Friday, November 23, 2012

Win #8 For Falcons

On a cold, blustery day with decidedly BG winds, the Falcons closed out their regular season with a very comfortable 21-7 win at Crew Stadium.  BG played absolutely dominant defense and was only one utterly botched screen pass from a shut out and so while the offense only scored 21, it was a game in which you were pretty sure Buffalo wasn't going to score many on us.

We'll have more on the Black Friday Bash itself tomorrow.  Tonight, the game....

It was the kind of game we have come to expect from the Falcons...and maybe a little more.  Buffalo seemed determined to stop the run and they were very successful against Samuel.  That opened up the passing game, and BG was pretty effective in the first half, distributing the ball around effectively and leading 14-0 at halftime.

In the second half, BG had an INT on their first drive then a touchdown on their next drive, and then the former BG offense made an appearance  finishing the game with 5 punts and an INT in the last 6 drives, and not one of the drives lasting longer than 3 plays.  And yes, I am sure we were being conservative, but there was more than that going on.

Meanwhile, the defense was just stifling.  BG had an incredible 7 sacks on the game, with 4 of them coming on 3rd or 4th down.  BG also had 8 pass breakups, and virtually flawless open field tackling.

For the game, the Bulls had 3.3 yards per play.  Even without sacks they only ran for 3.2 yards per carry and they completed only 42% of their passes.  They had 11 first downs and four of those came in garbage time when the issue was decided.  When you hold a conference opponent to 7 first downs over the meaningful portion of a game, you're doing pretty well.

The offense also put them in trouble a couple of times.  BG threw a pic on its first play and not long after that there was a partially blocked punt, but the defense still stifled the Bulls.

For the first 10 drives the Bulls had, there were 9 punts and a fumble.  The longest of those drives was 23 yards.

That's the basis for why the game was not as close as the score indicated.  BG's defense was just fantastic.

The offense was good enough.  BG had 4.3 yards per play, which is nothing special, and struggled for considerable parts of the game to run the ball.  Samuel was very ineffective (finishing with negative net yards) and then left with a thigh bruise.  John Pettigrew, however, was effective in his final regular season game, gaining 93 yards on 29 workhorse carries.  (Andre Givens had 1 carry for -4 and left the game after that one play with Coach in his ear the whole way).

Coach had nice things to say about Pettigrew, saying that for a long time he didn't think he would ever play a down, but when he was forced to play against Buffalo at the end of last year, the light seemed to come on and he began to prepare himself better and had a very good year for the Falcons.  Now coach wishes we had red-shirted him in 2009.

The passing game was effective for the first part of the game and then softened a lot after that.  BG had over 200 passing yards at halftime.  As always, with a lead, BG runs the ball a lot in the second half.

From our closer-to-the-field vantage point, I noticed Coach was in Schilz's ear quite a bit on the sidelines.  He threw 3 INTs and that doesn't count one that was called back due to a hands to the face penalty against Buffalo (a pretty huge play in the game.  They had returned it to the BG 12 and instead BG was still in the red zone, though a blocked FG kept BG from fully capitalizing).

The third interception was the biggest disappointment.  BG was up 21-0 and the defense playing for a shut out and the Falcons were in a very safe offensive mindset.  BG threw a screen and Schilz buried the ball in the Buffalo lineman from about four yards away.  No idea where the ball was going.  The INT led to the only Buffalo points and without it, I'm very sure there would have been a shut out for the defense.

After the game, Coach said he was "kicking himself" for okaying even that pass.  He said that Schilz, a 3rd year starter, just can't make that play, and you'd be hard pressed to disagree with that.

He also said that the first INT was a ball Joplin should have been able to make a play on.

Chris Gallon had 5 catches and Shaun Joplin had 3 with 1 for a highlight reel TD at the end of the first half.

On defense, Dwayne Woods, in his last regular season game, had 6 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 TFL.  DJ Lynch had 6 tackles and Chris Jones had 5.  Coach said that Buffalo has a very strong offensive line and that we knew we wouldn't be able to get pressure with just 4 lineman rushing and so we blitzed a lot more than normal and the high sack number would certainly indicate that it worked.

And so now the waiting begins.  I believe BG will be in a bowl game, but nothing will be known for a week or so.  I think with 8-4 we have probably earned our way in, and I'm certainly hopeful these guys will get to play together one more time.

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