Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jalone Friday, BG Men's Basketball Verbal

The Falcons have landed their first 2015 verbal in men's basketball.  He is PF Jalone Friday, a 6'8" PF from Oklahoma City.  He is a 3-star recruit on Rivals.  The last 3-star recruit BG landed on Rivals was Danny McElroy.

He plays at Millwood HS and was Honorable All-Mention All-City.  Looks like he was a low double-figure scorer as a HS Jr.

This is one of those things that you probably won't have stats for, especially in HS.  Presumably BG and Rivals saw him play this summer, and were able to persuade him to come to BG.  According to this site, he's a combo player who presents matchup difficulties with the ability to score 3s and near the rim.  Certainly, in the MAC, a player with this size who can score from outside

The Jans coaching team is certainly recruiting the center of the country, where presumably he has some stronger contacts.  Which is fine...we need players who will lift the MAC Championship trophy.

Welcome to the Falcons, Jalone.

Past and Future Opponent Land

Past and Future Opponent Land

VMI  (0-1)  Lost 42-38 @Bucknell
Indiana (1-0)  Beat Indiana State 28-10
Wisconsin (0-1)  Lost to LSU 28-24
UMass (0-1) Lost 30-7 to BC
Buffalo (1-0) Beat Duquesne 38-28
Ohio (1-0) Beat Kent 17-14
WMU (0-1) Lost to Purdue 43-34
Akron (1-0) Beat Howard 41-0
Kent (0-1) Loss to OU, see above
Toledo (1-0) Beat New Hampshire 54-20
Ball State (1-0) Beat Colgate 30-10

MAC vs. Power 5:  0-2
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 0-4
MAC vs. FCS: 7-0
East vs. West: NA

NFL News...Alex Bayer Makes Rams...

Good news in the Falcon Nation, Alex Bayer made the 53-man roster of the Rams, which is great news.  He was a UDFA.  The Rams kept 5 TEs.  Looking forward to watching Alex's career unfold in the NFL.

Beyond that, there's Suisham, Lichtensteiger in Washington, and Chris Jones in NE.

Kory had started with Denver and then went to Washington with Shanahan.  Not only is he starting, but he has moved to C, which is what he played at BGSU.

Always proud to see Falcons in the pros, so congrats to them all.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Less than Complete Disaster: Special Teams

Coach cited the kicking game as the only part of the team he was happy with Friday.

Quick review...this was not the problem, for sure.

First, it was the first game for punter Joseph Davidson.  He had an excellent game, with a 43 yard kick average and a 40 yard net, which means that the punts weren't being returned.  He had a 49 yarder and 1 inside the 20.  Excellent debut.

Tyler Tate missed a 27 yarder but also nailed a 52 yarder, so those net out pretty well.

Ryan Burbrink had a really nice PR which probably would have been a score except he tripped in the open field.  Just symptomatic of BG's night, really.

Anthony Farinella had 3 TBs in 6 KOs, which is also pretty good.

Kick returns were a non-factor pretty much on both sides.

Less than complete disaster: The Offense

So, we've covered the defense.  How did the new FalconFast offense do?

It certainly was not a great start.  Three of BG's first four drives were three and outs.  In the other, BG drove to the 11, had a 3rd and 1 and lost yards.  BG chose to pass up an easy FG and go for it (a "tone setting decision" as it turned out) and did not make the first down.

On the fifth possession, BG drove down to the 10 and again failed to move the ball in the red zone.  This time, Tate hit the upright on a 27-yard chip shot.  

So, five possessions, no points.  At this point, it was 21-0 and, as it turned out, the game was already over.  The only chance BG was ever going to have was to essentially score every time we had the ball.

The early possessions were really ugly.  The running game was getting stuffed, BG was dropping balls all over the place and then failing to convert in the red zone--a historic problem with spread offenses.  It was a very rough start.

BG did pick it up from there and I think fans got a glimpse of what this could be.  BG scored on 5 of its next 6 possessions, with 4 TDS and the longest drive being 2:37.  Receivers were open, Johnson was hitting them with the ball, they were actually catching the ball and the running game was going.  

Matt Johnson had a good game.  He was 25 of 36--add in about 5 drops and he was right on the money.  BG had 8.7 yards per attempt and 12.6 yards per catch, both very solid numbers.  Johnson was sacked 3 times, which is not going to get it done, but by and large he was very effective.

Greene got off to a slow start but finished with 91 yards on 18 carries, a 5.1 average and a good day in any book.  Fred Coppet was also very effective, with 65 yards on only 6 carries, including two big runs when BG really needed a spark.  He was injured last year, but appears to be fully recovered.

As expected, Lewis and Dieter were BG's leading receivers.  Heath Jackson also had 5 catches.  Ronnie Moore only had 2 catches, but one of them was an electrifying 41 yard TD catch/run.

BG was poor on 3rd down, at 4 of 10.  BG rarely had 3rd downs once they got rolling.

The offense clearly could have been better, but at least with the offense you could see what it could be.  Based on the defensive performance, they are going to need to fine tune their instrument.

Complete Disaster, Part II

Well, the sun did come up.  So there's that.

I listened last night to Coach Babers' post-game comments.  They don't do a briefing, so it was outdoors and apparently within about three feet of a ringing bell, so it is hard to hear.

I give Coach credit.  I was fearing I would hear a lot of stuff about "the process" and how good WKU was.  He did not do that.  His answers were short, he was clearly frustrated and did not try to minimize what happened.

He said he was "very disappointed."
He said we played very poorly and that when a team plays that poorly, the Head Coach has to have had something to do with it.
He said the defense played very poorly.
He cited a lack of ability to tackle in space as the main problem.
He said there were too many dropped balls on the offense.
When asked if there were any positives, he mentioned the kicking game.
He said it will be a rough week in practice.

So, there were no excuses.  He said that tackling in game 1 is every coach's nightmare because "you never get enough" live tackling in camp.  OK, that's fine.  I don't think teams do much live tackling during the season either.  The WKU game is over, but the problem has been revealed, so there's no place to hide now.  The good thing is that he clearly saw that.

The tackling was terrible.  The frustrating thing for BG supporters (including the coach) is that we know these guys know how to tackle.  You might have expected some problems tackling, but we went from good to awful with the same guys.

He didn't mention one other issue that is just as big of a concern, which was downfield coverage.  BG's secondary was constantly torched.  Doughty was playing pitch and catch with open receivers all night, especially across the middle.  In a sense, this is the more worrisome issue.  We have some new guys in our secondary and they were totally dominated last night.

It didn't help that Darrell Hunter was ejected for a punch to the face.

BG also only got one sack and most of the game Doughty was comfortable in the pocket with time to do what he needed.  When he was pressured, he was often able to get out of the pocket and make a play while running.

WKU ran 97 plays in the game.  That's just unbelievable.  I mean, you just don't see that.  They had 702 yards of total offense.  That's "only" 7 yards a play, but I doubt if there is a team that has run 97 plays in a regulation game and lost in recent memory.  Third down was a disaster for BG.  The Hilltoppers were 14 out of 18.  I doubt if too many teams have lost while doing that, either.

WKU had 40 first downs with 29 passing.  Incredible.

I would say that BG did a nice job on the inside running game.  In fact, WKU had only about 3 yards per rush.  Which means they had all those passing yards while essentially being one-dimensional.

So, from here, the defense has work to do.  As I said last night, they need a night and day improvement before they can even think about winning titles.  Yes, we are going to score points, but you aren't going to win a title going 45-42.  Ask Toledo.

This certainly wasn't how the coaching staff wanted to introduce themselves to the program.  One thing to keep in mind is that for all the talk about offense, Coach Babers is not someone who has had one-dimensional teams.  Granted, there's a short track record, but last year EIU was 26th out of 122 FCS teams in scoring defense.  So, they have done it, if only once and I think the players are there to have a decent MAC defense.  It just has to happen and there was very little in last night's performance that projects that way.

Also, in case you were wondering, it was not the worst loss of Coach's career.  In his first season at EIU he lost two games by of them in the NCAA playoffs.

Finally, time will tell, but I don't believe you will see WKU turn into some kind of offensive juggernaut.  They are a decent or good team, but I don't believe BG forced them to do anything difficult last night and most of those yards are on our team.

Coach said that team's make their biggest improvement from Game 1 to Game 2.  Two things.  First, I doubt that will be true for WKU.  Second, BG has an easy game next week.  We then get very tough tests against two Big 10 teams and then UMass.  BG does not get a solid test on where they are until Buffalo in October.  Now, if BG plays good D and beats Indiana, that says something...but it will be a while before we start to get an idea what we really have.

More later on the offense.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Complete Disaster

Well, that was awful.  A complete embarrassment, with few redeeming features and none on the defensive side of the ball.

BG's defense was completely unprepared for this game.  They were awful at tackling, played soft in coverage and yet still had people wide open.  The defense made no adjustments.  No press coverage, no adjustment to cover the middle of the field that was wide open all night.  No pressure.  It was an easy night for WKU's offense and they totally made BG pay.  In fact, WKU had a couple of drops, too.

There is no other way to put it...WKU humiliated the Falcons tonight.

This wasn't Wisconsin or WVU or Michigan racking up those kinds of points, it was Western Kentucky.  No disrespect.  I think we indicated in the pre-game that this team was better than people might have thought, but they aren't this good.  They were not picked to win their division in C-USA.  And with the team BG returned, this simply should not have happened.  I could have seen losing.  A 28 point defeat?  More than 700 yards allowed?

You aren't going to get any sympathy here for the "adjusting to a new system" argument.  Changing to a new system was a choice, first made by our AD and then by our Coach.  NIU has stayed competitive through coaching changes by not changing systems--by keeping the same system.  A coach like that could have been hired and the coach could have coached that way.  If there are problems with an "adjustment" it is on them.

Obviously, this is a non-conference game and BG has 11 more to play and this could all be an unpleasant memory in December.  I would be thrilled for that to be the case.

However, this wasn't even close to being a winning effort on defense.  Not even within shouting distance...and we were using guys who know how to play--a senior dominated defense.  I didn't expect us to hold teams under 20... but teams in the MAC would also have torched this defense tonight. That's a 9 loss defense.

So, if it is going to be an unpleasant memory, things are going to have to significantly a night and day improvement over what was out there tonight.  It is going to take some work for this to be the outlier that apologists would like to think it is.

The offense did come around and I thought played pretty well once they got going.  Maybe we are going to need to win 45-38 every week.  The program has tried that approach before.

I remember how excited we were to beat Tulsa last year...and then they turned out to be a lot worse than we thought.  Let's hope we're not Tulsa.

The other worrisome thing is that this was our best chance in the first four games to see what we had.  VMI will tell us nothing (in fact, will probably be a kind of false positive), and if Indiana and Wisconsin score a million, that's not unexpected, either.

More tomorrow.  If you thought our program had progressed past this kind of thing, boom, it is 2010 again, except with a championship team that returned a bunch of starters.

Blogger Roundtable Up

The first Blogger Roundtable is up.  Check it out!

My Answers to Wave the Red Towel

Earlier this week, I ran answers from Fletcher of "Wave the Red Towel" to my questions about WKU.  He reciprocated with some questions which he ran yesterday.  Here are my answers.

1.) Games three and four of the Falcons' year are against Big 10 teams. Next week, BGSU faces VMI. How are fans, players and coaches viewing the opening game against WKU? Is there anything about the Tops that is striking fear in the Falcons?

BG certainly respects WKU and this opener has us nervous for a couple reasons. First, we don't know what to expect because you have so many new players in positions. Second, Coach is concerned about playing your opening game on the road. You have a strong QB and a number of high quality athletes. BG will be happy to head back to Bowling Green with a win Friday.

2.) BGSU is returning last year's QB, Matt Johnson, and last year's leading rusher, Travis Greene, but lost leading receiver Shaun Joplin. Like the Tops are seeing with the transition out of Antonio Andrews in the backfield, hows the leading-receiver transition going?

BG will almost certainly have much stronger receivers than last season. It will be needed as BG implements the Baylor spread attack. They are being led by SMU transfer Gehrig Dieter and Roger Lewis, a FR who has signed at Ohio State and was a highly rated recruit. Add to that Ronnie Moore, who was a True FR last year and was probably the hardest receiver for opponents to defend by the end of the year. Losing Chris Gallon to injury did hurt, but BG has Heath Jackson and Ryan Burbrink, both of whom have started in the past.

3.) What are the Falcons season long expectations this year after a 10-4 year, and a victory over a top 25 team?

We have very high expectations. A lot of talent returns from last year's team--especially on offense. The new coach has brought a tremendous amount of energy to the program. BG suffered through a number of average or worse years, and the Championship last season was beautiful. I think our expectations are to play for a championship again and to win 10 games again.

4.) How much of that defense that ranked 5th in the nation in points against (15.9 ppg) is left? And, probably most importantly, how in the world did they do it.

BG lost 5 starters from that defense, which was truly outstanding. That included two D-tackles, the MLB and Safety. They do have a lot of quality and seasoned players back, and while the defense may not be as good, it should still be very good. In addition, LB Gabe Martin was injured for the last third of the season and is back. He was one of the two best players we had on defense.

How did they do it? BG's defense last year was focused on preventing first downs and getting off the field. They didn't force a lot of turnovers, but were very difficult to move the ball on. This year, the Kim McCloud defense is purported to be interested in becoming more turnover oriented.

5.) You know, the higher ups at WKU considered moving to the MAC. How welcome would WKU have been to arguably the most recognized mid-major conference?

I think we'd love to have had WKU in the MAC--if you had brought all of your sports. We have been burned by football-only members like UCF, Temple and UMass, all of whom were just passing through. WKU would fit in the MAC in all ways, and we'd love to have had your basketball program and history, too.

6.) What are, lets say, three things WKU fans should watch on Friday from the BGSU side?

1. How BG transitions to the Baylor offense. This is the first game where it is being used, so it will be interesting how smoothly it runs.

2. BG 's QB Matt Johnson. Matt might be the best returning player in the MAC and is an excellent for BG's new scheme.

3. How BG defends the middle of the field. With new and untested players at DT and MLB, this is an area BG will need to protect.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

25 Questions from the Hilltop

I never saw what the big deal was
about Big Red.  This photo is
taken from
 What is their body of work?

They have been coming around.  They have been bowl eligible the last two years, snubbed twice, including last year at 8-4.  They had a one year adventure with Bobby Petrino last year and now have Jeff Brohm coaching, who was OC last year.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

25, which is a typical number.  They have 6 JUCO transfers on the two-deep.

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

QB Brandon Doughty was #21 in the nation in completion % and #22 in completions.
CB Cam Thomas was #17 in passes defended and #20 in interceptions.

What was their turnover ratio?

WKU was 8-4 while being -10 on turnovers.  This is no small feat.


 How is their QB play expected to be?

Brandon Doughty is returning to start his second season.  He had a big game against Kentucky to start the season last year, then threw 5-picks against Tennessee before settling into a decent year.  He completed a high percentage of his passes (65.8%) but with only 7 yards per attempt, so they were high percentage passes.  He had a 14/14 ratio, but the Tennessee game set him back.  Phil Steele has him ranked as the 5th best QB in C-USA.

Say what you like, this is really cute.

What was their scoring and yards per play?

They scored 31 points per game, which was 3rd in C-USA.  They averaged 6.3 yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

Well this is an open question.  Their All-American, Antonio Andrews is gone, as is a potential JUCO replacement.  Leon Allen is slated to start. He averaged about 7 carries a game at 5 yards a carry last year.  Before losing the JUCO guy, Steele had the RBs 7th in C-USA.

Did they pass the ball?

They did last year.  They were 4th in C-USA in passing efficiency.

How was their run/pass balance?

They ran the ball 50% with Andrews last year, so I'd expect a most pass-rich mix this year.

Did they convert on 3rd Down?

They did last year, with 46%, which is very good.

Did they score in the red zone?

They had 4.9 points per trip last year, which is pretty average.

The most famous export from
Bowling Green, KY
Did they protect the quarterback?

They had 27 sacks last year, with was 6.6% of passing attempts, which is mildly on the high side, especially for a team throwing low-risk routes.  Steele has them ranked as the 4th best O-line in C-USA.

Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They allowed 24.6 points per game, which was top in their conference.  However, they return only 4 starters from that unit and have some JUCO replacements.  Three players from last year's defense are in NFL camps.  This is a big question for the game.

Did they defend the run effectively?

They were very good (4.3 ypc) last year, but Steele has them with the #7 DL and the #10 LB.  Obviously, since the guys are relatively new this is an unknown area.

Could they be passed on?

Last year they were excellent on this measure.  Again, they had heavy losses are Steele has the DB ranked #11.  CB Cam Thomas is a stud.

Did they get off the field on 3rd down?

They allowed 45% last year, which is not good for such an effective defense.

Did they defend in the red zone?
Waving red towels is their thing.
Beats Cowbells.

Last year it was 5 points a trip, also not good.

Did they pressure the QB?

20 sacks for the year on 312 passing attempts, 6.4%.
Special Teams:


Their main punter from last year graduated.  The current punter had 6 attempts for only 33 yards per attempt.

Punt Return?

Andrews also returned punts for them.  The current guy was Willie McNeal, a starting WR, who only had 4 attempts last year.  They did block one punt.


Schwettman was pretty good last year.  He was 13 out of 16, with a long of only 44 and 11-13 inside 40.
If you date shows up wearing a pair
of these....R-U-N

This is pretty open.  Their punter did this and had 11 TBs last year and they were pretty good.  The current punter kicked off
19 times with no TBs.

Kickoff Return?

Andrews returned kickoffs as well, so this is an open question.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

The biggest intangible is that WKU has really been drawing well at  home.  Last year, they filled 81% capacity at their home field, and that likely gives them a big advantage, especially in an opener.  WKU also has the advantage of working under essentially the same system as they did lat year, unlike the Falcons.  (Not to be negative...the Falcons have a contrasting advantage, which is a bunch of guys who are confident and used to playing with each other).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable--Inaugural Edition

1.  The MAC Season kicks off this week with Ohio at Kent State. Who wins the first MAC Game of the year?

Nothing like a season opener/MAC opener to clench the coach's buttocks.  And then, you take a team with some title aspirations and send them on the road...Frank has got to be heavily squinting out there.  Anyway, I like Ohio in the game.  They are traditionally ready to go early and then fall off later.  They are going to miss Turdletton, but I think Vick will be OK and I think Kent might be turning back into Kent again.

2. - Is this the year Toledo finally gets over the hump? NIU is entering the post lynch era and they have been the biggest thing in the rockets way these past few years.

I have picked the Rockets to win the West, and I stand by it.  While they remain my mortal enemy, I believe Campbell is a good coach and is continuing to assemble the talent that will make them difficult to beat.  NIU's history of excellence is pretty rare in our conference, and I think the Rockets will catch them this year.

3 - What is your team's biggest game of the year? Either the "show me game"

BG has a few big games.  We close with Ball State, we have to play @OU in November, and we play @Akron.  All of these are tough games.  But, after the last four years, the biggest game for BG will take place at the Glass Bowl.  Not only does BG need the win for competitive reasons in the East, but BG needs to turn around the struggles against UT.  This could change--if, for example, the Ball State game is required to win the East--but for right now, in late August, it is the Rockets.

BlogSwap with Wave the Red Towel

One of the things we like to do--especially with non-conference opponents--is line ourselves up with a Q&A with a blog from our opponent.  This week, we are swapping with Fletcher from Wave the Red Towel, a blog that focuses on the WKU scene down in the other Bowling Green.  Here are his answers to my questions, and then mine will be up on his site later in the week.  Thanks much to Fletcher for helping to educate the BG fan base on WKU.

Oh, and below is the video he references in the first answer.  You owe it to yourself to see Brohm after the hit he took (pre-targeting rules...but it was the XFL) with his nose poking out the ear hole.  No good for those with a weak stomach.

1. Talk about the state of the program. You're just a few years into FBS, moved into a new conference and had a one-year dalliance with a famous coach. How has the WKU trip into the FBS gone?

WKU's brief history in FBS has seen in a few short years (the Tops' first FBS season was in 2009) what many programs see in decades in terms of problems and growth. 2009 and 2010 saw a combined record of 2-22, but since then, WKU has been bowl eligible in each of the least three seasons - including a highly talked about snub in 2011, a matchup vs. Central Michigan in the 2012 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, and another snub last year after an 8-4 season, the program's best ever record in FBS. Couple that with a fanbase falling in love with a coach (Willie Taggart, now at South Florida), an explainable run with Bobby Petrino (Which still, to this day, I can't believe happened) and now being headed by a guy who is famous (for lack of a better term) for a rant back in the days of the XFL. WKU, somehow, is becoming a football hot bed.

2. You've got a new coach...what have you seen from him so far and what kind of offensive and defensive style does he play?

Jeff Brohm was the offensive coordinator last year under Petrino, and was brought on to almost follow up Petrino when he inevitably left town (although, if the Louisville job hadn't opened up, I whole heartedly believe Bobby P. would still be on the WKU sidelines). Under Brohm last year, WKU averaged just under 460 yards a game (a lot of that was thanks to Antonio Andrews), and that was with a first year college quarterback in Brandon Doughty. Everything that I have heard and seen makes me believe that a majority of the defensive planning is still with defensive coordinator from last year, Nick Holt, and I believe he runs a basic 4-3. Brohm, a former QB, likes to get the most out of his quarterbacks, and with running back a question at this point, we might see a whole lot of air yards in week 1.

3. Obviously, you lost the awesome RB Antonio Andrews, who is now with the Titans and also lost a potential replacement in JUCO Travis Lock. How do the Hilltoppers look at RB?

The loss of Antonio Andrews hurts, no doubt. Travis Locke, on the other hand, didn't have enough time with the program to really make any sort of immediate impact or leave any impression, so his loss isn't as bad as if it could have been if he played for a year or so. I think history will repeat itself this year - after Bobby Rainey (now with the Bucs) graduated, it was anybody's guess as to who would fill the void, and come the Kentucky game in 2012, it was the A.A. show. This year, we have a better understanding of who is the sure fire #1 QB - Leon Allen - and it may take a game or two, but I think the big guy, who I've heard people saw was a better football player than Andrews, will become just the next in a continuous line of great RBs we have here at WKU.

4. You had big losses at LB last year. How are the new guys shaping up, especially JUCO Dejon Brown.

WKU lost Xavius Boyd (now with Buffalo), Andrew Jackson (Indianapolis) and Jonathan Dowling (Oakland) last year, and while the defense will certainly lack from the ball-hawk sensibility of the guys (especially Dowling), it wasn't the soundest of defenses - a lot of big plays, a lot of missed tackles and a lot of penalties. It's probably the area WKU comes into the season with the most question marks. I see you noted Dejon Brown, but I haven't heard anything out of practice about him, which is good and bad I suppose. Friday will be my first time seeing him as well, so I'll let you know how he'll impact the defense.

5. Speaking of JUCOs, you guys have worked that angle pretty hard. Beyond Brown, are there other JUCOs expected to contribute Friday?

It's something the basketball team (and, while most people might not realize it, baseball team too) does a lot as well, and I guess it's something that you have to do when you're 1.) third-fiddle in your state and 2.) a mid-major program. But, we've seen great results from doing it before, so don't fix what aint broken, I suppose. A good number of the JUCO guys - like Brown - are defensive players, and that'll hopefully bring some immediate answers to the biggest question mark on this team.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coach Babers Weekly Presser #1: No Grind Edition

So, Coach Babers had his first presser today.  It was actually pretty the newspaper business, they would say "he's good copy."  There were times where Clawson would go through the whole presser and say nothing interesting...which I think is impossible for Dino.

I listened so you don't have to...

He says that the thing that is keeping him up nights (and let's notice this, behind the Mr. Easygoing demeanor he woke up at 3:15 two days ago and 4:15 today) is that WKU can watch film from EIU and then kind of substitute in our guys and know what to expect.  Meanwhile, BG has less of an idea.  New coach and many, many new players.

WKU lost a bunch of guys from last year and replaced them with JUCO guys, so that's hard to call.

They are to be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

Also, he says playing game #1 at home is a huge advantage.

He says schematically they are "right" and they have a QB playing a second year in the system, as opposed to BG which has a QB in a new system (by choice, but it is true).

Here's an interesting one. Coach Clawson loved ball control and keeping our defense off the field.  Babers says that if the defense is the best part of your team "then get 'em on the field."  He concedes this is an unusual way to think.

Everyone for BG should be healthy.

He says we will know what we have on Saturday.  We like it, but we don't know until we play a game.  The quote is, in camp "we don't grind, we find."

He played up the idea that WKU DC Nick Holt was with Washington when they played Baylor in a bowl game and therefore has seen the system before.

Finally, the video for the bus ride has not been picked.  Repeat.  Not been picked.  But it is big!  Here is a list of movies set in Kentucky, if that helps.  

Falcons shoot 50% in NFL's Cuts

The good news is that Alex Bayer has survived the first cut with the Rams.  One more to go before the final 53 is lined up.  He seems to be in the flow of their offense, so perhaps there's a shot.  We are pulling for him.

The Chiefs let Jarius Campbell go.  He had a couple tackles during the pre-season games.  High five to Jarius.  He will always be a Champion in our hearts.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Falcon Preview...

And so we begin again.

When last we left our team, we had lost to Pittsburgh in the bowl game...but when we really last left our team, the one with the coaches intact and focused on business, we were in Ford Field celebrating an incredible championship.  At mid-season, BG looked like a good but not great team, but transformed themselves into something else after the UT game, outscoring opponents in the remainder of the regular season by 176-17 and beating the #14 ranked NIU Huskies by 20 to snatch the crown.

It was incredible.  After years of disappointment, this team delivered on its promise and gave us all a memory we will not forget.

Time marches on, however.  We will start it all again Friday.

Big changes since we last left our team.  Coach Clawson left--as I think we all suspected he would--and was replaced by a person that is his opposite in almost every way.  Coach Babers is flashy, outgoing, brash, and plays Baylor style FAST football from a radical spread formation.  Clawson was the opposite of all that.  Clawson also won a championship.

It is an exciting time at the Doyt.  BG was picked to win the East by the media and today the coaches picked BG to win as well.  Expectations are very high, and for all the FalconFast hype, I remind fans that we have been here before, with the flashy offensive system and didn't get any titles out of it.  Expectations are high, but the thing must still be done and everyone else is trying to win, too.

On the offensive side of the ball, it is difficult to imagine what difficulties might emerge.  You have Dieter, Roger Lewis and Ronnie Moore starting at WR, which is (to say the least) impressive.  You have Travis Greene out of the backfield and, of course, the top returning QB in the MAC, Matt Johnson, who is believed by some to be the best returning player in the conference.

Hard to believe that one year ago Schilz started for BG.  Hard to imagine winning that title without Johnson at the helm.

You have to search pretty hard to find worries on offense.  The o-line remains young, but two of the youngest guys started all of last year.  There's a new C.  So, I guess if you want to find things that might be worries, you'd start there.

The other would simply be changing to a new system.  BG had things pretty knocked down under last year's system, but this is a complete change and you worry how much adjustment there will be.  My guess is that our guys are going to shine in this approach pretty quickly, but I would say that's a concern.

Moving to defense.  BG's defense was simply dominant last season.  So much talent, so much depth.  When BG's defense failed to stop UT's final drive and then lost Gabe Martin to injury, they responded by giving up 17 points in 4 games and then stifling NIU's supposed offensive juggernaut.

Yes, there were graduation losses, but a lot of talent is back.  In fact, if there's a year you want to worry about graduation losses on defense, it is next year.

The biggest area of concern is in the middle of the front 7:  DT and MLB.  BG has had some significant attrition in the middle of the last few years, and it has shown up a little bit in the depth chart.  D-line play is all about rotation, and so I have a concern about the depth of our rotation in the middle.

The big benefit last year with Ouellette and Campbell in the middle was that kept blocks off our our LBs, and they had big years as a result.  The middle of the BG line has to at least do that.

Especially since the biggest potential issue at LB is also in the middle.  With Martin and Lynch on the edges, we look very good, but the middle the depth chart shows R-FR Nate Locke and JUCO Paul Senn, who played some last year, most on special teams.

The backfield is looking pretty good.  With Darrell Hunter back and then the guys who filled in for Martin returning to their normal positions, I think the backfield has the ability to be as good as it was last year, with maybe a small issue with depth in dime sets--true FR Nick Johnson is a backup at CB, for example.

Stylistically, last year's team played in a ball control format, which meant the offense was designed to take time off the clock and keep the defense off the field.  This year's offense is designed to do exactly the opposite, so that might provide an adjustment for our guys.  Also, last year's team was focused on forcing punts--in fact, turnovers was the biggest area in which they did not excel.  The current defensive philosophy is to go for turnovers, which is something the defense will have to adjust to.

In general, it is probably too much to expect the defense to produce what last year's defense did, but this defense has the ability to still be really, really good.  Best case, I don't think they are far off what we did last year--everyone has to stay healthy etc--and worst case I don't think the defense is ever a liability unless hit with heavy injuries.

And, of course, you'd expect to be racking up some points on the other side of the equation, taking some pressure off the defense.

On special teams, the PK position is solid for the first time in a long time with Tyler Tate finally providing BG some confidence on FGs.  The punter is new, but is a scholarship player (Joseph Davidson) so we will have to see how he does.  The return game should be fine.  We have enough good defensive players to defend kicks effectively.  I think special teams will be effective.

In conclusion, the high expectations for this year's team are warranted.  There's only one measure of success for this year's team, and I am sure they feel the same way.  This team has all the tools to be back at Ford Field again this December and anything less will be a disappointment.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Falcon Rookies in NFL Camps

Alex Bayer had a good night in Cleveland.  He was targeted four times, had 3 grabs for 36 yards.  He also had a tackle on special teams.  Even more importantly, his catches were earlier in the game than each in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

A pass intended for him was intercepted and he was called for illegal motion.

Jarius Campbell is with the Chiefs as an in-camp signee.  He has made two tackles so far and he did play last night.  The NFL credits him with a "misc" tackle, but it came on a play where KC threw an INT and I am guessing the tackle really goes to a Fullback who is listed as J. Cambell.

Tuesday is cut down day, so we will see if these guys make the next level.

Showdown of Future MAC Quarterbacks Nixed for ESPN...

I don't suppose things like this happen in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin very often.  There are two Division I quarterbacks playing their senior year and they would be set to take each other around Game 7.  The game would watch Ashwaubenon's James Morgan (Bowling Green) and and Bay Port's Alec Ingold (Northern Illinois).

ESPN was insisting the game be played on Sunday.  Everyone was ready to go, including having the schedule moved around, and it looked like a go...until the conference (WIAA) refused to waive a rule that prevents a team from playing twice in the same in Sunday and then the following Friday.

And that was that.

Here's a quote from the conference:

"Had no problem with ESPN coming in on Saturday and doing it, or Friday or having them tape delay," WIAA communications director Todd Clark said. "They said, 'This is when you are going to play.' Unlike a lot of the conferences in professional sports, we just don't feel the need for ESPN to tell us or the schools (when to play).
I'll be darned.  Well, the good news for both of these young men is that with the MAC's new deal with ESPN, this is far from their last chance to play on the worldwide leader.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Return of Dernard Turner

You might have seen recently that Coach Babers surprised two of his players by moving them from walk-on status to scholarship status.  The players are Vic Osborne, who made a bunch of special teams plays last year, and Dernard Turner, who is a JUCO player slated to be a backup S.  With Turner, there is more here than you might think.

Turner actually signed with BG in 2011 class.  Coach Clawson said he was the "most recruited" player in that year's class.  "Just a football player," said Coach.

He redshirted and then left the program the following Spring.

He went to the College of DuPage, who is a JUCO (and also home to Fahn Cooper and Shaq Hall).  There, he made 59 tackles, had an INT and 2 FRs, was first-team all-conference and honorable mention all-america.

He also sorted his academics out, and then it was back to BG to join this year's team.  He is on the 2-deep and provides important depth to BG in the d-backfield, and would seem to have similar skills to those that Boo Boo Gates had.

Depth Chart Out....Wallow in the Goodness

And there it is...wallow in the delicious goodness.  Always a good yeah, the game notes are out, and here's the depth chart.  Let's see how it looks.

On the line, the starting tackles are the same as they were for the bowl game, as is RG Alex Huettel.  There was some talk of Huettel playing C this year, but partway through camp Coach moved him back to G.  The LG is new starter Ben Steward, who played as a backup G last year.  The C is apparently an open battle, with JJ Beggan, last year's backup and R-FR Tim McAuliffe from Illinois.  With as much shotgun as BG will play, this is an important position, so it will be interesting to see how this shakes out.  I doubt those guys share time.

One other newcomer is on the two-deep O-line, and that's Ryan Hunter.  Hunter is a R-FR who is from Canada but played HS ball in Buffalo for his last season.

Spencer Cairo and Christian Piazza are back on the two-deep as reserve lineman, and Darion Delaney (R-SR) is backing up at T.  He played the first 3 games last year...during the 2013 Spring, Coach termed it a make or break year for Delaney.

Moving behind the line, BG is starting Lewis, Dieter, Moore and Jackson at surprises there.  The backups include Ryan Burbrink, a former starter, Jermal Hosley who was getting some run before an injury last year, Herve Coby who has great promise but has been injured, and (the surprise) John Klingerman.  Klingerman made a big splash in the spring game and is a very interesting player.  He was a walk-on, but had the 2nd most receiving TDs in Pennsylvania HS History, which has to mean something.

At RB and QB, no surprises at all, and Clay Rolf and Chris Pohlman will split time at "TE," whatever that might mean in a Falconfast world.

Moving to defense, BG returned 3 of its 4 two-deep ends, and they are still in place.  Goble graduated, and his spot is taken by Bryan Baird, who was injured near the end of last year but played in 10 games.

On the other hand, BG lost both of its starting DTs.  In addition, Mike Minns is not on the 2-deep, though he is on the roster.  No idea if he is injured.  Zach Colvin is the only man back, and he is starting.  He is joined by R-JR Taylor Royster, who was in the rotation last year, Jhalil Croley who saw action at LB, and Gus Schweiterman, a R-FR who was a walk-on.  This is a position to keep an eye on and pray for health.

The Depth Chart shows BG playing 2 OLBs as opposed to employing a ROV, as they did last year.  I suspect these names are pretty subjective.  Anyway, Lynch and Martin are back at OLB and should be very solid for BG.  Their backups are new--former QB Austin Valdez and James Sanford, a R-So who missed last year due to injury.

In the middle, the chart shows Paul Senn and Nate Locke as OR starters.  Senn was a JUCO transfer who contributed last year, and Locke is a R-FR.  At the end of last year, Paul Swan and Coy Brown were on the two-deep...Swan graduated and Brown left the program.

BG lost 3 of its 4 starters in the d-backfield from last year, but that probably overstates the issue.  First, Darrell Hunter is back from injury and Jude Adjej-Barimah has seen a ton of snaps but was playing ROV due to the injury to Martin.  Those are your starting CBs, backed up by Will Sutton, who has seen time, and true-FR Nick Johnson.  So, in nickel and dime sets, BG will play some untested guys, but there is more back at CB than might have appeared.

At S, BG returns Ward to a starting spot.  Boo Boo Gates graduated, and Brian Sutton (who had also been playing ROV last year)  will take his spot.  Backups at S are Dernard Turner (more on him later today) and Isaiah Gourdine, who did play last year.

Finally, Tyler Tate has finally solidified the K position and Joseph Davidson will be the new punter.

Moore and Givens are expected to run KOs back and Burbrink will be back on PRs.

Realize this:  BG has only 3 Seniors on the offensive two-deep:  Delaney, Pohlman and Jackson.

On the other side of the ball, BG has 8 defensive starters in their senior year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Football: Game By Game....


WKU is a new member of Conference USA and is picked to finish 4th in the Eastern Division of that league.  Phil Steele is showing them to be weak at LB and in the DB, so I believe the Falcons get a nice win here.


Look, I don't want to get too arrogant, but this one could get bad.  VMI is an FCS team that has not won more than 4 games in any season in the past few years, is picked last in their conference and ended last year one of the 20 worst teams in FCS.  This has Omar Jacobs/Temple written all over it.


An early candidate for a very exciting day at the Doyt.  The Hoosiers embarrassed BG last season.  This year, with both teams playing the same style of could be a wild one.  I am hoping for a huge crowd and I'm going to call the Falcons for a victory--63-56.


This is a very tough game, especially on the road.  The Badgers are a good bet to win the West Division in the Big 10.  It will be a contrast in styles--and BG played a very close game @WI under those conditions one time in the past.  On balance, though, I expect this to be BG's toughest game.


Hawaii is thinking of dropping football, and the UMass move into FBS might be one of the most ill-advised (or at least ill-timed) moves in NCAA history.  Falcon win.


Beating Buffalo to end the season has gotten to be a nice little tradition for BG.  This lovely event will move earlier in the year.  The Bulls lost a lot from last year's team and figure to struggle to score against the Falcon defense.


This is one of three games that will provide a huge moment of truth for BG, all on the road.  OU has had massive injury problems, but the Falcons totally dismantled them last year.  Cheap shot artist Tyler Tettleton has moved along, but Vick could be competitive.  I'm going to say BG wins this game, and this is one that will be needed to get back to the MAC East title game.


The MAC's do-or-die crazyman, PJ Fleck, brings his team into BG.  The Broncos were 1-11 last season (Thanks UMass) and while they may have had the most talented recruiting class in MAC history, it is too soon for that to make enough impact for them in this game.


Terry Bowden has succeeded everywhere and he will at Akron.  They will have a strong defense, they played BG very tough at the Doyt last year, and I predict they pick up the home win.


BG finally broke the rough patch they were having with Kent last year, and I don't think Kent has the horses on either side of the ball to win this game.


I'm picking BG to win.  I don't really have a reason.  Except it is time, and DINO, PLEASE...make it stop.  (Oh, and hopefully we are continuing to execute the new system better as the season goes along).


We have a little dispute in the MAC blogosphere about this one.  Most of us think the Cardinals are due for a down year.  The CPL (Coach Pete Lembo) Cult in Muncie sees no such thing.  We shall see.  For now, Ball State lost its best two offensive players and a key defensive piece and I think the Falcons win this one.

So...I see 10-2 and 7-1 in the MAC.  You want best case?  If you beat Wisconsin you could run the table.  Worst case, you could easily lost @OU, @UT and to Ball State, which would leave you 7-5.  Certainly, 8-4, while a disappointment, would not be a complete surprise.

I'm going to wear the orange-colored glasses.

Last year I said that BG finally had some expectations behind them.  After the long early Clawson years, BG was in a position to win and it was time to deliver on high expectations.  And they did.  In fact, the Falcons took it over the top and won the whole conference.

This year, expectations are really high.  Anything less than an East title will be a disappointment.  The schedule is difficult.  You have OU and Akron (tough East opponents) on the road and you have UT and Ball as cross-over opponents.  But, I feel like there is plenty back from this team, the defense will not fall off as much as might have been feared and BG has awesome offensive weapons to unleash--and that is without any news on eligibility for Rhodes, which I don't expect.

I will say this.  I have not anticipated a season of Falcon football as much as this in a very long time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MAC and ESPN Tie the Knot...

Huge news in MAC-land today.  Actually started to leak out yesterday, but the league has nailed a big deal with ESPN that will take a couple of important steps to helping the conference provide a better product to fans in the coming years.

If you read this blog, you know we have gone on and on about the sacrifices made by the fan bases for weeknight games.  The emptyish stadiums for most of the games has backed me up...among those of us who are the year-in and year-out fans, I think we felt a little sold out.

Early on, (like 2 ESPN deals ago), it was especially irksome because we were more or less doing it for free.  So, maybe the feeling that we were sold out was acerbated by being sold out for a bag of potato chips.

Those things have changed...and, there's significant benefits to the programs and the fans in the ESPN deal announced today in Bristol.

The MAC's official release can be read here.

The deal is big. It is long-term, involves real money and provides some important benefits to fans.  Let's review.

First, the money is finally reaching a critical mass.  At $90K per year, it was pretty weak.  $650K per year per school is a big step up and is meaningful cash to everyone program in the MAC, allowing better coaches, better facilities and better recruiting, all of which makes life better for fans.

Second, ESPN is going to contribute space on ESPN3 to ensure that every MAC football game can be viewed through the platform with an expanded presence of men's and women's basketball.  This is a big deal for fans...especially basketball games.  Yes, I know it is not the same as being on the actual TV, but video is moving to the web, and what the MAC will have has been described elsewhere as an SEC-lite/virtual network.  If you have access to ESPN3 (and Comcast and Dish customers both do), then you will be tied in to a lifeline to feed your MAC habit.

It means that hard core fans can follow their team more effectively on the road...this is especially true for fans that have dispersed around the country.  I see this as a payback to fans for sacrificing by attending a football game at 6 pm on a Tuesday night...even if it is a partial payback, fans clearly get something out of this deal.

I think the added cable sports networks really helped the MAC nail this stuff down.  Like any 24-hour channel, ESPN has to think, "WTF are we going to put on the air," and with Fox, CBS and NBC all trying to answer the same question, I think the MAC had some negotiating power.  Also, people did watch the MAC games in very solid number for cable and MAC football is entertaining.

Anyway, I'm excited and happy for our conference.  I have been critical in the past, so credit where credit is due to conference leadership.  To me, this is five times more beneficial than another obscure and money-losing bowl tie-in.  They have delivered what appears to be a very good deal for us and I think fans will get some benefits.  Nicely done.

Update:  Hustle Belt has a comprehensive explanation of what the deal entails.

William Houston Update

From today's Sentinel, William Houston was indicted for attempted rape by a Wood County grand jury.

For people curious about Houston's status, here is a statement in the paper from BGSU:

Jason Knavel, BGSU's assistant athletic director for athletic communications, said this morning that Houston is not working out or practicing with the team currently, nor is he taking part in team activities in any way, but he is not a "former" member of the team. He further said that Huston's case is going through the university's code of conduct.

Houston is also still listed on the roster on the website.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Greene Brothers Re-United

The Blade had this nice story.  You might remember BG had a guy starting to make some special team tackles back in 2012--his named was Trenton Greene.  Then, he left the program and there was another guy named Travis Greene who kind of burst out of nowhere and had the most yards in program history.  Turns out those guys are brothers...

Trent Greene had transferred to Bethune-Cookman and didn't like the "vibe" there so he's back at BG.  Check out the story to see what the Greene brothers have to say about being reunited.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Falcons Scrimmage Report

I was not able to be present this morning for the scrimmage, but I just listened to Coach Baber's presser and here's what we know.

First, Coach is not going to be open about injuries, as Clawson was.  He accused John Wagner of wanting to give everything away to WKU.  Today, DJ Lynch and Travis Greene did not practice, but he says they will be ready for the WKU game, which is, I guess, all we wanted to know.  Somebody named Brandon was injured.  There are two Brandon's on the roster, I assume it was RB Brandon English.  Whoever it was was walking around and Coach seemed to think he would be OK.

There will be a scrimmage this week between the 2s and 3s.  Coach says that the team needs to solidify who the backups are, and that scrimmage will be a big day for those guys.

After that, they will start to prep for the Hilltoppers.

No news from the NCAA on the eligibility of Rhodes and Brown.

Coach is no longer going to comment on the refereeing because they are on a "fixed budget" and he doesn't want to get fined.

They ran 151 plays.  And it was ridiculously windy.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Alex Bayer Shines in NFL Pre-season debut

Alex Bayer is the only member of last year's MAC Champions to have a shot at a UDFA slot in an NFL training camp.  I think there seems to be some idea that he has a is certainly a long shot, but you never know.  Make it or not, he's a Falcon Forever.

He led the Rams with 7 targets, 5 catches and and 71 yards.  He had a 42-yard reception (game long for the Rams) and a 14.2 average, all of which is very good stuff and typical of what we saw of him for BG.

Now, the caveat here is that this was the first pre-season game.  You face worse players as the game goes on.  He caught one pass in the 2Q, one in the third (both from SMU rookie Garrett Gilbert) and then 3 in the 4th from Austin Davis.

Bayer is listed in a group of 3 among the TEs on the Ram depth chart, behnd the 1-2-3 strings.  Anyway, bears watching, and we are proud of him no matter what.

Chris Jones Injured Last Night

The worst thing about the ridiculous NFL pre-season is the injuries.  That fact came home to the Falcon Nation last night when former MAC Defensive Player of the Year Chris Jones sustained an ankle injury that will likely keep him out of the rest of the pre-season.  Here is ESPN Boston's take on the injury, which could have been more serious.  Best of luck for a speedy recovery.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Tidbits from the start of Fall practice...

I've already shared with you that Chris Gallon will miss the season with an injury.  Coach Babers has an interesting quote in The Blade where he says that with the new surgery (having it done "correctly") he can rehab, learn the offense and then come out "smelling like a rose."

In other news, The Blade reports:

William Houston is not practicing.  Coach says he is not allowed to talk about Houston's situation.

Sophomore LB Coy Brown has left the program.  Coy was a highly ranked RB/LB that BG moved to the defensive side of the ball.  He was an early enrollee, played as a true FR, showing up on the depth chart at MLB.  He played 14 games for BG and made 11 tackles.

The other news was that Coach has moved the practice onto the grass practice fields.  His reasoning is that the grass is heaving and more difficult to run on, which makes it good for training.  In theory, you'll feel really fast on the grass once you get out there.

Finally, Coach says that all their wives will be glad to get the coaches into practice and out of the house.

New football verbal

His name is Eddy Wilson, and he's a DT from West Bloomfield, MI.  According to to this post from Hustle Belt, he had offers from BSU, UT, and EMU before picking BG.  There isn't a ton of info on him that I could find...but, Lembo and Campbell are two of the MAC's top recruiters and I think Creighton at EMU knows what he is that's a vote of confidence right there.

The D-zone (a Detroit recruiting site) says that Wilson 6'4" 260 lbs and played inside in HS, but has the speed and tenacity to play on the edge as well, projecting that he will be a "nightmare" for opposing coaches.

He is the 9th defensive verbal for the Falcons.

Welcome to BG, Eddy.

Chris Gallon to miss season....

There has been a ton of chatter out there about an injury to Chris Gallon. I didn't want to run anything until there was actual information, and that came today when Coach Babers confirmed in his post-practice presser that Gallon would miss the entire season with a knee injury.

This is Gallon's second serious injury and I am sure he was heartbroken when it happened.  I wish him only the best as he battles back yet again, and wish him a speedy return to health.

Even though the team has good depth at WR, he will certainly be missed.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Falcon Football Lands Another High-Profile Transfer...possibly eligible immediately

Full credit to Hustle Belt, where I first saw this...

Malik Brown was a highly-touted D-lineman when he signed to go to Tennessee a couple years ago.  He's from Dwyer HS in the Palm Beach area--the same school that brought BG Darrell Hunter, Mike Minns and Clint Stephens to BG.  The Falcons offered him out of HS but he went to be a Volunteer--suffered an injury and didn't see the field, so he's looking to be a Falcon.

For some reason I don't understand, he apparently might be eligible this year, which would be huge for the BG defensive line.  He is in BG right now awaiting word.  He's 6'4" and 251, which is good size for a defensive end.  Coming out of HS, he was a 3-star player on EPSN and the #63 DE in the country.

Anyway, this guy has the potential to be a game-changer for a team that is already the defending champion and for whom one of the few holes is a lot of graduation loss on defense.

Welcome to the Falcons, Malik.

Update: says Brown considered a transfer to Syracuse.