Thursday, October 30, 2014

Babers Presser...YAWWWWWnnnn

Short, sweet and boring Babers presser this week...just got done watching it.  Honestly, very little of any interest...all our goals are in front of us, trying to simulate game conditions and game speed, this game isn't the whole season, guys understand how important it is...

The whole thing was barely five minutes.

Two interesting things....Akron is fast.

And Coach is preparing to see Pohl at QB.  You can't argue with this..I think he could have played last week, and I can't believe that he won't be in the lineup Tuesday.

MAC Blogger Roundtable

So, the MAC Blogger roundtable is back for the week.  This week, our host is our arch-rivals at Let's Go Rockets...

1.  With UMass exiting the MAC at the conclusion of the season, is it in the conference’s best interest to stay at 12 teams or pursue two teams, one to replace and one to even the divisions? If the MAC goes after two, which two teams fit well or what teams would you like to see join the conference?

I think we stay at 12.  Still enough for a title game and an even number--as in a number that can be equally split into TWO divisions.  At one time you worried about expansion as a defensive measure (lest you end up like the WAC) but now that appears to be have settled in and the next big move will be the Power 5 leaving the NCAA and doing their own things.  Looking around, there are not (to me) any obvious choices.  WKU is in C-USA...maybe Middle Tennessee.  Lastly, I am holding firm to my belief that BG should not bring any more football-only schools.  We are 0-3 with that approach.

2.If your respective team was destined to lose every remaining game on their schedule save for one that you could pick, which game would they win and why?

Are you talking to me?  Are you talking to me?  Are you talking to me?  Well, I'm the only one here.  Who the f**k do you think you're talking to?  Anyway, the answer is obvious...if BG did finish 6-6, it would be oh so much more palatable to have one of the six be a win over UT.

3.  College football has seen some impressive fan displays this year with fan wearing a specific color (white out, blue out, etc.), striping the stands, checker-boarding the stands, etc. To what degree has your team embraced this trend? Has it been successful? What can be done to improve the fan participation and get more fans on board?

I think it looks cool when it gets pulled off but I would be happy to find a way to keep fans from wearing their Ohio State gear to home BG games.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Falcon Football Gets De-Commit

BG had a de-commit today from the football program.  The de-commiter was Ferrod Gardner, a LB from Dayton.   According to the article linked above, he had Power 5 interest and apparently he has decided to explore his options.

As always in these situations, it is worth remembering that being a collegiate athlete requires a huge amount of commitment, and if someone doesn't have his heart in this decision, it is better for everyone involved for him to make the right one.

All the best, Ferrod.

Update:  Ferrod says here that he is still considering BG.  This is a huge of luck finding your home, Ferrod.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Media Predicts BG MBB to Finish 5th in East

The media poll is in from the MAC office.  BG is picked to finish 5th in the East, ahead of only Miami.  The Falcons did get one first place vote.

Everyone seemed surprised by this:

More is coming through the week on this, but I think there will be plenty to watch for this year.  BG brings a lot back from last year's team and added some guys and maybe some new energy.  Depth will be better.  On the other hand, they are starting lower on the mountain than the other programs are and the main guy they did lose was the primary inside guy and BG will be very small this year.

All that to say that I don't think it is unreasonable to pick BG 5th or 6th.  That's the most likely scenario based on what we know today.  Again, we will talk more about what would have to change to make that better in the next couple days.

Here is the full poll:

2014-15 MAC East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Akron – 117 points (17 1st Place)
2. Ohio – 92 (2)
3. Kent State – 66
4. Buffalo – 58
5. Bowling Green – 52 (1)
6. Miami – 35

2014-15 MAC West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Toledo – 118 points (18 1st Place)
2. Western Michigan – 94 (1)
3. Eastern Michigan – 68
4. Northern Illinois – 63
5. Central Michigan – 49 (1)
6. Ball State – 28

Tournament Champion: Toledo (15), Akron (1), Bowling Green (1), Central Michigan (1), Ohio (1), Western Michigan (1)

The pre-season first and second teams were also announced.  Richaun Holmes was named first team All-MAC pre-season, which is a nice honor for him.  He's a very good player and I'm looking forward to seeing if the new staff can iron the last couple kinks out of his game.

One other note...there is only one non-senior on the first and second team.  This is a senior-dominated conference.

MAC East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell, Sr., F, Akron
Richaun Holmes, Sr., F, Bowling Green
Will Regan, Sr., F, Buffalo
Kris Brewer, Kent State, Sr., G, Kent State
Maurice Ndour, Sr., F, Ohio

MAC West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Chris Fowler, Jr., G, Central Michigan
Karrington Ward, Sr., F, Eastern Michigan
Julius "Juice" Brown, Sr., G, Toledo
Justin Drummond, Sr., G/F, Toledo
David Brown, Grad., G, Western Michigan

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Past and Future Opponent Land, and West domination benefitting BG

BG might have had the best off-day in the history of the Mid-American conference.  There were five games played between teams from the West and teams from the East and the West won every single one of them, meaning that BG ticked up on each opponent.  The only game featuring East-only teams was Miami-Kent, two teams unlikely to challenge for the division title.

BG has one division loss.  Akron has two and everyone else has at least 3.  Furthermore, BG has beaten Buffalo, OU, and UMass, meaning that essentially they have a 3-game lead against those teams.

Even more than before, the Akron game will decide it all.  If BG beats Akron, they would only need one win in the final three games (@UT, Kent and Ball State) to lock it down.

Thanks to today's loss, even if Akron beats BG, the race continues.  Both BG and Akron would have two losses, and while Akron has a softer schedule coming home, they could easily lose one more time.

Finally, I think it is entirely plausible that the East winner will finish with 3 losses, and even with a loss to Akron, BG might still win some tie-breakers if they ended up being multi-team tiebreakers.

Point is, for as disappointed as some Falcon fans are and as weak as the East is, BG is pretty much one win for heading back to Detroit.

One last thing:  how is the "WMU is awful" camp reacting?

Western Kentucky (3-4) Beat Old Dominion 66-51
VMI (1-8) Lost to 38-3 to Wofford
Indiana (3-4) Idle
Wisconsin (5-2) Beat Maryland 52-7
UMass (2-7) Lost 42-35
Buffalo (3-5) Lost to CMU
Ohio U (4-5) Lost 42-21 to WMU
WMU (5-3) Beat Ohio 42-21
Akron (4-4) Lost to Ball State
Kent (1-7) Lost to Miami
Toledo (5-3) Beat UMass 42-35
Ball State (3-5) Beat Akron

MAC vs. Power 5: 4-22
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 3-12
MAC vs. FCS: 11-2
East vs. West: West leads 10-2

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Men's Basketball Check-in

We are beginning to get ready for two sports season...BG has its "secret" exhibition game against UM next Saturday and then the Friday after that the first exhibition game and then the week after that the season gets going in earnest.

The program is at a transition point, obviously.  Our new coaching staff is in place and is busy coaching the guys into his style of play.  BG returned four starters from last year (plus Orr) and brought in 3 JUCO players who can play right away, so BG does have a lot of guys who are older to put into play.  Talent level remains the open question.

BG had their media day recently and it was mostly the type of thing you hear at these events...working hard, team is gelling...blah blah.

A couple of interesting nuggets.
  • We are going to play tough defense and be a tough rebounding team.
  • We are going to race the ball up floor after we are scored against.
  • Depth is important because it is creating competition at positions.
  • Coach wishes we were bigger, but figures most teams do.
One other thing that has been remarked upon in many places...BG lost none of its legacy players during the changeover.  That's impressive.  And, one of those returning players is Chauncey Orr.  Coach Jans has great things to say about Chauncey, who has made the transition with class and demonstrates a commitment to his teammates and his school.  I'm proud he is wearing our colors and going to the university I love.

A few other notes from beyond the media day.

First, if you love college basketball, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook is for you.  Their previews are incredible and show a strong focus on being comprehensive.  Highly recommended.

A couple tidbits from there.  First, JD Tisdale has had some injury issues in the off-season.  And Coach Jans talked specifically about Garrett Mayleben as someone who has made strides--gained weight and looking to make a contribution.

That is interesting.  Mayleben was recruited by Orr and id'd as a project from the get-go.  He's 6'9" and if he can make any contribution at all it will be important.  On the inside, BG right now features Richaun Holmes and true FR. Rasheed Worrell, neither of whom is a 5.  BG added Delvin Dickerson for inside toughness, but he is only 6'5".  

There's Spencer Parker--who Jans said in Blue Ribbon is more of a 4 than a 3, which is the opposite of what I would thought based on last year.  And then Mayleben and Josh Gomez.

So, if Mayleben can contribute rotation minutes, it makes a big difference.  We shall see.  He red-shirted last year, so our coaches have time to build him up.

The guard play looks to be significantly upgrade.  BG brought two PGs in, which I believe will be a big help because it frees up Jehvon Clarke to play 2, which I think might be a more natural fit for him.  I think playing him at PG was a stretch.

Blue Ribbon picks BG last in the East and that's where everyone is going to put them and that's a rational pick, frankly.  I think BG has the potential to exceed that expectation, but a lot of things will need to come together and a lot of unknowns will have to land on the plus side.

Having said that, I'm looking forward to it.  I tend to be optimistic, but I think Coach Jans can build this program to where we want it to be, which is into the Big Dance.  It won't be easy to get there.  The MAC is much improved over the last couple years but still remains a one-bid league.  You have to have a lot of things line up right to win this conference...ask UT from last year...and there are far more cruel fates than triumphant victories.

MAC Bogger Roundtable Compiled...

Light attendance this week at the MAC Blogger Roundtable.  Obviously, busy time of year.  So, it was us and Bull Run...still well worth the price of admission.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Falcon Football Nabs New Verbal

With the extended off time, it stood to reason that BG's coaches would head onto the recruiting trail, and if they did they are showing some results.  Today, we learned of a new verbal to Falcon football-OLB/DE Tyler Horstman of Vero Beach, FL.

He is 6'3" and 200 pounds and had offers from Rutgers and Wake Forest (!!) according to this.  A paywalled story on the web from a local paper referred to him as having a "high motor" and he was third team all-state in Florida 8A as a junior.  Also, you will see here that Horstman credits BG coach (and recruiting secret weapon) Nick Monroe for long-term commitment to his recruiting.

The All-State honor is no wonder.  Last year, he made 101 tackles in 9 games with 10 sacks.  This year, he has 5 sacks in 4 games.

Vero Beach is undefeated this year as well.

Welcome to the Falcons, Tyler.

MAC Blogger Roundtable, My Answers

The weekly MAC Blogger roundtable is back....this week hosted by Eagle Totem.

1. Last week talked about coaches; this week let's talk about players: Which player from your team has been the biggest positive surprise, and who has fallen the most short of expectations?

For the positive surprise, I would go with R-FR LB James Sanford.  Sanford had seen no action prior to the year but has stepped in with injuries at LB and made some very nice plays and has been productive.  He made a big play in Athens to help BG close out the Bobcats.

I would say that the fallen short of expectations player would be Gehrig Dieter.  That might be a matter of the expectations more than anything.  Dieter transferred from SMU and I think BG fans had high expectations that he would step right in and be an all-MAC caliber player, but between being injured and not playing for a year, he just hasn't contributed yet.

2. If you could steal any one player from another MAC team, who would you take and why?

Well, given that BG lost its starting QB, I guess I would go with Zach Terrell, who has been the most efficient QB in the MAC in a passing role.  An experienced QB would help the team out a lot.

3. Bill Parcells once commented, "You are what your record says you are." Which MAC team this season is not what their record says they are?

Boy, if you were to ask a large number of Bowling Green fans, they would say it would be the Falcons.  I think the real answer is that you can't answer the question because you don't know who anybody actually is.  There's hardly a team without a blemish or a contradiction on their record.

4. We were supposed to do this last week but seem to have forgotten, so...rank 'em!

  1. UT
  2. NIU
  3. AK
  4. WMU
  5. BG
  6. CMU
  7. OU
  8. UMass
  9. Ball State
  10. EMU
  11. Buffalo
  12. Miami
  13. Kent

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blade quotes Enos on 16-day layoff

So, BG is in the middle of a 16-day layoff, something I had never heard of before.  Apparently, CMU had something similar last year, and The Blade talked to Coach Enos on the MAC Teleconference.  Check it out here, but this is a preview:

“I think it’s awful, and I don’t know why you would do that to a team in the middle of the season,”
This is yet another by-product of having 13 teams and the weeknight games in November.  We have talked at length about this...we know the upside (money and exposure) so this joins lousy attendance and inconveniencing your most loyal fans on the list of downsides.  Somebody has to be off this Saturday and obviously we can't play the next Saturday since we have a game the following Tuesday.  So, yeah.

Coach is putting the best spin on it.  It does help heal things up, but you will need to come out sharp on November 4, the most important game of the season to date.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

International Centre for Special Teams Research

This was a weird I was watching the game, I kept thinking, huh, it sure seems like there are a lot of neutral plays out there.  And there were.  The only play BG had that was not neutral was a 50 yard net punt--that's the 70 yard blast that was 50 even with the touchback.  So, BG ends +1.

WMU had a nice day punting and kicking off and ended up +5 for the game.

BG Pos (+1)
BG 50 yard net punt

BG Neg

WMU Post (+7)
WMU punt to BG 17
WMU 56 yard net punt
WMU 47 yard net punt
WMU punt to BG 10

WMU Neg (-2)
WMU missed xp
WMU penalty on KO gives BG ball at 48

Benchmarks, Bronco Style

So, here are the benchmarks.  Nothing too surprising here.  BG's offense was subpar all the way down the line.  Per play efficiency was well below average the whole way up and down the line.  BG had two turnovers (against none).  Clearly, BG was struggling to run and pass...note that the runs and passes were pretty much evenly split in BG's play mix.

The defense was pretty good.  WMU made plays on 3rd down, and that really helped them.

Anyway, this is pretty much a "what you see is what you get" situation.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Past and Future Opponent Land

Western Kentucky (2-4) Lost to Florida Atlantic
VMI (1-7) Lost to Gardner-Webb
Indiana (3-4) Lost to MSU
Wisconsin (4-2) Idle Badger
UMass (2-6) Beat EMU
Buffalo (3-4) Idle
Ohio U (4-4) Beat Akron
Akron (4-3) Lost to OU
Kent (1-6) Beat Army
Toledo (4-3) Idle
Ball State (2-5) Beat CMU in Mt. Pleasant

MAC vs. Power 5: 4-22
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 3-12
MAC vs. FCS: 11-2
East vs. West: West leads 5-2

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sadness Accrues: Last throughts...

A few last thoughts...

The other controversial call was the Knapke fumble with about 5 minutes left.  Coach said he saw the replay on the board and figured it was not a fumble (and started to call another play) which case, he has better eyes than I do.  Anyway, I went back and checked that one.  It is a much closer call than the pick.  It is harder to capture in stills, but Knapke's knee is down and his back is to the camera so you can't tell what the ball is doing.  As he rolls over, the ball comes out.  It is realy close, it certainly looks like he was down but I can't argue with a ruling that you can't see what the ball is doing as his knee hits because you can't.

Special teams....BG did not try a FG, and the punting was a little less effective, with a 37 yard net, which is about average.  WMU had a really good day.  We weren't pressuring their punter so he would just stand there and wait to get his guys down there...with no risk of return, he could kick a line drive ball that could roll.  It was very effective.  BG eventually rushed to force him to kick the ball.

One thing I neglected to mention as it relates to defense.  BG was poor on 3rd and 4th down...combined, WMU was 11 of 18 on those downs.  BG did hold them to 1 TD in 3 red zone trips (the 4th on the stat sheet was where WMU took a knee on the BG 1).

Finally, this was a huge deal for WMU and part of why I was so nervous in the preview.  They did the Gatorade dump, players were jumping into the stands.  WMU viewed this as a message game, beating the defending champs on their field.  I don't begrudge them one bit of their excitement.  They were awful last year and clearly are back in play this year.  They are getting it done and a hat tip is in order.  They were the better team Saturday.

Sadness Accrues: The Defense, with Image from pick play

So, who would have thought we would have been writing this post?

BG's defense is really coming around.  They played well at OU against a poor defensive team and then they played really well against WMU, a much better offensive team.  BG's defense kept the Falcons in the game and played more than well enough to win.

Yes, Franklin had 149 yards, but it took him 37 runs to get there, which nets out to 4 yards per carry, so that's a solid day's work.  WMU had only 4.9 yards per play, below the league average.  They had only 6.9 yards per pass play.  BG made two red zone stops (to FG) early in the game to keep the thing from being a total blowout early, one time on a short field from a INT and forced 3 straight punts in the 2nd half when BG was down one score.

For all you guys who didn't think that it mattered having Lynch and Ward out, I give you the last two weeks.  Big difference.  Ward led the team with 14 tackles and Lynch had a huge game with 8 tackles, 3 TFL and 1 sack.  Gabe Martin also had 13 tackles with 2.5 TFL.  This is a different group of guys with Lynch and Ward out there.

I think the other guys have improved as well, coverage in the secondary has been better.  I thought BG blitzed a little less effectively this week...WMU was good at swallowing them up in the inside of the line.

Again, it has been a crazy season, where we have gone from praying to win a shoot out to praying just to get a couple first downs while our defense more or less gets the job done.

One negative...WMU was turnover free.

Which brings us to the one deadly play WMU ran.  Coach Babers was real strange when talking about this play.  First, he seemed obsessed with the fact that the game was down one referee, and then he would say it didn't matter and it was a "good play" by them.  And then say it was no excuse.

Here is the scenario.  A ref was injured on the opening kickoff of the second half. Carted off the field.  5 plays later, WMU lined up and BG moved Lynch forward to blitz.  WMU's QB changes the play at the line and then runs a slant to the edge...guys catches the ball and we are in a blitz package so there's fewer numbers back there and off he goes for a 63 yard TD.

I don't understand why BG doesn't counter-check back out of the blitz when WMU changes the play, but what do I know?

Anyway, the only thing I have been figuring out is that Coach Babers is implying that WMU ran a pick play on the slant, knowing there was one fewer official.  He directly implicated one fewer official as a factor, he did not mention the pick play directly, but that's all I can figure he was talking about.

So...let's not pretend like the Internet does not exist...I went to the ESPN3 replay and got this screen grab....

And that, my friends, is a pick play.  Those feet on the sideline at the 38 belong to a ref, but he's a linesman...anyway, Coach had the one excuse, but that's a pick all day long, complete with a wrap up.

Anyway, I do want to say I am proud of our guys on defense.  They have persevered and stuck together and they are doing better.  This season is not lost...BG now needs the same kind of mentality from the offensive players.  If both phases can get it together at the same time this team still has the chance to at least win the East.

Sadness Accrues: The Offense

This season has had a lot of narratives.

We started with the idea we'd have a good defense, a high-powered offense with the MAC's best QB and big talent.

Then, we went to a porous defense but an offense that could outscore the opponent and be "allowed" to win the game.

Now, we are on a decent/good defense propping an offense that can't do anything.

QB has its own narrative.

Matt Johnson injured.
James Knapke comes in, plays great against Indiana and UMass.
Offense has bad game against OU and terrible game against WMU, Knapke (and everyone else) struggling.

Let's hope this is the turning point of the story, because BG is not going to win the division like this.

Here's the litany:

Two turnovers.
274 yards, only 3 more than against Wisconsin.
14 freaking first downs.
139 passing yards.  Read that one again.
135 rushing yards included a couple Knapke runs.  Greene and Coppet were 23-72.
Longest pass play?  22 yards.
After failing on 4th down from the 2, BG had 5 possessions.  1 first down.  1 turnover.  4:43 of possession.
BG had the ball for 1:52 in the 4th Q.

That's not pretty.

And, here's the thing.  It was pretty close to what BG looked like at OU, except that BG was able to spring Lewis free for 61 yards for one TD and then score on a long run and a long screen, bailing themselves out with big plays.  They didn't sustain much in that game or this game.

Coach made the point that you can't put it on one guy, and I think that's 100% correct.  People focus on the QB and that's the price you pay when you play QB, but here is what I see.

The last two teams have been determined to stop us from running and they have succeeded.  And under the scenario, BG has been unable to sustain drives with passing alone.  WMU added a lot of blitzes and pressure, and while they did not get a sack, they were a disruptive force, probably especially so against a young QB.  (The Pressure was the predominant issue on the INT, for example).

The fast offense looks really good when it is building off a successful play, even a five yard gain.  It is not so good when things are going poorly, as it was yesterday.  But, that's the vehicle the coaches have chosen and they need to figure out a way to make it work.

Certainly, Knapke can play better.  But, the entire offense was not good.  I thought Greene and Coppet both took wrong cuts in space on players.  The line and backs have to figure out pass protection better, except Burbrink our WRs were mostly taken out of the game, the line has to open space for the run...there's no facet of the game that worked.

The team still has control of its own destiny, with four games left.  However, the Akron game in 16 days will decide if that continues.  There's a long break for the Falcons to figure things out.  A loss against Akron and the chances of winning the East will remain a matter of math.   The formula appears to be out there.  The Falcons will either adjust or they will end the season in disappointment.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sadness Accrues: Defeat at the Doyt

So, that happened.

I feel like someone who read a lot of science fiction and woke up in 2014 and said:

I was promised flying cars.

That's sort of how I feel tonight.  For all the FalconFast promises made in the off-season, all this team did fast today was get off the field.  We were promised a futuristic, high-tempo offense but what we had was something out of the Blackney era, except with less time of possession.

Make no mistake.  The defense played more than well enough to win.  They have been improving and they had DJ Lynch back on the field and he seemed to make some plays and BG's defense held them off as long as could be expected.  They got almost no support from the offense today, and this loss is on the offense.

Coach Babers was very quiet post-game.  He said the team didn't play very well, was "off" all day and didn't execute on the offensive end.  Said we left plays out on the field.  Also said it would get fixed.  But I was surprised at how quiet and down he sounded.

It seems to me that OU and WMU did two things in particular.  First, they are loading the box to stop the run.  They want to force Knapke to beat them.  Then, when BG was in a passing down, WMU was bringing pressure on every play.  

The Falcons had no answer for this.  BG did not seem to pick up blitzes well, and Knapke was not effective or accurate throwing under duress.  This is, for whatever it is worth, the style of defense that eventually seemed to bring down the spread the first time we ran it and why I thought the spread was getting out of favor in collegiate programs.

With the accuracy and protection issues, BG was increasingly unwilling to take long drops, which just left a diet of short passes against a jammed up WMU defense.

And the big plays--both downfield and on screens--that bailed the offense out in Athens did not materialize at the Doyt.

It wasn't all that.  I also felt like BG's playcalling was often bizarre.  There was a bomb on 4th and 1 where BG was bailed out by a PI call, but which was just inexplainable.  There was a 4th down fade that failed in the end zone...Coach defended the call by saying it was the same play that beat Indiana, except that in that game it was thrown to Roger Lewis and in this game it was thrown to Heath Jackson.  And yes, he was probably interfered with, but you need to be able to win that battle on a fade pass.

And, there was a bizarre 4th quarter option play on 2nd down to the short side of the field.  No one thinks Knapke is going to run, so it isn't really an option play and it got blown up.

All that combined together to form an offensive performance that was not good enough to win.

More on the stats tomorrow, but for now here is one....BG had 1:52 of possession in the 4th Quarter.  You can look far and wide before you find a team with that number that wins the game.

So, beset by poor execution on all fronts, BG's offense did not give the team a chance to win the game.

A lot of people are going to focus on the QB.  Coach was asked about it and he said that he was the same QB who beat Indiana and he will bring it around.  I would agree that the chances that a change makes things better are not very good.  

First, all the issues are not on Knapke.  I don't think he is playing as well as he did earlier, but he is not getting protection and the running game is not as effective as it was either.

Second, there's no reason to think that his backup would do any better under the same circumstances.

I think Knapke seems to be losing some confidence.  After the fumble, his body language seemed really bad.  I think it is understandable.  He stepped into a really difficult situation and the offense is struggling and everyone looks at him.

WR has been an issue.  Teams are taking Lewis out of the game, Ronnie Moore was injured, and I think they asked Heath Jackson to play a role he isn't right for.  Gehrig Dieter was hurt and has yet to make a contribution, and the only WR who was consistently available was Burbrink.  BG's throws to the backs were also well-defended.

The good thing is, the team gets a 16-day break.  Everyone can clear their head.  The practitioners of the Falcon Fast approach can figure out how to attack the way they are being defended.  

Here's the thing.  Akron lost today, so BG is still in a position to win on 11/4 and be in control of its own destiny.  But under the offense that we saw much of the day in Athens and most of the day today, BG is not going to win the East.  We have seen the offense succeed, but once you get into conference play you find out who you really are, and in the last two games BG's offense has lost to our opponent's defense.  

And, it feels like it is more than having a couple of bad days.  We'll find out because Akron will play good D and that is a road game.  BG needs to adjust and figure out what it can do and get the ball moving.  When this offense works, it is a beautiful thing.  When it doesn't work, it makes it really hard for the defense to win the game.

Friday, October 17, 2014

25 Questions that Row the Boat

What is their body of work?

This is an improving team.  The is the 2nd year of PJ Fleck and the "Row The Boat" cult at WMU.  Last year was bad...the kind of bad where you are 1-11 and lose your FCS game.  In the meantime, they brought in the highest rated recruiting class ever in the MAC and they are 3-3 this year...beating Idaho, Murray State and winning @ Ball State.  They took UT to OT and battled Purdue tough...other loss is to Va Tech.  Will talk at the end about what we might see, but this team is much improved and perfectly capable of winning Saturday.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

25, which is a normal number.  They have 11 true freshman on their 2-deep...which is quite a lot.

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

Jarvion Franklin leads the nation in rushing TDs and scoring, is #6 in rushing yardage and is #14 in in all-purpose yardage.
Zach Terrell is #22 in the nation in passing efficiency and #1 in the MAC.
Rom Zamort is #3

What is their turnover ratio?

They are even.


How is their QB play?

Very good.  Terrell has completed 66% of his passes, with 10/4 and 13 yards per completion, all of which are really good.  He is pretty much a drop-back passer, but he is very productive.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are 3rd in the MAC with 33.7 PPG.  They are efficient...6.8 yards per play is tied for 1st in the MAC and almost a yard better than BG.

Can they run the ball?

The previously mentioned Mr. Franklin--a true freshman--is tearing it up.  He was unranked coming in, but has been averaging 6 yards per carry on 23 carries a game.  A lock for FR of the year, he is also a legit threat for MAC OPOY.

Do they pass the ball?

As mentioned, they have the best passing efficiency in the MAC.  Their big threat is Corey Davis, who is averaging 18 yards per reception and Daniel Braverman with 42 grabs.  Davis leads the MAC in yards and Braverman in receptions.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run the ball 52% of the time, which in today's game is a mild commitment to the run.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are 4th at 43%

Do they score in the red zone?
WMU '86
Interestingly, for a team that scores so much they have only 23 red zone trips in 6 games.  They have 15 TDs and 5 FGs in those trips, which is 5.2 points per, which is moderately above average.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have given up 11 sacks so far, which is 5.7% of their passing attempts, which is a tick better than average..


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They have the 6th best defense in the MAC on both measures.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are 10th in the MAC, allowing only 4.9 yards per carry.

No, I said I hold the umbrella and you row the boat.
Can they be passed on?

They are 3rd in the MAC in passing defense efficiency.  They allow only 54% completions, 12 TDs/4 INT, and 12.5 yards per catch.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 7th, allowing 43%.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are not bad at 4.7 points per trip.  They have specialized in forcing FGs more than outright stops.

Do they pressure the QB?

No, they get sacks on only 3.5% of their passing attempts, which is not great.

Special Teams:
And then Grover will rooooooow the boat


They are 8th in the MAC in punting.  When there is a return they give up 12 yards per return.  No TDs, no blocks.

Punt Return?

Braverman averages negative yards on punt returns so far this year.


Haldeman has struggled.  He is 5-8 with all 3 misses inside 30 and 1 block.


They are 8th in the MAC, with a starting point of the 29.  No TDs.

Kickoff Return?

They average a start on the 25, which is not great.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Here's the thing.  This game is VERY HIGH on the worry-meter.

WMU battled UT tough.  They battled Purdue tough.  They beat Ball State, but the Cards are reeling.  They are looking for a statement win, a win that says "we are back."

And what better place to do that then on the road against the defending champs?

They have a big offense, they have a solid defense.  They will put pressure on the BG defense to show how much improvement has really been made, and they will put pressure on the BG offense to get more consistent production.

The line on this has continued to melt as people seem to be betting on WMU.  This is going to be a big challenge for the Falcons.  BG is certainly capable of winning the game and I'd like to think we're likely to win, but this one has me very worried.

Falcon Pride Morning: Chris Jones!

Falcon Pride morning.  Here's Falcon great and former MAC Defensive Player of the year Chris Jones in a happy moment with Bill Belichek after Jones blocked a FG last night to preserve the victory for the Pats.  Could look at this picture all day.

Two things are cool, as contained in this story.  First, Jones says it is the first kick he has blocked at any level of football.  And second, it was just last October when Jones was called for an infraction while trying to block a kick against the same team and same kicker that gave them a second chance in OT and the Pats a defeat.

So, a little redemption for Jones.  Here is what he said...
"It's hard to believe sometimes."
Amen brother. Late draft pick, cut by the Texans, signed by the Bucs, cut a week later, signed by one of the top organizations in football, contribute as a rookie and now you and Bill are smiling...

Falcon Pride morning.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Babers Presser...Hard Head, Soft Behind Edition

Coach Babers held his weekly presser today.  It was full of classic Dinoisms...the man is 100% quotable, that's for sure.

He was asked if the defensive improvements had helped build the confidence of the players.

He said that for the whole team that winning the last 3 games "helps to clear the air about some of the things that are said out there."

John Wagner asked what he was talking about in terms of things that are written out there...and Babers said some of the things written about the defense were read and that once you begin to achieve the criticism actually bonds the football team.  Then he said.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  (Proverbs, BTW)

He said WMU is more balanced than OU and therefore causes problems.  And, having confidence is fine but you have the same problems when the ball is snapped.

Then Wagner asked about the defensive stats, which were shaky for the OU game.  He asked Babers what we should use to evaluate the defense.

Babers:  "I like to use my eyes."

He said that the defense has "gelled."  They are not "fighting over the things that don't matter.  The things that matter in defense are running to the football, tackling in space and creating turnovers."

In other words, he said, defense is about doing the little things well and less about the big picture.

He said having Ryland Ward helped.  He is very experienced and allowed BG to rotate safeties, which was important given that OU ran 110 plays.  BG was able to keep performance high even when facing that many plays.

He was asked about not having a long drive all season.  He joked right back, reminding the questioner that BG did have a long drive, 5:46, which was twice as long as the rest of them.

He did say that he was not happy with how the offense played.  The offense needs to do better...there were too many 3 and outs.

When asked about the inability to run the ball, he said first that his Father used to say that "a hard head makes a soft behind..." and then went on to say that OU was determined to keep BG for running the ball.  He said they were saying "throw it if you want to win."

And, Coach Babers added, "So, we wanted to win."

There was good news about DJ Lynch, who is now running with trainers.  We hope to have him back after the 16-day bye ("the longest bye I have ever heard of").

Finally, when asked about special teams, coach said he couldn't sleep and got up at 4:30 and watched the game again and that Joseph Davidson might have been the offensive player of the game for BG.  He forced OU into long drives...and it is "hard to be that right that long" and that was huge in BG's ability to stop drives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable, My Answers

This week's Blogger Roundtable comes from Over the Pylon, a Ball State blog.

1.) The dominant story this week in college football has been the autographs for potential profits from Jameis Winston or Todd Gurley. Who on your team would command the highest price for their signature, and what would it be worth to you?

Well, to me it would not be worth anything.  I've never paid for it in my life.  (See what I did there?).  I remember one time I got Pete Rose's autograph and it was free and it was mostly an excuse to approach the player.  He was nice about it.  Anyway, I'd say that if BG did have someone who could charge for autographs it would be Matt Johnson and probably Travis Greene.

2.) At this moment we have three undefeated teams in conference play (Akron, BG, Toledo). Do you see any of them running a clean sheet in MAC play? If not, who trips them up? Conversely, Ball State and Kent State sit winless in conference play. Who is their first win, if they even get one at all?

Interesting question.  would say the team with the best shot in that group is Akron.  Their toughest game is BG in Akron...other than that, it is OU, Ball State Buffalo, UMass and Kent.  Only the BG and UMass games are at home, so that makes running the table tough, but it could happen.   I'd say Toledo has a shot.  Their toughest games are NIU and BG and both are at home. They cross-over with UMass and Kent and then finish with EMU.  While we are happy with the BG season to date, I don't think you will see the Falcons run the table...potential trips are, first and foremost, anyone...followed by UT, and Akron.

As for the winless teams, Ball State surely at least beats EMU...Kent really could go winless, their most winnable games are on the road.

3.) Some major schools, most notably Florida are now loudly banging the drum for coaching change. The dominoes that kind of move would have would be felt everywhere. Who is most likely from the MAC to move up at the conclusion of this season, and more importantly, who may be packing up their own office a la Jeff Quinn by season's end for not so good reasons?

Well, the most likely and attractive candidate is Matt Campbell, but I have no idea what his interest might be.  I think Bowden would be on some radars.  Fleck is going to get some notice, but it is probably a year early.  The Lembo train will probably remain in the station for at least a year, and Carey, Babers, Enos, Creighton, Martin, and Whipple are likely to stay in place.  I would also suspect that Haynes will be back at Kent, though certainly everyone there has to be disappointed. Finally, could this be the year Frank Solich retires?

International Centre for Special Teams Research

Special teams played a big role in the OU win.  We have already covered Davidson dropping punts inside the 10 yard line like lawn darts, but there was also a stopped fake punt and solid coverage on at least one kickoff.  BG had only two negative plays--and both were on kickoff returns--so BG had a net score of +10, which is their highest since the VMI game and the highest in FBS since the Tulsa game that kicked off last season.  OU ended up even, 7 up and 7 down.

BG Positive
BG Punt to OU 1 (+2)
BG KO TB (+1)
BG 49 yard net punt (+1)
Defends fake punt (+3)
BG punt to OU 4 (+2)
OU KR to 18 (+1)
BG punt to OU 7 (+2)

BG Negative
OU KO ret to 38 (-1)
OU KO ret to 38 (-1)

OU Positive
OU Punt to BG 11 (+1)
OU KO TB  (+1)
OU 18 yd punt return  (+1)
OU 45 yard net punt  (+1)
OU KO ret to 38  (+1)
OU KO TB  (+1)
OU KO ret to 38  (+1)

OU Negative
OU KO OB (-1)
OU Misses 38 yd FG (-1)
PR Penalty takes ball inside 10 (-1)
Failed fake punt (-3)
OU KR to 18 (-1)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Benchmarks, OU Style

So, here are the benchmarks for the OU game.  As noted earlier, BG actually outplayed OU on paper as well as on the scoreboard.  For all the yards, BG made OU run a ton of plays to get that many yards.  Even out the big disparity on 3rd down and the numbers would be more even.  OU's red zone number even understates the difference since a couple of BG's "stops" came on drives that did not get into the red zone.

There's no way OU planned to run 37% of its plays as passing plays.  That's the beauty of having a lead.

Interesting...with 5 sacks in that many attempts, it is just slightly above the league average on a percentage basis.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sutton MAC East Defensive Player of the Week

Brian Sutton was named the MAC East Defensive Player of the Week for a big performance in Athens on Saturday.

Sutton had 11 tackles, 2 TFL and forced the fumble on the first offensive play for OU, which led to BG's 14-0 lead and really set the tone for the remainder of the game.

Brian has been a real warrior for the Falcons.  He's a starting safety this year, but he was moved to Rover last year when Martin was injured.  Congrats to him!!

Past and Future Opponent Land

Western Kentucky (2-3) Idle 'Toppers.
VMI (1-6) Lost to Navy
Indiana (3-3) Lost @Iowa
Wisconsin (4-2) Beat Illinois, like everyone else.
UMass (1-6) Beat Kent 40-17 in Kent.
Buffalo (3-4) Lost @EMU.  You read that right.  Also, two FCS wins.
WMU (3-3) Won @Ball State (Warning: this team is much improved)
Akron (4-2) Beat Miami.
Kent (0-6) Lost to UMass 40-17 at home.
Toledo (4-3) Lost @ Iowa State
Ball State (1-5) Lost to WMU in Muncie

MAC vs. Power 5: 4-22
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 3-12
MAC vs. FCS: 11-2
East vs. West: West leads 3-1

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sweet Victory: Punting

One last thing.  Will have a full review of special teams coming up, but for now...I do think it is worth seeing the role that punting played in BG's win Saturday.

The biggest thing was punting.  Davidson just had a huge game.  First, he had a 47.8 average over a 41.9 net, which is 5 yards over the MAC average.  He did that while putting OU inside their 20 five times and four more times if you count one penalty.

Those long fields mattered.  OU was forced to run a lot of plays before they even got near scoring position, giving BG's defense multiple opportunities to make a play or for OU to make a stop.  On shorter fields, OU has a much different job.

Coach noted that Davidson is a good athlete that they actually tried to make into a WR.  Clawson always say you want a football player who happens to punt, and our last two guys have fit that bill.  Anyway, the field position Davidson earned BG made OU's job harder and helped give our guys a shot.

Sweet Victory: The Defense

Let me give you a stat you would not expect to hear.

OU ran 110 plays yesterday.

So, when we see that they got 513 yards in total offense, let's remember that they had to run 100 plays to get it, leaving them at 4.7 yards per play and less than BG.  Now, 500 yards is 500 yards, except that it shows that BG was forcing them to make a lot of plays to get their yards, and when you force a team to make a lot of plays then the odds increase that you can win a battle here and there or they make a mistake and the drive ends.  Which is pretty much what happened.

No doubt, the defense is playing better and can continue to improve.  Ryland Ward played with a soft cast and I thought he made a difference.  This was an improved performance and I think we all look forward to seeing our guys continue to get better.  As I said in the recap, we have gone from bend-and-break to bend-and-don't-break, which is an improvement.

OU primarily wants to run the ball and I think that is truer with their backup QB in there.  Even with sacks factored out, BG held OU to 4.1 yards per carry, well below the MAC average and a clear victory for the D.  That is 1 yards less per carry than Buffalo got.  Furthermore, their long run from a RB was 13 yards.  They had some success, but OU did not establish a dominant running game against BG.

That, and the deficit, forced OU to the air.  (Football is a completely different game if you are ahead).  JD Sprauge threw 56 passes and he completed only 48% of them.  If you factor sacks in, OU had less than 5 yards per passing attempt.

So, how did they keep those drives alive?  Most importantly, they were very good on 3rd down--they were 12 of 24.  In a way, it reminded me of the "close the deal" drive back in 2013.  Solich is 100% comfortable setting up a makeable 3rd down with a safe 2nd down play, unlike many teams that are trying to convert on 2nd.

Note:  my grandfather who played football in the pre face mask era used to tell me that you should never pass on 2nd down, so he and Frank would have been bros on this.

Anyway.  OU was able to convert that minimal efficiency into 39 minutes of possession, 29 first downs, and 13 points.  And yes, they lost some efficiency pressing to score but they also had 7 completions for 61 yards in garbage time at the end.

You throw about 6 more offensive first downs for BG into the mix, and the defensive picture would have looked completely different.

For all their success on the 3rd down, OU was 0-4 on 4th down, which were huge plays for BG.  There was a 5th stop on 4th as well that was negated by a penalty.

One thing I liked was that BG seemed intent on bringing pressure.  BG was blitzing a lot on key downs to pressure OU's inexperienced QB and they were rewarded with 5 sacks on the day and some other wrecked plays.  Coach also said that our corners are beginning to play more aggressively, which is something that was needed pretty badly.

Individually, BG had some guys make big plays.  Sutton had 11 tackles, 2 TFL and a forced fumble.  Martin had 11 tackles and a half sack.  James Sanford had 11 tackles and a half sack.  Jude Adjei-Barimah had 11 tackles, a sack and 3 pass break ups.  Darrell Hunter had 4 break ups.  Paul Seen had a sack and a break up as did Bryan Thomas.  Shannon Smith had a sack and a break up in his most extensive action of his career.  Nick Johnson had 11 tackles and 10 solo.

And I get that when there are that many plays, the tackle numbers are going to be high.  Just pointing out that the defense did make some plays--sacks, break ups, turnovers.  There were 4 TFL on top of the 5 sacks as well.

Again, there is still plenty of room for the defense to get better, but they are getting better and for everyone who thought we don't focus on defense or our coaches don't care about it or understand it, here is proof that they do.  OU is not a great offensive team or maybe even a good one and BG will need continued improvement against a much better WMU team next week and I'm looking forward to seeing us put it together.

Sweet Victory: The Offense

So, before we look at the defense, let's take a second to review the offense.  By and large, the offense struggled.  They were bailed out by big plays---there's nothing wrong with that, by the way, except that if you aren't making first downs between those plays you end up in a situation where you are on the field for less than 21 minutes in a game where you score 31 points.  BG had 2 long scoring plays, the 61 yard pass for a 3rd TD and the 4th was off the turnover.

Coach said after the game that OU did some things on the d-line to make it hard for BG to run the ball, and Alex Huettel said this, for you X and O jockeys (from The Blade).

“They were overloading the box on us and pressing our receivers at the line,” offensive lineman Alex Huettel said. “They would use a ‘Bear’ front with a nose, two 3 [techniques], and two 9 [techniques] on the ends, and with three linebackers, that’s eight in the box — and sometimes even nine in the box. With seven guys running the ball, they just overloaded us.”

So, basically, OU was determined to force BG to throw the ball.  BG averaged only 3.5 yards per rush, so I think you could say it worked.  OU achieved that objective.

And BG struggled to throw the ball.  The press coverage is something I would think we would see more, since BG lacks a big physical receiver that can beat press coverage.  BG completed only 51% of its passes and had 260 yards passing, 61 of it on one play.  (Again, nothing wrong with that, just trying to see the difference between scoring and at least holding the ball for a little while).

BG finished with 5.4 yards per play, which is below the league's average.  They were only 4 of 13 on 3rd downs and had only 19 first downs.  By and large, the OU defense--which is banged up--won the battle over the BG offense.  The Falcons survived with big play capability, and I'm glad we have it.

Even so, I believe this is a chance for the offense to regroup.  Everyone is going to look at the QB--and he clearly missed some throws--but we need to help him out by making sure the running game continues to be effective and that we are putting Knapke in positions where he can be effective.  And if teams are going to press us, we need to figure out what to do with that.

Roger Lewis had 6 catches for 100 yards and made a big play for BG and Burbrink had 5 for 77.  Moore caught 4 for 30.

Anyway, the defense is improving and I think it is the offense's turn to pick up some steam and help them out a little.  Don't get me wrong--I'm happy to get big plays and score 31 points and very happy to win.  There's just room to get better as the season moves along.

Sweet Victory #5: Recap

So for all the nail biters we have experienced, it was nice to get a solid win.  Not that there are not things that can be improved and not that this was a win over one of the top teams in the country, but it was on the road against a team that is normally competitive and is well-coached, and to win a game with some level of comfort is a good thing and a step forward for our team.

You can't ask for a better start.  BG took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in 6 plays (1:23) and then went up 7-0 on a big screen pass to Travis Greene.  Then, OU fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, BG recovered and a couple minutes later BG was in the end zone again, up 14-0 less than 3 minutes into the game.

The game was never closer than 8 for the rest of the game.

BG got OU off the field on the next possession, but the Falcons started deep in their own territory and OU ended up with the ball on the BG 37.  They drove inside the 10 but BG got the stop and OU kicked a FG to make it 14-3.

The Falcons went 3 and out and OU then went onto a massive drive, starting on their own 1 yard line.  They ran 15 plays and racked up 6:15.  It took them 12 plays to get to the BG 20...and then the Falcon defense got a win, shutting off a reverse for -9.  Then, OU had an illegal block and it was 3rd and 19 and OU got 10 yards on a QB scramble and had to settle for another FG.  So, long drive, never penetrated inside the 20 and the score was 14-6.

BG went 3 and out.

OU went on another long drive--this one ended up being 12 plays.  They got to the BG 21 and threw incomplete on 2nd and 3rd down and then missed the FG and it was still 14-6.  (In a game like this, that probably stands out as a pretty big miss).  That was a five minute drive with no points.

And then BG did what it does.  Knapke found Lewis in 1-1 coverage, hit him for 61 yards and then 2 plays later his Burbrink for the score and BG was up 21-6 and the game would never again be a one-score game.

So, say what you like about the defense, if OU gets TDs on those 3 drives, it is a different story.  Against WKU and UMass, we played bend and break defense, and here we played bend but don't break and then it would be nice to play bend-less and don't break.  The offense could do its part better as well.

The teams traded punts and then OU used 11 plays to drive from its own 7 to the 50.  There, on 4th down, they tried a fake punt and BG was on it, stopping the punt short of the first down marker.  (Ballew credited with the tackle).  BG got the ball back with :48 left in the half and it looked like a great time for a dagger, but BG could not make a first down and that was the half.

There was no word on whether Coach Babers continued to use orange juice and Gatorade.

Coming out of the second half, the two teams traded punts, with the exchange leaving OU on its own 7.  (At this point, by the way, BG's offense had not made a first down since the 61 yard pass to Lewis).

OU ground the ball from the 7 to the BG 38, where the Falcons defense rallied again.  After a run stop and 2 incomplete passes OU decided to go for it on 4th and 10 and BG brought pressure on the and Sanford got a 12 yard sack, giving BG the ball on the 50.

Another good time for a dagger, and BG started out that way with 2 first downs but then Knapke threw a pick and OU had the ball back.

The defense did their job, getting a 3 and out and BG took over on its own 42.  This time, the offense finally capitalized as Travis Greene rambled in from 30 yards out to give BG a 28-6 lead with 5:30 left in the 3rd.  At that point, you have to feel pretty good about it.

OU got a big kickoff return to the 38 and made one first down before facing 4th and 2 on the BG 43. They went for it, and BG delivered on defense, getting the stop.

The offense went 3 and out, chewing up :23 of clock time.

OU was right back at it, driving to the BG 35.  Then, once again BG began to win battles as OU threw 4 straight incompletions and BG had the ball back.

Here the Falcons got what might have been the biggest break of the game.  Knapke threw a pick six, but OU was called for pass interference and it was called back (off-setting penalties) and BG was happy this time to be punting.

OU took the ball and made a long drive, this time aided by some penalties by BG.  For example, BG was called for a personal foul on 3rd and 27, giving OU a first.  BG was also called for a personal foul after getting a 4th and 9 stop.  OU finally got the ball into the end zone and it was 28-13 with 9:26 left in the game.

BG took the ball on its own 25 and did something you just don't see.  The Falcons ran clock.  They stopped at the line of scrimmage and watched the clock run down.  I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

BG converted a big 3rd and 9 in the first series and the Coppet broke free for 54 yards but it was called back due to holding.  Then, it was OU's turn to aid with penalties as the Bobcats were called for two dead ball personal fouls on the same play, one of which resulted in the ejection of Laseak, something he appeared to find amusing for a while on the sidelines.  Anyway, the 30 yards gave BG the ball on the 14 and from there the only objective is to get a FG and eat clock, which BG did, leading 31-13.  The drive ate up 5:46 and with less than 4 minutes left and a 3-score game, it was over.

So, while it wasn't always pretty, BG was clearly better than OU and it was a win that did not required chewing your fingernails.  It was BG's 8th straight MAC win.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sweet Victory #5: Embrace it!

Ok, then.

Much more to come later.

I was off twitter and have more or less resigned myself from I am not sure where the nation is on this one.

Here is what I know.

First, this team is 5-2.  After the hue and cry--some of it here--this team is 5-2 and 3-0 in the MAC, with a win over a Big 10 team.

So, you are following a team that has now won its last 8 MAC games and won 10 out of its last 13 games overall...and somehow you aren't happy?

How long did we wait to put this kind of success together?  How many times did it takes us two seasons to get 10 wins?

Previous games were too close?  How about an 18 point win on the road.

Unsustainable to continue to win while outscoring in shoot outs?  How about a 13 point performance by the defense?  Yes, I know they gave up a lot of yards and OU was not a good offensive team...still, they scored 13 points and BG had the game firmly in hand.

My advice is to embrace it.  We are having more success than we have had in a decade.  We have as good a shot as anyone in the East to get back to Detroit.

Is it perfect?  No?  Is it pretty?  Not always.

This team is 5-2.  They are finding ways to win, which I believe is the objective.  I felt like Ward made a difference today...other guys are playing well.

This team is 5-2.  So long as the wins are coming, let's enjoy the ride.

Friday, October 10, 2014

25 Questions that Go Here, Kitty Kitty Kitty.

What is their body of work?

They are 3-3, with wins over Kent, Idaho and Eastern Illinois, so no real strong wins there.  Losses were to Kentucky, WMU and CMU.  This team has a lot of injuries but is usually pretty good and probably views this season as being off to a relatively slow start.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They are pretty young, with only 20 upper class men on the two deep.

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

No players in the top 20 in any category.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are -5 so far this year, which is in a 3-way tie for 10th in the MAC.


How is their QB play?

It is a struggle.  Derius Vick, their starter, is injured and out for Saturday.  His replacement is JD Sprague, who has really struggled.  Admittedly, they run the ball.  He has thrown only 19 passes per game, but completed 49% with 2 INT and 1 TD.  He is a dual threat QB who will make his 3rd career start agaisnt BG.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are 11th in the MAC in scoring at 19 PPG, however they are tied for 6th at 5.6 yards per play.  I believe the turnovers are playing a role in that.

Can they run the ball?

They are 5th in the MAC with 4.6 yards per carry.  AJ Ouellette--a walk on--has been very effective at 5.9 yards per carry.  He has been injured but Frank says he is "ready."

Do they pass the ball?

They are 10th in the MAC in passing efficiency and just Sprague alone would make them 12th.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run the ball 57% of the time, which in today's game is a strong commitment to the run.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are in the middle of the MAC at 38%.

Do they score in the red zone?

They have 3 red zone trips per game at 4.9 points per trip, both of which are average numbers.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have given up 6 sacks so far, which is 3.5% of their passing attempts, which is good.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They have had really good defensive numbers for the year but they are also really banged up on the defensive side of the ball.  The are 4th in the MAC in points allowed and 5th in yards per play allowed.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are 4th in the MAC, allowing only 4.2 yards per carry.

Can they be passed on?

Well, they are better than Buffalo.  They are 7th in the MAC in pass efficiency defense, allowing 63% completions, 12 TDs and 4 INT and almost 12 yards per completion.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

No.  They do not.  They are dead last in the MAC and 123rd in FBS at 52%.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are really good in the red zone, with 4.2 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

They are 2nd in the MAC with 14 sacks, but that's against high attempts and is 5.6% of passing attempts, which is actually below average.

Special Teams:


Very good, second in the MAC, net over 40.  Guy has 0 touchbacks, 8 over 50 and 9 inside the 20 in 30 attempts.  He has not been blocked.

Punt Return?

When he gets the chance, Daz Patterson is good, with 17 yards per return.  He only has 3 returns.


Yazdani is very good.  He is 8 of 11 with 3-5 over 40 and a long of 46.


They are pretty good, teams are starting on the 25.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 26, which also isn't great.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

It is Homecoming in Athens, which should help the Bobcats with game atmosphere.  Beyond that, the pressure is on OU.  They have 1 MAC loss already and to hit 2 this early in the conference season would probably mean they would have to run the table to have a shot, so the pressure is on them.  Neither BG nor OU is healthy right now--in fact, BG might possibly be healthier and both are without their QB1.  I think this game is pretty much a toss up.  Will BG's play in tight games help them if this one is tight?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Babers Presser: No Orange Juice. No Gatorade.

So, Coach did his presser.  No fireworks this week.  Coach was his usual upbeat self and there were no death rays shot across the media room.

Could have happened.

At one point, he said something along the lines that the team "didn't need to change much" on the defense.

He was challenged on that right away, but this week he did not take the bait.  Instead he said that it isn't that the team needs to change much, they need to be better at what they do.  He says that guys--who are now moving into their 4-5 start--need to make better plays.  More tackles.  "One or two less mistakes a game."

He went on to say that he had personally broken down the first half of the Buffalo game and said that Licata was 10 of 11 in the first half, and 9 of the completions were less than 10 yards from the line with a BG defender in position to make the tackle.  And, whether it was a missed tackle or a bad angle, the tackle was missed.

So, we need to get better.  Guys are in position, they just don't make the tackles.

I have been saying this for a while.  I don't believe there is evidence to conclude that the team has an incompetent scheme or that we spend too much time on the offense.  In fact, evidence suggests that BG's coaches were successful with the defense at EIU and that Babers wants to have a good defense.  Rather, I think it has been an issue of our defenders losing the battle too often with the other team's players in space.

I felt the team was very unprepared for the WKU game and that there was a lot of soft coverage and a wide open middle for the whole game, but I think that the primary issue now with the defense is that our guys have to play better.

Someone asked whether BG could continue with the close games and Babers did not take the bait again.

"I'm sorry the games are cardiac.  I really wish they wouldn't be."  He then said he would see about "sending people home early," which was funny and a possible jibe on the BG crowd that left at halftime Saturday, missing a cardiac ending.

He talked about halftime at the Buffalo game.  He said he bypassed his coaches and 2ent straight to the players.  "No orange juice.  No gatorade.  I want to talk," is what he says he said to them.  He riffed for a while about doing things with passion  and that the players "got it."  And they played with passion in the second half.

In my view, he is burying the lede here.  The only conclusion is that our defensive struggles have been caused by orange juice and gatorade and they should be eliminated.  If you want to be scientific about it.

Last interesting question was about Tate and his extra point misses.

Coach said that there have been misses, but if you are grading Tyler Tate's paper, it is an A.  "What are you going to do, complain because it isn't an A-plus?"

Coach also said that the blocked FG against Buffalo was on him.  He says he should not have tried that FG into that wind once the delay of game penalty happened.

Finally, he was asked the keys to the OU game.  Here he dispenses what he admits is boring and banal.

"Whoever runs the ball the best will win, without turning the football over."

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable--My Answers

1.- For most of the MAC the season is half over. Bowing Green/Akron leads the East and Toledo/NIU lead the west how do you think the rest of the season plays out?

Half over?  Wow, that's incredible, isn't it?  Amazes me how fast it goes.  Basketball seems to last forever but football is by in a flash.  Anyhoo, I think the West will come down to the UT/NIU game.  They are clearly the top teams in by far the toughest division.  The East?  Anything could happen.  Every game is a nail biter, even when including Miami and UMass.  My only prediction here is to think at least 2 losses for the winner and bone up on your tie-breaker procedures.  Warning Falcon fans:  This requires rooting for Toledo.

2 - Looking ahead to the second half of the season what is the best realistic scenario you see for your team.

Best and realistic...interesting combination.  Based on what I have seen thus far, I don't think BG can win every week with the white knuckle express.  Now, the defense might have started to get some traction last week and that would help, but based on the body of work over the first half of the season, I think the best case is BG finishes the MAC season 6-2 or 5-3.  Any game on the schedule can be lost by the team we have seen for the front half, but the most likely are Akron and Toledo, followed by OU, WMU and Ball State followed by Kent.

3 - Many of the P5 programs are seeing their attendance start to fall, the more popular mid majors are also starting to fall off. What has your program done to help bolster your attendance and what do you believe they should do next?

This is always the tough issue.  I think the bubble is bursting a little bit on college football and I believe you will see things retreat to a more sustainable level.  Having said that, I have been watching Bowling Green football at the Doyt since 1971 and over that time I have seen every possible attempt to increase attendance.  There's been advertising, promotion, price breaks, lights and night games, tie-ins with grocery stores, flexible ticket packs...every possible thing has been tried and produced...well...a result with has not changed very much.  (Gregg Brandon once called the crowd for a weeknight game against Buffalo "pathetic.").  Also, the ESPN accommodations work against good crowds.   UT and Miami draw well, Big 10 teams draw well, but once the weather turns bad, our fans turn away.  I do not believe there is a long-term fix for this...we just have to enjoy the support we do have.

International Centre for Special Teams Research--Bull Edition

A final look at the Buffalo win.  It was a poor though not disastrous day for the BG special teams.  BG had a number of solid plays--including two good kickoff coverages and two good kickoff returns, a touchback and a punt inside the 20.  However, that was balanced out by a few negative plays, highlighted by losing a fumble on a kickoff returns and having a FG blocked.  BG also gave up three deep returns and missed a 2XP.

Buffalo's numbers are correspondingly good.   Their +6 is the best for an opponent since the Motor City Bowl.

BG POS (+6)
BG KO TB (+1)
UB KO ret to 15 (+1)
BG KO ret to 36 (+1)
BG KO ret to 43 (+1)
UB KO ret to 15 (+1)
BG punt inside 20 (+1)

BG NEG (-10)
UB KO Ret to 43 (-1)
BG loses KO fumble (-3)
UB KO Ret to 44 (-1)
BG FG Block (-2)
BG miss 2xp (-1)
UB KO ret to BG 48 (-2)

UB POS (+12)
UB KO Ret to 43 (+1)
BG loses KO fumble (+3)
UB KO Ret to 44 (+1)
UB Punt inside 20 (+1)
BG FG Block (+2)
UB KO TB (+1)
BG miss 2xp (+1)
UB KO ret to BG 48 (+2)

UB NEG (-6)
UB KO ret to 15 (-1)
UB KO OB (-1)
BG KO ret to 36 (-1)
BG KO ret to 43 (-1)
UB KO ret to 15 (-1)
UB Miss 33 rd FG (-1)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Benchmark Report, Bull Edition

So here are various stats for the game with Buffalo, compared to the MAC averages.

Actually, in terms of statistics, this game was not as close as the score.  I think BG's -2 turnover ratio helped keep it close, but based on the statistics, BG was better all the way along the line.  BG was, in general, above the MAC average and Buffalo was below.  On these measures, the defense had a better day....probably their best game of the season.  Note that while a lot of rushing yards were yielded, the Bulls were completely committed to the run so the average does not net out as anything special.

Finally, check out the seconds/play.  Buffalo looked like last year's Falcons, with constant substitutions and lots of time arranging guys while the clock ran down.  BG, in fact, ran plays Saturday nearly twice as fast as UB did.  That is a hell of a contrast.  

Monday, October 06, 2014

Falcon Men's Basketball Verbal #3

So BG has a 2015 verbal from Malik Hluchoweckyj--and I think we all saw Todd Walker shudder a little--to play men's basketball.  He is BG's third verbal and he is a HS player from Bellevue West HS in Bellevue Nebraska.  He is a 6'0" shooting guard with offers from Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Colorado, according to rivals.

This site says he was:
First-team Super-State after helping the Thunderbirds to the Class A state title, averaging 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds a game.
Here's some more.  Apparently, he started the year at PG and moved to SG for the title run.  Here's a quote from his Coach (CJ is their other guard):
"CJ’s natural thought is pass, facilitate. Malik’s is score. Since we made the move, our record was better. Malik averaged 17.5 instead of 12 points, and hit 50 percent instead of 40 percent. Malik has gotten a lot better. He played extended periods at point in our district, but it’s hard to take advantage of his skills if he starts with the ball and then has to get it back." -- Bellevue West coach Doug Woodard
So, we landed a guard whose natural thought is to doubt, that's something that BG has not seen a ton of.  (He's also a very good WR).

Welcome to the Falcons, Malik.

Tate MAC East Special Teams POTW for 3rd time...

Might just need to make this the Tyler Tate award...Tate was given the East special teams POTW for the 3rd time for his 3FG performance against Buffalo.

It is worth noting the milestone this represents.  From the departure of Shaun Suisham through the arrival of Tate, BG's FG kicking ranged from average to awful.  For much of that time, our coaches were forced to go for it on 4th in FG situations because of a lack of confidence.  In some of those situations, it has caused a serious problem, because when you are up (say) 2 points late, a FG makes a huge difference and we just didn't feel like it was an option.

Tate has put that to rest.  And with our offense being a little less effective in the red zone, he has allowed us (in part) to weather the storm of Johnson's injury more easily.  He's reliable and the best kicker we have had since Suisham.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the contrast was made even clearer Saturday, because Buffalo was in the position we used to be in.  They had missed (badly) an easy FG and then as they drove down the field needing a FG at the end, they had to either push to get very close or score because they couldn't count on their kicker to make something in the 35+ range.  With a good kicker, strategy is much different for Buffalo since they were in plus territory already with the wind at their back.

We have had a couple of kicks blocked, including one Saturday.  My assumption has been that those have been with the hold.  Could have been the same issue Saturday.  The kick was really low and maybe you try to keep it low when kicking into the wind...maybe coach will discuss that on Wednesday.

Anyway, it is a great feeling to have a kicker you can have confidence in.  Makes a huge difference and can keep you in games.  Touchdowns are better, but FGs can at least keep a game within reach.

Past and Future Opponent Land

Western Kentucky (2-3) Lost 42-39 to UAB at home.
VMI (1-5) Lost 55-7 to Tennessee-Chattanooga
Indiana (3-2) Beat North Texas 49-24
Wisconsin (3-2) Lost to Northwestern 20-14
UMass (0-6) Lost to Miami 42-41 in Oxford.
Ohio (3-3) Lost 28-10 to CMU
WMU (2-3) Lost in OT to Toledo (Warning: this team is much improved)
Akron (3-2) Beat EMU 31-6
Kent (0-5) Pressed NIU but lost 17-14
Toledo (4-2) Won @WMU in OT.
Ball State (1-4) Lost @ Army 33-24

MAC vs. Power 5: 4-21
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 3-12
MAC vs. FCS: 11-2
East vs. West: West leads 2-1