-conference games. I think three are winnable, but four are losable.
I looked it up, and over the last eight years, Boise is 50-2 at home. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I just don't see us winning that game.
Pitt is a good team in a bigger conference, but we have won tougher OOC games than this. On the other hand, we're on the road and they're supposedly improved.
Minnesota is also improved and is likely to be looking for revenge after last season. Tim Brewster is probably not a DI coach. Anyway, its at home, but not a gimmee.
Wyoming--I guess they are decent this year. They are hot and cold. This is a good opponent for us, but its on the road a long way from home. We could win but it will be tough.
Ryan is right--the schedule is very much in our favor. But, it may require a road win against UT, something that has been hard to come by. Falcon fans believe we have the talent to win the MAC. That our really good teams didn't win earlier in the Brandon/Meyer era is a tragedy and is creating the urgency behind winning this year. And, unlike the last two years, this is a senior-laden team which could have a tougher time next year.
Ryan has us winning at the Glass Bowl! And, Toledo as the rising team in the MAC. He's got some confidence.
I have to think some more. I'm worried that the summer doldrums and the GMAC thing are tainting my view. But, as always, I will lay it all on the line before the first kickoff.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
The Mid-American conference has decided to update its look. Branding is everything for your basic mid-major conference. Our other logo was a little worn out. The new logos can be found here.
Design is a tough thing to judge. The reaction on AZZ.com was pretty negative out of the box, but I don't mind them. I like the 1946 part, emphasizing longevity, and I kind of like the "retro" shield look. I think it has a classy look. Most people would over do something like this, with too many baubles.
I'm for it.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I have often rambled about how I think 3rd down is the most important part of football, and, at one times, I have rambled even less coherently about the interest I have in statistical analysis.
Of course, the first down is the currency of football. It keeps drives alive, defenses on the bench, helps field position, and creates points. You make up long, game-winning drives with long strings of first down.
Well, one ramble ran into each other when I was randomly perusing some game notes from last season, and saw that the Falcons actually had some unpublished 3rd down data buried in these little reports.
I'm looking now at the data from the Tulsa game notes, which includes the whole season except that game. (Its page 55 of this document, if you want to see).
It details how the Falcons did on 3rd down, on offense and defense, depending on how many yards there were to go.
Control yourself, please.
No, actually, something really amazing is buried in here. Let's look.
First, let's remember that we were 8-4 at the point and had very good, though not great offensive numbers. The first thing I looked at helped bear that out.
We made 30% of our conversions on 3-10 or more. I don't have data on other teams, but our opponents only made 15.6% from that distance. And, 30% is about what Temple did on ALL its 3rd downs. And it seems remarkable by intuition.
Twenty times we converted from more than 10 yards--that's right on the ass of being twice a game. And, we were 43.5% from 7-9 yards to go. That would be third in the MAC on its own. 30 times we faced 3-7+ and converted.
You might also know that we didn't exactly light the world on fire on 3rd down, (4th in the MAC in all games), and if you know anything about the law of averages, you are saying "hey, were's the bad part that balances this out."
The answer is that we converted only about 61% of our chances fom 1-3 yards, a testament to an anemic running game. (I perceive that we have struggled with these short yardage situations since we put the spread in, but I don't have data to support it). By comparison, our opponents converted 74% from 1-3 yards on 3rd down.
The chart below gives us a look at the data:
You don't need too much analytical ability to draw the following conclusions:
1. We could be a real juggernaut if we were better in short yardage.
2. We were way better than most from longer distances.
3. We didn't experience as much fall off from 4-6 to 7-9 as you would expect.
So, that's one thing. Simply put, our team converted well at long distances but less well from what should be gimee territory.
Then, something leaped out at me. Our distribution is completely out of whack. Our our third down attempts, 66, or NEARLY 40% were from more than 10 yards. Are you kidding me? I would guess that if I told you that there was a team that ran 40% of its third down plays from beyond 10 yards and asked you to guess that team's record, you'd go a while before you hit 8-4.
Our opponents, on almost the same total number of third down plays, had only 32 attempts from beyond 10 yards. The converse is also true. We had only 36 attempts from 1-3 yards. Yes, that's right, we had darn close to double the 3rd down attempts from 10+ yards to go than we did 1-3 yards.
The only conclusion I can draw is that we performed poorly on first and second down, something that is pretty obvious. I lay that at the feet of our less than stellar running game, but it has to include some incomplete passes too, especially because it appeared to continue even when the running game stabilized late in the season.
I don't have data, but it seems to me that in the early days of the spread, we were 3 and short bunches of times. We were a ball control machine, and very effective setting up those makeable third downs.
Now, where is this all heading. There are, in fact, two possible conclusions from the data, one optimistic, and one a little chilling.
- If we can get our RBs healthy, we will improve down and distance on third down, and then also do better on those down and distances and be able to hold onto the ball and generate first downs and the increased offensive firepower we need to compete with CMU. That's with a new O-Line, of course.
- Last year's offensive success (and the 8-4 record) is built on something unsustainable, to wit, an excess of luck on 3rd and long that kept drives alive. Can we do that again? Doesn't seem like it? If this number comes back to the mean, will we see our numbers fall?