Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The now we know

OU wins the East, CMU wins the West. And congratulations to all. Both are programs on the rebound, under the power of what I consider to be the single most important element in building a winning college football program--the Head Coach.

I have liked Brian Kelly. Even liked him for the job when UM left. He is a proven winner with great ties in this area. I am not entirely surprised to see him win, though I am little surprised it happened this soon.

Frank Solich wins at OU. Again, not a surprise. He didn't get to the head job at Nebraska because he didn't know what he was doing. And, he took his team to a 1-loss MAC season (to date), and an 8-3 record to date. That is not to discount, of course, that I didn't actually FORSEE Frank doing it this year. It still isn't a surprise.

Of course, in the MAC your challenge is what comes next? Any winning coach is a target for larger programs, except Amstutz. Kelly has been rumored to be leaving CMU, though nothing has happened yet. Solich rumored nowhere, but I don't believe he is long for OU. I think eventually some outlaw school like South Florida (or, Florida INTL, where Don Strock is leaving) snap him up for more $$ than he is getting in Athens.

Now for the painful part. At the start of the season, I posted a complete review of where I thought the MAC would end up this year. With great humility, let us review my basic conclusions...:

  • UT and NIU would be the class of the MAC. WRONG!
  • Akron had only one tough road game and would win the East...WRONG!
  • Miami would be 5-3 in the MAC. WRONG!! WRONG!! WRONG!!
  • BG would be 4-4 in the MAC...WRONG!! (Note that I expected many Falcon fans to think I was being negative. Yet, there you go).
  • Didn't see Kent coming. NO, I did not.
  • Nailed Buffalo right on. True dat.
  • I did, in fairness, concede that there was a chance that OU might be good, though I didn't think it would happen.
  • Same for CMU--I felt it they were good, it could really impact the race. I saw them going 6-2.
  • I had WMU going 1-7 in the MAC (with a possible 4-4 season). Nice job, genius.

Here was how I finished that post....

This will be a total laugh to read around Christmas time.

OK Laughing Boy. Laugh On.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Two Falcons Make First Team All-MAC

Kory Lichtensteiger on the O-Line and Devon Parks on the D-line. Congratulations to both. Kory was second team his first two seasons, and Parks is making his first appearance on the team.

Terrell White made the second team.

In all three cases, a deserving honor. Kory will be back next year, but White and Parks ended their careers at the Glass Bowl last week.

For the rest of the awards, check here.

Reports say CMU Coach to go to Iowa State

I figured that Kelly would eventually move on and up but I didn't figure he could pull it off after only three years at Central, even with his great resume in DII at Grand Valley State. It is simply the price of success in the MAC--your coach leaves.

I feel bad for his team. They play in the conference championship in four days, and the Motor City Bowl the day after Christmas. I hope they don't end up feeling like they got the Stolz treatment. It especially hurts because the "extra" practices you get for the bowl game are supposedly the big benefit to the game, and now they will be conducted by a lame duck coach with one eye on some HS DB in Des Moines.

I heard on the radio that he had a four year extension from CMU on the table, and still went to Ames.

Update: Apparently, the tables have turned. A coordinator from Texas is in line for the job. I still feel bad for the team.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Latest Blogpoll...

One note. Wisconsin jumped way up. Suddenly, it didn't make sense for them to be the lowest one loss team in my poll.

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

Dropped Out: Boston College (#20), Clemson (#23).

Falcons Win Buzzer Beater, for a short time life is good

It is crazy how good this can make me feel. Things are OK, but some things are not going great, and in quiet moments over the Holiday weekend, cares were overtaking my holiday spirit. My son and I headed to Anderson Arena to see the basketball game against South Alabama. Truth to be told, we weren't very optimistic about that, either. USA won 23 games last year.

What we saw was the best Falcon performance in months, and an absolutely thrilling buzzer beater to win the game. We sat courtside since the students were gone (best view possible for college hoops) and when the team scored, we were all high fiving each other and I was jumping up and down yelling until I was hoarse. All the cares were gone--for hours, in fact.

And that was with about 1,000 other people in a very lightly attended game at Anderson.

The end set up like this. We had been up 1 with 19 seconds left and Samarco on the line with a 1-1. Normally, an excellent position. He misses the front end, and we run down and foul, and USA hits both free throws to go up 1. We have 9 seconds.

USA brings full court pressure, which we break, but in the hurlyburly we nearly throw the ball away on the sideline. We get the call for possession, and then Hamblet gets in the inbounds. (There are now 4.9 seconds). Hamblet drove to the hoop and did all he could do--fight through bodies and arms to get the ball onto the glass. It danced on the rim for what seemed like forever, and then it fell in just as the buzzer sounded and the backboard lit up.

And, pandemonium, such as it was, broke loose in Anderson Arena.

Here's how Hamblet described it.

"The original play was to get [Martin] Samarco open for a shot, but we couldn't get him open, so I just tried to take it to the rim as far as I could. Then while I was on my back I saw it hanging on the rim and when it went in I just put my arms up."

At the end of the day, this team badly needed a win. After 10 straight D1 losses, and playing long and hard against a good team, to lose in the final seconds would have just cut their heart right out. Further, coach indicated in the post game that it had been a brutal week of practice. After all that, to lost that one would have really hurt.

Here's what coach said:

"I thought the key to the game was the ball falling on the right side of the rim and not the left side. Everything else didn't matter. We got a long way to go and we got to keeping working at it. Our own sloppiness put us in a bad spot, but like I said we just have to get better and I'm glad that the ball fell on the right side so at least this week we can breathe a little bit and let the guys feel good, which is incredibly important."

If that ball bounces left it is utter misery. It's impossible for me to explain. Not only for the coaches but for the players as well. I got off the court quick and went into the weight room and I just listened to the players coming in. They were talking about the things we worked on all week. Now if you lose, they might focus on things you don't need as a team."

That pretty much says it. Do we have a long way to go? Yes. But, the only worst thing would have been to lose that game.

A few notes:

  • South Alabama's coach brought a lot of traps and full court pressure. Last season, it was painful watching us handle pressure. Absolutely painful. It was painful watching us inbound the ball against pressure, for cripe's sake. Not so today. We handled it pretty well. We made plenty of turnovers--stupid ones--but we broke the press pretty well.
  • Coach said that during the long week of practice, he thought some guys "grew up," mentioning Hamblet and Simmons by name.
  • Samarco led the team with 23 points, and was, as always, an absolute warrior. He plays the whole floor and is the rock for this team.
  • Dusan also contributed, with 26 minutes, eight points and five assists (and 4 TOs). He was, in some non-countable ways, a steady presence with the ball when, in the past, we might have threatened to lose our grip.
  • Eric Marschall continues to be an emerging star. 10 points and six boards in 26 minutes. 5-7 shooting. He did foul out.
  • Matt Lefeld brought 20 key minutes. He was 5-8 from the field, with 12 points, many of them in key points.
  • Note previous bullets--the emergence of an inside game makes a huge difference for our team.
  • South Alabama was a strong shooting team coming in. We held them to 42.9% from the field, and that was probably the difference in the game. We also won the boards 33-25.
  • Our shooting was good (47.8%) though not scorching.
  • We played 11 players, though four of them got less than ten minutes.
  • Fouls were improved...we only had 19. (USA had 16). We did turn it over 18 times (13 for USA).
  • Coach was especially upset about a period in the second half when we didn't take care of the ball. That run started with 12:32 left and BG up by 6. Ryan Sims turned it over, then USA hit a 3. Then, Dusan turned it over, and USA hit a layup. (BG now up 1). We turned it over again (Marschall), and were both teams traded a couple missed jumpers before Hamblett turned it over, and USA hit a shot to take lead with 9:50 left. So, in 2:42, we had six possessions and four turnovers.
  • We did show some heart. With 4:19 left, USA was up four, and you could kind of feel it slipping away. Martin drilled a 3, and Marschall followed with a layup in the next possession, andd just like that we had the lead back and it was a game again.
  • Here's what the USA coach said..."Bowling Green has made some improvement since we saw them on film. They were a completely different basketball team tonight."

So, bottom line, a great day to be a fan. It was simply great. I hope this team is turning the corner. We have winnable games upcoming, and I'd love to see us actually win them!

Friday, November 24, 2006

The answer is...97-98

The question, Alex, is "When was the last time the Falcons Hockey, football, and men's basketball team all had losing seasons in the same year."

For extra credit, it is also the ONLY time this has happened.

I mention this for obvious reasons. The football team is already in the clubhouse with a losing record. The hockey team at 3-8-1 would appear to be on that road as well, and the basketball team will be challenged to be .500. So, this could be the second time.

I don't mean to be negative. As I say, you cannot hide from results.

What was up in 97-98 to build such a grim picture?

The football team was in year three of the Blackney Swoon, and finished 3-8. It was the third year in a six year string of losing seasons. We were outscored 341-191, beating Miami, Akron and NIU, (Miami and NIU in very down eras). We were shut out three times.

The hockey team was in the fourth year of the Powers era. They finished 8-27-3 and 6-21-3 in the CCHA. We were .500 the year before that, and have only been over .500 ONCE since then in hockey. So, that was sort of the start of the hockey slide.

In hoops, it was Dan's first season. The cupboard was bare, Dan was green, and it was painful. We were 10-16, and that includes a win over Ohio Northern. As I recall, we tried everything--midnight practices, wearing coats backwards. That team just didn't have the horses--seems like I recall being down to like 8 guys on scholarship.

So, there you have it. Every other season since hockey started at this school, we have been .500 at least once. So, this year has the potential to bring a level of ineptness we are simply not used to.

There were some close 80-81 the basketball team won 5 of its last 7 to get to 15-12 (and tie, incidentially, four other teams for the regular season title). Both football and hockey had losing years.

In 2000-01, Coach Dakich's team won its first game in the MAC tourney, and finished 15-14--again, football and basketball had losing years.

And, of course, there was last season. Football (6-5) salvaged that one.

The truth is actually even a little more sobering. In 24 of the 36 years I analyzed, BG had at least one team to hang its hat on--one team that finished with at least a .667 winning %. We are simply not used to have a season when at least one team isn't excelling.

That's what we are dealing with today. Crowds are down, morale is down, and fans are yelling for the coach's head in all three sports. It is no fun at all.

It is even a little worse.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving to the Falcon Nation

We have many blessings in our life, including the luxury of indulging our interests in what are, in the end, meaningless contests we hold to test and amuse ourselves.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Its Over. 4-8

It is always among the worst days of the year. The day when I realize that I have to wait ten more months before I watch another Falcon football game.

Last night's 31-21 defeat to the Rockets was not, in fact, that close. The Rockets shot to a 28-7 lead, and then we skinnied it back a little bit to get the margin to 10. I guess you could say we never gave up, but I'm not sure the Rockets were exactly pressing, either.

The player of the game for us was Corey Partridge, who tied a school record with 14 catches. He was an absolute warrior out there. He took huge hits, and caught bad throws, but he made nearly every play in his direction, sending the doddering Lou Holtz into fits of manlove. Corey also had a big punt return that got us into position for our TD in the late 2nd, which at least sent us into the locker room with some hope.

As for Turner, what can you say? He was just disasterous in the first half, and was eventually replaced by Tyler Sheehan, who was just as bad. In fact, Sheehan threw the pick 6 that gave UT a 21 point lead, and pretty much ended the game.

Late in the second, Corey broke a big punt return, and then UT got a personal foul, and from there our offense managed to move inside the 10. AT came back in, threw a TD pass, and then his performance improved a lot in the second half. At least on paper. Again, it is hard to tell how much of it came from picking apart a soft defense which was routinely dropping 8 men into coverage.

We lost this game on the line of scrimmage. We couldn't run the ball at all, and the UT line was regularly opening up gaping holes that moved our line back 3-4 yards. I don't know if we are out of gas, or what, but UT dominated the line of scrimmage, and we had no answer for that.

During the year, I have generally defended the Falcon playcalling. People feel it has been too conservative; I feel they don't have confidence in our ability to execute a more open offense, and there is plenty of reason to think that is true.

Last night, however, it was a little frustrating. We had a tendency to call the same play twice in a row, and UT had a tendency to make a stop on the second one. The QB draw play was going nowhere--UT had that play completely wrapped up. Yet, we continued to call it. I know we have limited options and it is worse with Freddie Barnes being injured. I don't envy them.

We rushed for less than 100 yards. Dan Macon actually led the team. Meanwhile, Chris Bullock had his second struggling game in a row. As a freshmen, he might simply be out of gas. I believe with more preparation, he and Macon can still represent a formidable running threat.

A more complete and obsessive evaluation period will come on this blog in the coming weeks. But, the bottom line is that we have had our first losing season in the Meyer/Brandon era. While we avoided the shellacking I feared most, we still finish on a five game losing streak. So much for young teams getting better as the season goes on. It was an unsatisfying season on a competitive basis, and, for reasons I will explain soon, very unsatisfying as a spectator.

Coach Brandon has two years left on his deal. I fully expect him to Coach our team for those two seasons. Let's hope that our young players turn into good players.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

When last we saw our friends the Rockets...

This was what it looked like. Bruce Gradkowski celebrating a 2 OT victory over the Falcons in an epic struggle at the Doyt, which, if BG had won, would have netted us the East title.

We've lost two in a row to our arch-rivals. The year before, we led 27-7 at halftime and ended up losing--giving up a stomach-churning 28 points in the third quarter.

BG, arguably, should have won BOTH games. Both losses left me in a state of depression for days. Furthermore, our records over the past five seasons are virtually identical and this year we are both 4-7. But, due to beating us--and going on to win a couple MAC titles, UT is clearly, on a long-term basis, the competitive class of the conference.

I'm not sure a win salvages our season. But losing tonight would mean a disasterous season, whereas winning tonight can at least get us to disappointing. Finishing the season on a five game losing streak heading into long winter conditioning is unthinkable...multiply it by 10 if we get waxed tonight.

UT lost to Ball State at home, and they are simply not a dominant team this year. Clearly, neither are we. I hope against hope we bring a strong game, AT gets hot, and we pick up a road win that would be a nice lift and reward for a team that has worked very hard, even if we don't know today how talented they really are or really will be. I find it hard, in the end, to envision us winning the game, but who knows?

The key will be on our defense, I believe. The Rockets have struggled to move the ball. If you see them start to light us up, that's the dead canary in the mine....evacuate!

As always, beating the Rockets would be sweet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

This Week's Blogpoll

Some thoughts.

I'm probably up for Mr. Stubborn and Mr. Bold again--didn't see too much this week that changed many opinions. Most teams had an easy game.

After considerable agonizing and thought, I decided to make USC #2. I think in the cold light of day that while UM did show heart, they really were lucky to be in the game Saturday. Without the three turnovers, I think we're dropping them lower than #3.

I still have Auburn up there. Same reasons as last week. I don't care that the Bama game was close--it was a rivalry game that Auburn won.

I moved Wisconsin up a couple slots, not because they beat the snot out of Buffalo, but because I reconsidered their one loss season--with the only loss to an obviously good team. They should probably even be higher.

College football is not deep this year. I do not favor a rematch between OSU and UM so long as one of the following is true:

  • USC has one loss
  • Either Florida or Arkansas has one loss.

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

Dropped Out: Wake Forest (#20), Maryland (#23), Oregon (#24).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Well, one part of the streak ended at Anderson Arena today

Heading into tonight's game, BG had lost 9 straight DI games--the last 8 by more than 10 points. Oh, and those aren't games against the ACC or the Big 10--they are all MAC games, with one game against the Sun Belt.

Well, the D1 losing streak hit 10 games today. But, we did keep the margin under we got that going for us.

If you read here (and the statistics clearly indicate that you do not), you know that I like Coach Dakich. I hope he brings our program back. But, I also like to say that you cannot hide from the results, and here is a fact...

The game environment in Anderson Arena today was positively morgue-like. The official attendance was 1,100 people. I'd be surprised if that many were there. Granted, Furman is hardly a marquee opponent. However, on a Sunday afternoon with no competition, you'd think you'd at least have some sign of life--2K, 2.5, something.

This is where we are. On a 10-game D1 losing streak in front of 1,100 fans in our own gym.

As for the game, Furman won 63-59. They are 4-1, with three pretty low key wins early in the year. We followed our normal trend...fall behind, and then rally, only to run out of gas in the home stretch.

In the first half, our offense was positively putrid. We shot 34.8%, and scored 20 points. Contributing factors were Dusan playing a full 1o minutes with no points and two turnovers and no other visible contribution, and six minutes from Marc Larson and Brian Guerin with roughly similar lines. Samarco (10 points) and Marschall (7 points on 3-6 FG, and several agonizing misses very close to the rim) had most of the scoring. Lefeld had the rest. We also had 11 turnovers. At the half, we were down 29-20.

The second half was similar for a long time. Eight minutes in, Furman was up 11, wiith BG never getting closer than 5. With 6:52 left, Furman still led by 10. Then, BG began to run. Marschall scored in the paint on consecutive possessions, and then Samarco added 2 FTs and a shot in the lane to get the lead down to 2 with 4:16 left.

With 2:35 a Marschall tip in tied the game. Sadly, that was as far as it would go, as Furman outscored us 5-2 from there on in.

We had our chances. Down 1, Ryne Hamblet got himself in trouble in the lane and threw the ball away. From there on in, we missed shots and FTs, and Furman held us off to win.

Martin Samarco scored 27 on only one trey. This guy is an absolute warrior. He brings it every time down the floor. I love to watch him play. (He had 9 boards, too). Marschall also had 14 points, though he fouled out again. Lefeld had 8, and that right there is 49 of our 59 points.

Optimists say we are young, and that this team will come back and improve. Pessimists are really just waiting to see actual evidence of improvement.

I can only assume that Coach is trying to figure out what kind of combinations he has, but his pattern of PT distribution looks strange to the untrained eye. Guys play one night, and then don't see the court the next day. Dusan gets inexplicable minutes, as does Brian Guerin.

I don't know what this team is going to do, but I am going to need to see evidence of a turnaround before I believe it. In the meantime, the only chance to improve is the next game. Welcome South Alabama for a Thanksgiving weekend intimate gathering this Saturday. They won 23 games last year.

addendum: on the attendance. We were given two tickets from someone standing near the ticket window, but I got a look at the prices. You are going to have attendance problems when you charge $11 for an adult ticket and $9 for a youth ticket (general admission) to watch that.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Coach Brandon comes right back off the Miami game with his final game week presser today....

As always, smart aleck remarks are in orange.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - BGSU Head Coach Gregg Brandon
On looking at the film after the Miami game
"We studied it pretty least what you can get out of it. I thought the defense did a great job, but you don't know how much of that is related to the conditions because we weren't exactly a juggernaut offensively. Anthony [Turner] led all the rushers and the passers. He threw for the most yards and rushed for the most yards. The kicking game is where we lost the game and that's not all just the punter and the kicker. It's ok if the game came down to that if the conditions are such...I don't care if it is raining or snowing but at least have a place where you can spot the ball and kick up. I didn't even notice when he was kicking the ball how bad it was and then I saw the T.V. copy. It would have been a miracle if he made that kick. It's a shame that the game has to come down to that, something that the kids don't have control over. But we had a chance to win it. Right now, with this team, I think that's a step in the right direction. We've had a chance to win our last two games but we don't have enough guys that have been in the fray enough to know how to finish games right now."

Pretty good and frank statement there. Some Falcon fans are up in arms that Ellis apparently told the ESPN sideline dude that he wanted to be on the left hash because the ground was better, but we ended up on the right hash anyway. It would, indeed, have been a miracle to make that kick. I would think you'd want to check with the players--the guys in the box--somebody, on where there was some solid ground. Or, you might even go for it. Problem is, on third down with no timeouts, we couldn't risk running it to the left because we wouldn't have had time to get the play set up. So, it would have had to happen on second down.

Is it a step in the right direction for this team to have a chance to win against a team that was 1-9--even if they were better than that? I'm not sure. I sense a little battle fatigue in our guys. I halfway think we're surprised at this point to have a chance to win at the end against anybody. We absolutely are giving everything we have on the field right now emotionally and physically. It just isn't enough and I think that is hard for our team.

Another note: everyone wants to compare this era to the Blackney era. I don't know what is going to happen in the next couple of years. But a hallmark of the Blackney era was teams giving up. We haven't done that.

With the way the past month his gone, how huge would a win at Toledo be?
"It would be huge. It's a great rival game and you always want to beat UT. Again it's like I told the team before Miami you always want to beat the team down south and the team up north. Again I don't think the younger players have grasped that yet, the magnitude of a big game, a rival game and hopefully they'll have it for Tuesday night."

Well, it would be nice. Beyond that. At 5-7 with a win @ Toledo, things look about 50% brighter than they would at 4-8 with a loss @ Toledo--a third straight loss to the Rockets. I just wonder if we have the energy to come back and play. I will be surprised if we win on Tuesday, but I would not rule it out.

Is that something that is the older players responsibility?
"Yep, they have to talk to them about it. I don't have a lot of players that played last year in the game here. There aren't a lot of guys... there were guys on the team but they weren't starters or they didn't play a lot in the game."


It's been inconceivable in August to think that both the teams playing in this game are struggling...
"It's a surprise but I think that if you look at the schedules and the youth on both sides. Toledo's a young team too and I think you can understand where we are."

Yes it is. I really felt UT was ready to reload again. Both teams have to view this as a winnable game--and look to it for the same reason.

Even pushing the rivalry aside, to go into the off-season with a win...
"It would be a great springboard into the winter program, no doubt."

Yes, it would. It will be tough otherwise.

Bullock was kind of under the radar a little bit are teams looking to stop him?
"No for whatever reason Chris, maybe it was the elements, the mud, he had a hard time getting on track and some of the things that Miami was doing defensively allowed us to run Anthony so we stuck with that because he was doing a nice job at that and that gave us our best chance to move the ball."

It wasn't his night. As I said to someone sitting near me, we ripped most of the plays out of the playbook except AT running.

On Toledo's defense
"I think Toledo's one of the top three teams in the conference talent wise on both sides of the ball and it really shows up on the defense. I think they have great speed and athleticism as far as our league goes. They can cover man to man and they bring pressure. They have very active linebackers and it will be a challenge for us offensively. It always is when you play these guys, they do a good job."

As a coach do you look forward to the rivalry?

"Yeah. It's the cool thing about college football. These kind of games. Even the casual fan pays attention to the rival games."

There is an obligatory feel to this statement. I think when it is over, we will primarily feel relief that it is over and begin to work for better times.

Falcons Hoops Lose D1 Opener

The Falcons went to Jonesboro AR to play the Indians of Arkansas State last night. What emerged was a team that couldn't shoot (ours) vs. a team that couldn't take care of the ball (theirs.) The home team (theirs) won the game by 10.

The uglies:

  • BG shot 27% from the field--22% in the first half, and 32% in the second half. This is in stark contrast to the 60% we can shoot against D3 competiton. (Samarco was 5-23).
  • After all the talk of the promise of some of our new guys, BG played its normal seven man rotation last night. Only Clements, Lefeld, Dusan, Hamblett, Samarco, Moten and Marschall played serious time. Younger players like Sims (a little) and Polk and Larson (DNP) were missing. Lionel Simmons, after red-shirting last year, has yet to hit the floor this year, either. (Gut feeling: transfer alert).
  • Arkansas State had a 20 point lead early in the second half. BG eventually cut the lead to 2, but apparently ran out of gas. Horrific shooting will do that for you.
  • In the post game show, Coach had a great line. He said (more or less), "I don't mean to be a smart aleck, but I didn't think we were going to have trouble making layups. We practice that. I don't mean breakaways, but driving layups. And we couldn't hit those."
  • We only made 13 turnovers, but A-state made 29, and still won the game.
  • We committed 25 fouls, and the Indians shot 31 FTs.
  • From Coach and Todd Walker's observations, we guarded hard all night.
  • How about that Todd Walker--leaves a water logged Doyt and is in Arkansas the next freaking day!
So, the Falcons next have Furman, which runs a Princeton-style backcut attack that I am looking forward to seeing. It has been years since I have seen it live--since, in fact, Princeton played at BG when I was in college. Nervous fans will be watching for signs of life from this team.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beat Toledo!

"Just Like Charlie Brown...."

So, when I woke my son up this mornng and told him we had lost 9-7 and the winning field goal went wide when the kicker fell on his butt, he said.

"Just like Charlie Brown."

Right. Just like Charlie Brown. Ouch.

In the interests of full disclosure, we were among the 5-6K people who braved the elements for at least the start of the game. However, ridiculous sheets of wind and rain chased us out in the first quarter. It was even more uncomfortable than the frigid KSU game of a couple of years ago--it was just nasty. So...

It was a tough loss for our team and program. We really needed a win, and when you battle through the elements and miss a FG in the final seconds that would have all made it worthwhile, that's tough. I think we all fell depressed well beyond the quantifiable importance of the game. Here's what Coach said....

"It's huge. It's the worst loss I've experienced as a coach or an assistant coach in a long time without a doubt. We just had guys play their guts out."

I mean, that's saying something there...including assistant coach and everything. They are heartbroken to have lost that one.

So were we, but I don't have a lot to be critical of. The missed FG was pretty unavoidable. I don't think there was any chance of Ellis getting his plant foot down in that muck. He was walking around and everything in his body language said that he didn't think he was going to get his plant foot down, either. Anytime the kicker watches the kick from his butt, that's not a positive sign.

Here's what Miami's coach said about the FG:

"He probably has a 10-percent chance of making the field goal."

I had hoped we would try harder to score a TD rather than relying on a very dicey FG attempt, especially remembering that the only reason that a FG was even an option was because Miami had mishandled the snap on a short FG and an XP. Unfortunately, by the time third down rolled around (about :30 left), we were out of timeouts, and the chances of getting tackled in-bounds and setting up a FG with the clock running were slim indeed. A sack would have been especially bad. So, we rolled out, "Miami covered it" (as Coach said) and we threw the ball away as coached. I don't really think we had any options, and I assume we called a play we thought could work.

The biggest tragedy of the game was the inability to score in the 3rd Q, when the formidable wind was at our back. Our offense was (in ESPN's words) dismal that quarter, and we missed our best chance to win the game.

The conditions were awful, and neither team managed much offense. In fact, we out gained Miami significantly. Unfortunately, they got good field position off a lousy punt by us, and threw a 25 yard TD pass in the middle of the field and that won the game for them.

Falcon fans today are very upset at the playcalling by our coaching staff. I guess I don't know what else they were supposed to do. We did run into the line a lot, but I don't think going wide was going to work consistently...even the guys with the ball were falling down.

Here's what Coach said about it:

"We struggled in the second half to make first downs and that was disappointing because we had run the ball decent in the first half on occasion. In the second half we just couldn't seem to move the ball and find a rhythm and I don't know if that was so much what Miami was doing or the conditions, but we couldn't get it going. "

"That third quarter we squandered a lot of opportunities I think and we had the wind the whole quarter and we didn't exploit it."

So, it was certainly a disappointing that you really would like to have had, given how the season has gone. I am not too stressed out about losing to a 1-9 Miami team, because that team is better than that. They have had some late things go wrong where we had some late things go right, and that's pretty much the only difference between our two teams.

It does ensure our first losing season since Gary Blackney left. Our best hope is 5-7. I think our team and coaches put everything they had out there last night, and came up short. I hope we are a program that is on the rebound, but I don't fault them for anything that happened last night.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hello Blogpoll Readers

Welcome to the home of Mr. Bold and Mr. Stubborn, and an owner of a suspected whack ballot. I knew my pick of Auburn would be something few would agree with. Here's the explanation I posted when I put my ballot up.

Getting really tough. One quick point. I know that people are really raking Auburn over for their loss to Georgia--even dropping them from the top 10. I see no reason they can be ranked behind LSU, though. Auburn has wins over LSU (hello) and Florida, while losing to Arkansas (a pretty good team we now know) and Georgia. On the other hand, LSU has only one quality win--over Tennessee, which, it now appears really was overrated, and loses to Auburn (hello!) and Florida (a team Auburn beat).

Meanwhile, Auburn has a better resume that Texas, ND and Cal (who lost to AZ). To me, Auburn is still a top 10 team.

D-lineman Trever Frericks quits team

R-freshmen played in four games this year. Best of luck as he transfer to I-AA.

Falcon Seniors

This will mark the final home game for 10 seniors:

  • WR Kenneth Brantley
  • LB Jon Jakubowski
  • OL John Lanning
  • OL Derrick Markray
  • LB Will Myles
  • DE Devon Parks
  • WR Ruben Ruiz,
  • DL Tommy Smith
  • DL Brad Williams
  • LB Terrel White.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Falcon Game Week Presser

We're back to the weekly press conference. Smart aleck remarks are contained here in orange.

On the health of the team

"Terrel White is still questionable. We need him. We missed him at Akron. It's really starting to show up a little bit now not having Brad Williams or Nick Davis in there for a stretch and then Terrel White not being in there. I mean that's the heart of your defense. I think that got us at Akron. Brad played, but he wasn't at full speed. So now you're playing freshmen, which is the story of the season. I mean Mike Ream, Brady Minturn, Jacob Hardwick...good young players, but going against fourth and fifth year players like Akron's line was, they don't know as many tricks of the trade to hold up in there."

Yeah, we're hurting without White. Even at 1-9, Miami is a threat to beat us, but with us less than 100% healthy, it makes it harder. We just don't have spare talent.

On Freddie Barnes's health

"Freddie hasn't practiced. We miss Freddie, but the offense played well on Saturday in his absence and I think it just goes to show you when Anthony Turner is on his game we have a chance. You know Anthony completed 20 passes in that game and he ran the ball well. He rushed for 100 yards.

See comment about not having spare talent. AT needs to continue to develop the ability to take games over.

On Miami's return game with Ryne Robinson

"He's a legitimate threat and we've been down this road before. Our staff has been in discussions about it. You know we went into Ohio State and we weren't going to let Ted Ginn touch the ball and we didn't execute and I think that's the reason now that we're going through these discussions again. I don't just want to kick the ball out of bounds because we aren't consistent enough yet to be able to do that. Alonso [Rojas] is not consistent enough to do that right now. He will be someday, but today he's not. So we might have to cover a few punts, which we can do."

Ryne Robinson makes me hold my breath everytime he takes a kick. I understand if you go to kick out of bounds you are going to get some shanks, but the over-under on PReturns for TD by Robinson is 1.

Is Devon Parks the guy who is the most held by the opposing offenses in the league and is that just the by-product of him being too quick for guys who are bigger than he is?

"I don't know about all of that, but it does seem when we watch film on Sunday that he is getting the clamps put on him pretty good. I think he has great quickness and he plays with such good pad level. To be 250, 255 in there he is probably a tad bit undersized so he has to play low with good pad level and have great quickness. He's great student of the game too and I think that really helps him. He studies the opponent and pays really good attention to all the details."

Parks has been a great player for us. I don't know how often he is held, but he is a great player.

On the 10 seniors and the mixture of guys in the group from scholarship guys to walk-ons

"Everyone of them has brought great things to this program. I mean you talk about the walk-on kids, Tommy Smith is a kid who has been a program guy all the way through. He hasn't played much at all and has helped our offense prepare through the years. Terrel White has blossomed into one of our better defensive football players walking on. He's a walk-on running back, who has turned into a great linebacker. Jon Jakubowski is another walk-on kid that earned a scholarship and has been a great team leader for us. He's a great locker room, quality guy and a great person. He's been a special teams guy for us through the years and done a nice job in that area. We know everyone of those kids has some qualities that you'll miss."

Of course, it is senior day at the Doyt. I wonder about the 10 guys who are actually still here, and how that compares to some of our smallest senior days. The infamous last UM senior day in the frigid weather against EMU might be one where we had a low one because everyone had quit the team when Meyer got here. Still, you got 10 people in the group, and at least two of them arrived as walk-ons. Not going to happen to my programs.

On the wide spectrum of the seniors from guys who have played right away to guys who have had to earn time.

"It's pretty much a mixed bag, I mean you got guys who have been injured a lot through their careers, like John Lanning and Kenny Brantley. They've stepped up in their fifth year to lead and play good football for us and then you have a few guys who have played a lot like Devon and Derrick Markray, who is in his second year as a starter. But really 10 seniors is not enough. I mean with the good teams that we've had here we had no less than 17 or 18 seniors. Those seniors bring experience not only as players, but leadership as well. They've been around the block a little bit and we just don't enough of that right now."

See above (emphasis added).

You haven't really been in this position with losing a couple games in a row, how is everyone handling it?

"Well I'm no different a coach than if we win or if we lose. Our plan has been proven and it's time tested and when you lose you start questioning what it is you're doing. That's one thing I've been stressing with our players and our coaches. We're not changing or we're not going to throw stuff out just because we lost a couple games. That's just the way it is right now. You know until it becomes important enough to us again I think that's when we'll win again. That is what so many of the younger players were counting on and need to understand that losing isn't acceptable. So we got to just keep pounding it into their heads what it takes to win and that's what we're doing."

Tomorrow could be an important day for the program. They are really beating the buses on attendance, and if we had a nice crowd for EPSN2, and picked up a home victory to leave that nice crowd with a nice feeling, that would just be a great outcome, in my opinion. It could be a building block. And, the game is winnable.

When you looked at the schedule in the off-season and saw all the road games did you know it was going to be a tough road?

"Yeah the whole deal with the schedule and the eight road games with 26 freshmen I think has made it tough to overcome some things to be able to win more games. But we're still 3-3 in the league and we could win these two games and you knows what could happen. But right now, we just got to figure out how to beat Miami and that's a big challenge. I know they're 1-9, but they've been competitive and that's a storied program too, they have great tradition down there just like we have. In fact, they've won more games in the rivalry than we have and that is something I'm talking to young guys about because the team that went down there last year and beat them at Miami has only 15 to 20 guys on this year's squad who made the trip. And a lot of those guys didn't play. So again it's a process with this team in teaching them how we do things at Bowling Green. How we win games and how we've been successful and they'll get it and I hope it's Wednesday night.

The phrase "eight road games" continues to delight me. As one who complained about giving up a Doytgame for a "home game" in Cleveland, and who said that it would amount to a road game, I am amused that I have heard the Coach use this phrase a few dozen times. Now that Krebs is gone I suppose he can say it without fear of pissing his boss off.

The Miami win last year had to one of the highlights of the year for you didn't it?

"Oh yeah, no question because we hadn't won down there in like 10 years I think. Then with there being a two and a half hour delay, we were ready there was no doubt about it,"

So with Miami and their offense do they try to use Robinson a lot in their passing game?

"Yeah. I mean they've been inconsistent moving the football. They do have some big play potential with Ryne [Robinson} and the other guy out there,88, and I think the quarterback has a nice arm. He can throw it and I think both their backs are quick and they run hard with Murphy and Bratton. They have just been a lot like us, inconsistent and unable to sustain some things, but they can quick strike. I mean they beat Western a couple times last week and it kept them in the game."

Could the game come down to whoever has more energy in the fourth quarter?

"Probably. I mean it's going to be that kind of game and I think it'll really be which team shows up with greater intensity and with two teams like this it'll probably come down to a turnover or two."

One final point. Miami is licking its chops as much as we are. They are 1-9, and see this as a winnable game, so they will be ready to go. I think we can win, but our history is that it will be close. Our other wins against 1 win teams (Buffalo, EMU) and winless teams (FIU and Temple) suggest that we won't run away from this team. Even a 2-TD victory would signal progress on that front, but an exciting win in front of a big crowd would be all good.

Update: There were fifteen seniors that frigid night in UM's last game @ The Doyt.

The game against Eastern Michigan will mark the final home game for 15 seniors who will
play on the Doyt Perry Stadium turf for the last time. Those who are playing their final home
game include LB Marcus Allen, RB Joe Alls, P Pat Fleming, DL Alex Glantzis, LS Joe
Gutierrez, LB Chris Haneline, RB Martez Johnson, OL Greg Kupke, RB Godfrey
Lewis, OL Jon Mazur, DT D.J. Owchar, WR Robert Redd, QB Andy Sahm, DB Jerry
Wagner, and OL Dennis Wendel.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blog Poll...

Getting really tough. One quick point. I know that people are really raking Auburn over for their loss to Georgia--even dropping them from the top 10. I see no reason they can be ranked behind LSU, though. Auburn has wins over LSU (hello) and Florida, while losing to Arkansas (a pretty good team we now know) and Georgia. On the other hand, LSU has only one quality win--over Tennessee, which, it now appears really was overrated, and loses to Auburn (hello!) and Florida (a team Auburn beat).

Meanwhile, Auburn has a better resume that Texas, ND and Cal (who lost to AZ). To me, Auburn is still a top 10 team.

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

Dropped Out: Oregon State (#22).