Friday, July 31, 2009

Media Day Update 1, with vote totals...

The MAC has the football poll on its site, with the actual vote totals, for those who like to wallow in the thick gooey detail.

West Division
1. Central Michigan --154 points
2. Western Michigan -- 126 points
3. Northern Illinois -- 103 points
4. Toledo -- 71 points
5. Ball State -- 58 points
6. Eastern Michigan -- 34 points

East Division
1. Buffalo -- 155 points
2. Temple -- 144 points
3. Akron -- 128 points
4. Ohio -- 116 points
5. Bowling Green -- 101 points
6. Kent State -- 51 points
7. Miami -- 33 points

Marathon MAC Championship Game Winner
Central Michigan 18, Western Michigan 4, Buffalo 2, Temple 2

On other comment...I think people might be underrating Ball State, too.

MAC Media Day for Football--Falcons picked 5th

Today is the big media jamboree at Ford Field for MAC football....you can check here for updates during the day. The BG News is there and doing consistent updates, and you might just as easily follow them. I know I will.

Down to the business at hand...

Recognizing that these picks are almost always based on what happened last year and a rudimentary sense of who is coming back, I think the media followed the conventional wisdom that CMU and Buffalo are the strongest teams in the conference. (See BG News post here, hat tip included)

West Division
1. Central Michigan
2. Western Michigan
3. Northern Illinois
4. Toledo
5. Ball State
6. Eastern Michigan

East Division
1. Buffalo
2. Temple
3. Akron
4. Ohio
5. Bowling Green
6. Kent State
7. Miami

I will have much more to say about how the MAC is going to shake out between now and the Troy game. However, having said that, I will make a couple comments.

  • On paper, CMU is far and away the favorite to win the MAC. Not winning last year will just create some hunger.
  • I think Buffalo is overrated. Big questions at QB, and they won some miracle games last year, which often indicates a level of good fortune you cannot count on. Still, I recognize they are the sexy pick.
  • Having said that, the East is as wide open as it was last year.
  • I still think Bowling Green is being hampered by two things, one real, one perceived. The real one is that we lost so much on defense that we are going to struggle. The perceived one is that Dave Clawson can't win in the first year.
  • I think this could be Temple's year.
  • Finally, the thing than cannot be forecast is the toll that injuries will take on any of these teams. Football has small samples, and if you are not healthy at the wrong time (even a game or two), your chances of winning can be eliminated.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Falcons in the Bigs

I don't really cover baseball, but there are a couple of things going on that the Nation should be aware of in the big leagues. Two Falcon players are showing themselves to be excellent representatives of the nation...

Nolan Reimold is having a monster rookie season for the O's.
Check this line out...



He's got some power, some steals, drawing walks. A very promising start for Nolan. Also he is at least in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation.

Then, there is Burke Badenhop. He is having a similarly strong season with an ERA in the mid 3's and 25 appearences for the the Marlins.

So a high five to two former Falcons, getting it done on the big stage, and to the baseball program for producing them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Second MAC Football Nugget

From the MAC's website....


Of the 47 conference games played in 2008, 25 were decided by seven points or less, with 18 of those 47 decided by four points or fewer in the final margin.

I find this really interesting. MAC football clearly is not at the level it was earlier in this decade, and it is clear that parity (if based in mediocrity) is the order of the day. Still...it is an exciting brand of football. And in my cursory review of the season to come, there is no reason to think next year will be different.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer

We're in one of those lazy times in the summer when things are quiet. We are only 38 days to the football opener, and then the fun starts all over again, from Blogpoll fun to the new regime at the Doyt.

In the meantime, here's some stuff that is floating around.

MAC media day is coming up Friday, and you could watch it live on the MAC website if you were so inclined. Personally, I think the MAC did the right thing canceling this in hoops and should consider it in basketball. You get a bunch of players spouting platitudes and talking about "helping the team" and stuff like that. Seems like you could do the whole thing on skype.

Anyway, the MAC does have an interesting MAC Football by the numbers feature on its site.....some highlights below with trenchant commentary as appropriate.

1 – new on-campus facility to open in the MAC this season with Akron’s InfoCision Stadium (30,000) making its debut Sept. 12 when the Zips host Morgan State. (Classy Akron. Open your new stadium with Morgan State).

4 – consecutive winning seasons by Central Michigan, the longest current streak in the league. (This is pretty telling....parity or inconsistency, you decide)

7 – different teams that have appeared in the last four MAC Championship games (Ditto)

9 – different MAC schools that have appeared in a bowl game in the last four seasons. (Double ditto)

25 -- touchdown passes needed by WMU's Tim Hiller (has 76) to pass Marshall’s Chad Pennington (100) as the all-time leader in conference history. (I suspect most MAC fans have no clue about Tim Hiller)

1,528 – passing yards by Northern Illinois’ Chandler Harnish last year, the eighth highest total in MAC history for a freshman. (Interesting...he could be a good one and I believe Jerry Kill will win in DeKalb as he has elsewhere).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Backyard Recruit, Eastwood Eagle to be Falcon

Clay Rolf has verbally committed to play for BGSU next season. He attends Eastwood High School, which is between Pemberville and Luckey. His grandad played for BG, too.

He is 6'6" and 245 and currently plays OT and DE. From Kevin Gordon's Sentinel story...

Rolf has a terrific blend of speed and power. His blocking helped Eastwood score 37.2 points per game last season. He also led the team with 92 tackles, including three tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He also may see action at tight end this season.

He is also a very strong baseball and basketball player. Clearly, we are seeing a very good athlete.

No word right now on where he might project at BG. He could be lots of things...bulk up and stay on the O-line or D-line, or play LB, TE or even FB for that matter.

Welcome to the Falcons, Clay.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Falcons Ink O-Line Verbal

This from the BG News Blog, where they note that Isiah Byler of Elyria has made a verbal commitment to being a Falcon. The Cleveland Plain Dealer had the news....note where having former Elyrite (Elyriaer?) PJ Mahone at BG played a role in the decision.

He's 6'5" and 270, and you figure that goes up in a redshirt year. He apparently battled some injuries his junior year, but looked good at OSU's camp, and BG's recruiting went from there.

Welcome to the Falcons, Mr. Byler

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ay-ziggy-zoomba.com back on....


Thanks to the heroics efforts of Grant, Azz.com is back online at this hour. New design looks great, too. Nice to have the forums backup and functioning....it is simply the best web community I have ever seen and has added to my enjoyment of Falcon sports in so many ways.

Troy at the Sun Belt media days

Troy is BG's first opponent, and one of the things they are touting is that the team's strong front seven on defense---one of the reasons why it appears on paper that we don't match up very well.

Here's a good measure....four of their front defensive 7 are on the all-conference pre-season team. That's no small feat, and indicates a pretty strong returning cast. They are all seniors. Our line will need to bring its very best to move the ball against these guys....

Emphasis added...

Defense
Alex Carrington (Arkansas State, DL, Sr.)
Aaron Morgan (ULM, DL, Sr.)
Brandon Lang (Troy, DL, Sr.)
Cameron Sheffield (Troy, DL, Sr.)
Cardia Jackson (ULM, LB, Sr.)
Boris Lee (Troy, LB Sr.)
Bear Woods (Troy, LB Sr.)
Anthony Gaitor (FIU, DB, Jr.)
Jeremy Kellem (Middle Tennessee, DB, Sr.)
Greg James (ULM, DB, Sr.)
Jorrick Calvin (Troy, DB Sr.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ay-ziggy-zoomba.com hacked....

A hurricane has hit the spiritual home of the Falcon Nation, ay-ziggy-zoomba.com. Hackers infiltrated the site and basically injected every line of text with code.

Things are slowly being restored and Grant is taking the opportunity to upgrade the site to some new software. In the meantime, Falcon fans should:

  • Be patient. The site will be back soon.
  • Be thankful it is the off-season.
  • Get out and enjoy the summer weather.
  • Be thankful to Grant for providing us with such a great home. He puts many hours in (including fixing this) and we are in his debt.
  • Send all of our poisoned wishes and dark thoughts to the morons who did this

Top MAC Season-opening Upsets???

So, Matt Sussman of MacDaily (and a BG guy) took a stab at identifying the Top 10 MAC upsets. Now, before anybody goes getting all freaked out, he has specified season-opening upsets...there are not the Top 10 upsets of all time.

You know, he does a pretty good job, and I'm not just saying that because he puts the BG ones first and tells the rest of the conference to like it. Anyway, he mentions the BG wins over Pitt, Minnesota and Missouri (UM's first Falcon win), and goes all the way back to the 60's to pick up a Rocket win over Richmond, back when that was a big deal.

If you want my opinion, and it galls me to say this, but the UT win @ Happy Valley might very well be the biggest. I'm man enough to admit it--and that Chester Taylor was one great ballplayer. Don't expect me to ever admit that again.

I guess I would put the 1972 win over Purdue and the 1975 win over BYU (both away) over the win against a really, really bad Minnesota team, but who am I to quibble? There's two wins over very poor Syracuse teams out there too, but I would put those behind the Minnesota win.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Falcon Football....the Deep Ball

In my previous post, I talked about my theory that Chris Bullock would benefit from the Clawson regime, with a stronger emphasis on running the ball and, you would think, between the tackle running.

Here's another potential beneficiary--Tyler Sheehan. Bear with me.

Because it would not surprise me to see his actual numbers--especially completion %--fall a little bit. Why? Because the previous offense was built on high percentage passes and because we are playing a tough schedule.

But, Sheehan might well be more productive (yards and TDs) then he was in the past, and he might get to show off a new part of his game...the long ball.

I know not everyone thinks he has a long arm. I would only argue that if we did, we would be hard pressed to have a way of knowing it. The prior offense rarely had us go deep---big plays were supposed to come from mismatches in space. I don't know how much we will go deep under Coach Clawson's Rocket Scientist attack, but I have to believe it will be more than we did before.

Furthermore, if we have a between the tackle run game, that will help pull safeties up and create opportunities over the top. Finally, we're going to have a FB who can stay in and block, creating the confidence to go with a longer drop, and we will need to stretch the field horizontally instead of vertically.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Run Pass Mix

So, everywhere I look, I see that we are going to be running the ball under the Clawson attack than we did under the Brandon attack. Coach Clawson certainly has shown that he has gotten RBs involved at prior schools and you know, the QB will be under center and all that. So maybe it is true.

I also heard Coach say that his offensive philosophy is to get the ball to playmakers in space. More about our running game playmakers in a second...first, let's think about the idea of run/pass balance.

Generally, people look at run/pass balance in terms of play selection. I'm going to argue in a minute that this isn't really the right measure, but let's look at the MAC, which can really be broken into four groups in terms of playcalling last season.

Very Run Heavy
Kent
NIU

Moderate Run Heavy
Ball State

Moderate Pass Heavy
OU
BG
Akron
Buffalo
Central
Toledo
Temple

Pass Happy
Miami
WMU
EMU

I don't think there are any huge surprises here. The takeaway point is this: 7 of the 13 teams in the conference were between 47.2%6% runs and 51.4% runs, essentially one play here or there. (This is our moderate pass heavy category). The league average also falls in this range. Basically, despite the reputation as a pass heavy team, BG was pretty typical of the MAC in this playcalling.

We can watch this as the season unfolds, but Ball State was in the 54-55% run range, which means for our team, we would need about five runs a game to get to that level.

Beyond playcalling, though, there is something that separates teams in terms of balance. I would argue that the most important thing is for the defense to know that the offense has the capability to make yards passing or running, regardless of how often they might choose to do so.

For example, NIU was very running heavy in the Wolfe days, too. But, I considered them a team with balance, because if you kept your safeties up, they had the ability to go over the top to one of a couple WRs who were pretty good and they had a QB who could get the ball there. They were simply not a one-dimensional team.

So, to measure the ability to run and pass, I looked at yards per play, and compared each team to the league average. A team with a 1 has the league average. More is better, less is worse.


Run Index Pass Index
BG 0.92 0.96
Akron 1.11 0.98
Bal State 1.22 1.27
Buffalo 0.90 1.01
CMU 0.83 1.12
WMU 1.02 1.03
EMU 1.04 0.93
Kent 1.29 0.96
NIU 1.09 0.97
OU 0.91 1.04
Temple 0.60 1.03
Toledo 1.12 0.86
Miami 0.79 0.83

As we can see here, Bowling Green and Miami were the only teams in the MAC to be below the league average in yards per play both running and passing. Ball State was the most balanced team in the league, and one of only two to be above the league average in both running and passing.

I think that is an interesting point. Only two teams in the MAC managed enough balance to be above the league average on yards per play running and passing. I would have thought it would have been different than this...I mean, we are talking the average here.

I also think this data would surprise Falcon fans. As I pointed out in my season review, the passing attack (and offensive prowess) of the late Brandon teams have an "emperor isn't wearing any clothes aspect."

Anecdotally, it seemed like we did have a number of QB runs out of the spread when we needed yards, and that would be less available under center. With that in mind, I think the point is (yes, I finally got to it) that we are going to need more production out of RB position this year than we have had in the past.

We have two RBs back: Chris Bullock and Willie Geter. Both have proven themselves as capable at times, but also have disappeared for periods of time too. Geter has battled injuries a little, and Bullock seemed to lack a home in the spread.

And he's the one I think is facing a huge opportunity this season. He has proven his ability to run, and he can go between the tackles and break outside as well, though I do not think of him as a speed back. But I do remember him taking over an EMU game at Rynearson when BG needed to grind out a win under some tough circumstances.

So, if we're going to run more and run more effectively and even have a fullback and CRAZY stuff like that, you might see Chris Bullock post some pretty big numbers for his senior season.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pepperguy posts great Youtube Video

Here's a highlight reel of the 2002 Falcons....this was a great era of Falcon basketball, mixed in (naturally) with a tablespoon of tragedy, since this team never made the big Dance through a combination of operatic circumstances you already know about.

Anyway, you'll enjoy the video and the memories. Great for the off-season.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Falcons Verbal, Devon McKoy

With a hat tip to Azz.com, we have a new verbal for the Falcons. He is Devon McKoy of Reynoldsburg, OH. He plays two-way but appears to project at CB in college.

Despite my long-standing aversion to rating players on highlights (show me the player without a good highlight reel), here is Devon McKoy's. I'm a hypocrite.



The vitals here show an excellent student (nice!) with strong but not necessarily eye-popping times, all of which are suspect (for all players) until you've verified them.

Welcome to the Falcon, Devon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Header for Falcon Blog

Took this Thursday afternoon....thought we needed an off-season motif for the blog during the long summer months.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Ask the AD out this week

The latest Ask the AD is out this week.....this one was a little lighter on news than previously, but here we have it....

He looked at the overall athletic department and evaluated from a number of perspectives, academic, competition, finances. I thought he had an interesting perspective. By and large, I think the academics are strong (department-wide) and the finances are a struggle, but that is largely out of anyone's control. The competition (and he cites Jacoby and Reese as benchmarks) needs to improve.

That being said, I don't think Christopher is doing a bad job at all. Facilities have improved, I think he took a courageous step on Coach Brandon, I believe Coach Orr was a good hire, and I think that keeping Curt Miller (whatever role he had in that) is a huge plus. Managing the finances today is a leak plugging exercise that no one would look good.

I also give him points for openness and transparency, particularly during the hockey controversy.

We still have room to grow, and we are right to expect to see progress competitively in the coming years. But I do think he is doing a good job.

Some news tidbits:

  • Football season tickets are on par with last year, despite the addition of a sixth game and the attendant cost increase.
  • The key to keeping old facilities usable is to keep making incremental improvements over time. This was not done with AA or the Ice Arena. He noted, to my surprise, that the video board is probably inadequate now at the Doyt. (It was too small from the beginning, in my opinion).
  • Hockey season tickets are holding steady.
  • Interim Coach Dennis Williams (hockey) will be evaluated at the end of the year. The interim tag is not a signal that the program is on life support and Christopher says he works on the assumption the program will exist into the future.
  • In that vein, a lot of attention seems to be on the "Miami plan" in which an endowment is created for hockey that will fund it in perpetuity, removing it from the annual budget struggle. Obviously this is a fine idea which is challenged only by the ability to actually raise the endowment.

Monday, July 06, 2009

LaMonta Stone Honored

Nice honor for LaMonta Stone, who was named one of the top 25 mid major assistants in College basketball. He was the top ranked of only two MAC coaches to be honored in this way. (Collegeinsider.com gave the awards).

He finished #15. I think we probably tend to take him for granted, but he has coached at Ohio State, including at BG and EMU. Perhaps most impressively is that he coached River Rouge in (downriver) Detroit to two state championships and was 126-24 during his stint there.

I'll wager a guess that the number of bad coaches who do that--at any high school--is pretty low.

I would think that Coach Orr would elevate LaMonta to be his top assistant, but he hasn't done it so far, and it would have seemed that you could do that as soon as Coach Jackson left. That may or may not mean anything but given the opening and Coach Stone's ability, I think it would be a great fit.

There were rumors that Coach Stone had some other opportunities, and I would suspect he will eventually find his way to another job. It would seem like the Midwest would be a good fit, given his strong recruiting ties in the Detroit area.

In the meantime, we are lucky to have him here, and I think our team benefits from his ability.

Jermaine Henderson of Miami was the other MAC Coach to make the list.

Steve Merfeld, former BG assistant now at Bradley was #11.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Falcon Verbal #3, Middletown Express Continues to Roll into BG

News here from the Middletown Journal that Caleb Watkins, a highly ranked QB from that school, has made a verbal commitment to Bowling Green. Watkins is 6'4" which seems to be a pretty good fit for the West-Coasty offense we are supposedly putting into place. He has also had some pretty productive seasons, to wit:

As a sophomore, he threw for 2,045 yards and 26 touchdowns. Last season, he threw for 2,089 yards and 22 TDs.
He was reportedly recruited by most of the MAC, so this is a nice get for the Falcons.

Three quick things that occur to me on seeing this.

First, in the current class we one of our top recruits was Matthew Schilz of CA, who was a de-commit from Kansas State. This would appear to give us two strong and tall QBs to compete for the job when Sheehan graduates. There is nothing wrong with depth and competition at QB, especially when you can beat out other conference schools.

Second, to state the obvious, we used to recruit a lot of guys who were QBs and then move them. These guys appear to be pure QBs.

Third, two of his offensive lineman in HS (Chip Robinson and Blaec Walker) are up and coming lineman here at BG.

So, welcome to the Falcons Caleb.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fox Sports Off-Season MAC Hoops Report

Jeff Goodman of Fox took a look at the off-season activities in MAC Hoops. Pretty nice summary in fact. He notes the departures of Graves and Jackson, and then notes a couple things from our non-conference schedule, which has not been released yet.

Non-conference games include at Xavier, Fordham, Towson, Temple and Canisius.

Xavier and Temple are obviously a high-profile game for our program, while the other teams are all teams we have seen on our schedules in the past. This makes me think we will have a full schedule announcement due soon.

In other interesting MAC news.

  • CMU lost four players from last year.
  • Miami is playing Dayton at home. (In general, Coles is following his normal strategy of playing a brutal non-conference schedule).
  • Of the teams listed, 7 are reported to have lost at least one player in the off-season