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.

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