Saturday, August 31, 2013

Chris Jones appears headed to Texan practice squad

The Official word is not out yet, but the Houston Chronicle reports that Chris Jones has been released from the Texans and will be signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

The deal is that if a team signs him, they have to put him on the 53 man roster, so that would be good for Jones.  Worst case, he gets to develop on the practice squad.  He had an injury during camp, so this is not unexpected.

Everyone in the Falcon Nation loves Chris and wishes him the best.  Whether he makes the NFL or never plays a down, he's got a high spot in our hearts that will not change.

On the Quarterback

I had a chance to listen to Coach Clawson's presser, and he gave some additional detail about his thinking on the QB situation.  If you recall, I had read that he had planned to bring Johnson in after 3 or 4 series, which I found implausible. I thought maybe he was trying to not say he had "benched Schilz."

As he gave more detail, I think that is what he had planned.  He said that they both are practicing really well, he planned to bring Johnson in early and then bring Schilz back later.  He thought about doing if after the pick, but he didn't want Johnson to feel like every time he makes a mistake he is going to get yanked.  Then, the team was moving well and he left Johnson in.

Which is the pitfall of the 2-QB system.  I'm not here to second guess because Coach Clawson has turned this program around and he clearly knows what he is doing.  I am sure he is aware of the downsides of using 2 QBS---lack of rhythm and consistency, neither guy feeling comfortable, and people being afraid of making mistakes.  

This is a big season for him, and I'm sure he feels like this gives us the best chance to win or he wouldn't be doing it.  And, if it doesn't work, he's accountable for the decision.

I don't know how often an arrangement like that has ever worked.  I can never think of any, but I'm sure there are some.  Johnson does present a change of pace from Schilz--which makes preparation harder--but I didn't see anything I thought Schilz did better than Johnson, based on that one game.

The final thought is that Coach keeps saying it is based on how the players practice.  Aren't there sometimes guys who are good in practice but not in games?

Anyway, it will be interesting to watch this play out.  After the 10-11 seasons, we should only be happy with where we are.  We have an excellent team, a big win under our belts and we're rolling along!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sweet Victory: BG over Tulsa, Special Teams and the big picture.

We'll have to wait to see how the numbers shake out, but it probably was the best special teams play we have had in some time.

First of all, there was a team that made two FGs and a team that killed its momentum by missing two makeable FGs, and we're all excited to say that we were the first team this time and not the second team.

Not just that but...

  • There was a special teams TD
  • A special teams fumble recovery that was as good as a TD
  • 4 punts inside the 20 with only one touchback
  • Stopping a fake punt
  • Solid kick coverage.

It makes a huge difference.  Obviously, scoring is good...and then forcing a team to battle our defense from inside their 20 virtually guarantees they will have a hard time scoring...and none of their plays hurt us.  It was a very solid program where that has not always happened.  We dominated two of the three phases of the game and won the other one...and that's how it happened.

Who are these guys?  They deserve to celebrate and it is great to see it.  As for where we are now...the land of high expectations just got higher.  It is only one game, but I think BG is on the high end of already high expectations.  You are on the tightrope now...which is where you want to be.

BG over Tulsa: Sweet Victory...the Offense

So, having looked at the defense, now let's take a look at how the offense performed in the Tulsa game.

It was a mixed bag.  It was not a great offensive performance but it certainly was good enough. Yes, the team had 34 points, but 7 came on special teams and we had a very short field twice.  In addition,  BG had 4.9 yards per play, which is not great.  Based on his post-game comments, Coach said that BG had over 38 minutes of possession, something that is very important to our game plans.  Even when we don't score, getting a couple of first downs and punting a team inside their 20 (which BG did 4 times) makes it very difficult for them to score.

The biggest story on the offense came at QB.  Matt Schilz started and was 1-4 on BG's opening possessions.  Most critically, he just seemed like he was where he left off last year.  I thought he should have checked out of a play on an obvious blitz and there was another throw where he had time, a clear passing lane and an open receiver and didn't make the throw.

And then, in the next possession, in came Matt Johnson.  You could feel things change right away.  First of all, he is a big change of pace over Schilz.  With Schilz, you don't have to worry about him taking off, so there's no need for anyone to be assigned to that.  Johnson is ready and willing to run and is plenty elusive.

In a related point, Johnson moves around the pocket better.  He also avoided a big sack with his feet and then completed a pass to Chris Pohlman.

I thought he made some nice throws and he had a couple risky ones.  He had an INT and a couple close calls.  His passing stats were not great, but I think he certainly showed the ability to lead the team.  BG ended the first half with a 16 play FG drive (that included converting a 1st and 25) and then opened the 3rd with a 75 yard TD drive.  There was also an 8 play drive in the 3rd where BG didn't score but did bleed vital clock and leave Tulsa starting at their own 7.

Johnson was 11-23 for 151 yards, which is not great.  I did think that he had a few incompletions when he was forced to throw the ball away on what were about to be coverage sacks.  I thought our WRs were inconsistent/poor at getting open in many situations.  (No receiver had more than 3 receptions.)

Coach says that it was his plan all along to bring Johnson in after 3-4 series, but I find that hard to believe.  I would suspect that Johnson will start at Kent...and I find it hard to believe that it won't happen.  He is just a more dynamic player and Schilz has been given every opportunity.

If the passing game was average, the running game was above average.  Travis Greene got the start and had 88 yards on 22 rushes, a straight 4 average.  Fred Coppet saw some snaps as well (in the 3rd and then in garbage time).  Including all rushers including Johnson, BG averaged 4.4 yards per rush, again, effective if not off the charts great.

One thing coach always talks about is big plays.  They make a huge difference.  That 3rd Q TD drive was sparked by true freshman Ronnie Moore taking a jet sweep 37 yards.  For a team like ours, that is incredibly huge.  He also had a reception in 18 yards.  When Moore gets the ball in space, he is very difficult to get a hold off.

Finally, the new fan favorite emerged.  William ("Say Hello to My Little Friend") Houston, the former OSU player who has just been in camp a little while, took his expected role as a short yardage battering ram.  He had 10 carries, 3 of them for TDs.  He even dodged a guy.  When he gets going downhill, he is not easy to bring down.  He is a huge addition...I don't think we have anybody else who can do what he does.

Lastly, we had talked about having freshmen at both tackle positions.  I thought Tulsa did pressure the edges early, but you wouldn't have all of the success listed above without good line play.  BG gave up only one sack, and room to run on the inside, and even the pressure they did get on Johnson was often based on coverage as opposed to winning battles.  There were a couple of penalties, but for a first game, not very many false starts.

Overall, I think you have to be pleased with the way the line performed.

Later today, special teams and a parting thought.

BG over Tulsa: Sweet Victory...the Defense

So the dust has settled.

It was, of course, a very good night to be a Falcon.  Tulsa is projected to be a very good team, they are defending C-USA champions and I thought would be a very tough challenge for the Falcons.  BG had a number of question marks--and with an injury and a suspension and an administrative leave they got bigger as the day moved on.

But, BG answered the bell.  Yeah, the game was probably closer than 34-7, but BG was clearly the superior team and you can quibble about the numbers, it was a very strong performance against good competition and something everyone should be proud of.

You can't talk about the game without talking about the defense first.  BG obviously had a dominating defense last year, but lost its two best players and an NFL draft pick, and then a couple guys on attrition over the off season.  The question I posed in my preview was not whether they would be good but HOW good they would be.  From this small sample, it appears to be VERY good.

Our game plan was clearly to make them one-dimensional and force their QB to beat us throwing, which he struggled with last season.  This plan worked.

Tulsa, who averaged over 250 yards per game last season, was held to 51 rushing yards...and the defense only had one sack, so there's no distortion of the stats.  BG was simply dominant in stopping the run.  They tackled well, they were in position and they played strong when they had a guy wrapped up.  It was total domination.

They brought a FB in and that did open things up a little, but in the end they got nothing going.

Coach Clawson has said that all those swing passes and bubble screens are essentially run plays, and BG did very well on those.  There were a number of plays where our d-back just destroyed his blocker and took the blocker right into the ball carrier.

All that forced Tulsa to look upfield for room to operate, something they were clearly unprepared to do.  When they did, BG brought, in the words of Tulsa's coach, "every blitz known to mankind," got pressure on the QB and he made a bunch of poor throws.  Our coverage was good and there was little available for them, save for one play when a DB fell down in coverage.

They did not scrimmage a play inside the BG 12.  (In the second half, the first team allowed penetration only to our 38).  They missed a couple FGs, and then the other time they were close Boo Boo Gates forced a fumble on the edge and got the ball back.  It was only 3-0 at the time, so that was a pretty huge play in the swing of a football game.

Even the fake punt that Tulsa ran deep in their own territory was a tribute to the BG defense.  It was only 13-0, and the fact that such dramatic measures were warranted is a reflection of how big that 13-0 deficit looked on the Tulsa sideline.

Here are the numbers.  Tulsa had 4.2 yards per play.  Take out that garbage time drive, though, and it was 3.7 yards per play, a total that it is very difficult to win with.  They held the ball for only 21:13.  They had six possessions of less than 90 seconds.

It was impressive.  To the point that even at a 6-0 halftime lead, you felt like we were in control of the game.

Charlie Walker, who plays on the d-line, was injured early and I haven't heard more on that.  It looked serious, but we will wait to here more.

Big picture:  the defense is back and very strong again this year.

Coach Durkin on Administrative Leave

Catching up on news from the game last night....some of it not great.  We'll be back to the feel good stuff in a while, but in the meantime, here's some less than good news.

The team's offensive line coach was not with the team and has been placed onto administrative leave.  The Sentinel is reporting that Durkin had received an OVI and then later was in an accident under relatively bizarre circumstances.

He was given the OVI at 2:54 AM on Saturday, according to the Sentinel, quoting the Highway Patrol.  Then, about eight hours later he was in an injury accident that was not his fault, but he was cited for driving under suspension due to the OVI earlier in the day.

Here's what Chris Kingston said:

“We were immediately made aware of the situation, and coach Durkin was placed on administrative leave Aug. 24 while the university investigated the incident,” athletics director Chris Kingston said Thursday night. “A final decision on coach Durkin’s status at the university will follow that inquiry.

“We are shocked and disappointed by the decision making that went into the incident, and we’re thankful that nobody was injured. This is inconsistent with what we believe in as an athletic department, and it is my hope that this will become a teachable moment that everyone will learn from.”

I'm sure everyone will be keeping an eye on this. Depending on what happens, BG may have some adjusting to do as it relates to a coach on the o-line.  I have confidence that it will be handled appropriately.

Durkin coached for Clawson at Richmond.

Sweet Victory!

It's late.  We'll have more tomorrow, much more, but for now a couple of thoughts.

First, a huge win and a dismantling of a Tulsa team that was expected to be very good.

Second, BG's defense is as advertised.  Even with some losses over the summer, the Pettus suspension and an early injury, the defense was dominating, holding a run-oriented Golden Hurricane team to 51 yards passing.

Third, I give Coach credit.  Matt Schilz came out and did what we all remembered him doing last year, and Coach made the change and fast.  Johnson wasn't incredible throwing the ball but he made some plays with his feet and seemed to give the team an immediate lift.  I'm guessing this will be a permanent change.  Either way, it took some guts.  (Actually, I see in the The Blade that Coach Clawson said that using Johnson after three or four series was actually the plan.  That seems kind of implausible, but that's what he said).

Fourth, I think we have a new fan favorite.  We need a nickname, but William Houston is going to be very popular with the BG fans....he's the fridge, the beef...I don't know.  Anyway, dude scored 3 times in his debut.

Fifth....great night for special teams.

Again, lots more to talk about, but it is late.  It was a great night to be a Falcon.  Anyone who told you that close games were better is nuts.  That's the way I want to watch!

I think we have something here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Game Time. Here we go.

In place at the Doyt

Forward Falcons

It. Is. Gameday.

MAC Blogger Roundtable Published

The collective ideas and opinions of the MAC Blogosphere are seen here in this week's post, hosted by Bull Run.

The Power of the Falcon....

MAC Blogger Roundtable

1. There is a definite perception that the MAC has gotten over the slump that set in half way through the last decade. NIU crashed the BCS party, Several MAC teams ranked at different points in the season, and a spell of respectable out of conference wins.

Does what happened in 2012 have some staying power?

That is the real question. I think the MAC did emerge from the slump last year and finally had a good product on the field. At the same time, though, in the past there have been bigger upsets and BCS wins--especially during the last heyday--and there is still some room to grow. To me, the question is whether programs have been set on to a sustainable course, one that can survive after losing star players and coaches. For example, contrast the post-LeFevour/Kelly/Jones CMU Chips with the post-Harnisch/Novak NIU Huskies. In my opinion, OU, Toledo and NIU can be confidently said to have this rolling right now. I think BG and Ball State are in the docket but it would remain to be seen how they would survive a coaching change. Kent is probably in the same boat. Miami should be able to sustain success. As for the others..Buffalo, UMass, Akron, and EMU have never sustained success in this conference and remain question marks until they do. Finally, WMU is a total wild card. PJ Fleck is either the next Urban Meyer or a dangerous lunatic.

2 - On the Bowl Picture - The MAC looks to have four Bowls knotted up (Boise, Mobile, Montgomery, and The Bahamas). There are rumors that a fifth Bowl, likely the replacement to the Little Caesars Bowl, will be coming out soon. How has the MAC front office done?

Look, say what you like about the MAC leadership, but for right now I think they are on a pretty good roll in football. The level of play is higher, we survived conference re-alignment essentially untouched, and the league is maintaining its bowl connections. This last one is a less accomplishment, even if you are willing to admit that the whole system is meshugenah. With so many bowls, they need us. Anyway, I think the MAC leadership is getting results in football.

3 - Ok onto football Which MAC team has the best shot at a meaningful upset this week? Which MAC team is most likely to suffer a shameful loss? Why?

Well, depending on what you mean by meaningful (is it NIU beating Iowa? I wonder). Anyway, I don't believe Buffalo, CMU, WMU and UMASS have real shots. The best shot at a real upset (beating Marshall doesn't count either) is OU at Louisville. I also believe that under the right circumstances, UT has a shot at beating the Gators. As for the ignominious defeat, let's say it would be if Howard beat EMU.

4 - Aside from your team what is the game of the week and why?

Aside from BG and Tulsa (which might be the game of the weekend), I'm going to go with NIU-Iowa. Iowa may not be good, but any win over a Big 10 team is a feather in the MAC's CAP.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More Trouble for Tulsa Defense, Nelson ineligible

The Tulsa Defense--already starting a bunch of new guys--took a hit when it was announced today that DeMarco Nelson will be ineligible at least for the BG game.  He is the only senior in the d-backfield, one of only two senior starters on defense for the Hurricane, and 2nd team all C-USA last year.

I noted in 25 questions that the Tulsa defense is going to be breaking in a bunch of new guys, and BG simply has to be able to move the ball on them for the Falcons have a shot at winning.  Truer now.

25 Questions that are CAT 4

Hurricanes in Tulsa?
Here is how it happened.
What is their body of work?

They are on a roll.  11-3 last year, C-USA champs and won the Liberty Bowl.  They have double digit wins in 4 out of the last 6 seasons.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

This is a young team.  They have only 18 Jrs and Srs on the two-deep and 17 freshman.

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

Trey Watts was the 11th ranked all-purpose runner last year in the FBS.

What was their turnover ratio?

They are not bad at +3


How is their QB Play?

It is good.  The starter is Cody Green, who started his career at Nebraska.  He's built like the guy from Virginia Tech last year.  He was not terribly effective last year--54% completion and a 17/11 ratio on limited attempts.  He is a threat to run, with 382 yards and 4 TDs last year.  Beyond this, he is ranked the #3 QB in C-USA by Phil Steele, so it will be interesting to see how he has developed since last season.

What was their scoring and yards per play?

Last year they scored 35 points a game, which is right where San Jose State was.  They average 5.5 yards per play, which is actually not great.

Can they run the ball?

This was their calling card last year and could be this year.  They were 9th in the nation in rushing yards per game last season.  They graduated a guy with 24 freaking rush touchdowns, but both Trey Watts (6.0 ypc) and Ja'Terian Douglas (6.8 ypc were highly effective).  Watts is the son of OK QB JC Watts.  Phil Steele also ranks them as having the best O-line in the conference.

Do they pass the ball?

Last year, they were 104th in passing efficiency.  Their top 3 WRs are all back, each of them with over 12 yards per reception and one of them with 16.9 (Robertson).  The question mark is Green and whether he will be more efficient and less INT prone than last year.

How is their run/pass balance?

They are one of the most run heavy teams in FBS.  They ran the ball last year on 59% of their plays and I would expect that to continue this year.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Last year they converted at 38%, which is not great.  With their running game and line, you would expect to have a lot of makeable 3rd downs.

Do they score in the red zone?

They make 5 trips per game, which is very good, and they score 5 points per trip, which is good if not great.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They allowed 9 sacks, which is very good.  It is 3.6% of attempts.  I suspect that's partly have a tough QB to bring down, partly o-line and partly I would expect them to protect well tomorrow as well.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They allowed only 23 points per game and 4.9 yards per play last year--both very good numbers.  They only have 3 starters back from last year.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They did last year, but the entire d-line graduated, so how well they do this year is an open question.  Steele has them with the 8th best d-line in C-USA.

Can they be passed on?

Last year they were 31st in FBS in pass efficiency defense.  They return only one starter from the backfield, however, and they have two FR on the two-deep at one of the CB positions.  (NOTE:  That starter, DeMarco Nelson, is now ineligible)

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They do, they allow 36% first downs, which was in the top 1/4 last year.  This is something that will need to be watched for.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They were deadly in the red zone.  They allowed only 3 trips per game and 4.22 points per trip.  They will be hard pressed to get that kind of production this year.

Do they pressure the QB?

Well, last year they had an absolutely sick 53 sacks, 10 % of opponent sack plays.  Those linemen are gone, but their pass rush last season was ridiculous.

Special Teams:


Their punter is back. He was good if not great last season, with a 34.7 yard net.

Punt Return?

Trey Watts at work here.  Last season, 7 per return and 1 TD.


Daniel Schwartz was highly recruited and showed a big leg last year as a FR, but he left school during the spring.  Their kicker now went to Air Force originally, attended OK but did not play football, and has yet to try a FG in a game.


Opponents start on the 27....they had 39 touchbacks and this kicker is back.

Kickoff Return?

Very strong.  Watts again.  28 yards per return and 1 TD.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

This dude is hilarious.  When he
visits a school, the kids get nightmares.
This game reminds me of the last game we played...against San Jose State.  They are a very solid offensive unit, and while I think our defense can hold them below their average, I do think they are going to get their points.  Which means the game will be decided on the offensive side of the ball for BG.  Tulsa has question marks and a lot of new starters on defense.  BG has its guys back on offense and will need to produce on offense.  It has to be more than a game management situation.

On a neutral field, Tulsa is a clear favorite.  But, I think we will have an electric crowd and atmosphere out there tomorrow and that is going to be a huge help.  I picked us to win the game, and I'm hopeful that those factors will be the difference.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tulsa's Bill Blankenship

As we approach the last 48 hours before the opener, I wanted to take a minute to post about Tulsa's coach, who I think is a pretty unique guy.  Rather than work his way up by being a GA, a position coach, a coordinator and then a head coach, he took a different route--being one of the best HS coaches in Oklahoma history.

He spent 19 years coaching HS football in OK.  The last 14 years were at Union High School right in's how Wikipedia describes his HS career.
There he compiled an overall 154-26 record. During his tenure, Union won eight consecutive district championships, qualified for the playoffs fourteen times, reached the quarterfinals ten times, participated in the state Class 6A championship seven times, and won the state title in 2002, 2004, and 2005. Union also amassed an unbroken home winning streak of 56 straight wins between the years 1997 and 2005.
After 2005, he decided he wanted to get into college coaching and resigned at Union.  And.....he spent the next year out of coaching.  After one year, Todd Graham brought him in as a position coach, and he was a position coach for three seasons, before Graham bolted and he was named Head Coach.

Blankenship is a Hurricane....he was a starting QB for the team during college.  He seems to have taken to it...they were 19-8 in his two seasons and 11-3 last season.

Anyway, it is an interesting career route.  Clearly, the guy can Coach football and he is building on the success Tulsa is getting used to.  Will be an interesting match up on Thursday.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Falcons in 2013: 4 questions

As I noted yesterday in my game by game preview, this has the potential to be a very special season for the Falcons.  There is a possibility of a double-digit wins, and anything less than a division title would be a disappointment.

With that in mind, and by way of a preview, here are the four things I think we need to watch for in order to see this season move from good to great--and they are in the order based on a combination of importance and the level of uncertainty.

1.  QB

It isn't fair, but this is a quarterback driven sport.  It is the most important position, and it isn't close.  Matt Schilz is a senior, a four-year starter, and he won the job this year with what is being described as his best camp.  We will all be watching to see this play itself out on the field.  Last year, Schilz was mostly a game manager, which was moderately successful, but to win a championship, more will be needed.

2.  O-line

A successful season begins up front.  BG has freshman playing at both tackles.  The team will need successful play out of both positions.  If BG isn't getting pass protection, for example, we have shown in the past we will narrow the playbook and that will reduce production.  Similarly, we need holes to be opened to get our RBs to the edge.  Teams will test these tackles and how they respond, especially early, how they respond will determine how we succeed.

3. WR

This was an inconsistent area last year.  Sometimes BG got big plays, sometimes BG did not.  The starters are the same, so it is an issue of getting growth from those guys.  Chris Gallon, in particular, could be a big player.  Clawson and Ruggierio have shown a willingness to ride a WR1 (see Barnes, Jordan), and if he can be that guy it will open things up a lot.

4.  Defense

The defense was outstanding last year.  Only two of the top players graduated, but they were Chris Jones and Dwayne Woods, two of the best.  In addition, there was unanticipated attrition on the d-line and in the backfield and Darrell Hunter is now doubtful.  The question here is not whether the defense will be good.  The question is can it be AS GOOD as in 2012, and if not, how close can it get.  They will get early tests against Tulsa and Kent, probably to a lesser extent.  Hopefully, the offense will take some pressure off, but if the defense has to carry the team, can they?

One last note....every year recently we would have expected to have special teams listed here.  For the first time, I feel good about it.  Placekicking was steady toward the end of last year, punting should be strong, the return games should be good and we have enough depth to have quality players on kick and punt coverage.  That's a good thing.

Finally, Coach mentioned the stability on our staff.  That is a huge advantage.  We can build on what we have because we don't have to start over each year with new assistants.

Just 3 days now....the excitement builds.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

BG Football, by game.

Tulsa W

This is a really tough opener.  Tulsa is a very solid team and will be tough for us to beat.  I'm picking the win because I believe we will have a big crowd and a good atomsphere and our guys will be hungry to make a strong showing in the opener.


Another tough game and on the road.  Kent had a lot of stuff fall their way last year, though, and they are weak at QB and I don't see the defense being as strong as in the past.  BG has been a decent road team and picks this win up.

@Indiana L

The Hoosiers are much improved and after losing to Ball State the last 3 years, they are not eager to lose to another MAC team.  They pick this one up.

Murray State W

Picked to finish 6th in OVC....a win for BG.

Akron  W

Still on the way back up, BG wins.

Umass  W

Homecoming, BG gets win.

@Mississippi State L

Toughest assignment on BG's schedule, loss to former Falcon assistant Dan Mullen.

Toledo W

This is the year.  Bye week leading in, home field, UT maybe one year away from a dominant team.  BG gets back on the winning side.

@Miami W

This is a tough one...coming off Toledo and, you know, its Miami. The RedHawks lost a lot off an already porous defense.  I think BG wins this one.

Ohio W

Toughest conference game on the schedule.  Honestly, at this point this one is a coin flip with BG getting the edge strictly because of home field.  The healtheir team might win this game.


This will be a sneak game after the Toledo, Miami, OU stretch, but I think the Falcons are just better than the Eagles.

@Buffalo L

This is the year Buffalo starts to get back, and I believe they will be very tough to beat this late in the year on the road at the Ralph.  Bring your long undies.

So, I have us 9-3 and 7-1 and that gives us the East win.  That's pretty close to a best case scenario.  You beat Buffalo and you are 10-2 and 8-0, so that would be the best case, though a win @Indiana is also not completely unthinkable.

If you want the worst case scenario, Tulsa, Kent and OU and are all games I could just as easily have picked us to lose.  The only games on the schedule I am sure we will win are Akron, UMass and Murray State.

So, if you lose those 3, you finish 7-5, a very disappointing season.

The first two games are so important.  If BG starts 2-0 then a double digit win season is within reach.  If BG loses to Kent, in particular, than the character of the season changes a lot, because you are under pressure to win the rest of your conference games.  That trip to Miami, in particular, starts to get a lot more frightening.

If you lose to Tulsa you could finish 8-4 and still have had a very good year if you win the division.

Depending on how the season plays out, I would expect it to come down to the Ohio game for the East title.

Anyway, as Coach has said many times, there are high expectations and there should be.  This is the team we have been pointing to since Tyler and Freddie left the field in Boise in 2009.  I will do a more extensive preview tomorrow, but I believe this team will win 9 games this season and play for a MAC title.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Urban on BG....

Dave Briggs on the Blade had a chance to catch up with Urban Meyer and talk with him abut his years in BG.  I know we had kind of a messy break up with him, but I've let that go and now I think it is good to remember that for those two years, we had someone unique and special at BG.

In the article, he says he keeps more in touch with his first BG team than any other team, has a picture of the goalposts coming down after the 56-21 ROCKET BEATDOWN and puts it up in every new house, helped players with their stats exam, refers to BG as a "magnet" should check it out, it is a really good profile and worth reading.

And yes, I know Meyer has a reputation for having a casual relationship with facts...when you focus on the bigger picture behind what he says and not what actual order he puts pictures up when he moves, I do think you good a pretty good idea of what the story is about.

Lastly, I think big time football has changed him...maybe for the good, maybe for the bad.

Depth Chart for Tulsa Revealed....

The day draws near....

BG revealed its depth chart for the opener, probably the most anticipated opener of the Clawson era...this is the BG team we have been building toward and we're facing a huge challenge right out of the gate.

The game notes have not been online (that I could find) yet, but John Wagner at the Blade had a peek and here's the important points.

First, as we noted earlier, Travis Greene will start at TB with Jordon Hopgood listed as the backup and no others.  The idea is that Greene gets the work on first down and second down and Hopgood is the 3rd down back because he can receive.  You might see Coppet in the return game or he could get carries.  Jamel Martin also could see carries and William Houston on short yardage plays and Givens is still around too.

The other big question mark was at tackle, where Cooper and Roussos needed to be replaced.  BG will take the field with two freshman making their first game appearences.  Jacob Bennett will start on the left and Logan Dietz on the right.  Coach was really high on Dietz.  Bennett was expected to battle Scott Piazza, but Piazza was not healthy so Bennett won the job.

I have talked all summer about the importance of getting more first downs for the offense.  I think RB is settled in a positive way, and there is reason to think that we are back in play at QB and WR1 (at least)...we are going to have to watch the tackles.  Tulsa will, for sure, put pressure on them to see what is what.

Finally, Darrell Hunter is OUT for the Tulsa game and doubtful for the year...which mean Aaron Foster, converted from S, will start opposite Cam Truss.

The only other position mentioned by Wagner was D-end, but if there is a position on the field where starting is not relevant, it is on the d-line, where players rotate constantly.

Update:  The depth chart is now online.  Only a couple of other notes...

The WRs are Joplin, Burbrink and Gallon, just as they were last year.  Coby, Hosley, Cohen, Jackson and Ronnie Moore are behind them.  I think you will see Ronnie Moore with the ball before too long, and if you want a sleeper, Jared Cohen could make an impact.  He's a JUCO transfer who made some nice plays in the scrimmage.

I didn't mention it before, but coach was very complimentary of Clay Rolf.  Rolf is a local guy who went to Eastwood and started as a TE and made is providing depth at T.

Return game appears to be the same--Boo Boo on KR and Ryan Burbrink on PR.

The rotation on the d-line will be Thomas, Montgomery, Walker and Goble on the edge and Ouellete, Colvin (moved from DE), Campbell (back from injury) and Minns.

One thing I thought was interesting was for all the places we have seniors starting on defense, we have solid guys behind them, which is how it is supposed to work.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Houston...we have eligibility

Jack Carle and the Sentinel with the news this morning that William Houston is a go to play for BG this year.  He's the RB who went to OSU as a preferred walk-on because his Father did and now he's at BG.  He's a different RB for BG...currently, he weighs 262 pounds, which is a pretty good sized guy.  Coach says he can play a role for us.  He needs to get in shape, but realistically, he might make a contribution right away playing 5 snaps a game.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One last QB Thought....

Reading through John Wagner's article in The Blade on the QB situation...Coach made an interesting point I have not seen elsewhere. He reminds us that Schilz was not completely healthy last year and his performance needs to be viewed in that light...and then he said this.

“This year we won’t play a quarterback that isn’t at 100 percent health-wise. We’ll have another guy ready."
This is important.  Schilz (to his credit) has played through nagging injuries before and it has limited his effectiveness.  Knowing that this year we have the ability to get a healthy QB on the field no matter what is important.

Finally, one thing that was mentioned in all the articles I have seen is that James Knapke is also very effective and it sounds like he could play if need be.  BG may not have a first-team All-MAC QB, but there is depth at the position.

Bowling Madness Continues, MAC continues to "benefit"

So more bowl news...I saw on Hustle Belt last night that Brett McMurphy of ESPN has reported that there will be new bowl in the Bahamas starting in 2014.  It will feature C-USA and is expected to include the MAC as the primary opponent.  This is a good tie-in for us as a game...I have a hard time seeing the game in the Bahamas be a big success, but who knows.  I have been wrong before.

Here's the isn't that people don't like going to the Bahamas.  They do.  The problem is that there is usually very little notice about the game and it is a high expense event.  Even if you wanted to go to the Bahamas, air travel would be costly....they might work out some cheaper rates to help for the short notice, but you'd have to get off work.  Anyway, I can't see huge crowds for this, but maybe I'm wrong.  It will help if it is after Christmas.

In other news, the Little Casear's Bowl might not be dead.  Which means, at a minimum, you have the MAC in GoDaddy, Potato, Camellia, and now possibly the Bahamas and then maybe the a Boca Raton Bowl that is floating around, too...

Anyway, two things.

First, teams are losing their ass on these games, and I know they are good for ESPN but I don't understand why more of them is good and why our schools and conferences are subsidizing ESPN.  We are cash strapped...I know we want to be on TV, but how is this sustainable?

Second, there are now 38 bowls approved for 2014, which means means 76 of the 121-125 FBS teams will be in bowl games.  I can't see how that makes any sense for anyone.  Finding bowl eligible teams is going to become laughable and it will still be a reward for players but it won't be much of an "honor."

I am happy that our guys get a chance to play again.  I just don't see it being good for anything else.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More on Schilz and news on RB

So, the big news is QB, and then later the Sentinel told us about RB, both of which we will cover now.

First, as you know, Schilz is starting at QB.  This is not surprising, really.  I mean, if they were close (and Clawson says they were) you are going to go with the senior.  Would it have been fun to see what Johnson has?  Yes.  Would you do it with your job?  That's what I thought.

There is no athlete in the world as divinely guided and omnipotently powered as the backup QB, and that's what we are probably in for.  Every incompletion....certainly every interception.

If you are unhappy about the decision, then you might also consider this:  perhaps Schilz has improved with the competition and with stronger WRs and maybe he can do more than manage the offense this year.  I'm not sure he is going to be a great QB....he was outside the top 10 in MAC passing efficiency last year...but maybe he will prove me wrong.

For this time, there would be nothing better than for him to find all his potential this year and really blossom.

The article said that he is running more than last year.  That's actually pretty important.  When he rolled out last year, teams played back and gave him plenty of space.  It cut down throwing lanes a lot.  If he does take off and run, he could really open some things up.

The other news is at RB.  Travis Greene is the #1 at RB.  He was a WR last year and seemingly moved to RB to provide a body for the Spring.  He has really shone at the position.  Coach says he is incredibly elusive and he showed that in the scrimmage Sunday.  That's just a huge find when you need it.  Coach says he is holding his own in pass protection and he should be able to make some catches too.

The #2 is Jordan Hopgood, ironically also a former WR.  He is going to play on 3rd down.  Coppet, Levy, and Givens are also in the mix.

If this is a defeat for anyone, it is Givens, who was highly touted coming out of HS, was the presumed incumbent for this job and got beaten out by a guy who didn't play the position until the Spring.

I am sure a depth chart will be published soon, but those are two of the key positions, now settled.  Bring it on

It will be Schilz...

Coach Clawson announced a decision that was pretty much what was expected....BG will start Matt Schilz at QB against Tulsa.  You can check out the Sentinel here for more quotes from the Coach about how close it was, etc.

I'll have more later, including a look at the unpleasant aspect of QB controversies.  I know fans have been frustrated with the play from Schilz in the past, but that was in the past.  I always suspected the senior gets the nod in this situation.  One interesting thing is that Coach mentioned that he is doing better running to make plays, which is something that was sorely lacking in the past.

The other thing is that the whole offense needs to improve.  If the WRs are better and we continue to run effectively, let's hope Matt is ready to deliver the kind of play that he has shown himself to be capable of from time to time.

The Falcon Nation Waits...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Welcome to Montgomery, MACtion

The big announcement came a moment ago.  There will be a new bowl game in Montgomery, AL which will pit the MAC against the Sun Belt.  It will be known as the Camellia Bowl.

The Camellia is the State Flower of Alabama.  It is used to make tea.  I am sure by the time the game is played, it will be the 5-Hour Energy Bowl or something like that.

This bowl game "replaces" the Motor City Bowl, which is actually being replaced by a Big 10 hosted game to be held at Ford Field.  Back in February, I looked at the financially unsustainable bowl system, which is a complete mess.  From what I can see, as bad as it is, the only thing worse would be to be out.

Alabama is the state that hosts our most "bowl like" game atmosphere, which is in Mobile, so there is hope for that.  It is pretty far away (though closer than Boise) and is our second bowl match up with the Sun Belt, always a crowd pleaser.  The MAC also has a tie-in with the Famous Potato Bowl in Boise.

The Camellia Bowl is actually "owned" by ESPN.  I have said for a while that much of the bowl season amounts to little more than a television show for ESPN, and they appear to be doubling down.  The emergence of the new cable sports networks is apparently pressuring ESPN to control the bowl inventory...which means they are really hard up for something to show in December.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hunter Injury, Big Play Offense revealed at scrimmage

Marcus Levy takes a handoff from James Knapke

Members of First Team O catch up on the day's work

University President Dr. Mazey Addresses Season Ticket holders

My free orange lightbulb at work

Some photos from today's event...there was a lot to see at today's scrimmage, so my thoughts are mixed with the comments Coach Clawson made at the post-game presser and his comments to season ticket holders.

The thing I was most impressed by was the offense.  There were a ton of plays made...Levy and Coppet in particular.  There were some big plays by the WRs....Coach said that our guys "made people miss."  Hard to argue with it.  There were just a number of dynamic plays on the offense, and that is very encouraging given what we know the team needs to be successful this year.

QB?  Honestly, I was very surprised at how far Johnson has come.  I thought he made the better throws during the scrimmage today.  He looked confident in the pocket and plus, with his helmet off he looks like a pirate.  Always a plus.

Schilz looked good/OK, but missed some throws.  I can see where this is a tough decision.

Coach says we will know Tuesday.  He said it will be a long 36 hours between now and then.  He also said that "one guy is clearly playing better and one guy is pushing him."  You can figure out what that means.  Well, you probably can't.  I can't.

He even suggested we might use two QBs (easy soldier!)

I have said that I couldn't see BG getting this far to have a senior dominated team and then putting in an untested QB.  I can see it more after the scrimmage.  Johnson was really effective and he was with the 2nd team O.

The bad news that emerged was the news of an injury to Darrell Hunter. He has a wrist injury and appears to be doubtful to play this season.  That's a big loss if that is how it plays out.  He made 12 starts last year and was expected to start that much again this year.  And, it makes the whole DeVon McKoy thing really tough...he leaves just when there was time available.

Coach says we need a "pair and a spare" and that we still have depth at CB, just not quite what we had expected.  They have moved Brian Sutton moved to CB to assist with depth.

Something needs to be said about Fred Coppet.  This guy has special skills.  Coach says he has a gear that Coach has personally never experienced and that statement encompasses Brian Westbrook and Tim Hightower.  He had a KOR for a TD and he just blew by guys.  This is a guy to watch.

Ronnie Moore got the ball a lot and made plays, as did Marcus Levy, both true FR who you would expect to not redshirt.  Coach says that we want to redshirt guys, but it may not be possible with those two guys.

Chris Gallon had a big day.  Coach said that battling Cam Truss in practice everyday has been good for Gallon.  He got smoked a little a couple days ago and came out with something to prove today and really performed.  His goal is to bring that 12 times this year.

We have talked about William Houston, the RB we recruited, who tried to walk on at OSU and now is at BGSU.  He got a ton of reps in the scrimmage, especially in short yardage.  Coach said there is no official word that he will be eligible, but the indications are he will and that's why he got the carries he did today.

That's the news, more or less.  Even with the Hunter injury, BG has not had many serious injuries during camp.  (Hopgood and Will Watson were held out today purely as precautions).

So that's the story.  Offense had a good day and there are good reasons to be optimistic.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

DeVon McKoy update

He has transferred to Youngstown State and is eligible to play immediately.  Y-State has a CB suspended, so he may well get his wish to start.

He joins another former Falcon, Kyle Bryant, who started the last 6 games for the Penguins and is a projected to start again this year.

Two Weeks....on the QB battle

We are two weeks away...the season opens in just 14 short days.  It is hard to believe how fast it has gone.  The team is working in camp and getting ready for a season in which BG does not have a lot of time to gear up.  We start with Tulsa..USA Today has them #26 in the nation...and then go straight to Kent.  Two tough assignments to start the year.  Kent is a division game and you really need that win or the pressure is on.

The biggest news that I haven't written about is the QB competition.  Dave Hackenberg wrote in The Blade about this yesterday and you should check the column out.

The gist is that while many people felt that the QB "competition" was just a tool to motivate Matt Schilz to return to his 2011 performance levels, Coach Clawson insists that the competition is real and 50/50.

Now (bear with me) if it were a motivational technique, you wouldn't help it much by admitting it, so maybe he said the only thing he could say.  I have said before and I still contend that Coach Clawson is not going to take his senior-dominated team and put the offense in the hands of an untested player.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't see him pulling the trigger on that.

BG must play better on offense to become a great team this year.  The defense will be very good (or should be), but the offense is going to have to be more productive.  As the column mentions, Schilz had sub-par numbers last year...but it wasn't all on him.  His WRs were inconsistent and they need to be better.  The team really limited sacks (2.6% of conference passing attempts, less than half of the MAC average of 5.6%) but is breaking in two new tackles, and the team's top 2 RBs are gone.

And, the QB has to play better.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens.  Best case is that all the supporting elements come together and Schilz makes consistent plays and the offense takes some pressure off the defense.  It is going to be a very interesting season.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sentinel: Devon McKoy Leaves BGSU Football Team

The Sentinel-Tribune reports today that DeVon McKoy has left the BGSU football team in search of a starting position.

McKoy would have been a redshirt junior this year.  He was a significant contributor last year, had 8 starts and 18 games played in two years and was in on 53 tackles with 7 pass break ups.

Here's how Jack Carle analyzed it:

There has been an intense competition for playing time at cornerback and McKoy had dropped to the third team and was the fifth cornerback overall.

Cameron Truss is the starter at the boundary corner while Darrell Hunter and Aaron Foster are competing for the field corner spot. Will Watson is the fourth corner.

Most of those starts came as a freshman.  He started only one game last season, based on info at the BGSU website.

In the article, Coach says they would like to have kept him because of the importance of depth and for special teams but respected his desire to start somewhere.

I would guess this is something that happens as you have more depth.  If people want playing time and you have a lot of good players, you can't always assume that everyone is going to sit and wait and be your depth.  You have to play your best players and if that happens then I guess it is the right kind of problem to have.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sentinel-Tribune: BG adds player

The Sentinel reports that BG has a new player in camp and possibly in uniform for the Fall.  William Houston, a RB from Dublin, is in camp as a preferred walk-on.  The article says that BG recruited him hard out of Dublin, where he had 1,100 yards+ as a senior with 12 TDs.  He's a big boy--6'0" and 262.  Obviously, he would fill a slot as a big back that BG could really use in specific situations.  He has been accepted as a student at BG.  His eligibility is being determined and Coach says he is not in great shape and doesn't know the offense.

His Father played at OSU in the 1980s.

They are assuming he will not be eligible and if he is they will correct mid-term.  We have a bunch of RBs, so reps will be an issue.  Whenever he is eligible, he could be huge for BG in short yardage sets or when BG is running the clock out, similar to the role that John Pettigrew played last year.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Recruiting Updates...Alex Thomas decommits

So, there is some recruiting news.  There is always a little bit of shifting as time goes on...and that does appear to be happening.  Just to be clear, I only use public sources (internet, twitter) to track these things.  No actual reporting is I use what is available.

The biggest one is that Alexander Thomas, a FLA WR, has de-committed to BG and now has given a verbal commitment to Cincinnati.  He was a highly rated WR at a position that is showing some attrition.  There is currently one WR in this recruiting class.

Marlon Tyree (Erie PA, DB) is no longer listed on either Rivals or ESPN as a Falcon verbal.  His twitter page still says he is....but he virtually stopped tweeting after a flurry of tweets announcing his commitment to BG....

So, the list on the right has 19 players listed.  One is Terrell Jackson, a transfer.  I have left Tyree on it for the time being.  BG has between 16-18 commits at this time...

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Small Piece of Camp News...

The Sentinel-Tribune reported that WR James White has "left camp."  He was slated to be a R-FR and was from Detroit Crockett HS.  He was the 9th highest ranked recruit in the class of '12.  At WR, the class contained White and a JUCO WR and they are both no longer with the program.

Monday, August 05, 2013

MAC Media Day....

Final catch up for the MAC Media Day....which was last Tuesday.  The media poll came out, which is the day's main product.  The results are below and can be seen on the MAC's website as well.

Team (First Place Votes) Points

MAC East Division

1. Ohio (15) 164
2. Bowling Green (8) 154
3. Kent State (1) 119
4. Buffalo (1) 101
5. Miami 78
6. Akron 53
7. UMass 29  

MAC West Division

1. Northern Illinois (16) 138
2. Toledo (5) 122
3. Ball State (3) 108
4. Central Michigan (1) 67
5. Western Michigan 61
6. Eastern Michigan 29    

2013 Marathon MAC Championship Game Winner:  Northern Illinois 14; Toledo 3; Ohio 3; Bowling Green 2; Ball State 2; Central Michigan 1.

For comparison, you can see my picks and the collective picks of the MAC Blogosphere.

A few comments.

First, I am obviously picking BG and rooting for BG.  Having said that, you can't quibble with OU, either.  They have a very solid program with a proven playmaker at QB and are a clear threat to win the East.  That November date at the Doyt is going to be a big one.

It is interesting that BG and OU are close, yet OU has twice as many first place votes...meaning that some people are ranking OU well below 2nd.

I think people are underrating Akron a little.

Ultimately, even with a first year coach, NIU is the clear favorite.  Having said that, the season still has to be played.  I picked NIU #1 and that is still the most likely possibility.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Friday, August 02, 2013

Clawson Holds First Camp Presser

So, Coach Clawson held his first presser after the first day of practice.  The media pressed him relatively hard on a couple of players who were not back that could have come back, as well as on the grey shirt issue.

First, Anthon Samuel.  As mentioned here, Anthon claimed to have had a change of heart but there was no scholarship left at BG for him.  Coach Clawson said that BG "never got the feeling he was coming back" and when he said he might, they said the best they could do was provide him the next available scholarship.  I think Coach handled this exactly right.  He told Anthon they would support whatever he decided to do.  "You never want to talk a young man away from his wife and family," he said.

The second was LT Fahn Cooper.  Fahn did not leave for a discipline issue nor was he dismissed.  Coach said his family decided he needed to be closer to home (which is Crystal Lake, IL) and so he left.  BG has had trouble holding LTs and this year is replacing both Ts.  (more later).

Jack Carle noted that there are 3 players from the February class who are not on the roster:  WR Michael Rogers (BG's #2 rated recruit), RB Brandon English and DT Shannon Smith.  Coach said in February there might need to be some greyshirting of players.  He was asked about that today and mentioned one of the RBs (presumably English) and that the others might be NCAA Clearinghouse issues.  To be clear, I'm only inferring English as the greyshirt, he only said that all these issues need to be resolved by the start of classes, which is August 26.

As for the next steps, RB is looking better than it might have this summer.  He said Travis Greene has made a nice transition from WR, Jamel Martin is healthy and Jordan Hopgood is healthy, plus Andre Givens 3-4 freshman.

At T, he said that Jacob Bennett, Scott Piazza and Logan Dietz are competing for the 2 starting T positions.  He also said that it would be possible to move a G back out to T as well.  If both Ts are new, at least they will have strength up the middle with Flewellyn, Chief and Huettel.

That was what he had to say...I am getting very pumped.  The season starts tough...Tulsa and the Falcons need to be ready to roll right from the start.

Falcon Football Verbal....Jalen Brady

The internet is telling us that BG has another football verbal....this is QB Jalen Brady, who will be attending Southfield (MI) in the Fall.  Before that, he attended Grand Ledge, but his parents have moved to Southfield. 

According to the linked article, he is considered one of Michigan's top QB prospects.  When Wisconsin looked at him, they thought he looked like Russell Wilson. 

He is 5'11" and 185 pounds, so he doesn't have traditional drop back QB size.  He is projected to be a pocket passer, however.  Sometimes, this is how a skilled player (who apparently also was recruited by MSU) falls into BG's hands.

Here's a little more bio info....he's only played QB for a few years, before that he was a WR and he was showing some chemistry with his new teammates at a summer passing league.

He is BG's 2nd QB in the class.  The first, Cody Callaway of Elyria, was also highly ranked. Coach has said we will sign at least one QB in each class, but obviously you take advantage of opportunities like this when you get them.  He clearly is not looking for dual threat QBs...he recruits almost exclusively pocket passers.

Anyway, welcome to the Falcons, Jalen.

MAC Blogger Roundtable Pre-Season Post

Following up on the catch up from last week, the MAC roundtable did put up its collective post.  Everyone likes NIU, with BG and UT close behind and close to each other.  Beyond that, I'd say we are all climbing onto the Ball State bandwagon as all.  We will look at the media predictions later in the week.  They liked OU and I do warn everyone that those guys are lurking and have a good QB.

Anyway, for your entertainment, I give you the MAC Blogosphere.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Blade spoke to Anthon Samuel

The Blade had one other thing last week that I wanted to catch up on.  John Wagner talked to Anthon Samuel and the story is a little more interesting than it might have seemed at the time.  You can check The Blade out for the whole story, but the gist of it was that Samuel left and told Coach that if he came back he would pay his own way.  In April, he wanted to come back, but Clawson had given his scholarship away--remember that BG was talking in February about needing to grey shirt guys--and the Samuel couldn't justify paying money his family needed to go to BG.  And so he transferred.

Here's the salient quote:

“I was never mad at BG or at coach Clawson — I understand. I am disappointed in me. If I had answered differently when coach Clawson talked to me about the scholarship, he would have held a scholarship for me.”
Anyway, I think it speaks well of the environment at BGSU that Samuel wanted to come back--he referred to BG players as his brothers.  It didn't work out--and I don't blame Samuel for saving his money for his wife and child.  Best wishes to him at FIU and to his family.