Saturday, October 31, 2009

Permutations, Part I

So, we've reached that time of year when we begin to look at the various paths teams might have to the East Division Title.  

This is a BG Blog, so the ultimate question I want to answer is whether BG still has a chance to win the East, and if they do, what has to happen for that to transpire.  Obviously, I understand that this is all pretty unlikely, but November is wacky-team in the MAC, and improbable things do happen.  Let me point to a Miami team that appears to be improving as just one spoiler in the mix.

We will begin with the idea BG wins out.  It is possible to win a division with 3 losses, but we will deal with that later.  I contend that BG is capable of winning each of those last four games, but that we have not shown any ability to put 4 (or even 3) straight strong games together.

The first thing that has to happen is that OU has to lose twice before BG could win a head to head tie breaker with them.  Certainly, OU could lose at Buffalo and to NIU.

Then, BG would need Temple to lose twice and Kent once (we beat Kent, so we can tie with them, and we don't play Temple at all).  Temple could easily lose to Kent and @OU, which would mean that Kent would have to lose to Akron or Buffalo.

The BG-Temple tie breaker would be East Division record, and under this scenario, BOTH of Temple's losses would be in the East while only one of BG's would be, so I would guess that BG would win that one.

No individual event in here is implausible.  Their totality....probably.  I believe that Temple will win their next three, and OU will lose to NIU, meaning that Temple will have clinched it before their showdown in Athens.  Things never go as expected, so let's watch and enjoy.....



Miami, @Akron, Kent, @OU
@Akron, @Temple, Buffalo
Ohio U
@Buffalo, NIU, Temple
Bowling Green
@Buffalo, @Miami, Akron, UT
BG, OU, @Miami, @Kent
Miami, Buffalo, @Akron, @Kent
Kent,Temple, @BG, EMU

My questions on Bull Run....

My answers to Bull Run's questions are here....and you can see the banners that will be used to settle our blog wager....

I hate Saturdays with no Falcon football....

Bull Run Blog Swapping

Whenever we get a chance, we've been swapping questions with opposing blogs heading into the games.  This week, we have an exchange with Bull Run, an excellent Buffalo blog.  (The increase in MAC fanblogs has been a highlight of this season).

Beyond the swap of questions, Bull Run and I have added a bet.  If BG wins, he will put a banner on his site that says "Owned by Falcon Blog" and if Buffalo wins, I will respond accordingly on my blog.  All in good fun, and hoping the Falcons pull out a nice election night win.

1)  Buffalo lost a pretty good QB and a pretty good RB from last season.  Talk about how Maynard and Nduka?  They both are having success.  Are you surprised at either of them?

Maynard is the quarterback I expected him to be when the season started, great arm, quick release, a ton of potential with a sick number of sophomore mistakes. He had a ton of interest from some good schools and had his academics been better he would be on a BCS squad right now. Gill took a chance by giving an offer before the ACT scores were back and the rest is history. I was maybe a little over confident after the Pitt game but he settled right back into the same mistakes you expect a first year starter to make (Like the red zone pick against WMU last week).

Nduka came straight out of nowhere, he had one run in 2006, used a red shirt in 2007, and played some special teams last season. That he has had so much success despite being banged up this year was completely unexpected. What is more surprising is just how poorly Thermilus and Henry were running before Ike got his shot.

2)  It looks to me that your offense is pretty good on the marginal numbers, and is only failing to score more because of a very poor turnover ratio. Is that the right way to look at it?

The Turnovers are not the real reason we have such an awful record; Temple (5), UCF (4) Pitt (4) account for 72% of our turnovers. It's been the field position aspect of special teams (retuning and defending) that have killed UB this season. If you're starting on the 15 yard line a nice solid 65 yard drive only gets you in range for a 40 yard field goal (we have our problems with those).

3)  Everyone focuses so much on offensive players.....tell me about your defensive playmakers and evaluate your defense to date.

The defense has been more disappointing than the offense, but there have been some bright spots.

Justin Winters has really picked up his play this season. He has been about the only player in UB's front seven to be a defensive factor in every game. The secondary has been as solid as I would have expected (Newton and Cook have been solid in pass coverage) but quarterbacks have had enough time to work through their reeds, check their horoscope, consult their psychic friend, and twitter with fans to find the most open target.

4)  What has the home game environment been like in Buffalo this year?  What do you expect for Tuesday?

It's not been what many had hoped, still markedly better than several years ago maybe even better than last year, but I think the die hards were hoping that as the 'Defending MAC Champs' that we would be averaging 18-20K but instead we are holding at 17K. Whats really frustrating to me is that student organizations like True Blue can't get together with the Band to create a better game day experience.

But the parking is free, the tailgating is healthy, and the home town fans welcome the opposition, the rest  will come with time.  Back in the late 90's the 'Pep-Band'  wore a blue T-Shirt and jeans to a couple of basketball games, today they have been replaced by the thunder of the east, an actual drilled field band. Slowly but surely attendance is coming up, events are getting better, and all the things that surrounding the team are becoming more 'big-time'.

5)   What do you honestly think of Turner Gill.  I can't make up my he the real deal, or is he just a well-known name?  How long do you think he will be in Buffalo?

Gill is the real deal, sure there are moments where in the back of my mind I a little voice compares him to JD Brookhart but that's just the pessimist in me. Even before the MAC championship he had started to change the culture. He will leave when the right job comes along, if he can salvage something out of this year, and make something of next then maybe that job comes up.

We have some quasi-insiders on ubfan who say Gill has a list of schools he would like to coach for and money alone wont make him stray from that list and given that he was not seriously interested in Syracuse or Iowa State I have to agree. He is waiting for either Nebraska, a Texas School *not* in the Big 12, or something big along the Gulf Coast.

Falcon Hockey Victory in Doubt, controversey

I don't blog hockey, but last night's apparent Falcon victory is under review, apparently due to the incompetence of CCHA officials.  Anyway, you can follow updates here.

More Recruiting Links for BG Verbals

If you have REEEEALLL good eyesight you can watch DJ Lynch on Avondale score a 42 yard TD...

More on Heath Jackson's huge productivity as QB....he was an all-Ohio WR, too.

Justin Ford, who is projected at BG on defense, is getting ready to begin the Michigan State playoffs.

Meanwhile, Kevonte Martin Manley had a huge game forcing overtime in a Michigan game.

Here's what his coach had to say....

He’s a great athlete,” Fracassa said of Martin-Manley. “He’s a great athlete and did a heck of a job for us.”

Pittsburgh area QB Trent Hurley was 8-9 passing for 2 TDS...

Middletown lost their big game to Colerain, but Caleb Watkins (QB verbal) had a TD run.

Clay Rolf scored a TD for Eastwood....he is a TE there, projected at T in college.

Friday, October 30, 2009

MAC Blog Roundtable is on the air....

Courtesy Red and Black Attack.....check it out.

ESPN Coverage Tuesday

I see Brian Griese is doing the game.  Rumors that we will sell tacos at the concession stand are unconfirmed. Thanks to everyone who pointed out that I mixed Brian Griese and his Dad up....DoH!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Biletnikoff Award should be sewn up

The award named for Fred Biletnikoff should be sewn up for Freddie Barnes....since it has never been won by a a player named Fred.  It is destiny.

Seriously, I do see that Dante Ridgeway was a finalist.  Randy Moss won from Marshall and a guy from Wyoming one it once, if you are interested in the whole non-BCS or non-AQ story.

MAC Roundtable, my responses.

1. Both Ball State and NIU took an early 1900's approach to offense in winning their games this weekend primarily through the ground game.  This brings the question:  Are you satisfied with the balance of your offense currently?  Would you like to see more passing or more rushing?

 No, I'm not.  I look at balance a little differently than most.  I don't think that the play mix has to have balance (as in a certain number of run plays versus a certain number of pass plays).  I think you be balanced even if you are a predominant passing team, so long as you can effectively keep the defense honest and run the ball if there are seven in the box, and convert a third and one when you need it.  Conversely, if you are a running team, you need to keep the safeties honest by going over the top.  The best example I can remember is the Garrett Wolfe NIU teams.  Very run heavy play selection, but the ability to go deep to really good receivers as your guys crept up to the line.  The Falcons are pretty one-dimensional offensively.  Even when we are throwing for huge yardage, we don't have any success running the ball.

2. The two best teams in the MAC in Central Michigan & Temple take on non-conf opponents in Boston College and Navy respectively.  What positives or negatives come from playing OOC opponents this late in to the season?

The only way I ever want us to play a OOC opponent this late in the year is to play a non-BCS or non-FBS team.  Under those circumstances, it can present a break in the schedule.  But CMU goes out to BC with an opportunity to beat a BCS team on the road and possibly end up getting ranked.  I just think it takes the focus off the MAC grind.

3. For fun, predict the outcome of the impending doom the 0-7 Eastern Michigan Eagles face as they travel to Arkansas this weekend.

This is a little like predicting the outcome of deer hunting from the perspective of the deer.  I feel bad for Eastern.  They are sorta like GM, turnaround plan after turnaround plan, yet all that ever transpires is another turn around plan.  Arkansas is an up and down team that has played some good teams, they have a good QB and I don't think they will hesitate to step on EMU.  I say the Hogs clears 50.

4. If your team/coach were to wear Halloween costume, what would they be?

I'm not sure how much of a Halloween costume it would be, but for Dave Clawson it would be.....

5. MAC Power Poll Time

1.    CMU
2.   Temple
3.   NIU
4.  WMU
5.   Kent
6.   OU
7.   BG
8.  UT
9.  Buffalo
10. Ball State
11. Akron
12.  Miami
13.  EMU

Clawson Presser--Wednesday is Tuesday, Thursday is Wednesday edition

Pretty bland presser today.  I think the whole thing was hampered by the fact that the one reporter who always asks Coach Clawson how "frustrated" he is wasn't there.  So that sped things up.  And, eliminated a silly line of questioning.

Anyway, the key thing in terms of information is that none of the injured players are expected back.  Bojicic, and Minturn are both very doubtful, as is Ray Hutson.

The good news is that PJ Mahone has earned his way back onto the field after a six game suspension.  He is going to get significant snaps back there at safety, and it will be good to get him back.  I'm glad he has done what he needs to to get back onto the field.

Coach says Buffalo is a lot like BG in that they have had some close losses (he didn't mention a miracle win, too) and could easily have a better record.  Drew Willy left, and Buffalo had to fill his shoes and Zach Maynard has been pretty effective as a replacement.  (Coach says he has "good wrists" and I have no idea what the heck he is talking about, unless he just started to babble when he knew no one was going to ask him how frustrated he was).

Obviously, Roosevelt is an outstanding WR, and they are down to their 3rd RB and Coach likes him too.

On defense, he likes their safeties.

He likes being on national TV, too.  He isn't as fond of playing on Tuesday, which had driven the staff into a paralyzing day redefiniton project in which game day is Saturday and everything else tracks back from that, except you have a couple Tuesdays to practice for the wrists.

He said Keith Morgan had played well and had some breakdowns.  He says a player doesn't really mature into a good player until he is in his second season as a starter.

Jerry Phillips will continue to do kickoffs and Norsic will go FGs.

He thinks Freddie Barnes should win the Biletnikoff....which isn't too shocking.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CBSSports Blogpoll is Final and on the AIR

Once again, I have avoided being Mr. Stubborn or having my ballot placed on the wack ballot watch....I have a new system which has helped me accurately evaluate the teams....

Note Brian's comments on TCU in his blog.  On this, I wholeheartedly agree....I don't get it.  I probably have succumbed to peer pressure and ranked them too high.

Basketball MAC Media "Day"

As a bow to budget issues, the MAC is no longer holding a basketball media day, where everyone comes to a central location and there are lots of banal interviews that sound like this scene, with the great quote..."of course its boring, that's the point."  (Warning there is a small amount of foul language included here).

So, instead, in order to maintain the fiscal integrity, we are now uttering banalities over the phone.  Horray for progress!

Pretty much the only even moderately interesting part of the thing is the media's vote on how is the pre-season favorite.

MAC East Division Preseason Media Poll
1. Akron - 190 points (19)
2. Kent State - 108 points (3)
3. Buffalo - 97 points (1)
4. Miami -- 78 points
5. Bowling Green - 54 points (1)
6. Ohio - 32 points

MAC West Division Preseason Media Poll
1. Central Michigan - 113 points (10)
2. Northern Illinois - 102 points (4)
3. Eastern Michigan - 94 points (3)
4. Ball State - 87 points (3)
5. Western Michigan - 79 points (4)
6. Toledo - 29 points

Now, let's pause and take a look.  First of all.....Bowling Green got a first place vote.  I don't know how to explain that.  It isn't that I think we will be terrible necessarily, but as a pre-season judgment, it is beyond me how you could pick BG ahead of Akron, Kent, or even Miami.  As the kids today say, "it is kind of random."

Akron is getting as much pre-season hype as any team in the MAC has in recent years.  They went to the dance last year, lost one guy off that team, and have added OMG recruit Zeke Marshall, the most highly ranked MAC recruit I can recall, especially as a 7-footer.  So the Zips have to be the team to beat.  The power in the conference still resides in the East.  The West sucks so hard they blow.

I haven't really looked too closely, but I'm surprised to see WMU down for another year, especially with David Kool.

The All-MAC pre-season team is as follows.  I don't know that I can disagree with any of those.  Even having a West team is a form of welfare.

East Division All-MAC Preseason Team
Kenny Hayes, G, Miami
Brett McKnight, F, Akron
Rodney Pierce, G, Buffalo
Chris Singletary, G, Kent State
Anthony "Humpty" Hitches, G, Akron

West Division All-MAC Preseason Team
David Kool, G, Western Michigan
Jarrod Jones, F/C, Ball State
Brandon Bowdry, F, Eastern Michigan
Darion "Jake" Anderson, G, Northern Illinois
Carlos Medlock, G, Eastern Michigan

One last thing.  This pre-season ratings are just a measure of where people think you are.  Some of them always look dumb in February.  There is no reason to think much differently, but things shake out on the court.  I will do more basketball previews coming up, but in the meantime, I will say this.  Just like last year, a good goal for this team is a first-round bye in the tournament.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

International Centre for Special Teams Research

Welcome back to the latest edition of the International Centre for Special Teams Research.  If you want to see how all this started, you can read the originating post here, but here is the basic idea: it isn't the small yardage differences that you are really worried about.

If you typically have 35 net yards on a punt, you don't really care if it is 31 or 39. What matters is when it is 20 or 50, or when a game changing  (or influencing) play (touchdown, turnover, block) occurs. I established a broad range of typical results.  These are worth no points because they are what you expect a MAC team to do.  Positive plays are worth points (from 1 to 6) and negative plays are worth negative points (-1 to -6).

For the second straight game, BG gave up no major special teams plays.  Against a team like CMU, that is a pretty good accomplishment.  On the other hand, we also failed to make any big plays, which has been an ongoing issue all year.  Still, for this program, NOT LOSING games on special teams could be considered progress.

BG was -3 for the day, which is more or less always where we end up.  BG had one good punt and one good kickoff return, and CMU had three nice kickoff returns.  On top of that, BG missed an easy FG and started on its own 10 after a penalty on a kickoff return.

The Falcons had only two positive plays which is their lowest since Marshall.

Bowling Green Positive (+2)
BG Punt to CMU 10 (+1)
CMU Kickoff returned to BG 45 (+1)

Bowling Green Negative (-5)
BG misses 26 yd FG (-1)
BG Kickoff returned to CMU 35 (-1)
BG kickoff returned to CMU 41 (-1)
BG Kickoff returned to CMU 35 (-1)
CMU Kickoff to BG 10 with penalty (-1)

Bowling Green Neutral
CMU Kickoff returned to BG 30
CMU punt returned 2 yards for 39 yard net
BG xp
BG 40 yard FG
BG punt 44 yard net.
BG Punt 32 yard net
BG Punt 32 yard net

CMU Positive (+7)
CMU kickoff touchback (+1)
BG Kickoff returned to CMU 35 (+1)
BG kickoff returned to CMU 41 (+1)
BG Kickoff returned to CMU 35 (+1)
CMU Kickoff to BG 10 with penalty (+1)
CMU punt to BG 17 (+1)
CMU Punt to BG 11 (+1)

CMU Negative (-1)
CMU Kickoff returned to BG 45 (-1)

CMU neutral
CMU Kickoff returned to BG 30
CMU punt 39 yard net
CMU xp
CMU punt 43 yard net
CMU 38 yard FG
CMU kickoff returned to BG 29
CMU xp
CMU Kickoff returned to BG 20 (10 with penalty)
CMU recovers own fumble on BG punt
CMU punt 30 yard net

For the season, you can see that BG has consistently underperformed on special teams.


When looking at opponent's plays, we can see that only Boise has scored in the negative range, but that the opposition has made seven positive plays in all games except Boise.  CMU's one negative play is the best performance of any team this season.

Ohio U

The bottom line is that we are 41 points behind our opponents, which is almost six points per game.

Freddie Barnes is on the short List for Biletnikoff

Hey, Freddie Barnes has made the final 10 on the Biletnkoff list for top receiver is the NCAA.  This is a terrific honor for Freddie and our conference, and is recognition for the season he is having.  He is leading the NCAA in receptions, yards, and TD receptions.

The other nine pretenders to the throne follow:

  • Dezmone Briscoe (Kansas)
  • Vincent Brown (San Diego State)
  • Eric Decker (Minnesota)
  • Marshwan Gilyard (Cincinnati)
  • A.J. Green (Georgia)
  • Jordan Shipley (Texas)
  • Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech)
  • Golden Ttate (Notre Dame)
  • Mike Williams (Syracuse)

By the way, I did learn something.  I was researching Fred Biletnikoff because it was belief that the receiver award was named for him primarily for his professional play and not for his college play.

This was, as it turns out, an opinion formed without actual contact with facts.  He is actually in the College Football Hall of Fame.  He played at Florida State, though he is from Erie, PA.  I have actually driven by the field there that is named for him.

No, really.  Like I could make that up.

Anyhoo, it is good company for Freddie to be in.  Just last week in the MAC Blog Roundtable we were wondering why MAC schools don't get mentioned for these national awards.

Finally, I do want to state my opinion on one thing.  There seems to be some idea that Freddie Barnes is some kind of system freak who is the Graham Harrell of receivers.  This is also not in contact with facts.  Sure he catches some screens and flares.  He also goes downfield a lot, and gets open across the middle and goes deep.  He is a very complete receiver who would thrive in any system, and all the more because teams know that he is getting the ball.

Finally, I do think our offensive coaches are doing a great job finding ways to get him open and to prevent him from being double covered.  It is clear that is a big part of our game plan, and our guys are getting it done.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Final Thoughts from Central Michigan

A few final thoughts on the CMU game....

Whoever is responsible for estimating the wind is apparently the same guy who determines the attendance.

  • Wind (from the report):  6 mph
  • Attendance:  10,042

We have the only band that plays while we have the ball, and are calling signals.  It is unbelievable.

Finally, I think Coach in his post-game presser reflected a mistake that is often made by coaches unfamiliar with the hurricane force winds of the Doyt.  He talked about whether teams were moving the ball against the wind and into the wind....but, if you look, I think both teams had success moving into the wind and against the wind.  It is so windy so often that you can't gameplan around the wind.  Today's short passing offenses should be able to move both ways. Blog Poll Draft

Here's my draft ballot for the blogpoll ballot.  Let me know your thoughts....

1 Alabama
2 Florida
3 Iowa 1
4 Texas 1
5 Boise State
6 Southern Cal
7 TCU 3
8 LSU 1
9 Cincinnati 2
10 Georgia Tech 2
11 Penn State 3
12 Oregon 4
13 Virginia Tech 2
14 Miami (Florida) 7
15 Houston 2
16 Oklahoma State 3
17 Utah 7
18 South Carolina
19 Ohio State 3
20 California 4
21 Pittsburgh
22 West Virginia
23 Oklahoma 2
24 Mississippi 1
25 Oregon State
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Texas Tech (#19), Nebraska (#20), Brigham Young (#21).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chips Win, a Look Back

Obviously, the result yesterday is disappointing for what it might have been.  BG played a close game with a very good CMU team, and really have a shot to be in the game in the fourth quarter.

We should understand this.  CMU knows how to win.  They didn't look around and start to wonder when things were not going exactly as they had hoped.  They just focused on making the plays they needed to grind out the win...which they did.  A good example is the possessions that followed the BG fumble.  BG had been moving the ball with considerable success prior to that, but the Chips have a killer instinct, and the next three drives for BG were 3 plays, 3 plays and 5 plays.  

CMU also has really good players.  Their receiver Anderson never really got into the game, but LeFevour and Brown are both very good players, and as Coach alluded to in the presser, generally better than the guys trying to tackle them.  You can defend CMU perfectly, and LeFevour can make 15 yards anyway.

The turnovers were disappointing.  I don't think either one really reflected great plays on CMU's part.  BG has really take care of the ball well this year.  Turnovers have not been a huge issue.  Obviously, when you play a team with the players CMU has, you need to maximize your opportunities.

Coach also talked about the fact that our defense doesn't create turnovers, and that has certainly been true.  He noted two plays where the balls were tipped across the middle and went high up in the air, but our guys were not able to "make the play" and get to the ball.  Obviously, those both could also have been game-changing plays.

To me, those always seemed like plays you just had to be lucky to get, but Coach clearly expects our guys to anticipate and get there.  A winning team will get that done....or a team that gets that done will win.

I thought Tyler had a very solid game.  His completion % was a little lower than normal, but he did complete downfield passes against a team that was difficult to pass against.  You can go and pick out certain plays here and there, but the QB is the only player that you expect to make every single play.  Within reasonable expectations, Tyler performed well.

Just as an aside, the TD pass to Freddie was beautiful...and unnecessary.  He threaded the needle to get the ball to Freddie while Wright was wipe open underneath.  But, he did get the ball where it needed to go.

Remembering this is a team game, CMU is tough to pass against for a reason, and it starts on the line of scrimmage.  Coach talked about their ability to get pressure with four guys, which means they can have seven guys in coverage, which just makes life really difficult for an offensive team.  Add to that the fact that BG had some movement on the offensive line due to injury (and Coach felt the line played well in spots) and you have a foundation where it is going to be difficult to be as efficient as you expect.

And you get a lower completion %.

In the end, two things hurt us, as they have all season.  Inside the red zone, all those line of scrimmage and pressure issues are magnified.  Seven guys are tough enough to throw against on an extended field.  On a short field, it is even harder.  And BG has simply not been as efficient inside the 20 as they have outside the 20.  Two turnovers and a missed FG were deadly.

The other thing is the inability to defend the run, an issue which extends back years in this program, maybe to the early Meyer years.  As Coach said in the post-game, we don't tackle well.  We are undersized, and we "junk it up" to try and compensate, but when we get a chance to make a play, we miss a tackle, and because it is "junked up" there isn't always a LB behind the gap, and the player gets room to run.

As Coach said, "that film is out there."  Every team that plays us will know that if they get in trouble they can go to the ground.  As weather turns worse, this will be magnified.

Our offensive running game was weak on paper, but there are sacks and a 12 yard loss on a bad snap in there.  Willie averaged 3.8 yards per carry, which is just slightly below workable, and he had some decent runs.  I understand that Willie is not an all-MAC runner, but it seems to me that he rarely has any kind of hole, and what he gets he normally gets on his own.

Frankly, it was a lot less frustrating than the OU loss.  BG is 3-5, with Buffalo, Akron, Miami, and Toledo left on the schedule.  I believe the offense is on the right vector and in many ways yesterday was our best defensive performance in some time.  If the team can continue to improve, even by increments, I believe each of the last games is winnable, and there are 2 we SHOULD win. 

CMU is not on the schedule again.  

A final note.  I really respect the CMU program.  They have won consistently, surviving a coaching change (hello, BG, Miami, UT) and are a well-coached program.  That's where we need to get, and we can see where we stand and what we need to do to get there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Facing the Home Field Disadvantage, BG Loses

The bottom line is that Bowling Green dropped another home game today.  In many ways, the story is familiar.  BG was in the game, but made too many mistakes at critical junctures to win the game.  In a couple of ways, maybe it is not familiar....or maybe we are just used to it.

I will say this.  I was not totally disappointed with our performance.  In fact, in many ways, I thought it was  a positive.  CMU took the opening kick and ran right down our throat, and you started to get pictures of a 49-0 rout in your head.  The defense did stablize, however, and frankly kept the team in the game by getting CMU off the field.  The yardage figures are ugly but the defense held a pretty good CMU team to 24 points.

Let's not forget that there was a point in the second half where we had a player running to the end zone with the ball in his hands and a very good shot at tying the game at 17.  More on that later.

As good as Tyler Sheehan is--and he was good today, though not without flaws--Dan LeFevour is better.  He is simply a dominant football player from the QB position.  He can make the throws he needs to make, but combines that with incredible elusive running ability.  He makes them very difficult to defend.

Just as importantly, Antonio Brown is a fantastic compliment.  That option play they ran where Brown cuts in motion and LeFevour has an option to hand it to him or keep was just devastating and is very difficult to defend when you have two playmakers like that running it.

We did give up a lot of rushing yards.  And as Coach pointed out post-game, in a cold wind like you had today, you really need to be able to have some balance on offense and to be able to stop the run on defense.

Ultimately, it was BG's lack of red zone offense that cost us the game.  In the first quarter, after a 10 play drive where BG drove to the 4 before stalling out, Norsic missed a FG.  It is enough of a blow to your momentum to try the is a killer when those short FGs are missed.

Then, in the late second quarter, BG had the ball on the 12, and BG looked to Barnes again, but instead of hitting #7 with the ball, it instead hit a CMU defender right in the numbers.  I don't know what happened on the play, but it wasn't a tough interception.

Finally, BG had a chance to tie the game in the 3rd quarter, and on the back end of a 12 play drive, BG ran a statue of liberty play to Chris Wright.  Sad thing is that the play worked and he had made a first down and looked like he might score when he lost the ball in traffic and CMU recovered.

And CMU is simply too good a team to make those kinds of mistakes against.  They didn't play a perfect game, but they did play turnover-free ball, and that--along with some superior football players--was enough to get them the victory.

Coach had some interesting comments I will review tomorrow.  Basically, one thing he mentioned that I had not considered was that our defense does not cause many turnovers, and they had a couple chances today, but couldn't rein the ball in.

More tomorrow.  Freddie had 14 grabs, which keeps him on pace for the NCAA record.  Yes, some of them were dinks, but a number of them were downfield and in traffic.

A final note for the Falcon nation.  The team has improved and solidified its play in the past three weeks.  Looking at our final four games, each one is winnable.  A 7-5 or 6-6 season is definitely in reach for our team if our play can continue to improve.

It is almost game time....let's have a little Falcon Porn.....

Last Thought before heading to the Stadium....

It would nice to see us exceed expectations at home.....for the fans who do show up.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A positive omen?

Donald Emmons of The Blade has done some research.  Backstory:  Coach Clawson has been talking at pressers that he much prefers an earlier start---noon, or even 11 AM.  There's just too much time for anxiety, etc, in the day-long wait for a road game.

The Emmons research shows:

For the record, Clawson's career coaching record for games with noon starting times is 9-1, including BG's 31-17 triumph at Ball State last Saturday.

Saturday's game is a noon start.  So, you know, BG can't lose.

Seriously though, this is interesting.  I suspect that most coaches feel this way.  However, if they are coaching in the MAC, they are SOL. When you league starts off letting ESPN choose November game times, and then schedules the rest of the year around OSU and UM games, you end up with some pretty odd game times.  And, you know, we bought those lights and everything.

MAC Blog Roundtable is on the air....

Enjoy on Over the Pylon this week.....

25 Questions that put a hat in the gap

What is their body of work?

Hard to argue with it.  They have only lost once, on the road to Arizona in their opener.  Since then, they have beaten MSU in Lansing, have a couple blow out wins and beat arch-rival WMU in Kalamazoo.  They also delivered a savage beat down to EMU in repayment for the Eagle's classless game last year, led by the vile Jeff Genyk.

They are leading the MAC in scoring and scoring defense.  To date, they have been dominant.

What is their best result?

Winning at MSU, without doubt.  Scoring twice in the last minute, just a classic victory.

What is their worst result?

Well, obviously they were underwhelming at Arizona, which is a fair to middlin' BCS team, but that was their first game.


What was the turnover margin?

CMU's games have been largely turnover free on both sides of the ball.  They have 7 turnovers (same as BG) and have forced 6.


How is their QB play?

Well, there isn't much to say here.  Dan LeFevour is the best QB in the MAC and probably the best player.  He is the leader in pass efficiency and the 8th leading rusher in the conference.  He completes 70% of his passes with a 7.5 yd average per attempt and 14 TDs over 4 INTs.

What was their yard per play?

6.0 yards per play is second in the MAC.

Can they run the ball?

They are effective here as well.  They are second in the MAC in yards per game and in yards per carry (4.7). 

Do they pass the ball?

See above....they lead the MAC in pass efficiency.

How is their run/pass balance.

If you believe, as I do, that true balance means that you can run or pass as needed (as opposed to simple play mix) than they are clearly balanced, as can be seen above.  They have run the ball 252 times and passed it 212, but they have also played with some pretty big leads. 

Do they convert on 3rd Down.

They lead the MAC here, with 47.6% conversion.

Do they score in the red zone?

Not to gush here, but their red zone play is just deadly.  First, they have created 33 scoring opportunities which is tied with BG and WMU for most in the conference.  They have scored on 30 of those opportunities, and we are talking about field goals.  26 TDs in 33 red zone attempts is 9 more than WMU has in the same number of trips and 11 more than BG.  5.1 points per trip is just ridiculous and is the best I have seen since the Urban Meyer teams at BG.

Do they protect the quarterback

They have only given up 7 sacks, which is second in the MAC, but given their passing attempts, that's a very strong number.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

As mentioned, they lead the MAC in scoring defense and are second in yards per play (4.8)

Do they defend the run effectively?

Yes.  They allow 3.6 yards per carry, which is second only to Temple, who is borderline impossible to run against.

Could they be passed on?

They are second in the MAC to OU in pass defense efficiency, and we know the struggles BG had passing on OU.  They allow only 57% completions with an average per attempt just over 6.

Did they get off the field on 3rd down?

As you would expect given those underlying number, CMU is third in the MAC in 3rd conversion allowed with 34.6%.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They have allowed 23 red zone chances, which is somewhere in the upper half of the conference.  Teams have scored 18 times in the red zone, but eight of those have been FGs.  3.65 points per red zone trip is very solid.

Do they pressure the QB?

They have 14 sacks, which is third in the MAC.

Special Teams:


They are third in the MAC in net punting.

Punt Return?

They are especially deadly here, and are second in the NCAA with 21 yards per punt return.  They have brought 2 back for TDs.


This is probably the weakest part of their game.  Aguilar is 7 of 11 this year, not including the one he missed at MSU that was cancelled by a penalty.  One of those was over 50, which shouldn't really count against him.  His long is 49.


They are in the middle of the pack here, with teams starting on the 30 yard line, typically.

Kickoff Return?

They are right in the middle of the pack on kickoff returns.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

On paper, BG has no business beating CMU.  I can't make it any simpler than that.

Every week, teams beat teams they have no business beating.  That's pretty simple too.

There are a couple dynamics which might fit here.

First of all, BG's offense struggled against an OU defense and then did very well against BSU and KSU, admittedly among the weaker teams in the MAC.  Maybe BG's offense has hit its stride, which will absolutely be needed.

Second, CMU has a big statement game next week @BC.  Maybe their minds are slightly focused on that.

Finally, in past year's CMU has not been upset proof (as for example, Boise is).

Anyway, we should pause and give our respect to CMU.  They have a great program that is consistently good even with a coaching change, and they are a good model for what BG would like to be.  This is a very good football team.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MAC Roundtable......

1.)Tyler Sheehan and Freddie Barnes are simply lighting up the stat sheet, the record book, and the scoreboard. Is it a slap in the face that Barnes isn't being mentioned for some major postseason hardware? If you were the MAC commissioner, what sort of things would you do to ensure our student athletes get the national attention they deserve?

You know, I've gotten so used to the MAC not getting any recognition for things that go on that I hardly even notice anymore.  We're just not at the grown up table, and when Freddie Barnes makes all those catches, it is just viewed as some kind of non-BCS freak show that could never happen in a major conference.  When Heisman campaigns are run by MAC schools, the just aren't taking seriously on a national level, and look kind of cute to the major schools.  My general belief is that we can't control what other people think, and they don't take MAC football seriously.  It is a very tough comparison anyway--most BCS schools pay their head coach as much as entire MAC staffs make.  What I like is when we win our bowl games and pick up some BCS upsets.  Won't change the opinions around the NCAA, but we know when we are competing.

2.) We've reached midseason, so take a moment and talk about how your team has either lived up to expectations or ridiculously underperformed. What sort of grade would you give your beloved program if you were asked to sort of give them a midsemester progress report?

I would give our program a B.  We are 3-4 which is more or less where we would be expected to be, looking at our schedule.  The team has won a very close game and lost a couple close games, and seems to be improving.  I'm happy with the general direction of the program under Coach Clawson.

3.) This weekend’s Pillow Fight features winless Ball State venturing to winless Eastern Michigan. Who loses this game? Do you see them winning any other game this year, or is the loser virtually guaranteed 0-12?

Boy, this is a tough one.  I think EMU will win the game, but it is a close call.  BSU was really hurt by the injury to Kelly Page, who has been playing better until his injury.  If Ball State loses, they could easily lose out, but anything could always happen.

4.) There are 4 teams right now with above a .500 overall record, and a whole host of teams either right at .500 or a game under. The odds of most of these teams getting Bowl eligible is fairly good, which means the odds of someone getting snubbed is equally high. Which team do you see getting snubbed and being left home for the Holidays? What are your thoughts on the current Bowl structure, the tie-ins, or the MAC affiliations?

I would expect CMU, Temple (Temple!), OU, UT and NIU to make bowl games.  WMU has an outside shot, but it will be tough.  As for my general thoughts on the bowl structure, I love bowl season.  The games are generally interesting and compelling.  Yes, there probably are too many games.  But if there were fewer games, there would be less for me to watch.  I think all of us can remember when the MAC had one bowl game, and were clinging on to that.  In fact, there was a time in the 70s when there was no bowl affiliation.  The explosion has been good for the MAC.  I like the Little Caesar's Bowl for its geography and the GMAC bowl for having a true bowl experience.  The other ones are fine.  Most of all, it would be nice for the conference to win one or two of them.

5.) In terms of general college football and away from the MAC... we're halfway through the season. What team's have surprised you the most for overperforming? Underperforming? Which two teams do you foresee playing for the giant crystal football?

I'm surprised at the season Cincinnati is having, confirming the idea that Brian Kelly can coach.  I thought they might be down a little.  Houston and Miami have also been surprises.  Lots of teams are underperforming, starting with the Buckeyes, OK, and Mississippi.

I predict that Florida will play Iowa for the big crystal football.

6.) MAC Power Poll 1-13

  1. CMU
  2. OU
  3. Temple
  4. UT
  5. NIU
  6. WMU
  7. BGSU
  8. EMU
  9. Buffalo
  10. Akron
  11. EMU
  12. Miami
  13. Ball State

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Clawson Presser--Hat in the Gap Edition

Coach Clawson had his weekly presser today, and it was the usual quality combination of football explanations, bizarre football jargon, and coachspeak.

Highlights follow:

He talked about the Ball State game a little bit, in the same terms that he did after the game.  Specifically, he was happy with the first half and disappointed with the second half.  On defense, we missed some tackles that resulted in big plays and on offense failed to convert on 3rd down and had some drops.  Ball State got the game back within two scores.

He then switched his attention to the CMU Chips.  This game will be a "great challenge."  He noted that CMU is a complete team--they are leading the MAC in scoring offense and scoring defense.  (Stop and ponder that for a moment).

Obviously, everyone knows they have Lefevour, their All-Everything QB.  They also have a good line, and great skill players like Brian Anderson and Antonio Brown.  They challenge you on defense because they can attack every gap on the field, and can run effectively to the perimeter.  Similarly, Lefevour can run inside or out;  Clawson compared him to Tim Tebow.

More Lefevour...Clawson noted that he can beat you even when you defend well and are in the right gap.  With his size, he finishes forward and gets yardage even as he is going down.

To defend their offense, we need to get "hats in all the gaps," a  football phrase I have never heard before, and which, frankly, is pretty funny.

He said they also have some "dummy" schemes (in Coach's words) in which the entire team goes one way and the back goes the other way with the ball.

On defense they play a strong base defense, which means they don't have to use pass and run blitz to get superior numbers and make a stop.  Last year, CMU was not a complete team.  They scored in bunches, but did not defend well.  This year, they are doing both very effectively, which, as they say on Entourage, "is not excellent for you."

Turning to the Falcons, Bojicic is unable to play and Minturn's prognosis is only slightly better.  Steffy is moving to Center, where he is considered the backup and has been taking reps.  In an odd moment, it was revealed that we may be the first division I football program with 2 Left handed centers.

Scott Lewis, who is going to play LG (where Steffy plays), is a walk on who has been awarded a scholarship.  Coach projects him to be a future leader on the offensive line.

Even so, at Kent, the same five guys took EVERY snap.  Now, there are three new guys or guys at new positions.  Coach points out that is part of football.  You have injuries.  At the start of the season, BG felt like it could go 8 deep on the O-Line, and so far, we're at 7.

PJ Mahone is still on track to return for the Buffalo game.  If he continues to do what he needs to, he is slated to return that night.

More on CMU:  They are the class of the conference, and haven't just been winning, but they have been routing people.  The win over MSU is the signature victory for the MAC this year.

They have won 17 straight over the MAC East.  Yeah, no kidding.

I haven't summarized anything that said anything remotely like "the next game is the most important," etc.

Final observation.  There's more humor in the presser on a day when the W flag is flying at the Doyt.

Depth Chart for Chips is Out

There hasn't been a whole lot of movement on our depth chart this year.  We had a couple of injuries on the line which have resulted in three players being listed as starters this week who weren't starters at that position for the Ball State game.

The arrows indicate new starters.  As you can see, the left side of the line has seen the most shift.  At tackle, Minturn was injured at Ball State.  Blaec Walker has been getting some snaps and will fill in there.  (Of course, LT is a vital pass protection position).  Shane Steffy is moving to C to replace the injured Bojicic, and then Scott Lewis, a r-SO makes his first start at LG.  The right side of the line stays the same.

This is the first time that the starting O-Line has varied all year, so we have probably been pretty fortunate with injuries.

The other thing that I noted on the depth chart is that Ray Hutson continues not to be listed.  I have not heard anything recently about what his status is....perhaps I missed it. Blog Poll Revised

Based on feedback, I decided to move TCU and UC (undefeated teams without a major win) up a little bit. Enjoy.

Boise State
Southern Cal
Miami (Florida)
Georgia Tech
Oklahoma State
Penn State
Virginia Tech
South Carolina
Texas Tech
Brigham Young
Ohio State
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Kansas (#19), Arkansas (#22), Auburn (#23).


Welcome back to the latest edition of the International Centre for Special Teams Research.  If you want to see how all this started, you can read the originating post here, but here is the basic idea: it isn't the small yardage differences that you are really worried about.

If you typically have 35 net yards on a punt, you don't really care if it is 31 or 39. What matters is when it is 20 or 50, or when a game changing  (or influencing) play (touchdown, turnover, block) occurs. I established a broad range of typical results.  These are worth no points because they are what you expect a MAC team to do.  Positive plays are worth points (from 1 to 6) and negative plays are worth negative points (-1 to -6). First, for Bowling Green, it was another losing game.  Our net was -3.  (See below, we have only been above 0 once).

On the plus side, we didn't have any big plays go against us, and on the downside, we didn't make any big plays either.  Every play was one point. BG nailed three punts inside the 20, a touchback and a nice kickoff return, added to a 44 yard FG for Phillips.   On the downside, BG had nine negative plays.  The worst, by far, was the kickoff game.  We had four returns outside 35 yard line.  Throw in a couple of poor punt plays, a holding penalty that negated a short kick by Ball State and getting nailed inside the 20 on a kickoff, and you have nine negative plays.  Yes, this is death by a thousand cuts....but signals what I would say is somewhat below average special teams play, just without the TD this week.  

Bowling Green Positive (+6)
BG punt inside 20 (+1)
BG 44 yard FG (+1)
BG Kickoff touchback (+1)
BG punt to BSU 13 (+1)
BSU kickoff returned to BG 38 (+1)
BG Punt to BSU 15 (+1)  

Bowling Green Negative (-9)
BG misses 33 yd FG (-1)
BG kickoff returned to BSU 38 (-1)
BSU Punt 33 yard net, based on BG Penalty (-1)
BG kickoff returned to BSU 36 (-1)
BG Kickoff returned to BSU 39 (-1)
BG Punt 15 yard net (-1)
BG kickoff returned to BSU 39 (-1)
BSU kickoff returned to BG 14 (-1)
BG punt 1 yard net, with penalty (-1)  

Bowling Green neutral
BSU Kickoff returned to BG 34
BG xp
BG kickoff returned to BSU 33
BG xp
BG xp
BG xp
BG Punt 34 yard net.

Meanwhile, we one team is negative the other is positive.  Not always.....some plays (such as a kickoff touchback) are only scored for one team, since the returning team didn't have much to do with it. Obviously, Ball State had a good day on kickoff returns, and put one punt inside the 20.  The most impressive thing is that Ball had only three negative plays.  Clearly, they won the special teams game on points. By the way, I don't claim to know the answer to the Stan Parrish controversy, but I will say this:  the asinine swapping of kickers back and forth like he was doing reflects poorly.  McGarvey could probably kick for most teams in the just gotta leave him out there and get it done.  So he missed a couple that the worse thing going on out there.  

Ball State Positive (+7)
Ball State Punt to BG 15 (+1)

BG kickoff returned to BSU 38 (+1)
BG kickoff returned to BSU 36 (+1)
BG Kickoff returned to BSU 39 (+1)
BG Kickoff returned to BSU 39 (+1)
BSU kickoff returned to BG 14 (+1)
BG punt 1 yard net w/9 yard return (+1)

Ball State Negative (-3)
BSU missed 37 yard FG (-1)
Ball State net 14 yard punt (-1)
BSU kickoff returned to BG 38 (-1)

Ball State Neutral
BSU Kickoff returned to BG 34
BG kickoff returned to BSU 33
BSU punt 33 yard net with penalty
BSU punt net 28 yards
BSU xp
BSU Punt net 36 yards
BSU 28 yard FG
BSU xp

Now, let's look at the season so far.  As you can see, there has been a consistently drubbing for BG's special teams.  When looking at our plays, we are generating more positives than we did against Troy, Marshall and Boise, but also more negatives.  The last few weeks, we have been -4 or -3.


When looking at opponent's plays, we can see that only Boise has scored in the negative range, but that the opposition has made seven positive plays in all games except Boise.

Ohio U

The bottom line is that we are 41 points behind our opponents, which is almost six points per game.