Monday, December 31, 2012

Owls Crush Falcons

The foul taste of revenge on their lips like Satan's bile, the Temple Owls avenged last year's defeat at the Stroh in medieval fashion, with an 18 point smackdown of the Falcons (75-57) in a game that wasn't even that close.  With 3 minutes left, the Owls led by 29 before a wild scoring spree by walk on G Damarkeo Lyshe got the game to its final result.

That's a four game losing streak for the orange and brown.

There's not a tremendous amount to say.  With 9 minutes left in the first half, BG was on a mini-run and down 19-14.  In the next 9 minutes, Temple scored 20 and held BG to 11 and from there the rout was on.  Temple pushed the lead over 10 with 5:50 left and it never was closer again.  BG was never closer than 14 in the second half and never closer than 20 in the last 10 minutes until the very end.

The key difference in the game was shooting.  BG shot 37.7% from the field for the game and 25% from beyond the arc.  BG shot 42% on its 2-FGs and the effective field goal % was 41% on the way to .86 points per possession.

This team is struggling badly to shoot the ball.  BG has shot under 40% in 5 of its last 7 games and has not shot 45% since the Detroit game.  BG has also shot under 30% from 3 in 5 of the last 7 games.

As you can see below, Temple had more success shooting the ball.  They scored 1.14 points per possession and shot 47% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc.  They took better care of the ball--though turnovers were not a big issue for BG either--were dominant on the boards and held an advantage getting to the line.

For BG, A'uston Calhoun had a huge game, scoring 22 points on 9 of 17 shooting and he added 9 rebounds.  Cam Black had 6 points an 6 rebounds in 22 minutes.  Beyond that--and Mr. Lyshe, who had only 1 point coming into the game in his career--you had some serious issues scoring the ball.

BG's guards (Orr, Crawford, Kraus, Henderson and Clarke) shot a collective 6 of 28 (21%--that's on all FGs), 5 of 18 (28%) on 2-FG and 1-10 on 3FGs.

Richaun Holmes played only 15 minutes, scoring 4 points (2 for 4) with 3 rebounds and 3 blocks.

So, the Falcons get a break before they start MAC action against CMU up in Mt. Pleasant on January 9.  They will enter that on a four game losing streak--albeit, with 2 of those games against a team from a major conference and one of them against a team just outside the Top 25.  Having said that, I don't think we are much different from what we feared--a team that does not have the consistent ability to score and make shots and without the defensive prowess to win on solely a defensive platform.

Overall, they are 5 and 8 and 3 and 8 against D1 competition.  The CMU game will be a good test....yes, it is on the road, but they are not unbeatable.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Falcons Head to Philly to Face Temple

The Falcons flew from North Dakota directly to Philadelphia, where they were a New Year's tilt against the Temple Owls in what figures to be a tough challenge.  Of course, you know that last year BG beat Temple in what is probably the biggest win for the men's program in the new facility.  The return game, on Temple's floor, could be a different story.

The last time BG played Temple in Philly it was at their OLD arena (not played in for a decade) in a "Turn back the clock" game the Owls won by 24.  BG has never played in the Liacouras Center, their new facility.

Temple is currently 9-2, with a #65 ranking on and an RPI of 29.  In the last game they played, they beat Syracuse on the MSG floor.  (Their scheduled game against Detroit was cancelled due to snow).  Their only losses have been to Duke and a good Canisius team.  They beat Kent by 14 at Kent and they beat Buffalo by 15 at Buffalo.

One note--their next game is against Kansas, so they could have their minds looking ahead....maybe.

They play at 68 possessions per game, which is average for D1 and a little higher than where BG has been playing (65).

Temple is scoring 1.05 points per possession, which is in the top third of the D1 rankings.  They don't get there by shooting well.  Their effective FG% is 48.5%, which is in the bottom third of the country, though still 4% better than BG.  One key for them is that they take care of the ball.  They are averaging only 11 turnovers a game, so, even though they make fewer shots, they have more possessions to work with.

They are only average in offensive rebounding and they are just average in getting to the line but they are a strong free throw shooting team.  They are not a great 3-FG shooting team (30%), but they do shoot a lot of them.

Defensively, they are holding opponents to .95 points per possession, which is above average but hardly represents lock down D.  (They did hold Buffalo under 40).  They allow an effective field goal% of 46.9% which is almost exactly what they shoot themselves.  Their defensive rebounding and turnovers are also pretty much at the national average and they do a pretty respectable if not great job of keeping teams off the line.

Two notes.  First, obviously, these numbers have been generated against a pretty tough schedule.  Second, if this team appears to be a team without a very strong area, it is also a team without a very strong weakness.  This teams seems to do everything well and if they get the 3-ball falling, they could be very tough.

Their marquee player is Khalif Wyatt.  He's scoring 16 points a game, though he is shooting 38% overall and 25% from beyond the arc.  (His offensive rating is only 104.5, FWIW).  He also leads the team with nearly 4 assists per game and has 2.5 TOs.  At 6'4", he could be a matchup issue for BG as well.

The second leading scorer is Scootie Randall.  He's 6'7" and scores 13 points a game to go with 7 rebounds a game. He doesn't shoot well either, however, (36% overall and 26% on a team-leading 77 treys).

Anthony Lee is 6'9" and scores 11.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds and he is shooting 56%.  He has produced those numbers in only 23 minutes per game.

Rahir Hollis-Jefferson is 6'6" and scores 9 ppg to go with 5.6 rebounds.

Obviously, this is a very good basketball team, possibly a Sweet 16 caliber squad.  (They were a #5 seed last year before losing to South Florida in the opener and they have made the tournament for 5 straight years.)  It seems like there is one opening, which is for BG to guard the shot really well and keep the number of possessions small and then they'll need someone to show up and score, along the lines of what Orr did in the MSU game.

Temple is big and long.  I believe you can be certain they are going to surround Calhoun at every opportunity with big guys with long arms.  For the same reason, they present matchup problems on the other end and I wonder if BG doesn't go zone in this game.

The other possibility will be to have one of those random, unconscious shooting nights.

Anyway, New Year's Eve in Philly presents BG with a very big challenge, but based on their last 3 games, they seem to play better against the really good teams than they do against teams they should beat.

Falcon Men's Basketball Recruit Lighting it Up

Just a quick note for you.  Zach Denny is one of our recruits--he has signed a NLI to come play for Bowling Green next season--and he is having a monster senior season.  He plays at Valley View, which is down by Dayton, and he has had 3 straight games in which he scored more than 40 points and in one of the games he scored 51.

That's in a 32 minute HS game, in case you were wondering.

If you read this blog, you know we're always on the lookout for guys with gaudy scoring numbers who are doing it with indiscriminate shooting....not so here (from Dayton Daily News...

If you’ve never seen Denny play it’s easy to assume he’s a gunner. He’s not. He takes 42 percent of his team’s shots, but he’s making 46.2 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3-point range. On Friday he took 29 shots (and made 15) against Jefferson. Nine other Spartans combined for 26 (and made eight).

So, that's not the case...he's scoring 40 efficient points against defenses who know that he's the guy.

Looking forward to seeing how all that translates into D1 in the orange and brown.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reported Military Bowl attendance lowest in 7 years.

The reported Military Bowl attendance Thursday was 17K and change.  Jon Solomon at said that it was the smallest crowd bowl game since Nevada and Central Florida played IN THE HAWAII BOWL in 2005.  For the record, he is assuming that there were actually 17K in the stands.

It was a tough year for the Military Bowl, which was designed to feature Army against an ACC team, which would probably draw a decent crowd.  Even the ACC team would help.  But you put BG (not a prolific drawing team) and San Jose State from all the way across the US and with worse attendance than BG (according to Solomon) and it is a tough road for the bowl.

His article also notes that the attendance has been falling at bowls this year.  Just to make a point....these bowls are less spectator sporting events than they are TV shows.  ESPN needs programming (and they own parts of most of the bowls), the stadiums are sitting there, tourism boards get involved and the teams want to play and that's why they exist.

And yes, people do watch on TV and ESPN can sell the whole bowl schedule to advertisers as a package and they have to have something on the air, and what would it have been Thursday at 3?

Falcons Fall in North Dakota. Will Leave a Mark.

After a short period of time when the Falcons were playing like they might have been better than we thought they were, last night in Grand Forks was a night where they played the way we feared they would be.  Playing against a significantly underperforming team without a D1 win and with several losses to teams similar to Bowling Green, the Falcons dropped a 56-53 contest.

Yes, it was on the road, and I know it is hard to win on the road.  In fact, BG is now 0-3 on the road for the season.  It is hard to compare, but I suspect that this game was more winnable than every road game we will play in the conference, and we didn't win this one.

The next road game is Temple, and that's going to be very difficult, which means that BG is likely to enter MAC play on a 4-game losing streak.

After some early skirmishing the game was tied at 7, but then UND went on a 16-5 run to take an 11 point lead with 6 minutes left in the half.  BG knocked it back to 2 and then UND popped it back up to 6 at halftime.

UND hit a 3 right out of the box to go up 9 and led 40-31, but the Falcons got the next 7 points, and then there was 3 minutes without scoring before BG tied the game at 40.  It was a tight game from that point in, with BG never taking the lead until there was 1:00 left to play when Richaun Holmes gave BG a 2 point lead with a  +1.

That lead lasted :17 as UND came down and drained a 3 to go back up 1.  Even so, with :36 left and the ball, you have a shot.  As we all know by now, however, these one-possession-get-a-basket situations are far from BG's strong point.  Could be wrong, but I don't remember us ever scoring on one of them.

Anyway, we didn't.  Crawford missed a jumper and BG fouled--actually twice before we had them in the bonus.  Dude missed the front end of the 1-1, which is like a gaping open door, except that we didn't get the rebound and UND had the ball.

Crawford then got a steal and was racing down to get a hoop with about :15 left....and his shot got blocked.  We fouled, UND hit both free throws and BG still had a last possession to try and get a 3, which we did not.

Second straight game where BG led with a minute left and lost the game.
Second straight game where we had a vital, last second breakaway shot blocked at the rim.
Second straight game where BG has yielded a late 3 when it needed a stop (happened twice in Tampa).

Ouch.  I admire Jordon Crawford's guts.  He plays without fear in a game where he gives up a foot to average sized players.  That is the second time (and maybe the third, I can't recall) where he has been blocked at the rim with a game deciding shot.  I don't know what the answer is but this does not seem to be it.  Maybe you pull up...maybe you use an angle on the glass.  But, this does not seem to be working.

For all of BG's poor offensive efforts, this was among the poorer.  The game was played at 62 possessions, which is about where a lot of our games are.  So, you score 53 points in 62 possessions, that's .86 points per possession and BG had .82 against MSU.  And these guys were not Michigan State.

North Dakota obviously struggled to score as well...they had only .9 points per possession.

Remember all that playing in the paint stuff?  BG had 14 points in the paint last night.  UND had 16 second chance points to BG's 9.

Oh...and the official stats show the game was without a single fast break basket...more a curiosity there.

BG actually outshot UND a little bit, as expected.  The key to the game was offensive rebounding.  UND is not a good rebounding team, but they had a ridiculous 17 offensive rebounds against BG--meaning that they picked up 46% of their available offensive rebounds.  For its part, BG got only 5 offensive rebounds, which is 17% of its missed shots.  That is half as many as we got against MSU, one of the best rebounding teams in the country and the worst for our team since a game @Miami in the 09-10 season.

The second key to the game was free throws.  BG did get to the line 15 times but made only 8.  We have been shooting free throws pretty well, but Cam Black and Craig Sealey both went 1 for 4.  In fact, North Dakota ended up making 1 more FT than BG did.

The Falcons had a slight edge in turnovers.

Individually, Jordon Crawford had 14 points but on 6 of 14 shooting to go with 4 assists and 3 turnovers.  A'uston Calhoun had 12 points and 8 rebounds, though the scoring came at a price, with 5 of 13 shooting.

Richaun Holmes had a pretty big game for BG.  He played only 15 minutes due to first half foul trouble, but he scored 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting, had 3 rebounds and 6 blocked shots (!!!) in those minutes.  Also, 2 of 3 at the line.  I know he was in foul trouble and I know we have a thing in this program where we don't like to play guys in their first year, but I can't understand how this player is not getting more minutes.

Anthony Henderson played 18 minutes, took 2 threes and made them both.  Cam Black pulled only 13 minutes due to foul trouble and Luke Kraus played 19 minutes and didn't take a shot.

And so it goes.  BG is now 5-7 and 3-7 in D1 competition heading to play Temple in Philly on New Year's Eve.  That will round out the pre-MAC schedule, though BG still has two non-conference games left on the schedule.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Military Bowl by the numbers

"We didn't produce enough yards."  Dave Clawson.

And there you have it.  BG had 264 yards of total offense in the Military Bowl, with 4.1 yards per play and that was not enough to win the game.  They really mounted only two effective drives in the game, and while the defense did a great job, SJS was good enough to get the points they needed to win the game.

No part of the Falcon offense was consistently effective.  BG struggled badly running the ball.  This is not a terrible surprise--I think that defenses are going to lock onto Samuel and try to make BG pass to beat them, and that is what I would do, too.  They were certainly successful with that.  Samuel had 17 carries for 32 yards.  BG did get some production with Pettigrew in the 4th, and he had a great 34 yard run, but for the game the Falcons were (sack adjusted) 28 for 112 and 27 for 78 if you take the Pettigrew run out.

When asked about this after the game, Coach said that BG had trouble effectively blocking the very active defensive front for the Spartans and that led to the troubles in the running game.

The passing game was not much better.  They had their moments here and there, but the total body work is really poor.  BG was 16 of 35 for 159 passing yards.  They did a decent job protecting Schilz, giving up only 2 sacks, but both of those sacks ended up playing a role in the final result.

After the game, Coach said that Schilz was "way too inconsistent."  When you watch a game on TV, you notice that Coach is working Schilz every time he leaves the field.  Anyway, he was inconsistent, but I also think that he really only had two receivers producing anything and that didn't make things any easier.

Anyway, 12 first downs, 4.1 yards per play and two missed red zone opportunities--one inside the 10--and you have an offense that did not produce enough to win.  BG scored 20 points with 7 on an absolute gift.  The BG offense produced only 1 TD drive.

The defense, for its part, was very good.  SJS had 5.8 yards per play, which was below their average.  The Falcons completely shut down the running game.  The stats are a little skewed by lost yardage on the two botched reverses, so when you see that SJS had -15 rushing, it isn't quite that good.  On the other hand, Eskridge had only 2.5 yards per carry and he wasn't involved in the losses.  SJS had a long run of 11 yards.  The BG defense did an excellent job making San Jose State one-dimensional.

However, that one dimension is pretty good.  Fales was 33 of 43 for 395 yards, and, in fact, that kind of production would usually be worth more than 29 points.  That's 12 yards a reception on 75% completion % and that's getting it done.  BG had only one sack and no INT.

Coach Clawson said it was the best passing offense we have played all year, and it is pretty hard to argue with that.  The BG defense contained them and limited the damage, but they were going to get their yards and they did.  They were hampered by the two reverses and maybe helped by the fumble call on the replay, but they were good enough to do enough to win this game.

Oh and one last thing.  BG held SJS to 3 of 13 on 3rd down.  That's getting it done.

Special teams for BG had good and bad.  BG made 2 FGs in the same game for the first time since last freaking October, which we are thankful for.  (I believe Tate will be a very solid kicker for us).  The punting game was very sub-par.  BG had a net 24.8 yards per punt with a block.  As Coach said, Schmiedebusch is an all-conference punted who "had a bad day."

BG did an excellent job controlling the SJS kickoff return game and had a very strong return game, so that was a positive as well.

And so it concludes.  It was an exciting game and I was pleased to see our guys battle a very strong team.  Heading to the off-season, I think the Falcons have to solve the riddle of offensive production.  Everyone is back, but how does that change anything?  The defense should be very good again, and how can the offense be good enough to create a special season?

Military Bowl: Strong Defense Not Enough.

It was a disappointing game to lose, there is no doubt about that.  The Falcons had a good season, there is no doubt about that either.

As Coach Clawson said in the post-game, it would have been a special season if the team had been able to produce some more offensive production in the key games--Florida, Kent, San Jose--and that is the disappointment and the challenge heading into the off-season.

I'll do some more significant review of the season coming up soon, so for now, let's keep our eyes on the Military Bowl.

Both teams opened up with one first down and a punt.  SJS started its second possession at its own 21, and proceeded to shred the BG defense, gaining 76 yards over 3 straight passing plays for a TD.  At this point, Falcon fans began to have PTSD flashbacks to a certain day in Mobile that invoke unspeakable horrors upon the nation...

But this team isn't that team.  BG came right back with 50 yards on 3 straight passing plays and then a couple more completions for 10 yards and BG was down at the 5 yard line.  It was first and goal, and BG had an opportunity to tie the game.  Unfortunately, Schilz was sacked on first down from the 5, and then Samuel was stuffed and on 3rd down Schilz was pressured and BG had to settle for a FG.

In my opinion, this sequence is one of the keys of the game.  BG simply doesn't have enough firepower to waste red zone chances, and it also doesn't have enough firepower to be "off schedule" and the ability to protect Schilz all the way down the field but not in the red zone was costly.

BG's defense bounced back in a big way, stuffing SJS for a loss of 6 on a 3rd down and 1 and then special teams chipped in with a blocked punt.  BG had the ball on the SJS 24 and a chance to take the lead.

This time, BG tried running the ball, but Samuel could only gain 9 yards on 3 straight carries and the Falcons had to settle for another FG that was the first play of the second quarter.

That sequence hurts too.  Despite a long drive and a blocked punt, BG trailed.

From there, the game settled in a little.  The two teams traded punts twice, but on the last punt in the series Schmiedebusch, punting from the SJS 42 with a chance to pin them back instead shanked a 15 yarder.  The Spartans attacked fast, landing a 38 yard completion and a pass interference on BG and getting down to the Falcon 23.  The drive stalled after SJS had its own PI call and they settled for a FG to lead 10-6 with 1:40 left.

BG did attempt to run a two minute drill but only mounted one first down, and it was halftime.  Certainly, BG was still in the game and the game was a low scoring game--the only kind BG could win--but you still had the feeling that BG should have been ahead and that it would have been a different game if they had been.

BG got the ball to start the 3rd and went 3 and out.  On SJS's possession, BG got the big play it needed from its defense when Charlie Walker forced a fumble while blind-siding Fales and Chris Jones ran the ball to the 8 yard line.  BG scored on the next play and led 13-10--I'm not going to belabor the point but convert in the red zone in the first half and it is 21-10 and a completely different game.

The two teams traded punts, but BG's punt was only 17 yards.  Another key play occurred on first down when San Jose State muffed a reverse and fumbled the ball.  It is really just the luck of the draw, but the ball bounced to the Spartans and they averted catastrophe.

They did have to punt, and BG started inside its own 25.  The Falcons went three and out and then had their punt blocked out of the end zone for a safety--and if you want to count the number of times a loose ball rolled away from BG you have to note the huge break for BG when this ball just barely trickled over the end line for a safety instead of a TD.

Even so, at 13-12, it was a momentum shifter.  The Spartan offense, which had been largely stymied since the opening drive, came out on fire, driving 68 yards in 6 plays to score and regaining the lead at 19-13.

John Pettigrew opened the door for BG by returning the kickoff to the SJS 44, but the offense produced less than nothing with a net two yard loss and BG punted SJS down to its 15.

This was a huge possession for the Falcon defense.  If SJS gets cooking on offense, they could have put the game away.  They did get one first down but then couldn't convert on a 2nd and 1 opportunity and BG had the ball back.

Here, Bowling Green's offense responded with its best drive of the game.  BG switched away from Samuel and used Hopgood and Pettigrew and finally got some running yards.  On a 3rd and 4 play, Pettigrew bolted to the 1 yard line and then scored on the next play and BG had a 20-19 lead.

I doubt if I was the only Falcon fan who thought at this point that the only chance BG had to win was to end the game with the score 20-19.

It was not to be.  SJS drove to the BG 10 before they tried another reverse which put the ball onto the ground and once again the ball bounced to the Spartans...BG recovers that ball and it could very well have been a different game.  With the yardage loss, BG held the Spartans to a FG however and it was 22-20.

From there, however, the Spartans continued to assert their dominance over the 4th Q.  On the second play, Schilz was sacked, fumbled, and SJS got this loose ball, too, and had the ball at the BG 24.

The game's most controversial play came in the ensuing series.  On 3rd and 1, Fales hit his FB with a pass and he ran it near the goal line.  The ball came loose and rolled out of the end zone, which would mean BG ball on the 20.  The call on the field was that he was down and it went to replay.

Look, I'm not the guy to look to for unbiased analysis.  To me, it was pretty obvious that the ball was out and there was space between his knee and the ground.  I thought it was a fumble.  The replay booth said it was inconclusive and SJS kept the ball in what was a huge play.  It is possible his back knee--which was obscured--might have been down so maybe that's what the official was thinking.

However, as much as that might have been a fumble, Falcon fans need to be honest.  It is far from a lock that BG gets down the field and scores, even if it is a fumble.

In the actual event, they scored and took a 29-20 lead with 2:34 left and it was over.

More on the numbers from the game later.

Coach said after the game that we didn't make enough plays on offense.  I think the defense played a great game against this team, holding them well below their average.  They gave their team a chance to win, and BG was unable to convert on offense, and then a fumble and a blocked punt doomed them--along with some rolling balls that didn't head into the right hands.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sadness Accrues. Good Defensive Effort Falls Short

The Bowling Green defense showed up today and showed that they are as a good as we thought they were.  They played very tough against what Coach Clawson called 'the best passing offense we played all year."

I was just really proud of the effort the defense put out there.  They absolutely kept the team in the game and gave the offense every opportunity to put BG in a position to win--which ultimately they did not.

Coach said that "we didn't make enough plays on offense" and he said that has been our problem all season.

BG scored 20 points, and 7 of those came on an 8 yard drive off the fumble.  They had two red zone opportunities in the first half and generated only 6 points, and while we are happy to have the made field goals (first time in more than a year we have 2 FGs in the same game), a touchdown on at least one of them would have been really helpful.  This offense generates little enough, they have to score when the opportunity is there.

There was a lot, and we will have more tomorrow.  BG's style requires strong special teams--especially punting--and as good as Schmiedebusch has been over the last two years, the guy had a bad day today.

And yes, I thought it was clearly a fumble on that big replay, but that's not what made the difference. I'd trade that for the sack when BG was first and goal in the first half.

Coach Clawson said it was a good season and every time we had the chance to make it a special season, we did not make enough plays on offense.

I will say this.  I feared that this was a Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl situation, but then I forgot that our Coach is named Clawson and not Brandon, and BG made a very credibile effort.  A win would have been great, but I do think the program is heading in the right direction and is in solid hands.  Can't wait for next season to start.

More tomorrow.

No Name North Dakota Preview

After a rather pleasant trip to Tampa in December, the Falcon men's basketball team now gets paid back by a late December trip to North freaking Dakota for a game against a team with no name.

Just to catch people up, the NCAA has been trying to get rid of Native American mascots and depictions.  You could get permission from the tribe or change it, and so you have the Miami RedHawks and the EMU Eagles...CMU got dispensation.  In most cases, it went pretty quietly.

Not in North Dakota.  Their teams have been known as the Fighting Sioux for a very long time--they had a logo not unlike the Chicago Blackhawks--and there was a lot of pride over the issue.  The University realized they had to comply with the NCAA, like it or not.  What happened next was that the issue turned into an incredible controversy that involved all levels of state government.  After the State Board of Higher Ed dropped the nickname, the State Senate passed a law requiring the University to keep it...a law they repealed later that year.  Then, petitions were passed (I swear to God) to put this issue on the statewide ballot...and, two-thirds of North Dakotans voted to "retire" the logo and nickname, showing themselves to be infinitely wiser than the people they elected to represent them.

North Dakota law prohibits the school from choosing a new nickname until 2015...(presumably this was written into the law by people who still think that as long as a new name hasn't been picked they could still reverse the decision) and therefore, the Falcons play a team without a nickname.

On the court, their men's basketball team has struggled this year.  They are 2-8, and both of those wins are against non-D1 opposition.  They are #288 on and their RPI is 346.  They have lost to 4 pretty good teams (Kansas State, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State) but also to very poor Hawaii, Southern Utah, Northern Colorado and Missouri-Kansas City teams.

They are 0-2 in D1 games at home.  BG and North Dakota have never played.

They play a pretty uptempo pace, at 67 possessions per game.  On offense, they are scoring only .96 points per possession, which is 239th in the country.  Their effective FG% is 46% which is 267th and still 2% better than BG's.  They turn the ball over on 20% of their possessions, which is not especially good and only get 29% of their available offensive rebounds, which is below average and tough for a team that misses a lot.  They don't get to the line very well, however, they are among the top 100 FT shooting teams in the country.

As for the longball, they are right on the national average for shooting the 3, however, they get 31% of their points from the 3, which is a lot.

On defense, they allow 1.01 points per possession, which is slightly below the national average.  They are allowing an effective FG% of 48.8%, which is also below average and give up 33% on the offensive boards, also below average.  They do force turnovers on 20% of the possessions, which is good but not great and they do a pretty good job of keeping teams off the free throw line.

One small reality check...those numbers are helped by the two non-D1 games where the opponents scored a combined 83 points.  UND has given up 70 points in every single D1 game it has played.

They did play a significant part of that schedule without their top scorer--Troy Huff--who broke his jaw in the first game and didn't play again until the most recent game.  He is scoring 13 PPG but shooting only 33% on almost exclusively 2FG.

Aaron Anderson is scoring 12.6 PPG and shooting 35%, though he leads the team in 3 attempts.  At 6'7" Alonzo Traylor leads the team with 5 rebounds and Jamal Webb and Anderson lead the team with 3 assists per game.  Webb also gets 2.4 steals per game.

They have only one true big big guy, Mitch Wilmer, who is 6"11 and averages 3 fouls in 18 minutes played.  Like a lot of teams, they have a bunch of 6'8" ish guys on the roster.  Their top five players in minutes are 6'4" or shorter.  They seem to rotate their bigs to get around 18-20 minutes per game.

They have only 3 seniors and none plays more than 18 minutes per game.

This is a game that the Falcons should be able to win, on paper.  The effort that we showed in losing to MSU and to USF would produce a win in this game.  Still, the game is on the road and coming off a long break you always wonder how the team will respond.  The best case would be for the team to get rewarded with a win over those two hard fought losses, and that's what people will be looking for against North Dakota.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Devon McKoy Suspended for Military Bowl

Somehow in the great excitement over the holidays I missed that BG's CB Devon McKoy has been suspended for the bowl game and did not make the trip with the team, based on this report in the Blade.

He's still on the team, just fell under the "conduct detrimental" clause.

Falcon Fodder also reported that everyone else who didn't have a season-ending injury was in practice, although the San Jose paper reported that Darrell Hunter is questionable for the game.

For the Spartans, the Blade reports that Anthony Larceval, a JR DT with 6.5 sacks on the year is in the hospital with an undisclosed but "serious" illness.  Obviously, that doesn't sound good and we wish the best for him.

Also, their FR LB Hector Roach, who is a co-starter, is out of the game due to undisclosed eligibility issues.

25 Questions that go Bowling...

Recently released CAT Scan
of Interim Coach Allen Baer
What is their body of work?

They had a great year.  They were 10-2, with their only losses @Stanford and Utah State.  They beat Brigham Young, San Diego State and La Tech and won their last 6 games.  This is a team that knows how to win and is playing with a great deal of confidence.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 28 on their two deep which is a lot.

Who are their statistical leaders?

We talked about this earlier in the week.  QB Fales is the 3rd most effective passer in the country and the most accurate.  Benwikere is tied for 3rd in interceptions and Travis Johnson is tied for 7th in sacks and 10th in TFL.  Noel Grigsby is 13th in receiving yards.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are pretty good at +8 which puts them at #25 in the country, which surprises me, but there it is.


How is their QB Play?

Very, very good.  David Fales is their QB.  He started at Nevada, went to a junior college and then moved to San Jose State last December.  This is his first year with them.  He is not a threat to run, but his passing game is very, very efficient.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They score 35 points a game which is in the top 30 in the country.  They earn 6.4 yards per play, which is also very efficient.

Can they run the ball?

Their lead RB is De'Leon Eskridge, who will go over 1,000 yards sometime tomorrow and averaged 5.1 yards per carry.  Their official rushing average is 3.5 yards per carry, but when you factor sacks out they are at 4.2 yards per carry, which is good.  They did not run the ball well in a number of their games, however, and BG is going to have to have success in this part of the game to compete.

Eskridge, BTW, played three years for Minnesota and had 4 100 yard games for the Gophers.

What exactly is your profession?
Do they pass the ball?

They are 2nd in the nation in pass efficiency.  I mentioned Fales completing 72% of his passes.  One of the things we look for is trade offs--was that accomplished with a steady diet of bubble screens and easily completed passes.  They get 13 yards per completion, which is very, very good and when it is paired with 72% completion, it becomes a deadly combination.  BG had a strong pass defense this season and it will need to show up.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 47% of their plays, which is more than you might expect. (sack adjusted).

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

As you would expect, they are good.  They convert at 45%.

Do they score in the red zone?

4.7 points per trip is slightly above average and 4.3 trips per game is a strong number and not unexpected.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They do give up sacks....but also pass a lot.  It works out to 5.6% of attempts which is just average protection.  Also, they gave up 13 sacks in one game.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are 25th in the nation in scoring defense with 21 points per game.  They do allow 5.2 yards per play, which is not especially great, so we will keep our eyes open for what the underlying answer might be.

Do they defend the run effectively?

Their rush stats look good but they are a little big deceiving.  They get a ridiculous number of sacks, which counts against rushing.  On actual rushing attempts, they allow 4.6 yards per carry which is not a great number.  BG simply has to get this done to have a chance.

Can they be passed on?

Their pass efficiency defense is 40th in the country.  However, they allow 58% completions and 11.7 yards per reception, which is on the high side.  Their efficiency is helped by having 15 INTs and only 18 TD passes.  If you can stay away from negative plays, they do give some yards upt.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They do, they allow 33% first downs, which is 23rd in the country. (BG is 5th).

Do they defend in the red zone?

They allow fewer than 3 trips per game and 4.5 points per trip, both of which are very solid number.

An exclusive review of game film reveals
the secret to the SJS pass rush.
Do they pressure the QB?

They are downright ridiculous here.  They have 40 sacks which is 5th in the nation (BG is 9th).  That means they get a sack on 9% of their opponent's passing plays.  One thing I noticed is that they had a bunch of sacks early and then fewer as the season went on, so perhaps something was noticed. The offense can also impact this.  It is possible after seeing those sack numbers teams only threw five step drops with max protect...something I thoroughly expect BG to do tomorrow.

Special Teams:


Their net punting is 36.7 which is slightly better than BG's, which means good but not great.  None blocked.

Punt Return?

At last a weak point...they only get about two yards a return and are among the 10 worst teams in D1.  Zero blocks, no TDs, long of 10.


Lopez was 15-15 with a long of 45 and 3 over 40.  Somehow, he managed to miss 3 extra points, however.


Really good.  Teams start on the 24 and they had 23 kickoffs.  Note, they kickoffs are handled by the punter.

Kickoff Return?

They are very, very good.  They are 6th in the country in yardage and have 2 TDs.  This is going to be pretty important...I'd expect a lot of pooch style kicks to keep the ball away from their guys, much like we did for Dri Archer.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

First, they have an interim coach.  You never know how players will react to that...although without actual numbers, it seems like it doesn't have the impact you would expect.

Second, San Jose State has a long trip, which normally is a disadvantage, though they have been in DC all week.  The 3 pm game time helps mediate this as well.

To me, this is a great test.  BG's defense was highly ranked in the MAC, and we will find out how good we really are tomorrow against probably the best offense we have seen this year.  BG needs to control the running game and contain the passing game to win.  If San Jose State is effective running and passing, then I start to get cold shivers.

On offense, BG has got to establish the run.  If we can, then maybe we can open up some passing lanes.  I expect the Falcons to be very cautious throwing the ball.  They don't want to give up sacks and INTs, and for that reason, I would expect us to use very safe passing plays.

It is easy to see why the Spartans are strong favorites.  BG will need to provide a great effort, especially on defense, which I am looking forward to seeing if they can do.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the Falcon Nation

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the Falcon Nation.  May the day bring you Peace...

The Magi (The Heart of Man is a Palace)

Oh the magi were the prophets
And they wandered through the desert
They saw the star above them
And they knew they'd find their way
Through the valley of the shadow
With the hope of human kindness
They were strengthened by the vision
Of a new and brighter day.

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed.
In the weaving of your fingers
In the whisper of a love that's born again
In the weaving of your fingers
In a promise that we made that never ends.

Well now each man is a pilgrim,
Yes, we all must make the journey
And it seems that time is telling us to be all that we can
To help lift up the fallen, we must sow the seeds of goodness
The torch is passed among us now to light the way of man.

For the heart of man's a palace
And his dreams are as the sunlight
They burn away the darkness, as they warm the freezing cold
As an eagle flying higher, as a river through the canyon
The diamond star shines down upon, a pathway to the soul


In a promise that we made that never ends.
In a promise that we made that never ends.

Monday, December 24, 2012

San Jose State Notes and Rankings....

A few Christmas Eve notes gleaned from the San Jose game notes and the NCAA statistics....

Heading into the Military Bowl game and for the seventh time in the last eight weeks, San Jose State is the most accurate passing team among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs. Only three FBS teams completed at least 70 percent of its passes.

San Jose State quarterback David Fales is the most accurate passer among the nation’s top-100 ranked quarterbacks in games played through December 1. It is the fifth week in a row Fales is the most accurate passer in the country.  Only three players among the top-100 quarterbacks enter this week’s play completing 70.00 or more of their passes.

San Jose State’s Austin Lopez enters the week as one of three Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) kickers to convert all his field goal tries this season based on a minimum of seven field goals made.  (Austin Lopez San Jose State 15-15)

Bowl History:  San Jose State has a 5-3 record in bowl games and a 2-2 record against the MAC.

The Military Bowl is the Spartans’ first bowl game east of the Mississippi River.

2006 New Mexico Bowl
Albuquerque, N.M.
San Jose State 20
New Mexico 12

1990 California Raisin Bowl
Fresno, Calif.
San Jose State 48
Central Michigan 24

1987 California Bowl
Fresno, Calif.
Eastern Michigan 30
San Jose State 27

1986 California Bowl
Fresno, Calif.
San Jose State 37
Miami (Ohio) 7

1981 California Bowl
Fresno, Calif.
Toledo 27
San Jose State 25

1971 Pasadena Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.
Memphis State 28
San Jose State 9

1949 Raisin Bowl
Fresno, Calif.
San Jose State 20
Texas Tech 13

1947 Raisin Bowl
Fresno, Calif.
San Jose State 20
Utah State 0

Noel Grigsby, Chandler Jones, Ryan Otten and Jabari Carr are the four active Spartans with at least 1,000 career pass receiving yards.

Tight end Ryan Otten is the first San Jose State player this season to accept a post-season all-star game invitation. He is headed to the Senior Bowl scheduled for January 26, 2013 in Mobile, Ala.

Otten's current 16.05 yards per catch average is best among FBS tight ends with 40 or more receptions and a 10.00 or more yards per catch average in games played through December 1.

In the Sagarin ranking, they are the #30 ranked team.

San Jose State is ranked:

11th in passing offense
6th in kickoff returns
2nd in passing efficiency
5th in sacks

Fales 3rd in passing efficiency
Bene Benwikere 3rd in interceptions
Travis Johnson T-7 in sacks

ESPN Labels Jones Day 3 Draft Sleeper

In this blog post, Steve Muench, a "colleague" of Todd McShay, says that Chris Jones is a day 3 sleeper in the NFL draft.  Most projections I have seen show Jones as not being drafted, but here is what Muench says after he details the downsides to Jones...

Still, Jones is an intriguing late-round possibility for a 4-3 team looking for depth at defensive tackle. His quick first step, violent hands and motor make him disruptive, and he's relentless against both the run and the pass.

He sometimes gets overzealous and hits the quarterback late, like he did in the Buffalo game, but he doesn't back down and gets under the skin of his opponents. Jones appears to be the kind of prospect people love to play with and hate playing against. NFL comparison: Tennessee DT Karl Klug,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

San Jose Game By Game

And now the path is clear....on the horizon, for Thursday afternoon, is the Military Bowl, featuring the Falcons and the San Jose Spartans.  I will be devoting this space to examining the game that lies ahead.  We're playing a very good team...but that is the way it is supposed to be.  I look forward to seeing how BG performs against a quality team.  (For reference, I had them #18 in my final blogpoll ballot and the blogpoll had them #24.

The first step is to look at the Spartans and each game they gave played this season on their way to a 10-2 mark.

#10 in my blogpoll @ Stanford  17 - 20 (L)

They opened their season against Stanford, the team that today is waiting to play in the Rose Bowl on January 1 and who won the PAC-12.  Stanford led 17-3 at halftime, but the Spartan came out in the second half and scored two unanswered TDs in the third quarter to tie the game.  It stayed tied until early in the 4th when Stanford converted a fumble in a FG for a 20-17 lead.  From there, Stanford D's locked it down pretty tight and forced three straight 3 and outs and then a pick on the last possession to preserve the win.

The Spartans held Stanford to 4.2 yards per play and actually outgained them as well.  San Jose had 2 turnovers and Stanford did not have any.

UC Davis - 45 - 13 (W)

SJS cruised over IAA UC-Davis in their second game.  That's 503 yards of total offense for the Spartans.  De'Leon Eskridge had 130 yards and 3 TDs (8.1 avg) and David Fales had 277 passing yards.  The SJS forced 3 turnovers, 1 fumble and 6 sacks.  Travis Johnson had 4 sacks and 6 TFL.

UC Davis finished 4-7.

Colorado State - 40 - 20 (W)

The Spartans racked up 568 yards in beating the Colorado State Rams with a strong second half surge.  Colorado State finished 4-8.  Fales was 37 of 34 for 370 yards and 3 TDs, which is a pretty productive day by any measure.  Three receivers had 100 yard games and Noel Grigsby became the career receiving leader at the school.  Eskridge ran for 86 yards.  The defense had 5 sacks and an INT.

@San Diego State - 38 - 34 (W)

This was a huge road win over a quality football team.  Looks like this was a pretty exciting game.  The Spartans scored 17 points in the last 5 minutes of the game, including a TD pass with :50 left to seal the victory.  It was the first win for SJS in 60 years in San Diego.  The Spartans had only 367 yards but they also ran only 55 plays to get there.  Their offense was assisted by one special team TD as well.  The defense contributed 5 sacks by 5 different players.

@Navy 12 - 0 (W)

The Spartans went on the road and won a low-scoring game against Navy.  SJS did dominate the game with 36 minutes of possession time and 3 of their field goals came on red zone possessions, once from the 2.  Looking at the stats, you'd never guess this was a team that scored 12 points.  Meanwhile, the defense got 5 sacks on 18 Navy passing attempts and held the Navy option attack to 102 sack adjusted yards on 33 carries.  Navy finished 8-4.

Utah State 27 - 49 (L)

In their final loss of the regular season, SJ State ran into a buzzsaw on their own field and lost handily to Utah State.  As we know, the Aggies went on to finish 11-2 including a bowl win over Toledo and then sent their coach to Wisconsin.

I swear to god, I am not making this up. Utah State sacked Fales 13 freaking times for 102 yards.  They attempted 50 passes so with the sacks that's 63 attempts which puts the sack percentage at around 20%.  Dang.

Utah State had bolted out to a 28-3 but the Spartans staged a furious late 2nd Q rally to get to 28-20 at  the half, but the Aggies reasserted their dominance to pull away in the 2nd half.  This is really the first team to solve the SJS defense, allowing no sacks, rushing for 8.8 yards per carry and passing for 273 yards on 26 of 35 passing.  San Jose ran a ridiculous 92 plays in the game.

@ UTSA - 52 - 24 (W)

SJS got their mojo back with an easy win over Texas-San Antonio, which is making a transition between FCS and FBS.  The Spartans had 38 points at halftime, and scored all 52 with only 17 first downs.  UTSA had 6 turnovers for the game.  Fales had 279 passing yards with a struggling rushing game.  The Spartans also had a fumble recovery for a TD and a kickoff return TD.  UTSA was 8-4 with a hybrid schedule.

Texas State 31 - 20 (W)

Texas State was actually leading this one at the half (20-17) and then San Jose State scored 2 second half TDs to put the win away.  The defense threw a 4 punt, 2 INT shutout in the second half as well.  For the game, Texas State had only 10 first downs despite having 303 yards in total.  They turned the ball over twice and were 4-13 on third down.  For the first time in several weeks, SJS had success running the ball, with 5.1 yards per carry.  Fales threw for 376 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs.  Texas State was 4-8.

@Idaho  42 - 13 (W)

This is the only common opponent between BG and San Jose State.  BG beat Idaho 21-13 in the season's darker days, while the Spartans smoked the Vandals at the Kibbie Dome.  Idaho finished 1-11.  It wasn't a perfect performance for SJ State--they led 14-7 at halftime and had 4 turnovers for the game.  For the game, Fales ended up 27 of 39 for 328 yards.  The running game was pretty ineffective, however.  The defense whipped up 6 sacks in holding Idaho to 12 first downs and 288 yards.  Idaho was 4 of 18 on third down.

@ New Mexico State 47 - 7 (W)

As you would expect, SJS throttled NM State, who finished 1-11 and was among the worst FBS teams.  They led 37 to 0 at halftime and cruised home from there.

BYU - 20 - 14 (W)

In another big win, the Spartans beat BYU, who won their bowl game over SD State.  It was 20-7 until late in the 4th when BYU scored to make it this close.  BYU outgained the Spartans but had 3 turnovers.  Fales threw for 305 yards and 3 TDs, again with little support from his running game.  The defense had 4 sacks to go with the turnovers.

Louisiana Tech 52 - 43 (W)

In a wild shoot out to finish the season, San Jose State beat a very good La Tech team 52-43. BenĂ© Benwikere tied a school record with 3 INTS, and Eskridge had 217 rushing yards to help the cause.  Fales had 367 yards passing.  In total, SJ State had 610 yards and LA Tech had 541--483 of them through the air.  As La Tech rallied to try and catch up, they threw INTs on both of their last two possessions.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Heartbreaking Loss, Part II

So, turning from the drama to the numbers, I continue to examine the Falcon loss at South Florida last night.

The biggest news is that BG played 2-3 zone for the game, which is the first time they have used it all season.  Coach Hopson said after the game that BG did not feel like they could guard USF in a man to man--the Bulls have some big wing players.  He said that was a shame because the man defense has been good lately.

So, they went to the zone and Coach Hopson conceded that we were probably a little rusty.  BG did end up getting stops in the last 10 minutes of regulation, but in total, it was a game where BG's ability to score is responsible for the team being in the game and not defense.

BG allowed 1.11 points per possession, which is a lot.  BG was able to score 1.08 points, which is their best since the Detroit game.

BG outshot USF, which is remarkable in itself. BG shot 43% from the field and made 11 of 30 from beyond the arc.  (Note:  lost in that is that BG was 10-20 from beyond the arc in regulation and then 1-10 in overtime).

Despite being outshot, South Florida was able to pick up the win by taking very, very good care of the ball (10 turnovers in 55 minutes, or 13% of possessions), pick up 44% of their available offensive rebounds, and, most importantly, have a +9 advantage in free throws.  BG had 20 fouls called and USF had only 12 for the game.

For its part, BG only had 14 turnovers (18%) and had 37% of the available offensive rebounds, which are both pretty good results.  However, the small advantages the Bulls had in those areas, combined with the big advantage at the line, allowed them to win despite being outshot.

Individually, Jordon Crawford had a career high 27 on 10-21 shooting, 4 of 9 from 3, to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.  He did have 7 turnovers.  In the post-game, the Tampa media was asking about Crawford, and Coach Orr said something like, "I'm learning as I go" with Jordon, and then he said something like, you just have to let him be.

You can read into that what you want.  He scored nothing in the first 20 and then 27 in the next 25.  He made huge, huge plays and then made 7 turnovers.

A'uston Calhoun had a hard-earned 22 points on 9-22 shooting, he was 1-6 from beyond the arc (?), and added 8 rebounds.

Cam Black had 7 points (3 of 3 shooting) and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes, which is pretty respectable (though he did foul out).  James Erger had 4 rebounds in 36 minutes and Richaun Holmes had 5 blocked shots.

For those of you who are interested in minutes played, Anthony Henderson played 44 and Erger played 36, while Orr played 19 (7 points and 4 rebounds on 50% shooting) and Kraus played 11, Clarke 6 and Sealey 6.

Coach Hopson said BG used the lineup it did in OT because it seemed to be working.  That lineup was Crawford, Henderson, Erger, Calhoun and Holmes.

The Falcons seem to have increasing confidence in Anthony Henderson.  He had 9 points on 3-9 shooting but was 3-6 from 3.  BG had 21 bench points last night...Todd Walker made the point that the team needs an answer to a surrounded Calhoun with the ball in the paint, and if Orr and Henderson can provide that moving forward (along with Crawford) we become a lot harder to defend.

So, the Falcons head into the Christmas break on a disappointing note.  They are 5-6 and 3-6 in D1 competition.  Having said that, I actually think they are better than they were expected to be.  They had been playing better over the past few games, but those were at home and you didn't know how that counted, but this one was on the road and they played well.

Their Kenpom rating is 177 which is right in the middle of D1, (6th in the MAC as well) and again, better than I thought they were going to be and better than they looked like they were going to be early on.

It will be interesting to see how the team reacts to this break.  They can either come back recognizing they might be relatively close or they can come back discouraged.  They have a very winnable game against North Dakota (though away) on the 29th and then @Temple.

Heartbreaking loss, Part I

It was a heartbreaking result to get...on the road, major conference team and the Falcons had several chances to win the game and were just one play short from what would have been a huge win.

This is not to be critical.  I think we played pretty well and we are ahead of where I thought we would be at this point.

Having said that, the game was right there and it could have been and a triple overtime loss, while great entertainment, has to just rip the heart out of our guys.

I just listened to the presser and Coach Orr was about as down as I have heard him.  He normally is, to say the least, pretty evenly keeled, and he was proud of the effort but you could hear the disappointment in his voice.

"Tough, tough, tough game," he said.

And he's right about that.

Look, with 14 minutes left, BG was down 12 points.  BG went on a 20-6 run over the next 6 minutes, with 12 of those points coming from Jordon Crawford, who had not scored at all in the first half.

That run continued and BG was leading by 4 with less than 90 seconds left.  With 1:07 left Crawford nailed another 3 and BG had a 7 point lead and you just gotta figure you get the win at that point.  That's a huge lead for one minute.

USF came down and hit a 3 with :44 left to reduce the deficit to 4.  BG turned the ball over but then got a turnover on the other end of the floor and now had :22 left with a 4 point lead.  They fouled Calhoun, who had made 20 straight free throws, but missed the front end of the 1 and 1, and USF came down and hit a layup to cut it to 2 with :14 left.

They fouled Calhoun again, this time he split the pair with :10 left and USF came down and hit a clutch 3 to force overtime.

No two ways about it.  That's very disappointing.  One free throw, one basket, and the game is over.  (Todd Walker also mentioned that BG had the chance to extend the lead earlier and had some empty possessions which also would have made the difference).

So, onto OT.  On the road, you gotta feel like we're in real trouble.  This time it was the Bulls who led by 4 with :33 left.  After the lights literally went out and there was an extended break to fix them, USF missed the front end of two 1 and 1s and Jordon Crawford got into the lane and made 2 layups and then Holmes blocked a buzzer beater and this time it was the Falcons cheating death.

From then on, however, it was the Falcons who had the chances to win.  The second overtime was pretty slow...Crawford hit another bucket to put BG up 3 with :32 left, but Victor Rudd did it again, running down the floor and nailing another 3 to tie the game.

Still, BG had the ball with :25 left and coming out of a timeout.  They held for the last shot and Crawford took and missed a tough jumper.

If you think this is crazy, you actually haven't seen anything yet.

Teams get tired in OT and you see less scoring, and in fact, that's how these things keep going so long.  So for the first four minutes of the 3rd OT, USF did not score at all.  BG had hoops from Calhoun and Crawford and led by 4.  Rudd hit a layup to cut the lead to 2 with :59 left.

BG ran clock and with :32 Erger turned the ball over.  However, there was a scramble on the floor and USF called a timeout they did not have, which is a technical foul.  Crawford hit both free throws. With the Falcons now up 4, USF came down and for reasons which are hard to fathom was allowed to drive right into the lane and get a basket with a foul.  They missed the free throw, and with :27 it was a 2 point lead.

And here is the game's key (or at least conclusive) segment.

BG inbounded the ball under heavy pressure.  BG threw a long pass to Anthony Henderson who was racing to the basket.  Coach Hopson said after the game that he should have just pulled it out, but he went to the basket and if he gets the hoop then BG's up 4 and the game is close to being in hand.  Instead, he is blocked and neither kills the time nor gets the basket.

Or the foul.  The Falcon's bench was apparently going crazy about the lack of a foul call.  Even in the post-game, Coach Orr, who never complains about the officials, indicated that he felt Henderson was fouled.

USF, of course, runs right down the floor, Rudd drives the baseline, gets the basket and also a blocking foul on Erger, another call that Coach Orr cited as being doubtful, in his mind.

Of course, Rudd nails the free throw and now they lead by 1 with :13 left.  BG still had one last chance, but Calhoun missed a 3 and that was it.

That's the story.  BG had about 5 chances to put it away, and it would have been a very high quality win.  They didn't and it goes down as a "tough, tough, tough" loss.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The night the lights went out in Tampa

I will have a full recap tomorrow, but in the meantime, just a heartbreaking loss for the Falcons tonight at the Sun Dome.  This would have been a very big win for us, to beat a Big East team on the would have built on the MSU game and given the team a big confidence boost heading into the Christmas break.

Instead, BG failed to close a 7 point lead in regulation and then probably had an even better shot to win in the 3rd overtime when Anthony Henderson had a breakaway with a 2 point lead in the final seconds....Coach Hopson said after the game he "went for a dunk when he could have pulled it back out" and the dunk was blocked and they came down and hit a hoop with a free throw and from there it was on the track for the Bulls to win.

On the breakaway, you had to feel it was over, but five seconds later it was not.

And that's just the 3rd over time...the last two minutes of regulation were just as frustrating.

To be fair, USF also had the game won at the end of the first overtime and lost the lead, so it wasn't all one way.

To their credit, the team kept battling on the road, but we absolutely had the game won more than once and didn't close it down and will fly back north tomorrow morning with a loss that should have been a signature win for our season.

This team is playing better than it did earlier...maybe we are on the right vector.

More tomorrow.

Falcon Defense, a look at the numbers

So, a quick note on BG's defensive performance in men's basketball.  The coaches have been talking up our defensive performance over the past few games, and I wanted to put it to the test a little.

Above is a chart showing the points per possession allowed for each BG game this year.  Remembering that the D1 average is about 1.01 points per possession, I think there's a very clear picture for looking at things as being different after-Detroit.

Before that game, BG had played four sub-par defensive games--in fact, BG had beaten Detroit on the strength of getting some baskets, not defending.  But, BG had four other games that were worse than average.  The only two games that were better than average were against non-D1 competition.

Since the Detroit game, BG has played above-average defense in every game, which is what we need to do do win.  MSU was almost average, but given who they are, I don't think that's a bad ouctome, and the WSU and Samford games had pretty decent results.

Unless BG starts finding ways to score more easily, I think it is clear that to win we need to be consistently under 1 or even .9 points per possession.  This is obviously a work in progress, but if this team's identity is going to be to defend like this, then we're going to need to see this trend remain consistent.

Men's Hoops...Welcome to Tampa

The Falcon Men's Basketball team now takes to the road to try and convert its strong performance against MSU into a road win against a team from the Big East, at least for now.

We talked a lot about how MSU and UM and OSU had only played one road game this year...Falcon fans might be surprised to know that as of right now BG has only played one road game, which was against Robert Morris in the pre-season NIT.  Some of those games were on neutral courts....but there has been only one road game.

This one comes against South Florida, one of the 3 remaining football-playing Big East schools that are either going to have to arrange a East-West "Conference America" or find a new home.

In men's basketball, the Bulls are coached by Stan Heath, a former assistant at BG who coached for one season at Kent State (getting them to the Elite 8), jumped to Arkansas, got fired and then ended up at USF, where he has a losing record, albeit in the toughest conference in basketball right now.

This season, they are off to a 6-3 start and a rating of #85.  (BG is #193).  On the plus side, they have beaten Bradley (#114), Georgia (#120), and Youngstown State (#141).  (Note, the Penguins beat BG at the Stroh).  Each of those wins was on their home court.  They lost at home to UCF (#111) and WMU (#207), as well as @Oklahoma State (#19).

All that is a pretty decent start.  The two home losses keep it from being a great start, especially the WMU loss, but they have beaten some solid teams, one of whom beat BG.

This team will remind you a lot of Michigan State.  They are a defensively oriented team with effective big men...they play at a very slow pace (They play at 62 possessions a game, which is sloooooooooooow with a capital SLOOOOOOOOW), so their per game averages are a little distorted.  That is one difference with MSU, in fact...the Spartans like to get into transition, but this team plays a very slow and deliberate style.

Statistically, this team scores 1.05 points per possession, which is above average (1.01).  They take excellent care of the ball and shoot it pretty well (49.5% EFG), but are well below average in terms of offensive rebounding and free throw rate.  They get 31% of their scoring from the 3, which is in the top third of the country--they shoot almost 37% from beyond the arc.

So, not spectacular on offense, but with good ball control and some 3s, they are scoring pretty effectively.  (We will look at BG's defense a little more later today, but if BG is going to establish a true defensive identity this is an opportunity).

They allow only .94 points per possession on defense, which is good, though hardly lock down territory (#118).  They get there by being 48th in the nation in effective field goal defense and not letting teams get to the line (#46).  Their defensive rebounding is average and they are below average in forcing turnovers.

They have only two double figure scorers....6'9" Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (12.8) and 6'1" Anthony Collins (10.3).  Collins also contributes more than 7 assists per game (which is #5 in the nation and #2 when you figure in the low number of possessions).  For his part, Fitzpatrick is a 45% 3-point shooter and a tough outside matchup for anyone.

Two other players score 9 points a game.  Victor Rudd, 6'9", is one of them and he also averages 8 rebounds a game, which is #3 in the Big East.  (He is pretty inefficient, shooting only 38%, which is low for a big man).

The other is Jawanza Poland, who is 6'4" and gets those points in only 21 minutes.

Note, therefore, that they have two strong big men

This is not as good a team as MSU, but it is a road game, which obviously makes it harder, especially for a team that has not played much on the road yet....on the other hand, we have played plenty outside our arena.  Anyway, this is a tough assignment...BG has played better over its home stretch and this is a chance to translate that into a tougher venue.

BG needs additional players to emerge...I suspected Calhoun would struggle against MSU and I suspect he will struggle against USF, as they have good big men and will probably pack the inside.  Against MSU, Chauncey Orr was able to emerge...the Falcons need something like that--an efficient outside scoring threat. Also, Jordon Crawford was apparently benched for the final minutes of the MSU game, and it will be interesting to see how he reacts to that.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reported Football Verbal and Signing.... is reporting a verbal commit and a signing for next year for the football team.

The first is a "Y" TE, Hunter Folkertsma, from Forest Hill Central HS, which is in Grand Rapids, MI.  (A Y TE is a more traditional blocking and receiving TE).  The scouting report on says this is a "greyshirt offer" which may or may not actually be true...but here is what that is, if you are unfamiliar.  Hunter is interviewed here by a local site and seems excited about coming to Bowling Green and being a Falcon.

He's 6'6" and 235, which is a pretty good sized fella.

The reported signing is JUCO transfer Paul Senn (see below).  He's a LB, 6'1" 230 and he averaged 5.7 tackles per game last year.

At some point, he was playing at New Mexico (correction New Mexico state.  We regret the error) and in HS he was all-league on what was a successful team. JUCO guys are hard to track down, but as far as Senn goes, there you are.  I would suspect that he was recruited to add depth to the LB Corps, which lost Dwayne Woods from this season.  The early signing is (again assuming) designed to get him enrolled for the January semester and in spring practice.

Welcome to the Falcons, Hunter and Paul.

Calhoun 40th Falcon to Hit 1,000 Points

Lost in the excitement of the MSU game Tuesday was that A'uston Calhoun went over 1,000 points, becoming the 40th player to do so.  He is currently 39th in our career scoring list.  I'd say he has a shot at ending up in the top 20 when all is said and done this year.  Anyway, A'uston is a very talented player and scorer whose numbers suffer a little because he doesn't have anyone relieving the pressure on him.  He is double and triple teamed when he gets the ball in the pain, and it makes it very difficult for him to get quality shots off.  He has made 18 straight free throws, however, and is shooting 82%.  Furthermore, I rarely even see a free throw hit the rim.  Obviously, this is huge for a player in the post.

Below is a list of our 1,000 point scorers.  Congrats to A'uston for this accomplishment and we look forward to seeing him climb up the list.

15. JOE FAINE - 1,409 POINTS
19. DON OTTEN - 1,312 POINTS

26. JOE MOORE - 1,168 POINTS
34. DEE BROWN - 1,065 POINTS

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Falcons Fall Short to Spartans

In the post-game presser, Coach Izzo said that "behind closed doors he has been scared to death about this game."

He was in the house 22 years ago when BG took down the Spartans, and knows what can happen on the road.

It didn't happen last night, as the Spartans were able to eventually wear down the Falcons and win by 11 points in what was, overall, a very entertaining basketball game.

I give the Falcons a lot of credit.  They played with MSU for 31 minutes and it was an effort we can all be proud of, especially on the defensive end of the floor.  The Falcons went toe to toe with a very athletic, big and well coached team for most of the game (yes, it was at home) and certainly as a fan I am proud of the effort.

I remarked on the way out (and then heard Kirk Cowan say it on the radio) that the shame of it is that we bring this kind of energy and ability when we play Michigan State but not when we play Youngstown State.  Because we would have beaten Youngstown State if we had.

I do get it.  It was a sell out at the Stroh--and let there be no doubt, if and when this men's basketball program gets rolling again, the Stroh can roar--and it was an electric environment.  Lots of State fans, too, and a great student turn out even though school is on break now.  So, you get swept up and you play well.

Just means (and this is the point Cowan made) that you have the ability, so whether it comes out against Youngstown State is up to you.

The first half of the game was very closely played and MSU needed a buzzer beater to take a 5 point lead into the locker room.  The second was also very tightly contested, with MSU pushing out to modest leads and then BG battling back.  The game was tied at 40 and at 45.

Cue the foreboding music, because from there on in the Spartans dominated the Falcons, outscoring BG 19-8 coming home and taking the 11 point win.  Even within those 19, at one point, down 10, BG got 3 straight stops and had the chance to get the game back within reach but could not score.

The Falcons were hampered in the final minutes by the absence of their leading scorer, Chauncey Orr (more later), who had cramped up and could not play.  Also, BG played in the final minutes with Jordon Crawford on the bench.  I don't know if he was injured or if he was pulled, but Jehvon Clarke led the team in the final minutes.

What I do know is this...on the post-game show, Coach Stone said that BG had executed its game plan very effectively until the final minutes of the game and then got away from the offensive game plan.  Again, I don't know if that is connected with Crawford or not.

What I saw was a few bad shots in there...a very long, badly missed 3 by Kraus, a couple of weak drives by Kraus and Clarke (you can't drive to the basket with a scoop move against those guys, they just smack it away)...regardless, 8 points in 10 minutes is nothing to be proud of.  Furthermore, 6 of the 8 points were on free throws and the only FG in that span came with :29 left in the game.

Individually, the Falcon who had the most impressive game was Chauncey Orr who had 16 points in 20 minutes played....shooting 6 of 7 and making 3 threes.  He was strong around the rim as well, and it was far and away his best performance as a Falcon.  I know it was just one game, but if even one outside player emerges as a scorer, the dynamic changes for this team a lot.

Crawford did score 10 but on 4 of 14 shooting with 7 assists and 2 turnovers.  The assists are good but the shooting was a real struggle.  You had to expect Calhoun to have a tough night...some of the MSU guys are human aircraft carriers and they don't even need to double Calhoun.  He had 9 points on 3 of 10 shooting and a team high 5 rebounds.

I thought out big guys played really well.  Holmes had 4 rebounds and 4 blocks in 20 minutes and Black closed the lane down a number of times and bodied up the MSU bigs...yes, they got some baskets inside, that's what they do, but I thought Calhoun and Holmes had solid games.

I also thought they got a very solid 17 minutes out of James Erger.  If we had a weak point, our guard play was pretty poor up and down the line, except for Orr.

Statistically, BG actually won 3 of the 4 key factors.  They did a great job on the boards against one of the country's perennial rebounding powers, had fewer turnovers and got to the free throw line more often.

The deciding factor in the game was shooting.  MSU shot 48% and BG shot 32%.  MSU was only 3 of 9 from 3, so that was OK, but BG was 5 of 19.  I'm guessing that the difficulty of getting the ball inside spawned a lot of those 3s, but I doubt if BG wins too many games this year with 19 3-attempts.

I don't know...maybe that contradicts my observation that the inside guys played well.  MSU pounds the ball inside, they are going to get shots.

Anyway, for the game MSU had 1 point a possession (which is an above average night for a defense) and BG got .85, which is obviously less and not good enough to win.

Full credit to MSU and Izzo for taking his team on the road into a difficult enviornment.  In the post-game presser he said he was "just dumb" and might keep doing it, but obviously it is not that.  Good teams win on the road, and this was a good chance for his guys to get acclimated to it before they head into Big 10 play.

For comparison, OSU has played one road game (at Duke, FWIW) and Michigan has played @Bradley.

Anyway, thanks to the Spartans for playing here, because I don't think any other Big 10 team would have done it.

For the Falcons, the question is whether anything moves forward from this.  Does this boost confidence and create a team that can compete in the MAC, or was it a sugar high?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Clawson Presser, Rumor Edition

Coach Clawson held his first presser since before the Buffalo game, and there was a lot for him to talk about.  I recommend heading over to to take  a listen.  He was relaxed and pretty interesting to listen to.

A couple of reactons/newsy items.

First, he was asked about the coaching rumors, if in a kind of backward way.  He said, first, that "he plans on being the coach at Bowling Green," a statement which most normally sends chills down the back of the average football fan.  Urban Meyer said it (more or less, let's not go through that agin) and Darrell Hazel said it just this year, and then, of course, plans change.  In the case of our Coach, I actually it is true, which is not to say he wouldn't leave for the right job.  The jobs are closing up and I think he might be one really good season from being very attractive.

He said he doesn't address rumors with the players because they are just rumors....he doesn't think it is appropriate.  I don't know why you can't say "Hey twitter says Wisconsin wants me but Alvarez was in town for a Packo's Hot Dog..."  Which, come to think of it, tells me that what he meant was that he didn't want to comment on rumors that were true.

Finally, he said every year he has been at BG he has been contacted by someone.  Love to know who contacted him after that 2-10 season....can't imagine the stock was very high.

He talked about our team, which has improved 3 wins each of the last two seasons.  He noted the number of guys we have coming back--which is high--and his satisfaction with the defense and the running game.  He acknowledged that the passing game was not great, but noted that as we play our young WRs, maybe we will get a dividend in the future, as we did when we played all the young guys on defense during that 2-10 season.

Which is an interesting thought...about the WRs.

He also talked about the San Jose team.  They are good...losses only to Stanford and Utah State (who beat Toledo), play great offense and have great defense.  He said you expect to play a good team in a bowl game, and we are.

He did talk about how many of their guys were all-conference, which is apparently everyone on the roster, but then again, it is the WAC, the conference which dies at the end of our game.

They are a very good team, however, and it is a big challenge for the team.

This is one of the few bowl games where the two teams have this many wins (18).  He also noted that two years ago the number would have been 4 or something.

He talked A LOT about the extra practices, if there was extra time to put some new stuff in, if you watched more film, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The most interesting thing is that the Military Bowl has a highly ranked gift bag.  It is ranked #10 by Bleacher Report.  The players--ALL the players--get an ipad mini, a timely watch (logo watch) and a beanie (which is a winter hat).   So, apparently the players are excited about that.

And why not?

Finally, he was asked if there was pride in the MAC in the bowl games.  He said he'd rather have the conference go 1-6 if the win was by BG then he would with the MAC going 5-2 and BG loses.

Which is honest....

Anyway that's the story of the presser for this week.