Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Brandon Faces Music

The weekly presser. Smart aleck comments are in orange.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (BGSUFalcons.com) - BGSU football quotes as the Falcons prepare for Saturday's Mid-American Conference East Division game against Akron ...

HEAD COACH Gregg Brandon
How is the mood of the team?
"Well, I think they still think we can win, and they are still playing as hard as they can considering what they have been through. We are still going to prepare just like we do every week to try to go and beat Akron."

Fans have seized on this statement as evidence of a defeatist attitude. I don't read it that way, though it isn't exactly Churchillian in its determination.

How is your mood?
"I'm a little testy, but losing will do that to you. But other than that we are going to stay the course. We are going to try and win the rest of our games. If you look at where Akron was at this time last year, Akron was 4-5 (overall) and 3-3 in the MAC, and they beat Ohio and Kent State, won a tiebreaker and won the conference at 5-3. They won a tiebreaker, got to the MAC Championship game and won that. We aren't ruling that out. Ohio and Kent both have to lose, but there is a chance they could lose another game, and right now we just need to take care of things on our end. That's what I am looking at."

And that is what he should be looking at. I also listened to this presser on the radio (the university publishes highlights, but not a transcript), and it is safe to say that Coach is emphasizing that we are still in the race at 4-5, and we would have needed to win our November games regardless of where we stood. Again, it seems like a little stretch, but competing is not about the past, so I suppose he might as well feel this way about it. Winning out from here would be a miracle for this team.

What is the quarterback situation right now?
"Well, we are going to evaluate that through the course of the week. I think we will get them both (Anthony Turner and Tyler Sheehan) ready and, shoot, I may play two quarterbacks. If one gets a hot hand I will stay with him."

Play them both. Great. The track record of success with that is spotty, to say the least. Of course, UM is doing it in Florida, so it must be really smart.

But Freddie Barnes is not in the mix at quarterback right now, is he?
"No. He's a receiver, and right now, Freddie's ankle is still an issue. We need to get him healthy. That hurt us big-time at Temple; when your leading scorer is out, it is going to hurt. And, we were struggling to score anyway, so it makes it all the more difficult."

Freddie is a big part of the attack, especially in the red zone. On the other hand, with that work he got early, it is no wonder he got injured.

Is Anthony Turner struggling with his confidence?
"Well, I think what you can say about Anthony, and what you can say about our entire team, is that we just have to develop some consistency. He has demonstrated that he can make plays and run the offense. The Buffalo game was an example; he did a nice job there. At FIU, he was moving us before he got hurt. I think since he got hurt he hasn't thrown the ball as effectively as he did going into the season. He seems to be a little rusty. He hasn't been able to practice as much as he wants coming off of that injury and I just think he should have been rounding into midseason form but he was trying to come off an injury. I think he has to make some plays like he did early in the season, and that will help his confidence, but that's easier said than done. And, we have to help him; we have to catch balls. We dropped some balls Saturday that should have been caught. And, things like the fumble on the one-yard line killed us. If we score there, it's a different ball game. So it's not just Anthony Turner, it's the whole team. We need to continue to develop consistency and I think that will create confidence."

Well, I think this is probably a realistic comment. We don't know how healthy AT has been. Some fans have seized upon this presser as further evidence of Brandon blaming his players. I guess I'd prefer he was a little less candid on the players by name, but it isn't a big secret. In another part of the presser, he said things like "we need to complete passes. We need to get the ball to the player who is open."

What did you see out of Tyler Sheehan?
"Well, I saw some good things and I saw some bad things. The interceptions weren't good. When he ran the ball he coughed it up; he has to do a better job taking care of the football both when he is running it and when he is throwing it. He made some nice throws, though. As I've said, he is a freshman, and if you are going to count on a freshman to lead you to win a football game, he had better be Michael Vick. But I think he is going to be a good football player, and I am not down on Anthony. I think they both, down the road -- hopefully this week, but eventually -- can help us win football games again."

Fair enough, I guess. See below.

How do you prepare two quarterbacks?
"We just have to get them to complete some passes. Right now, if it's Anthony (in the lineup), it's Anthony and if it's Tyler, it's Tyler. Anthony has struggled with his throws the last couple weeks and that's why we went with Tyler in the second half (at Temple). Now he just knocked them dead in the second half, which is why I think we have to prepare both of them. Hopefully, one of them gets a hot hand and completes some balls and gets some first downs. I don't think that's the problem. I think we just can't score;, that's the problem right now. If you would have told me after nine games we would have been leading the conference in rushing ... We stressed in the off-season that we wanted to help both sides of the ball. I think our defense is fourth or fifth in the league in rushing defense; I think we have given up 140 or something on the ground, and I will take that. And, we are rushing the ball pretty good. I think that has given us some chances to win some games. I would hate to be in a situation where we couldn't run the ball right now and try and throw the ball with our quarterbacks being inconsistent. We have been fortunate in that we haven't won some games (we would like to have won), and we are still in the hunt this late in the year with this young football team."

Who knocked who dead? Sheehan knocked Temple dead? Didn't see that. He did a little better than AT, but he didn't knock anybody dead. No doubt, though, the rushing has saved this team and it was badly needed once Omar's injury laid bare out one man attack last season.

On the play of Chris Bullock
"He showed some signs of this in the spring. He came on late in the spring, and then he got a little hamstring injury at the end of the spring and missed the last week. For him carry the ball 30 times and rush for that amount of yards, that's a credit to him but also to our offensive line. Our offensive line has been steady the entire season. We have to keep managing that, because they are getting a little dinged up now. Shane Steffy saw some action, another freshman, on the line for us. (Bullock) needs another winter in the weight room and another spring ball, as do 50 of my players. Another winter in the weight room and another spring football (season) and look out."

Chris Bullock is a beast, notwithstanding what follows. Future All-MAC performance.

On Bullock's fumble in the Temple game
"Yeah, we had to get him back up, it was tough. He shouldn't have left his feet, and if he didn't get (the touchdown) then, we would have just gone for it again. But, he is a kid trying to make a play. He tried to go over the top, and he coughed it up. It's just kids trying to make plays; with young players, that's going to happen."

"The running back fumbles, the quarterback throws a pick, our defensive back gives up a big play; you have to fight through that. Every time that happens to one of these kids their confidence gets tested. A lot of these young kids are making some nice plays, but they are also making some boneheaded plays every now and then. We just have to develop some consistency, and then I think we can be pretty good."

As I mentioned on Sunday, I think so, too. I think we can be pretty good. Having said that, we have a ways to go. He also spent a significant time in the presser whining about the schedule. Last year, when OSU was added, Coach made it clear he wasn't happy about it. He said straight out in the presser that he wanted a bye week sometime during the season--ideally, right after the OSU game. With our young team, he says he feels strongly we needed a bye week.

I'm sure it would have helped. But, with the 13 week schedule and the 12 games, and the Tuesday game in November against Miami, we needed the bye that week. Coach does, in fact, concede that he knew that this would be a challenge. I just think hate to see the general tone of these things be so fatalistic.

Monday, October 30, 2006

One of the rites of passage for the QB controversy...

is the following statement.

"Brandon will wait to name starting QB"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This week's Blogpoll

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 Auburn 1
4 Florida 2
5 Texas --
6 California 1
7 West Virginia 1
8 Tennessee 2
9 Southern Cal 6
10 Arkansas 1
11 Notre Dame 1
12 LSU 1
13 Louisville 1
14 Boise State 1
15 Oklahoma 1
16 Boston College 1
17 Georgia Tech 1
18 Virginia Tech 4
19 Clemson 8
20 Wisconsin --
21 Rutgers --
22 Oregon 2
23 Texas A&M 3
24 Brigham Young 1
25 Oregon State 1

Dropped Out: Nebraska (#19), Missouri (#23).

Finally, I can comment

I will say this. I am not as distraught at this as the rest of our tribe is. Temple was going to win sooner or later. We have a habit of struggling against bad teams--and we just aren't a very good team.

Still, it's no fun. A team we put 70 on each of the last two years beat us yesterday. (Note: their comments in the press in Philly indicated that this fact added some pleasure to the overall feeling of the event).

What happened? Well, in some ways, it was a typical BG performance. We dominated them on many of the statistics.

  • We had 27 first downs. They had 12.
  • We had 294 net rushing yards for a 5.4 average. They had 94 yards and a 3.4 average.
  • We had 158 passing yards (though it took us 36 passes). They had 162 yards on 13 passes.

Here's the most amazing stat:

Bowling Green ran 82 plays. Temple ran 41. Can you believe that? And we lost.

You might ask, how?

It comes down to the old bugaboos...big plays, special teams, and inconsistent execution on offense.

Let's run through the litany:

  • Temple's first TD was on a 43 yard pass.
  • Temple's third TD was on a 45 yard pass.
  • Temple's last (and back-breaking TD) was on a kickoff return of 96 yards that came just after we had scored to cut the lead to 7 points.
  • We had a punt blocked.
  • We missed a FG.
  • We fumbled the ball at the goal line through the end zone for a touchback.
  • We threw two interceptions.
And that, students, is how you rush for 249 net yards and lose.

Anyone who reads this blog (and the statistics indicate that the numbers are not large :0), will know that I have staunchly defended Anthony Turner. I have always felt that he gave us the best chance to win, and all this agitating for Tyler Sheehan was nothing more than typical football-fan backup QB is always an all-star psychology.

Having said that, when coach brought Tyler out to start the second half, I was for it. And, as far as I am concerned, he should start against Akron, too.

Turner simply is not managing the offense well. I don't mean to call him out. Perhaps he is not recovered from his shoulder injury (as coach intimated this week). Having said that, even in the runspread, we need to be able to make passes, and he just hasn't gotten it done. He threw 63 yards on 7-16 during his first half action, meaning he completed nothing but the easiest and shortest passes. Heck, his long was 15, so his other six completions were for 48 yards.

Furthermore, AT was supposed to be a RUN-PASS threat, as we adapted to the runspread. He only ran the ball three times for 14 yards, and is not a threat out of the option or designed runs. Again, he may not be healthy, but the production is not there.

So, we brought Sheehan in not, in my view, because it had to work or because he has supplanted Turner, but because we had nothing to lose on this day on that field.

Sheehan's numbers were a little better--though not incredible.

  • Turner was 7-16. Sheehan was 12-20.
  • Turner had 3.93 yards per attempt. Sheehan had 4.75 yards per attempt.
  • Sheehan was sacked twice and threw two bad interceptions. (Note: he holds the ball too long. But, Turner might have thrown those INT's because we were pressing by then.)

What typically happens (and by that I mean it has happened twice), Sheehan nails a couple quick slants, everyone decides he is better, but in the end, he doesn't really move the offense a lot better.

Having said that, the decision at Akron is the same. We have nothing to lose by putting Sheehan out there, and we begin the process of deciding who will QB next season. AT can get healthy or get his head straight. But, I just don't see what we have to lose.

Another note: Chris Bullock is an absolute stud. He had 29 carries for 192 yards (The Temple announcers wondered why we ever passed). Dan Macon also had 64 yards on 9 carries in his first productive work of the season. Bullock also caught four passes for 31 yards. If we could just pass a little, I still think this team can defend well enough to win a couple games on the home stretch.

Another note: Much anxiety has been invested in Kenneth Brantley II, who has hung around the depth chart while younger players passed him by again and again. He is starting to produce--6 catches yesterday. With Parks a non-entity, Ruiz (and his two bad drops) not contributing from an already thin receiving core, we can really use this.

Then, we get to what the Falcon Nation is really locked onto today. What is the state of our program--and how soon should Gregg Brandon be fired--as in, should it be today or tomorrow.

My view is as follows. Certainly, this is not a high point for our program. I'm not sure it falls to level of giving Buffalo their first IA win (which caused Blackney to resign), but it is not a high point. (Personally, the Kent loss was a bigger low, in my opinion, but it is a close call).

A dose of reality. Coach Brandon is not going anywhere unless he decides to be the offensive coordinator at Central Florida or something, and I don't see it happening. He has a couple years left on his deal, and BG does not fire coaches who have time on their deal--we can't afford it. Yes, I know we have a new AD. Yes, I know we are fighting attendance requirements and can scarcely afford to have losing seasons when we need bodies in the seats. I will believe we make a move on a coach when it happens. (Check the hoops program out if you don't believe me--and I hope Dakich succeeds).

Brandon does infuriate his critics with his post-game press conferences, where he says things he ought to keep quiet. He has a tendency to make excuses that I do not believe reflects the accountability he holds himself to. To his usual "youth" excuse, he added that we are "tired" due to the lack of a bye week. (To be fair, he warned of this during his weekly press event prior to the game). Temple was a younger team than us (believe it or not), and they haven't had a bye week either. Most teams don't get bye weeks under the new schedule, especially with the MAC weekday schedule in November. All along we have said we were building to November, and now it turns out we aren't ready or able to play in November.

I'm not giving up on this team or this staff. As up and down as this season has been, I still think the building blocks are there to get the program back on track. We have been inconsistent. We have outplayed teams (CMU and Temple) and lost. We have made too many mistakes. But, we have shown that we can run the ball and defend it at key times. If we can shore up special teams, tighten the D up on special teams, and pick up some passing attack (all of which have been in sight at times this year), I can see this team growing back into a contender.

Much as I say with basketball....our program will get turned around. I hope Coach Brandon is the one to do it.

But I don't blame anyone for having doubts about our progress. Our team has created doubters and now has to prove them wrong.

From The Blade

Falcons embarrassed in loss to Owls
Temple ends 20-game losing streak with plenty of help from BG


Not too long ago, Bowling Green State University was making national headlines for its offense, quarterbacks and back-to-back bowl victories.

Now the Falcons have made them again, as the red-faced loser to the worst team in college football.

BGSU lost to Temple 28-14 yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field, allowing the Owls to snap their 20-game losing streak of almost two years. An hour after the game, the recap was on ESPN.com’s front page.

The truth hurts.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Happy Owls

Put away the knives!

We lost to Temple, with the nation's longest losing streak. FalconNation begins ritualistic self-abuse. More to come.

Here is the rest of Temple's season.

Thu, Aug 31 at Buffalo L 3-9 * Audio
Sat, Sep 9 (13) Louisville L 0-62 * Audio
Sat, Sep 16 at Minnesota L 0-62 * Audio
Sat, Sep 23 at Western Michigan L 7-41 * Audio
Sat, Sep 30 at Vanderbilt L 14-43 * Audio
Sat, Oct 7 Kent State L 17-28 * Audio
Thu, Oct 12 at (12) Clemson L 9-63 * Audio
Sat, Oct 21 at Northern Illinois L 21-43 * Audio
Sat, Oct 28 Bowling Green W 28-14 * Audio

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A little taste of the Falcons

Freddie Barnes, to Corey Partridge, back to Freddie Barnes and down the sideline he goes. One of our great plays from the Josh Harris-Cole Magner Era. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hoops Interlude

MAC held its Media Day today. It is clear that of all the things our team will have to fight, one of them will NOT be high expectations. We are picked last in the MAC East--and received the lowest number of points of any team in the MAC.

Doesn't mean that is how it has to end, but the scary thing is that you can see where it is coming from. We'll do more preview as the season begins to come around in a couple weeks (home opener is 11/11), but the team has only two seniors (Lefeld and Samarco) and one junior--Ryan Hamblet, who, it must be said, has yet to play a game for our team.

Of course, the question which rides over the entire enterprise is that of the fate of our coach who is in the last season of his contract. This prediction would clearly look bad for him. On the other hand, the out of conference schedule is ridiculously easy, and with a little conference success, the team could be a little over .500. Whether that is enough is not clear.

I hope it is. We could do a lot worse. As I have said before, our basketball program will turn around. I just hope Coach Dakich is here to make it happen.

I hope that we look for a vector, along with this year's record. The question at the end of the season should be "are we on the way back, clearly, visibly, or are we not?"

Brandon Presser on Way to Philly

Normal weekly presser protocols apply. Smart aleck remarks are in orange.

COACH Gregg Brandon
(On the offense)

"I think the biggest thing that is showing up right now is inconsistent quarterback play. You know, Anthony (Turner) hasn't been 100 percent healthy, and we haven't developed the rhythm and consistency that we need particularly in the passing game. And, we are breaking in a bunch of new receivers. (Corey) Partridge is the only guy back with any experience, and he got injured early. He is just now getting to be the guy that we know he is capable of being. We just haven't developed the consistency that we need, and then you throw in the injuries on top of that. But, you know, we just have to fight through those things. We have tried to address some things -- you always assess what you are doing. We also have to give (Turner) throws that he is confident to complete. We thought we had done that for Thursday night (at Central Michigan) but he missed some of those."

Interesting comment to start it off. Falcon fans are in a state of perpetual anxiety over Turner, and it is nice that the Coach at least acknowledged it. His health has been kept quiet, so its hard to tell where it falls on the truth/excuse meter.

There's a more interesting part. The end of the quote deals with play calling--that's what he is talking about assessing. Like a thoroughbred down the backstretch, the Falcon fans are DYING to open the offense up. Others, me included, have been saying that we need to call plays we can execute. I'm sure everyone would love to open it up, but if all we can make work right now are bubble screens and counter play, then that's all we have. "Opening it up" just to throw incomplete passes and interceptions isn't smart.

He's only in his first year as a starter, so I just don't think he's far behind where he should be. He might be stuck there (too soon to tell), but I just expect this.

On the development of Freddie Barnes at wide receiver)
"Freddie is a guy that, whether he is at receiver or running back or quarterback, you need to get the ball in his hands. That strategy hasn't changed since day one. It's really been the availability of Anthony Turner that has dictated that."

"Freddie is getting better every week at learning the little nuances of playing the receiver position. He is still a work in progress, but I think that's his natural position. I think he is going to be a great one out there."

He sure as hell is. That's an All-MAC receiver out there, by the time he's a senior.

(On MAC having three bowl games, and on BG's chances to make a bowl game)
"We're not out of the race. But, right now all we are talking about is Temple. We have to find a way to win that game. We can't overlook them. We can't overlook anybody."

"Right now, we have to keep focusing on giving our guys the best chance to win. With the inconsistencies that have been brought about, by youth or injuries, some of the things we don't have control over, we have to keep working. We just have to find a way to win. We had a chance (on Thursday), I mean, (trailing only) 17-14 to Central in the fourth quarter? I would take that. I would go back and start that quarter all over. But we can't do that."

No, we can't--we can't start over, and we can't overlook Temple. I believe we can still win 3 of 4 on the road home. I don't believe we are going to any bowl game, however.

(How is the offensive line holding up?)
"Well we took a couple of days off. We did practice yesterday for about an hour and they responded. I mean we are eight games in, some of those kids have played well over 300 snaps already, and as physical as it's been with the schedule and what we have been doing offensively that is a concern, no question. We have to keep those guys fresh but it's tough, because you have to prepare them for different looks and different schemes. We do a lot of walk-through stuff, but still, you have to come off the ball to do that kind of stuff. At this point in the season I think everybody has that problem right now."

No doubt, this is the part where its a drain. And, playing three of the last four on the road just makes it harder--especially given the long trip to Philly. And being a young team just makes it harder.

On Temple)
"They are playing a lot harder than they have the past two times we have played them. You can see that on film. They are trying to learn a system and get guys lined up and get them in a position to make plays. Sometimes they are (making plays) and sometimes they are not, but they are playing a lot harder."

Temple appears to be much improved. Sooner or later they are going to beat someone (see previous post), and they figure it might as well be now.

(On the play of Jarett Sanderson)
"He has been a fairly consistent starter for us as a true freshmen. To me, that is pretty impressive. He spent a semester at military school, and then we got him in January. We watched him on film and he was a pretty good player. We went over and saw him and got to see him work out, and we thought he would have a chance to come in and play early which he is doing. Those kids that go to those military schools are there for a reason and usually you go through in the fall and get the names and evaluate them and see how they fit into your scheme. He has speed and athleticism; he is a rangy guy. He will only get better as well as that whole back end. I mean that group really fires me up."

Our young D backfield, if it continues to improve and mature, will be absolutely lock down when they are seniors. They will be experienced, and I think they are good players.

(On the defensive line)
"It's exciting because we have some young talented players that have been forced into duty. When we get our numbers back to where they belong and get to where we can redshirt more guys, we will be able to establish the type of numbers that we need. Until then, we have to play these (young) guys, and they can only get better."

Same deal, here. Briggs and Parks are beasts on the edge.

(On the play of Diyral Briggs)
"He has really come on and done a nice job for us. Again, he has been forced to play with some injuries in the front. Losing Brad Williams and Nick Davis and D.J. Young and those guys has just depleted us; it's forced us to play Brandon Mack at defensive end who I was anticipating redshirting this year. But, with all the injuries we have had, I had to move him back to the defensive line. Briggs, though, has done a nice job, particularly with rushing the passer, tackles for losses, those types of things. He is a force out there; a quick and agile guy."

(See above)

Falcons Get Bulletin Board Material

My personal opinion is that bulletin board material is ridiculous. But, the media loves it, and players seem to thrive on it. Apparently, SI runs a feature where they look at the winless teams (this week there were seven), of which one is Temple, this week's opponent. SI has declared that their best chance at winning is against us.

The Blade picked it up today--we're apparently offended.

A couple points. I think we win Saturday, but there are no gimmees on our schedule. Everything is up in the air. It is homecoming, and sooner or later they will beat somebody. Their margin of defeat has been lower this year. So, I don't think we should be offended at the notion they could beat us.

Secondly, it IS their best chance to win this season. After us, they play CMU (a team that just beat us), and then @Penn State and @Navy. Neither of those is powerhouses, but both are better than we are--and on the road.

So, OK. If it is a little extra motivation, OK. But it is hardly a ludicrous notion.

Monday, October 23, 2006

This Week's Blog Poll

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 Southern Cal --
4 Auburn 1
5 Texas 1
6 Florida 1
7 California 1
8 West Virginia --
9 Arkansas 2
10 Tennessee 1
11 Clemson 3
12 Notre Dame 2
13 LSU --
14 Louisville 2
15 Boise State 3
16 Oklahoma 4
17 Boston College 4
18 Georgia Tech 3
19 Nebraska 2
20 Wisconsin 2
21 Rutgers 2
22 Virginia Tech 4
23 Missouri 3
24 Oregon 8
25 Brigham Young 1

Dropped Out: Pittsburgh (#19), Texas A&M (#24), Penn State (#25).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

""I wondered what he was looking at when he threw it..." CMU DB Quote on his INT Return Thursday

"We were in cover three, and I saw the running back sitting out in the flat. We're coached to stay back, so I did that, and I saw the throw coming and I wondered what he was looking at when he threw it. I just wanted to make sure I didn't drop it. I knew my family was watching back home. That was probably the longest 30 yards I've ever run in my life." Central Michigan DB Eric Fraser on his interception return for a TD.

Sheehan stats line that is causing all the excitement

So, let's not over-do it on this KSU performance.....


Sheehan, Tyler 8-14-1 INT 64 yards
0 TD 18 Long 4 sacks


Sheehan, Tyler 7 10 28 -18 net
0 TD
7 -2.6

FUMBLES: Kent State-None. Bowling Green-SHEEHAN, Tyler 2-2; Bullock, Chris 1-1.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Falcons Fighting for .500 season

Whatever remote chance the Falcons had to win the East all but vanished on the turf at Perry Shorts Stadium last night, as the Chippewas rode big plays to beat BG 31-14, despite the Falcons providing a more consistent and even effort.

The basic storyline is as follows. The Chips blew out to a 7 -0 lead when they scored on their first play from scrimmage. Then, a couple minutes later they returned an AT INT for a TD, after which they added a FG. Bottom line, with 11:59 left in the second, we're down 17-0.

To our credit, we did not fold this time. We buckled down and got back into the game. We took the kickoff following the FG right down the field for a Barnes TD, and then Barnes scored again with 1:33 left in the first half, as BG capitalized on a CMU fumble. So, at halftime, it was 17-14.

During this time, our defense really locked down on CMU--a good offensive football team that plays a very solid spread scheme. Their next 14 plays netted only 50 yards. They started drives nearly that entire time inside their own 20--once on the 1.

Furthermore, the offense was in great field position, starting one drive on the CMU 35. However, the offense was equally unable to put anything together.

In fact, the drive that started on the 35 began a sequence of events that eventaully decided the contest. BG ran three plays for three yards, and chose to punt from the 32. The Falcons were unable to down Rojas' kick and CMU started on its own 20. The defense initiated play well, stopping CMU for a 3 yard loss, and then getting a false start penalty. But on 2-18, CMU threw an 88 yard TD pass to make the lead 24-14, and it was beginning to look bleak.

BG's offense finally mustered a drive, stalling on the CMU 7. BG decided to kick a FG (since they were down 10), but it was blocked. CMU then marched back down the field against demoralized Falcon D, scoring the final points of the game.

Let there be no doubt. The BG offense lost this game. They had field position and plenty of opportunities to win the game. We just don't have playmakers on that side of the ball right now. Chris Bullock runs hard and effectively, and Barnes makes plays in spots, but Turner will complete a big pass and then over throw and open receiver, and we just aren't getting our WRs or our TEs into the game.

Coach said after the game that we made too many mistakes to win this game. For this, he was correct. He said it is the youth of this team. I can't doubt that either.

As always, the Falcon Nation is distraught over this loss. I guess I see it differently.

We are rebuilding this year. I didn't expect us to win this game when the season started. CMU is a well-coached team that has more players than us. But, this time, when we were down early, we got back into the game. We fought back. Yes, we still gave up big plays to lose, but we got back into the game. This game presents hope for the future.

Given the struggles in Oxford and in Toledo (or Akron, for that matter), there is no plausible reason for us not winning three of the next four games and finishing 7-5, an accomplishment for this team.

Lastly, there is a burgeoning QB controversey in the Falcon Nation...one that is laughable for its craziness. (There is no losing team in America that does NOT have a QB controversey). It involves Tyler Sheehan, true FR, who played a little against KSU when we were getting blown out. He had a little initial suceess (though that was all), and now everyone wants to dump AT and put Sheehan in.

This is crazy talk. For the first time since the first half of UM's initial season, we are dealing with something other teams see all the time--less than stellar QB play. AT is in his first season as a starter. You cannot expect everything from him. He has shown flashes, and certainly has a long way to go. But the expectations are too high for him today.

Let's be thankful, in fact, that he is not pulling down a veteran team. With luck, everyone on this team can rise together.

So, I view the CMU game as a small step forward. Yes, we could have won, and that would have been a real feather in this team's cap. But we just aren't good enough right now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tonight's the night....

Do we stay on the island or not. This will be very tough, but it has been a season of upsets in the MAC!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Brandon Press Conference

It's a short week, with the CMU game on Thursday, and the presser comes at us fast. Suffice it to say that this is the biggest game of the season to date. CMU looks to be strong and is normally tough to beat at home. We are playing well on the road (maybe better than at home--see this in today's Blade), but we really need to bring it Thursday if we are going to stay on the island. I just don't see Kent losing three times (or twice, but that's what we have to hope for).

Here are the coach's comments. My smart aleck remarks are in orange.

(On having a different schedule this week)
"What will be difficult is today (Monday), because it is usually the players' off day, so we tell them to load up their classes on Mondays. But, today we are going to have a practice like a typical Tuesday or Wednesday, and we are going to have some guys missing. So, we will have to fill in for them."

My personal opinion is that I understand we have to get these screwed up schedules to be on TV, but this is only on ESPNU, and it doesn't seem like it is worth it. On short weeks, I think the advantage is really to the home team.

(Have you had a short week like this before?)
"Well, when I was coaching at Wyoming in the late 80s these games came in vogue with ESPN. We played a couple Thursday night games and played a lot of night games. That was back when people didn't know the long-term effects. When we did that it was in the earlier part of the season so we would have a healthier team."

(What is the long-term effect?)
"Well I think at this point we are a banged-up team and, because of the nature of our schedule, playing two top-20 teams in the Big Ten as well as the conference schedule and our youth, it's tough to play a mid-week game now on a four days rest. Now the timing is not good. But I think Central will be the same way. We are in the same boat, I think."

Yes, Thursday is just as far from Saturday in Michigan as it is in Ohio. I think it is a little easier to deal with at home.

(On how injuries play a factor)
"That's another thing; we could use those extra days in the week to get some guys healthy, but we're not going to be able to do that."

(Do you feel you are more of a running team and less of a passing team this year?)

"With our possession time I don't think it is any different. I think the new clock rule is affecting that. We are averaging about 72 snaps a game where last year we were in the 80s. I don't know how it is across the country and I didn't time the last game but I know at OU the game was 2 hours and 27 minutes, and that's kind of short. When you don't have a lot of the TV stuff they go pretty quick. I mean, there are probably two or three fewer possessions a game, and fewer plays mean less wear and tear on guys."

(Do you feel that your team plays better on the road)
"Well, that's the only place we ever play. We have four of the next five on the road, so we better play well on the road or we are going to be out of it."

Well, there HAVE been a couple home games. I mean, we played at home and nearly lost to Buffalo and EMU, (1 win between them) and find time to sandwich in our worst loss at the Doyt ever. So, EVER is probably a strong word.

(Does all of the travel wear you out?)
"I think that wears on you a little bit. Not only the strength of our schedule but the length of it, too. Without a bye week, the travel, I think, wears on the team. Get on the bus, get on the plane, get back on the bus; those are all things you just have to manage. Those are all things you don't have to worry about on the road. And, there are some teams that do that 6 (road games) and 6 (home games), and we are doing it 8 and 4."

Well, it was our call to make one of our home games on the road, so I don't really think it is fair to complain about that. And, in fact, we gave up an additional game at the Doyt to be nice to the MAC, and replaced it with a trip to Philly. This 4-8 thing is of our own making--and I think we knew our team would be young when we did it. Of course, the AD who did it has moved on now.

(On the play of Central Michigan this year)
"They have done a nice job. The league has become more competitive now, and I think that it just a credit to the coaches in the league. I was listening to (Kent State coach) Doug Martin this morning on the radio and he talked about the administration stepping it up at Kent. You know, pumping money into the facilities and the training table for the athletes, which has helped them with injuries. You know you see programs like Akron who has made a commitment from the administration. Those are two programs that haven't seen much success, but why are they becoming more successful? Well, their administrations are stepping up and giving them the resources to be successful because it's not coaching. You know Dean Pees had been the coach at Kent for a while and he is a coordinator at the National Football League, so he must be a pretty good coach. I think it's about the administration making an effort to be competitive and have a chance to win championships. It's all about dollars."

Not good news for us. Our administration is not known for stepping up to big financial risks in the athletic program. And, there's a point where the investment is out of whack with where it should be at a collegiate program.

(On Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour)
"He is a good player. I think they are in the top-three in the league with passing. He has thrown for a couple hundred yards in each game. They are doing a nice job. They are running a lot of things that we have run throughout the years. You can see that on film and defensively as well; it's really like watching Bowling Green on both sides of the ball. Even their special teams; their punt was similar to what we were using early in the season. Their kid is a great rugby-style kicker. He is like (Nate) Fry. I mean, he is a weapon for them. It is what we were trying to do early on, but it wasn't as effective for us like when we had Nate."

CMU is a good team, with a great QB. I have seen them play a couple of times. Their coach (notwithstanding his craziness against BC earlier this year) was a proven winner at Grand Valley, and I fully expected him to be a winner in the MAC.

(On the CMU defensive front)
"Daniel Bazuin is a very good player, and they have two linebackers who are in the top five in the league. I think their front is strong. You look at them and they are big old oak tree looking guys."

Bazuin might be the best football player in the MAC.

(On Devon Parks)
"I think he rises to the competition. That's what I always liked about Parks. I mean, he started as a true freshman, his second game of his career was against Purdue. He is a highly-motivated guy. He plays with tons of intensity and he brings it every snap. He has been a great leader for our defense."

He and Briggs will have to play huge games Thursday for us to contain the CMU attack without over blitzing.

(How has he improved?)
"Well, he has improved with the little things in the game. He is very disciplined, and is great at studying the opponent. I mean he puts in the time on (looking at opposing) offenses and how they are going to block him. He has really worked on his pass-rush technique, and he is going to do the little things to make himself a great player."

(On Roger Williams)
"Roger is a walk-on, and he is a pleasant surprise for us. I have used in him kickoff returns -- obviously, I used him Saturday -- and we are going to use him as a backup tailback."

Well, I hope he has time, you know, when he isn't busy founding Rhode Island.

(Has Erique Dozier been a surprise at linebacker?
"I don't know if he has been a surprise. I always thought Dozier was a good defensive player; we just had to find a spot for him. He is comfortable at the linebacker spot; he has really settled in there an is doing a good job there for us. He blew up (Eastern Michigan's) trick play. We put together all the trick plays that Eastern had run and played them over and over. We tried picking up on all the small things and looked for little sudden keys."

Dozier had a big game. Like him a lot. He is part of the cautious optimism we have for the future of our defense.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Week 7 BlogPoll

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan 3
3 Southern Cal --
4 Texas --
5 Auburn 1
6 California 1
7 Florida 5
8 West Virginia --
9 Tennessee 1
10 Notre Dame 1
11 Arkansas 1
12 Louisville 3
13 LSU --
14 Clemson --
15 Georgia Tech 2
16 Oregon 3
17 Nebraska 5
18 Boise State 5
19 Pittsburgh 5
20 Oklahoma 5
21 Boston College 5
22 Wisconsin 4
23 Rutgers 3
24 Texas A&M 2
25 Penn State 5

Dropped Out: Iowa (#15), Georgia (#16), Virginia Tech (#18), Missouri (#21).

A lot of movement this week. Upsets took teams you see above out, and some moved up by default.