Monday, November 30, 2015

Brandon Harris is MAC East DEFENSIVE Player of the week

Wait, what?

A BG player won MAC East Defensive Player of the Week?

I checked.  It is true.

Even better, it is a true freshman who has been increasing his playing time for a while and earned his first start in Muncie...Brandon Harris.  He's from Cleveland and was recruited as an ATH, whick makes it all the more remarkable that he is having success at a position like LB so early in his career.  Great job, Brandon.

Bowling Green freshman linebacker Brandon Harris (Cleveland, Ohio) made the first start of his career on Nov. 24 at Ball State, leading the Falcons' defensively in a dominating 48-10 win on the road. Harris totaled a career-high 11 tackles and also added a team-high 2.0 tackles for loss in the contest. The Falcons, behind Harris' efforts, held the Cardinals to 2.9 yards per carry, and 3.4 yards per play.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

BG Gets Expected Win Over Urbana

Just a quick update, BG had a game against DII opponent Urbana on Sunday and got the win they expected.  The Blue Knights are 1-6 against their schedule and BG was able to beat them 96-55.

Urbana kept it close for about 14 minutes, trailing by only 1.  From there, BG went on a 15-4 run until halftime to lead by 12 at the break.  BG then scored the first 15 points of the second half to go up 27 and then cruised home to the 41 point win.

Five Falcons ended up in double figures.  Spencer Parker and Matt Fox both had 15....a career night for Fox...Denny had 13, Worrell and Lillard both had 12.  Worrell and Denny both had 8 rebounds and Ismail Ali had 10 assists in 23 minutes.

BG shot 56% overall and 64% from 3FG.

Next up is Maryland-Baltimore County on Wednesday at the Stroh.

Babers Alert System Blinking Red

All right then. Sunday dinner, enjoying some chicken and BOOM!  There's word on the Internet that Coach Babers is going to Central Florida.  You can see the remnants of it above...I think this probably gives us a pretty good picture...and Travis brings the team back to reality.

The Denny Stolz thing was my senior year in College and it can't be stated how unfair that was to the players on that team, who were undefeated and champions.  It happens all the time now, but at the time, it was just something no one was used to and it led to a very ugly night in Fresno.

I just hate to see these kinds of distractions the week of a title game.  I did not in any way expect Babers to be coaching at our bowl game, but I did hope we'd get through this week without something like this.

And here's the thing.  I would gather from what I saw above that Babers plans to Coach in the game Friday...the question is how focused are he and his assistants going to be on game prep?

Even if your intention was to be honorable, you're only human.

One last thing.  There's a lot on twitter about this being a "lateral" move.  First, that's what people said when Urban went to Utah, too.

Second, you have to know the context.  No, it is not a P5 school.  However, the new AD is Danny White who is the guy who was renaming the State University at Buffalo to University of New York.  Guy thinks big and UCF is in a position to become either a very high P5 or even a new Big 12 team as they try to get a playoff.  Also, he's right in the middle of a large collection of players who would be perfect for his system.

Also, you can bet it entails a significant pay increase.

I'm fine with him going and I expected it.  I wish him 100% the best.  I wish he had stayed longer, but it is what it is.  The man has the right to do what is right for his career and his family and I'd do the same thing.

All he owes us is one more focused game.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Football Update

Well, here we go again.  BG and NIU for the MAC Title.  Both teams have one win in the series, so this one will be the rubber match.

It got that way through a week you could only get in the MAC.  First, NIU lost at home to OU and it looked like it would be a UT-BG rematch but then the Rockets were beaten at home by WMU and it was NIU after all.

A couple thoughts.  First, for a couple long days Falcon fans had a chance to check their bravado as it related to a UT rematch.  I honestly think we have a better shot at beating NIU and that UT is the better team, but it was going to be tough either way.  Also, the UT winning streak would have been an additional distraction.  Of course, there is the possibility that given one more shot, BG would have rallied and delivered a win.

Second, from what I saw on line, NIU will be playing their 3rd-string QB, Tommy Fiedler.  He is a walk-on true freshman.  That certainly doesn't help them.  Having said that, they are a run-based team and he did look OK on a couple late drives against OU.  They will have had a week and a half to get him ready.  Again, it is better than playing the other guy but I'd be careful overdoing it as expectations go.

Third...and I think this one is interesting.  The chart below is BG's yards per completion while Matt Johnson has been QB for each game this year.  The right hand of the chart captures my concern.  I had observed that our opponents appeared to be taking away the big plays and that has certainly been true.  As you can see below, BG hovered right around 14 yards per completion for much of the year.  It fell below 14 against WMU and they really fell against UT and was only a little bit better against Ball State.

BG did adjust with running and shorter passes, but the team has had a higher number of three and outs (it seems to me) and short drives and, by extension, were less high flying than they were in the weeks before.

Not sure why that is.  Maybe teams are playing to take that away from us and force BG into long drives.  Or maybe it has been weather-related.

Whichever, NIU is a ball-control team, much like UT is.  Further, they are playing with an untested QB.  They are going to run the ball against us.  BG will need to stop the run, yes, but needs to create points on offense to force NIU out of their game, which was what was working earlier in the year.  Hopefully, in an indoor venue, we can ramp up the offense to what we have seen before.  It seems like this is a trend we want to reverse.

Urbana Preview

After a strong finish to the event in Fort Myers and a holiday break, the Falcons return home to the Stroh tomorrow to play Urbana.  The Blue Knights are a DII team picked to finish 11th out of 12 in the Mountain East Conference.  This one was put onto the schedule to be a win and anything else would be a shock and a disappointment.  Yes, BG struggled with Notre Dame, picked to be 7th in the MEC, but this one really shouldn't be an issue.

They are 1-4 this year and actually play tonight so that will change a little by tomorrow.

Interestingly, this game is actually an exhibition for them.

They have had some big offensive games....they are scoring 82 per game but allowing 93.  That is partly influenced by a 133-95 loss to West Liberty, the #3 team in DII.

They are a pretty good shooting team, at 49% and 42% from 3FG.  They average just under 14 turnovers per game and they are -9 in net rebounding.

Individually, they are led by Carlas Jackson, who is scoring 17 PPG on 38% shooting, which indicates a high degree of jacking it up.  He is a 6'4" SO.  The second leading scorer is FR Jahmere Howze, with 16.8 points in only 23 minutes.  He's 6'6" and shooting 52% while leading the team with 5 rebounds.

They are a very young team.  Ten out of their 13 players are freshman and sophomores.

So we will see what happens, but this one should be a solid W for the Falcons.

Friday, November 27, 2015

New Football Verbal

Hat tip to Hustle Belt here, BG has a football verbal.  This one is a JUCO guy who is a fullback.  His name--Leonard Skattebo.  Gotta like that.  He plays at Sacramento City College and is listed as a 2-star prospect on 24/7 and says he had an offer from Idaho.

He's not just a blocker.  If you check his stats out, he does have some games with carries, scored TDs and caught some passes.  My guess is that he is envisioned to be the short-yardage back next year, but that will remain to be seen.  He's a pretty good-sized fella...over 250 pounds.

Not much on his HS is available, though you can find that he played both ways and was his conference MVP.

Welcome to the Falcons, Leonard.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to the Falcon Nation

Best wishes to everyone on this special day.  Seek not to want more but to be better.  Demonstrate thankfulness...disturb your peace and make the most of the things you have been given.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sweet Victory #9: Recap

When BG walked onto the field in Muncie last night, it was a lot more difficult situation than it appeared to be.  The place was practically empty...thank God BSU has a band...announced crowd was 5,201.  So, place is empty, nothing really to play for, coming off a big loss with a big game coming up.  This is just one of those thngs.

Digression.  I remember in 2010 watching BG finish the season at home against WMU in similar weather and WMU just bludgeoning us.  Long day, so high five to the true BSU fans in their seats last night.

So, you want to get out of Muncie with a win you don't have to sweat over.  And BG got that done, beating Ball State 48-10 to head to a Ford Field on a positive note.  BG is 3-1 for November and the Falcons showed they could win a game after clinching the division.

It wasn't the most powerful or outstanding victory we have had all year.  But it was an easy win that was really never in doubt and that is what BG needed and got.

BG won the opening toss and took the ball, as they usually do.  However, BG went 3 and out and punted.  Ball State two long third downs and were on the march when their true FR QB threw a pick to Dernard Turner and BG was in business, scoring on a third down pass from Matt Johnson to Hunter Folkersma.  Conversion was missed, 6-0.

BG's defense played much better from then on, getting nice pressure on the QB and forcing him into tough situations.  BG started on their own 2, and went the length of the field in 11 plays, featuring a 34-yard reverse to Ronnie Moore to get the ball into scoring position.  BG was up 13-0.  BG's defense got 2 more stops before BG scored again and it was 20-0.

BG drove to the Ball State 16 before failing to convert on 4th down and Ball State had a chance to score before halftime.  It had looked like 27-0 but might possibly end up 20-7 in one of those momentum changes you get in football.  Ball State was moving the ball pretty easily on the run, was inside the 40 with less than 2 minutes left (they were really bleeding clock) when Alphonso Mack got the game's 3rd pick and ran it back to the Cardinal 39.

BG took over with 1:17 on the clock and scored :50 later to finish off the Cardinals.

The second half was just the job of finishing it.  Travis Greene had a SportsCenter run for a TD along the way.  Then, in the final seconds, BG was on its own 5 and looking to run the clock out.  They handed the ball to Matt Domer and I just don't get the idea anyone on Ball State's team was too interested in doing anything and he sprinted 95 yards for the game's last score.

Anyway, BG got done what they had to get done.  Even with 48 points, this is not the offense BG was putting up earlier in the year.  Johnson had a good completion percentage, but BG averaged only 9.2 yards per completion, which is well below what we were getting earlier in the year.  Maybe the competition is tougher, maybe it is the wind and the weather.  Who knows, but BG has mostly been taking the sideline routes and screen passes of late.

Perhaps being indoors in Detroit will open things up.  The hope is that we aren't facing some kind of scheme that we can't out do.

Oh, yeah.  Speaking of know by now that NIU lost at home to OU.  Didn't expect that to that means that if UT wins on Friday, BG will get a rematch with the Rockets.  We haven't been able to beat them on their field or ours, so maybe a neutral field will be what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Falcons Conquer Dunk City

The trip to Florida did not start out so well with a lopsided loss to North Dakota, a team that went on to lose both its other games in Florida.  However, BG rallied from there, picking up wins over Youngstown State and Florida Gulf Coast, the first an "away from home" win and the second a true "road win."

I'd be careful about projecting too far much with these wins.  For BG to have a good record this year (or even a respectable record) they had to win a couple of these and they did.  I do like what I have seen and I look forward to getting a chance to see them compete against something between UC and FGCU, something which might best come with some early December games.

It was a very solid victory for BG.  The Eagles never led after taking a 3-2 lead and the game was last tied at 9-9.  BG led by 10 at the half, built it out to 16 in about five minutes in the second half,  FGCU battled back into the game and never had it closer than 5.  In fact, with 1:18 left BG led by 5 and BG made 5 out of 8 FTs in the closing seconds to finish the game at a 5 point margin.

There were a few key issues in the game.  Perhaps the most important was controlling the tempo.  We all remember the "Dunk City" Big Dance run, and these guys play very much the same way...up tempo and above the rim, like, a lot.  For example, in their game with OU there were 78 possessions.  The Falcons deliberately seemed interested in keeping things slow and the game had only 70 possessions, which is pretty slow, especially with the new shot clock.

That number of possessions puts the final score in a difference perspective.  You have an 82-77 final with only 70 possessions?  That's actually a lot of scoring.  BG had 1.17 points per possession and FGCU had 1.1.

The chart below shows the deal.  First, shooting was very even.  BG shot 49% overall and FGCU shot 48%, but FGCU was 7 of 13 from 3FGs, which gave both teams an equal amount of points on field goals.  As you can see, both teams took excellent care of the ball--a credit to BG because FGCU was running an aggressive trip with pretty long guys.  The difference was that BG had a much better day on the offensive boards--best day of the season, in fact, and BG had +5 at the free throw line.  Both teams made 70%, but BG got to the line more and that and the rebounding was the difference.

Spencer Parker had another great game.  If he is set to be a consistent force this year, it will make a big difference in how the team competes.  He had another double-double at 22/10.  He shot 10 of 18 overall and 10 of 13 on 2FGs.  He had a very solid game, even with 3 turnovers.

Zack Denny had 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting and 3 of 5 from 3FG, all a very efficient offensive night.  He also had 11 rebounds for a double-double of his own.

BG had two other players in double figures, both off the bench.  Ismail Ali continues to impress, getting 13 points on 3 of 5 FG shooting and 6 of 6 FT shooting, to go with 3 assists in only 19 minutes.  Antwon Lillard had 10 points and could have had more, making only 6 of 11 FTs.  I like Lillard and think he will be a good player.  He is making some freshman mistakes, so people will need to be patient with him.

Pep Joseph had 4 assists in 22 minutes.

BG is playing very small.  The only legit inside player they started was Worrell and he only played 22 minutes.  Off the bench, Wiggins played 9 and Mayleben 3.  I'm not sure how sustainable that is.  They are getting rebounding from Parker and Denny...anyway, all that will be seen.  For now, the boys are 3-2 with a holiday break and Urbana coming back on Sunday, so we'd like to think we'll be looking at 4-2 heading into December.

Monday, November 23, 2015

25 questions for the Jarheads

When we hear the name Ball State, we usually just
let it amuse our inner-7th grader.  There is much more.
What is their body of work?

It's not very good.  Just a couple years ago, the Cardinals were a rising power in the West and their Coach, Pete Lembo, was being named for P5 jobs.  In fact, had BG lost to NIU that night in 2013, some say Lembo would be at Wake Forest.  Everything since then has been bad for Ball State.  They were 5-7 last year and 3-8 this year, and those wins are against VMI, EMU and UMass.  In other words, Ball State has no quality wins this season.  They lost last to OU by a 48-31 score.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

29, which is a lot.

Who are their statistical leaders?

FBS Ranks

19th - Kevonn Mabon, kickoff returns

What is their turnover ratio?

In MAC play, they are +1.

Offense:  (Unless noted all stats are MAC games only)

 How is their QB play?

Riley Neal is his name.  He is #7 in the MAC in passing efficiency, but shows a lot of promise.  The only freshman (and he is a true freshman) among the top 10 in MAC passing, he has completed 61% of his passes with 11 TDs over 2 INT, which is all excellent.  The 2 INTs is really good for a first year starters.  He has 10.7 yards per completion, which would seem to indicate a safer passing attack.  He is also a dual-threat QB.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are 9th in scoring and 11th in yards per play.  They score only 23 points per game.

Can they run the ball?

They are not good, tied for 11th in yards per carry.  They split carries with two backs, one who averages 5.1 yards per carry and one who averages 4.

Do they pass the ball?

They are 8th in passing yards per game and 6th in passing efficiency.

How was their run/pass balance?

They are pretty balanced, running on 49% of their plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

No, they are 9th in the MAC on third down.

Do they score in the red zone?

They are among the worst in the MAC, with 4.3 points per trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

Here they are going, allowing only 8 sacks so far this year.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

This is a very bad defensive team.  They are 12th in scoring defense and 12th in yards per play allowed.  They allow more yards per play than BG earns, if you can believe that.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are 12th in the MAC in this category as well, allowing 5.4 yards per carry.

Can they be passed on?

If you are noticing a trend, they are 12th in pass efficiency defense.  They allow 72% completions, which might be the worst I have ever seen.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

12th.  You knew it.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are poor here, allowing 5.2 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

They are (I swear to God), 12th in the MAC in sacks.

Special Teams:


They are 4th in net punting in the MAC.  No touchbacks.  They have allowed no blocks and no touchdowns.

Punt Return?

They are in the middle of the pack in punt returns, and have been getting only one chance per MAC game.  They have blocked one punt.


He's pretty good.  Overall (all games) he is 15 out of 20, but 13 out of 14 inside 40 with a 45 long.


Opponents start on the 24, which is very good.  (all games)

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 28 which is good.  (All games)

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

This one has PTSD for the Falcons, as has been mentioned this week.  BG should have been the Cardinals last year at the Doyt.

And they really should beat them this year in Muncie.  The question is do we feel like playing?  The game lies in ambush between UT and the MAC title game.  BG should be able to score on these guys and win this one in impressive fashion.  If they don't, we have a bona fide slump on our hands.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Youngstown State.....BG Gets Needed Win

Well, after a pretty weak performance against North Dakota-a team you'd like to think BG could beat--they came right back the next day to play Youngstown State, and it was a game where they played much better and picked up a needed win.  I'm not saying it was a season-saving win or anything, but I feel like when you start to put losses together, you can end up in one place and with a win you're a least in a place where you know you can win.  You know how it is.  It is a struggle but you can struggle in the middle or at the bottom, and it would be better if it could be the middle.

While the lead for BG was never huge, it was consistent.  BG took the lead 11-8 in the first half and never trailed again.  BG popped it up to 10 with 2:48 left in the first half and from then in the Penguins got it down to 3, and then BG had an 11 point lead with about 6 minutes left and it was never a one possession game again. BG ended up winning by 7.

BG had two key wins that were the difference.  There was a slight advantage in field goal shooting.  Overall BG shot 45% and Youngstown shot 37%.  The difference you see here was much closer because the Penguins took nearly half of their shots from beyond the arc...and in fact shot 42% from beyond the arc, which was better than the overall shooting and that increases their overall effective FG%.  Anyway, the other advantage was FT shooting.  This was a disaster for BG against North Dakota, but BG was much better--though not great--making 19 out of 28--while YSU only made 10 of 19.

Individually, BG had five players in double figures, which was a nice change of pace after wondering if we had any effective scorers after Saturday's game.  Wes Alcegaire led the team with 21 points on 7 of 16 shooting and 5 of 9 from beyond the arc and 7 rebounds.  Denny had 17 on 5 of 10 shooting, 11 rebounds and 3 steals.  Rasheed Worrell, after having 1 point in the last 2 games, scored 15 points on 7 of 7 shooting.  Ismail Ali had 11 points on 2 of 4 shooting to go with 7 assists over 2 turnovers.  Finally, Spencer Parker had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 turnovers.

BG finishes the trip to Florida Monday night playing Florida Gulf Coast, which beat Youngstown State in 3OT and then beat North Dakota relatively easily in the 2nd game.

Past and Future Opponent Land

Tennessee  (7-4) Beat Missouri 19-8
Maryland (2-9) Lost 47-28 to Indiana
Memphis (8-3) Lost to Temple
Purdue (2-9) Lost to Iowa
Buffalo (5-6) Lost to Akron
UMass (2-9) Lost to Miami
Akron (6-5) Beat Buffalo, bowl-eligible
Kent (3-8) Lost to CMU
Ohio (7-4) Beat Ball State
WMU (6-5) Lost to NIU
Ball State (3-8) Lost to Ohio


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

West leads East, 11-5

Youngstown State Preview....

These "multi-team events" are tough on the blogging community.

Just saying.

And I suppose they are tough on the team and players, too.


So Youngstown State is next.  They are not expected to have a great season.  They were 11-21 last year (and 3 non-d1 wins), 2-14 in the Horizon and picked to finish second-to-last in the conference.

They are 0-3 on the season.  They lost by 9 @Kent and by 22 to Toledo in Youngstown.  And then they lost in triple OT last night to Florida Gulf Coast, which was also a road game.

This is another very young team.  Maybe not as young as North Dakota was, but still very young.  They have only one senior who plays a lot.  He's a good player--Bobby Hain--and he's formidable at this level.  He's 6'10 and 240 lbs and off to a little bit of a rocky start this year.

Their leading scorer is Cameron Morse, a So. G who had only 6 PPG last year but is currently getting 19.  He's shooting 40% from beyond the arc and since BG has struggled to defend the perimeter, this is one to keep an eye on.

Like every team in this level of college basketball, JUCO guys are big.  Matt Donlan is a G/F who is a JUCO transfer and is their next leading scorer.  He's from Australia and making 36% of his 3FGs.

The other interesting addition is Francisco Santiago, who transferred up from DII.  He's averaging 4/7 assists per game, with a 1.3 ratio.

The style here it to play upbeat.  They are averaging 80 possessions per 40 minutes, which is a lot.  They like to shoot the 3 and they are in the top 20% of the country in 3FGAs so far this year.  They are not having huge success, however, with a percentage just about 33%, which is more or less the NCAA average.

This is a game that on paper BG should win.  The problem is that they look at us and think exactly the same thing.

Falcon Men Fall to North Dakota

The first day did not go well in Florida for the Falcon men.  This was not a good one at all.  Not that you couldn't lose to North Dakota, but you don't want to end up losing by 18 on a neutral floor, which is what happened.

North Dakota was in control much of the way.  About 4 minutes in it was 8-7 and then the Fighting Hawks when on a four minute, 19-7 run that put them up by 17 with 10 minutes left in the first half.  BG, to its credit, did battle back, getting the lead as low as 3 before heading to the locker room down 7.

BG came out and had the game tied within a couple minutes of the start of the second half, and while the first ten minutes of the half were within reach, BG never led.  Here's the kicker...with 11:38 left, BG was down 54-51.  From there on in, BG was outscored 23-8.

That's a rough night.

There were two key differences in the game.  Nobody had a good day on offense.  In fact, FG% shooting overall was almost exactly equal.  However,  North Dakota was 10 of 21 on 3FGs while BG was 5 of 15, meaning that NoDak got more points out of the same number of shots.  The second key difference was FTs.  The F-Hawks were great, hitting 21 of 26, while BG was simply awful, shooting 8 out of 20.

Neither team was great on offense...North Dakota had .96 points per possession, which is below average.  BG, however, was .76 points per possession which is borderline impossible to win with.  Right now, it is the key issue.  The team lacks offensive playmakers, and that includes inside and out.  Beyond that, they are really still establishing an identity.  They don't seem to know what kind of team they it defense, is it upbeat, is it scoring?

Just underscores the issue...this is going to be a project.

Spencer Parker (key quote from Todd Walker:  "Ever the enigma"), had a big night.  He scored 16 points on 7 of 16 shooting, had 12 rebounds, and while he did have 4 turnovers and shot 2 of 7 from the line, he was the team's best offensive option.  Zack Denny had 12 points on 5 of 14 shooting and Antwon Lillard--who led BG in minutes--had 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting, which is an efficient night.

It was a tough night for BG at the point.  Joseph battled foul trouble and played only 17 minutes and BG struggled with him on the bench.

Now 1-2, BG plays again today against a Youngstown State team that battled into 3 OTs last night.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Babers Presser, Good Stuff

Watched the Babers presser yesterday.  It was actually very interesting. Two things.

First, Coach Babers actually flew to Texas to watch his daughter play volleyball.  Her name is Jazzmin Babers and she plays at Texas A&M.  She was all-SEC last year.  Anyway, I don't think I ever heard of a Coach doing this before...he basically took a day off in the middle of the season and flew to the game, visited with his daughter, spent four hours with her roommate and then watched her play, had dinner with her and flew home on like 2 hours sleep.

No one asked me, but I like it.  As a Father, I love the sentiment and commitment to family.  Good for you, Coach.  (He enjoyed it, too.  Says it was "Awesome," or "A-W-E some."

Oh....the Aggies beat Kentucky 3-0.  Jazzmin had 8 kills and 5 blocks.

The other interesting part was talking about last year's Ball State game.  That was a really bad day for the program.  It was freezing cold, coming up a loss to UT and heading into the MAC Championship game and BG bolted out to a 14-0 and 21-7 lead, only to have Ball State swarm back and solidly beat the Falcons.  It was a badly banged-up Cardinal team...a team BG should 100% have beaten at home.

Coach says that rather than leave the field, he had his team kneel in the corner of the Doyt and watch the Ball State players celebrate, something he thinks can extend to a life lesson for the team.

Coach puts on this Joe Cool thing, but I think you'd be wrong not to understand a very deep flowing passion and competitive drive.

For example, coach said in the presser that Ball State put 58 on BG last year.  That's where the game stands in his mind.

Actual fine score:  41-24.

North Dakota Preview

The BG Falcons are down in Fort Myers to play in the Florida Gulf Coast event.  You remember those guys, the big dunkers that beat Georgetown in the Big Dance and then sent their Coach and his supermodel wife to USC, where he has lost almost all the time.

Anyway, we don't play those guys until Monday.  For now, BG plays the North Dakota team.  I am endlessly fascinated by their nickname journey North Dakota has been on, most of which you can find here.  Just recently they officially became the Fighting Hawks, which is dopey.  Anyway, not sure if that will be in use for Saturday's game or not.

North Dakota had a tough year last year, finishing 8-22.  The two years before that they were 33-34, which is not too bad.  They play in the Big Sky Conference, which is the 26th ranked conference out of 33.

They were picked to be 10th in the Big Sky this year.  You probably recall, BG played them a couple times in the Orr years, with both teams winning at home.

This year, ND is 1-1.  They beat a non-D1 Minnesota Morris and lost @Wisconsin so we don't really know what we have.

They return 2 starters off that team, which might be addition by subtraction, as two of them were JUCO transfers that might have caused chemsitry issues for the team.  Blue Ribbon says that North Dakota had been focusing on playing a European four-guard style of play, but now is making the transition to a more midwestern inside out approach.

This is a very young team.  Of the 7 players who played 15 minutes or more against UW, 6 were freshman or sophomores.  They played only 1 senior and he played 2 minutes.

I'm not sure how projectable last year is to this year, but last season they struggled on both sides of the ball.  The scored .98 points per possesision, which isn't too bad, but they allowed 1.08 points per possession, which is bad. Wisconsin had 1.14 points per possession, which is a lot, but it is Wisconsin.

Their leading player is G  Quinton Hooker.  He had 12 points against UW, but on 4 of 12 shooting and he had 4 assists against 2 turnovers.

Their leading scorer was r-FR Geno Crandall.  Crandall had 19 points on 6 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc, which is obviously craziness.  His points seemed mostly to show up during garbage time.

They have Drick Bernstine, who is a 6'8" transfer from Denver.  He played 33 minutes and had 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting and 9 rebounds.

They also have 7'0" C Carson Shanks who played 20 minutes with 9 points and only 2 rebounds.

Since we have split our games on home court to date, you could look at this game like a neutral court tiebreaker.  Hey, I said you could.  Overall, I feel like this is a game BG should win.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bearcats Blow Falcons Out in Second Half

BG battled UC for a half in the Bill Frack challenge last night at the Stroh.  BG had made some 3FGs, played even on rebounds and turnovers and the Falcons were only 4 at the break, which was a pretty major surprise.  There was a good crowd--over 3,400 and the fifth largest men's crowd in the Stroh--and that might have played a role.  At any rate, BG, heavy underdogs, was running right with the Bearcats.

The second half could not have been more different.  UC came out of the locker room and just destroyed the Falcons, going on a 16-2 run in the first four minutes or so.  They had the lead up to 20 with less than 6 minutes gone and were up 26 with 11 minutes left in the half.  By that time, it was a 26-4 run.  To make matters worse, BG was held without a FG for the last 7 minutes of the game, leaving UC with a 83-50 win in which BG was outscored 48-19 in the second half.

Ouch.  BG's second half numbers are what you would expect.  They shot 22%, 15% from beyond the arc, were -11 on the boards, had 8 turnovers to 1 for UC.  The Bearcats made 7 of 17 from beyond the arc.

That's just a long half of basketball.  Now look, BG wasn't expected to win this game and they didn't.  And I'd guess I would rather play with them for a half than having the second half happen in the first half.  But, if you doubted it, the game left no doubt who stood where.

As you can see below, the difference was shooting.  UC shot 47%/43% and BG shot 29% and 28%. So that's going to leave an unsightly mark.  Overall, UC had a good 1.1 points per possession (in a 75 possession game, which is a lot more than in previous seasons, so adjust overall stats accordingly) and BG had .66 points per possession, which is awful.  Turnovers were even and UC had a significant advantage on the boards.  Getting 28% of the offensive rebounds is not great but getting 19% is very tough to win with.

On an individual basis, Zach Denny had 13 points on 4 of 14 shooting.  Spencer Parker had 10 points on 3 of 6 shooting.  No other Falcons were in double figures.

Alcegaire had 8 rebounds and Joseph had 6.  Pep had 3 assists over 2 turnovers.  Alcegaire had 5 turnovers in 25 minutes played.

Also, Demajeo Wiggins got into the game, so the redshirt is out for him.  Josh Gomez also got in.  Both were DNP against New Orleans.  Antwon Lillard led the team with 30 minutes played.

Anyway, this one is best forgotten about.  The North Dakota Fighting Hawks like next on the schedule Saturday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hey Falcon Fans...

Look what happened.....

Sadness Accrues: First thoughts on the Rocket loss

Well, hell.

That was one hell of a night.  It started with BG having perhaps the worst quarter imaginable, rallying from 30-7 to have a chance to make the game close again, but always find themselves one step from being back in the game.

BG turned the ball over 5 times, and even if you give them the one at the end, where you had to make something happen, you still had 4 turnovers.  As Coach said after the game, we didn't get beat by the "bogeyman."  We got beat by ourselves.

In all fairness, the turnovers are not the whole story.  UT had a very good defensive game plan and they won the battle on the line of scrimmage, especially with the defensive line.  They did a great job of limiting the big play.  BG's longest pass play before garbage time was a 17-yard completion.  BG's longest run was 12 yards.  That's not what BG is used to seeing.

Also, BG had some poorly timed penalties, including a holding call on a big TD run by Matt Johnson that would have been a huge play in the game at that time.

As noted by the Falcon Radio Network, the Rockets were not blitzing.  They were getting pressure with four or even three rushers.  That's a worst case scenario for the offense because you have a QB under pressure throwing into heavy coverage.  I didn't think Matt Johnson ever really looked to be in a groove or comfortable out there and the offense really never clicked.

The first third of the game was pretty bad.  The defense was getting gashed and UT was running on us like crazy. Now, BG's defense did rise to the occasion, as they have done throughout the season.  They forced two red zone FGs in the first half, and kept the team in the game waiting for BG's offense to cut the game to a 2-point lead, which the Falcons were never able to do.

A very interesting thing happened in the last seconds.  Coach Babers called a time out and the entire team took a knee in front of him, just like they might have done after a practice.  I don't know what he said, but I have never seen a coach do that.

Look, that's 6 straight to the Rockets.  That is ridiculous.  It seemed like this year was the year to break the streak, but BG played its worst game of the season on November 17, and that was the wrong night when it came to this rivalry.

Worst game of the season and it wasn't close.  And that's very disappointing.  Incredibly disappointing, especially with the huge crowd.  I feel you.  It's almost midnight, and I'm pretty down right now.  This is a game you want to win.

Before you do, I will point out that Coach is 0-4 with a clinched East title.


First, Chris Jones was on twitter for BG and he pointed out that he was part of a winning game against UT and didn't play in the MAC title.

Second, BG lost to UT in the championship year.  In fact, the loss might have been the best thing that happened to that team.  The production that we saw AFTER that game cannot be compared to what we saw before that game.  And that was with Gabe Martin injured in the UT game.  So, there is life after losing to UT.

Now, if you want the season to be over because of the game tonight, OK.

But, as Coach pointed out, there are 3 games ahead of us.  Ball State, the MAC title game and then a bowl game.

If BG reacts like the '13 team did, they can still win the MAC title.  There is plenty of talent.

Coach also said that "hopefully we will see more energy and execution" in those games.

And that's the key.  The BG system is either executed perfectly or it becomes very clunky.  BG won 7 straight games (a point Coach did not fail to make), and the team is capable of doing what it needs to win.

It won't come with what we saw tonight.  It just won't.

But, it could still come.  Yes, the goal was to beat Toledo and win the MAC.  That's gone.  The question that remains is whether this team can rebound and win the MAC.  Let us watch and see.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Frack Challenge: Bearcats Come to Town

One of the thing Bill Frack wanted was to make a donation to Falcon men's basketball that would allow BG to bring top level teams to the Stroh, which involves paying them.  Hence, the Bill Frack Challenge, which is the event we look forward to tomorrow.  The UC Bearcats are coming to town.

This is what Bill Frack was looking for.  UC is a signature program, with six straight 20 win seasons.  Last year there were 23-11, and won a game in NCAA Tourney.

It is going to be a difficult day for the Falcons, I suspect. If BG wins, it will be a pretty big upset.  Not only is UC a great program but they are an especially poor match up for BG.

The Bearcats were good last year and they bring back quite a bit.  In fact, all of their starters and 3 reserves return from last year's NCAA team.  Also, they return their Coach, Mick Cronin, who had to take a leave for health reasons.

This year, they were picked to be 3rd in the AAC and have the best front court in the conference, according to Blue Ribbon.

This year, they have 2 easy wins over Western Carolina and Robert Morris.

The front court is the big worry.  That's not BG's strong point and UC has absolute giants inside and my fear is that they feast all day in the paint.

It starts with Octavious Ellis, an AAC POY candidate.  He's 6'10" and 235 (and a senior).  Last year, he averaged 9.9 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 2 blocks which shooting 56%.  (No Bearcat averaged in double figures last year).

He is joined up front by Gary Clark, who is 6'7" and 235, and had 7.8/7.2 last year while shooting 52%.  Those two guys are formidable.  Also, off the bench they bring 6'7" Shaq Thomas and 6'9" 270 Coreontae DeBerry.

In the backcourt, their PG is JR Troy Caupin.  He scored 9.6 and had 6 assists per game and shot 41% from beyond the arc.  He is joined at guard by Fared Cobb, who scores 8.5 PPG but struggles with the shot (38%).

Their stats this season are a little misleading.  The games have been blowouts, so more minutes have gone to bench guys.  Last year they had no double figure scorers partly because of how they apportion minutes.  No player had more than 31 per game and 7 players played more than 20.

If they had an issue last year, it was scoring.  They averaged 1.02 points per possession (national average was an even point).  Their defense was very solid, allowing .9 points per possession.

Again, this will be a tough one for the Falcons.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

Monday, November 16, 2015

25 questions for when a monkey is on your back

What is their body of work?

It's pretty good.  They have been a top-flight program for years and have only failed to get past NIU, who they lost to this year as well.  They have a big win over Arkansas and beat everyone else in sight.  This is a very good team that is in danger of missing out again.  They can make it even if they lose to BG.  Also, their body of work includes five straight wins over BG.  Ignoring it doesn't make it better.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

29, which is a lot.

Who are their statistical leaders?

FBS Ranks

8th - Terry Swanson, rush yards per carry
16th - Cody Thompson, yards per reception

What is their turnover ratio?

In MAC play, they are -2, which is actually 11th in the MAC.  They have turned the ball over 10 times in 6 MAC games.

Offense:  (Unless noted all stats are MAC games only)

 How is their QB play?

Phillip Ely is a good but not great MAC QB this year.  He is 6th in pass efficiency.  He has completed only 57% of his passes with 7 picks.  He does average 12.9 per completion, which is good.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are 4th in the MAC in scoring and 3rd in yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

This is very much the strength of their team.  They are 3rd in the MAC in yards per carry and 2nd in yards per game.  They have an experienced and outstanding offensive line to support multiple running backs.

Do they pass the ball?

As noted, they are in the middle of the MAC in passing efficiency but 4th in passing yards per game.

How was their run/pass balance?

This is a running team.  They run on 56% of their plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Second in the MAC, right behind BG.

Do they score in the red zone?

They are absolutely deadly in the red zone, scoring 5.6 points per red zone trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

You could say that.  They have given up only 2 sacks in MAC play this year.


In past years, UT had a great offensive team and were not great (or bad) on defense.  This year that are a good/great offensive team but finally have put a defense on the field.

Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are 2nd in the MAC in scoring defense (right behind BG).  They are 1st in yards per play allowed.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are 2nd in the MAC in yards per carry allowed, so they are good against the run.

Can they be passed on?

They are 3rd in pass efficiency defense.  They allow 57.8% completions with 9 TDs and 5 INT.  They allow 10.4 yards per completion.  This is a very different Rocket defense.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 7th in the MAC in allowed 3rd down conversions.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are very good here, scoring 4.2 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

Not really.  They have only 11 sacks so far which is 6th in the MAC.

Special Teams:


They are 8th in net punting.  Shortish punts but almost no return yards.  They have 13 kicks inside the 20 with 1 touchback.  No blocks against.

Punt Return?

They are good.  Corey Jones leads the MAC in punt returns.  He has a 9.9 yard average with a 48 long and no TDs, which means that he has made consistent yardage.  They also have 2 blocks.


He's just OK.  14 of 21 overall and 11 of 16 inside 40.  Long of 44 for the year and 1 blocked. (all games)


They start on the 26, with no TDs.  (all games)

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 26 which is typical.  (All games)

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

A few things.

Look, this is rivalry game.  UT has dominated it recently and for much of the year was thought to have the best team in the MAC.  Having said that, BG is probably playing as well right not as UT is.  This is an evenly matched contest that should be very close.

Oh...and UT has won five straight.  Has anyone mentioned that?

BG's game is based on the proposition that no one can stop it.  BG has continued to score, even against the best defenses in the MAC.  Their ability to keep it up will be the key element of the game against the Rockets.

BG has won the East, but I don't think that will be as issue.  Might be in Muncie, but not in this one.  UT badly needs a win.

Oh, and we could do this all over again in a couple weeks.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Special Teams Research: WMU

Last note on the WMU game.  BG had its 5th straight positive week in special teams at +2.   There were no big plays either way...all one or two point plays.  BG had 3 good punt plays and then added in a touchback and one good kick defense.  WMU also had a good punt game, a couple good kickoff returns and only one negative play.

BG Positive (+6)

BG punt 52 yard net punt (+1)
WMU KOR to 12 (+1)
BG KO TB (+1)
BG punt inside WMU 5 (+2)
BG Punt to WMU 18 (+1)

BG Negative (-4)

Penalty on PR puts BG on 20 (-1)
BG missed PAT (-1)
WMU KOR to 36 (-1)
WMU KOR to 42 (-1)

WMU Positive (+7)

WMU 48 yd FG (+1)
WMU KO TB (+1)
WMU 49 yd net punt before penalty (+1)
WMU KOR to 36 (+1)
WMU 47 yd net punt (+1)
WMU KOR to 42 (+1)
WMU net punt 45 (+1)

WMU Negative (-1)

WMU KOR to 12 (-1)

Past and Future Opponent Land

Tennessee  (6-4) Beat North Texas 24-0
Maryland (2-8) Lost 24-7 to MSU
Memphis (8-2) Lost to Houston
Purdue (2-8) Lost to Northwestern
Buffalo (5-5) Lost to NIU
UMass (2-8) Beat EMU
Akron (5-5) Beat Miami
Kent (3-7) Lost to Ohio
Ohio (6-4) Beat Kent
Toledo (8-1) Beat CMU
Ball State (3-7) Idle


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

West leads East, 9-4

Huger Notches W In Coaching Debut

So that's one.

The BG Falcons came out Saturday against New Orleans and certainly showed they were more ready to play than they had been in their exhibition against Notre Dame.  As noted in the preview, New Orleans is a team BG is supposed to beat and they did, 79-61.

Coach Huger said after the game that his parents and 50-60 people from New York came in for the game and surprised him.  He truly seems like a genuine, authentic, nice guy and I look forward to him getting the program ramped up again.  I think he is someone BG fans can get behind.

Stung by a slow start Friday, BG came out fast against the Privateers, bolting to a 14-2 lead in the first five minutes or so.  It was no closer than 6 for the rest of the game.  BG led by 10 at the half and kept the pressure on, never leading by less than 10 and leading by as many as 24.

In the preview, we had identified that shooting was UNO's big struggle, and that was the difference in this game as well.  The Privateers shot only 35% from the field--and pretty much equally poorly in both halves--and were only 4 of 14 from 3FG.  BG shot 45% from the field, though the Falcons also struggled from beyond the arc at 6 of 23.  Rebounds and turnovers were relatively even, and BG had 13 more FT attempts and ended up +10 on free throws.  BG improved on a poor FT shooting night in the exhibition by hitting nearly 70% in this game.

Overall, BG had 1.04 points per possession, which is a very good night but certainly not incredible.  They held UNO to .8 points per possession, which is pretty much unwinnable territory for a team.

Individually, BG got a big game by a guy they can really use this year, which is Rasheed Worrell.  He has been compared to Richaun Holmes on his arrival at BG...a raw talent who can turn into a player.  He certainly showed some athletic ability Saturday, scoring 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting and grabbing 7 rebounds in 24 minutes of play.

BG's second leading scorer was another newcomer, Wes Alcegaire, who had 14 points.  His were a little less efficient at 5 of 12 shooting and 1 of 5 from 3FG.    Finally, true FR Antwon Lillard had 13 points off the bench on 4 of 9 shooting.

Zack Denny, in fact, was the only returnee in double figures, with 11 points on 3 of 7 shooting 

Pep Joseph played 22 minutes with 2 assists.  Ismail Ali--the other PG--has 2 assists and 4 turnovers.  
In fact, BG was lead in assists by JD Tisdale with 3...he seemed to be a lot more of a solid player than he was last season.

In terms of rotation, BG started Parker, Worrell, Denny, Joseph and Alcegaire--basically a 3-guard lineup), with Tisdale, Ali, Lillard and Mayleben getting more than 10 minutes off the bench.  Matt Fox played 8 minutes with Hluchoweckyj and Bustuill getting garbage minutes.  Wiggins and Gomez were DNP.

Things get a little tougher on Wednesday as the UC Bearcats come in for the Bill Frack Challenge.  Still, the game was on the schedule to be a win and BG got it done, with most of the scoring production coming from new players. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

New Men's Basketball Rules

As we enter the start of men's basketball in a couple hours, this is a good chance to review the rule changes for this year.  If you want, here is the NCAA's instructional video for the season, which will either be very interesting or 15 minutes of your life you are never going to get back.

Here's a summary of the new rules, copied directly off

The key areas officials will focus on in the upcoming season are:
• Perimeter defense, particularly on the dribbler and strictly enforcing directives established before the 2013-14 season.
• Physicality in post play.
• Screening, particularly moving screens and requiring the screener to be stationary.
• Block/charge plays.
• Allowing greater freedom of movement for players without the ball.

Pace of play

With an eye on reducing inaction, the panel approved several proposals to improve the pace of play. The most significant is reducing the shot clock to 30 seconds. The shot clock was last reduced for the 1993-94 season when it went from 45 seconds to 35.

Teams will also have one fewer team timeout (only three can carry over instead of four) in the second half. Officials will focus more on resuming play quickly after a timeout and will issue a delay-of-game warning when a team does not comply and a one-shot technical foul on subsequent violations.

The rest of the package designed to improve the pace of play includes:
• Adjusting the media timeout procedures to allow a timeout called within 30 seconds of a break (at the 16:30 mark) or at any time after the scheduled media timeout becomes the media timeout.
• Removing the ability for a coach to call timeout when the ball is live.
• Allowing a total of only 10 seconds to advance the ball to the front court (with a few exceptions).
• Reducing the amount of time allotted to replace a disqualified player from 20 to 15 seconds.

Restricted-area arc

The panel also approved the expansion of the restricted-area arc from 3 feet to 4 feet. This arc would be effective in 2015-16 for Division I and 2016-17 for Divisions II and III. Moving the arc a foot farther from the basket is part of a continued focus on reducing the number of collisions at the basket.

Faking fouls

During the use of a video review to see if a possible flagrant foul occurred, the panel approved a rule that would allow officials to penalize players who fake fouls. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee felt that players trying to draw fouls by deception is a growing issue.

Other changes

Other proposals approved by the panel include:
• Allowing officials to use the monitor to review a potential shot clock violation on made field goals throughout the entire game.
• Making Class B technical fouls (hanging on the rim and delaying the resumption of play, for example) one-shot technical fouls. Previously, two shots were granted for these types of technical fouls.
• Eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule while dribbling the ball.
• Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups and at halftime

Friday, November 13, 2015

Privateer Preview

So, here we go.  The season is ready to start.  BG opens with New Orleans, a team they beat by 30 a couple years ago and who was (I assume) supposed to represent a win on the schedule.  Following the Notre Dame College game, I'm not sure anything can be counted on as a sure win.

First, it is important to know what is going on with this New Orleans team.  They were scattered to the winds during Katrina, decided to become DIII and then changed up and decided to be D1 again.  It was in that transition that BG played them the first time.  For more on what they have been going through as they rebuild in a rebuilding city, check this ESPN.COM story out.

They are now in the Southland Conference, where Blue Ribbon has them finishing 7th in the conference.  This conference is a borderline play-in league, ranked 29 of 33 overall in NCAA by RPI.

Last year, the Privateers with 11-18 and 6-10 in the Southland, with an RPI of 327, which is among the worst in D1.  Their biggest win was over Lamar, with an RPI of 249.  According to Blue Ribbon, they battled a lot of injuries last year.

They return 3 starters from that team and three of their top 4 scorers.  They include the leading scorer...Christavious Gill, who scored 12 PPG shooting only 40% from the field.  Gill is a Jordon Crawford-sized G who had less than 2 assists per game last year.  Also, 6'7" Kevin Hill (10.6 ppg and 6.7 rpg, shooting 47%, not great for a big man) and Nate Frye, the PG, (10.3 PPG and 2.4 rpg who shot around 40% as well).

There are a couple of JUCO players on board, as well, including one who could have an impact...Erik Thomas, (17.9 PPG) who was the Louisiana Junior College Association Player of the Year last year.  There are also 3 true freshmen who could contribute right away.

They struggled on both sides last year, scoring .97 points per possession, which was 9th in the conference and 1.06 which was 8th,  The biggest issue was shooting, they were 2nd to last in the Southland.  They were 6th in rebounding and turnovers and 4th in free throw rate.

On defense, they allowed 48% overall shooting, which is tough to win with.  Their rebounding and turnovers were above average.

They did play at a quick pace, 72 possessions per game.

For whatever it is worth, it sounds like their shooting might get a little bit better this year but their main shooters are still expected to be pretty poor.  They also have a ton of new players opening their career on the road.  I'd say this...if the Falcons lose this, we are looking at a historically long season.

Babers: "We will not go home"

UT had one day more prep leading into Tuesday's game...if you think maybe Coach Babers isn't focused on beating Toledo, maybe this quote might change your mind.

“We’re going to start breaking this down on the bus,” he said of the win over Western Michigan. “When we get in at 4 o’clock in the morning, we’re going to work all day. We will not go home. We will work all day and then meet the team at 4 o’clock. And after that we’ll meet some more. And if we’re tired, we’re tired. We’re coaches. The players will be fresh.”

Sweet Victory #8: The Defense

It was not an unusual story for the BG defense.  It is not the first time that the phrase "bend but don't break" has been brought out.

Bend.  WMU had 27 first downs, 205 yards rushing for a sack-adjusted average north of 5 yards per carry.  Even at that, WMU came into the game with the MAC's top rushing offense and while they got their yards, BG kept WMU from winning the game on the ground.

They were 24-40 passing with one pick...and 7.1 yards per attempt and 11.8 yards per reception, both better numbers than BG had.  They finished with 5.7 yards per play--less than BG due to the running.

Even so, BG gave up a good number of yards and first downs.  The difference--two turnovers, a FG stop in the red zone and a total stop as well and they held WMU to 4 of 13 on 3rd down and 1 of 3 on 4th down.  Those two stats go a long way to explain the part where BG didn't break.  The ability to get the other team off the field is key.

And the red zone stop at the end?  That was huge.  Yes, BG was up two scores, but the Falcons were able to hold that lead while forcing WMU to kill almost five minutes of precious game time with no return.

BG also had 5 sacks, including a key one on the game's critical fourth down play.  And, after a rough start, BG closed the last game with 6 scoreless stops.

This has been how BG's defense has worked most of the year, especially against better opposition.  I don't think they are going to suddenly turn into a shutdown defense, but at the same time this level of success, if it can continue, is enough to keep BG on the winning side.

BG is 8-2, just for the record.

Austin Valdez had a huge game, with 15 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL and a hurry.  Clint Stephens had 12 solo tackles and 2 breakups, battling through some early issues covering Corey Davis.  James Sanford had 12 tackles and 1 break up while Trent Greene had 11 tackles and a fumble recovery.  Terrance Bush had 2 sacks, Zach Colvin had 1 and Royster and Lunsford split a sack.  Alfonso Mack had an interception.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sweet Victory #8: The Offense

The "business model" of this BG team is pretty simple.  We're going to score a lot and we're going to play good enough defense that you are eventually losing and looking at having to outscore us and then you aren't going to be able to play the way you want to play and then we've got you.

It has been pretty successful this year, though powered by superior offensive talent, including a record-setting QB, a WR who could be playing in the NFL next year and a historic RB.  And others.  Anyway, that how it is supposed to work and how it did work in the win against WMU.

It wasn't the best day the offense has had all year, which says something on its own.  Overall, BG ran 82 plays for 505 yards, which means 6.2 yards per play, which is a winning total, though more than a yard below the season average.  Even so, the team scored 6 touchdowns, had 28 first downs and was 7 of 15 on 3rd down and 1 of 1 on 4th.  There was only one turnover.

Amazingly, BG scored 6 TDs and was only in the red zone once.

What was a little different was the exact mix of how it happened.  BG is used to putting up huge passing numbers, but in this game it was the running that really carried the load.  Let me just say that Travis Greene--who will break the BG career rushing record next week--is just an incredible runner who gets better and better.  He took some WMU defenders right out of their shorts last night.  It was impressive.

BG ended up with 236 yards net rushing.  If you remove the sacks, BG had 248 yards on 38 carries, which is 6.5 yards per carry and constitutes carving the Broncos up by any measure.  Travis Greene carried the load, with 24 carries for 170 yards and 3 TDs...that's 7.1 yards per carry.  That's a lot of carries for him...they have typically been keeping him in the high teens.  Fred Coppet had 6 carries for 64 yards, which is an even bigger 10.1 yards per carry.

That was needed because BG had its lowest passing game of the season.  BG threw for only 269 yards.  Beyond that, Johnson was 23 of 41 for 56%, which means 6.6 per attempt and 11.7 per completion, both of which are fine but below what this offense has typically produced.

That makes a difference, as noted in the comments to the post above, because the BG offense is predicated on momentum.  Three and outs--especially three passing plays and out--give the other team the ball back in less than a minute and put the defense back onto the field.  You almost need the churning success we saw over the past few weeks.  You need that accuracy.

Gehrig Dieter was 9 for 85 and Lewis was 8 for 86 and 2 scores.  Burbrink had 5 and Redding had 2 and a TD.  Ronnie Moore appeared to be injured on a diving attempt and finished with 1 catch and did not return after that.

The other credit goes to some people who don't get stats.  I think BG's offensive line has been playing really well lately.  They opened the holes for Travis Greene so he could get to the second level and make people miss (and Coppet) and Johnson was sacked 3 times but Coach noted after the game that two of them were really coverage sacks.  That's going to be critical because BG is going to need a very strong offensive line effort against the Rockets, who are very tough up front.

BG MBB Early Signees

Yesterday was the early signing day for basketball.  BG inked the two players we were anticipating, Dylan Frye and Rodrick Caldwell.  Both look like really good players as we rebuild our program.  The thing is that they are both 1s...and the program desperately needs inside players.  I'm confident that Coach Huger is aware of the need for inside players and they are working on it.  Anyway, Rodrick and Dylan, welcome to BG.

Sweet Victory #8: The Recap

It was slated to be BG's toughest game since Memphis left town and I think it qualified as that.  Even with that, against a very good team, BG was able to win on the road.  This one was big for our guys. I'm immensely proud of the effort and success this year.  Even the defense--undermanned as it is--continues to grind and seems to have an ability to win battles late when they are really needed.

Of course, that locks up BG's 3rd straight East title.  (Technically, it was locked up before the game when NIU held off Buffalo, but with the win BG will take the East outright.)

Anyone care to remember when it seemed like we would never get even one East title?  Just stop for a minute.  BG is 8-2, two big upsets, undefeated in conference...this has been a pretty damn good year.  Now, there are still some things that could make it better (ahem, UT, MAC title), but to date it would be hard for it to be much better.

I would not have been surprised if the game had been a track meet and it certainly looked at first like that was going to be what would happen.

BG took the opening kickoff and did what it does, which is to operate a 10-play, 79-yard drive in 1:47 (which is just unbelievable), capped by Johnson going over the top to Lewis for 35 yards and BG had a 7-0 lead.

WMU came right down the field, hitting Corey Davis 3 times for 48 yards.  (Coach said after the game that after this drive the team dropped into zone on him and didn't try to play man against him).  Anyway, they got to the BG 26 before Terrance Bush picked up a 3rd down sack and they hit a 48 yd FG to make it 7-3 BG.

BG took the kickoff and went 77 yards in 2:05, capping off with a Travis Greene 24 yard TD run.  With that, BG was up 14-3 with 7 minutes left in the first.

In past weeks, that might have been it.  Up 2 scores. BG would have just extended the lead and coasted home.  WMU was better than that.  They drove 77 yards in a 4-minute drive that resulted in a touchdown that made it 14-10.

Then they forced a three and out--hampered by a dropped pass on a long pass to Ronnie Moore that might have been a touchdown, his second potential big play drop--and then WMU scored again early in the second quarter to take a 17-14 lead and the hunter became the quarry.  It was the first time BG had trailed since the UMass game (take a note on that).

The two teams traded punts after that (making it 2 straight stops for the WMU defense) and then BG had an 80-yard drive in less than 2 minutes with Johnson hitting Teo Redding for a 42 yard TD to give BG the lead back, 21-17.

WMU started on their own 12, converted a 4th down deep in their own territory but punted from inside the 25.  BG started on its own 45 with 5:40 left in the half and an excellent chance to build the lead, which they did 5 plays later with Johnson hitting Roger Lewis again for a 31-yard TD...Tate doinked the XP...BG up 27-17.

WMU roared back into BG territory and then lost a fumble, giving BG a turnover, up 11, with 2:21 left in the half and BG starting on its own 34.  This is a moment of maximum danger for WMU.  BG is perfectly suited to get into the end zone and go up 3 scores heading into the locker room.

It was a battle WMU's defense had to win and they did.  BG made one first down and then had 2 incompletions and a sack and BG had failed to land the head shot it had available.

WMU took the ball at 1:32 and they went 3 and out and that opportunity still existed for BG when they got the ball back on the 36 with 1:03 left.

BG made 2 first downs and then Johnson was intercepted on a bubble screen that was returned (with penalty) down to the BG 14.  (At halftime, Coach Babers said that our players heard a whistle and didn't block the bubble screen, but the officials said they didn't hear it).  Anyway, the defense kept WMU out of the end zone but the Broncos got a FG...meaning that they had been faced with being down 34-17 and instead were down 27-20.

And then the Broncos took the opening kickoff and then ran a 8 play drive to tie the game at 27.

That's a pretty big turnaround in a short period of time.  The ultimate news, however, is that WMU did not score again.

BG took the lead for good on its next drive, a 77-yard drive featuring 34 rushing yards for Greene and Coppet and an eventual TD for #8.  BG lead 34-27---after the XP hit the upright and went through.

BG's defense earned a 3 and out and the Falcons made the last TD of the game on a 11 play, 3:48 long drive that featured a lot of Travis Greene, including the ultimate TD.  BG had a 2-score lead with 2:54 left in the 3Q.

The defense got another 3 and out and BG had another chance to close the game out as the third ended and the 4th began.  With a 2nd and 2 on the WMU 44 and seemingly headed the right way, Johnson was sacked twice and once again WMU's defense had kept the Broncos alive.

WMU is still 100% capable of scoring twice and tying the game, and now that had some stops, it was starting to get a little tense.  They drove into BG territory and had a 3rd and 3 on the 37.  BG's defense came up very big, blowing up a run for a loss of 4 and then tackling Corey Davis 1 yard shot of the "line to make" on 4th down for a turnover on downs.  Very big possession.  Still 10:24 left.

Given another opportunity to close the door, BG went 3 and out.  Joe Davidson--who is a monster weapon--bombed a 65 yard punt down to the WMU 5.  With 9:17 left, WMU faced a long field to drive.  Even if they did it, it was going to eat up time.

Which they did.  Mixing in a 44-yard completion, they ended up with a 1st and goal on the BG 4.  With their running game, you have to like their odds of getting into the end zone.  However, BG stoned a run on first down, forced incompletions on 2nd and 3rd and then sacked Terrell on 4th for a huge red zone stop.  WMU had used up half of the remaining time and ended with no points.

BG took the ball with 4:33 left.  WMU had all 3 time outs, which they used in getting BG off the field with only one first down.

Even so, WMU started with 2:44 left needing 2 scores and no timeouts...and Mack sealed the game with an INT and the Falcons had the big road victory sealed.'

More on the individual units to come, but the offense was good though not unstoppable and the defense bent but continued to make big plays when needed and stopped a very good offense at 27 points and finished with 6 straight scoreless stops.  That's a potent formula.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Say Hi to Your MAC East Champions

More to come tomorrow.....but for now, a great night to be a Falcon.  You go on the road and get that win?  By two touchdowns.  This is one to be proud of.  BG also is the first East team to beat a West team that wasn't named Eastern Michigan (this year).  And, it comes on the heels of BG whiffing on the West last year.

It was a complete team victory, complete with a goal line stand to seal the win.

Finally, I said this week that we would get an idea how good we actually are.  WMU is a very good team, and BG beat them by two scores on the road.

Finally, for all the struggle last year, this team is right where Coach Babers said it would be, which is a legit competitor for a second title in 3 years.

Again, more to come.  For now, savor the win Falcon fans.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

25 Questions that are Buck'n

What is their body of work?

Everybody made fun, but PJ Fleck has turned the program around fast.  They had a loss I am sure they regret to Georgia Southern, They have won their last 5, including their last 4 by 196-62, including a 54-7 thumping of what everyone felt was a pretty decent Ball State team.  On the other hand, Miami and EMU were in that four as well.  They played a 41-39 game with CMU.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

26, which is pretty normal.  A lot of FR and SO, from those big recruiting classes.

Who are their statistical leaders?

FBS Ranks

2nd - Daniel Braverman, receptions per game
6th - Zach Terrell, passing efficiency
6th - Daniel Braverman, receiving yards per game
7th - Zach Terrell, completion percentage.
7th - Daniel Braverman, receiving TDs
10th - Zach Terrell, passing TDs
10th - Darius Phillips, Passes defended
14th - Jamauri Bogan, rushing yards per carry
15th - Ronald Zamort, Passes defended
15th- Darius Phillips, combined kick returns
15th - Corey Davis, receiving TDs

What is their turnover ratio?

In MAC play, they are +7, trailing only Bowling Green.

Offense:  (Unless noted all stats are MAC games only)

 How is their QB play?

It's great.  Zach Terrell is outstanding and this will feature probably the two best QBs in the MAC.  This is the best QB has faced since Paxton Lynch.

What is their scoring and yards per play?
They are 2nd in the MAC in scoring per game (to BG) and first in yards per play (7.9)

Can they run the ball?

They are the #1 rushing offense in the MAC, with 285 yards per game and 6.4 yards per carry.  That yards per carry is a half-yard better than the next team.

Do they pass the ball?

They are 2nd in the MAC in pass efficiency.  They complete 74% of their passes with 14 TDs over 0 (not a typo) INTs.  They have the lowest number of attempts in the conference, but average 14.6 yards per completion, which is slightly higher than BG (14.5).

How was their run/pass balance?

This is a running team.  They run on 64% of their plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Second in the MAC, right behind BG.

Do they score in the red zone?

They are very good, scoring 5.4 points per red zone trip.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have given up 7 sacks which given their low number of passes is average protection.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are 2nd in the MAC in scoring defense (right behind BG).  They are, however, 9th in yards per play allowed.  Part of that is 9 turnovers and we will see if something else shows up to explain the discrepancy.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are tied for 8th in yards per carry allowed.  They have the fewest number of rushing attempts against in the MAC.

Can they be passed on?

They are 6th in pass efficiency defense.  They allow 57% completions with 9 TDs and 4 INTs.  They allow 12.8 yards per completion.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

Here is the second reason for the points/yards discrepancy.  They lead the MAC in 3rd down defense, allowing only 27% conversion, which is less than half what the BG offense gets (58%).

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are not great here, allowing 5.1 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

Not really.  They have only 8 sacks so far.

Special Teams:


Bronco Nagurski

They are 2nd in net punting...right behind BG.  They have allowed 0 return yards.

Punt Return?

They have 6 PRs for 58 yards and no TDs.


He's all right.  10 of 14, missed 2 inside 40 but 3 of 5 beyond 40.  Long of 42, 1 blocked.  (all games)


They start on the 24, with no TDs.  In 63 KOs there have been 27 TBs. (all games)

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 28 which is typical.  (All games)  They have a big returner in Darius Phillips and BG needs to be careful they don't get burned as they did earlier in the year with players like him.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

A few things.

This is the best team BG has played since Memphis left town.  These guys are really good.  They can run and pass and play pretty good defense.  They don't turn the ball over...this is just a very solid football team.

It comes on a week where BG had a game where Coach Babers felt like the defense backslid a little bit.  That's going to need to be corrected against these guys.

If you want a model, I would see this one looking like the Memphis game.  Both teams in the 40s, coming to a late finish.

One thing that wasn't mentioned above is time of possession.  WMU leads the MAC in this stat and has two great RBs and the best rushing offense in the MAC.  Fleck said that a big part of their plan is to hold onto the ball to keep Matt Johnson sitting in a "chair."  BG's defense is going to have to get off the field.

And the offense is going to have to make the best of all its opportunities.

Here is the other intangible.  So, last season BG started November in a similar place.  BG had all but wrapped the East up and proceeded to lose its next four against the MAC West and be 1 minute from losing every game for the rest of the season.  That was a difficult time and can't have been any fun.  The same thing is possible here and it has to be in people's minds.  Now, BG struggled against the East last year and really didn't this year.  Still, over the next 7 days BG will play WMU and UT, possibly the two best teams in the MAC.  We'll see if we can bury last year's finish with some success this year, but they are our two biggest challenges in quite a while.