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.