Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog Swap with Bull Run

Bull Run is a long-standing MAC Blog that lives over on SB Nation.  We have a long-standing blog-swapping tradition with them...they have a full team approach now and produce high quality content on the Bulls.  So, we have taken the opportunity to swap some questions with them...over the years, there have been an unusual number of "situations," between us, including the onside-kick-Gregg-Brandon-rips-fans game, the Dan-Dakich-walk-off-the-court game, the Stone-McCrea-flareup game, and last year's battle for the MAC East.

And, based on the defenses included, we are in for some go ol' #MACtion Saturday.

I posed some questions to David Brand of Bull Run.  Here is how he answered.

1. What's the state of the program right now? With Quinn? How are you feeling about this year--2 FCS games, losing to Army? How much do we know about the Bulls?

The fan base knows very little about this team. Many expected the Miami game to be closer than one believes a team with twenty straight loses playing on the road for a homecoming game to be. The Bulls were dominant is all aspects of the game except the score board. The Bulls have really struggled with special teams. Clarke the kicker has missed field goals and having issues with extra points. The return game on punts is non-existent this year. For as good as the offense is this year, the defense has struggled.

The fan base is waiting to see what happens with this team. This is a real big test for Quinn and the Bulls. The Bulls failed to answer the bell last year especially the loss to Bowling Green. Here is an article that I wrote on Quinn Can Quinn coach the Bulls to a victory over a evenly matched team? I refuse to discuss Army and will not ask you about Western Kentucky.

2. Obviously, last year's team lost a big-time RB in Oliver. You had seen a little of Anthone Taylor, but he has been pretty productive. Did you expect what you are getting from him? What kind of runner is he?

Anthone Taylor every week is getting stronger and stronger. Very little was expected after losing Buffalo’s all time running back. Buffalo has gone from Starks (Green Bay) to Oliver (San Diego) to now Taylor. I am going to sound like a coach or running back right now, but much of the credit has to be given to the offensive line. This is a line that has five returning starters from last season. The only person that will have a chance of NFL scout eyes is Andre Davis. #37 MAC Player Andre Davis Taylor every week has become more patient and allowing the holes to develop. He is a larger Bo Oliver. He can run you over or run around you. The Bulls are without sophomore Jordon Johnson with a knee injury against Norfolk. Johnson looked more explosive and many in the fan base were asking for Johnson to be the feature back. All Taylor did last week against Miami is rush for 222 yards (27 yards shy of UB’s record set by Oliver) and three touchdowns. Taylor last week was the best player by far on the field.

3. Licata is having a really nice season. He's 2nd in the MAC so far in passing efficiency. Are you surprised at the progress he's made? What's changed?

Not surprised at all. Licata is only a Junior but feels like he has been in Amherst for a decade. Licata is a very smart quarterback who loves to compete. Licata does not have the rocket arm but what Licata can do is pick you apart. As much as fans were concerned of losing Oliver, many more worried about losing Fred Lee and Alex Neutz to graduation. The fans have been pleasantly surprised at three WR’s who have stepped up and all made big plays. The three headed tandem is Ron Willoughby, Devon Hughes, and the best surprise is red shirt freshman Jacob Martinez. All three can get open and run after the catch. Licata also has two solid TE’s in Matt Weiser and Mason Schreck who can block for the running game but also catch balls and move the chains. Weiser had a beautiful 31 yard TD last week against Miami. This is where I am too excited for a Tuesday for a MAC game on Saturday. Buffalo can and will throw the ball all over the field and this could be the most entertaining game of the weekend if you are in to offense.

4. So, we're interested in pass defenses all of a sudden. UB is allowing less than 50% completions but over 19 yards a reception and no INT's. That 19 yards a reception is worst in the MAC by 6 yards and worst in the nation by about 4 yards. What's going on with the Bull pass defense?

You saw how excited I was over the offense; well, now you force me to talk about defense. The pass defense has struggled and is the Achilles heel for this Bulls team. The lack of depth was so thin that Buffalo converted who many to believe the next best WR Boise Ross to defensive back. To Ross’s credit you saw his game getting stronger especially as the Miami game rolled on. The Bulls also have very little in the way of a pass rush. The Linebackers who made so many plays last year are not at the same level. Last year so many teams worrying about Mack allowed other players free to make plays. Bowling Green will move the ball through the air on the Bulls. The weather looks to be 70 and not a cloud in the sky. This has MAC shoot out written all this game.

5. Where do you see this one going? No one is out in the East race...do you think the Bulls can go on the road and get this one.

The Bulls can go on the road an absolutely win this game. The Bulls team can also let you score 100. The Bulls offense is more potent than Umass but we struggle to stop anyone. The team who scores last is going to be the winner of this game. This game goes a very long way to deciding a wide open MAC East. No one expected UMass to step up in compete this year like they have. I have no clue what is happening at Kent. Miami has leveraged much of their future with older Notre Dame transferees but understand the pressure to win now. Miami will shock a team or two this year. Watch out for Akron and look at Ohio always staying tough and in the mix. To see the Bulls prediction and break down of this game live, be sure to tune into Last Bull In video podcast joined by your very own BJ Fischer. The boys at Bull Run along with BJ will break down the key match ups, highlight key players, and provide you with our very own predications. Show is live Wed. night at 11:30 PM and a taped version will be on website afterwards as well.

Benchmarks, Minuteman Style

So here are the benchmarks for the UMass game.  Obviously, they are nice on the left side, not so nice on the right side.  In fact, when you look at things on a per play basis, UMass actually outperformed BG on the overall offensive measures and on the passing numbers.  BG did rush better.

Interesting that UMass actually played nearly as fast As BG did.   I don't know if that is going to be a common tactic, but it is something WKU seemed to try to do as well.

Even after removing sacks, UMass had over 15 yards a reception, which is a very difficult number for a defense to allow.  It really came down to something non-statistical, which was the two late turnovers BG's defense went and got---one a crazy athletic play by Nick Johnson and the other by James Sanford (fumble) and both by guys with zero D1 playing time heading into this season.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Surviving Amherst, Random notes

A last couple notes:

First, I went through the defense pretty good for their overall results but I did neglect to say that we defended the run very well.  In fact, against the teams we are built to compete with (ie, not Wisconsin) we have been tough to run against.  UMass pulled a surprise, bringing back a suspended RB who had some good games for them last year, but it did not have any impact.  BG held them to 1.6 yards per rush.  That includes sacks...the two main TBs had 2.9 yards per carry.

Joe Davidson had a really nice day.  He averaged 39.7 yards per kick--which isn't great, except that he allowed no returns at all and put 3 of the 4 kicks inside the 20.

BG got a big day out of James Sanford.  Sanford is a R-So from Xenia who was recruited to BG.  He red-shirted and then he was injured last year.  He had a big day...9 tackles, 2 sacks, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and the game clinching forced fumble at the end. Obviously, given the issues at LB, he could play a pretty big role.

I said that BG played 3 true freshman and six walk ons...it was actually 4 and 5.  All 4 of the true freshman play in the defensive backfield.  (These are assuming the game participation report is accurate, which it often is not.

True Freshman
Clint Stephens
Nick Johnson
Nilijah Bellew
Ben Hale

Walk ons
Gus Schweiterman
Monti Phillips
Matt Robinson
Zac Bartman
Terrance Bush

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Past and Future Opponent Land

Western Kentucky (2-2) Beat Navy 36-27.
VMI (1-4) Lost to Mercer 27-24
Indiana (2-2) Lost 37-15 to Maryland
Wisconsin (3-1) Beat South Florida 27-10
Buffalo (3-2) Beat Miami 37-25
Ohio (3-2) Beat EIU 34-19
WMU (2-2) Lost 35-17 to Va Tech
Akron (2-2) Won 21-10 @ Pitt
Kent (0-4) Lost 45-14 to Virginia
Toledo (3-2) Beat CMU 42-28
Ball State (1-3) Idle

MAC vs. Power 5: 4-21
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 3-11
MAC vs. FCS: 11-2
East vs. West: NA

Surviving Amherst, Offensively

If you ask me, it was the offense that delivered the victory yesterday.  This is a burden that it appears will be on them for the forseeable future.

BG ran 108 plays, which is the second time in 3 games we have been over 100.  The Falcons ended up with 668 yards of offense, which is 6.2 yards per play and a very good result.  Coach Babers said in the post-game that it was important to him that BG be two-dimensional--run and pass--and the Falcons certainly achieved that yesterday.

On the ground, BG averaged 4.7 yards per rush.  Greene (5.5 ypr) and Coppet (5.2 ypr) were both very effective.  Ronnie Moore had 1 nice run on a jet sweep and Knapke even ran effectively.  BG did not fumble.  The only issue with the running game is one we will get to in a minute.

Passing game was good on balance.  From a yardage standpoint, BG certainly has to be happy, with 11.7 yards per reception, a very solid figure.  The Falcons completed 63% of its passes, which is about what Coach looks for.  BG had three WRs with over 100 yards receiver--Burbrink, Lewis and Moore--but Coach says he won't be impressed until we have four.

The only downside to the passing game was the Knapke threw 3 picks.  One was on 4th down and probably not a huge deal, but that was still a downside.  This is always where young QBs are mostly likely to be exposed, so it is not surprising.  I think Knapke is coming along nicely and will be an effective QB and he will learn from the mistakes.

On other note on people who don't get noticed, which is the O-line.  BG had an effective running game and gave up no sacks in 60 passing attempts, all of which has to reflect well on the line play.  The only issue with the line is penalties...we had false starts, one facemask in the line, etc.  But, the o-line appears to be doing their part.

Which leads us to the last big issue with our offense, and that is short yardage/running in an expected run situation.  This was a huge issue for us in the previous spread time at the Doyt, and it took Clawson like 3 years to get to the point where we could grind out yardage in tight situations.  There was one red zone situation where we tried Andre Givens in a Houston-like role and it did not work.

But the worst situation was in the 4th Q.  BG got the ball 3 times in the 4th Q with a change to grind the game out.  The first came with about 9 left, and the other two were with 5:49 and 3:22.  In an of these cases, you get a couple first downs and you pretty much put the game away.  In the last possession, you 100% put the game away.  BG, of course, wants to run the ball to keep the clock moving, and in that situation, when you need to run to put the game away, BG made precisely 0 first downs with a long possession of 1:29.

That's on the line and the backs.  Last year, we were able to get first downs in that situation, and yesterday we could not and we put the game back on our defense's back.  We had a two-score cushion and fortunately it was enough.

Falcons Survive in Amherst

So Coach Babers is a positive thinking kind of guy, which is why he so readily accepted John Wagner's post-game premise that BG's defense won the game by forcing a turnover on the final drive when the game was in the balance.

And that's true to a point.  But it is a little bit like a surgeon operating on the wrong limb, forgetting to use anesthesia, dropping an instrument into the body, nicking an artery and then performing CPR to save the patient and taking credit for being a life-saver.

Falcon fans need to come to terms with one thing.  This defense is not very good right now.  We'll get to why in a second, but if BG is going to win games, it is going to be done like it was yesterday.  This is who we are for the time being.

Remember the movie Forget Paris?  Where Billy Crystal wants it to be like Paris again and Debra Winger says to "forget Paris."

Well, forget Detroit.  That's not going to be back for a while.

I need to go back and check this, but I believe that WKU, Wisconsin and UMass all had players set school records against us.  Those are school records we are talking about.  So BG isn't just giving up big games, they are giving up the biggest games.

To Coach Babers' point, I think it is worth saying that our defense was still fighting at the end and the strip was a huge play to preserve the win, and they deserve credit for it.  But, the defense kept UMass in the game.

So via Twitter I am hearing from some folks.  There is a lot of frustration with our Coaching staff, built around the idea that last year we had one of the top defenses in the NCAA and this year we have one of the worst if not the worst.

I want to show something here to get some perspective on what we are dealing with.

This is our depth chart from the NIU game.  Players who are crossed out either graduated or are not available to the team due to injury.  I added Gabe Martin back, since he is rightly a starter who was injured.   Now, if we had lost all those guys to graduation and we walked into Fall camp looking at something like that, what would you have expected?  You would have expected BG to have a tough year on defense.  (Note, too, that Martin and Adjei-Barimah are playing but are coming back from difficult injuries as well ).

I don't believe that Coach Babers doesn't care about defense or that he focuses too much on offense.  He had a good defensive team at EIU, he's recruiting defense this year...I just don't buy it.

As for Xs and Os, I think everyone knows by now that I'm not a guy who analyzes that stuff.  Maybe the schemes aren't very good, but I doubt it.  We just don't have enough good players.  If you want to know why this defense is worse than last year's, it's because it is pretty much a completely different team.

Anyway, I write this not to focus blame on the players, who are battling and working their hardest for our program.  I write this because I think we need to calibrate our expectations.  This is not last year's defense.

We have no idea when help is coming.  Getting Lynch and Ward back would help a lot.  No idea about Colvin...by my count BG played 3 true freshman and 6 walk-ons yesterday.

For a while, this is how we are going to win games.  I don't think it is sustainable but this is what it is going to have to be.  The East is very soft, so no one is out of it...we get some guys back, who knows.  But for now, what you see is the reality of our program.

We did win the game, by the way.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Anthon Samuel Update

Thought you'd be interested in seeing an update on Anthon Samuel, who is playing at Florida International and continues to move forward, despite issues related to his transfer and concussions.

Friday, September 26, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable Compiled

Eagle Totem hosted the Blogger Roundtable for this week....here is the collected wisdom of the MAC Blogosphere....

25 Questions for Minutemen

What is their body of work?

FBS has been tough for UMass.  They are 2-26 in two years, including 0-4 this year.  Having said that, they have played 4 Power 5 teams this year and have two narrow losses.  They nearly beat Colorado and Vanderbilt.  These aren't the best Power 5 teams, but Vanderbilt played a tough game against South Carolina, etc.  I think it is safe to say this is not the UMass team we saw under Charlie Molnar.  BG beat UMass 28-7 last year.  Let me say this...this matchup is ringing 2006 Temple-PTSD-type alarms.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

22, which indicates a relatively young team

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

Trey Dudley-Giles is #5 in the nation in KO Returns.

What was their turnover ratio?

They are -1 so far this year.


How is their QB play?

They went for help right away here.  They picked up Blake Frohnapfel, who is a big boy--6'6"--and was at Marshall, where he was Cato's backup.  He graduated and came to UMass, where is a graduate student with two year's eligibility.  He hasn't had great numbers...he has completed 49% of his passes, 6 TDS/2 INT.  However, he would appear to throw higher risk passes and is getting 14 yards per reception, which is a lot.  He's 8th in the MAC in passing efficiency.  However, he has played only games against Power 5 opponents, so he remains a bit of an unknown..and, you know, BG is currently last in the nation in defense. (This caveat applies to this entire review).

What is their scoring and yards per play?

Coach Whipple is considered an offensive guru.  The Minutemen are currently 103rd in the nation in scoring offense and 4.8 yards per play is also not great.

Can they run the ball?

They are among the worst running teams in FBS so far.  Jamal Wilson, who put 119 on BG last year is injured and his replacement is averaging 2.9 yards per carry.  Against WKU and Indiana BG was decent against the run and if they can do the same and make UMass one-dimensional, that would help.

Do they pass the ball?

They are 78th in passing efficiency in the country.  They have 3 players (Sharpe, Michel and Mills) who are not getting huge reception numbers but are all averaging between 18-20 yards per reception, which is a big average.

How is their run/pass balance?

This year, they have run the ball almost 53% of the time.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

At 34% they are 9th in the MAC.

Do they score in the red zone?

They get 3 trips a game at 4.8 points per trip, which is all average.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have given up 11 sacks so far, which is almost 8% of their passing attempts, which is a lot...and probably a by-product of a deep drop passing game.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are 111th in the country in scoring defense but only allow 5.6 yards per play, which is not actually as terrible as the scoring would predict.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They allow 4.6 yards per rush, which is 92nd in the nation.  BG is going to need points to win this season and BG will have to be able to run and pass in each of its games moving forward.

Can they be passed on?

They are 87th in passing defense efficiency.  They are allowing 64% completion with 14.6 per completion, which is not a good mix.  They do have 3 INTs.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

Negative.  They are 123rd in the nation, with 53% allowed.  This probably accounts for part of why their yards per play and points allowed aren't in sync.

Do  they defend in the red zone?

And here would be the other.  They allow 4.5 trips per game and have precisely 0 red zone stops.  They allow 6.1 points per red zone trip, which is really poor.

Do they pressure the QB?

Not great....5 sacks in 127 attempts is 3.9%, which is not great.

Special Teams:


No.  Not good.  Their net punting is 32 yards per kick, which is in the ten lowest in the nation.  They have allowed a TD this year and have been blocked once.

Punt Return?

Trey Dudley-Giles is very good.  Only 2 attempts...but 31 yards on those attempts.


Big problems here...they have left it open...had an "open competition" this week.  In BG-lore, anytime there was an open competition there were a lot of missed FGs.  Collectively, they are 2-5 on the year with a 34 long.


Not great, teams average starting on the 27.  Both kickers have tried this...only 2 TBs in 17 attempts.

Kickoff Return?

Dudley-Giles is really, really good.  He's averaging 35 per return without a TD.

Coach Whipple
Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

OK, here is why this game makes my nervous.

First, it is homecoming...in more ways than one.  First, it is homecoming in the regular way, but it also marks UMass' return to their campus.  They will continue to split games between their home field and Gillette Stadium, but you'd expect to see some enthusiasm and a decent crowd in what is already an intimate stadium.

Second, the Minutemen have been circling around winning.  They led Colorado in the 3rd Q and Vanderbilt in the 4th.  The Colorado games in "at home" and the Vandy game was away, but either way, they are getting close and they have to be feeling it.

As Coach Babers said, they are going to win one sooner or later, "let's hope it isn't this week."

BG faced a similar position in 2006 with the Temple game.  Here is my write up on the game, which ended a 20-game losing streak.  BG was unsettled in a different way that year, and was in the process of putting a true FR QB into the lineup.  This year, BG is playing without Johnson, Dieter, Colvin, Lynch and Ward (via The Blade).

BG is reeling coming into the UMass game, especially on defense.  We could very well climb into the soft East race...but I don't see any reason to think we have any automatic wins left on the schedule.

With the home dynamic for the Minutemen and this idea that they can smell win and they can smell it strong when we come in has me very nervous about this one.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


So, since finding out that UMass is moving back into their on-campus stadium just in time to battle the Falcons, it was driving me crazy that the name sounded so familiar.  The other day it finally came to me.  This summer, I was reading a book about New York which talked about this bar that was located in the Bowery.  It was a big-time dive bar and people had a lot of unhealthy habits, including all manner of drug and alcohol abuse.  Anyway, people at the end of the line went into the bar and had a tendency to kill themselves.  As the place gained notoriety, it started to attract a higher class of customers attracted by the morbid opportunity to see someone commit suicide.

The name of this place.  McGurk's.

McGurk's Suicide Hall.

So that's where I remembered it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable, My Answers

This week's host is Carter from Eagle Totem, the EMU blog.

1. This weekend the MAC suffered four losses by 38 points or more, with Massachusetts losing 48-7, Bowling Green losing 68-17, EMU losing 73-14, and Northern Illinois losing 52-14. Is the payday worth the price in reputation?

Having watched our team take one of those beatings, you do have to ask yourself.  Is it worth it?  At one point, BG appeared to be swearing off them, but the recession changed everything and they needed the money.  I think they are a sad reality.  Having said that, if you don't like them, just hang on because I think they are largely on the way out as the Power 5 begins to play increasingly and possibly exclusively among its own kind.

2. How has your perception of the conference race changed since the pre-season? Which team(s) have most disappointed and which have most impressed you so far?

I think for most people Toledo has been the biggest surprise, followed by Ball State, but, as the saying goes, "I had those."  The biggest surprise to me has been that Akron has not been better than they have been.

3. If your team could replay one down from this fall and get a different result, what down and why?

Well, that's a tough one.  Both of BG's losses have been by large margins and not dependent on one play...so I'm going to go with whatever play it was when DJ Lynch got injured.  Love to have a different result, as in, he doesn't get injured.

ICSTR, Badger Edition

It was another special teams day where BG had that not so fresh feeling, as the Falcons clocked their first back to back negative games since the Kent-Buffalo combo at the end of 2012.  BG has not had 3 straight negative games since the annulus horribulus, 2010.  So let's hope that doesn't happen.  Meanwhile, Wisconsin had the best special teams game by a BG opponent in the entire history of the ICSTR, dating back to 2009.

It was a little tough for BG.  You need a 45 yard punt to get a point, and BG had at least two that were between 40 and 45.  Anyway, BG had only 3 quality plays--a TB, a big punt and a Givens KO return to the 40.  On the negative side, BG had two punts where big returns negated a big kick, two bad kickoff returns and one strong return for UW.

UW just had a buttload of obvious plays.  Remember, the system is asymmetrical...kicking a touchback is a point for the kicking team, but not a negative point for the receiving team, because there was nothing they could have done about it.  So UW had 15 positive plays for 16 points and only 3 negative plays.

Just to show...the "whipping" was in all phases.

One thing.  BG's KO returns seem to be soft.  Moore was doing it, but made some poor decisions against Indiana, so Givens had the job, and while he had one good one, he didn't necessarily do a lot better.  With the talent we have at the skilled positions, you'd not expect this to be a weakness.

BG Positive (+3)
BG KO TB (+1)
BG KO ret to 40 (+1)
BG 57 yard net punt (+1)

BG negative (-5)
BG -1 yard net on punt (-1)
BG KO ret to 19 (-1)
BG 17 yard net punt (-1)
BG KO Ret to 11 (-1)
UW KO Ret to 39 (-1)

UW Positive (+16)
UW KO TB (+1)
BG -1 yard net on punt (+1)
UW KO TB (+1)
BG KO ret to 19 (+1)
BG 17 yard net punt (+1)
UW KO TB (+1)
BG KO Ret to 11 (+1)
UW KO TB (+1)
UW 17 yard PR gets net under 45 (+1)
UW KO TB (+1)
UW KO Ret to 39 (+1)
UW Punt to BG 4 (+2)
UW 43 yard FG (+1)
UW KO TB (+1)

UW Negative (-3)
BG KO ret to 40 (-1)
UW Missed XP (-1)
UW >45 yard net punt with Penalty (-1)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Benchmark Report: UW Report

Not much to say here, it is pretty much what you would expect...most amazing number?  Wisconsin ran only 7 3rd down plays.  Other than that, it reflects what you saw on the field.

Babers on MAC Teleconference

Coach Babers was on the MAC Teleconference yesterday.  He had a couple interesting nuggets.  First, he doesn't mince words...he said the team's performance was "not very good" and that while Gordon is good "he doesn't have an 'S' on his chest."  He said he thought the effort was there but that the team did not compete.  As he points out, when you have records set against you, that's not good.

He had mentioned Saturday that some of the guys buried on the depth chart had good days.  He was asked for some examples, and he cited Andre Givens for the 60-yard burst, and a guy I noticed as well--Monti Phillips.

Monti is a LB, #22.  He is from Oakland and attended the Culver Military Academy, which is in Indiana.  He was never announced with a recruiting class, so I assume he is a walk on.  He came to BG under Clawson and red-shirted last year.  He made 5 tackles on Saturday.

Coach said we could expect to see both players get more meaningful reps...we shall see.

Finally, Coach pointed out something that Falcon fans are only now becoming aware of.  UMass has been playing in the Pats Stadium which is a long way from campus.  Saturday, they re-open their stadium on campus and it is homecoming.  I think the defending MAC champions are in for a very rude welcome in what could be a very hostile environment.

Davidson MAC East Special Teams POTW

Joe Davidson became the 3rd Falcon this year to be the East Special Teams Player of the Week.  Davidson is just in his first year as the Falcon punter and he had a very big game against the Badgers.  He drilled the crap out of the ball...the team was let down by the punt coverage unit, who gave up a buttload of yards, but Davidson got huge distance on the ball.

Bowling Green redshirt freshman Joe Davidson (Findlay, Ohio) punted a career-high 11 times, averaging 45.1 yards per punt in a 68-17 loss at Wisconsin. Davidson set a career-high with a 57-yard punt in the game, and also had one downed inside the 20-yard line.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Past and Future Opponent Land

Western Kentucky (1-2) Idle.
VMI (1-3) Lost to Samford 63-21
Indiana (2-1) Beat #18 Missouri, on the road.  Who 'da thunk?
UMass (0-4) Lost 48-7 to Penn State.
Buffalo (2-2) Beat Norfolk State.  That's 2 FCS wins for the Bulls.
Ohio (2-2) Beat Idaho
WMU (2-1) Beat Murray State.
Akron (1-2) Destroyed by Marshall at home.
Kent (0-3)  Idle
Toledo (2-2) Very solid home win over Ball State
Ball State (1-3) Lost at Toledo.

MAC vs. Power 5: 3-19
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 3-11
MAC vs. FCS: 10-2
East vs. West: NA

Long, Terrible Day in Madison

So, with a few hours to process yesterday's very long day--the "whipping" as Coach Babers called it--there is not much more to say than what I wrote yesterday.  Here are a few random and general thoughts.

It was terrible and a complete mess.  There are no ways to sugarcoat it.  We expected to lose and I think we would have expected Gordon to run like crazy, etc.  Their style is a really bad matchup for us.  However, we would not have expected to give up the most rushing yards in the Big Ten in 84 year.  You have to stop and think a second about that...all the football games in 84 years, all the time that they had a ridiculous mismatch and in all of those games since Herbert Hoover was the President, none of them rushed for more than they did yesterday.

As I said yesterday, I think BG was schemed to stop the run.  BG had men in the box, 8 or 9, and were committing to stop the run.  They didn't, mostly because Wisconsin overpowered BG on the line and because BG had very little success bringing ballcarriers to the ground.  The tackling was really poor.  Yes, Gordon is hard to tackle...but, you know, 1930.

BG also was overwhelmed on offense.  Not 1930-overwhelmed, just overwhelmed.  BG generated 11 first downs for the game.  Sack adjusted, 146 passing yards on 37 passing attempts, 3.9 yards per attempt, which is very hard to win with.  When you remove the sacks, BG had 5 yards a carry, but there was the Givens 60-yard run in garbage time.

BG seemed to be playing OK until early in the 2nd.  BG was down 28-10 and on the 8 yard line and Knapke made one of those mistakes guys make in their third start and threw a pass that would have had to get through like two guys to get to the receiver.  From that INT, Wisconsin went on a rampage.

As Coach Babers said, you can't lose by 51 points and then pretend like it all came down to one play.

Anyway, it was awful and a long day and while Gordon is good, "we helped him" (Babers)....


The only thing from here, in Coach's words, is not to let Wisconsin beat us twice.  In other words, we need to put that one away.  We have to head back out on the road for another long trip next week, and that's a MAC game and if Gordon is still running around in our heads while BG is out there, things could go from forgettable to forgotten.

The challenges are significant for the BG defense.  They lost guys from last year, and now they are down three more.  If we had lost 9 guys to graduation, we might have thought we would be here.  Yesterday, BG had Nick Johnson, Dernard Turner, Nate Locke, etc, all guys who didn't play significant snaps last year.

Beyond that, the guys who do have seem to have stopped tackling like they did last year.  BG has to figure out a way to get the guys we do have tackling again.  The job gets easier, but that won't solve the problem on its own.

On offense, there is no margin for error. I don't believe BG is going to have a shut-down defense this year, and so if the Falcons are going to win, they are going to need to be very effective scoring.  We saw against Indiana that BG has the ability to move the ball and I think we can against MAC competition.

I think the running game is in pretty good shape.  The part that worries me about the passing game is that we don't seem to be getting enough out of the full receiving corps.  If any position seems to be having trouble adjusting to the new system, that seems to be it.  My only point is if BG is only going to look for #1, then that's going to make things tougher.

So, look ahead.  You can forget this loss because if wasn't in the conference.  We will not be able to say that again this year.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Long, Painful Afternoon in Madison


Yeah, that had nothing to recommend it.

UW set all-time records in rushing and total yards today.  Just to have an idea on that, Wisconsin played their first football game in 1889.  They have taken the field 1,188 times and that was the worst.  In those 1,188 games, there had to be 100 worse mismatches than this....and yet here was the team with 756 yards and 644 yards on the ground.

Oh...that rushing total is also a modern era record in the Big 10.  No way to know how many games that covers...a bunch.

Look, I don't feel as badly about this as I did when WKU put 702 on us.  Just the idea we are comparing which 700+ yard defensive performance was worse is not a good place to be...but that was WKU and this was Wisconsin.  The Badgers are really good and the worst possible matchup for us...neither of which would have been true for WKU.  We are built to beat teams of WKU's caliber and not teams like Wisconsin.

Not trying to sugarcoat anything...that was incredibly depressing and painful to watch. This team was beaten in roughly the same fashion that a much worse (we hope) team was beaten by Michigan back in the day.

 As awful as it was, I don't think it tells us very much about our team and our chances to win the conference.  On our best day that's a tough assignment, and then you take BG without Colvin, Ward and Lynch and you have a really difficult assignment--one that Wisconsin exploited relentlessly.  McEvoy threw 16 passes--for obvious reasons.

To weigh in on what appears to be the current debate...I think BG was in the right scheme.  They were crowding the box to try and take the run away...BG just failed to make tackles.  In 1-1 battles between our guys and the guy with the ball, the guy with the ball won most of them.  While you'd like to see a little more parity, their guys are hard to tackle, they are really good players.  Gordon averaged 19.5 yards per carry--partly on us, but partly on him.

Everything else, I'd just advise pumping the brakes.  Not saying you should be happy about today, just saying I don't think today projects very much about the future of the season...well, I'm SURE it doesn't project anything good and I don't think it means that a bad outcome is certain.

BG's defense--even injured--has to tackle better and I don't think it is much more complicated than that.  This was the best offense we will face this year--though not the last good offense--and I think the offense has shown it can be effective.

Let's let things roll out a little bit.  Things are a little more welcoming in the MAC East.   There are clear areas to improve, for sure, and BG is far from a complete team right now...but there is still a long way to go in the season.  This was an awful day, but it doesn't have to predict where we go from here.

Men's Basketball Game times posted, Wright State time explained

Yesterday, BG posted the game times for the men's basketball season, so there are all times posted for all of the home games.

A couple of you have mentioned to me that the home opener--Wright State--is on a weekday at 4 pm on November 19, and that is not a misprint.  The Athletic Department trying to make tbe best of a difficult situation.  That's the night of the Toledo game...and we all might think, hey, just don't schedule the Wright State game the same night, but scheduling can be complicated and sometimes you don't have many other options.

So, rather than putting the games at the same time, they are playing the Wright State game early.  For fans who are interested, you could watch the basketball game and then either go home and watch the football game on TV or go to the football game.  In fact, I'm hearing that the Athletic Department is looking into running busses from the Stroh Center to the Glass Bowl that night, which would be a nice feature if it works out.  You wouldn't have to worry about parking up at the Glass Bowl and you can enjoy both games.

Anyway, no one likes setting your opener at such an odd time and it will have an impact on fans who have to work that day, but credit to the Athletic Department for trying to figure out a way to make it into a positive.

Friday, September 19, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable Compiled...

So, the MAC Blogger Roundtable is back this week.  This week's host is Let's Go Rockets, head on over and check it out to see what is in the minds of the MAC's bloggers.

25 Questions For Bucky

Old School Bucky
Put 433,221 Wisconsin kids in therapy
What is their body of work?

Historically, it is really good.  It is my view that this is one of the best run programs in FBS.  When Bielema left, they went and looked at less flashy guys--Anderson (who they chose), Clawson, Matt Campbell.  Anyway, 18 straight winning seasons, this is a high quality program.  This year, they blew a 24-7 lead to lose to LSU on a neutral field, and smoked Western Illinois, 37-7,

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

22, which indicates a relatively young team

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

KR Kenzel Doe was #18 in the nation in KOR last year.  (Look for a lot of kickoffs similar to IU last week)
Melvin Gordon was #12 in rushing yards per game.

What was their turnover ratio?

They were essentially even last year and they are essentially even this year.


How is their QB play expected to be?

That's a good question.  Tanner McEvoy is a new starter who really struggled against LSU but was good against Western Illinois, both tough results to translate into the game against BG.  They are more run-focused, in any event.

What was their scoring and yards per play?

They scored quite a bit last season...27th in FBS.   This year, they are down, with 31 points a game and 5.9 yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

Yes. They surely can.  Melvin Gordon is the man, dropped 8.7 YPC on LSU and averaged 7.8 YPC last year.  He is a pure stud behind a big line.

Do they pass the ball?

Last year they were in the middle of the pack in passing efficiency, and they have one good game and one poor game this year.  They certainly have the ability to set up the pass with their running attack.

How is their run/pass balance?
Also fights crime.

This year, they have run the ball almost 60% of the time.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They were just average last year, at 41% and are at 37% so far this year.

Do they score in the red zone?

They have 5.4 points per trip last year, which is good.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They are very good. They have given up only 1 sack in 54 pass attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They were 6th in the nation last year in scoring defense.  This year, they have allowed 31 points in 2 games and 4.4 yards per play.

Now this is funny.
Do they defend the run effectively?

Yes.  Top 10 in the nation last year, this year 2.3 yards per carry allowed.

Can they be passed on?

They were 18th in the nation last year.  This year, they are allowing only 52% completions, but an astounding 15.8 yards per catch.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

Last year, they were 4th in FBS.  They are also very good this year, at 37%.

Do  they defend in the red zone?

They have allowed only 3 red zone trips in 2 games and have one blank in there, 4.7 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

Yes they do...5 sacks in 47 pass attempts is 10.6%.

Special Teams:

Yeah.  Well he turned yours down.

Their punting is not that good, at 34.7 net per kick.  No blocks and no TDs, but some return yardage.

Punt Return?

Kenzel Doe was a big returner last year, but this year he has only 3 attempts and a net of -1 yards.


Kicker is new...made a 51 yarder and missed one inside 40.


They are really good...with no touchbacks at all,  opponents average starting on the 21.

Kickoff Return?

Doe was highly ranked last year, but only 48 yards on 3 returns.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Dang. Looks good...who knew badger milk
was so creamy.
Obviously, this is a tough one for BG.  This team is better than Indiana and we are playing on their field, where they have won their last 30 non-conference games.  Over the past 10 years, they are 62-7 at home.

BG will need to play their very best game to win this one.  They will need to bring the run defense, limit Gordon as much as possible--though he is going to get yards--and then score points when we have the ball.

Wisconsin is coming off a bye week, as well, which means they are rested and prepared, whereas the Falcons are banged up and without Johnson, Colvin, Ward and maybe Lynch.  The challenge really starts on the front line, though.  BG will need to at least break even up front to have a shot.

It will be interesting to see, but I believe this is a tall order for the Falcons.  If BG does get this one, we're in for something very cool this year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blade runs down BGSU Injuries...

John Wagner has broken down the veil of secrecy around BG injuries.  Here is his report.

INJURY REPORT: The Falcons will be without a third defensive starter at Wisconsin as Ryland Ward had his left arm in a cast and did not practice Wednesday.

BG also will play without two other seniors as tackle Zach Colvin misses his third game with an “illness” while linebacker D.J. Lynch hopes to return from a knee injury suffered against VMI. Another defensive lineman, sophomore Bryan Baird, was not in pads Wednesday with an undisclosed injury. Babers said there is a chance Baird will play.

Offensively, sophomore wide receiver Gehrig Dieter, who suffered a knee injury against Indiana, did not practice Wednesday. Babers said Dieter probably will not play.

Lynch back would help.  Had not heard about Dieter...and Ryland Ward is the mystery Falcon who is out.

Babers Presser: Not At Liberty

Coach Babers had his presser today.  He really didn't have anything to say, beyond saying that he might have been a little amped up heading into his post-game presser after meeting with his jubilant players.  It was in reference to a question about the "feel them" comment, don't know if he would likewise extend it onto the bandwagon talk that has been effectively addressed by Dave Hackenberg in an excellent column.

Anyway, beyond that, it was a great win for our team, we had a bad practice yesterday ("hangover" but that's not the right word), he thinks our run defense did a good job and Wisconsin is probably better than IU, has a better TB and they're playing at home.

We are down another defensive player, but he is not "at liberty" to say who it is, because he doesn't want to help the other team, which is his choice and not really about being "at liberty."  As a fan, hearing about injuries is interesting because you are trying to figure out what the team is going to do, but I understand what he's trying to do.

And no.  No idea who he is talking about.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jeff Goodman of ESPN on New Coaches Who Could Succeed Right Away (HINT: Chris Jans)

That's right....Chris Jans is #3 on this list, right behind Frank Haith and Cuonzo Martin, which is not bad company to be in.  Here's what he said...

3. Chris Jans, Bowling Green Falcons

He was Gregg Marshall’s right-hand man the past few years at Wichita and on the surface it looked like a rebuilding job taking over for Louis Orr at Bowling Green. The Falcons won just a dozen games last season, but they return four starters -- including a potential player of the year in 6-foot-8 senior forward Richaun Holmes (13.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG). They also bring back redshirt junior guard Chauncey Orr (Louis' kid), who played in only one game last year due to a knee injury suffered in the season opener. Jans also added junior college guard Jovan Austin, and while I’m not sure they can take down Toledo for the league crown, don’t be shocked to see Bowling Green fighting for the MAC East title.
This is an interesting analysis.  I'm not sure I would have gone that far with it, but one thing is for sure...given the traditional powers in the East, even fighting for the title in late February would be an accomplishment for the program and a first-year Head Coach.  We don't know how good the JUCO players will turn out to be, especially in the middle.  Anyway, if you soured on men's basketball at BG, I do think there is something interesting to follow.  Look forward to seeing how this turns out.

MAC Blogger Roundtable, My Answers

It is this week's MAC blogger roundtable...questions this week are coming from Let's Go Rockets..

1) Three weeks into the season, discuss the biggest surprise (positive or negative) with your respective team?

The biggest surprise has been the struggles the defense has had.  We didn't expect to have the defense from last year, but I think we expected to be better than this.  Now, things are getting polluted with injuries--are you really worse?--but the defense is nowhere close to last year's.  Still plenty of time to improve and (at a minimum) be good enough to compete in the MAC East, but with the number of snaps our returning guys had, we would have expected more so far.

2) If you could augment your team with any one player (or coach) from any team in the country, who would you select and why?

I'd go Ramik Wilson, ILB for Georgia.  I think BG could really build around a stud MLB.

3) What, if any, game plan changes do you expect to see from your respective team as we dive in to the conference schedule?

I think there are a couple that are positive.  I think you will see more running...BG only ran 40 times in 113 plays against Indiana, and in conference play I think you will see that balance out, based on previous history with the offense.  On defense, my hope is that you see BG play a little tighter coverage and challenge short balls to the flat.

4) It’s time for the first MAC Blogger ranking of the season - rank all 13 teams in the conference.

Only 5 MAC teams have netted an FBS win to date.

  1. NIU
  2. BG
  3. CMU
  4. UT
  5. OU
  6. WMU
  7. Akron
  8. Buffalo
  9. Ball
  10. EMU
  11. UMass
  12. Kent
  13. Miami

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ICSTR Report: The Streak Ends

So, the results are in and BG had its first negative special teams game since the Buffalo game in Columbus.  That was 17 straight positive games, starting with the Military Bowl, all 14 last year and then the first 2 this year.

It wasn't awful....just a -2, but it is what it is.  And yes, I know Tyler Tate made 4 FGs, but we only give points for FGs over 40.  In the MAC, a FG under 40 is made 80% of the time, so it is an expected play and therefore a 0.

Anyway, BG still had 2 FGs, one good kick coverage, one good kick return and 2 touchbacks on KOs.  That was six positive plays.  On the negative, BG lost an onside kick, missed 2 XPs, had two poor KO returns, allowed one good return for IU and had an OB kickoff.  That's +6 and -8.

IU ended up +1.  They got the onside kick, stuffed two BG KO returns, stopped 2 BG Xps, had a KO TB and a return to the 39.  On the negative side, there were 3 crappy punts, an OB kickoff, a penalty on a punt return and on a KO return and a missed 39 yd FG.

BG Positive (+6)
IU KO ret to 16 before penalty (+1)
BG Ko Ret to 41 (+1)
BG 45 yd FG (+1)
BG 47 yd FG (+1)
BG KO TB (+1)
BG KO TB (+1)

BG Negative (-8)
BG KO OB (-1)
BG loses onside kick (-2)
BG KO RET to 9 (-1)
BG 2XP Fails (-1)
IU KO Ret to 39 (-1)
BG KO RET to 12 (-1)
BG XP blocked (-1)

IU Positive (+8)
IU recovers onside kick (+2)
BG KO RET to 9 (+1)
BG 2X Fails (+1)
IU KO Ret to 39 (+1)
IU KO TB (+1)
BG KO RET to 12 (+1)
BG XP blocked (+1)

IU Negative (-7)
IU 23 yard net punt (-1)
IU KO OB (-1)
IU Penalty on PR creates 47 net (-1)
IU KO RET to 2 with penalty (-1)
IU 24 yard net punt (-1)
IU 10 yard punt (-1)
IU missed 39 yrd FG (-1)

Benchmark Report---Upset Edition

Here are the benchmark statistics for the IU game.

A few notes.

First IU won the statistical battle in most areas.  BG had a bunch of yards, but when you average it out over 113 plays, you see that BG had below average success on a play-play basis.  

Not to say no success.  BG had a first down on 35% of its plays.  That's amazing.  Indiana actually had a first down on 38% of their plays.

The difference in a very close game was that BG was better on third-fourth down, and IU had a red zone whiff on the missed FG. 

BG had the ball about half the game and ran 113 plays...which means the Falcons ran one play every 16 seconds.  That's right up on twice as fast as last year's team and faster than earlier this year, even.

Knapke had a good percentage and the numbers would show that he had a high percentage play mix.  Coach said that was what Indiana was giving us, and that was a lot of short passes.  Obviously, big gains in our attack are supposed to come after the catch.  Knapke did make some long throws--he has a solid arm and seems to be accurate.  But, yardage wise, BG'd expect to have even more yards with that many plays.

One thing that helped was the BG did a good job of avoiding negative passing plays.

Oh, and BG had only 8.8 yards per point.  That is ridiculously efficient.

On, and for the second week in a row our opponent netted out at <20 yards net per punt.

Monday, September 15, 2014

BG Defense "MASH" Unit...

Some more news leaking out of the MAC Teleconference today.  BG has another defensive player out for the game Saturday.  You can see the speculation above.  Coach is pretty careful about injury reports, but any of those guys is a problem.  If you are wondering about next man up, if it is Ward I'd say Dernard Turner and if it is Hunter or Adjei-Barimah it would be Nick Johnson and Clint Stephens.  D-line is getting tough, with Colvin also apparently out and Mike Minns not seeing time.

Two Falcons Land MAC East Player of the Week...

Congrats to two Falcons for earning MAC East Player of the Week honors...

Tyler Tate won Special Teams Honors.  This is second time to win that award, and the second Falcon to win special teams honors this season.  He made 4 FGs, a career high, fourth most in program history and the most ever in the Doyt.

Tate has absolutely solidified what was a trouble point for the team, and as Coach Babers said today on the MAC teleconference, those FGs kept us in the game.  One miss and things are different in the second half.  Also, two of the FGs were over 40.

The offensive player went to James Knapke--obviously his first.  He set school records with 46 completions and 73 arm-numbing attempts in his second start ever.  James is well deserving...I thought Roger Lewis had a shot, he also had a huge game.  Having two guys who could win the award is a good problem to have.

Congrats to James and Tyler.

Past and Future Opponent Land

Western Kentucky (1-2) lost in 3 OT at Middle Tennessee
VMI (1-2)  Beat Davidson 52-24
Wisconsin (1-1) Bye week.  What is it about Big Ten teams and bye weeks before playing us.
UMass (0-3) Lost 34-31 to Vanderbilt.  Possibly lower degree of ineptitude out there.
Buffalo (1-2) Lost to Baylor
Ohio (1-2) Lost big @ Marshall
WMU (1-1) Beat Idaho 45-33
Akron (1-1) Idle
Kent (0-3) Lost 66-0 @ OSU
Toledo (1-2) Lost at UC
Ball State (1-2) Lost at home to Indiana State

MAC vs. Power 5: 3-14
MAC vs. non-MAC FBS: 2-9
MAC vs. FCS: 8-2
East vs. West: NA

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sweet Victory #2: The performances


So, BG had some big performances.  Some truly outstanding days on a team effort that led to a big victory.

We have already talked about James Knapke, who attempted 73 passes.  Completed 46, two school records.  That's 63% completions.  He had 3 TDs and 1 INT and 1 sack.  For that number of attempts, the yardage isn't spectacular (395 yards).  He was increasingly effective in the 2nd half as he gained confidence.  He also ran 7 times for 41 yards, including 1 key 3rd down rush.

We've talked about Roger Lewis...16 for 149 and the winning score and being the only player that IU had no answer for at the end.

We have not talked about Travis Greene.  He had 24 carries for 123 and a score.  That's 5.1 per attempt and a number of key second half runs.  He is incredibly elusive in tight space, and made several IU defenders look bad.

Ryan Burbrink was 6 for 80 with a TD and a circus reception that kept the game winning drive alive.

Tyler Tate...4-4 on FGs and a key tackle on the blocked XP.  He had a 45 yarder and a 47 yarder.  He has solidified BG's kicking game.

How about Guy Schwieterman?  Walk on, most fans never heard of him, he was in on 8 tackles and one for a loss.  All over the field Saturday.

Brian Sutton?  In on 10 tackles.  Gabe Martin...in on 8.

Paul Senn was in for Lynch.  He had 6 tackles, .5 TFL and a broken up pass.

Sweet Victory #2: The reaction from Indiana. Pain.

After pulling a big Power-5/BCS shocker, the most satisfying thing of all is reading the way it gets covered back in Power-5 land.  Very satisfying.

This week, I did a podcast with Crimson Cast.  They are nice guys, I talked to them last year, too.  He asked me what I thought would happen, and I said what I thought, which was that it would be a shoot-out with Indiana being on top by 1 score, 42-35.

The host said, under his breath, "I think a lot of people here will be disappointed if that happens."

Understand, they would be disappointed to only beat us by 1 TD.

Not, the morning after the game, Crimson Cast has not been updated.  What sits on their page right now (9:45 AM), are the following predictions.  (To be fair, Galen, who I spoke with, had IU winning by 3.)
Galen’s video pick gets historical to caution you about an Indiana team going on the road, before calling a 34-31 shootout victory for your Hoosiers.

Scott calls a 35-17 Indiana win in Bowling Green.

Mike Petry’s prediction? “Pain. And a 42-14 IU victory.”

Michael Rayome’s pick – I’m calling a 38-13 Indiana victory. Indiana will score a couple of touchdowns early via a renewed passing attack. Tevin Coleman and the running back crew will dominate the second half, prompting the exits to clear in the early fourth quarter.

There were no cleared exists.  There was pain, but not the kind Mike Petry thought.

But hey, that was before the game.  Here is after....

Here is the Indianapolis Star:

This was as bad as it gets in the Kevin Wilson era at Indiana University.

This was Bowling Green, which lost by 32 to Indiana last year and by 28 to Western Kentucky — Western Kentucky! — in a season opener.

Indiana featured collective collapse: offense, defense, special teams, coaching.

Don't be deceived by Indiana's new 3-4 defense, either. The Falcons weren't. They ran 113 plays, for crying out loud — two off the Football Bowl Subdivision record.

"You let them run 113 snaps," Wilson said, "and you're not going to win a game."

Today, there were a couple of times where me being a better teammate could have made a difference.

It remains difficult to find five more wins that would put the Hoosiers in their first bowl game since 2007.

So, BG ruined their season .  I like it.

Sweet Victory #2: G-O...G-O

And that is what it feels like.  You head out to the stadium, week after week, year after year, there are good times, there are bad times.  You're disappointed, you're thrilled.

And then yesterday happens.  That is what it feels like.  And remember, this program has now provided us two moments like that since last December...pretty fantastic stuff.  Honestly, the feeling leaving the stadium yesterday was about as good as I can feel.

So, thanks to the people--players, coaches, support staff--who put in the hard work to give me the chance to be that proud and excited.

Things had clearly not gotten off to a great start this year, but to think you could lose by 28 at WKU, lose your All-MAC QB and then end up with your first Big 10 win in your stadium only 15 days later...that's a hell of a moment for this program.

Coach Babers was fantastic in his press conference, and I recommend you pop over and listen to it.  A lot of stuff...bandwagon jumpers, (train's closed, now, BTW), telling stories to your grandkids, James Knapke and a chip on his shoulder, not letting other people define you, guys playing with broken fingers, Tyler Tate (!!) wrestling down the Indiana guy on the blocked punt...family, community.  It's all in there.

At one point, he says that he asked the players Friday night if they wanted to play to win or save stuff for the MAC season.  They wanted to go and Babers said...

"You know what that means to me, right?  G-O...G-O."

When asked what the thinking was behind the onside kick, Coach Babers said...

"The thinking was we wanted to get the ball back so we could score again."


And go they did.  BG ran 113 plays in the game.  When I looked at that a couple hours after the game, my eyes nearly fell out of my head.  BG threw 73 passes and completed 46--both school records, and the 113 plays is only 2 plays off the FBS record.


Coach compared the game in his presser to a 15-round prize fight, and that's a pretty good analogy.  There were an incredible number of reversals and changes of fortune.  The second half alone had 9 lead changes and was about as entertaining as a football game can get.

On a normal game, I like to go through the flow of the game from the beginning.  That's going to be tough here.  There's one spot in the 4th Quarter where the game really focused in...

Before that, the first half was relatively unexpected.  BG was getting stops--Indiana scored on only 2 of 7 possessions and BG's offense was driving into the scoring area but not getting TDs.  Tyler Tate kicked 4 FGs and the game was 14-12 at halftime.

From the presser, there was a lot of high-level motivating going on in the BG locker room, talking about what happened to Ball State and Iowa and god knows what else.

Anyway, nobody is having trouble scoring in the second half...it is (to follow the analogy) haymaker after haymaker. There were four TDs in the 3rd Q and Indiana let 28-26 entering the 4th.

As the 4th Quarter started, BG was on the Hoosier 9.  They got to the 1 and it was 4th down.  G-O...G-O.  BG goes for it and Fred Coppet scores and BG had a 32-28 lead.

Four plays after that, Indiana was back in the end zone and back in the lead, 35-32.

BG got the ball back and drove it down to the Hoosier 37 and had 4th and 4.  BG went for it (BG punted once all day) and did not convert.

Obviously, this is danger time.  If you are trading scores, falling down two scores means you are going to need a stop at some point.

Indiana completed a 30 yard pass on the first play after the 4th down and converted a 3rd down to get to the BG 22.  Their outstanding TB Tevin Coleman was eating BG up at that point and broke into the clear.  Just at that moment, I think IU could see them closing the door.  Instead, BG gang-tackled Coleman and stripped the ball.  Fumble forced by Walker, fumble recovered by Ward.

That was the game's biggest play.  BG took over on its own 12.  The Falcon offense was humming by now, Knapke firing Hoosier-revenge bullets all over the field.  On the next drive, he went 6-6 and had two rushes for 12 yards--one to convert a crucial 3rd and 5.  He capped the drive with a 31 yard toss to Ryan Burbrink for a TD.

Less than 4 minutes after the strip, BG had the lead again 39-35.  G-O...G-O.

Indiana then embarked on a 9-play drive down the field, 67 yards.  It was high drama.  There was a scrum in the corner that resulted in a 2nd and goal from the 1.  (And, classless Indiana fans booing an injured Falcon on a play when the referee was signaling for the trainer from the end of the play.  Hope it was a nice ride home for you folks).

Anyway, they ran a sneak on 3rd and 1 and BG stood them up.  Frankly, the best thing for BG was for them to just score, but on 4th down and inches you're buckled up for the stop.  Sudfeld stuck the ball over the pile for a clear score and Indiana led 42-39 with 2:04 left.  BG had 1 time out.


Coach said after the game that he wanted IU to FEEL us in the 4th Quarter.  He wanted them to get that tightness, because he knew we would relax and execute.  He wanted them to FEEL us.

I think they were feeling us.  We will cover the Hoosier reaction a little bit later, but they needed this win to try and be bowl eligible.  And, this had been marked as a win the entire time.

The thing about running the Falcon offense is that BG essentially runs a two-minute drill for the whole game.  So the Falcons were ready.

Here's the other thing that I haven't mentioned.  Roger Lewis is a beast and he was a beast all freaking day Saturday.  He finished with 16 catches, but it was more than that.  Indiana had no answer for him.  Remember, Lewis was at one point headed to the Big 10 and he is clearly a Big 10 talent.  The Hoosiers are not a good defensive team and Lewis was just abusing them.

The drive didn't start great.  Ronnie Moore mishandled the kickoff and BG started on the 12 with just under 2 minutes left.  Knapke threw an INC, and then hit Lewis twice for 18 yards.  BG on the 30.

BG ran for 2 yards before Knapke-Lewis netted 12 more yards on 3rd and 1.  BG on the 44 with :56 left as the Falcons burned their last time out.

Next, Knapke hit Ryan Burbrink for a 17 yard gain where Burbrink reached way behind him to make a spectacular catch...maybe the game's most forgotten play.

A couple plays later it was 4th and 2 from the Indiana 37 and about :20 left.  Too long for a game-tying FG.


BG lined Lewis up 1-1 on the edge and sent him down the field.  He torched the D-back and the only answer was to interfere him baldly in the open field.

Now BG is on the 16.  They go to the Lewis again, and this time the IU CB just wrapped him up and didn't attempt a defense.  How many times do you get two PI calls in key time like that...that's how obvious it was.  Anyway, that one was in the end zone, so BG was on the 2.

They ran a slant to Lewis, broken up.  And the, Knapke ran a fade to Lewis, 1-1 in the corner and Lewis made a huge play to win the ball and put the Falcons ahead with :09 left.

Great feeling in the stands...hugging, high-fiving.


It was not over.  The extra point was blocked and IU was heading the other way with the ball.  That's 2 points and they still get the ball.  And then, Tyler Tate--yes, Tyler Tate--wrapped the dude up and clung on for dear life until the rest of the team showed up.

It ended with a hail mary and a huge celebration, as well it should have.

BG had never beaten a Big 10 team at home and might never again.  BG had beaten a Power 5 team since Pitt in the Brandon era.  Clawson had 0 Power 5 wins...now Babers has 1.

It was a great day to be a Falcon.  Huge amount of pride in our effort and for the team for turning it around after the WKU debacle.


Friday, September 12, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable, Compiled...

It is MAC Blogger Roundtable time this week.  I'm jumping in to guest host this week.  I posed 3 questions to the collected wisdom of the MAC bloggers...below are answers from Let's Go Rockets, Hustle Belt, Bull Run and Eagle Totem.

1. So the MAC picked up two wins over the Big Ten but lost an FCS game, as well as a game to South Alabama and Army. On balance, good week or bad week for the MAC?

Let's Go Rockets:

It’s difficult to use the Big Ten as a barometer for MAC success anymore because they are not as good as they have been in years past — seeing the top teams in their conference lose last week (one loss to an unranked ACC opponent). It’s always positive for the MAC to play well against OOC opponents especially when they are in a top tier conference, but defeating the Purdues of the world isn’t as glamorous or infrequent as it used to be for MAC teams. It doesn’t appear that Northwestern is going to do much this season either so we put less emphasis on that win than we would have in years past. We feel that the past week was basically a wash for the MAC with a couple good wins and a couple tough loses that shouldn’t have happened.

Hustle Belt:

I'd have to go with bad. Ball State holding their own in Iowa was a pleasant surprise. NIU and CMU's wins were more expected than anything, leaving us with a Miami loss to Eastern Kentucky, Toledo getting blown apart, and Bowling Green losing Matt Johnson for the year. Add in the Kent State and Buffalo losses, and you have a rather down week. The truth hurts.

Bull Run:

On balance a decent week but the last minute loss by Ball State and the flat performance by Buffalo kind of keep it from being "an awesome" week.

People, and I'm taking clueless people, will look at this week and say "Wow The MAC beat two Big10 teams". As someone who started following the MAC in 2006 or so even I can look at the week and say "meh".

The MAC has done it before and we will do it again. Now once in awhile we will have Ohio down Penn State or Toledo beat Michigan. When we see a week where all the "good" MAC teams win and one or two of the cellar dwellers pull off a nice upset we can uncork the campaign.

Eagle Totem:

Any week the MAC wins two against the Big Ten is a good week. The positive publicity gained far outweighs the negative of a bad loss or two. Northern Illinois continues their superior play, and the Huskies knocking off a Big Ten team is old news by now. Central Michigan made a statement, albeit against a woeful Purdue team, that the Chips will be a tough out this year within the conference.

2. Once again, it seems like the West is much stronger than the East. If this continues, do you think the MAC should re-align the divisions to even things out?

Let's Go Rockets:

We don’t see any need to realign the divisions because the West is stronger than the East. If you take a look around the country, you’ll see many conferences where there is disparity between the divisions but there are no plans to change the alignments — in the SEC, for example, the West is much stronger than the East but there are no plans to realign.

Hustle Belt:

No. I like the geographical alignment. Also, keeping rivalries would be tough. The three directionals have to stay together, and you'd like NIU to keep their rivalries with Toledo and Ball State. Toledo would want to keep a rivalry with Bowling Green, so then you'd have 4 power schools right now all together, and then you'd fill it with what? UMass and Miami?

Hell, even if you broke Toledo away from NIU, then you start to get long travel times to divisional teams. Propose you keep CMU, WMU, EMU, Toledo, and BG together because, hey, they pretty much form a pennant flag on the highways. Who is your 6th team? Do you pluck Buffalo for the Ontario Sandwich? You can't separate Miami and Ohio or Akron and Kent State, so those 4 are together. Then you have to put Ball State and NIU with those 6 and Buffalo is left over (forget UMass, because they're gone anyways).

So this new proposal would be:

Great Lakes: Bowling Green, Buffalo, CMU, EMU, Toledo, WMU
Trivals (TRY-vals, like tri-rivals), or Corn Belt: Akron, Ball State, Kent State, Miami, NIU, Ohio

Actually, this isn't bad. Screw it, MAKE IT HAP'N CAP'N!

Bull Run:

As "bad" as the disparity is in football is not nearly as bad as it has been in Basketball. Hell in hoopsland the MAC has looked like Al Frankin taking Candy from a baby for nearly a decade.

We did not realign for hoops over the MAC West 7 year drought of futility why football?

The MAC East has quite a few football championships over the past ten years. Miami, Akron, Buffalo, and Bowling Green all have a trophy where as in the West the only trophies go to NIU and CMU.

Don't get me wrong I would like to see a MAC North and South where UB is paired with the Michigan Schools, NIU, Bowling Green, and Toledo but I don't see a huge benefit to outside of scratching a "realignment itch".

Eagle Totem:

tend to think that realignment is an overreaction, the solution is for the programs in the East to get better. I do dislike the fact the Bowling Green and Toledo are in different divisions, I’m not sure what the best solution is to get them together, but if realignment were to take place then at least that problem can be fixed.

Current trends in conference alignment and set up completely disregard geography, so maybe you could shift Toledo to the East and have Buffalo join the West. Then EMU and Buffalo could have a yearly battle for the Ontario Sandwich. (Editor's Note: Should totally be the poutine bowl).

3. Brady Hoke, Tim Beckman and Darrel Hazell are all former MAC coaches who are struggling in the Big 10. What are the odds all 3 are gone by the end of the year and do you think any of them will coach in the MAC again?

Let's Go Rockets:

These three coaches are in three distinct situations:

  • Brady Hoke’s Michigan team was shut out for the first time since the 1980’s. Losing the last scheduled rivalry game with Notre Dame and having to play Ohio State and Michigan State on the road, is all pointing to the departure of Hoke after this season.
  • Tim Beckman just hasn’t been able to recruit at Illinois like the program has needed to in order to be competitive. We suspect he will be gone after this season.
  • Darrel Hazell will get some breathing room at Purdue before he sees his tenure come to an end… but how much time is not clear. Winning or, at least, being competitive in all their games will buy Hazell some time to recruit.

Hustle Belt

Hoke? Still depends on the season, but anything less than 9 wins and his job is likely open. Beckman is gone. I'm surprised he's still at Illinois after where he's taken that team. Hazell will get another year, but his seat is getting really toasty quick. If Purdue isn't at .500 next season, he's gone as well.

As far as coming back? I think Beckman and Hazell might get jobs as a coordinator and head coach respectively. Hoke will never come back, probably because his ego thinks he's too high for it now. But who knows, if Terry Bowden and Frank Solich can come to the MAC, anything's possible. (Editor's Note: If Bowden and Solich can coach in the MAC...so can either of those 3 guys).

Bull Run

I'd say Hoke is the only one in serious trouble. I think after three seasons where Michigan has struggled despite some talent he is in trouble. Then add getting set upon by the and he may already be a dead man walking. He needs to make some serious noise in the B10.

Look at the bright side, I suspect that Pete Lembo will be hired away from Ball state after the season and that creates a very nice fall back job for Hoke in Muncie. He can go after that MAC championship he never won.

Hazell and Beckman have more time. Neither Illinois nor Purdue has a recent culture of winning and those two coaches have had just one and two seasons respectively to turn those programs around.

Eagle Totem

Right now it looks like a 100% chance that all three will be gone, but if I had to pick one who could possibly survive it would be Beckman. Hoke has lost the fan base, and unless Michigan combines an eight or nine win season with an upset of either MSU or Ohio State he is finished. I don’t see that happening. Hazell took on a tough job, but that program is going nowhere. Hazell did a fine job at Kent State, but appears to be in over his head at Purdue.

As for whether they will coach in the MAC again, I doubt it, unless Hazell were to return to Kent State. Once MAC coaches “move up” to a bigger program, they rarely come back if the attempt fails. Once you get the stank of losing on you, ADs prefer to stay away, and go with the hot coordinator or loyal assistant.