Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween to the Falcon Nation

Men's Basketball Preview

This preview is a testament to how quickly things can change in college basketball.  Last year, Chris Jans appeared to be a miracle worker, transforming a relatively moribund program almost instantly into a program that came within a few seconds of getting a top-two bye, even while playing without Richaun Holmes.

This year was always going to be tougher.  It reminds me a little bit of Clawson's first year, to be followed by Clawson's second year.  Orr still had some good holdover players for the first year, but the classes following that come more from the era when it was clear Orr wasn't going to stay and recruiting suffered.  Even if Jans stayed, taking Holmes, Clarke and Henderson off that team was going to cause problems inside and out.

Then, of course, we know what happened next.  Chris Jans did what he did and he was gone.  At one point, the internet said all of our scholarship players were leaving.  That didn't end up happening, but Delvin Dickerson and Jovan Austin did leave, and while neither one of them is a great player, we certainly could have used them.

Chris Kingston made a move that was popular with the fan base by bringing in one of BG's fan favorites, former All-MAC PG Michael Huger.  Huger is a seasoned basketball guy who played a dozen years professionally overseas and then learned to coach under Jim Larranaga.  He brought Anthony Stacey back as an assistant.  It made people feel good.

And it could turn out to be great.  I think Huger has infectious enthusiasm, he's approachable and I think he has a more positive coaching style which is more in line with the way today's players want to learn.  He also has had the kind of apprenticeship you would look for.

What he doesn't have is head coaching experience.  And that's a trade-off.  Jans had coached a lot as a head coach, though not at D1.  Louis Orr had been a head coach.  Rarely does a guy come with the whole package.  I'm excited about him because I believe he loves our University, he wants to get the program back involved with the community and bring the Anderson roar to the Stroh.  It has been missing for a long time.  In fact, we've never seen it at the Stroh, really.  If that can be combined with a winning team, men's basketball will be back at BG.

Everything points to this year being a rough road on that journey.  May not happen that way, but that's the only logical thing to think.

BG returns only six scholarship players:  Denny, Joseph, Parker, Gomez, Tisdale and Mayleben.

Not to disparage anyone...but that's not much to start with.  Zack Denny is a very solid two-way player who continues to battle injury issues with his legs (noting especially his fall off last year in this context) and Pep Joseph showed himself to be a very solid PG.  Spencer Parker has been good in spots but never a consistent force...perhaps he can develop that now.

Anyway...after that you have Josh Gomez, who did start to play better late in the year but has never been a big minute contributor...and then JD Tisdale and Garret Mayleben, who have yet to develop into strong players.

Those are the knowns.

So, what are the unknowns to watch?  Because if expectations are going to be exceeded, this is where it will need to come from.

The most interesting one is Rasheed Worrell.  He was with BG last year but redshirted.  He 6'8" and from Alabama, had other D1 offers and from what I hear is highly skilled but raw.  Since BG's inside game currently consists of Parker, Gomez and Mayleben, this is where an emerging player could make a really big difference.

The other inside newcomer is Damejeo Wiggins from Springfield HS.  He was a late signee and would (by my guess) be more of a project than an immediate contributor.

There are four back court newcomers.

At the point is one of two JUCO players, Ismail Ali from Cali.  Coach Huger told the Blue Ribbon Yearbook that is a distributor, which is consistent with his JUCO stats, which had him at 9 PPG but 6 assists.

The other newcomer at PG is Malik Hluchoweckyj, the only Jans commit who stayed with the program.  He is a great athlete, good football player who was recruited to Big 10 and Big 12 schools.  He had huge numbers in HS in Nebraska, was all-state in basketball as well.  He's playing for a coach who was a PG and I like this guy's odds to contribute in the MAC, though it might not be in the first year.

One weakness for BG has been wing players who have some length.  The last two newcomers have a chance to help that.

The first is Wesley Alcegaire, the other JUCO player.  He's from Miami...6'6" and as an older player, will be more likely to make a strong contribution.  He went to Liberty out of HS, red-shirted and then played one unspectacular year.  He transferred to Daytona State in Florida where he had a very solid sophomore year.  He scored 17 a game, shot 37% from beyond the arc and shot 46% overall, which is incredibly good for a shooting guard.  Obviously, he can be 2 or 3 for BG.  You never know with JUCO players, but his apparent skill set is certainly something BG can use.

The other is Antwon Lillard of Cleveland Central Catholic.  If goes well, my opinion is that he has the highest upside of any player BG as coming in.  He was Divison II All-state in HS, played on a highly successful team and averaged 22 ppg/6 rpg as a senior.  That kind of production along with his length (6'5") would show him as being the kind of guy BG just has not had in recent years.  Obviously, he's a 2 or 3 in the MAC, but a mismatch at 2 for sure.  As always, time will tell and it may take some patience.

BG was picked last in the East.  That's reasonable based on what is known.  There are unknowns that could develop and could at a minimum be interesting to watch for.  To me, the guys you want to watch are the freshman.  The JUCOs are likely to be gone before the team is competing at a championship level.  The question is what BG gets out of Worrell, Hluchoweckyj, Lillard and Willard over the longer term...when the team rebuilds the front court...and whether Huger is ready to be a head coach.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

MAC Men's Basketball Pre-Season Poll is in

And the news is not promising for the Falcons, who were picked to finish last in the East.

Look, this is not a surprise.  In fact, we were not setting up for a very good year even if there hadn't been a coaching change.  The turmoil, loss of two additional players, shifts in recruited players and then the introduction of a new coach who has never been a head coach just made the problem worse.

Doesn't mean this is what will happen, but I think it is a reasonable pick based on what we know now.  BG lost 66% of its scoring from last year and 58% of its rebounds.  The Falcons return only six scholarship players, two of which are Garret Mayleben and JD Tisdale.

Now, there are 2 transfers, 3 true freshmen and 1 redshirt freshman being added to the mix, which is tough to predict.

Again, who knows.  But the smart money would be on last place.  For Falcon fans, I think this season is watching to see how Coach Huger develops the team, how the team improves over the year, and figuring out if the program is finally making progress toward competing for a MAC title.

2015-16 MAC East Division Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes)
1. Akron – 132 points (17)
2. Kent State – 116 (5)
3. Ohio — 69
4. Buffalo – 64 (1)
5. Miami — 60
6. Bowling Green — 42

2015-16 MAC West Division Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes)
1. Central Michigan — 138 points (23)
2. Toledo — 110
3. Western Michigan — 94
4. Eastern Michigan — 71
5. Northern Illinois — 37
6. Ball State — 33

Tournament Champion: Central Michigan (15), Akron (6), Buffalo (1), Kent State (1)

MAC East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Pat Forsythe, Sr., C, Akron
Lamonte Bearden, So., G, Buffalo
Jimmy Hall, R-Jr., F, Kent State
Eric Washington, Sr., G, Miami
Antonio Campbell, Jr., F, Ohio

MAC West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Chris Fowler, Sr., G, Central Michigan
John Simons, Sr., F, Central Michigan
Raven Lee, R-Jr., G, Eastern Michigan
Nathan Boothe, Sr., C, Toledo
Connar Tava, Sr., F, Western Michigan

What does the OU game mean?

BG just has one game left in the MAC East, and it is pretty important.  Essentially, with a win it would be very hard for BG to lose the MAC East.

Because BG would have swept every team in the East with the win, we'd win pretty much any tiebreaker.  And two-way or multi-way tie would resolve to BG.

With a win, BG would be 5-0 and guaranteed no worse than 5-3.

With a win over OU and one other win, BG would clinch the East.

Even with just the OU win, OU, UMass and Miami would be out. Only Kent, Buffalo and Akron would have a chance to finish with a better record at 6-2 but they would have to win out, which will be difficult.  First, they play each other--each of those three teams plays the other two.  Somebody has to lose.  Then, each of them has a tough cross-over game...either NIU or CMU.

This isn't what I want to have happen.  I want us to win out and finish 10-2.  I don't want to win the East with 3 losses again.  The only thing worse would be not to win it at all.

Just basic understanding.  If BG wins against OU, Ford Field becomes highly probable.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Johnson for Heisman...

So I have to admit, I have been a little lukewarm on the whole Heisman thing for Matt Johnson.  Not that he isn't worthy, but we've been through this before...MAC team launches big Heisman "campaign", puts billboards up, sends a bunch of dimensional mail pieces out to voters and the guy finishes 8th.  And I'm not saying they aren't worthy of better, just that the people who make this decision don't respect us and never will, and it isn't worth getting too excited about.  Screw them.

The graphic you see above did give me a chance to take a second look at that issue.  This is impressive.  Johnson is not just putting up huge numbers but crazy, historic numbers, based on Heisman QBs.  I initially thought people would discount numbers and give credit to the "system," but you can see there are other things in play because there are system QBs on there.

You can't even talk about strength of schedule too much.  Those numbers have been generated without benefit of an FCS stats-tallying game, and include 3 P5 teams and Memphis, who are undefeated.  Now, Purdue and Maryland are not good, but they are P5 teams and both games were on the road and Johnson set school records in one of them.

So, I guess I have changed my view.  He deserves to be in this conversation.  Do I think he will win?  No.  Do I think he deserves to be on the stage if we continue at this pace--and especially if a second conference title is earned?  Yes.  Yes, I do.

If he doesn't--and that's most likely--it's because the big school powers don't respect what we do.  I don't think they ever will (to wit, Herbstreit calling NIU in the Orange Bowl a "joke") and I don't spend too much time being outraged about it.  If performance mattered, he'd be included.  And performance is all he can control.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Falcon Football Verbal--Terrance Landers

BG has a football verbal, amidst all the excitement of the season, and this one looks to be a really good one.  His name is Terrance Landers and he is a 6'4" WR from Dayton Dunbar.  He is a 3-star recruit on Rivals, making him (by that measure) BG's highest-ranked commit this year...and obviously at a position where we can always use help, at least as long as we are using this scheme.  Landers had offers from Purdue (whose fans seemed to assume they had him), Pitt, Iowa, as well as Kent, Miami and Ohio in the MAC.  (These are reported offers, my guess is that this young man had even more options).

Landers was a two-sport say the least.  In fact, he did not play HS football until he was junior, and immediately began to get the attention of college scouts.

He was special mention all-state as a junior and Division IV all-district.

Welcome to the Falcons, Terrance.


The Dayton Daily News did a story on Landers that builds out his case quite a bit.

Two salient quotes:

MSU, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Iowa and Purdue reportedly made offers to Landers, among others. A chance to play as a freshman at BG was the difference-maker.

Landers has missed two games this season but still leads the Wolverines with 30 catches for 588 yards (19.6 average) and seven touchdowns...He was the City League offensive MVP, first team All-Area and honorable mention All-Ohio as a junior in football.

Johnson and Davidson honored by MAC

Well...Matt Johnson has done it again.  MAC East Offensive Player of the Week. Very little doubt here, but you account for 6 TDs, that makes a pretty good statement.  Hopefully Falcon fans will appreciate this guy, he's special.

Joseph Davidson was MAC East Special Teams player of the week, which was also deserved.  Davidson is a really good player who has been very productive.  He also got like three years of game experience last year.  He has a very long leg and is pretty consistent, he rarely shanks one.  Certainly among the best at his position in the MAC.

Below are the write ups from the MAC:

Offensive Player of the Week: Bowling Green QB Matt Johnson
Bowling Green senior quarterback Matt Johnson (Harrisburg, Pa.) passed for 430 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-0 win at Kent State on Saturday – Bowling Green's fifth consecutive victory. The Falcons, now 4-0 in MAC play, are off to their best league start since the 2003 season. For Johnson, it was his sixth 400-yard game of the season in just eight weeks, and his third consecutive game in which he has passed for five touchdowns. Johnson also added 45 yards rushing and another touchdown, accounting for six total touchdowns for the second time this season. Johnson now leads the nation with 3,321 passing yards this season and has passed for 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His six 400-yard games mark the second-most for a quarterback through their first eight games of a season since the 2000 campaign. Johnson has passed for 300 yards in all eight games this season.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Bowling Green P Joseph Davidson
Bowling Green sophomore punter Joseph Davidson (Findlay, Ohio) flipped the field against Kent State, aiding the Falcons in a dominating 48-0 shutout on Saturday. Davidson punted four times for a 52.5 yards per punt average, and did not allow any Kent State returns. All four of Davidson's punts traveled over 42 yards, while his first punt of the day went 71 yards and was downed at the Kent State one-yard line.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Past and Future Opponent Land

Tennessee  (3-4) Threw a scare into Alabama, lost.
Maryland (2-5) Lost by 1 to Penn State
Memphis (7-0) Beat Tulsa
Purdue (1-6) Idle
Buffalo (3-4) Beat floundering Bobcats 41-17
UMass (1-6) Lost to UT after leading at half
Akron (3-4) Idle
Ohio (5-3) Lost 41-17 to Buffalo. "Floundering, Solich says"
WMU (4-3) Beat Miami 35-13
UT:  (7-0) Rallied to beat UMass
Ball State (2-6) Lost to CMU


All FBS: 12-30
P5: 4-20
Non P5-FBS: 8-10
FCS: 9-0

West leads East, 6-1

Sweet Victory #6: The Offense

The Falcon offense remained consistent and effective on Saturday.  There's no other way to put it, just to say that scoring 48 points in 3 quarters is now considered commonplace.

Coming into the game, our preview had identified that Kent had a very good defense and a very good rush defense.  They were the lead defense in the MAC in yards per play allowed and they were also tied for first in lowest yards per rush.

That showed up.  BG did struggle to run against the Flashes.  To their credit, they stayed committed to the run, but it was tough going.  Travis Greene had 53 yards on 18 carries and Coppet had 34 on 10 carries.  BG did have success on zone reads with Matt Johnson, who had 58 yards on 9 non-sack runs and the team's only rushing TD, which followed the critical running into the kicker penalty early in the game.

BG's longest run was 11 yards.  One other thing. I give BG credit for staying committed to the run.  Even if you aren't making big yards, with players like Greene and Coppet they still have to focus on it and it makes us harder to defend overall.

Kent also came into the game with the best pass efficiency defense, allowing below 50% completions and forcing a ton of turnovers.

And here, strength on strength, the BG passing attack was not slowed down by Kent.  Yes, Johnson was 27 of 40, which is below his normal completion percentage, but overall, BG had 449 yards passing, which is 10 yards per attempt and 15.5 yards per completion, both of which are highly productive and efficient results.

BG also had zero turnovers.  The Falcons finished with 6.6 yards per play.

BG just has ridiculous talent at WR.  Roger Lewis, quiet in the first half, made 2 SportsCenter quality plays in the second half.  The first one was when he stole an interception away from a Kent defender, which was an incredible play that was only eclipsed by a one-handed Beckham grab in the back of an endzone for a TD.  This play was included on highlight packages from ESPN.  (Both grabs can be seen here.)

He wasn't the only one.  Ryan Burbrink had 8 for 89, a TD and at least a couple key first downs.  Moore was 7 for 151 and 2 TDs, including a explosive catch on a screen pass where he just blasted through the center of the field, untouched and jogging into the end zone.  In all, 8 Falcons caught passes.

BG made 31 first downs on 91 plays.  That means a first down was earned on 34% of the plays.  BG also had an unusual 23 3rd down plays, converting 13 of them.  BG was also 2 for 2 on 4th down.

So this was strength against strength and BG won it going away.  The question is this.  Is there any defense in the MAC that can stop BG?

Sweet Victory #6: The Defense

So every week the first part of the game I analyze is the offense.

This week, the defense.

Maligned as they have been, and undermanned as they are, they did something I don't think anyone outside their locker room (or maybe inside) thought they were going to do, which was to pitch a shut out in a MAC game.

My goal for the defense was literally to hold teams to around 30.  I didn't expect shutouts.  This defense is better than last year's defense with significantly less talent, which is a statement about how mismanaged the defense was last year and how well coached they are this year.

Yes, I can hear the naysayers.  No doubt, the preview indicated that this is a young Kent team without a strong offense.  Also, their QB is a FR starting his second game.  All that's true.  Even given all of that I would not have anticipated a shutout.

The numbers are just great.

10 first downs allowed.
166 yards of total offense.
3.3 yards per play.
2 interceptions
Of the 51 plays, only 11 inside BG territory.
Kent never entered the red zone.
Kent was 1 of 11 on 3rd down.  Check that out.
Allowing for sacks, Kent had only 74 yards rushing on 24 attempts.
Deducting sack yardage leaves Kent with 93 passing yards for the game.

It was no match.

BG's strategy was to stop the run first, which the Falcons have been relatively successful at this year.  With a FR QB, that makes total sense.  And BG was effective.  The Kent RBs were never a factor in the game at all.  Durham, who doesn't look like the same guy from a couple years ago, had only 5 carries for 7 yards.  In fact, the RBs had only 12 carries and that includes a few in garbage time.  Bollas, the QB, had the most carries with 12.  Two of those were sacks, and then he lost 11 yards on additional plays as well.  BG shut the Kent run game down, forcing Bollas to the air (along with the score).

And that was a struggle.  They were 12 of 25 with 2 picks and 111 gross yards.

BG played most of the game without Dernard Turner, who was ejected for targetting, BG's 3rd of the year.  Jamari Bozeman, a true FR stepped in and led BG with 8 tackles and also broke a pass up.  He's going to be a good player.

Trent Greene had 7 tackles and was robbed of an INT, while Valdez had 6 tackles.  Remember, Kent only ran 51 plays.  Sanford and Colvin had the sacks and Mack and Hardy had the interceptions.

Beyond the two sacks, BG had 5 other TFL, including Greene, Valdez, Mack, Baird and Locke.

BG has one more game left against the MAC East and OU is struggling big time on offense.  I think the defense has improved and is considerably better than we expected it to be and I look forward to seeing them match up against WMU and UT.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sweet Victory #6; The Recap.

BG continued what has turned into a very hot season on Saturday with a never-in-doubt crushing of Kent State by the score of 48-0.

I said last week that I didn't expect the defense to allow a MAC team to score 10 and I certainly didn't expect them to pitch a shutout.  Flawed though the Flashes might be on offense, it was still a shutout by a team that is off to the best start in years for a Falcon team.

At 6-2, it is BG's best start since 2004.
At 4-0 in the MAC, it is BG's best start since 2003 (Both Brandon teams).
It is BG's 5th straight win...and 16th straight within the MAC East.
It is the first shutout since the OU game late in the Championship season.

It was simply never close.  Kent won the toss and deferred and did a nice job on defense, forcing BG into a long, 5 minute+ drive.  BG completed a 3rd and 11 and 4th and 1 on the drive, which was highlighted by a 35-yard pass to Ronnie Moore.  Even so, BG had stalled out and was kicking a FG on 4th and 4 from the 7.  Tate missed the FG, but Kent ran into him, giving BG a 4th and 1.  This time, BG went for it and Matt Johnson scored on the next play to make it 7-0.

That was just a huge penalty.  Not saying Kent wins, but with a missed FG and maybe some momentum, the game might have unfolded differently.

Instead, BG kicked off and forced Kent into a 3 and out.  BG came back down the field and scored 9 plays later, getting a PI call on 4th and 1 and eventually seeing Johnson hit Ronnie Moore for a 24-yard score that put BG up 14-0.

At this point, the game's rhythm was set.  The BG defense would continue to win its battles with the Kent offense while the BG defense would, in Coach's words, "trudge" up "chugged along" and down the field and score.

To wit, Kent went 3 and out and BG scored 10 plays later on an 85-yard drive that took less than 3 minutes.  Up 21-0, BG got an interception next which converted to a FG and then a one first down stop followed by another touchdown drive.  At 31-0, the game was over at halftime.

Some stuff went down in the second half.  Roger Lewis made two freak plays on receptions, including stealing a ball right out of the hands of a defensive back and then making a one-handed Odell Beckham style grab, both for scores.  In total, BG won the second half 17-0.

Kent is a young team with a FR QB making his second start, and that showed.  We'll look at the defense and offense tomorrow, but BG had 48 points and Kent had 10 first downs.

The most interesting thing was BG's ability to score.  Kent has a very good defense and BG did have trouble getting the running game going against them.  But, BG was still able to throw the ball all over the place and finished with 6.6 yards per play against the team leading the MAC in that stat.  The ultimate answer remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see if any MAC defense can shut the Falcons down.

For now, enjoy.  BG is playing well and beating teams they should beat easily.  November is going to be a lot tougher--or it should be--and the Rockets loom out there as well, very likely twice.

Friday, October 23, 2015

25 Flashy Questions

Today we focus on people
who attended Kent State
but did not graduate.
We start with Michael Keaton.
What is their body of work?

How quick things can change.  In 2012, the Flashes were 11-3 and in the conversation to go to a BCS Bowl.  Darrell Hazel left and they went 6-17 for the next two seasons.  This year, they are 3-4 but could be much better.  Their wins are not great--Delaware State, Miami and UMass (by 5), but they took Marshall to double OT and played Minnesota to within a FG.  A couple bounces and they could easily be the surprise team of the MAC.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

22, which is a very young team.

Who are their statistical leaders?

Demetrius Monday is #3 in the nation in interceptions.
Terrance Waugh is #8 in the nation in sacks.
Nate Holley is #20 in tackles.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are +5 which is high for a team that's 3-4.  Their defense has forced 16 turnovers, so BG has to do its normal good job of protecting the ball.


 How is their QB play?

Kent went to a new QB last week against UMass and he had a pretty good game.  He is George Bollas, who was 20 of 25, but with only 135 yards passing.  He also ran 15 for 79 yards and 1 pick.  With a new QB, he's still a question mark, but he is a dual-threat QB.
David Sedaris.
No graduate.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are 4th in the MAC in scoring defense at 24.7.  However, they are far and away the best team in terms of yards per play at 4.2, which is very good. The next team is at 4.8 yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

In terms of overall yards, they are #7.  However, they have the second most run attempts in the MAC.  On a yards per carry basis,

they are 10th in the MAC.  Both of their lead backs are 3.6 yards per carry or below.

Do they pass the ball?

They are last in the MAC in passing yards per game and #12 in passing efficiency.  They have completed only 51.5% of their passes, and almost exactly 10 yards per completion, which is low.  Whether George Bollas makes a significant change remains to be seen.  It appears Bollas had a very safe pass game plan last week.

How was their run/pass balance?

They have run on over 60% of their plays, which is very high.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

No.  No they cannot.  They only convert 25%, last in the MAC.

Do they score in the red zone?

They have only 17 red zone trips in 7 games.  Those 17 trips have yielded only 9 TDs and 4 FGS, which is 4.4 points per trip, which is not good.
Yes! Don King!

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have done well, with only 5 sacks allowed, which is good even with their low number of overall attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They have struggled with the scoring.  They are 12th in the MAC in offense and last in yards per play at 4.3 yards per play.  The next lowest team is just 4.9 yards per play.

Do they defend the run effectively?

Yes, they do.  They are 2nd in the MAC in rushing yards per game and tied for first at allowing 3.0 yards per carry.

Chrissy Hynde.
Can they be passed on?

It is tough.  They are #1 in the MAC in pass efficiency defense.  They have allowed only 48% completions with 11 picks.  They do have 11.7 yards per completion against, which is not good.  Even so, this will be a very tough challenge for the BG offense.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

Yes, they are 1st in the MAC with just less than 30%, which is very good.

Do they defend in the red zone?

This is the one chink in their armor.  They allow 5.4 points per trip, which is a lot.  That's 15 TDs in 20 trips.

Do they pressure the QB?

Huge worry point here.  They lead the MAC with 21 sacks, with the next team only having 17.  That's about 10% of passing attempts, which is a lot.

Special Teams:


They are 8th in net punting.  Melchiore is a good punter.  He gets good yardage, but they have given up the most return yards in the MAC.  He has 17 inside the 20 and only 2 sacks.

Punt Return?

They have 24 returns, which is the most in the MAC, but less than 100 yards in return yardage.  They have one block.
This guy was in Devo.

He's pretty good.  He is 6 of 8 overall and 5 out of 6 inside 40.  He has been blocked once.


Teams start on the 30 which is not good.  They have 27 kickoffs and only 5 touchbacks.  They have allowed 1 TD.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 26, with no TDs.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Not sure what to say here.  I'm not sure there are any huge intangibles.  Kent is better than they look on their record, but they are a team BG should beat and needs to beat, heading into a bye week and the Ohio U. game.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Special Teams Research: Akron

BG had its best game of the season in all three phases against Akron, and that includes special teams, which have struggled much.  Scottie Miller came up with a blocked punt and a 77-yard ko return (immediately before which I was screaming at him to down it) and BG picked up a turnover on a sky kick by Nate Fields.  It was a good game where the special teams contributed to BG's chances to win, particularly early in the game.

BG finished +6 for the game.  AK had -5.

BG Positive (+13)

BG KO TB (+1)
BG Block punt (+3)
BG KO TB (+1)
BG recovers fumbled KO (+3)
BG with KOR to AK 23 (+2)
BG KOR to 35 (+1)
BG KO TB (+1)
AK KOR to 17 (+1)

BG Negative (-7)

BG KOR to 5 (-1)
BG miss 32 yd FG (-1)
BG PR to 11 with penalty (-1)
BG PR to 9 with penalty (-1)
AK KOR to AK 46 (-1)
AK KOR to AK 35 (-1)
AK KOR to AK 35 (-1)

Akron Positive (+7)

AK punt to BG 19 (+1)
BG KOR to 5 (+1)
AK 46 yd FG (+1)
AK 61 yard net punt before penalty (+1)
AK KOR to 46 (+1)
AK KOR to AK 35 (+1)
AK KOR to AK 35 (+1)

Akron Negative (-12)

AK KOR to 17 (-1)
AK Blocked punt (-3)
AK Fumbled KOR (-3)
BG KOR to 23 (-2)
AK KOR to 14 with penalty (-1)
BG KOR to 35 (-1)
AK 23 yard net punt (-1)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Matt Johnson...East Offensive Player of the Week Again

For the fifth time in the past seven weeks, Matt Johnson is the MAC East Offensive agin.  He had another crazy day and, as noted below, had 5 RDs and 5 incompletions.  Guy is having a great year, and I understand that Coach Babers said in his presser today that it is especially remarkable because it is his first year in the offense.  They are truly amazing.

I thought Scottie Miller would win for special teams, but Kent's (excellent) punter made a bunch of good punts to win the award.

Congrats Matt.

Bowling Green senior quarterback Matt Johnson (Harrisburg, Pa.) led the Falcons to a 59-10 win over Akron on Saturday, the Falcons largest margin of victory ever in the series with the Zips. Johnson completed 25-of-30 passes for 357 yards and five touchdowns. Johnson, who leads the country with 2,891 passing yards, had as many touchdown passes as he did incompletions. His five touchdown performance marked the third time this season Johnson has passed for at least five touchdowns. That feat had been accomplished just six times prior to the 2015 season in school history, which encompasses 95 seasons.

Holmes with Monster Dunk

I suspect you have already seen this, but if you haven' should.  Richaun Holmes "posterizes" a Brooklyn Net.  Also, if you have seen it, why not watch it again!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Past and Future Opponent Land

Tennessee  (3-3) Idle
Maryland (2-4) Idle
Memphis (6-0) Big win @Ole Mis, 37-24. Tigers are for real.
Purdue (1-6) Lost to Wisconsin
Buffalo (2-4) Soundly beatn by CMU
UMass (1-5) Lost 15-10 to Kent
Kent (3-4) Beat UMass 15-10
Ohio (5-2) Lost 49-14 to WMU in Athens
WMU (3-3) Won 49-14 in Athens
UT:  (6-0) Smoked EMU
Ball State (2-5) Lost 31-19 to Georgia State in Muncie


All FBS: 12-30
P5: 4-20
Non P5-FBS: 8-10
FCS: 9-0

West leads East, 4-1

Sweet Victory #5: The Defense

So, quick recap, the defense was the biggest question mark heading into the season.  I think we pictured scoring 59 against teams, but I'm not sure how often we thought we were going to allow 10 in a MAC game.

Up until now, the defense has been a bend but don't break.  They have given up tons of yards but toughened up in the red zone kept the point totals manageable.  Against Akron, there was less bending.

Which is not to say that Akron is a great offensive team, because the preview I did showed them to be an average MAC offense.  Even so, I don't think a lot of people would have pictured us having that kind of success against even an average MAC offense.

I believe that the story that is most missed right now is the change that Coach Babers made at defensive coordinator.  BG had a lot of talent on defense last year and did not get the job done.  With the defense we had, we should have been able to weather losing our QB.  Clearly, this was recognized and Babers brought Brian Ward in, a proven DC at the FCS level.

Things are better.  The defense is young and inexperienced, especially at corner.  But they tackle well, seem to be mostly in position when plays are needed and they are forcing turnovers as well.  I'm not saying they are the best defense is the MAC but they might be the most overachieving.

Akron had only 16 first downs for the game.  They ran 72 plays--almost as many as BG did--and yet they gained only 271 yards, which was 3.8 per play, which is tough to win with.

The biggest issue was passing.  Akron had a lower percentage, high yardage attack, but the BG defense was able to force the Zips into being a low percentage, low yardage attack.  Woodson was 13 of 28 for only 91 yards, which is just a really long day, plus 2 picks (one on a hail mary).  BG only got one sack, but got excellent pressure on Woodson which I think kept him off his rhythm.  He was very inaccurate.

Woodson is also a dual-threat QB, but he was only 12 of 63 on non-sack carries with a long of 13, so BG kept that in check as well.  BG continued to be stout against the run, as Conor Hundley had 16 carries for 69 yards, which is a good but not dominant overall 4.3 yards per carry.  His long was 16 yards, which is actually a pretty important stat.

Jerome Lane, who came in averaging 28 yards per receptions, averaged 11.

They were 6 of 18 on 3rd down and made it into the red zone only one time in the game (read that again).

Terrance Bush had a big game, with 8 tackles, 1 sack and 2 hurries.  Eilar Hardy led the team with 9 tackles.  Alfonso Mack and Jamari Bozeman both had INTs and fumbles were recovered by Trevor Roop and David Koniwalski.

Of the six names in that pararaph, four came to BG as walk-ons.

I felt Clint Stephens had a good game, though without any stats.  He made a couple big tackles and had great coverage on a couple of deep throws.

So a very nice day for the Falcon defense.  I think they continue to get better and I hope they continue to make progress.  Things seem to be coming together.

Sweet Victory #5: The Offense

The offense did not put up the eye-popping numbers you would expect, simply because they had short fields a few times which just leads to fewer yards, though a score nonetheless.  The number 59 under our name on the scoreboard is plenty.

BG had 27 first downs, which is considerably lower than normal.  There were 532 yards of total offense on 75 plays, which is 7.1 yards per play, which is excellent.  BG had no turnovers, was 6 of 13 on third down and 2 of 2 on 4th down.  BG had 7 touchdowns and 1 field goal in 9 red zone trips, which is almost 6 points per trip and represents ruthless efficiency in short territory, a theoretical weakness of our attack.

There's no way to slice it too thinly.  BG's offense dominated one of the MAC's top defenses.  It will be interesting to see what, if anything slows them down--gale force winds, Toledo...who knows.

Matt Johnson had a simply great game.  He is a special player.  Every game he makes a few throws that just make you say, WOW, that was an incredible throw.  There was the pass to Burbrink in the end zone as well as a ball he dropped between two defenders on the sideline.  His accuracy on the long ball is really good.  He's an incredible talent.  He still has thrown only 3 picks this year--even with all the passing.

Yesterday, he was 25 out of 30, which is 83%.  That was for 357 and 5 TDs over 0 picks.  To measure efficiency, that's 14.3 yards per completion, which is amazing, especially with combined with the completion percentage.  In fact, even when you deduct sacks, BG made almost exactly 10 yards every time they dropped back to pass.

The 25 completions were spread around to 9 different receivers.  Roger Lewis was 6 for 118 and 2 scores.  Dieter caught 6 and Burbrink and Moore had 4 each.  Moore's day included an absolute circus grab on the sideline for a first down.

On the running side, BG as a team didn't have a great game, with 2.9 yards per carry.  Part of that was sacks and part of that was some garbage time running and part of it was Wilson--who's only supposed to get 1 or 2 yards.

The lead backs--Greene and Coppet--both had good games in limited roles.  Greene had 64 on 13 carries (which is 4.9 per carry) and Coppet had 52 yards on 10 carries for 5.2 yards, both very productive numbers.  Akron did a nice job limiting Johnson from running.  He had just 11 yards gained in 3 non-sack attempts and several times seemed to ready to run only to have a hole close up.  At least once he used that occasion to get the ball to a receiver suddenly open.

The line had a tough assignment, but certainly held their own.  Johnson was sacked 3 times, but generally seemed to have plenty of time to throw.  And the Johnson and Coppet yards are also a reflection of o-line productivity.

Anyway, another huge day for the offense, which is looking like it might be imposisble to stop.  Time will tell.  Everyone in the MAC is going to be trying to figure out how.

Sweet Victory #5: The Recap

Coach Babers said after the game when you play the way we play and you get all three phases going at the same time,  it is a "volatile" combination.

On the surface, it sounds kind of obvious.  Score 59 points, hold the other team to 10 and get 2 meaningful turnovers and make 3 big special teams plays, yeah you are going to be very difficult to beat.  That's volatile.

There's something more to it though, based on what we saw.  Akron has one of the better defenses in the MAC and the BG offense just demolished them.  With that kind of point total getting racked up, Akron can't run anymore, which makes them one-dimensional and easier to defend and then when you are getting a blocked punt, a recovered kickoff and a huge kickoff return, that just makes the mountain even higher.

Akron was expected to challenge for the East title, they only lost to OU by 2 and BG completely wasted them Saturday.  It was incredible and it needs to be recognized.

BG won the toss and deferred.  Akron made one first down and went back to punt.  BG established the tone of the game right then when true freshman Antonio Sotolongo (correction h/t to @4thlineplugger) got into the backfield and blocked the punt.  BG took over with the good field position.

A minute and a half later, BG had scored and led 7-0.  After an exchange of punts, Akron had the ball around midfield and they made that work, even though BG's defense forced to run 10 plays to get the 52 yards and the game was 7-7 with about 2 minutes left in the first.

BG then muffed the kickoff and started on their own 5.  From there, it was the Falcon offense at it best, with Johnson hitting Lewis for 42 and Redding for 43 and BG was on the Akron 6 before the end of the quarter.

Wilson banged it home and BG was up 14-7.  On the kickoff, Nick Fields--who has never kicked for us before--came in and chipped a high kick that landed untouched and bounced high and BG recovered on the 12.  Next play was a TD and now with 13:48 left in the 2nd it as 21-7 and Akron already has to see difficulty...this is what coach was talking about--because they have to get two scores more than us to tie the game.

BG tried the chip kick again but Akron recovered.  They went on a nice drive but never got into the red zone before BG's D got the stop and forced Robert Stein to hit a tough 46 yard FG to make it 21-10.

Akron kicked it to Scott Miller in the BG end zone and I fully admit I was screaming for him to down it.  He didn't.  Instead, he went 77 yards deep into Akron territory, showing what I know.  BG failed to convert, stalling out on the 9 and then leaving Tate to kick a 32 yard FG following a delay of game...which he missed.

Akron took a holding penalty and punted, but it was a boomer and then BG had a penalty so the Falcons were back on the 11.  No matter, BG went 89 yards in 2 minutes to make the game 28-10.

That was all the scoring for the first half.  BG took the opening kickoff and went 71 yards in 8 plays to score.  The scoring play was incredible.  Johnson (who has added a nice hard count to his game) caught Akron offsides and had a free play.  Ryan Burbrink was streaking to the end zone.  He was covered, the guy was right there, and Johnson had a window approximately the size of a microwave oven to throw the ball into, which he did and BG was up 35-10.

At this point, the game was over.  BG scored twice more in the 3rd quarter and on the first play of the 4th quarter to be up 56-10.  I mean, think about this.  BG was sitting there with a full quarter to play and 56 points on the board.

Let's not forget the defense.  In the 3rd quarter, Akron made one first down--on a BG penalty--and the defense had a pick as well

Bowden said after the game that they just weren't good enough to win the game.  BG dominated in all phases of the game...and this was a conference game, not an FCS game.  (It was the biggest conference win since @EMU in the championship season).

Right now, BG is playing at a very high level.  However you feel about how it got here, this team is right where Coach Babers said it would be.

Friday, October 16, 2015

25 Questions with a Pouch.

What is their body of work?

There was big promise for the Bowden reclamation project, and it has yet to show itself able to finish.  Bowden has succeeded everywhere he has been and you'd think he could do it in Akron, too.  Even so, enthusiasm remains low on campus and the football program was often mentioned by people angry about other cutbacks at Akron.  This year, the Zips are 3-3.  There is no signature win in those 3 games--they beat Savannah State, EMU and an average La-Lafayette team.  They also have no real bad losses, dropping games to Oklahoma and Pitt and then a 14-12 decision to OU in Akron.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

29 which is a lot.  They did go out and some transfers as well.

Who are their statistical leaders?

Deandre Scott is #10 in the nation in interceptions/game.
Thomas Woodson, their QB, is #4 in passing yards per completion at 15.75, which is really high.
Jerome Lane is #1 in the nation in yards per reception at 28+ which is ridiculous.

What is their turnover ratio?

They are +6 which is high for a team that's 3-3.  Their defense has forced 12 turnovers, so BG has to do its normal good job of protecting the ball.


 How is their QB play?

Their QB is So Thomas Woodson, who beat out former starter Kyle Pohl.  He's #6 (among starting QBs) in the MAC.  He has a low completion perentage but, as noted above, gets big yards when he does throw.  Has passed only 110 times in 6 games.  He is a dual-threat QB who is 2nd on the team in rushing.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

Even +6 in turnovers, they are only 9th in points per game and 8th in yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

This is traditionally a strength and it still is.  They are 4th in yards per game and carry.  Conor
Can they run?
Looks like it.
Hundley, their lead back, averages 5.6 yards per carry and Woodson averages 6.

Do they pass the ball?

They are 12th in yards per game passing and 10th in pass efficiency.  Woodson has 52% completions with 7 TDs and 3 INT in 110 attempts.  He does get big yards per catch, which is consistent with a run team that draws opponents into the box.

How was their run/pass balance?

They have run on 57% of their plays, which is very pass heavy.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are average here, at 41% (7th).

Do they score in the red zone?

They are poor, which explains why they don't have better scoring with those turnovers.  They average only 4 points per trip.  In 26 trips, they have 12 TDs and 7 FGs.

Do they protect the quarterback?

Yes.  They have allowed sacks on only 4.4% of their passing attempts as a team.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

All Roos love Vegemite and hard cider.  Fact.
They are 3rd in scoring defense and 3rd in yards per play allowed.  This is the best defense BG has seen since the Memphis game.

Do they defend the run effectively?

Yes, they do.  They allow only 3 yards per carry and are 2nd in the MAC.  BG is going to need strong line play from a line I hope will be healthy.  The Falcons simply need to be able to run the ball.

Can they be passed on?

They are more average here, with #6 in yards per game and efficiency.  They allow about 60% completions and 11 yards per catch.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 6th in the MAC at about 40%.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are pretty good, allowing 4.5 points per trip.  They have 5 outright red zone stops.

Do they pressure the QB?

Huge worry point here.  They are 2nd in the MAC with 14 sacks and that is 6.4% of overall attempts.  BG has struggled in protection and must win these battles up front if BG is going to attack the Zip secondary.
I swear to God: this is a guide
for butchering a kangaroo.

Special Teams:


They lead the MAC in net punting.  Young man has 10 inside the 20 and only 2 touchbacks.  No blocks, no returns, and really no runbacks against.

Punt Return?

Also not a huge factor, with 11 returns and a long of 18.  No blocks.


Their kicker is Robert Stein, the brother of former BGSU kicker Stephen Stein.  He's been good, too, with 7 of 10 overall and 2 of 3 from 40+.  Long of 41, 1 block.


The only thing more
nauseating than
vegemite and hard cider.
Opponents start on the 24, which is normal.  However, he has only 5 touchbacks on 17 kickoffs.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 24, which is also normal. Only 7 touchbacks in 32 kicks, which could be a problem for BG.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

BG hasn't lost to Akron since 2006, but there was a long period where we didn't play them.

Akron was picked to challenge BG for the East title.  Now, BG is a double digit favorite.  The question is whether the BG offense can run over anybody, because this defense is pretty good.  The key battle there will be on the line of scrimmage.  On  defense, BG has been decent against the run and needs to continue that while not letting Woodson beat us with his feet.  A running QB has been a problem for us for a long time and it will be a test for the BG defensive discipline.

It is homecoming.  Not sure we will have a huge crowd, however, given the weather.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Special Teams Research: UMass Edition

It was another difficult game for BG on special teams.  Not that everything was negative, but on balance the special teams made one really bad play that negated a bunch of smaller but effective plays.

The negative play I am referring to is obviously the TD return from UMass.

The other issue continues to be kickoff returns.  BG has swapped out the return guys at least a couple of times and it doesn't seem to help.  I'm in favor of BG downing the ball every time it ends up in the end zone--even by a little.  If I was opposing teams, though, I'd try to force a return, because BG has a disturbing tendency to not get to the 20 and then to get a penalty.  BG had 3 KORs that failed to get to the 20 yard line and received gifts because UMass put two of them OB.

Anyway.  BG was -3 and UMass was +7.

BG Positive (+6)

BG KO TB (+1)
BG punt to UMass 18 (+1)
UMass KOR to 19 (+1)
BG KO TB (+1)
BG KO TB (+1)
BG KO TB (+1)

BG Negative (-9)

BG KOR to 9 with penalty (-1)
BG KOR to 19 (-1)
UMass KOR TD (-6)
BG KOR to 18 (-1)

UMass Positive (+10)

UMass KO TB (+1)
BG KOR to 18 before penalty (+1)
BG KOR to 19 (+1)
UMass KOR TD (+6)
BG KOR to 18 (+1)

UMass Negative (-3)

UMass KO OB (-1)
UMass KOR to 19 (-1)
UMass KO OB (-1)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Odds and Ends from UMass

A few odds and ends....

For those that did not note it, that was goodbye to the Minutemen, who leave the MAC after this year after having gotten no actual traction.  I don't know what the purpose of the experiment was, but the MAC asked them to leave and we won't be playing them, at least in a league game.  Honestly, the switch to FBS has been rocky.  People objected on campus, success has been thin and they played like an hour from campus much or most of the time.  Anyway, they are really the first transient member that didn't leave voluntarily.  Whipple and Babers know each other, so I wouldn't rule out future games, though how long they will be at their current stops is not clear.

BG was battling o-line injuries this week, including Logan Dietz and Alex Huettel.  Dietz didn't play at all and Huettel only played a couple series.  Coach said after the game that they could have gone but we were trying to get them 100% healthy for the stretch run rather than playing them at lower health for the rest of the year.

Austin Labus stepped in for Dietz and Coach said he played really well in his first significant game action.  He is from western Michigan and was one of the top 10 prospects in Michigan that year.  (He signed in '14, making him a Clawson verbal/Babers retain type guy.)

JJ Beggan played for Huettel.  Beggan is from Pittsburgh and had some pressure from bigger schools after committing to BG but stayed solid.

I don't have the ability to grade each guy, but I felt like Johnson had time to throw and the running game was effective, so it seems like a good day for the offense.

BG broke the record for most yards in a game in program history.  The previous record was over Grand Valley State in the late 70s.  I was at that game.  At that time, it wasn't normal for D1 teams to play below their division, so it was considered pretty strange and in fact hilarious that we were playing them.  I had never even heard of the school, as I recall.  Anyway, it was a total blowout.  Other trivia is that future longtime Oakland U basketball coach Greg Kampe set a school record for longest punt with a Grand Valley guy lost a low punt in the sun and it rolled for like 30 more yards.

BG drew 17,000 or so for the game.  Given the weather you would have hoped for something more, but the students were on break, so if you add them in you end up with a respectable crowd, historically.

Johnson erased the Doyt record for passing yards in a game formerly held by Ben Rothlisberger in the 2003 MAC Championship game, aka The Night of Many Horrors.  It is good to delete at least that part of the night from our official memory.

You know how many picks Johnson has thrown this year in 275 attempts?


That's 1.1% of passing attempts and it is ridiculous.  Just astounding and a tribute to how important he is to our team.  Paxton Lynch of Memphis has thrown zero in 174 attempts, which is also incredible.

Here's the best part.  According to Coach Babers, the team blames Dieter for the pick against Umass and Ronnie Moore for the pick earlier (due to tipped balls) and therefore Johnson only has the one overthrow against Purdue against him.

The 1985 team was in the house Saturday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their MAC title.  This was my senior year at BG...that was MY team.  The victory over Miami is the single most exciting sporting event I ever saw in person.  McClure injured.  BG down BIG.  Never used backup Rick Nieman in the game.  BG recovers two onside kicks and rallies to win the game.  Absolutely the most exciting sporting event in my life.  If anyone from that team is reading, thanks guys!  Glad so many of you (60+) made it back to the Doyt Saturday.  You are champions forever.

Johnson and Tate gain MAC East Players of the Week

Today is MAC award day, which also means it is Matt Johnson offensive player of the week day.  And it was.  Johnson is a having a historic season.  Yes, the game has changed but Johnson is clicking at a high level.

Bowling Green senior quarterback Matt Johnson (Harrisburg, Pa.) paced the offense on a record-setting day leading the Falcons to a 62-38 win over UMass. Johnson passed for a Doyt L. Perry Stadium record 450 yards in the game, surpassing Ben Roethlisberger's previous record of 440 yards set in 2003. Johnson was 33-of-39 (84.6%) on the day with five passing touchdowns. Johnson's record-setting day led the Falcons' offense to set a new school-record for total yardage (725) and passing yardage (515). For Johnson, who now leads the country with 2,534 passing yards through six games, it was his fifth 400-yard game in the first six games of the season. To put that in perspective, just three other NCAA quarterbacks have had as many 400-yard passing games in the first six games of a season since the year 2000. Additionally, in Bowling Green football's previous 95 seasons, there had only been 10 total 400-yard passing games (935 games). Johnson has done so five times in just six games this season. His 84.6% completion rate ranked fifth in school history for a single game.

FWIW, the MAC record for single season passing records is 4,436 by Big Ben (playing 14 games that year) and Johnson is 56% of the way there in 6.

Tyler Tate is back winning the special teams award.  Our touchdown-first strategy has kept him from a bigger contribution this year, but he nailed both his FGs, had a good day with kickoffs and made 8 freaking xps.  Mark my words, he will win or tie a game with 0:00 on the clock this season.
Bowling Green senior kicker Tyler Tate (Carroll, Ohio) scored 14 points in a 62-38 win over UMass. Tate was perfect on eight PAT tries, setting a new career mark. He also connected on two field goals, from 37 and 27 yards out. On 11 kickoffs, Tate totaled 694 yards (63.1 avg.) and had four touchbacks – also a new career-high.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Past and Future Opponent Land

Tennessee  (3-3) Shock Georgia 38-31
Maryland (2-4) Lost to OSU, appear to have fired Edsall
Memphis (5-0) Idle as all git out
Purdue (1-5) Destroyed 41-13 in West Lafayette by Minnesota.  Projected job opening here too.
Buffalo (2-3) Idle
Akron (3-3) Beat EMU 47-21
Kent (2-4) Smoked by UT
Ohio (5-1) Destroyed Miami
WMU (2-3) Beat arch rival CMU
UT:  (5-0) Smoked Kent
Ball State (2-4) Lost to NIU in 59-41 Maction shoot out.


All FBS: 12-29
P5: 4-20
Non P5-FBS: 8-9
FCS: 9-0

Sweet Victory #4: The Defense

I always write the offense first because it is a lot easier than the defense, which is always complicated.

UMass put up a shitload of yards and first downs on BG yesterday.  Like 30 first downs in 76 plays, which is 39% of the plays.  They had 516 yards of total offense with is 6.8 yards per play, including 486 yards passing.

Which is not unexpected.  Frohnapfel is a very good QB and Tajae Sharpe is just uncoverable at WR.  Much like Freddie Barnes, you know he is going to get the ball and yet there does not seem to be a way to impact that.  He had 13 grabs for 156 yards a 1 TD.

So the defense continues to give up real estate in pretty big numbers.

Once again, though BG's defense was up to the ask with red zone stops and turnovers and, in the end, good enough to win.  Yes, UMass had 38 but 7 came on a kickoff return and 7 against the backups.

Here's a list of things BG's defense did well.

BG forced the UMass to be a pass-only team.  (This is a team accomplishment as much as a defensive accomplishment).  The Minutemen ran for only 30 yards--55 if you give them the sack yards back, but either way that isn't great.  Their running backs had only 8 carries.

BG continued to play well in the red zone, giving UMass only 17 points in 4 red zone trips, with one outright stop.

Speaking of which, BG forced a key INT and a key fumble that were each big plays in the game.

While Frohnapfel had big passing numbers, he had to throw 61 times to get there, which means 8 yards per attempt and 61% completions.

BG held them to 6 of 13 on 3rd down, which I mention not because it is a great number but because it seemed a lot worse in the stadium.

BG had 5 sacks and 6 hurries.  There was a lot of pressure of Frohnapfel, which is important since he isn't really very mobile.  BG put some bodies on him and it made a difference on some situations where he had an open guy and missed the connection.

And remember, much of that was done with Austin Valdez in the locker room following his ejection.  He gets a significant share of our tackles and the defense still got the job done.  James Sanford had big day with 10 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 breakup.  Eilar Hardy had 9 tackles, Ballew with 8 tackles (career high), 1 sack and 1 FR.  Mack had the INT, Colvin and Bush with 1 sack each.

Anyway, the storyline for the defense remains consistent.  They certainly are not great, but they are playing hard and making their share of plays to keep the team in the game so the offense can score.  They benefit from the pressure the offense puts on teams.  By and large, the unit is ahead of what I would have expected and getting the job done.  Even more importantly, I think better things are ahead for the defensive side of the ball.

Sweet Victory #4: The Offense

What are you going to say about the offense?  BG set a school record Saturday with 725 yards of total offense...beating the record set in the 1970s against Grand Valley State.  More on that game tomorrow.

Also, 515 passing yards is a school record, besting a Tyler Sheehan number from 2009.

BG scored 62 points, which was the most since Omar Jacobs hung 70 on Temple back in the day.

Coach says the offense can still get better--and I suppose that's true--but it is difficult to imagine an offense being much better than that in the aggregate.  Those 725 yards came on 91 plays, which is an average of 8 yards per play.  Yeah.

There were 37 first downs by BG.  With 91 plays, that means BG made a first down on 41% of its plays.  That's unbelievable.  BG was 9 of 13 on 3rd down (same) and 6 of 6 in the red zone with 4TDs and the 2 FGs coming after the game was over.

BG had the ball for 37 minutes, aided by having it for 10:43 in the 4th Quarter.

The passing numbers are amazing.  Johnson was 33 of 39...84.6% completions, for 450 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT.  That's 11.5 yards per attempt and 16.7 yards per completion, both of which are show stopping numbers.

These are video game numbers.  No other way to see it.

BG found 9 WRs.  Lewis was 8 for 142 and a score, and Dieter had 8 for 85.  Both of those guys are open a lot.  Ronnie Moore and Ryan Burbrink both had big TD grabs.  There are just a bunch of WRs out there.  Chris Gallon had a couple of catches while getting the start at TE.  Great to see him making a contribution as well.

It wasn't all passing.  Last week, I wrote about appreciating the player we have in Travis Greene, #8.  This guy is just a beast.  He carried 15 times for 122 yards and a TD and caught 3 passes for 35 yards and a TD.  Thanks to our depth we are able to keep him from getting too many carries (and hopefully, therefore, healthy).  He's just deadly in this attack.

Fred Coppet also played well, with 68 yards in 17 carries and 1 TD.  He's had better games, but he remains an effective part of the running game that requires depth.  And Donovan Wilson played in short yardage for a score.

It was a record-setting game.  The thing is coming together like Coach said it would.  The question is whether it will take us where it is supposed to.

Sweet Victory #4: Recap

There's lots more to come...was this the game between game 4 and 6 when the offense finally got it?  They certainly had a record-setting day.  Anyway, slice it how you like BG got a comfortable win at home that they need.  With Akron, OU, and Toledo, WMU and Ball State lying ahead, BG has a lot of tough games ahead that they are going to need and this was one you had to have you and you got.

UMass won the toss and deferred.  This is something I always liked to see.  UMass was playing the "keep it in front of you" approach, and BG went on an 11-play drive to get an opening TD.  The drive featured a DPI on UMass when Dieter had completely torched their DB, two big runs by Travis Greene, and finally a TD pass on third and goal when BG brought the heavy lineup in and then dropped Lee off in the end zone for a pass.  He was wide open.  BG 7-0.

UMass has a good QB and a good offensive system and completed 5 straight passes to move to the BG 29.  BG had a defensive holding on a 3rd and 3 and UMass ended up with a 3rd and 3 from the BG when the BG defense did the one thing it does pretty well, which is get a stop in tight space.  Frohnapfel threw an incomplete pass on 3rd down and Whipple did something he hasn't done too much of this year, which is kick at FG to make it 7-3.

BG's next drive was cut short by a holding penalty and UMass started on their 19.  What ensued was a pretty dominant drive by the Minutemen.  BG got two sacks on the drive and still gave up first downs--they converted on 3rd and 13 and 3rd and 14--and eventually capped an 11 play, 4+ minute drive to take the lead 10-7.

BG took the kickoff, tried to run it back, got a penalty and started on the 9.  BG picked up 2 first downs and then blew a hole in the "keep in front of you" strategy by tossing a 71 yard TD pass from Matt Johnson to Ronnie Moore on the last play of the first quarter.  When Moore caught the ball, he was about even with the UMass defender, but from there he just ran right away from the guy for the score.  BG 14-10.

UMass went on the roll again.  They completed a pass deep into BG territory before what was a key sequence in the game.  On the pass, the officials called targeting on Dernard Turner.  I didn't get a real close look at iphone replay in the stands...but it was one of those plays where the guy is moving to the ground being tackled by 3 guys.  Anyway, they go to the review and announce that the targeting was confirmed and #16 was ejected...which is Austin Valdez.  Assuming it is a mistake, Dernard Turner headed to the locker room.

There's a ton of confusion on the sideline, they go back to the replay and confirm it was Valdez, BG's leading tackler.  A trainer goes SPRINTING off to the locker room to fetch Turner while Valdez left angrily.  Finally, Turner comes back and he's now exhorting his teammates.  Following the keystone cops routine by the officials, BG actually seemed to get some fire on defense.  BG got an incomplete pass and a 1-yard run and then on third down Alfonso Mack made one of the game's biggest plays with an end zone pick to keep UMass from scoring.

As an aside, I really like Mack.  He a young player and he loses some battles out there, but he absolutely keeps fighting and you'll see him make another big play a few seconds later.  He's a battler and he's only going to get better.

After the game, Johnson and Babers both talked about the pressure this offensive style puts on other teams.  When you throw a pick (or even punt) and BG has the ability to stick the ball right back down the field, it is a big momentum switch.  And then, as Babers says, you have to come get us, which is something that is tough when we are humming.

Which is what happened, as BG drove the 78 yards in 1:46, ending with a 32 yard TD run by Travis Greene where a UMass back went to tackle him on the 5 and Greene just stiff-armed him like a boss for the score.

It is 21-10.

Set back by a personal foul, UMass punted and BG started on the 33 again.  BG was still humming and went on a 9 play, 3:47 drive to get down the field---including a play when Matt Johnson was hit while of the problems of the targeting thing is you rarely seen two calls in one game--and Donovan Wilson punched it in and BG led 28-10.

There was 4:29 left in the 2nd Q.  UMass really needed a score and they got it, moving the 81 yards in 1:39, aided by a BG personal foul and ending with a TD pass to Sharpe to make it 28-17.

BG got the ball back with 2:51 left...time to score twice...just kidding.  Anyway, BG was inside the UMass 25 when they were hit with a personal foul and then on a 2nd and long Johnson threw a pass to Dieter.  It went off his hands and was intercepted with :07 left in the half.

Babers said after the game "there is no grey area in our program.  If it hits your hands, you catch it.  If you don't want that, then when Johnson scrambles, don't get your butt open."

All right then.

The start of the 2nd half initiated the game's decisive sequence.  UMass took the ball and drove to their 42.  On 3rd down BG made a big tackle to stop the Minutemen one yard shot.  Then, they decided to go for it--another example of us putting pressure on their decision-making--and Frohnapfel threw the ball into a tight space for an incompletion.  He was upset there was not a call on BG, but those are harder to get when you try and fit the ball into those tight areas.

BG took over and did what they do, which was to take 8 plays to score and go up 35-17.

On the first play of the next drive, Nate Locke (getting more snaps with Valdez out) drilled the UMass RB and forced a fumble.  Johnson was sacked on the first play, but on 3rd down with an offsides penalty in play, Johnson took his shot, drilling a 100% perfect to Burbrink on the very edge of the end zone for a 40 yard TD and a 42-17 lead.

At which point the game was more or less over.

UMass took the next kickoff to the house to get it to 42-24, but BG kept them on the mat with a TD drive that culminated with a 12-yard screen pass to Travis Greene that was wide open.  At this point, there was 5:49 left in the 3Q and BG led 49-24.

UMass scored a TD and BG responded with a FG to make it 52-31 at the end of the 3Q.

UMass drove inside the BG 25 before they stalled out again, and on the next drive Johnson hit Roger Lewis for 68 yards and a long TD to go to 59-31.  With Knapke at the helm, BG added a FG and UMass picked up a TD with the backups in the game to get to the final 62-38.

A lot of records were set.  BG needed a win and they got it.  That is how the offense is supposed to work.  Now, will it work that way against OU or UT?  Or Akron?  That remains to be seen.  My feeling is that while we may not get 700 yards in those games, I do believe we can score on anyone in our conference.  There's just huge weapons and Matt Johnson is playing at a really high level.  He made some big time throws Saturday.

Obviously, I don't know what is going to happen, but it is going to be worth watching, that's for sure.

Friday, October 09, 2015

25 Questions about Sam

Today's pictures are Sam the Minuteman.
Here, he forgot his toothbrush.
What is their body of work?

UMass is 1-3 out of the gate.  Their win over FIU was their first win over a non-conference FBS opponent, which is really shocking.  They have certainly struggled at the FBS level.  Having said that, they almost beat BG last year and their losses this year are @Colorado, Temple (by 2) and @Notre Dame.  This was supposed to be their best season in FBS and it could still be.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

29 which is a lot.

Who are their statistical leaders?

Blake Frohnapfel is #7 in completions per game and #14 in passing yards per game.
Tajae Sharpe is #7 in receiving yards, #5 in receiving yards per game and #2 in receptions per game.

What is their turnover ratio?

The are -3, which is normal for a 1-3 team.


 How is their QB play?
Sam's thumbs say he likes sustainable food.
His face might say otherwise.

Frohnapfel is a good QB.  He's racked up huge yardage numbers, as noted above.  The QB Rating doesn't like him very much...he's 7th in the MAC in that category.  He completes on 59% of his passes and there are 7 TDs over 3 INT.  The biggest strength he has is yardage.  He's averaging 12.01 per completion, which is really good.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

For their strong QB play, they are 9th in scoring offense, but consider the schedule.  (Like BG, they played no FCS team).  Their yards per play with 4th at 5.7 yards.  An offense that gets yards but doesn't score usually reveals issues on big plays and turnovers (noted already).

Can they run the ball?

They are 11th in overall rush offense and 7th in yards per carry.  Watch out for true FR Marquis Young who leads the team in rushing, averages 9 yards per carry and broke out against ND.

Do they pass the ball?

As mentioned above, they have a high yardage pass offense.  In addition to Frohnapfel, Tajae Sharpe is one of the MAC's best WRs and Marken Michel has had a bunch of big plays.

How was their run/pass balance?

They run on 42% of their plays, which indicates a pass heavy offense.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Sam getting buff. Sparty-envy.
They are 11th in the MAC at 32%.

Do they score in the red zone?

They are also poor in the red zone at 4.2 points per trip. This, wrd downs and the turnovers explains the difference between yard production and point production.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have allowed 9 sacks in 180 attempts, which is 5% of attempts, which is normal/average.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

Their defense has struggles.  Coach has said that their defense is much improved from last year and there is that schedule, but they are 10th in the MAC at 6.1 yards per play.  (BG is 5.9)

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are 12th in overall run defense and 11th in yards per carry.  Teams have run on them effectively.
Two if by sea
Can they be passed on?

They are 9th in pass defense efficiency.  They allow 61% completions, which is high at about 10.1 yards per completion.  They have given up only 898 passing yards, which could look very funny depending on the numbers BG puts up.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 11th in the MAC, allowing no, not really.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are not good.  They have gotten no red zone stops and allow 5.75 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

They have 7 sacks which is 4.9%, which is normal/average.

Little known fact.  Sam loves to read.
More than he likes
sustainable food.
Special Teams:


They are 5th in net punting, almost equal to where BG is.  No blocks but they have had a TD return.

Punt Return?

Not really a factor, only 2 for 7 yards.  No blocks.


They have 3 guys who might do this.  They have attempted only 3 FGs in four games, so much like BG they are focused on getting in the endzone.  They have gone for it on 4th 6 times.


Opponents start on the 25, which is normal.  However, he has only 5 touchbacks on 17 kick offs.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 24, which is also normal. That is on only 7 touchbacks.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Couple things.
Also he does not like this.

First, BG has to be glad to be getting back home again.  If you are 3-2 with only 1 home game, you have to feel good about it.

This is the kind of game you need to close on home field if you are looking to contend for a title.  UMass is not a bad team and probably better than they look--and there has been no opportunity to see them in MAC play.  They played BG very tough in a big game (first campus game) last year at a time where BG was playing poorly.  It was a high scoring affair as you would expect this one to be.

They key will be that BG will need to cover the really strong UMass wideouts.  It would appear to me that's the key to stopping them.  If BG--thin at DB--can get any kind of victory there, I think things will be looking up.