Sunday, October 23, 2011

Leather Helmet Football FTW

It was apparently throwback day at the Doyt yesterday, as the Falcons hosted Temple with the Falcons riding a 3-game losing streak.  Temple boasts a very good defense, allowing the second fewest points in FBS, and I don't mind telling you that I feared this wasn't a very good match up for us.   I was incredibly proud of how the team played and this was a huge win for the rebuilding of our program.

Last week, Coach said that the players told him they felt like they had bought in and they didn't win.  So, you hope they do it again...and they did.  Our guys played incredibly hard and eventually won the game 13-10 in a score that has to be shocking to Temple and a surprise to everyone in the MAC.

We'll start our review with the defense, who played a great game and really deserve the game ball.  Temple had scored 76 points against their last two MAC opponents.  They scored 38 against Maryland.  They had a great running attack and BG had been vulnerable there.

It seemed to set up pretty poorly.

We will look at the defense, the offense and special teams today.  First, a global note.  A huge element in the game was penalties.  Temple had 12 penalties for 97 yards and BG had only 2 for 20.  That was a huge factor in the game, as Temple had a couple nice plays called back and were often put into long 3rd down situations.

The other factor was turnovers....BG did not turn the ball over.  Neither did Temple, but, if nothing else, BG's offense took care of the football during times when they were struggling to score.

The first half felt a lot like the Toledo game.....with BG's defense keeping Temple off the board, but managing little offense of our own.  In fact, Temple did not get inside the BG 35 for the entire first half.

So, the Falcons led 3-0 at halftime.  Now, UT took a similar position and just buckled down and ran the ball in the second half and scored 28 points.  The good thing was that Temple was already doing that, and it wasn't generating points.  You had to fear we would get worn down, however.

Those fears were magnified when Temple took a huge kickoff return and marched into the red zone for the first time.  However, on 2nd and 7 from the 13, Dwayne Woods blew up Matt Brown on an outside run to the left (loss of 3) and on 3rd and 10 Stewart ran for only 6 and Temple had to settle for a FG.

I think that was a pretty big deal.  Temple can out very vociferous....their defense was on the sideline chanting "offense, offense" and they were singing over there or something.  They came out very fired up.  And they didn't do all that to get a FG.

Boo Boo followed with a big kickoff return and with one pass BG was inside the Temple 40.  However, BG had a 2nd and 4 and couldn't move the changes including a sloppy pass play on 4th and 2.

Temple took the ball and on 7 straight runs got inside our 25.  From there, BG made another big play on 2nd down, stopping Brown for no game and then Temple passed on 3rd and 5 and got no yards.  Temple then attempted a FG for the lead...which they missed.  (The irony of the difference is yesterday's game being a missed FG by the OPPONENT should not be lost on any Falcon fan).

BG then bounced right back with a pretty nice drive, earning first downs on nice passes to Jorden and Bayer.  Then, it was 4-1 again from the Temple 31, and BG ran Samuel around the left side and he got 11 yards.  (Note this for later).

The drive stalled and BG made another Field Goal and held the lead very early in the 4th.

If one of the goals was to be competitive, that was gone at this point.  When you lead in the 4th, you want to win.

Temple knows they needed this win badly, and they stay in the game, for sure.  They had a big run by Pierce called back, and then on the next play Brown ripped one that was twice as big and they were inside the 10 and they ended up scoring on a replay reversal and with 11 minutes left Temple was ahead for the first time at 10-6.

BG's offense then had a :41 3 and out drive.

The game was clearly on the shoulders of the defense, as it would be for most of the game.  They responded...Temple had a false start and started 1 and 15, but BG held Brown in check on 1st and 2nd and then an incomplete pass was the end of that drive.

BG took the ball over with 9 minutes left at its own 44 yard line.  On the first play, Schilz hit Cooper for a 31 yard completion, and you had the sense that if the Falcons were going to win, this was the chance.  Jamel Martin was in for BG and he gained 5 yards on first down but then our line was devoured and he lost 4 on the next one.  On 3rd and 9 Schilz hit Cooper right on the hands on a slant that had big yardage potential but he dropped the ball, and things were looking bleak.  BG went for it on 4th, and in the offensive play of the game, ran Joplin and Jorden on go routes off different sides.

Schilz had a read as to where to go, and he lofted the ball toward Joplin.  Joplin seemed to get separation just as the ball came to him and he made a great play in beating his defender to the ball for the TD.  Now, with 7:41 left, BG had the lead by 3.

Now, Temple only needs a FG and they have a good kicker.  On the other hand, their offense is great when you have a lead...but they are not a team set up for 2 minute drills.  So, this drive was probably their best shot.  They are, of course, capable of busting a big run.  BG held Brown to -1 on 2 carries and then on 3rd down and long BG appeared to have Stewart bottled up.  He was scrambling, went past the line.  Naturally, a lot of receivers opened up as defenders saw he was past the line.  He hit one of them for a big game, but it came back with loss of down and Temple had to punt.

BG started with excellent field position, but had a dumb personal foul penalty and had to punt it back to Temple.  They started at their own 20 with about 4 minutes left.  Once again, they tried to run for it and only got 2 yards.  (Note, here, that the BG defense is not worn down, but is getting stronger).

On 3rd and 8 Chris Jones contributed one of his 3 sacks (POTW?) and Temple had to punt again.

BG had the ball with 2:30 left.  Coach Clawson is incredibly cautious in these situations, and BG ran the ball three times, forced Temple to use 2 time outs, and then punted.  The Owls got a big punt return from Matt Brown and actually started at their own 45--remember, they only needed a FG.

Here, their one-dimensional nature makes it very hard.  They ran a deep route that Stewart missed by about 20 yards.  Then, they got 7 on a pass play, and on 3rd and 3 they had a false start.  Not only did the lose the yards but they had to burn their last timeout to avoid the runoff.  (Makes a big difference when you might have to set up for a FG).

On 3rd and 8 Stewart was hurried and threw incomplete and then Paul Swan sacked him on 4th down and the game was over...BG had the win.

It was a thrilling game to watch and win.  I was very proud of how our guys played.  This was a pretty good team who was having mad success in the MAC.  Maybe they looked past us, but the Falcons clearly played their best game of the season.

It is really important for our guys.  After 2-10 last year and then on a 3 game losing streak this year, you worry guys are going to lose faith.  But, they did not.  A win like this, in the middle of the season, just reinforces that the program is on the rebound.  A .500 season is clearly now within reach...on its own a 4-win improvement over last year.  Beyond that, under the right circumstances, the MAC East it still in play as is a 7 win season and a bowl game.

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