Sunday, October 31, 2010
As I mentioned earlier, the defense really delivered for us. They had the kind of game against CMU that we haven't seen in a long time, and CMU is a team that has been pretty successful moving the ball. They are certainly in some turmoil, but they have been able to move the ball in other games, and I think we have to feel pretty good.
I think Falcon fans know our offensive coordinator pretty well, but I suspect most of the people in the nation would be hard-pressed to name our defensive coordinator.
I just think it is worth highlighting because we said at the beginning of the year that we wanted to keep getting better, and while the defense had some dreadful days, they have been getting a lot better. This has all happened while the defensive backfield is playing walk-ons and true freshman.
Let's look at some of the highlights for the defense.
- The defense game up only 7 points on the road to a proven MAC offense.
- Radcliffe dropped back to pass 31 times. In seven of those, there was either a sack or an interception. This is over 20% of their attempts, and is on the order of triple the normal average of negative plays per attempt. He completed only 14 passes in those 31 attempts, and that's a pretty solid performance.
- Central was 4 of 12 on 3rd down, a game-changer for our D.
- The success started on the line. Check out the day for Chris Jones. 6 tackles, 5 of them for a loss, 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. And he's on the nose. You don't see those numbers from a nose tackle. He was awarded the national d-lineman of the week by somebody.
- The Falcons registered 12 tackles for loss on CMU's 59 offensive plays, meaning that one time out of every 5 CMU lost yardage.
- CMU averaged only 3.9 yards per play, which has to be a record for us over a couple years
- The defense forced a turnover when we absolutely had to have it. The CMU boards were on fire last night that Cotton was in the game and carrying the ball in that situation--apparently he fumbles--but BG took advantage and got the ball back.
We'll have more special teams later, but in general we had a passable performance, making both of our placekicks, decent kick coverage and spotty but adequate punting.
So, this one goes to our much maligned defense. Just a final point. This defense is very young. We have been making progress, and if that trend can continue into next season, we're looking at something we can really build on, with a great offensive coach stacked on top of a real defense.
Things are good in the Falcon Nation this morning. Victory has been achieved.
It certainly was not how we expected to win. Maybe ever. In fact, it is out first win with less than 20 points since a 2001 win at Ohio in UM I. And it really doesn't matter.
In fact, the defense is playing really well, and is improving to levels that we have not seen since the defense UM inherited. (I haven't got any actual facts to back that up, and it has only been a few games, but this is my impression.)
The offense was not very good, but good enough. Most of the game, we weren't really going anywhere, but when we really needed a drive after the fumble, we were able to put together what we needed.
Let's take a closer look.
First, on offense, there were some success stories. The offensive line seemed much stronger. We gave up only one sack and the run blocking seemed a lot more stable than it was in past weeks. Scott Lewis came back after being injured most of the season, and was put directly into the heat of the fire, starting a center. It did seem to settle things down, and there seemed to be fewer absolutely blown up plays.
Willie Geter also had a nice game. He had 26 carries for 103 net yards and 4 yards per carry and a long 0f 15, which indicates a couple of things---first he was consistent, which is good to have in a running game. While the running game was far from eye-popping, the ability to eat clock and get yardage on the ground was part of what kept the game close until the end and gave us a shot.
And when we needed to get two yards on the ground to win the game, we actually did.
Note: Geter left injured. We have a completely different profile with him in the game, so I hope that with the extra rest days, he can be ready to go for the Miami game.
The passing game was pretty average. Coach said we wanted a conservative game plan, and we certainly got that. Schilz was 22-39 with two INTs and a sack and 192 sack adjusted yards. On 40 attempts, that is less than 5 yards a passing attempt, which also indicates a pretty conservative game plan. Jordan had 9 for 92 receiving.
As I said, the offense was not great, but good enough to win a game like this. When we needed a drive after the Cotton fumble, it was there.
We got it to 4-1, caught a break when CMU was offsides. Then, we moved the chains with a 10-yard pass to Jorden and then Jorden broke a big play up the middle down inside the 5 and from there we put it in the end zone and did it without leaving CMU time to get back into FG range.
We were 7 of 16 on 3rd down, which was pretty important in keeping our offense on the field.
We'll look at the defense and special teams later today, but in the meantime, our offense certainly played well, but not as well as it can.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
More to say later, but it is good to see our guys get a win out there today. Good defense kept us in the game, and we got a huge break on that fumble, and unlike the Buffalo game, this time BG took the gift and won the game. We have certainly been close several times, and it was good to see it result in a win.
I think there were really two keys to the victory. The first is the great play by the defense. They held CMU to 1 TD and 231 yards on their home field. Even that play was aided by what sounded like a dicey pass interference call. So, for all their difficult efforts, they have been clearly improving and essentially won the game today. (Highlights include 6 sacks and a POW-Caliber performance by Chris Jones).
The other key was on offense, where we certainly did not have a great day, but the offensive line play was much improved, BG gave up only 1 sack and had more than 100 yards running. The ability to run even a little and pass even a little was what made the difference between last week's poor performance and this weeks adequate to win performance.
Anywhere, more to come later.....but a very nice win today and a good day to be a Falcon.
Graham Couch is one of the leading writers who cover the MAC, and he has written extensively about the decline of the Mid-American conference in men's hoops. I've blogged on his 2007 and 2010 articles about this topic.
He posted another interesting article this week which I think is worth reading. In it, he interviews Saddi Washington, a WMU great in the 1990s. Washington believes that what is driving the MAC's decline is AAU recruiting, which gives players greater national exposure and more options, and means the MAC is less likely to have a hometown advantage.
It is an interesting perspective and I commend it to you. A few of my own comments.
I support all efforts to ban July recruiting. I believe AAU ball is a corrosive influence on college basketball, and presents an opening for agents and AAU coaches to be corrupting influences.
It can't be the only factor in the MAC however. First, I would have enjoyed the article more if there were some specific examples of players that would have gone to WMU, CMU or EMU, but went to Xavier instead. Second, in the 1990s, the MAC was considered the equal of the MVC, for example, and now it isn't close. The MVC has thrived in the era of AAU basketball, and the MAC has not, but clearly it can be done.
What has made the MVC successful where the MAC has not been? That's been covered before--investment in coaches, facilities and scheduling. So, it just seems to me that the AAU thing is part of some existing larger trends, but is yet another one that is not breaking in our favor.
Food for thought.
Friday, October 29, 2010
What is their body of work?
They are very unhappy in Mt. Pleasant over how the season has progressed. Their only FBS win is over EMU and they are 2-6 overall. They have lot five straight, including a bad loss to Ball State at home and getting killed at NIU.
How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?
Do they have players in the National Top 20 rankings?
WR Cody Wilson is #18 in receiving yards per game with 87.
What is their turnover ratio?
This is their biggest issue. They are -10 for the season, worst in the MAC and only 5 FBS teams have done worse.
How is their QB Play?
Their QB is Ryan Radcliffe, a R-So seeing his first game action. (He's from Sherwood, which is over near Indiana). He is 8th in the conference in passing efficiency, hitting under 60% with 11 TDs and 14 Ints, which is the highest in the MAC. Their coach benched him and brought in JUCO Brandon Fricke against NIU. Based on what I have seen, it would appear he's going to be really good when he brings the INTs around. He has a higher efficiency rating that Matt Schilz, for example. But, clearly, when you give the ball away that much, you are putting your team in a position to lose.
What is their scoring and yards per play?
They are 2nd in yards per play in the MAC (tie), but 6th in scoring offense, probably due to all the turnovers.
Can they run the ball?
Central is tied for sixth in yards per carry. Paris Cotton is their best back, and he is above average. He is ranked as #4 in yards per game, but gets a lot of carries, so that's a little misleading. He is not in the elite level of MAC runners. He was also injured and missed NIU, but is expected to play on Saturday according to the CMU Student Paper. One of his replacements (Volny) had a good game and the other (Tipton) did not.
Do they pass the ball?
They are second in the MAC in pass yardage. This team is very effective in gaining yards passing and has a really good receiver in Cody Wilson. What is holding them back is INTs.
How is their run/pass balance?
They are pretty balanced. They run on 51.8% of their plays.
Do they convert on 3rd Down?
They are 8th in the MAC on 3rd down conversion, so pretty average for a team with a good yards per play.
Do they score in the red zone?
They have gotten to the red zone 33 times, which is 2nd in the MAC. They are averaging 3.9 points per trip, which is not very good. They have 9 red zone whiffs, 6 of which have come on missed FGs. They have also turned the ball over 3 times in the red zone.
Do they protect the quarterback?
This is not a strong point. They have given up 22 sacks, which is tied for 9th in the MAC and is 1 less than BG. They have had a lot of injuries on the line, which has caused people to move around and a lack of consistency.
Topline: Scoring and yards per play.
They are above average. They are 5th in scoring defense and 7th in yards per play.
Do they defend the run effectively?
Well, they aren't as good as Kent. That helps, right? They are 6th in the MAC in yards per carry allowed.
Could they be passed on?
No, they are 7th in pass defense efficiency. They have only 2 INTs this year. (So, their run defense and their pass defense are pretty much the same, which is in the middle of the pack).
Do they get off the field on 3rd down?
For an average defensive team, they are bringing it on 3rd down, and lead the MAC in 3rd down conversion allowed.
Do they defend in the red zone?
Well, on straight percentage they are not good, allowing a score 80% of the time. However, of the 24 scores, 11 have been FGs, and they are only allowing 3.7 points per red zone trip, which is really good. They have five earned stops, not counting missed FGs.
Do they pressure the QB?
They are second in the MAC in sacks, so we can expect our line to be tested to protect Matt Schilz.
Not a strong point. They are 12th in net punting and in punt return yardage allowed. They have been blocked once and had one punt returned for a TD.
They are 6th in punt return average, with no TDs and no blocks.
Big changes here from in the past, when Aguilar was money. They have used 3 kickers who are a collective 6-14 with a long of 41 and one block. Now, the guy who currently has the job is 5/6 and has the 41 long, so things might be getting a little better.
They lead the MAC in kickoff coverage with teams starting on their own 24.
They usually start on the 27 off a kickoff. They have no TDs this year and their long is 42 yards.
Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.
In many ways, right down the line, these teams are very similar. Records are similar, injuries are similar, and
young QBs are similar. The difference is that I have the impression that feelings are strong in Mt. Pleasant about the state of the program, whereas BG fans I think are tolerant of the season and waiting for things to get better.
CMU's Coach Enos has been doing a lot of "coaching" this week and he might be making things worse or losing his team. Time will tell.
Both teams have nothing tangible to play for, and that almost always has an effect on teams.
The game is at CMU, but I wouldn't expect a big gameday atmosphere there.
Neither team seems healthy.
- Being an assistant coach is like being a prisoner
- There is a progression to moving from a prisoner to being freed.
- Dan Enos didn't follow it
- He can be rehabilitated.
And a direct quote:
The spearhead of that dysfunction is Enos.
Enos is the ultimate example of what happens when the prisoner runs the prison.
Enos was not given the time he needed to develop into a head coach, and by hiring him, CMU Athletic Director Dave Heeke did Enos a great disservice by robbing him of his education.
My own two cents, based only on a week of looking at coverage of the CMU team is that there is some truth to this. Enos' pulling of Ryan Radcliffe smacked of Marty Morninweg driving away from practice on his motorcycle--the overly dramatic and damaging actions of a guy who doesn't know what he is doing yet. It is just not the kind of thing you see a seasoned head coach doing. Imagine Tressel, for example, doing something similar.
Anyway, makes for an interesting sidelight to what otherwise is a game between two teams playing for pride.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
1. What has been the biggest surprise for your MAC team this season? Can be good or bad, player or team?
That's a tough one. In general, of course, I'm surprised we are doing this poorly, but then again if you had told me about the injuries, I would not have been too surprised that the team is 1-7. I guess I'm going to say that I am surprised at the number of guys who saw time last year who are not getting any time this year at all, even as the team is struggling. I can think of WRs and DBs who fall in this category, and you wonder what happened.
2. Hypothetical: your team has been selected to play in a bowl game -- from which MAC-tied bowl would you like to receive an invite ?
Of course, in BG's case this is taking the word hypothetical to the extreme. I think the best Bowl in the MAC is the one in Mobile. You are a big fish in a small pond, and it seems like the truest Bowl Week experience...something that is a lot harder to get in Detroit, DC, or Boise. And the weather is nice. All that was true when the sponsor was GMAC. Now that the Go Daddy girls are involved....case closed! (I personally think each player should get a domain name in their goodie bag.
3. In your bowl game answer from above -- what opponent (any) would you like to face and why?
I'd face Idaho to rematch last year's Humanitarian Bowl.
4. Only a few weeks remain in this season, what has to happen in the remaining games for your team to finish on an upswing / maintain / save the season / etc. ?
Clearly, the Falcons are having a tough season. We are clearly in the saving the season mode, with four games left. Of course, a 4th straight win over the Rockets would certainly end the season on an up note, followed closely by a win over Miami.
5. Rank the teams in the order you expect to see them at the close of the season.
6. Ball St
So, the NCAA had its graduation success rates (GSR) published this week, and there was good news for the Falcons.
First, you can click here for an explanation of what all this means. Basically, GSR is a methodology that accounts for transfers, unlike the Federal measure, which does not. Apparently, the NCAA believes this is a fairer measure.
I have always said that I would rather lose than be embarrassed by our athletic programs, and at the same time, I don't believe it is a choice you have to make. In the MAC, you can have a program with student-athletes who graduate and also win. On these fronts, we have much to be proud of, and I wanted to recognize them.
First, men's basketball...as you can see, BG has the highest GSR in the MAC. The Federal number is lower because BG had a lot of transfers, but when those guys went to other schools (as opposed to just dropping out), then it was the new school's job to graduate them. And, just for kicks, not that the two worst teams are the powerhouses in basketball.
Now, looking at Football...it is another success story for BG, who was 3rd in the conference. Note that the conference's worst team on the field was also the worst on this measure....and we were ahead of Toledo in both....
A few other notes....
First we had five sports score 100%
- Women's basketball
- Women's Golf
- Women's gymnastics
- Women's Tennis
- Women's Volleyball
Overall, we scored an 84, which seems pretty good. So congrats to everyone involved, most notably the student-athletes who did the graduatin' and made us proud to be Falcons.
The MAC's media poll is out for this week. Remembering that this poll reflects conventional wisdom and is as much about last year as it was about this year. Anyway, let's see what we found.
- BG is picked to finish 5th in the East, ahead of Buffalo.
- Scott Thomas is picked All-EAST pre-season.
- Despite a roughish off-season, OU is expected to win the East.
- Despite the arrival of Trey Zeigler, Ball State is expected to win the West.
East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Brett McKnight, F, Akron
Scott Thomas, F, Bowling Green
Justin Greene, F, Kent State
Julian Mavunga, F, Miami
D.J. Cooper, G, Ohio
West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Jarrod Jones, F/C, Ball State
Trey Zeigler, G, Central Michigan
Brandon Bowdry, F, Eastern Michigan
Xavier Silas, G, Northern Illinois
Flenard Whitfield, F, Western Michigan
East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Ohio - 128 points (12)
2. Kent State - 114 points (8)
3. Akron - 104 points (4)
4. Miami - 84 points
5. Bowling Green - 42 points
6. Buffalo - 32 points
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Ball State - 124 points (12)
2. Central Michigan - 122 points (8)
3. Eastern Michigan - 88 points (2)
4. Western Michigan - 68 points
5. Northern Illinois - 64 points (2)
6. Toledo - 38 points
(1st place votes in parentheses)
Tournament Champion: Ohio (10), Kent State (6), Central Michigan (4), Ball State (2), Akron (2)
Coach Clawson met the press Wednesday....I listened so you don't have to, a human colander straining out coach speak and finding actual nuggets of information for the obsessive fan.
First, he said something very interesting, which is that we are not planning to do anything for the future....Coach does not feel that is for the seniors who are playing the last four football games of their lives. We won't play a sophomore in place of a senior just to get them experience.
(As a practical note, in some cases if we had additional freshmen and sophomores who were ready they would be in now).
The injury bugs continue to hit. Further, they have hit where we were thin already.
- Bojicic is very doubtful.
- Truss is out.
- Morgan is almost certainly out.
- Tyler Beck is probably out, which puts us down 2 FBs
- Pronty was not 100% last week.
On the plus side, they are hopeful they will have Cooper, Geter and Scott Lewis.
Burkhardt has the PAT/FG job.
The rest of the talk was about how similar we are to CMU in terms of disappointing seasons, and then reiterating Saturday's comments on the state of the program, which he thinks is not as far away as it looks. First, we are 1-7, and no one is happy with that, but we turn a couple of the close losses and stay healthy, and we're not 1-7. And, he sees the nucleus of a good team in there, just a team without experienced players thanks to a hole in a recruiting class.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The International Centre for Special Teams research has met and delivered its report for this week. The Falcons had a net 0, which means negative plays and positive plays balanced out. Now, that might seem a little bit difficult to understand having actually being there, but remember that there was a special teams TD, which is a big play and helps balance out the negative plays.
BG had only 3 positive plays....the opening kickoff (returned to 13), the TD, and a punt inside the 20. Meanwhile that goes against a missed extra point, two lousy punts from deep in our territory, allowing a successful fake FG, and two kickoffs returned inside our 20.
Kent was a +2 for the game...and that's after they gave up a TD.
Anyway, here is the season tab....
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
John Wagner of the Blade reports that the MAC has suspended CMU DL Jon Kinville for the BG game for dropping an elbow or forearm on an NIU player Saturday. Our Commissioner said this:
"The behavior of Joe Kinville during the Central Michigan-Northern Illinois contest is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said in a release. "I want to thank CMU coach Dan Enos and CMU athletic director David Heeke for the proactive manner in which they have addressed this matter."
The CMU Life (Student Paper) tell us that QB Ryan Radcliffe, who has had a pretty good season, was benched during the loss to NIU, and replaced by JUCO Transfer Brandon Fricke. Coach Enos referred to Radcliffe's play as "very, very poor." Enos says that he expects Radcliffe to start but that could change in practice this week. Either way, you'd have to think he's on a short leash, even though Enos admits this is a psychological ploy to motivate Radcliffe.
The paper also editorialized that those calling for Enos' job are being hasty. (Ya think? I mean, you win all those titles in a row, and you thought it would keep going forever?) While I am sure no one is seriously looking to get rid of him, it is clear that when BG arrives, the Chips will be hungry for a win.
Meanwhile, gameday atmosphere-wise, there is additional trouble in Mt. Pleasant. The University has decided to tread down the perilous path of attempting to rein in tailgating. Apparently, they set up a "special" tailgate area for students with some "expectations" on what they could bring and do, and students have responded by drinking in their dorm rooms during the games. Alumni have followed suit, and attendance is suffering.
(My note: I understand why this is a concern for universities. There can be a lot of alcohol consumed and it does present dangerous situations. I guess I would just say this...if you decide to walk down this path, you had better be sure you are right, because you will pay a price. It appears that without tailgating, there are many people who will not attend a football game.)
Basically, it appears that things are in a snit up there. Are they just waiting to see Trey Zeigler?
Monday, October 25, 2010
Not to be forgotten, the Men's Hoops scrimmage was Saturday...Grant from AZZ.com was there, and I'm grabbing his write up from the scrimmage of AZZ.com, thread here.
A'uston (from here on out only known as "The Apostrophe") Calhoun WAS amazing! I'm pretty sure he was 9 for 9 before he missed a shot, midrange jumpers, 3s, and a dunk in there as well. I only stayed for the first half of the scrimmage because I had a very bored 22 month old girl and an even more bored wife with me.
The other one who REALLY impressed me was Cameron Black. The kid is going to be a flat-out STUD by the time he's done here, and it looks like it could happen sooner rather than later. I sat next to Cam's dad.
And if the walk-on, Wiley Roberts, is really 5'7"... well... let's just say he's not, OK?
Other generalizations... we are a FAST team and we are a long-lean team. Amazing the transition in the overall makeup of the team in just one year. Larson and Polk took their bulk and inertia with them and the team, as a whole, is that much more nimble.
I think our weakness will be at the point and 2-guard positions... wings and posts though, we seem strong.
I promised myself I wouldn't get my hopes up based upon one practice/scrimmage... but I have. We have the pieces, we're going to see what kind of coaching staff we have this year. If JoeJak can provide some senior leadership and steady ball-control, we're going to be strong by the time our 6 newcomers are seasoned...
Oh... and John Floyd was one of the referees. Also in attendance, Associate MAC Commissioner for Basketball, former BGSU assistant, and one-time Ralph Sampson alley-ooper, Ricky Stokes.
Good to hear it. We'll have more hoops preview stuff coming up in the days to come, but in the meantime, this will have to suffice. It has me thinking. I know we have ALL heard Coach Orr say we want to play from the inside-out. I've always assumed that meant from the post out, but I do remember now that he always says there are other ways to get inside, such as penetration from speed--and then you can kick it out.
I'm looking forward to the season beginning again. This is the first year that Coach Orr has his own players and a program that starts to be in his image. Expectations externally are low...perfect time for a huge surprise season.
Update: John Wagner of The Blade posted some of his observations from the scrimmage as well.