Sunday, September 24, 2017

Falcons 0-4 for first time since 2000 (The Offense)

For the first time since 2000, the last horror year of the Blackney regime, BG has started a year 0-4.  In 2000, the 4th loss was the infamous Buffalo game that resulted in Blackney announcing he would leave at the end of the season.

Last night's loss contained few redeeming features, similar to previous losses.  Yes, this one was closer, but this was also a team playing without its three best offensive players.  MTSU pretty much had its way with the BG defense (especially in the first half) and the BG offensive line.  Along the way, BG learned that its issues go way deeper than QB.

We should start with that.  Jarrett Doege had a nice game, particularly for a true freshman.  He completed 60% of his passes, had 283 yards on only 21 completions, a big play to Scotty Miller.  No picks.  He's more mobile, got rid of the ball quicker most of the time, though not all of the time.  He certainly was an improvement at the position and I'd expect him to start next week for sure.

And yet....BG had only 4.4 yards per play, scored only one touchdown and had another nightmare day in the red zone.  Yes, Morgan was struggling.  Yes, the problems are deeper than that on offense.

Bad snaps were a huge issue.  You see this sometimes when there's a new QB, though this was on the bad end of the range.  McAuliffe (the C) is one of our better players, so I'm going to assume it is just a matter of getting used to each other, especially on the 4th down play in the 2nd Quarter when BG had a chance to get it to 21-17 at halftime and ended up with a bad snap and getting nothing.

So, that's one thing.  The second is the offensive line.  BG is really struggling up front.  Coach called is "worrisome" after the game.  And it is.

For a team that had a "running identity" after three winning games last year, the Falcons just cannot run the ball effectively.  Yes, BG had 1 yard rushing on 29 attempts...and yes, that includes sacks and bad snaps.  However, Josh Cleveland rushed for 3.2 yards per carry.  No other back had more than two carries, but Domer and Wilson and Clair were similarly ineffective.

BG just can't get a running game going, regardless of which back has the ball, and it would appear that is falling on the offensive line.

The same issues are being exposed in pass protection.  BG couldn't handle the stunts from the MTSU line, something that is now an unaddressed, multi-week problem.  Doege was under constant pressure, often with only 3 or 4 people rushing.  He was sacked three times, MTSU had four hurries and there were other times Doege had to throw it away or run for a short gain.

Coach said after the game that we had to be in "90 protection" in order to keep the QB safe.  90 is a max protect scheme with limited WRs in routes.  Coach says that isn't how we play, and it isn't.  We expect to have multiple guys out there with spread reads.

The line did lose starters from last year, but I surely don't see the line getting any better.  We will find out once conference play starts, but for now I think this is an area that is indeed "worrisome."  Among the things to worry about is whether our offensive line coach, who had never held this responsibility anywhere, is over his head or not in trying to make adjustments, Either way, it is on Jinks, but we wanted incremental improvement this year and we are not getting it.

Doege can be better.  But if we can run the ball or protect him, it frankly doesn't matter who we play at QB.

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