Sunday, September 07, 2014

Win #1: Analysis

With the Falcons finally back on the winning side, let's take a look at how we did on each side of the ball.  All this with the caveat that it is tough to determine much from stats in a game where the talent is as one-sided as this one was.  You'd expect to win 48-7 and you did (which is good), but how much else translates to the rest of the schedule is hard to tell.

Starting with the offense.

Everyone wants to mostly know about James Knapke.  I thought he played a very solid game.  He completed 71% of his passes for 266 yards, with is 7.8 yards per play (a very good number) and 10.5 yards per catch, which is less than the MAC average last year.  I think that was the result of more short passes (Babers said that was what VMI was giving) and it didn't seem like we had a lot of yards after catch.  There was one long pass play that was just out of bounds.  Anyway, with the short passes, you need a high completion percentage, which he had.  Finally, he threw one was one of those plays where he and the receiver made different reads and I have no idea which one of them made the right read.

Coach said after the game that they left Knapke in longer because he needed the reps.  His backup, Cody Callaway, did get some late time.  That burns his redshirt.

Credit to the offensive line for dominating the line of scrimmage.  Knapke was not sacked and the running game was very effective.  Note, however, for future reference that Knapke hasn't been tested yet against pressure.

Speaking of the running game, BG had a great game on the ground.  Greene has 129 yards on 7.2 yards per carry and 2 scores,  Coppet had 73 yards on 9.1 yards per carry and 1 TD and Knapke had a 17 yard run into open space that ability could also be very valuable.  Essentially, BG ran the ball at will against VMI.

The RBs are very good.  Coaches main concern is their long-term health, since they are both small and were both injured last year, too.  I think you can expect to continue to see a two-man rotation.

From the receivers, Roger Lewis had an outstanding game.  He had 6 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown and a TD, his first.  He was a clear deep threat, made some catches in traffic and seems to be a productive receiver on day 1. Heath Jackson also had 6 catches for 59 was for 30 so the other five were for 29.  Everybody else had a pretty quiet game.  Moore had 3 grabs...was set up for one screen that could have been big but the ball was knocked down.  Dieter was limited to 2 catches.

For the defense...

The overall numbers are what you would expect.  BG allowed only 7 points.  However, they game up 24 first downs and VMI had 3 blank red zone possessions to go with 24 first downs.  It was not a shut down offensive performance.  VMI had no success running the ball.  Their main backs averaged 3.3 and 3.6 yards per carry.

Passing was a different story.  VMI threw for 321 yards against BG.  For perspective, last year, after the Indiana game, the most passing yards BG allowed in a game was 232.  That fact is mitigated a little bit by the fact they took 55 passes to get there, which left them at 5.8 yards per attempt, which is below average.  Their yards per completion, however, was 10.7 and higher than BG's.  They completed only 55% of their passes.

I felt like the coverage was still lacking, just by observation.  Coach said after the game that they were pulling guys who didn't challenge receivers.  We do seem to be in soft coverage a lot and VMI would see that and check into a high percentage hitch route for 8 yards.  When we defend those plays successfully, you have to hit the guy as soon as he gets the ball, otherwise you are competing in space, and we still seem too often (though it was better) to be slow to get there.  Each of their top 4 WRs had a catch over 20 yards.

This is made worse by serious depth issues at CB.  Will Watson was already out and then Adjei-Barimah was injured and on crutches and for a while true FR. Nick Johnson was banged up, too.  BG brought in Clint Stephens, another true FR who was picked on a little at first but then seemed to pick up the pace a little bit and had a nice break up.  So, you have depth issues at CB and then it is made worse by injuries.

I guess this remains probably the largest concern on our team.

We did get more pressure on the QB than the WKU game--which you would expect--with 2 sacks and 5 hurries.

The other major worry was the injury to DJ Lynch, a top-flight LB.  I'm no Dr.--but it certainly looked pretty serious.  Paul Senn moved over to play there and had a pretty big day with 13 tackles, 2 for loss and a forced fumble and a recovery.  He's a capable player, saw time last year, is a JUCO transfer, but I think the Falcons will miss Lynch if he is out for an extended period of time.

One last note on the defense...they did force 2 turnovers, the fumble above and a Ryland Ward INT.

Special teams....

It was sort of feast or famine here.  BG had 2 special teams TDs, but also two blocked kicks and a roughing the kicker penalty.

Ryan Burbrink had the TD, which was a great run.  He is very dangerous on that play.  It started with him fighting Ronnie Moore for the ball, but from there he found space and got to the end zone.  Coach noted that it was good to see him do that after he tripped over his feet in a similar situation against WKU.

The other TD was on a blocked punt.  They struggled with the snap to the punter all day, and we usually were setting up a return.  We called the block and the snap was bad and BG just swallowed up the VMI punter and blocked the ball.  About five Falcons could have scored, but Herve Coby got the honors and carried it in.

The negatives...a blocked XP that looked to be problems on the hold and then a blocked FG when BG didn't block the flank effectively...and a roughing the kicker penalty with BG holding a huge lead and our guy being nowhere near blocking the ball.

Davidson's net was 38 yards for punting, which is a little bit down from his first game.

One last note...I'd like to know the last team to get 7 points and have 39 minutes of possession, which is what VMI did.  BG's longest possession of the game was 3:29.

Overall, this team is far from out of the woods.  As noted, the MAC East is looking forgiving, but with the defensive issues compounded by injury and the new QB, the season remains very much an open question.

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