Thursday, March 31, 2016

BG Assistant Louis Rowe to be Head Coach at James Madison

Good news for one of BG's MBB assistants, Louis Rowe, who has been named the Head Coach at James Madison, which is his alma mater.  Rowe came to BG with Coach Huger, and before that he had been at FIU.  He also had been an assistant at JMU.  When he played, he started at Florida and at JMU played for Coach "Lefty" Driesell.

Congrats, Coach Rowe.  Best wishes to you.  We'll keep an eye out for who Coach Huger brings on to fill the spot.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Falcons Gain Verbal from 2017 QB

BG has its first commit of the 2017 class.  This one is in the apple falling from the tree vein, as it is Jarret (one "T" please) Doege, who is from Lubbock, TX....specifically Lubbock Cooper.  None of this, from Lubbock on, is a terrible mystery, but Doege's brother Seth was a highly productive starter for Texas Tech, although Seth left Texas Tech a year before Jinks arrived.  The Doege's are from San Angelo, TX, where Mike Jinks went to college.

Seth Doege was released from the CFL and has joined BG as a grad assistant, which presumably had an impact on the recruiting.

Jarret Doege is (depending on who you listen to) 6'2" and 188 pounds and had a productive junior season:
The Lubbock Cooper junior quarterback has played his position well by passing for 1,882 yards, 21 touchdowns and only four interceptions. In addition, the 6-foot-3 inch, 187-pound signal caller helped guide the Pirates to the program’s first outright District 4-5A title — and 5A title overall.
He is listed as a dual threat QB on ESPN.  He is not ranked there, but has a 3-star rating as a dropback passer on 24/7, whatever that means.  I don't see other offers, but he signed early, perhaps pre-empting them.

When Doege arrives at BG, we would currently project James Morgan and Elijah Cunningham to join him as scholarship players.

Welcome to the Falcons, Jarret.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter to the Falcon Nation

Happy Easter to the Falcon Nation.  Regardless of your religious faith, we can all unite around the idea of committing ourselves to a new beginning.

Friday, March 25, 2016

BG Men's Basketball Team to Tour Italy

Very cool news out of the Stroh Center this morning.  The BG Falcons men's basketball program is going to take an 11-day tour of Italy in August, playing games against top-flight competition as well as immersing themselves in a foreign culture--for most of our players, I have to believe it will be their first trip overseas.

NCAA teams are allowed to go on a foreign trip once every four years provided it is during a vacation period.  Coach Orr took his boys to Toronto a few years ago and the Falcons went to Chile in 2000.

BG is able to do this because of the ongoing legacy of Bill Frack and the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation

I'm 100% for this.  It will be a great experience for the guys and something that they will remember for their entire life.  As an aside, both Michael Huger and Anthony Stacy played basketball extensively in Europe and they can probably both speak to the benefits of traveling and living elsewhere.

I'm sure the trip will be social-media'd out the ying-yang.  You can go along if you like...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

MAC Basketball Continues Tonight

MAC Basketball does continue, as Ball State and OU make runs in the CIT and CBI, respectively.  Both games below are tonight...if OU wins they are in the finals and would play in a best two out of three format for the CBI title.

I have heard that teams are often not thrilled to be in these tourneys until they start to get near the title, and then it comes to be a bigger deal.  Best of luck to all involved.

CIT Quarterfinals (BPIs listed below)

Ball State (160) @ Columbia (114) Wednesday 7:00 pm

CBI Semis:

Morehead State (137) @ Ohio University (124) Wednesday 7:00

(Winner plays the winner of Vermont and Nevada for the whole enchilada in a unique best 2 of 3 format.)

NIU plays UC-Santa Barbara in Vegas on Monday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Falcons Add 5th Kicker

BG has another kicker coming in as they continue to try to get enough guys in camp to make sure someone can make a FG.  This looks a lot like the bad-old days when BG really struggled to kick.  Tyler Tate had the position solidified over the past four years, but now things are tough.  Last week we reported on JUCO transfer Blake Levin coming to BG from out west....and the other three incumbents.

Now there's a new entrant...Grant Tinnerman of Centerville, OH.  Tinnerman was 8 of 10 on FGs last year and had a long of 49.  He made his only attempt as a junior.

So, with five guys (at least) in the mix, the kicking contest should be interesting come fall camp.

Welcome to the Falcons, Grant

Falcons Land Graduate Transfer WR

The loss of Gehrig Dieter threw a wrench in BG's plans, no doubt about that.  What started out at Dieter, Moore, Redding, Rhodes, Miller became Moore, Redding, Rhodes and Miller.

That makes a difference.

Only Moore has real experience and I don't think he's ever struck anyone as a #1 WR.  None of the other 3 has put anything on paper, to speak of, as a WR.  Not to say they are without ability, just not proven.  And, in offenses where you need 4 or 5 WRs, you are vulnerable to injuries.

There were 4 WRs from signing day, with the most likely contributor being Darrion Landry, a JUCO WR.

And today The Blade is reporting that BG has Da'Mario Jones from UM....who has graduated and is going to play one year at BG.  (Graduate transfers:  the rule you hate until you don't).

Jones is an interesting story.  He went to Westland John Glenn HS, which is in the Detroit area.  He was lightly recruited for a couple reasons, including that he had moved around a lot for family reasons as a young man and that his HS team played mostly power ball.  He was committed to CMU and then switched it to UM when Hoke and Borges called while he was writing a "12-page paper on Julius Caesar."

He was not productive at Michigan.  He played 23 games and had 2 catches.  He played special teams mostly, according to his bio.

That being said, he had good speed out of HS and would be in a system that highlights WRs in space.  Who knows, he could contribute and he provides depth that is badly needed.

Welcome to the Falcons Da'Mario.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Football Verbal for '16: Grant Coffey

So, BG has an additional verbal for the class starting this fall...he's DE/OLB Grant Coffey, who played recently with the West LA City College, in Culver City, CA.  He's 6'2" and 250 lbs, and played mostly DE and some LB last year.

From JC
As a sophomore this past season for West Los Angeles, Coffey used his quick first step and natural pass-rushing abilities to post 38 tackles, two sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss while playing mostly defensive end, but also rotating in at linebacker as well.
He had an offer from Wyoming, strong interest from Southern Miss and Kansas State had asked for his transcripts.  He's from Culver City originally, and had signed with DII Western New Mexico, where he immediately felt out of place.  He says he had a scholarship offer from Northern Colorado, but decided to go to JUCO, refine his skills and shoot higher, which he did.  (The article says he has graduated from JUCO).

This is one of those off-season things that is under the radar but could be really big.  BG REALLY needed a guy like this.  Any quality depth on the D-line is vital to our ability to continue the high level of success we are thankful to have become used to.

Here's a quote you might enjoy:
"I can do it all, but attacking the quarterback is what I love to do,"

Update:  (H/t to Ken).  Welcome to the Falcons, Grant.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Buffalo goes down in NCAAs

That's four in a row for the MAC...the last MAC team to win a game in the tournament was OU in 2012 and they made the Sweet Sixteen.  The last team that is not OU to win a tournament game was CMU in 2003 with Chris Kamen.

Buffalo played a good game against Miami, but the Hurricanes are very strong and experienced.  They built up an 8 point lead in the second half and relentlessly rode that home to the win.  Nonetheless, this was a big season for the Bulls.  They repeat as champs and do so after losing their Coach and the MAC Offensive Player of the Year.  Very impressive.

Elsewhere around the MAC....

Ohio U won their first game in the CBI and will play UNC-Greensboro in Athens on Monday.  That's a quarterfinal.

Ball State beat Tennessee State in the CIT and now will play TN-Martin in what is a round of 16.

Those are the only two teams still playing. Akron lost to OSU and CMU lost to TN-Martin.

Update:  I am informed by an anonymous commented that NIU is also in the Vegas 16, where they will play UC Santa Barbara on March 28.  My "B"

BG has JUCO walk-on kicker

One of the bigger holes to fill this year for the BG football team is at kicker.  Tyler Tate held the position down effectively for his time there, but he (and kickoff specialist Anthony Farinella) are gone and BG does not (I believe) have a PK on scholarship.

Last month, they received a walk-on commitment from an interesting player from Wyoming....via pretty much everywhere else.  Blake Levin went to Cheyenne Central HS in Wyoming (where else) and graduated in 2013.  He started his college career at Northern State (in South Dakota), transferred to Wyoming and then ended up at Santa Barbara Junior College.  He had a big year there, making 9 for 10 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. He also made 32 of 35 extra points.  He committed to Idaho as a preferred walk-on, but then Austin Peay offered him a scholarship, so he signed there.

Unfortunately, he says he had 30 credits from Wyoming that wouldn't transfer to Austin Peay (where the hell does Austin Peay get off?), SO he went back to Santa Barbara, where he had a much rougher second season, making 4 of 8 field goal attempts with a long of 37 yards, and 24 of 26 extra-point attempts.

And now it is on to BG, where he told his local paper (the one in Wyoming) that he was confident his credits would transfer and that he would kick in the Shoe in September.  Also, he is interested in BG for its business school.

Based on the Spring Prospectus, here are the kickers who are at BG now, none of whom has attempted a FG after HS:

  • Jake Suder (So): Toledo Central Catholic.  Was 2nd team All-District.
  • Sam Crosa (Fr):  From Dublin, red-shirted last year.  Made 36 of 40 FGs in HS, long of 49.  All-Metro, All-District and all-Ohio 2nd team.
  • Nick Fields (r-So):  did a few Kickoffs for BG last year.  Was All-District in HS.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tisdale Leaves BGSU Basketball Program

OK, so this has been brewing on Twitter for a few hours.  Of course, this same site at one point had like 8 Falcons transferring, so I wanted to wait until we had some more confirmation...which we now have from Jordan Strack from WTOL.

JD is from Flint and is one of those guys who played for three coaches.  He came in as someone who at least was being recruited by WMU...he never really got any traction at BG.  He played a lot of minutes during Orr's last season (as a FR), averaging 16 minutes a game.  He never got that high again, going about 3 under Jans (and only about half the games) and 10 under Huger.  He averaged 2.1 points per game for his BG career.

He had some strong athletic skills and specialized in the occasional posterizing dunk in transition.  However, he shot 35% for his career and 10.3% from 3....he was 3 of  29.  As a FR, he was among the worst FT shooters I ever saw, at 35%.  To his credit he shot 64% and 69% after that, the latter being about the D1 average.

I wish JD the best in his future endeavors, which will hopefully include a college degree.

As for the team, as of today the following players will not be back:

Spencer Parker
Pep Joseph
Brandon Busuttil
JD Tisdale
Josh Gomez

BG has two players signed for next year, and now three open scholarships.  I don't have any inside info, but I wouldn't be surprised to see another player make a similar decision.

Wagner on BG Quarterback Battle....

One of the key question marks for BG is the most important one...and maybe the most important one on any team...and that is who is going to be the QB.  We saw the impact of that position when Matt Johnson was injured before his junior year.  We have seen it on other teams.

The battle this year is between James Knapke--who replaced Johnson and often struggled during the 2014 season--and James Morgan, a redshirt FR who has not played a single snap of college ball.  What we don't know is what happened on the practice did Morgan develop?  Did Knapke really get better, or was that Baberdoccio?

John Wagner has an update from practice that you can check out.  No answers, for sure.  Well, except for a little joke Coach Jinks had at the beginning....

Monday, March 14, 2016

MAC Men in Post-Season

OK, so the dust has settled in the men's basketball post-seaosn.  Here is what we have...

(Ratings from BPI...because, why not?)


Buffalo vs. Miami, Thursday


Akron@OSU, Tuesday


UT-Martin (210) @CMU (158) Wednesday
Ball State (160) at Tennessee State (176) Tuesday


Albany (141) at Ohio U. (124)

A couple other notes.  First, word on the Internet is that Kent declined the chance to play further.  I can completely understand this.  These are pay as you go tourneys with little upside to the teams that participate.  You might ask, as I did, why teams will play in any bowl game anytime, but not in these tournaments, and I think the answer is that these games are not on television, so they don't really help with anything.  Also a bowl game entails a week of the bowl lifestyle, while playing in the CIT will entail mostly the bus, airport and box lunch lifestyle.

Secondly, a lot of people in the MAC are upset that Akron did not get an at-large bid...or even get considered for one.  I think Akron did deserve consideration, but they did have flaws in their resume, with no really big wins and 3 baddish losses.  Of course, all teams have flaws when you are looking to finish filling the field in.  As for the argument that the Committee changes the rules to benefit big school teams, I say, "where have you been?"  Although, in fairness, the biggest stinker and it isn't close, is Tulsa being in and they aren't from a power conference.  FWIW, Tulsa won four games against Top 50 teams (as opposed to 0 by Akron) and lost 0 to 150+ teams (as opposed to 3 by Akron).  In fact, Tulsa ALSO beat Ohio, which was Akron's best win.

Anyway, if you think it is messed up, Joe Lunardi agrees with you.

Ultimately, the MAC is one bid league.  The reason is that (for example) Tulsa did not need a tough non-conference schedule.  Three of their four top 50 wins were conference games.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

List of Shame Down to 10

Now 48 elapsed years since BG has been in an NCAA tournament.  This year, Yale came off the list and will be in the big Dance.  William and Mary made their conference semis again, but fell short.  Columbia, New Hampshire,  Army and Northwestern all won 19 or 20 games and BG was 2 games from winning the MAC tourney.

Columbia: Last appeared in 1968
Tennessee Tech: Last appeared in 1963
Yale: Last appeared in 1962
Maine: Division I since 1962
New Hampshire: Division I since 1962
Dartmouth: Last appeared in 1959
Army: Division I since 1948
Citadel: Division I since 1948
Northwestern: Division I since 1948
St. Francis (N.Y.): Division I since 1948
William & Mary: Division I since 1948

Examining Akron and At-Large Bids

So, yesterday Keith Dambrot made the case for why he thinks his team deserved an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.  His main reason was that his team had an RPI of 28 and that the NCAA had now changed the rules to care more about BPI and Kenpom...

I thought I'd take a little time here before selection show to look at all that.

First, this post is not about whether Akron is going to get an at-large bid or not, because they are not.

Rather, it is just designed to be a surface review of their case.  Before that, though it is important to correct the Coach.  The NCAA has always said that the RPI is just one tool.  And they might just be saying that to keep their options open for picking who they really want, which is P6 schools.  Anyway, it is more than just RPI.

So here is a comparison of Akron with the last four in as of this morning by Lunardi.  Note that I am not comparing Akron to the 10 teams listed as the teams closest to being in, just to the teams that are supposedly in.

Note also that of the four teams, 2 are mid-majors and 1 (Temple) is a tweener.

Finally, YES, I think that the MAC is the #10 conference in D1 according to the rankings and you'd think your #10 conference would get their regular season champion in OR AT LEAST THEY WOULD BE IN THE CONVERSATION, and they are not.

OK.  So, as you can see, Akron does have the best RPI of all 5 teams.  However, the BPI (developed by Dean Oliver, who is the creator of the measures you see on this site, which measures margin of victory, home/road, two-level strength of schedule, if key players were missing etc) has Akron only ahead of Temple.  Finally, in the ranking, Akron only beats Temple.

Even the rankings only go so far.  Here's the thing.  Akron has no wins over teams with a Top 50 RPI.  As you can see, Temple has 5, Michigan has 4, St. Mary's 2 and San Diego State 1.  That's basically strike one.

Now, Akron does have 6 wins against 51-100 teams.  More than anyone else.  If you want to add 1-100 wins together, they have more than Michigan and San Diego State.

Looking at best wins, Akron is really hurt.  Their best win is over #80, Ohio U.  Michigan's best win is #14, Sand Diego State is #16, Temple is #13 and St. Mary's is #46.

Finally, when you look at bad losses, which is teams over a 150 RPI, you also find a bad result for Akron. The Zips have 3 losses in this category...they lost @UT, @CMU and @Miami...and the teams they are chasing have either one or zero losses over 150.

The one where I call bullshit is San Diego State.  I think Akron is better qualified than they are to make it into the tourney.

I don't know what a team would have to do.  Based on this chart, Akron would have needed a dominating MAC season, like going 16-2 or something, and they would need to beat 4 top 50 teams, which is going to mean all road or neutral floor games and basically running the table in those games even if you can schedule that many.  (Michigan had 3 of its 4 top 50 wins in the Big 10 and all 5 of Temple's were in the American.  Both of St. Mary's were, too. )

I'm not saying this is fair.  In fact, it isn't.  Just an examination of it, based on the results.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Zips Too Good, End BG Run

And that's that.

BG's big run came to an end against the Akron Zips at the Q.  BG battled them for a while, but has been demonstrated now three times, Akron just has too much for BG to handle.  I like our team, though, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Coach Huger put our program where theirs is.

Meanwhile, it was a great way for our guys to end the season.  After the struggles through February and the first part of March, beating Kent on the road and then CMU were nice rewards and a good way to send the team into the off-season.

The first 15 minutes of the 1st half were close, but with about 5 minutes left the Zips were up 12.  They were still up 10 with 3 left and then BG battled back to cut it to 6 by the half (and could have been 4 as Worrell missed a close shot at the buzzer).

BG came out fighting hard in the 2nd half.  The game got progressively closer until BG cut the lead to 1 with 13 minutes left.  Akron is just good, though, and they came down and Johnson had an old-school 3-point play to put them up 4.  BG had 2 possessions to try and get the lead back inside 4 but Akron got stops on both and then Johnson scored again and the lead was up to 6.

In fact, that was the start of BG going 6 minutes without a FG, and during that time Johnson scored 9 points on his own.  Akron pushed the lead up to 11 with about 8 minutes left and the lead never got inside 8 again as the Zips did what they do, which is to close out a game once they have the team beaten.

My preview said that what Akron does is provide great shooting while they take care of the ball.  They certainly did that again last night.  They ended up with 1.22 points per possession, which is very efficient and well above even their own season average.  You shoot 63% in an EFG%, you are tough to beat, especially when you only turn it over 14% of the time.  This was not a fast paced game...there were only 65 possessions.  You score 80 in a game like that?  Ouch.

BG just didn't match that and probably can't.  BG shot very poorly, had more turnovers and while BG did get a lot of offensive boards, 12 in the 2nd half, and had 19 second chance points, which was about 30% of their total offense.  To put it in perspective, BG shot 85% from the line and was +5 in FTs and still lost by 14.  The Falcons had only 1.01 points per possession.

Antwon Lillard led BG again with 12 points on 4 of 9 shooting.  Spencer Parker, making his last appearance, scored 11 on 4 of 10 shooting.  Pep Joseph, also in his last game, scored 11 on 4 of 6 shooting.  Rasheed Worrell had 11 rebounds in 17 minutes played.

For the Zips, 5 of the players were in double figures, but Isaiah Johnson remains the guy BG can't handle.  He had 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting and 6 rebounds.

BG finishes 16-18.  There will be more coming in terms of a review of the year.  I've said it before, expectations were long and it was a tough season.  However, there's reason to think this team is in a position to build moving forward.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Zips: Why Not Us? Why Not Now?

OK, people.  You start out #12 in the conference.  That's last.  You go on the road and beat a team that beat you twice this year.  Then you go to the Q and beat a team that beat you twice this year.

Now you get a team that has won 24 out of the last 25 games you played...and both games this year by a spread of 50 points.

As Urban said in his first year...why not us?  Why not now?

For much of today, it didn't look like Akron would still be playing.  With inside of 9 minutes left, they were trailing EMU by 12 points.  They did not take the lead until there was inside of a minute left in the game.  But, look, Akron is a team that is used to winning and teams like that are hard to beat.  They find ways to win and they win games when you think they are beaten.

The first two games were not very much different.  You can see their results in order below.  In game one, Akron shot the lights out, while BG had an average shooting night while taking good care of the ball.

In game two, Akron shot the lights out while BG had a terrible night shooting and took lousy care of the ball.

Here's the thing about Akron.  They are the #1 offensive team in the MAC and the #4 defensive team.  They are 2nd in the MAC in EFG and in taking care of the ball, which as we have noted is a deadly combination.  They are incredibly reliant on the 3-ball.  They are 2nd in the country in the percentage of total field goal attempts that come from 3fG and 1st in % of points coming from 3FG.  That's one thing, but they also feature an inside game with Isaiah Johnson.  That's a little hampered with Forsythe injured, but they are good enough inside to stretch a defense, for sure.

On defense, they concentrate on defending the shot, where they are #4 in the MAC.  They don't let teams get to the line and lead the MAC in defending the 3FG.

So here's the thing.  If BG is going to win tonight, they are going to have to change these dynamics somehow.  You'd like to say, hey, Akron lives by the 3 maybe they get cold and die by the 3 except they only made 9 of 33 today and still won.  Still, some part of BG winning is going to need to be getting stops.

Akron scores 1.14 points per possession and BG reached that level only 4 times in MAC play.   EMU kept the Zips within reach by holding them to .98 points per possession.  So like that.

Look, I almost feel like this is a new year for BG.  We are seeing a level of play that we have not seen all year.  So, again...on paper...Akron has to be a heavy favorite.  But they almost lost to EMU and I hope BG can still feel the sting of that 35-point pasting at the JAR.

Why not us?  Why not now?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lillard! DAGGER!

And suddenly this has gotten very interesting.

For the first time in MAC history, the #12 seed is going to play in BG pulled its second straight upset, beating #4 CMU 62-59.  It was one of those nights...CMU controlled the game almost the whole way...from 14 minutes left in the first half until Antwon Lillard nailed a huge jumper with :13 left to play in the game.

That's pretty good.

More on that later.

With 8:00 left, CMU led by 8 and any observer would have thought things were going more or less the way they were supposed to.  But BG picked up an all-freshman run from Wiggins (2FG) and Willard (3FG) to get the lead down to 3 with 6 left.  BG kept battling and with 4:21 left had cut the lead to 1.

From here on in everything was a key sequence.  CMU had 2 FTS, they missed them both, got the long rebound, got fouled again and made only 1 of 2, a big scoring chance that only left the score at +2 with 3:27 left.

Then Chris Fowler got a steal and Rayson was fouled and he only made 1 of 2.  CMU-the best FT shooting team in the MAC--was missing opportunities to close BG out with these FTs.

Still, they were up 3 with 2:40 left to go.  BG missed a shot, fouled getting the rebound and again CMU split the pair, now up 4 with 1:57 left.

From there, BG turned the tables.  Lillard nailed a 3FG with 1:37 left to cut the lead to 1.  CMU turned the ball over and Lillard was fouled.  BG was still only in the bonus and Lillard missed the front end.

This time, CMU did extend the lead with a Simon 2FG to make it +3 with :42 left.

With :30 left, Antwon Lillard missed a shot but he was there for the tip-in WITH THE FOUL.  With :29 left, though, he again missed his FT and BG was down 1.  BG had to foul and did...Simmons again split the pair to leave CMU only up 2.

BG called time-out with :18 left.  The Falcons have struggled on big possessions off timeouts for years and as recently as the Buffalo game, but here Coach Huger went with the hot hand, as Lillard stepped back with 12 left and stroked a 3 that had nothing but net and gave BG the lead and made CMU pay the price for its poor execution and FT shooting down the stretch.

CMU ran upcourt without a timeout but lost the ball out of bounds and BG had it back (after a video review).  Ali was fouled, converted both FTs and BG had the win by 3.

It was fantastic and it is so great to see our boys getting to celebrate after a long season where they really stuck to it and now they are playing in the conference semi-finals.

BG is the first 12 seed to get to the semi-final.
It is BG's first trip to the semis since 2009
It is the first time BG has won 2 games in the MAC tourney since 2002.

And BG is playing well. Who knows?  Akron is next...we know how that has gone, but both of the teams BG has beaten to date beat them twice during the season, so why not turn our sights on a team that has beaten us for 10 years?

Why not indeed.

The key to the game was getting stops.  CMU has the 2nd best offense in the MAC (by efficiency), but BG held them to 1 point per possession...below average and more than .1 points per possession below their average.  The key was shooting.  CMU shot only 41% for the game and made only 4 of 20 3FGs, which is not how their attack is supposed to work.  Meanwhile, BG shot 50% overall and 5 of 13 from 3FGs....if you had thought BG was going to make more 3 FGs than CMU, I think a lot of people would have taken the other side of that bet.

That was enough to balance out a night where BG gave up +3 turnovers and was smoked on the boards.  Much as BG saw in the 2nd BG-CMU game, though, CMU was unable to convert those offensive rebounds to baskets....13 OREB and 13 2nd chance points.  Finally, CMU was only +2 at the line, going a very poor and unusual 13-24 while BG 11 of 18.

The leader of the Falcons was FR Antwon Lillard, playing in his hometown.  Lillard scored a career-high 26, including the final 8 points of the game.  He shot 8 of 12 and 5 of 8 from beyond the arc and 5 of 8 from the line.  That's an offensive stat line.  He also added 5 rebounds, tied for team-high.

The only other double-figure scorer was Damajeo Wiggins, with 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting and 4 rebounds.  Alcegaire had 5 rebounds and Ali had 5 assists.  Each one of the names in the paragraph represents a guy who didn't play for BG last year.  They've gradually taken over more and more time from the returning players, and you can certainly see it in the box score from this game.

So, a huge win for BG.  This is a hugely unexpected run of success for our guys, but the past is past.  Right now, BG is two wins from snapping that 48-year NCAA drought, and it comes down to 2 games and that's it.

Going to be fun to watch tomorrow.  Enjoy the ride.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Third Chip the Charm?

On to the Q we go.  BG will now face the #4 seed CMU, who had a bye and has been waiting since Friday for tomorrow's game.  CMU beat BG twice this year, by 12 both times.  In fact, at 79-67 at the Stroh and 77-65 at McGuirk, even the scores were almost identical.  Now, BG had beaten us twice, too, so maybe the third time is the charm.

The two previous games were actually different ways of getting to the same thing. In the first game, CMU had incredible shooting, at 50% and 40%, that's just really good, especially when you get to the line and make 78% of those shots.  They had 1.22 points per possession and you are going to be very hard to beat.

In the second game, BG did a better job making it hard for CMU to shoot, but in turn had a dreadful day shooting the ball.  That combined with turnover issues cost BG the win.  Game 2 featured BG being down 9 at the half and then giving up 10 straight points to start the second half.  Last note, that shooting is especially bad (BG's) when you consider all those offensive rebounds, which usually led to high percentage shots.

CMU is a lot like Akron, but without the strong inside presence.  They are 2nd in the MAC in offensive efficiency.  That comes from two things....they are #5 in shooting and #1 in not turning the ball over.  That's a potent combination.  They are only 11th in offensive rebounding and 12th in getting to the FT line.  They are, however, the best FT% team in the MAC, when they get there.  They are not great from 3--3rd in proportion of FG attempts and 6th in making them.  They are 3rd from 2FG and that all combines to being a very good offensive team.

They are not a strong defensive team.  They are 9th in the MAC in defensive efficiency.  They are 5th in defending the shot, 8th in turnovers and 11th in offensive rebounding allowed.  And they are 4th in allowing teams to the line.  They are very effective defending the 3--which BG doesn't do much of anyway--and they are 8th in defending 2FG, which is where BG usually goes.

Their leading players are no surprise.  They are led by two-time, first-team all-MAC Chris Fowler, who is scoring 17 PPG and shooting 46%.  He also averages 6 assists, and 4 rebounds a game.  He has also had some monster games against BG.

Third-team All-MAC Braylon Rayson is their second leading scorer at 16 ppg and shooting only 41%.  However, he is 87% at the FT line.  They also have Rayshaun Simmons in double figures, with 11 PPG on 43% shooting and about 4.5 assists.

Look, on paper CMU should beat BG.  Having said that, BG has put together two good games in a row, has some players coming into their own and is now playing with house money.  I'm looking very forward to seeing how we fare against the Chips.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

BG Pulls Upset! On to Cleveland!

For only the fourth time ever, a #12 seed has picked off a #5 and punched a most unlikely ticket to the MAC quarterfinals...even more so given the first round being played on the home court of the #5 team.  One time, it was BG on the #5 side of that ledger.  This time, it was BG on the #12 side and pulling the big win.  Big win.  Very, very proud of the guys.  Just six days ago it was as bad as it could be, and then today they are picking up the big road win.  Credit to the coaches and the players who are making it happen.  We have a couple guys coming on pretty hard here at the end and showing promise for the future.  This game was the highlight of a tough season...who knows, maybe only until Thursday, and maybe there will be a new one.

For the first half, Kent certainly looked like they were going to be the better team.  They had a 7 point and lead and an 8 point lead...and while BG pulled them back both times, the Flashes led by 7 at the half and based on what we have seen, you feared they had the ability to punch one more of those runs than we did to reel them back.

The second half?  Well, that was something to behold.  BG scored the first 11 points of the half--obviously making shots and getting stops--and had the better of the play for the entire half.  Kent never led by more than 1 point again and BG led most of the way, albeit by very close margins.  The game was tied with 3:30 left.  Lillard hit a jumper, BG got a stop and Wiggins was fouled.  He split the pair, and BG was up 3.  Kent cut the lead to 1 with 1:58 left.

The key possession came with just under a minute left and BG up 1.  The Flashes had a possession where they kept getting offensive boards and actually had 4 shots at the basket and were unable to convert.  That included two Pep Joseph blocked shots, a sequence of words you won't find on the Internet.

By the time that all cleared out there were :38 left.  They fouled Joseph and he missed the front end of a 1-1.  Back to defense we go.  This time, Kent turned it over and they fouled Parker with :16 left.  He hit both of his shots to put BG up 3.  BG fouled Kellon Thomas and he hit both of his and the lead was back to 1 with :12 left.  They fouled Alcegaire who hit both of his FTs.

Kent had one shot for a 3.  Here, BG got the big play they have been lacking in the late minutes, as Lillard got a big steal and made an athletic save at the boundary to keep the ball in and Kent fouled JD Tisdale with :01 left.  Tisdale split the pair...which is a good thing, because Ortiz actually nailed a court-long shot at the buzzer which would have tied the game had he not.

So where BG played hard and effectively and failed to execute at the end against Buffalo, this time they played hard and effectively and executed at the end and won the game.

The key was shooting.  As you can see here, the key was BG's ability to make shots and get stops.  There were only 61 possessions, so both teams were relatively efficient.  BG shot 54% but made only 4 of 13 from 3, while Kent only shot 38% but had 10 of 23 from 3FG.  They aren't a 3-shooting team, but that's a result of BG finally committing extra men to stopping Jimmy Hall.  I assume that opened up some shots.  BG was effective on Hall.  He had 6 points on 2 of 10 shooting with 4 turnovers and Todd Walker felt that BG was definitely in his head by the second half.

Kent still had a good game on the boards and neither team shot FTs very well.  The key to the game was BG's ability to make some shots and keep Hall from getting good looks close to the basket, as he did in our first two games.

Spencer Parker had a big game for BG, with 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting.  BG got real contributions from its young players too.  Antwon Lillard is really coming on.  He scored 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes.  Wiggins had 7 rebounds in 22 minutes.  (Both freshmen started).  Alcegaire also had 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting and 5 rebounds.  Finally, Pep Joseph had 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots (!) and only one turnover.

So, an excellent effort for our guys.  I'm happy for the seniors to experience a big win after a pretty long drought and I am happy for our young guys as we look to build confidence and start to turn this thing around next year.  CMU is next Thursday at the Q, but in the meantime, this was a game where it would have been easy for BG to mail it in.  All credit to them for bringing the big effort, finishing the job and getting the reward.

Monday, March 07, 2016

MAC Honors Dispensed

So, with the MAC tournament starting tonight, the MAC has announced its All-MAC teams, as well as all-freshman and all-defense.  There's no huge surprise that BG is not widely represented...Spencer Parker received honorable mention honors.  Note that these awards are voted on by the 12 coaches.

Honestly, I think they are hard to argue with.  You certainly could have put Thompson onto the first team but I don't know who you'd take off.  Boothe, Campbell and Hall are givens...Johnson really burst onto the scene. I guess he might take Fowler's spot, which leaves you with all front-court guys on the first team.  He was 10th in scoring and first in FG%.

I think Parker is in the right place,

All-MAC First Team
Isaiah Johnson, C, Akron
Chris Fowler, G, Central Michigan
Jimmy Hall, F, Kent State
Antonio Campbell, C, Ohio
Nathan Boothe, F/C, Toledo

All-MAC Second Team
Reggie McAdams, F, Akron
Franko House, F, Ball State
James Thompson IV, C, Eastern Michigan
Jaaron Simmons, G, Ohio
Thomas Wilder, G, Western Michigan

All-MAC Third Team
Lamonte Bearden, G, Buffalo
Blake Hamilton, W, Buffalo
Braylon Rayson, G, Central Michigan
Marin Maric, C, Northern Illinois
Jonathan Williams, G, Toledo

Honorable Mention
Antino Jackson, G, Akron
Spencer Parker, F, Bowling Green
Raven Lee, G, Eastern Michigan
Eric Washington, G, Miami
Geovonie McKnight, G, Miami

All-Freshman Team
Josh Williams, G, Akron
CJ Massinburg, G, Buffalo
James Thompson IV, C, Eastern Michigan
Marshawn Wilson, G, Northern Illinois
Jordan Dartis, G, Ohio

All-Defensive Team
Franko House, F, Ball State
Willie Conner, W, Buffalo
Tim Bond, F, Eastern Michigan
Khaliq Spicer, C, Kent State
Aaric Armstead, G, Northern Illinois

Sunday, March 06, 2016

MAC Tournament Preview

So, here we are.  One and done land.  The first step will be in Kent, where BG, the #12 seed, takes on Kent, the #5 seed.

It will be just six days after the Falcons and Kent played in exactly the same place, so there's not a lot of point in re-doing the preview.  Kent beat BG twice this year.  The game at the Stroh was close--Kent won by 3--but the game at the MAC Center was a disaster.  Kent won by 14 after leading by as much as 20 in the second half.  They dominated BG on the boards in particular.

Coach Huger was extremely frustrated after the game, lashing out at his team's inconsistent effort and what he called "selfish" play.  The team did respond playing better against Buffalo.  Now they have the opportunity to return to the scene of the crime and show that they are better than the team that played there last Tuesday.  If they play as they did Friday, this could be a good game.

One element that BG has been unable to handle has been Jimmy Hall.  He dominated the Falcons in both games.  Coach Huger said after the second game that the Falcons don't have anyone tough enough to handle him, tough enough to say "I got this handled."  It will be interesting to see if BG can find a way to keep Hall contained.  He's a very good player.

Based on the internet, Kent is considered a risk to be upset.  We'll see about that.  They did lose 3 of their last 4 and finished weak after losing Xavier Pollard.  Having said that, they are 13-2 at home and they did beat BG in both of the games that were played this year.  If BG plays like they did Friday, they have a shot to win this one and get to Cleveland, but I'd guess it is a pretty big longshot.

On the other hand, at least twice in the Orr years BG was in Kent's position and lost....both in 6-11 games, but the year BG lost to Miami, Toledo was ineligible and BG was the top non-bye team.  On yet another hand, BG was the #5 team last year and beat the #12 team at the Stroh.

And, as the tournament begins, we do have to say this:  BG is the only current MAC team that has never won this tournament.

On we go!

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Senior Night Disappointment

It was a very exciting game and the Falcons played hard on senior night, competing hard against a team in Buffalo that had a lot to play for.  In the end it wasn't enough, as BG didn't execute in the final minutes and lost a game they probably should have won...though Buffalo has a strong team and a strong style of player.  They are not easy to beat.

For most of the first half, it looked like Buffalo was going to take it wire-to-wire.  They led the whole way, stretching it to 10 with 2 minutes left in the first half.  BG scored the last 6 points of the half to head to the locker room down 4.  The run continued in the second half.  BG took its first lead with about 16 left in the game and led by 6 with 8 minutes left.

It cannot have escaped anyone's notice that this was almost the exact position BG was in the game in Buffalo, a game that they went on to lose by 14 points.  This time was different.  Buffalo tied the game with 5 minutes left but BG was up 5 against a couple minutes later.  

With 2:11 BG was up 4.  Worrell picked up a huge blocked shot in the key and did it with enough tough that it stayed in play and Alcegaire ran it down.  At this point, BG is up 4 with the ball with 2 minutes left on its home court and that's something you want to be able to close out.

BG scores on this possession and its probably game over.  Lillard (who had a great night) lined up a dagger-3 but it wouldn't go down.  UB had the ball...BG got them to miss a shot but the rebound bounced long and the Bulls had another shot and Hamilton converted an and-1 to make it a 1 point lead.

That's a tough sequence.  BG missed another 3 on its possession with 1:10 left and Worrell committed a foul on the rebound.  UB was only in the 1-1 and they missed the front end...but the rebound caromed long and they had the ball back and Bearden did what he does, which is finish near the rim and the Bulls were up 1 with  1:00 left.  Parker matched it with a jumper with :48 left to put BG up 1 again.  

Bearden got into the lane again and this time BG fouled him.  He hit both FTs and UB was up 1 with :32 to play.

BG took a time out to set the play up.  In what has been an issue for this program for a long time, what came out of the time out was not what you'd like to see for a key possession.  BG seemed to have trouble handling the ball, Buffalo was clearly dictating the action.  The ball ended up inside to Worrell but he didn't have the handle and Buffalo stole it with :12 left.  BG fouled him.

He split the FTs so BG still had a shot, down 2 with :12 left.  No time outs.

And one of those things happened.  I don't know what to say...Ish Ali was dribbling the ball upcourt, on his own, under no pressure, short of the timeline and he just dribbled the ball off the leg out of bounds.  No criticism here, it's just one of those things.  It's happened to you and me.  It reminded me of the Holmes-Clarke over and back last year...just a crazy, random mind-fart at the worst possible time.

Anyway, UB made both FTs off the next possession and that was the game.

This was a very evenly matched game.  First, it happened at 74 possessions, which is the fastest BG game since the game at UD.  As you can see below, shooting was equal, both teams were effective on the offensive boards, BG got to the line more and neither team made FTs effectively, BG ended up +2.  

The difference was turnovers...BG ended up with 3 more and 2 of those in the last minute of the game.  So, the difference was also clutch-time execution, which was poor for BG.  And then the other difference was 3 or 4 times when BG scored a big basket and UB literally ran the ball down the court and scored 3 seconds later.  You'd like those back.

Individually, Spencer Parker had a big night for his senior night.  He scored 20 on 7 of 14 shooting and 5 rebounds.  Antwon Lillard--who I think has a shot to be a real player in this conference--had a monster night.  He scored 19 on 8 of 11 shooting and added 6 rebounds.  The rebounding includes one offensive rebound and one hand stick back that belongs on any highlight reel you want to see, anytime.

Pep had a career high 13 points on his senior night on 5 of 10 shooting.  Wes Alcegaire scored 11, though on 4 of 12 shooting.

Wiggins had 7 rebounds in 19 minutes.  Worrell had 5 rebounds and 2 monster blocks.

I think UB has a really nice team.  Bearden is amazing around the rim and Hamilton is a really nice player.  With Justin Moss, they'd have dominated the MAC this year, and they still have a shot to win in Cleveland.  

Speaking of which....

Here you go.  BG finishes in last place in the MAC...remember, this was expected to be a tough year and it was.  BG goes to Kent...the Flashes beat BG by 3 at the Stroh and 16 at the MAC just this week, prompting the Coach's frustrated comments about a selfish team.  The winner takes on CMU, also a team that beat BG twice.

Friday, March 04, 2016

BG to face Kent Monday night in MAC tourney

So there it is.  More on the Buffalo game tomorrow.  BG finished in last place (by itself) and travels to Kent Monday night for the tournament.  The winning plays CMU.

Happy Trails, Falcon Seniors....

So tonight is Senior Night...BG has 3 seniors who will be saying Happy Trails to our University.  They have played in a difficult time in our history, two of them for three different head coaches, and the other for two.  And while last year they saw some success, the last Orr year and the first Huger year have been struggles.

They are Falcons Forever, and we honor them for being part of our history.  When things are bad, it's even more difficult.  Nothing but the best for these young men.

Spencer Parker:

Spencer Parker is currently the #35 scorer in BG history, and that could change slightly over the next couple nights, I'm not sure.  Anyway, he scored 1,000 points in his four seasons at BG, career highs in points and rebounds during his senior campaign (14/5.3) when he had23 double-digit scoring games.  He had kind of a sub-par year as a junior, so it was a nice bounce-back for him.  I think he could have really prospered for us if we had a better inside game.  He's really a tough matchup at 3 but played a lot of 4 for us, which is tough for him given his body type.

Pep Joseph

Pep was a JUCO with Chris Jans, and then stayed through the changeover. His biggest contribution was to stabilize the PG position.  When Crawford left, the Orr plan was for Jehvon Clarke to play PG, but he was never suited to that.  Pep never had great numbers...3.3 APG and he was never a successful shooter, but he did give us a stable PG who could run the offense and certainly contributed to the success of the team last year.

Brandon Busuttil

(taken directly from the BGSU release) Brandon will play his final game in the Orange and Brown at the Stroh Center on Friday night, Mar. 1. Busuttil started as a manager for the BGSU men’s basketball team as a freshman in 2012-13 and earned a walk-on spot the following year in 2013-14. After not seeing the court in 2013-14, Busuttil played in nine games last year as a junior. Coach Michael Huger awarded a full scholarship to Busuttil in January for the 2016 Spring semester.

That's a story you have to like.

That's it.  Stay in touch gentlemen.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Senior Day Preview

So it is senior day...the last game at the Stroh for Spencer Parker, Pep Joseph and Brandon Busuttil.  More later on their careers...but they have been true Falcons in an era where that was not always the easiest thing to do.  Parker played for 3 coaches in his time here, Joseph for 2.  We are proud of them all and thank them for being Falcons.  Nothing but success to them moving forward, they are Falcons Forever.

Buffalo is the guest.  I haven't seen any formal scenarios yet so I don't know where things stand for them.  They are 9-8 and one game behind the four teams tied for 2nd.  They are also only one game ahead of the 3 teams tied for seventh. I don't think they can finish 9th because either UT or EMU has to finish with 10 losses but with a win and the a couple losses from the team above them and they can still earn a bye.

So they have a lot to play for.

They've had an OK season, going 16-14 with a 9-8 record in the MAC.  They are not playing especially well now, having lost 5 out of their last 7, including 3 home losses.  They lost at home to Miami on Tuesday

They did beat BG in their first meeting in what has to be among BG's more disappointing losses.  BG was up 6 with 8:45 left.  BG then made 5 turnovers on the next 7 possessions--the other 2 were 2 missed FTs and a missed jumper--and all told the Bulls finished the game on a 27-7 run to win by 14...just no good.  BG went 5 minutes without scoring at all and made only 2 FGs in that time.

BG actually outshot Buffalo from the field, but had 18 TOs to Buffalo's 12 and the Bulls made 25 out of 33 FTAs while BG was 8 of 15.  Blake Hamilton had 25 points and 7 rebounds, while Lamonte Bearden--coming off his suspension and the bench--had 16 and 6 assists.  Spencer Parker had 21 for BG and Denny had 15 points and 9 rebounds.

BG is in last place and their numbers are the numbers of a last place team.  BG is 11th in offense and 10th in defense.  Buffalo is 8th in the MAC in scoring but very strong on the defensive end---4th.  They play the fastest tempo in the MAC...their average possession is 16 seconds.  Nothing to say here but that BG has to bring a strong game on both ends of the floor.

As noted, Buffalo has just had an average offense.  That comes from slightly above average shooting and doing a poor job taking care of the ball.  They are however very good on the offensive boards, something BG has struggled with this season and they are 2nd in the MAC in getting to the line, though 8th in FT%.  They are focused on the 2FG, where they lead the MAC.  They are 6th in the MAC in trying the 3 and 10th in 3FG%, so the Bulls can be expected to attack the basket.

Flipping it around, BGs poor offense is almost a perfect match for UB's good defense.  Their strongest point is defending the shot (3rd in the MAC) and shooting is BG's weakest point, so the Falcons will need to win battles there.

Individually, they are led by Blade Hamilton, who is scoring 14.2 PPG on 47% and 37% shooting to go with 7.5 rebounds a game.  He's a very good player who had a great game against BG in the first matchup.  LaMonte Bearden is scoring 13.7 PPG on 47% shooting and just under 5 assists per game.  He is the rare PG today who doesn't shoot the 3FG very much.  Willie Conner is scoring 12.6 PPG on 48% shooting.  Finally, CJ Massinburg is 11.6 PPG on 44%/41% shooting.

This is a tough game for BG.  They are in a very bad stretch, and their coach called them out as SELFISH.  There is nothing but love to play for tomorrow and UB is playing for a lot more.  This is going to be a tough assignment.  Maybe Coach Huger's frustration will bear fruit.  Certainly on paper it looks like a tough night, but who knows?

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Huger: "I don't know what we are waiting for"

If you get the chance, definitely take a minute to listen to Coach Huger after last night's loss in Kent.  We have had other coaches who not so frank when the team is struggling...not to name names, but one of their names rhymes with Shmino Shmabers.  Huger is clearly frustrated with his team.  The team is giving inconsistent effort (he says, not me) and that drives him crazy.  As he says, if we compete hard and lose that's one thing.  If you lose and don't compete, that's a problem.

I've always said the same thing.  We've had some tough years and this is one of the tougher ones in the post-WVU era.  Obviously, winning is more fun, but you don't mind if you are building and you are competing hard.  When you're not, it is hard to follow.  I'm always hesitant as an observer to question effort because I don't want to make false accusations...and frankly that's one of the worst you can do.  In this case, however, the observation is coming from the Coach.

There's not much to say at this point.  This game was very similar to the first game.  Neither team shot well but BG shot a lot worse...and Kent had a huge advantage on the offensive boards and a +5 advantage at the free throw line.

BG was down 6 at the half and then Kent opened it up in the second half.  In the middle 20 minutes of the game, Kent outscored BG 42-28.  Kent popped the lead to double digits about 5 minutes into the 2nd half and it never got inside 10 again.  To the contrary, Kent led by as many as 20 points.

Jimmy Hall once again dominated the Falcons.  He scored 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting and 9 rebounds, with four of them on the offensive boards.  As Coach Huger said post-game, "We don't have a guy tough enough to handle him, to say, 'Hey, I got him.'"

Spencer Parker scored 15 points for BG on 6 of 13 shooting (not great) and added 8 rebounds.  Alceagire had 14 points on 3 of 6 3FG shooting, 4 of 8 overall.  Pep Joseph had 5 assists over 1 turnover.

With Miami beating Buffalo (in Buffalo) and WMU beating UT, BG is now alone in last place and can't finish any better than a tie for last.  We have no chance of having a better record than anyone.  If it ended today BG would be in Muncie on Monday, but in classic #Maction fashion, there are five teams competing for the spots from 2-6, so anything could happen.

In the 14 seasons since the last great BG season (2001-02, followed by WVU), BG has had only 3 winning seasons.  That's the larger context.  This year's team is 14-16 and if you figure a loss in the tournament (17) BG would have to beat UB and then win 3 in the tourney to end with a winning record, so we're gong to make that down as unlikely.

Again, this was going to be a tough year any way you sliced it and whoever was the Coach.  It has certainly turned out to be.  It is disappointing, but it is too soon to be discouraged in our latest effort to dig out of the hole we are in.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

"Spring Practice" Starts

So, BG started spring practice yesterday and Tex Jinks decided to have the boys practice outside, even though it was 40 degrees out.

John Wagner has complete write-ups in The Blade, first about the general practice and second about the 5 key questions facing the Falcons.

One key news item and then two quibbles.

The key news item is that CB Will Watson will be back with the Falcons.  He was involved in the Bryan Thomas incident in May of 2015 and did not play during 2015.  He was suspended for the entire 2015 season but now has been reinstated.  You need a lot of d-backs and if he's able to regain his form he clearly helps.

Now the quibbles.  The Blade id'd the top 5 challenges facing the program, the first of which was:

For the Falcons upperclassmen, this will be their third head coach in four seasons. And with a new coaching staff comes a new style of play, new terminology, and new ways of doing things in a variety of areas.
With all due respect, this is not the question about coaching.

Yes, those things need to happen, but the single largest question facing the program in the Spring of 2016 is whether the coaches--starting with a head coach who was in HS four years ago and continuing through a bunch of first-time assistants and first-time coordinators moving up from quality control assistants and graduate assistantships--are prepared to do the job.

They might be, they might not, but it is the single largest area of uncertainty facing the football program.

I certainly agree the QB and WR are the key offensive question marks.  I would quibble with the idea the defense is "stacked," but I guess if you return 8 of your top 11 tacklers off the #3 defense in the MAC (based on scoring in conference play...2nd based on yards per play allowed) I guess you can't quibble too much.

Lastly, as identified, Kicking is a huge question mark.