Friday, December 01, 2006

Coach Brandon gives year end interview to Blade

Now that the Ellis rumor has brought it up, it might be a good time to look at what Coach had to say in his year end interview with Maureen Fulton @ The Blade. Normally, there is a year end presser referenced on the Falcon website, but it hasn't happened yet. So, for the final time (I think), I say this. Smart aleck comments are in orange.

"The negativity that came out of this season as a result of a losing record, I'm not dwelling on it," Brandon said. "There were a lot of good things that we accomplished. I didn't want to go into the season and call it a building year, but that's what it was. I think we were fortunate to win some of those early games, as young as we were."

This is the first time I have seen Coach acknowledge that there was negativity from the losing record the the losing season. I don't know exactly what he refers to--if it is among the fan base, the Internet fan base, or in his own locker room. I have to guess that it is some of all of the above. We know there is negativity outside the program, and it would not be a surprise--though it would be worrisome--if there was negativity inside the program. Athletic programs do not function well on five game losing streaks...any of them.

He says it was a building year. At this point, that is what we hope it was. And, he is exactly right--the season could have been lots worse. We won some close games. Whether that is the only way for those things to turn out...well, that's another matter.

I'm not sure telling your team that just lost five games in a row that they were lucky they weren't worse is exactly the best way to motivate them for the off-season, but I'm not a D-I football coach.

"We got exposed," Brandon said. "Will that make us better down the road? Absolutely. They got big-time battle experience."

The first part of that statement is a fact. We were exposed. Never badly (we didn't get blown out too much), but our lack of ability to finish, win games, and deliver for 60 minutes were exposed consistently, especially by CMU, Akron, and Toledo.

Time will tell if this makes us better someday. Falcon fans don't speak this, but when you have a team dominated by freshmen, they next year, you have a team dominated by sophomores. And, in college football, that rarely represents much of a difference. So, we could be a year away from seeing an improvement.

Of course, that year will represent the last year of Coach's contract, so you can see it might seem like he's running out of runway.

The staff is also looking at junior college kickers to handle kickoffs and give some competition to Sean Ellis.

"We're not even talking about kickoff coverage if our kicker gets the ball into the end zone or out of the back of the end zone," Brandon said.

"Our punter and kicker are going to be good players. I don't want to invest more scholarships in those positions right now. Rojas will develop. I think he'll be OK. Ellis will too. He's just got to grow up, mature, get stronger.

See previous quote--Kicker Sean "Big Bird" Ellis has left school. It is back to the kicking merry go round for us. You can read the statement above for yourself and determine if these statements served as an incentive for Ellis to come back to BG.

"This team really lacked confidence, you could see that from week to week," Brandon said. "It's my job to get them confident. It was hard to put them in successful situations this year because a lot of them start, and they weren't ready to start, so they got burned."

Again, it is hard to argue with this. The question is will they contribute as starters as they get more experienced, or will they just be inconsistent juniors. There's no Plan B. If this class does not contribute as it matures we're looking at four straight losings seasons (or more) and an unwanted change in direction for the program.

"Whoever the Bowling Green quarterback is, I'm asking that kid to put us in position to win a championship and go to a bowl game," Brandon said. "In the spring, they're all going to get an opportunity to compete and win a job."

From the Nation's standpoint, this is the most common question. A poll on has Turner with the most choices, Sheehan the next, and Anthony Glaud (based on what, I do not know) third. We simply do not have a QB who has shown the ability to lead this team on a consistent basis. We have, in fact, only one who tried (AT), and he has sometimes done well and in others he has not done as well. I like the idea of making them compete. I have said elsewhere that the coach is the most important element of a D1 football program. The second is quarterback play. Witness, if you will, last night's MAC Championship Game.

I still think AT is the man. The more important question is "who will stand out there with him?" If someone besides Corey Partridge doesn't compete at WR, then his upside is limited (both passing and running). If Barnes comes along, then OK. That is a start. And if we can get one more contributing WR, then maybe we start to have something. And the line needs to continue to protect well. And Bullock and Macon need to run the ball.

UPDATE ON QB POLL: Turner now leads Anthony Glaud only narrowly. Go figure. Anthony Glaud. Who not person has seen play.

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