Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Former Falcon John Haneline now Coaching LBs at Mississippi State

There's another connection between BGSU and Mississippi State.  Of course, the HC, Dan Mullen, was QB coach at BG during the Urban Meyer years...and now former Falcon LB John Haneline has been named the LB Coach for the Bulldogs.

Geoff Collins, the former LB Coach and DC, moved on to Florida in what Mullen tersely called "a lateral move."  Mullen promoted Haneline, who was a graduate assistant for the Bulldogs this year.  You will probably remember the Haneline name.  John's older brother Chris was second-team All-MAC and a Falcon captain as a LB.  John was all-state in HS but, as I recall, battled injuries at BG.  One year he had 96 tackles in 9 games before a foot injury ended his season.

In fact, this story says that Mullen met John Haneline at a BGSU 7-7 camp. and they teamed up to win the tournament.

Great to see former Falcons doing well.  We'll be watching during the Orange Bowl.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Falcons Rebound With Road Win Over South Florida

So, after a defeat to Ferris State that Coach Jans said would put a "damper" on his Christmas, I had a feeling we are building the kind of program where we are most dangerous after a loss.  Hopefully now Coach Jans can have a better New the Falcons went down to Tampa and beat South Florida for a nice bounceback win.

 This gives BG 3 true road wins for the first time since the 09-10 season, which was Orr's third season.  I think it is important to keep this all in perspective...none of the 3 have been against great teams, but each of them represents the program's progress since last year.  USF beat BG by double digits last season in the Stroh and BG flipped the game this year.  Conference play is still going to present a lot of challenges, but the important thing is that this team is much improved over last season and the road wins are an important indicator, as is the 7-3 record.

It was a tightly fought game the entire way.  The first half featured some back to back play, with both teams leading by 4 points and the game was tied with 1:23 left in the first half and then USF got 3 points coming home to lead at the half.

The second half started out the same way.  With 15 left to play the game was tied at 43.  Spencer Parker made a couple FTs to put BG up 2---and odd as it might seen, it was a lead that BG would hold for the remainder of the game.

BG went on a 8-1 run to open a 7-point lead.  Inside of 9 minutes, BG was up 58-53 and USF rallied to cut the lead to 1.  For a few minutes the game stayed at one possession, and then BG went on a 7-0 to go up 9 with 3:21 left.  BG did what a winning team does from there, which is close it out, never letting USF back inside 5 and winning by 9.

BG had its best offensive game of the season, at 1.31 points per possession.  BG shot 50% overall and 41% from beyond the arc, both of which are very solid numbers.  We talked in the preview about USF giving up a bunch of FTs and this was a very foul-plagued game.  BG shot 28 free throws and shot very relatively poorly, but still had a +2 advantage on FTs.  The game's big difference came on 3s.  We also noted that USF is a very poor 3FG team,  and BG made 9 3FGs to only 4 for USF, which was decisive in the game.

In fact, as you can see below, the remaining factors were pretty even.

If you want something to worry about, it was BG's 2nd straight poor defensive performance.  Until Ferris, BG had not allowed 1 point per possession to any team, and now two teams in a row have gotten there, and it wasn't close---both at 1.17 per possession.  USF had an EFG% of 54% and had by far the best game against BG on the offensive boards while taking pretty good care of the ball.

Richaun Holmes continues to be BG's most productive player.  He scored 19 on 6 of 9 shooting and 7 of 11 at the line, plus 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.  BG's second leading scorer was Jehvon Clarke, and he is slowly emerging as being a critical element for BG, off the bench and at the 2.  Clarke had 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.  That's an incredibly efficient use of possessions.  Austin scored 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting and Zach Denny scored 10 points on 3 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc.

That's an impressive collection of players playing very efficient offensive basketball, just what the team needed in a game where the defensive element was lacking.

BG's rotation has gotten tighter.  BG played 8 guys with 19 minutes or more.  From early in the year, you've lost Orr and Tisdale was a DNP.  Mayleben played only a couple of minutes due to foul trouble.

At 7-3, BG now has one last game left before the MAC season starts....Chicago State, coming up Saturday.  In the meantime, while conceding that USF is not likely to make a Sweet 16 run this year, this was still a very nice road win for BG, especially coming off the Ferris loss.  Continuing to enjoy the season and look forward to seeing how BG does in MAC play.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Brandon Back as Head Coach

So, it must be alumni day in the Falcon Nation.  Our former OC and Coach, Gregg Brandon, is re-entering the head coaching world.  He has been hired at the Colorado School of Mines, where he replaces Bob Stitt, who has moved onto Montana.

The interesting thing is that, as you see above, Brandon made his bones as an offensive coach...and I think most Falcon fans think he was a pretty good OC but not a very good head coach.

In offensive coaching circles, Stitt is considered a cult figure,  so Brandon is going to be tested by a very high bar.  Furthermore, the Colorado School of Mines only has one major--engineering--and Stitt told an audience that his average ACT score was 29 out of 36, so based on his time at BG, Brandon may find the recruiting hurdles as high as the offensive hurdles.

The Orediggers are a DII team.  They were 10-2 last year, made the NCAA playoffs, and were #4 in total offense, #2 in passing offense and #T17 in scoring offense.  It will be interesting to see how this all pans out for Coach Brandon, who most recently was OC at New Mexico State.

Rhett Magner to Coach old High School team

Here's a blast from the Falcon past...Rhett Magner is going to be the head coach at Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska.  The whole Magner legend is probably familiar to most Falcon fans...Rhett's old brother Cole was Alaska Player of the Year for Colony and an assistant named Gregg Brandon talked a Head Coach named Urban Meyer into letting him fly out and recruit the young man.  Cole Magner turned into one of the best pure playmakers our program has ever had.

His younger brother Rhett was 3-time All-State and came to BG to play football, as well.  It didn't work out, and according to this article he ended up graduating from Weber State and then heading back home to Palmer.  He wasn't planning to coach, but he got his toes wet and now will be the head coach at his alma mater--just as his Father was.

Best of luck, Rhett and congratulations.

Welcome Back! Men's Basketball Preview....DA BULLS

So BG renews an ongoing series tomorrow in Tampa as they take on the South Florida Bulls.  BG lost a crazy game down there a couple years ago--complete with a power outage and overtime.  In fact, BG should have won that game.

There's been a major change since we last saw the Bulls, which is that former Kent coach Stan Heath is gone.  He was replaced by Orlando Antigua (great name, right).  He's a long-term assistant with Calipari and I'd like his odds long-term in the Sun Dome.  It might be a little rough in the meantime, however, and for now that is our immediate concern.

USF was 12-20 last year and then had 5 players leave the program when Antigua arrived, four of them contributing significant minutes.  Only three players on the team have played D1 ball before this year and they are the 76th youngest team in D1.  They were picked to finish last in the American Athletic.

They are 6-6 this year, but they've partly set that up with their schedule.  There's one non-d1 win, plus wins over Jackson State, UAB, and Jacksonville, all with 300+ RPI.  (Jacksonville may be the worst team in D1.)  There's also home wins over Southeast Louisiana and Hofstra--probably their best win.  Their losses include quality losses to NC State, Alabama and Seton Hall, and then somewhat less quality losses to Georgia Southern and Florida State...and Detroit.  USF lost by 10 @ Calihan, a place BG won on a buzzer beater.

Last year, the Bulls beat BG at the Stroh by 14.

USF is not a good offensive team.  They score .99 points per possession, which is well below the national average--230th in the country.  Their biggest issue is that they don't hit 3FGs effectively.  Last year they were worst in the country and this year they are still in that neighborhood.  They also don't shoot very many, and overall their effective FG% is 50.3%, which is above average.  So, target #1 is protect the paint.   They also struggle getting to the FT line and they only make 64% when they do.

They do play fast--they have been netting 70 possessions per game, which is a lot.  They take care of the ball pretty well, at 21% turnovers and they are average on the offensive boards.

On defense, they allow 1 point per possession, which is better than average but not any kind of defensive juggernaut.  They defend the shot pretty well (EFG% of 47.4%, which is above average), and they are pretty much around average in forcing turnovers and on the offensive boards.  Their weakest area is common for young teams...they give up a lot of FTs...though not on that many fouls.

Individually, they are being led by returnee Corey Allen, Jr.  He's a 6'1" Senior guard who is averaging 16.9 PPG on 52% shooting, 42% from 3FG and 81% from the FT line--so that's an efficient player.  Their second leading scorer is Chris Perry, a 6'8" SO--also a returning player--who scores 12 PPG and 48% shooting and an eye popping 7.2 RPG.  The other double figure scorer is Nehemias Morillo, a 6'6" JUCO transfer scoring 10 PPG on 43% shooting and 6 RPG.

Finally, Anthony Collins is back at PG.  He played only 8 games last year--one of them the BG game--but is pulling 9 PPG and 6 assists per game...the latter number being among the top 20 in the country...remember they play high tempo, so there are more possessions to work with.

I am very interested in seeing how this game turns out.  USF is at home and for that reason has to be considered formidable.  Still, I feel like this is a winnable game for BG, under the right circumstances.  The interesting part is that these might be the right circumstances.  We are still getting to know Coach Jans, but I'm going to guess that we're not going to play the way we did in our last game and in fact will play much better.  That's not going to happen two games in a row.

That's what will be interesting to see.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the Falcon Nation

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the Falcon Nation.  May the day bring you Peace...

The Magi (The Heart of Man is a Palace)

Oh the magi were the prophets
And they wandered through the desert
They saw the star above them
And they knew they'd find their way
Through the valley of the shadow
With the hope of human kindness
They were strengthened by the vision
Of a new and brighter day.

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed.
In the weaving of your fingers
In the whisper of a love that's born again
In the weaving of your fingers
In a promise that we made that never ends.

Well now each man is a pilgrim,
Yes, we all must make the journey
And it seems that time is telling us to be all that we can
To help lift up the fallen, we must sow the seeds of goodness
The torch is passed among us now to light the way of man.

For the heart of man's a palace
And his dreams are as the sunlight
They burn away the darkness, as they warm the freezing cold
As an eagle flying higher, as a river through the canyon
The diamond star shines down upon, a pathway to the soul


In a promise that we made that never ends.
In a promise that we made that never ends.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Falcon Co-OCs Flying the Coop

So, for those of you who thought that Coach Babers had made a mistake with his over-reliance on his EIU staff and thought BG had a low-wattage set of assistant coaches....this is your day.  It was reported by that BG's co-offensive coordinators Sterlin Gilbert and Mark Mattox are leaving BG to work at Tulsa University.  The new coach there is Philip Montgomery, who was the OC at Baylor, so there is a natural connection, plus a desire to play, you know, fast.

It will be interesting to see how Babers handles the vacancy.  Presumably he needs an OC or OCs that know this offense, which can't be a terribly huge pool.  I believe Babers is the true OC, but whoever is going to fill the spot has an important tactical role to play.  Developing.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jans: Defeat Will "Put a Damper on my Christmas"

So, yeah, while everyone was still reliving the thrilling Camellia Bowl victory last night, the Falcon men's basketball team took to the floor to play Ferris State, a DII team on an 8-game winning streak.  I didn't see the game, but based on Coach Jans' comments after the game, BG was apparently already on break.  They played what Coach said was our worst defensive game of the year, gave up 82 to Ferris and lost by 14 on home floor.

Jans:  "We took a step back."

So far as I can see, BG's last non-D1 loss was to Findlay to kick off the 91-92 season.

It would appear to be one of those days...a Ferris team that is playing well with 2 really good players meets up against a team that Coach Jans concedes he was unable to get to play with the needed intensity--so opportunity kicks in an open door.

The interesting thing is that it was never really a game.  BG was down 1 at half but Jans says "it felt like more."  Then, with BG "not putting up much resistance," (Jans), Ferris shot 58% from the field, 50% from beyond the arc and 11 of 13 FTs to put 45 on the board for the half.  Meanwhile, BG shot 39% and 33% and scored only 32 (not too bad, on its own).  The Bulldogs led by 20 inside of 2 minutes.

Ferris was led by Drew Lehman, a Toledo Central Catholic product.  Lehman had 29 points on 10 of 17 shooting.  They also had Josh Fleming who scored 23 points and added 13 rebounds.  I don't remember the last time BG had two players go 20+ against them, but it is far from common.

Richaun Holmes had a big game for BG, scoring 26 on 9 of 14 shooting and adding 9 rebounds.  Clarke had an efficient 13 and Denny had 10 that took a lot of work to chase down.

It is humbling for the Falcons, who have met or exceeded expectations for most of the year.  This--a 14 point defeat at home to a non-D1 team--certainly qualifies.  They'll get plenty of time to think about it....they play again Sunday @South Florida.  Adversity strikes any season.  It will be interesting to see how BG responds to this.

Bowl Wins Freshens the Place Up a little bit

It is amazing how much better this place looks after a win, huh?

Things were getting pretty foul--not that everything is in the clear, now--but things certainly are feeling a lot better with the Camellia Bowl win Saturday in an absolutely great football game.   I can hear the haters now--I know, USA was a 6-6 Sun Belt opponent, but I don't care.  It was a really nice win for us.

I had to go back and look this up.  BG's last win before Saturday was NOVEMBER 12--so BG had gone a month and 8 days without putting one in the W column.  That's bound to get anyone cranky.  Than, you lose to your arch-rival, blow a winnable game at home, lose by a record margin in the MAC title game, toss a couple arrests in there...not great but it it all looks a little bit better after a win.  The sun is shining into the kitchen in the morning again.

More to come in the next day or two, but my concerns about this game had been written...that South Alabama came into a game in which they felt they were "making history."  This was the huge thing in the history of their program.  The body language from inside our program just didn't seem ready to match that enthusiasm, and I feared one of those bowl games where something goes wrong and one side races away and the other just watches.

I give our coaches and our players 100% credit.  That did not happen.  We competed with energy and enthusiasm from the opening bell.  BG certainly didn't play a flawless game, but they played their best game in many weeks--certainly their most complete game--and that's a tribute to a bunch of guys playing for each other and for pride for the program and they have my respect for that.

Perhaps no player has to be as satisfied as the game's MVP, James Knapke.  He has taken a ton of heat from some cases for things he could have done better and in other cases unfairly...anyway, as always happens, the team's entire failing is put at the feet of the QB.

Knapke had a huge game out there, and at no time more than in the play that won the thing.  USA had just taken the lead for the first time in the game.  There was only 1:20 left to play.  BG was on its own 22 and needed only a FG, but things were certainly looking dicey.

BG lined Roger Lewis up in the slot and found him 1-1 with a safety.  They called his number....launching from the slot he got a running start and he went right down the field.  Here's the thing...this is a pass/fail test for Knapke.  There are no advanced metrics here.  His team needs him to make this throw ONE just have to have it...and he did make it, a perfect throw that not only was catchable for Lewis but catchable in stride so that could he could do what he does, which was to turn a little bit of space into a gut punch, rip the heart out of USA's chest touchdown pass, a complete jaw-dropping ending that will echo for years.

Knapke had to make THAT throw...and he did.  As Coach said after the game, the words James Knapke are now under the words BART STARR on the bowl trophy, and that's pretty awesome.  Even more so, because it is possible that he will not play another meaningful down for our program, and his name will still be under Bart Starr's.  That's pretty cool.

Anyway, more to come, but for now, a great, great football game and a credit to our guys for coming out and getting it done.  I think it will provide a lift for everyone as the off-season slogs along.

Friday, December 19, 2014

25 questions for an inaugural event

What is their body of work?

It isn't great.  They are 6-6.  In common opponent land, they won @Kent, 23-13.  They also lost to Mississippi State and South Carolina, and to Navy by 2.  They have lost 4 out of their last 5, which puts them in a similar skid to the Falcons.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

32, which is a very senior-dominated team.

Who are their FBS statistical leaders?

Their kicker is #13 in FG%.  His name is Aleem Sunanon.

ALL Rankings below are Sun Belt rankings, all games.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are -4, 8 in the conference.

You are looking live....

How is their QB Play?

It is interesting.  On paper, Bridge doesn't look that good.  Their QB is #9 in the Sun Belt in passing efficiency.  He completes only 51% of his passes with 11.8 per completion.  He has 14 TDs and 6 INT.  But, he's getting serious interest from the NFL...he certainly has the kind of body they like.  He can beat you with his legs.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are not good.  In fact, at the end of the season they fired their OC and then hired (re-hired actually) the guy who lost his gig at UAB.  They are 9th in scoring offense and 10th in yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

They are a run-oriented team with a run-heavy play mix.  Overall, their yards per rush  is 7th in the conference.  However, they have 3 lead backs who averaged over 5 yards per carry.  Unless the Jaguars have seen zero game film, I would expect this to be their first line of attack.

Do they pass the ball?

They are last in the conference is passing efficiency.  Again, I'd expect to see them try to get the run game open and then try to create space for their quick WRs.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 57% of plays, which is a high run mix.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are 10th.

Do they score in the red zone?

They have stalled for a high number of RZ FGs.  They average only 4.3 points per trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have only given up 27 sacks, which is not a huge number, but remember there is a heavy run mix.  They have allowed sacks on 6.7% of sack plays.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are good here, 2nd in scoring defense and 5th in yards per play.  It is odd to see a split like that, so maybe something will indicate what is going on.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are tied for 6th in yards per carried allowed.

The world's most historic bus.
Can they be passed on?

They are 5th in the Sun Belt in pass defense efficiency.  They allow only 55% completions, which is really good and conference best.  They have allowed 17TDs and only 6 INT, and do allow 12.6 yards per completion.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 7th in opponent 3rd down conversion, so average.

Do they defend in the red zone?

And here is what accounts for the split between the scoring and yardage rankings.  USA allows only 4.1 points per red zone trip, which is really good.

Do they pressure the QB?

They are 6th with 25 sacks.

Special Teams:


They are pretty good.  They are 5th in net punting.  They have been blocked once and allowed 1 TD.

Punt Return?

Nobody really gets too many punt returns anymore.  They had one good one.  No blocks, no TDs.


Dude is really good.  He's missed only 3 times, is 5-6 over 40 and has a long of 46 with one block.


They are 7th in this, too, with an average start at the 27.  No TDs allowed.

Kickoff Return?

Not especially good, starting on 25.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Camellia japonica
I wrote on this earlier this week.  This is a serious concern.  The stadium seats 25K and USA has been drawing 17K, so I would expect them to fill up most if not all of the stands in Montgomery.
Also, this is a huge big deal for USA and they seem pretty jacked up, while I worry our enthusiasm is not as good. To say the the least.

It is the last chance for our seniors to win a bowl game, but the team didn't rally around their last chance to beat Toledo or win at the Doyt, so I don't see that being much.

Both teams are playing poorly heading into the game.  BG is an average team in the MAC and USA is an average team in the Sun Belt, but given the overall karma going into the game, I am really worried about BG getting steamrolled.  Most of all, I worry that USA gets off to a fast start....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Jaguar Offense...Coordinator, Quarterback

Over time we have become used to seeing teams coached in a bowl game by a different head coach than the one who coached them in the regular season.  In fact, we got used to it right here last year.  This year, South Alabama is putting a different spin on that idea.

First, it is the offensive coordinator and not the head coach.
Second, the OC didn't leave but was fired.

So, at the end of the year, the point-challenged Jaguar team fired OC Robert Matthews.  I don't think they had any way of knowing that Bryant Vincent, a former three-year Jag assistant, was about to lose his job as OC at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.  That brought two things together in a nice, convenient package.  Re-enter Vincent at USA.

Vincent will be OC for the bowl game.  He has been at the practices and tells the media he has put some new "wrinkles" in.  He does note that you can't change too much, but even if 98 of it is the same thing, one play might make all the difference.  Meanwhile, I would absolutely expect him to put some new energy in the troops.

The other thing to watch for is QB Brandon Bridge.  At 6'5" and 235, he is an eye-popping physical specimen and has the eye of NFL scouts. has him ranked as the #8 QB and a 4th or 5th round pick.  He's a native of Mississauga, ON, Canada, and was at what time considering UB but there was a coaching change and he went to Alcorn State, where the boys named him Air Canada.   Then he transferred to USA after a coaching change there.

He has a strong arm and can make plays with his legs.   His coach says he has improved his mechanics and has gotten better as a player.

Interestingly, he was not even named all-Sun Belt honorable mention.  The NFL is certainly capable of seeing an under-developed player of that kind of size and taking a shot on him as a project.  Our interest is how good he will be Saturday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Falcons Tie Up Loose Ends....

When last we heard, Croley was suspended indefinitely and Babers was mum on whether Johnson was going to the bowl game or not.  And you see here that those two issues have been resolved.

The test of this won't be these cases.  The test will be the absence of such incidents in the future.  I'm hearing some serious concern about Coach's response to the Johnson incident and people are in a really sour mood right now.  I have always said that I never want Bowling Green to be a place with athletics programs we are embarrassed by.  We, the fans, are the ones who stay.  Players go, coaches go, athletic directors go, Presidents go...we stay.

Sometimes a little adversity helps you focus on what's important and let's hope that's what happens with the football program.

New Falcon Football Verbal: Sit Down. It is a TE.

The latest verbal for BG football is out there on the internet...his name is Derek Lee,  and brace yourselves, Falcon Fans, he's a TE.  After having really strong TEs last year and a couple of TE commits, this year BG ran an offense that mostly did not use a TE.  The closest thing was Chris Pohlman, who is sort was a hybrid TE/FB.

Derek has been playing at Butler Community College, which is in Kansas.  He's also a native of the perfectly named Maize, KS.  (Side story.  At the MHSAA state football championship game, we sat next to a guy who got a degree in Grain Millinery Science at Kansas State University).

He's 6'4" and 255, which is a pretty good sized fella.

He's listed as a FB on the conference site, so just extrapolating out I would imagine he will play the Pohlman role for BG--and of course, he will be immediately eligible. However, Hustle Belt has been in touch with him...he made his first stop at North Dakota State and red-shirted and then played before transferring to the JUCO, so he will be in BG for only one season.

He had less than a dozen carries but he did catch 17 passes in their 11 games, with 2 TDS.

Welcome to the Falcons, Derek.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

South Alabama Brief

So, I think there might not be too many D1 football programs that BG fans were less familiar with than South Alabama.  So here's a little primer.

University of South Alabama was founded in 1964.  They have about 16,000 students, which is about the size of BG.  The University is in Mobile, Alabama, and play in the stadium where the GMAC/Go Daddy bowl is held.

They have a medical school.  You have probably seen something on the web about their 14% graduation rate, which seems to come from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Using the same report, BG has a 32% rate.

The most notable sport that USA has competed in was baseball.  For a long time, they were coached by major league great Eddie Stanky....graduates include David Freese, Adam Lind and Juan Pierre, among others.

They started their football program in 2009.  They played a couple of years of "unclassified status/"  They played one year as an FCS independent and now three years as a full FBS member of the Sun Belt Conference.  They were 2-10 their first year, and then went 6-6 each of the last two years.

They are coached by Joey Jones.  Jones is a Mobile native who went to Alabama to play for The Bear.  He was an all-SEC WR, and then he played in the USFL and the NFL, for one season with the Atlanta Falcons.

Jones was a successful HS Coach and then coached for one year in DIII ball before taking the job at South Alabama.  According to the USA Today database of coaching salaries, his base salary is around $30K more than Dino Babers.

Camellia Warning Signs..

I have to say that I have some pretty big worries about the Camellia Bowl coming up Saturday.

The whole Karma of the thing seems to be going in the wrong direction, and I'm very worried about what kind of result we are going to get.

Let's run down the items.

First, this is the biggest thing in their program's history.  You follow them on twitter and other things, they are geeked up.  They are going into this game as if it is huge...think back to when BG made a bowl game and went out to the California Bowl way back when.  That kind of excited.

I could be wrong, but let's just say I don't sense the same kind of enthusiasm around here.

Second, the game is pretty close to their fans.  They are selling out their allotments and I would expect them to have a pretty nice home crowd advantage on Saturday.  I would expect the BG crowd to be minimal.

So, while USA is thrilled to be here, my guess is that BG is not.

Now, BG should win this game.  I haven't done the whole analysis thing, but I think we should be the better team--if we play like we are capable of playing.  Coach was using the "seniors" motivation, which didn't work for the UT game or the Ball State game, so maybe the third time will be the charm.

Anyway, love to be wrong, but it seems to me that all the mojo is going in the wrong direction.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Matt Johnson: You can't make this stuff up

This has not been a good week for Falcon football.  The storyline moved from the serious to the ridiculous with news that Matt Johnson has been charged with filing a false burglary report as part of a prank on his roommate, Ryan Burbrink.  Apparently, both young men had won money at the casino, and Johnson stole Burbrink's and the concocted the story to flesh out the joke.  The Sentinel-Tribune has the most complete take on this.

Chris Kingston said that he is sure it will be learning experience and it doesn't sound like Johnson will be officially sanctioned.

A couple things.  Obviously, Johnson let this go too far when he involved the police, which was a very dumb thing to do.  As far as that goes, young people do dumb things sometimes.  Compared to the other three police-related incidents this year, this one is relatively minor.  It is an embarrassment to the program and the University, however, and that's not acceptable.

The other thing kind of buried in here is the Casino.  There had been some chatter on about a contingent of BG players going to the Casino on a regular basis...right from practice in their warm-ups.  I hadn't said anything because I didn't have any way of knowing if it was true, but this seems to confirm it, at least partially.  I was initially surprised because all I have read recently about college athletes is that they can't afford to get a pizza or a snack at night, so I wouldn't have thought they had money to gamble with.  I guess that's my fault for believing what I read.

Burbrink won $1,500 and Johnson won $3,000, which to me are not small amounts of money.  Nothing illegal about it if you are 21, so it isn't that.  If it is true that our players are "regularly" going to the casino, I can't believe people in the program don't have problems with that.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Football Commit: Jamari Bozeman

As recruiting heads into the holiday dead period, BG landed another verbal....this is is Jamari Bozeman of Suncoast HS, which is in the West Palm Beach area.  He has offers from Florida Atlantic, Tulane, Marshall, Middle Tennessee and BG.  He's listed at 6'2" and this write up from the ESPN guy in West Palm has good things to say about him and really talks about him more as a DB than a WR.  He plays S in HS, but the writer thinks you might see teams make him an oversized corner.

Welcome to the Falcons, Jamari.

BG and Cleveland State...A Tale of Two Halves.

The men's basketball game against Cleveland State was a Tale of Two Halves, which is a cliche but it works here.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....or, in this case, it was the worst of times it was the best of times.

Check out the numbers for the first half...this nets out to .73 points per possession for BG and .95 for Cleveland State, which is not great.  The one thing keeping BG in the game was that CSU did not make a FT in the half and BG made 6...but based on these numbers, you would not expect the game to be close.

Then comes the second half and the story more than switches.  BG ends up with 1.16 points per possession for the 2nd half, which is good and Cleveland State ends up with .6 points per possessions, which is OMG.  Also, note that BG nearly doubled CSU for the half.  The chart below tells the story.  Note that the scale is different because of the crazy free throw rate number..BG actually tried more free throws in the half than they did field goals.

Shooting and offensive rebounding tells the story.

Anyway, we're done.  Just thought it was a remarkable addition to our body of work.  Again, I know this is not a great team, but CSU is a good team and the Falcons fought through adversity and then closed out the victory.  With where we have been, we have to accept that.

Chauncey Orr Leaves BG Basketball Program

One piece of news that came out early yesterday, before tip-off of the BG-Cleveland State game.  Chauncey Orr has decided to leave the program for "personal reasons."  Chauncey is a R-JR who could play elsewhere if he chooses.  Regardless of what path he chooses, he has the unconditional support of the Falcon Nation.  His class and dignity in handling the dismissal of his Father was a credit to him, even though it did not work out in the end.  He is a Falcon Forever.

Second Half for BG Crushes Vikings

Well, I don't think I ever saw somethin' like that before.

BG played  about as bad a first half as you can play.  Coach Jans was visibly irritated.  BG shot 33% with 11 turnovers...and, in fact, was lucky to be within 7 at the half after Spencer Parker nailed a shot to end the first half.

I made a joke on twitter that they were going to have to repaint the Falcon locker room after the halftime speech, and I suspect I had the tone pretty right.

Then the second half happened.  Whatever went on in there worked.  BG came out and started by playing absolutely stifling defense.  There was nowhere for the Vikings to go.  Coach said BG switched up how they were handling ball screens...whatever it was, it worked.

It was over 6 minutes before the Vikings picked up a FG.  Meanwhile, BG was playing efficient offense.  With 11 minutes left they had reversed it and led by 7.  With 9 minutes left, BG popped the lead over 10.  At that point, we are looking at a 27-10 run in 11 minutes, honestly the longest period of domination that I can remember this program putting out against a legit opponent in recent memory.

Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it was impressive.

From there, BG did what a team does with a 10 point lead with 9 minutes left...they closed the game out.  In fact, CSU never got the lead into single digits again.

More later to compare first and second half stats, but here's a little taste.  In the second half, CSU shot 21% and was 1 of 15 from beyond the arc.  The Vikings also turned the ball over 8 times.  Meanwhile, BG shot 52% and 50% from beyond the arc and would have had even a stronger half if it wasn't for the 9 2nd half turnovers.

In the post-game, Coach Jans said BG gave up too many offensive rebounds in the 2nd half, which was 7.  We need to acquaint the Coach with advanced stats.  Yes, they got 7 offensive rebounds but that's because they missed so many.  They actually only picked up 26% of offensive rebounds in the second half, which is well below average.

Richaun Holmes had 15 points and 9 rebounds on 5 of 10 shooting.  He has evolved into a really tough rebounder...he pulled down numerous big boards in heavy traffic.  He is building a very strong senior season.

Zack Denny had 14 points and 9 rebounds.  That's a very efficient 14 points...4 of 6 shooting and he hit both of his threes.  That's an offensive weapon.

Devlin Dikcerson had 12 points in 19 minutes, and Jehvon Clarke provided BG with a huge spark by  hitting 2 straight 3s when the lead had melted to 1 in the second half.  He finished with 10 points on 3 of 6 shooting and he hit both of his 3FGs.

Again, more later.  But let us stop for a second and reflect on what happened.  Cleveland State is not Kentucky, but they are a team that would easily end up in the tournament.  BG completely dominated them in the second half and picked up a significant victory to add to their body of work.  The Falcons had a very good week...they now get a break while they take finals before DII Ferris State comes into town.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cleveland State Preview

So far, I would expect that Cleveland State isn't where they thought they would be.  They were picked to win the Horizon and have 4 starters back from last year's team.  To date they are 4-4.

Some of that is understandable.  You'd expect to lose to Louisville and Iona, but you wouldn't necessarily to lose @Savannah State and you'd probably have thought you could beat Toledo on your home floor.  Meanwhile, they don't sport any quality wins--Tiffin, Jacksonville State, Marshall and Western Illinois.

So at 4-4, they start off a little slower than I am sure they hoped.  Now, Charlie Lee, their PG was suspended for the first six games and he is back, although he played 25 minutes in the Toledo loss.

The Vikings are scoring only 1.03 points per possession, which is average.  How they get there is pretty unusual.  They are only shooting 41.8% overall on FGs, but it is a very 3FG-heavy mix.  They are in the top 20% or so in the country in making 3FGs at about 37% and only 35 D1 teams are getting more of their points from the 3-ball.  So, to an extent, you'd expect a lower overall FG% with that many 3FG, a situation that effective FG% is perfect for.  They have an EFG% of 48.5 which is nominally below average.

They are also very good on the offensive boards (36.%).  However, they are pretty turnover-prone (20.9%) and are one of the worst teams in the country at getting to the line, though when they do get their they make them (72.5%).

On defense, the thing to watch for is steals.  They force turnovers on 26% of possessions, which is among the top 10 in the country and they are 8th in steals percentage.  Once teams do get a shot off, their EFG% is 48.4%, which is nominally above average.  They are average at protecting the offensive boards and give up a lot of FTs---one of the ten worst teams in terms of FT Rate allowed.

So, BG needs to take care of the ball and then make FTs in order to compete, as well as defend the perimeter effectively.  I am not sure how many pressure defenses BG has played, so this will be interesting to see.

Also, limiting the damage Trey Lewis does would be nice.  He's averaging 18 points a game on 42% shooting--that's 42% on 2FG and 42% on 3FG--to go with 4 rebounds and 3.75 assists per game.  He is a transfer from Penn State, and is a dangerous scorer.

Anton Grady is a 6'8" JR who scores 11.75 PPG on a team-high 5.75 rebounds per game.  The one interesting thing about him is he is only shooting 38%, which is unusual for a big man.

Marlin Manson, a 6'6" JR, is scoring 10.5 PPG on 58% shooting (see?) and 5.4 RPG.

In his two games back, Lee is averaging 3 assists per game.

Last guy to watch is Andre Yates.  The SO Creighton transfer averages 2.4 steals per game, which is #40 in the country.

So, after the encouraging loss at Dayton, this is the Falcons playing what is expected to be a pretty good team.  On our floor, you want to win this one, even against a tough team as another proof point of the team's improvement and progress.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Croley Arrested--Updated

Troubling news reported by the Sentinel this morning.  BG's Jhalil Croley was arrested for drug trafficking and resisting arrest.  As with any news like this, it is important to let the legal process play itself out, but based on this account in the Sentinel it is certainly troubling.  By my count, it is the third legal entanglement for a player this calendar year.

Croley, a r-SO D-lineman from Cincinnati Princeton, played in 12 games this year for BG, making 1 start.  He was in on 16 tackles, had 1 sack and 2 hurries.

Note that this is a quicker public action than was taken in an earlier situation this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MBB: You can learn a lot from a loss

Sometimes you can learn more with a loss than with a win.  I think that's probably true of last night's result in Dayton for the Falcons.

Dayton is a strong team, a defending Elite 8 team and the game was on their home floor.  Dayton is picked to contend for the title in the A-10 and would probably be favored to win the MAC--in fact, they have a solid lead with a 3-0 record!

But by playing with the Flyers for the whole 40 minutes and by leading much of the game and as late as with 3:39 left and remaining tied until 2:14 left, and even having the ball down 1 inside a minute left...we might have seen enough to think the BG is going to be competitive in the MAC this year.

Some of the other wins, it was hard to tell.  How good was the team we beat?  You know the drill...

But this performance (a 56-52 loss), on the road, gives me some hope.  Obviously, lots has to play out...maybe the team was jacked up to play Dayton...we all remember last year's OT performance against Xavier that didn't pan out to anything...but if BG can compete like that on the road in the MAC, some wins are going to come from it.

As I noted in the preview, Dayton's super-power is getting for the FT line, where they have had huge advantages over opponents this year. And that's what won them this game, too.  They were called for 13 fouls and BG for 20.  Dayton was 21 of 29 from the line, while BG was 2 of 6.  I doubt if very many teams will win this year while -19 at the line.

It isn't as bad as it sounds, because while Dayton was shooting FTs they had fewer FG attempts.  BG tried 16 more FGs than Dayton did and had a +15 (obviously) advantage on points from FG.  In fact, probably as big a factor as the FTs is that BG shot only 42% on 2FGs compared to Dayton's 52%.  Neither team shot well from the field...both were 37%, but BG shot 23.5% from 3FG and Dayton shot 6.7%, netting out with BG as a slight lead in shooting which should have been higher.

Rebounding and turnovers were also very close, so I think the game came down to BG doing less with its extra possessions than Dayton did with FTs.  Still, the stats show that possession for possession, BG was competitive with the Flyers.

Individually, it was a nice night for Zack Denny, who scored 16 on 7 of 12 shooting and 2 of 5 from 3FG.  He also had 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

Holmes had 9 points (4-11 shooting) and 11 rebounds, with 3 blocks before fouling out.

Jovon Austin had 5 assists in 21 minutes.  BG's guards shot 8 of 25, extending a problem that does stretch back into last year.  Parker and Holmes were a cumulative 6 of 20 as well.

BG did tighten the rotation quite a bit for this game, with only 8 players getting significant minutes.  Chauncey Orr did not play at all...I know he is battling an injury, don't know if that is what this is about.

Now 5-2, the Falcons off before taking on Cleveland State Saturday at the Stroh.  The Vikings are 4-4 with wins against some pretty soft teams.  Like to see the Falcons make it 2 strong games in a row and close them out on our floor.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

BG to open 2015 Football Season with Tennessee

So the news came out today...BG is opening the 2015 football season against Tennessee in Nashville at the home of the Titans.  It is a marriage of convenience.  BG was scheduled to play SC State and apparently they backed out, and the Vols were scheduled to play UAB, and they backed WAY out.  The marriage does come with a nice dowry....BG will get $1.2M.

Two things....note below...which means that if Dino is going to have a Year 2 like he did at EIU, he's going to have to win some big ones...although we are undefeated at Purdue.

Second, the trolling would have been awesome if Clawson was still here.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Dayton Flyers Preview

On Tuesday, BG will head into what is probably its most difficult non-conference assignment--and quite possibly the best team they will play this season.  The opponent is the Dayton Flyers, obviously on the road.

We all know what Dayton did in the Big Dance last year, and while they did lose 3 starters off that team, they are back off to a 6-1 start and were picked all along to be in the top part of the highly competitive A-10.

They beat BG's last opponent by 24 in their opener, and then beat Boston College and Texas A&M in Puerto Rico.  They did struggle with Miami, winning by 4 at Millett, and they beat EMU by 9 in their last contest.  Their only defeat was to UConn in PR.

Looking at a profile of their team, they are averaging 1.05 points per possession, which is good if not great.  They get almost 28% of their points on the FT line, despite making only 67%, which is below average.  So, they get to the line a LOT.

They are an average shooting team from the field and don't take especially good care of the ball, turning it over on 19% of possessions.  They are average on the offensive boards.  They are not reliant on the 3--they are in the lower quarter of the country in taking and making the 3 ball.

Their real calling card is that they play also play stifling defense, allowing 57 points a game, or .88 points per possession, which is in the top 40 in the country.  Teams shoot only 43% against them and they force turnovers on about 20% of possessions, which is very good.  They do a good job on the offensive glass and are above average in keeping opponents off the line.

Not to dwell on this, but in 7 games they have tried 198 FTs and allowed 126.  Teams commit 22 fouls a game against the Flyers.

Their leading scorer is Jordan Siebert, a 6'4" Sr.  Siebert is shooting 38% but gets 87% from the line.

Dyshawn Pierre is their 2nd leading scorer at 12 a game.  He's 6'6" and a junior.  He shoots 51% from the field and is 2nd on the team with 6 rebounds per game.

Their other double-figure scorer is Kendall Pollard, who is 6'6" and averages 11 points in 22 minutes.  He shoots almost 60% from the field and also averages 5 rebounds.

Their leading rebounder is Devon Scott, a 6'9" player who gets 7 REB per game.  Their leading assist man is, I swear to God, Scoochie Smith with 4 assists per game.

They play a pretty tight rotation, with 8 men getting 10 minutes or more.

Look, athletic competition is one of those never know.  Ask the New Jersey Institute of Technology, for example.  Having said that, this is an uphill assignment for the boys and it will be interesting to see how they fare.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Smoke from the Chimney: Camellia Bowl

So, the Camellia it will be.  I am happy for our seniors to be able to play in a bowl game and hopefully get a win.  And, the team gets extra practices and a chance to put the off-season on a slightly more positive outlook than what it sits on today, which is pretty ugly.

Beyond that, it is of minimal excitement.  If you are as old as I am, you remember when a bowl bid was a big deal.  The MAC only got one (and sometimes got none).  Today, a bowl bid is the softest landing in sports.  There are 76 bids out of 125 (or so) FBS teams...way more than half.  It is on the order of the NBA and NHL, where 16 out of 30 make the next round.  I think a lot of the excitement is left over from before.  In my world, you'd need 8 or 9 wins to make a bowl game, but I am not running a TV network that needs to put something on TV.

The Camellia is the state flower of Alabama.  We are playing South Alabama, which is in its first bowl game at 6-6.  This is their 5th year with a football program and only second as full FBS members.  Also, they will be playing near home, Montgomery, Alabama.  The game is being played in the Cramton Bowl, which is best known as the one-time home of the Blue-Grey game.  Wikipedia says the stadium is built on the former site of a sanitary landfill.

More to come as we learn about South Alabama and Montgomery and the Cramton bowl and the whole thing.

In other MAC News:

A really nice matchup was set up with NIU playing Marshall in the Boca Raton Bowl, which is a really nice matchup for MAC and will be a very watchable game.

UT will play Arkansas Sate in the Go Daddy Bowl.
CMU will play WKU in the Bahamas, in what I suspect was the player's first choice.
WMU will play Air Force in the Potato Bowl.

The only MAC-eligible team to not get a bid was OU, which was 6-6.

Men's Basketball Saves the Weekend

They were who we thought they were...and they provided what they were supposed to provide.  The Falcon Men's Basketball team got the win they expected against the SWAC's Alabama A&M with a 64-47 win over the Bulldogs.

While BG went wire to wire with the lead, it wasn't a blow out wire to wire.  BG didn't get its first 10 point lead until there was 2 minutes left in the first half and then the lead was back down to 10 with 7 minutes left in the game.  So, the Falcons were never threatened, but there were significant periods of the game that were competitive.

We noted in the preview that Alabama A&M was challenged when it came to scoring the ball, and that's exactly what you see here.  It was a VERY SLOW game...with only 54 possessions.  The last game BG played that was that slow was Samford in 12-13.

Anyway, the low number of possessions puts the low score in some perspective.  It means that BG had 1.18 points per possession, which is really good, against .87 for AA&M, which is a good number if you are playing defense.

In a neat trick, AA&M shot 35% on 2FG and 35% on 3FG.  Don't see that too often.  Anyway, they had 11 turnovers (remember, there were a low number of overall possessions, so that number is worse), had a below average day on the offensive boards and hardly got to the line at all.

In comparison, BG shot 50% overall and 35% from beyond the arc.  That alone was probably enough to win the game, but BG had a better day with turnovers, a decent day on the offensive boards and a minor advantage at the FT line.

BG really spread the minutes around...another factor in the final score...15 people played in total and no one played more than 26 minutes. Holmes had 12 points and 7 rebounds and Denny had 10 with 2 3FGs as he battles a shooting slump. Clarke scored 11 points and Joseph contributed 8 assists.

So the Falcons move to 5-1.  Certainly, you have to be pleased with the results to date.  Keep in mind that, according to kenpom, BG has played a schedule somewhere in the 300s in terms of rank, so let's enjoy it and hope to see the team continue to get better as they approach conference play.

BG's next assignment is a tough one.  They head on Tuesday to Dayton to take on the Flyers.  They are 6-1 and with early wins over Miami and EMU they have taken the early lead in the MAC.  That's the Elite 8 Dayton Flyers, and while they lost 3 starters off that team they are still picked to finish 3rd in the A-10.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

More on the Ford Field Debacle

The next morning things are not much better.  Very disappointed in the performance the Falcons put onto the field.  NIU is a worthy champion, but you certainly would think that BG would have represented themselves better than they did in giving NIU its only blow-out FBS win of the season.  It was a very poor night.

With the exception of punting, BG was beaten in every facet of the game.  The fans want to blame the QB--and the contrast between Drew Hare and our QB was indeed stark--but this was a complete and total team failure.

It was also one that has been coming down the road.  More on the state of the program in another post, but Coach Babers said we would see our biggest improvement between season 1 and season 2.  That's going to be an easy mark to hit, because we saw no improvement this year and actually regressed.  In fact, contrast the team we saw in last year's title game with this team...which got worse as the season went on.  After last week, Coach said he needed to fix "everything" after the Ball State game and, in the end, nothing was fixed.

BG came out looking like they were ready to play.  They had an offensive rhythm--though as I look at it, they were also aided by two NIU penalties.  BG went for the end zone from the NIU 24 and threw into double coverage and NIU intercepted the ball like the MAC-leading pass defense they are.
There was 12 minutes left to play in the first quarter.  BG had 3 first downs and would get only 10 the remainder of the game.  It would be 10 minutes before they would get another one.

In fact, after that INT, you almost never felt like BG was in the game again.  The score remained closeish until halftime, but you never really felt like the Falcons were in the game.

Anyway, BG's defense got the stop but then Knapke was sacked deep in BG territory and the Falcons had to punt and despite a 54 yard punt, NIU started on their own 40 and they scored from there on 8 pretty easy plays.

BG responded by going three and out when Ronnie Moore dropped a pass that was right in his hands.

BG's defense got a 3 and out, but then on first down BG threw to Lewis who failed to catch the ball and as it skimmed off his hands NIU picked up a second INT.  The defense held them to a FG but it was 10-0.

On the next drive, a sack had put BG in a 3rd and 15 spot.  BG got 10 yards to make it 4th and 5 and decided to go for it from its own 45.  Knapke mis-threw a ball to Ryan Burbrink and BG turned the ball over.

On the next drive, NIU converted a 3rd and 10, a 3rd and 12 and a 3rd and 6 before BG stopped them and held them to a FG.  It was 13-0 but could easily have been 21-0.

BG picked it up again on offense, with Coppet getting some yards and BG driving to the NIU 42.  From there, Knapke went deep for Dieter.  Ball was underthrown, but at least it was in place where the WR could make a play on it, and Dieter did, outfighting, literally, the NIU defender for the score.

At 13-7, it was one of those game.  NIU had failed to knock BG out...and maybe the Falcons could take advantage.

The defense obliged getting a 3 and out.  In retrospect, if BG was going to get back into the game, here it was.  BG gained 0 yards on 3 plays and punted.

NIU drove to midfield, but then BG got a 3rd down stop on 3rd and 4 and forced a punt.  BG's defense at this point is keeping the Falcons in the game, but the Falcon offense failed to convert on a 3rd and 3 when Greene was absolutely stuffed on a run up the middle and BG had to punt again.

This time, NIU gashed what had to be an exhausted BG defense.  Starting on their own 32 with 1:31 on the clock, they were inside the BG 5 with :41 left, running 7 successful plays in :50.  From there they scored and at 20-7 things were looking bad.

To their credit, BG took the squib kick and started at its own 40 and put together a nice little drive to get in FG range and Tate hit a 46 yarder.  For all that, 20-10 and a late score, it was as much as you could have hoped for and the Falcons were still in the game.

That didn't last long.  NIU took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards in 10 plays for the TD.  As Coach said after the game, the offense needed to punch back and they did not.  NIU then drove 73 yards in 8 plays to go up 34-10 and at that point, with 8 minutes left in the 3rd Q the game was completely over.

BG got an INT and there was a crazy play where NIU fumbled and then BG fumbled it back while trying to return the fumble.  But the game was completely over, though NIU scored 17 more points in the final 23 minutes.

Oh and BG did put Callaway in and the skies did not rain touchdowns.

NIU won the game just like WMU, UT, and Ball State beat BG.  By running relentlessly.  They had 334 yards on 51 carries, which is 6.5 per carry.  I'd be surprised if too many teams won this year giving up 6.5 yards per carry.  BG tackled really poorly all day, which showed up on the RBs and also on the WRs out on flat passes.

Drew Hare was really effective.  He was 29 of 49 for 218 yards, which is not eye popping, but it is good enough to keep the pressure on the defense.  He was also very effective on 3rd down, both with passes and runs.  NIU was 10 of 19 on 3rd down and ran 100 plays while holding the ball for 38 minutes.

Meanwhile, BG's offense generated 13 first downs, 287 yards of total offense and 4.8 yards per play.  Travis Greene had a nice day with 5.8 yards per carry and 105 yards, but the passing offense generated only 127 sack-adjusted yards on 25 attempts and 3 INT.  No one can say they are too surprised...BG had not sustained any offense consistently since somewhere around UMass.

So, other than Joe Davidson and possibly the run game, BG did not succeed in any facet of the football game.  I said in the preview that BG needed to play its best game in all 3 phases and that they had not done that in any game this year and they did not go that last night either.  The result was a championship quality team beating the crap out of a non-championship quality team.

Complete Disaster at Ford Field

Well, there will be more tomorrow.  A few thoughts.

Seems like a long time since we were all told we couldn't get onto the train.  It had left the station.  Remember that day?

Today was a complete disaster.  51-17...which means a 34 point defeat after a 20 point win last year, meaning from one year to the next, BG fell 54 points relative to NIU.

It is among the worst big-game defeats in program history.  BG lost to Tulsa by 56 and to Fresno State by 44.  It was worst than the 22 point beat down Big Ben put onto us in the MAC title game of '03.  It is the worst conference defeat since 2011 @WMU.

It is also the most one-sided game in the history of the MAC Championship.  (2007's CMU win over Miami by 25 was the previous  record).

It is the most points ever scored in a MAC title game...with 51 points.  The previous record was 49, by Marshall and Miami (against BG).

NIU's 51 points tied their D1 season-high...the other was against Miami, who also scored 41.

NIU's previous highest margin of victory this year was 14 points (FBS games only), which was Ball State.  UT came within 3 of them while using their #4 QB.

NIU only beat EMU by 11 and Kent by 3.

A complete disaster unworthy of a title game.  This team got worse as the season went on.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Last thoughts before the big game...

OK, some last thoughts before the big game.

I think Gabe Martin said it best, yesterday.  He echoed a lot of Bowling Green fans when he said that we have gotten where we wanted to be this year...even though we didn't get there down the road we wanted to.

And that's exactly right.  For 12 games, it has been, overall, disappointing.  Given the team BG had last year and the guys who were back, no way you'd expect to be 7-5.  No way.  And given the offensive skill players returning--even without Johnson--you'd expect to be scoring some points.  And, you'd expect your offensive-guru coach to have adjusted to life without his #1 QB sometime in the 11 games since it happened--similar to the way other MAC teams have done with their backup QBs.

Even being in the title game is a watered down accomplishment, coming as it did with a 5-3 conference mark and 0-3 against the other division.  BG did not beat a team with a winning record during the entire season.

All that being said and acknowledged, it has come down to 1 game and all that goes away with a win tonight.  BG will be repeat champions and all of that will disappear.

We should stop and remember that for many long years we would have killed to go 5-3 and make the MAC title game.  Context is everything, I know, and this team didn't do what we expected, but still...we were in the MAC wilderness for a long time and playing for the title two years in a row is something in, say 2010, we would have considered an incredible milestone.

It is simple as this.  If BG wins, everything is great.  If BG doesn't, it is going to be a long off-season in BG.  Suspect we won't see any more videos of the coach changing the speed limit signs, if you know what I mean.  Multiply all that by 5 if BG gets blown out.

And that is a possibility.  In the 25 questions preview, you can certainly see that NIU is not the team they were last year.  Neither is BG.  There is no reason, on paper, to think BG has the ability to win this game.  NIU beat UT, WMU and Ball State, each of which BG lost to.  BG is playing poorly right now.

Here's the thing.  There wasn't much reason on paper to think that BG could beat NIU last year either, and yet it happened.  Football games are played on the field, and they aren't best of 7.  BG needs to be better than NIU once.

Last year, I said that BG needed their best game to beat NIU, and not only did they deliver their best game but, honestly, it was the best game THE PROGRAM had seen in a long time.  BG doesn't have to be that good, but they will need their best game again tonight, an order of magnitude better than what was seen against Ball State.  BG has not delivered one complete, three-phase 60 minute effort for the entire season and they are going to need it tonight.

It could happen.  The Ball State and Toledo losses could be the bracing dump of cold water that wakes the team up.  Playing indoors could help with accuracy and passing issues.  Coach said he had to fix everything in one week, and if he only partly fixed any of it, I think we're in trouble.  He has to put something together that has yet to exist this season but you could put everything together with a team where most of the players know championship effort.

The biggest question mark is something we do not know, and that is the health of Travis Greene and Fred Coppet.  NIU leads the MAC in pass defense and BG simply must be able to run the ball to win this game.

He appears to be playing the psychology game by not at least walking through some things at Ford Field yesterday, telling the media "our preparation is done."  It is important to note that he has never coached in a winner-take-all game like this.  He did coach in the FCS playoffs (and lost), but he has not coached in a title game like this.

So, we shall see.

Here's what he said on twitter this morning.

And that's exactly right.  This is a great opportunity.  It won't be won with motivational quotes, however.

Best Memory of Title Game in 2013

This is one I will never forget.  Halftime...BG has scored twice in the last 5 minutes to go up a game where they were supposed to have no chance, they were instead in a position to win.

As I walked to the bathroom, the Ford Field sound system was playing this song...

And I thought....OH, INDEED.

MAC Blogger Roundtable, Title Edition

Eagle Totem is hosting the MAC Blogger Roundtable, and here it is for this week.

Basketball Interlude: Alabama A&M Preview

So, the next team into the Stroh is Alabama A&M.  You probably don't know much about them, I know I didn't.  They are the Bulldogs, the school is located in Normal, Alabama.  They are D1 and they play in the SWAC, the 32nd ranked conference (out of 33) in D1.  Last year, the Bulldogs were 14-16 and they lost 4 starters off that team.  Their RPI was 272 last year, but was over 300 each of the four years before that.

They are picked to be 8th in the SWAC and are 1-4 this year.  Now, they lost @Dayton and @Georgia Tech, but then lost at home to Jacksonville State and @Southeast Missouri State.  BG beat SEMO and SEMO beat these guys by 34.  Their only win was over Oakwood University, a small religious school in Alabama.

Against that schedule, they are among the worst offensive teams in the country, with .85 PPP and only 58 PPG.

They are led by 6'10 J Nicholas West, who scores 12 PPG and adds 6.6 RPG.  He shoots under 50% which is unusual for a big man and probably indicates that he either isn't a good shooter or has to take a poor shot selection due to being the only scorer on the team...or both.

Ladarious Tabb is their 2nd leading scorer and rebounder.  Rakiya Battle is getting about 4 assists per game.

Based solely on the information available, this one should be exactly what it was meant to be, which was a chance to get a win on the schedule.  I would think BG would be highly favored and should win this game easily.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Huge Honor: Tyler Tate first-team Academic All-American

Huge news today, as Tyler Tate was named first-team All-American!  This is a huge honor for Tyler and for our program.  Last Falcon to receive that honor was in 1990.  He has a 3.97 in exercise science in addition to being an outstanding kicker.

Congrats to Tyler.  He is a great representative of our program on the field and our university off the field.  Enjoy the honor!

25 Questions that REPEAT

You are looking live....
What is their body of work?

Well...not as good as last year.  They are 10-2 this year.  They lost to Arkansas and CMU...both on the road...and they beat Northwestern, which doesn't look as good as it did at the time.  Also, games have been closer.  They beat UT, Ball State and WMU...none of which BG did.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

25, which is the same as they had last year.

Who are their FBS statistical leaders?

Their only top 20 ranked player is Paris Logan, #19 in passes defended.


What is their turnover ratio?

+7. #3 in the MAC, one behind BG

How big is the whole enchilada?
This big.

How is their QB Play?

Look, not as good last year, when Lynch was the leading rusher and the #4 QB.  But good.  Hare is the #7 rusher and #8 in passing efficiency.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

Last year they had the top offense in the MAC.  This year, they are 8th in scoring and 5th in yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

This is a huge threat to BG.  They are 2nd in the MAC in yards per carry, and given how, oh, UT, WMU, and Ball State ran on BG...this is something the Falcons have to clean up.  The NIU game plan is sure to be to run the ball, roll up the first downs and eat up clock...only because that has worked, you know, really well.

Do they pass the ball?

They don't do it much, but they can.  They are last in passing yards per game, but they are 6th in pass efficiency.  (BG is 11th).  They complete 59.8% of passes (4th), with 7 TD and 2 INT.  They do get 12 yards per completion, which is about MAC average.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 65% of plays, which is very high and higher than last year.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are 5th at 42%

Do they score in the red zone?

They average 4 trips per game and score 5 per trip, which is very solid but not spectacular. Have missed 5 RZ FGs.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have allowed only 4 sacks in 8 games, which is 2% of attempts and very good even for their meager number of passing attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are very good...3rd in the MAC in scoring defense and #4 in yards per play allowed.

Mission.  New Dog.
We met Diesel leaving Ford Field last year.
 Nice dog. Was taking the defeat in stride.
Do they defend the run effectively?

This is their bigger weakness.  They are 8th for rushing yards per carry allowed.  BG really needs Coppet and Greene healthy and to be able to establish this part of the game.

Can they be passed on?

They are the #1 pass defense in the MAC.  They have 8 INT and have allowed only 8 TD with 55% completions.  If you want something to worry about, here you go.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are OK, 6th in the MAC. (39.2%).

Do they defend in the red zone?

Actually, no.  They allow 5.4 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

They are pretty good with 15 sacks and 5.3% of attempts.

Special Teams:

Honestly.  He looks better with a hat on.

They are 4th in net punting with no touchbacks.  No blocks, no TD allowed.

Punt Return?

They are 7th in punt return average.   No blocks, no TDs.


Kicking has been only fair.  8 of 16, 6 of 12 inside 40.  Long 45, 2 block.  Missed 2 of 3 against WMU.


They lead the MAC in kickoff coverage.  Teams average starting on the 22 and only 11 TBs.

Kickoff Return?

Not especially good, starting on 24,

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

OK, some intangibles.

NIU lost last year and even though they don't think it is about revenge, they have to be hungry to prove themselves.

Neither team is as good as last year.  BG was supposed to lose last year and instead played an almost perfect game.

BG is playing very poorly.  How they respond to that will largely determine how this game goes.

Just like last year, if BG wins this game, it will be because they played their best game all season.

Sounds like a good BG crowd is on the way, so should be good support.

The Falcons will have to stop the NIU run and then have a strong need to get the ball moving on offense.

We don't know how Babers will Coach in a game like this, because he has never been in one.  Of course, Carey has been in 1 and he lost it.

Falcons Streak Ends at 4

The Falcons, honestly, should stop going to Bowling Green, KY, which has turned into a bizarro world city of horror for the Falcons.  The men's basketball team went down by 10 last night for their first loss of the season...and even though that's 18 points closer than the football team got--and WKU's basketball team only scored 13 more points than their football counterparts--it was still a defeat.

BG has won its last 2 games while being out shot and the streak ran out on that.  BG shot 35% and 29%, which makes it really tough to win.  If you aren't going to shoot well, you have to at least take care of the ball, and BG had 17 turnovers on top of it.  WKU didn't shoot great--44% and 19%, and had 19 turnovers, so they weren't great, but it was enough difference to win.  In total, it was a poor night both ways, BG had .76 points per possession and WKU had .86--both totals that are difficult to win with, but someone has to win.

In fact, while the deficit was at the end, with 1:29 left BG was only down 2 (but not with the ball), so it was a tight contest until the very end.

The other big difference was at the free throw line.  BG only had 2 more fouls, but the fouls they did have were putting WKU on the line.  WKU tried 23 FTs and BG tried 13, and the Toppers had a +7 advantage on made FTs.

Individually, BG had 3 players in double figures.  Parker had 14--on 4 of 14 shooting, but all four from beyond the arc (4 of 8).  Anthony Henderson had a nice night with 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting and hitting both his 3s, and Jehvon Clarke 10 points on 5 of 12 shooting.  Richaun Holmes had one of those nights.  He battled foul trouble and played 21 minutes.  He had 4 points on 1 of 4 shooting, though he did lead the team with 9 boards. Henderson also had 5 rebounds and Joseph had 4 assists to lead the team in that category.

While a defeat, this game was far from a setback.  WKU is a good team and the game was on the road and BG was in it the whole, despite not shooting well and not getting production out of its best player. These are all good signs.  Next up is Alabama A&M, when our boys have a chance to get healthy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

MAC Awards Announced...Lewis and Burbrink Only All-First Team...

So, the MAC Awards were announced this morning...nothing is more likely to get teeth gnashing than this, so let's get started.

I kid.

Starting strictly from a BG perspective, the Falcons had only two first-team players...Roger Lewis at WR and Ryan Burbrink at PR.  Certainly, Roger was deserving and we congratulate him.  Ryan Burbrink is a good player for us, though he often isn't even out to return punts anymore.  Anyway, given the season BG had in the East--while most of the good players are in the West--I'm not surprised at only having two players on the first team.  Now, UMass had 4, which is getting some attention.

Having said that, I think Gabe Martin and Nick Johnson--who both made 2nd team--were worthy of 1st team mentions.  I'm not going to go and say who they would replace, just that they had 1st team quality seasons.

Alex Huettel also made 2nd team for the second straight season.

For third team, BG had Tyler Tate and Bryan Thomas.  Tate had a really good year...Secor had to be first team and Detmer is a really good kicker as well, so no great injustice there.  Bryan Thomas had a really underrated season for BG, and I am glad to see him get honored.  He was really productive.

The overall awards were:

Offensive POY:  Franklin
Freshman POY: Franklin
Defensive POY:  Quentin Rollins
Special teams POY:  Scott Secor
Coach of Year:  PJ Fleck
Leadership Award:  Nick Mancz, UT

I can't really quibble with any of these.  Except for the Offensive POY, they exactly match what I had called earlier in the week and I don't even quibble with Franklin, though I would have voted for Hunt.

The rest of the team can be found here....

I appear on the College Football Roundtable Podcast

We had the privilege of being on the College Football Roundtable podcast to talk about the big MAC Championship game on Friday...had a great time, talked some football and even a little Falcon basketball.  Check it out and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

WKU Preview

We are still having PTSD from the results of the last time we wrote a preview for the WKU Hilltoppers, so we are looking for our Falcon Men to go down to Bowling Green (KY) and exorcise those demons.

BG has played the 'Toppers three times since 2010, with WKU winning twice...once at EA Diddle Arena and once at Anderson.  BG won by 12 last year at the Stroh in one of the year's higher moments.

WKU is a good program.  They have 20 wins each of the last 2 seasons, and two years ago put a fright into Kansas in the first round of the Big Dance.  They have been to the Sweet Sixteen twice since the 1990s.

Four starters return from last year's team, but they are in a new conference, where they are picked by Blue Ribbon to be 5th.  This year, they are 2-3, with a win over Austin Peay at Diddle (just like saying it) and over St. Joe's, a down A-10 at Madison Square Garden. They lost @Minnesota and @Stony Brook and then at home to Belmont, so while there are no quality wins there are no bad losses either.

WKU has struggled to score the basketball this year.  They have only .91 points per possession.  They are shooting only 40% and 32% and are turning the ball over on 24% of their possessions, both of which are mitigated by good offensive rebounding.  They do a decent job of getting to the line, but hit only 63% when they are there.

On defense, they are allowing .98 points per possession, which is not great and only slightly above average.  They are holding teams to 42/33 shooting and they create turnovers at 17% of possessions, which is about average.  They do a good job on the offensive boards...and the foul A LOT...21 per game.

Their leading scorer is TJ Price, who is scoring 13 PPG on 35% shooting.  He is actually shooting 44% from beyond the arc, which makes him their most effective 3FG shooter.  He also leads the team with 3.6 assists and a 1:1 A/TO ratio.  He is a player with upsides and

So G Chris Harrison-Docks is scoring about 12 a game on 42% shooting.  He is their highest volume 3FG shooter but hits only 31%.

Both Price and Harrison-Docks are deadly FT WKU's struggles at the line are coming from other guys.

George Fant is only scoring 8 points a game but leads the team with 7.4 rebounds per game.  He had a Richaun Holmes-like night at MSG, going 17 and 15.  Well, he didn't have any blocked shots, so it wasn't a truly Holmes-like night.

This is a road game and those are always a challenge, but this is certainly a winnable game for the Falcons, who have won twice on the road already.  Last year's team was 4-11 on the road and didn't win #2 until January 19.