Friday, November 29, 2013

25 Questions for the Big Game

Who goes here?
What is their body of work?

They are having a good season.  They are 8-3, with wins over UConn and Ohio, and losses to Baylor, OSU and Toledo.  At the time of their 5 OT win over Stony Brook, things were not looking good for them, but they have delivered since then.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

29, which is a lot.  17 of 22 players on 2-deep are Juniors or Seniors.

Who are their statistical leaders?

Khalil Mack leads the nation in forced fumbles, 13 in TFL and 8th in sacks.
Alex Neutz is 9th in receiving TDs.
Branden Oliver is 8th in rushing yards and 6th in yards per game.

What is their turnover ratio?

Best in the MAC.  They are +16.  With 10 lost, they are second only to BG (8)


How is their QB Play?

Joe Licata is much improved, even as a SO.  He is 5th in the MAC in pass efficiency.  He completes 61% of his passes (an average MAC number), but has 21 TD and 6 INT and yards per completion of 12.1, all of which are good.  Not a threat to run.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are 5th in the MAC in scoring and 6th in yards per play, so their offense has been good if not great.

Can they run the ball?

Yes, they can, although they are far from the conference elite.  They are 5th in the MAC in rushing yards per game, but 7th in yards per rush.  Oliver is 2nd in yards per game in the MAC, but that's misleading.  Guy gets a ton of carries.  He gets 5.2 yards per carry, which is 7th in the conference.

Do they pass the ball?

See above for Licata.  As a team, they are 4th in passing yards per game and 4th in pass efficiency.  As coach noted, they are a complete team.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 58% of their plays, which is very high.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are OK.  5th in the MAC.

Do they score in the red zone?

Very often.  They have 4 trips per game and 5.5 points per trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

Yes.  They allow 1 sack per game, which is 3% of passing attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are very good.  They are 2nd in the MAC in scoring defense and 3rd in yards per play allowed, behind BG in both categories.

Do they defend the run effectively?

Yes, they are 2nd in the MAC in yards per carry allowed.

Can they be passed on?

No.  They are 2nd in the MAC in pass efficiency defense.  They allow only 52% completions with 12 TD and 14 INT.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

The lead in the MAC in preventing 3rd down conversions.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They allow fewer than 3 trips per game and allow only 4.25 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

They lead the MAC with 35 sacks.  That is almost 10% of passing attempts, an incredible number.  BG is simply going to have to protect Johnson...whether through play calls or blocking or keeping extra guys in.  BG cannot get to the point where they are one-dimensional in the game.

Special Teams:


They are 9th in net punting.  Their kicking is decent but they do give up a decent number of returns.  No TDs allowed

Punt Return?

They are 11th in punt return average. Only 8 returns this year.


He has a long leg, maybe inaccurate.  He's made 2 over 5, but is 7-9 inside 40 and 3 of 8 between 40 and 50.  Long is 51.


They are 8th in kickoff coverage.  Teams are starting around the 26.

Kickoff Return?

They are starting on the 28.   They are 2nd in the MAC in yards per return.

Here it is.  How will it play?
Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

A few notes.  First, Buffalo has given up the home field advantage by playing in the Ralph.  Yes, they might have a big crowd, but the surroundings are still not home.

This is BG's biggest game in 10 years.  And, it is certainly the biggest game of the Clawson era.  It is similarly big for the Buffalo team...they have won the East more recently, but it didn't involve any of these players.  How the teams react to the big game will tell a lot.

The defenses are pretty even.....narrow advantage for BG.  On offense, BG is more productive than Buffalo--though we didn't play OSU.  I think BG is better on the special teams.

Even so, this is a very evenly matched game.  As mentioned, BG is going to need to protect the QB against a very tough pass rush.  BG will need to be able to establish the run--but so will Buffalo.  This could be  a very low scoring game.   BG has absolutely got to deny the Bulls turnovers to work with.

I think it will ultimately come down to who is more prepared to play in a very big game.  I don't think it is a given that either team gets much going.  Going to be very interesting.

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