Sunday, September 18, 2016

Soaking Defeat--The Offense

Let's start with the positive.

When BG couldn't grind out a first down against North Dakota to kill the game, Coach challenged his line and his line coach a little bit in the press conference afterwards.  He said, essentially, that we are too good up there not to be able to grind out a first down.

The line came back against Middle Tennessee and played the way we would expect them to.  Coach said after the game that they fought hard--and two of them got injured, Beggan for sure and I think McAuliffe was the other one--and really went to war with the Blue Raiders.  So, good job for our guys responding to the challenge.

You could see the results in the run game.  Coach said that they thought they could run on MTSU, and the weather only made that an easier decision.  In fact, he told the offense that there were only two real plays in the second half....inside zone and outside zone.

And BG had excellent success running the ball.  Credit to the line, and to Coppet and Cleveland, both of whom had big days.  Cleveland 18 for 153 and a score, with a TD, and Coppet was 27 for 117.  That's 8.5 and 4.3 yards per carry respectively.  Donovan Wilson also joined in with 36 yards on 10 carries and 2 TDs....playing the big man role in short yardage scenarios.

He's an interesting stat....those 3 backs only lost 1 yard on all their rushes.  That's pretty good, and probably more of a measurement of the line than the backs.

BG ran for 304 yards overall, which is a good day's work, and it kept BG in the game.  Had BG been one-dimensional in the middle of that monsoon, things could have gotten a lot worse.  BG had third quarter drives of 12 plays and 11 plays...both of which ended turning the ball over on downs in the red zone.  Coach Jinks points to those 4th down plays as examples of BG just needing to learn how to get that extra yard.

So, the line and the running game...positive.

Now, the negatives.

First, you just can't escape the overall issue...yes, BG scored 21 points.  So, that's 3 scoring of which started at the MTSU 1 and one of them on the MTSU 21.  One of those was a special teams turnover and the other an interception, but they were basically gifts to the offense.  So, for a 60-minute game, the offense generated one real scoring drive...and none in the second half.  That simply is not good enough to win games.

Second, BG had, really, five turnovers.  The muffed punt was technically not a fumble, but that's one and it was Ronnie Moore.  The other four...look this is a fact, were two fumbles by Knapke and two interceptions by Knapke.  Yes, the ball was wet, I get that, but this isn't the first time that this has happened either.  Coach said in the presser that the turnovers cost the team the game, and I think that's certainly hard to argue.

Also, BG's productivity in the passing game was poor.  The Falcons were 18 of 32, which is 56%, with 2 picks, no TD and just 129 yards, which is 4 yards per attempt and 7 yards per completion.  MTSU had double on both of those last numbers in the same rain.

Unless we can really turn into 3 yards and a cloud of dust, we're not going to win games with five turnovers and passing numbers like that.  Coach made reference to the fact we were running into some light boxes...the question is are we going to be able to pass against a heavy box.

I know the Falcon Nation is up in arms about our QB.  I don't want to rip the guy.  He's one of us and as far as I can see he is a stand-up guy playing his heart out for us.  The facts above are facts, though, and beyond that, you all can see what I see on the passing offense.  There's no need to belabor the point.

I know people are screaming for Morgan.  The backup QB is always the most popular guy in any fan base--he's rich with potential and poor of reality.  Yes, I know Morgan looked good against OSU, but he was playing against backups in a blowout game.

There are a couple possibilities here.  First, I believe that if Morgan was clearly better in practice he would be in the game now.  Unless--and this happens--Coach is so addicted to having an experienced QB that he is kind of blinded to the difference...much like when Dave Clawson started Matt Schilz over Matt Johnson for about 25 seconds in '13.

But, on balance, I trust Jinks' judgment on this.  If Morgan was a clearly better, he would be in the game.

Here's the thing.  As I understand it, the concern with Morgan is that he makes some bad in the North Dakota game...and OSU for that matter.  Well, here is the thing.  I am not a person who says it can't get worse.  It can always get worse.  But I don't know what kind of decision making you are getting out of the starter...and maybe they are execution errors, not decision errors...but if you are playing Knapke to limit mistakes, that's tough to square.

The Schilz-Johnson comparison is very attractive.  One thing to remember is that Johnson was a redshirt sophomore when he stepped in for Schilz.  Morgan is a redshirt freshman.  That's one less year in the program and could be huge from a development standpoint.  Also, Johnson spent his first two years in the same system...Morgan has spent two years in two systems.  Finally, when Johnson did play as a r-FR, he was not effective.  The light did not come on until the next year.

I think you will see Morgan more and relatively soon.  But, if it was as obvious as it seems to us, it would have happened by now.


Anonymous said...

While I agree with your analysis of knapke vs Morgan, there were 2 plays that really played out for me that said sit knapke down; at least for a series. Knapke said in 2014 he hated to run and it still shows the way he goes about it, given. However, in the third he fumbled on a throw. He indicated his arm was going forward however the refs didn't blow the whistle and he let 3 mtsu D lineman jump on the ball. No other BG player around and by the time the mtsu players got to it he could have. Instead. He just stood there and watched. The second was a passing play not sure of quarter, but he had nothing and we needed the first down. Their D was either all in collapsing the pocket or over 30 yards down the field on either side of the sidelines leaving 20 yards at least open; enough running lane with no one to stop him for at least the 10 yds needed. He decided to hang on the ball and get tripped up fumbling the ball that they recovered.

Orange said...

Thanks for the comment...good observations. Certainly a lot of mistakes being made.

Ken said...

Enjoying your analysis. I did not make the game but watching on the ESPN app I would never know that there are as many positives to see as you have explained. Thanks for keeping us informed.

Anonymous said...

Generally in cases where not much is changing from week to week most Top Tier Coach's will give everyone of their personnel, at all positions, a good look. Sometimes talent isn't evaluated objectively when coming into a new program. I personally watched Ty Isaac, a 5 Star recruit, get beat out by a walkon at USC. Wisconsin was getting shredded defensively and they found a walkon named J.Jennings. Watt who was 6th on the depth chart. Until Babers got to EIU the coaching staff leaving out said QB play would be a major issue. My point, Top Tier programs don't always go "Chalk"

Anonymous said...

J.J.Watt was the Wisconsin walkon