Friday, September 30, 2016

25 questions that preview EMU

Not withstanding a rough start....
What is their body of work?

Look, it is difficult to have a worse recent track record than EMU has.  They haven't had a winning season since 1995 and have only won 6 games once since then.  Over the last 4 years they are 9-41.  Now, they are 3-1 this year and would appear to be as good as they have been in recent years.  That is wins over Wyoming and Charlotte and Mississippi Valley State and a loss to Missouri.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 18, which is hardly any.  Team is stocked with a lot of FR and SO from the Creighton rebuilding project.

Who are their statistical leaders?

Jaylen Pickett is #18 in INT.
Blake Banham is #15 in Kickoff returns
Austin Barnes is #7 in punting
Ian Eriksen is #17 in rushing TDs

What is their turnover ratio?

They are +2 for the year.  They have thrown 8 INT and recovered 7 fumbles.


 How is their QB play?
They do seem to be starting to develop a culture.

Well, we don't know whether we are getting Todd Porter or Brogan Roback. Porter is #6 in the MAC in passing efficiency, with 60% completions and 12.6 yards per completion.  However, he is very mistake prone, with 7 TD and 8 INT.  Brogan Roback, who was suspended, has played in only 1 game this year, though he did rally the team against Wyoming.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

Their 36 points a game and 5.9 yards per play are in the middle of the NCAA pack, both in the top 60.

Can they run the ball?

They aren't great.  They average 4.4 yards per carry, which is 8th in the MAC.

Do they pass the ball?

As noted, they are in the middle of the MAC in pass efficiency, so they are average passing.  Only one team has thrown more picks than EMU....that's the team EMU plays Saturday.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 55% of their plays, which is a little above average.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

Their scoring is better than their marginal statistics, so usually there is an explanation.  They are actually #2 in the MAC on 3rd down.  (BG, last)

Do they score in the red zone?

They are very good in the red zone at 5.7 points per trip.  They have failed to score only 1 time.

Did they protect the quarterback?

Yes, they have given up only 4 sacks on 138 attempts, which is 2.9%.

Other Ypsilanti notes...this s their water tower

Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are 6th in the MAC in points allowed but 4th in yards per play allowed.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They are very, very good.  They allow 2.9 yards per rush, which is tied for the MAC lead.  This is a test for BG's o-line which is getting healthier.  BG's rush offense is vital to any chance of moving the ball.

Can they be passed on?

They are 6th in the MAC in pass defense efficiency.  They allow 58% completion at 12.4 yards per completion, the second of which is high.  Also, 8 TD over 3 INT.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are 7th in the MAC, so pretty average.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are very good, allowing only 4.5 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?

They are OK, with 9 sacks on 160 attempts and 5.6% of total passing attempts.

Special Teams:


They are really good.  They are #4 in net punting, with 2nd in outgoing yards but give up 4 yards per return.  No blocks.
This is Demetrio Yspilantis, the hero of the Greek
War of Independence.

Punt Return?

They are 8th at 5 yards per return.


He's 6/8 with a long of 46.  He's pretty good.


Opponents start on the 25, which is pretty much par for their course.

Kickoff Return?

They are really good.  2nd in the MAC in yards per return and start on the 31 on average.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

So, the main dynamic in this game is that EMU is 3-1 and starting to wonder if they might have turned the corner and they are playing the defending champs who are sucking ass right now.  This game is huge for EMU--and even huger for BG.  I think everyone at BG fears whether the season can be put back together anyway, and the job would only get worse with a loss to EMU.  A lot worse.

This is Sidetrack in Ypsi. Best hamburger ever.
It is homecoming.  Not sure whose favor that works in.

Both teams have mysteries at starting QB.

Going to be interesting.

Bowling Green is favored by 2.5, which is a bit of a surprise to me.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Morgan to Start at QB....

So the decision was announced this morning, James Morgan will start at QB.

I think is the way it had to go.  Whether he is markedly better than Knapke remains to be seen, but I think we have seen what Knapke has over 1+ years and it hasn't changed and its time for Morgan to take a shot at it.

I'd advise fans to have moderated expectations.  Morgan is an excellent prospect.  You can see here what we thought when he committed to Babers to be the next Jimmy Garoppolo.  And Jinks has said good things about his ability to make incredible throws...something he is better at than his predecessor.  However, he also has been prone to make poor FR decisions.  Remember, Johnson didn't start until he was a sophomore.

Anyway, in the Memphis game it seemed like the WRs reacted positively to him right away, but in the end he finished with pretty average numbers.

To close the loop, he is an excellent prospect.  Whether he will be an excellent QB on Saturday remains to be seen.  It would not shock me to see Knapke on the field again this year.  Obviously, everyone hopes he picks it up and makes the job his.

Finally, it wasn't all Knapke.  Literally every element of our team was awful at Memphis (Except Joe Davidson.)  But, some offensive improvement would take pressure off our defense, which is in bad shape.  The defensive backfield is a disaster area with injuries and then the one-half suspension of Wade.  Some scoring and first downs would be nice.

Blade Injury News...QB Thursday

So, good news here, except in the dbackfield, where BG continues to have serious injury issues in the area where they can afford it least.  Beyond that, the lines are improving, Cleveland, who they need, looks to be OK.  We'll wait to see later today who will QB, but I would be surprised if Morgan doesn't start.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

International Centre for Special Teams Research, EMU style

If you read this blog, you know that I started in 2009 using my own system for evaluating special teams play for Bowling Green.   You can read the full introduction and see the scoring system here, should such a thing interest you.  The basic idea is that you get positive points for good plays outside the middle area of the bell curve on the right and negative points on the left.  The system doesn't care if you get to the 26 or 28 on a kickoff or if you make a short FG...make a long FG or miss an easy one, now we're talking.

Memphis had a huge game at +14.    What's fascinating is that is an assemblage of 14 one-point plays...without one negative play.  For this game, sadly, that mean mastering the kickoff.  They had 12 kickoffs and 10 touchbacks and on the other two Scotty Miller decided to run sideways out of the end zone only to be tackled on the 10 and the 9.  They also had a KO return to the 48 and punting BG to the 10 once.

BG actually didn't have a terrible game at +3.  Davidson pinned them inside the 20 5 times, and on the 1 once, and the 77 points looks even sadder given that field position.

Here is how it broke out.

BG Positive (+6)

Punt to 10 (+1)
Punt to 15 (+1)
Punt to 12 (+1)
Punt to 16 (+1)
Punt to 1 (+2)

BG Negative (-3)

Memphis KOR to 48 (-1)
KOR to 10 (-1)
KOR to 9 (-1)

Memphis Positive (+14)

KO TB (+1)
KOR to 48 (+1)
KO TB (+1)
KO TB (+1)
BG KOR to 10 (+1)
BG KOR to 9 (+1)
KO TB (+1)
KO TB (+1)
KO TB (+1)
KO TB (+1)
KO TB (+1)
Punt to 10 (+1)
KO TB (+1)
KO TB (+1)

Memphis Negative (0)


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Depth Chart is out and EMU has QB Doubt As Well

Games notes are out, new depth chart.

Let's see....

First, as noted yesterday, QB is now Morgan OR Knapke.

Second, the line is back to normal and Coach says he thinks we are healthy there.

Third, Marquis Zimmerman, who I think has been our most effective WR, is now starting.  Deric Phoutavong, who has struggled with a lot of drops, is now a backup.

Finally, the defense remains the same.  As Coach has said, we have who we have.

Other note:  EMU Coach Chris Creighton has refused to name a starting QB between Todd Porter and Brogan Roback.  Roback is coming back from suspension and led the winning drive against Wyoming. Porter started, but threw four picks.  It sounds like Porter starts, but they are differently styled QBs and therefore a benefit in keeping us guessing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Jinks Presser: I believe what we do works

So Coach came out and faced the media Monday in what turned out to be a very interesting discussion.  Let's take a look.

First, on the news side, the starter for QB has not been determined.  He said Morgan made some throws "only a few people in the country can make" and then he made some decisions that a r-FR can make.  He expects to name a starter Thursday.

Beyond that, he said it had been a long 36 hours.

However, he has not lost faith.

You won't believe a coach said this:  trust the process.

I know, right?

He says he has been here before.  He started the Steele program (it was a new school) and he went 1-9 and 3-7 and then "won the whole dang thing two years later."

So...."we know this works."  (Given the first four games at BG, we should ask the following.  First, what do you mean by this?  And how do you know?  Follow up---do you know that just because something worked one time doesn't mean it will work again?)

He says the players are pressing, trying to do too much.  He gave his usual assessment, which is that everything was fine until one thing went wrong--in this case, the Phoutavong INT.  Then it "snowballed."  Team has to handle adversity better.  Beyond that, he said players were in position defensively and didn't tackle..and that BG had players who were "wide ass" open and didn't catch the ball.

Which more or less is saying it isn't a coaching issue.  He specifically defended the work with WRs, saying we throw "more balls" than anyone in the country.  And they don't drop those passes in practice.

He was given two opportunities to say the team is talent poor---one of them invoking the previous coach--but he declined to take the bait.  "We have the football team we have," he said.

Also, "we're going to coach our asses off for the next 8 weeks" and "Let's see where this thing stands when we have played that 12th game."  To which I say, don't worry, we will.

He said the week before the Memphis game was our best week of practice of the year.

He's never been a part of a game like that before this year.  If you saw him with his headsets off, it's because he told all the coaches to leave the press box and come down to the field level and "teach."

He was asked if he had done any self-reflection in the last 36 hours.  He said he has not.  This is almost 100% impossible.  It would simply not be human--unless the Coach is a diagnosable sociopath, and I don't think he is.

He does say we are not going to buckle down and go with 2 TEs and slow the game down.  We are going to stay aggressive.

He says BG was at a speed disadvantage with OSU and Memphis and, essentially, he figures guys are slower in the MAC.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Other thoughts...

A few other things that occur to me...

This game Saturday is huge.  You lose that one and go 1-4....with a loss to is a how long can you go situation.  You worry that the coaches might lose the team...if they haven't already.  You could go from last year's season to our worst season in a long time.  And, EMU is much improved.  I watched their game with Wyoming and that team is playing hard and with increasing confidence.

Second.  we did see that switching QBs is not a magic solution.  Jinks was asked about it and said that Morgan made some good plays and some plays where you went "what the hell are you doing?"  On one play---a pick---he threw to the wrong WR and it was so obvious RAY BENTLEY noticed it.  Anyway, at first the team seemed to pick up and the WRs seemed to play better when Morgan got into the game, but he played almost 3 quarters and BG didn't score in that time.

On that point, this one wasn't on Knapke alone.  He didn't play well, but neither did anybody else.  Jinks said we had like 10 drops, some of them perfect throws to players in space.

Beyond that, post-game, Coach was pretty broken down.  He said "it's not like we can go out on the waiver wire" and get new players.  He said that in reference to the defense.  He said that they have to coach them up better...but was clearly attempting to manage expectations.

He also mentioned that defensive backfield issues forced the team to burn redshirts belonging to CJ Pickrom and Jerry McBride.

It won't get any easier...Tavarous Wade, a walk on who has played quite a big in the d-backfield will have to miss the first half of the EMU game.

Past and Future Opponent Land

Ohio State (3-0)  Idle
North Dakota (2-2) Beat Montana State 17-15
Middle TN (3-1) Beat LA Tech 38-34
EMU  (3-1)  See that?  3-1.  Beat Wyoming.
OU (2-2) Beat Garder-Webb 37-21
UT  (3-0) Idle
Miami (0-4) Lost 27-20 to UC
NIU (0-4) Lost 28-23 to Western Illinois
Akron  (2-2) Lost 45-38 to App State
Kent (1-3) Lost to alum Nick Saban
Buffalo (1-2) Beat Army


FBS:  13-19
P5:  4-9
FCS:  9-4

The Morning After Our Worst Defeat Ever

There's a lot to say.  Obviously.

First note.  I'm looking out the window.  The sun did come up.

That might be the only high point.

That loss last night was the worst in program history.  It broke the record set by the OSU game.  These are facts.

And they sum up where we are.  The defending MAC champs have suffered the PROGRAM'S two biggest defeats in four games.

Oh---and there's a very good chance BG is the worst team in FBS.  How did that happen?  Can you believe we are looking at those words?

It is simply beyond comprehension.

Last night's game was a complete embarrassment to the program.  I've been around here a long time.  The Cal Bowl.  That GMAC game against Tulsa.  Big House, Camp Randall....there are probably others.

And this is worse than all of them.

Our team is a complete disaster.  Complete.  WRs can't make catches.  QBs can't make throws.  RBs can't make first downs, blockers can't block.  The defense is completely helpless.  Turnovers.  Blown coverages.  Brutal kick returns.  That team out there is a complete disaster.

And that wasn't Ohio State.  Memphis is a good team, no doubt.  But good enough to put our biggest defeat in history on us?  No.  Not that good.

Memphis could have scored 100 last night.

Here's the thing.

I can get that we probably had inflated expectations.  We did lose a lot, especially on offense.  But there were strengths and you had to figure the team was set up to have an average year.  See my preview.

Hey, remember, we had a great line and a good RB and great LBs and a decent d-line  We had a top-flight WR.  We might not have won the MAC, but we had a shot at the East and the cupboard wasn't completely empty.

What are we seeing on the field now?  Empty cupboard.  No cupboard. House blown away by a tornado, just a bunch of sticks and lumber in a heap.

That happened fast, eh?  How did that happen?  He asks like he doesn't know what the answer is.

So, I raised concerns about the high school coach we hired when we did it and then I raised concerns that most of his staff had never coached before and were graduate assistants and quality control assistants at a program that is mediocre at best.  People from Texas came on and told me I didn't understand Texas HS football.  Which is just like college football.  Don't you know?

Look, the nature of life is that we don't know what would have happened if they had hired some boring dude with a track record of FCS success.  Maybe we give up 77 in 2 of our first 4 games.

I don't think that.  Neither do you.

True or not, what has happened fits the narrative perfectly.  HS Coach comes in, actually thinks Texas HS football is like coaching college, brings in a bunch of graduate assistants and quality control assistants and they are completely overmatched from the start.  Because the Big XII > the MAC.

How are those LBs performing?  Seems like they were benched last night.  D-backs?  Any sign of improvement?  How about the WRs?  Does it seem like they're being coached effectively?  Is the o-line overachieving or underachieving?  Is there any evidence anyone coached Knapke and Morgan up this spring and fall or are they where we left them?  Or did they work with a guy whose father was a coach of Jinks in HS?

Overall, did it look like the defensive coordinator had a solid game plan on stopping Memphis last night?  Or close?  Or had one idea?

Here's another thing.  You can tell this is the right argument by where the apologists are going.  They are blaming Babers and Clawson.  CLAWSON.  Wow.

Do you honestly think we give up 77 to Memphis if Dave Clawson and Mike Elko are still here?  Give me a break.

So, the Internet was going crazy last night.  Obviously, the discussion is that Jinks has to go.  There was talk of a Lane Kiffen-style tarmac-firing.  Which apparently didn't happen.

There's also talk of a one and done.

Here is the problem.  That's not going to happen.  We left Louis Orr in position for two years after we should have to finish his contract.  Same with Dakich.  Even Brandon--though bought out--stayed after he should have.

There is no way.  When next year starts, Mike Jinks is going to be standing there signaling plays in.

Don't give me all this about how much money the program will lose in the one comes to the games now and most of the money to fund athletics comes from student fees which they have to pay no matter how shitty the team is.  Ask the students at EMU.

BG is not going to pay two people to coach football for four years.

So, if you care about the program and enjoy seeing us win and don't want to see this turn into a Stan Parrish or Shane Montgomery style reboot that sets the program back 5 years or more...well, we're in the boat with Mike Jinks.

So:  look in the damn mirror.  Get this fixed.

Friday, September 23, 2016

25 Questions about Tigers

What is their body of work?

This is a good program of late.  They were terrible from 09-13, winning only 13 games.  Justin Fuente turned the program around and were 19-7 over the last two seasons.  They won 44-41 at the Doyt last year.  They are 2-0 this year with an easy win over an FCS team and Kansas, in Kansas.  They beat Kansas 43-7...OU only beat them by 16.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 29, which is a lot.

Who are their statistical leaders?

Jake Elliott is #5 in FG per game.
Arthur Maulet is #2 in passes defended.
Anthony Miller is #12 in receptions per game
Patrick Taylor is #4 in rushing yards per carry
Jake Elliott is #20 in scoring
Jonathan Cook is #5 in solo tackles
Genard Avery is #9 in TFL

What is their turnover ratio?

They are +4 in two games.  They have recovered all four of their opponent's fumbles, which football data guys will tell you is influenced by luck.


 How is their QB play?

He's good.  He's no Paxton Lynch, yet.  His name is Riley Ferguson.  He completes 64% at 11.8 per completion, both of which are really good. His efficiency rating is only #3 in the AAC due to only 5 TDs over 2 INT.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They are scoring 39 a game but only at 5.5 yards per play.  The first is good, but the second is not.  When there's that kind of disparity, it is usually turnovers, 3rd downs or red zone, and Memphis is nothing special in the last two, so it must be turnovers.

Can they run the ball?

They are 81st in rushing offense.  Most of their runs have come from two guys, one with 8.7 yards per carry and one with 2.9 yards per carry.  Overall, they average 3.9 yards per carry, which is far from great.

Do they pass the ball?

Well, you've seen the QB numbers.  He's completed 41 passes to 12 receivers, but 14 of the 41 have been to Anthony Miller.  The next highest guy has 5.

How is their run/pass balance?

They run on 54% of their plays.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They are poor on 3rd down at #99 in FBS.

Do they score in the red zone?

No.  They are only 6 of 9 and 4.7 points per trip.

Did they protect the quarterback?

Not really, they give up sacks on 11% of their pass plays.


This is a much different situation.  Their offense has been sort of middling, but the defense has been very effective.  Now, they haven't faced the world's roughest schedule, but in terms of projecting to our game, where do you think BG's offense would rank next to Kansas?  Equal?

Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are allowing only 12 PPG, which is 9th in the country.  They are allowing 4.2 yards per play, which is 13th in the country.

Possibly the most disturbing ad I ever saw
Do they defend the run effectively?

Yes, they do.  They allow 3.9 yards per carry which is 43rd in the country and 115 per game, which is 40th. BG is going to need to win some battles here.  They will not survive if they are forced to a pass-only attack.

Can they be passed on?

They are difficult to pass on.  They are #13 in pass defense efficiency.  They allow 60% completions on 7.5 yards per catch,which is next to nothing.  Also, 1 TD over 3 INT.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They do.  They allow only 29% conversions which is #30 in the country

Do they defend in the red zone?

Well, they have only allowed 2 red zone trips and 1 TD.

Do they pressure the QB?

No, the only have three sacks in 78 attempts.

Special Teams:


They are good.  #12 in net punting in FBS.  They average 48 yards per kick and exactly 0

Punt Return?

Actually good.  They have 9 returns in 2 games, which is a lot, at over 10 yards per return.


He's 5/6 with a long of 50.  Very good.

Wash your hands before eating

They are very good holding their opponents to starting on the 23.  Their guy has two returns but averages over 30 yards per return.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 29, which is good.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

First, they are drawing really well in the Liberty Bowl.  They have had 42K and 34K for their first games.  That's going to be a really good environment.  They are coming off the big Kansas win and be playing with high confidence, while the Falcons are still trying to find their way.

They have Ole Miss next maybe there's a chance this game gets forgotten in their minds.

BG is relatively healthy, unlike the MTSU game.  The Falcons are going to have to move the ball against this defense.  Honestly, this has a chance to look like the score of the Kansas game if BG plays as they have in their first three.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

TE Koontz De-Commits

So we have talked about our coaching staff getting highly-ranked commits.  That's just the first step.  You have to keep them and get them enrolled and then turn them into players.  We have no track record to go on, except for people from Texas Tech who say that Jinks was hired to recruit San Antonio.

So, the first of this year's verbals has de-committed.  He is highly ranked TE Travis Koontz.  Here's what I wrote back in May when he committed, which observers even then thought was a shock since he had offers from Maryland, Iowa State and UC at that time.  He also was the #4 TE in Ohio.

So, as I always say at times like this, I wish Travis well.  We want guys who want to be here and this is a huge decision for him, and he needs to feel it is right for him.  Best of luck.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blade Injury Report and Not Surprising QB News

John Wagner has the news on the injury front.  You can see the progression.  Actually, it shows a team getting significantly healthier after finishing the MTSU game.  The three players out on defense does not help at all, but the oline is back to just down 1 and Shannon Smith playing is big, that's a guy we really need.  Getting Valdez back is huge, too.

The other news is that Knapke is starting.  That's zero surprise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Depth Chart Review....

Just a quickie here...the game notes are out and as usual, they are mostly the same.  We know we have some injuries on the O-line, but for now the list is the same as it was last week.

On defense there are some changes.

First, Ben Hale---who has been battling a concussion--is not listed for this week at all.

Second, one of the OLB spots previously listed Jack Walz and James Sanford as co-starters.  Now, both of them are off the depth chart.  Brandon Harris, who started here as a S, is slated to start there and Nillijah Ballew, who has played a lot for us but was out of the lineup earlier this year is listed as back up.

Hale was previously at ROV.  The chart shows Tavarous Wade starting and Sotolongo at backup.  Sotolongo has played quite a bit but was apparently dinged up in the MTSU game.

The other S is still Jamari Bozeman's spot.  Wade was his backup, and he's been replaced by true FR CJ Pickrom.

There's shuffling at corner, too.  For MTSU, it was Mack and Milton starting with Jeffries and Montre Gregory behind him.  For Memphis, it is Mack and Jeffries, with Jackson and Milton behind them.

I think it is safe to say that BG is digging around trying to find ways to tune the secondary up.  Unless James Sanford is injured that's a pretty significant move, since it moves Harris away from a position of need.

And yes, Knapke is still at QB.  If they do make a move, they won't reveal it until the last minute because Morgan can run a little.

We might hear more coming up this week in the real media...on both injuries and playing time.

Monday, September 19, 2016

International Centre for Special Teams Research, Blue Raiders

If you read this blog, you know that I started in 2009 using my own system for evaluating special teams play for Bowling Green.   You can read the full introduction and see the scoring system here, should such a thing interest you.  The basic idea is that you get positive points for good plays outside the middle area of the bell curve on the right and negative points on the left.  The system doesn't care if you get to the 26 or 28 on a kickoff or if you make a short FG...make a long FG or miss an easy one, now we're talking.

The game had the two most important special teams plays of the year, one going each way.  BG had a disastrous play when Ronnie Moore was fielding a was hard to see, but it might have hit him around the 20 and then it rolled to the ten and he seemed unsure if he had touched it but he didn't fall on it and just kind of slapped at it...removing all doubt about whether he had touched it...and then MTSU recovered.

A few minutes late the tables were turned as MTSU fumbled a punt return and BG recovered.

Both plays led to scores.

They also cancelled themselves out in our system.  BG finished at an even 0.  Even with the cancelling out, MTSU had a big day, going +6 for the game.  BG was hurt mostly by not getting the usual production out of Davidson, who did boom a ending up in the end zone.  To their credit, MTSU made a bunch of special teams play beyond the fumbles.  Their punter did a great job of pinning us deep in our own territory, and right now, long fields are not our friend.

Here is how it broke out.

BG Positive (+5)

Recover fumbled punt (+3)
61 yard net punt (+1)
KOR to 38 (1)

BG Negative (-5)

Lose muffed punt (-3)
Penalty and punt return give MTSU 54 yard net  (-1)
KOR to 10 (-1)

MTSU Positive (+12)

KO TB (+1)
Recover muffed punt (+3)
KO TB (+1)
BG KOR to 10 (+1)
Punt to 12 (+1)
11 yard PR (+1)
KO TB (+1)
Punt to 10 (+1)
Punt to 2 (+2)

MTSU Negative (-6)

Lose fumbled punt (-3)
Miss 28 yd FG (-1)
BG KOR to 38 (-1)
Miss XP (-1)

JInks presser for this week

Coach Jinks had his presser today.

Not much news.  In fact, not any news.  The only interesting thing was...well...exactly what you would expect.  Coach was asked about the Quarterback position.  This week he said that Knapke is the starter entering practice and that he and Morgan would be evaluated over the course of the week. That's a slight change from where he normally is, which is that Knapke is the starter.

He says that Knapke made way too many mistakes in the MTSU game, but that he gives the team the best chance to win.  Both of these things could be true, depressing though that might be.

He also said he wanted to have this worked out before he entered conference play.  That would mean that there's one more game to figure out who the QB is going to be, based on a best case scenario.  Worst case, it is never settled.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Big MBB Verbal: Derek Koch

In the midst of football, football football, the men's basketball program remains hard at work.  They have landed a can see the above name, helping to answer what is the biggest remaining issue for the program...some strength and beef inside.

West Salem is in eastern Ohio, kind of between Canton and Youngstown.

This one could be big.  24/7 sports gives him a 2-star composite but ranks him the 4th highest player in Ohio and the #83 PF in the country. has the same ranking.

He had offers from Akron, Ball State, Brown, Cornell, Kent, Lehigh, Oakland, Robert Morris, Tennessee Tech, UT and West Virginia according to 24/7.  That's a pretty good list, if accurate...and a big coup for Coach Huger.  Also, those Ivy League offers should indicate a strong academic background.

He was also first-team all-Ohio, the District Player of the Year, and his conference player of the year.

So.  You have to like the sound of all that.  I'm really enthused about the men's basketball program...I just feel like we are on the right trajectory.

Welcome to the Falcons, Derek

Past and Future Opponent Land

Ohio State (3-0)  Smoked OK 45-24
North Dakota (1-2) Beat South Dakota 47-44 in 2 OT
Memphis (2-0)  Beat Kansas 43-7
EMU  (2-1)  Beat Charlotte 37-19
OU (1-2) Lost tough one to TN
UT  (3-0) Destroyed Fresno State
Miami (0-3) Lost 31-24 to WKU
NIU (0-3) Lost 42-28 to San Diego State
Akron  (2-1) Won 65-38 @Marshall
Kent (1-2) Beat Monmouth 27-7
Buffalo (0-2) Lot 38-14 to Nevada


FBS:  9-14
P5:  4-7
FCS:  8-3

Soaking Defeat: The Defense

Coach Jinks said after the game that "we have a good defense."

And I more or less agree.  It is a little less good after I got home and looked at the numbers, but in the stadium I felt like the defense had really done all they could be expected to do give the turnovers the offense provided to MTSU.  Much like 2014, I think the defense is good but not great but holding us in games while the offense fails to produce.

The Blue Raiders scored 6 touchdowns.  One was on a 10-yard drive, one was on a 26-yard drive and one was on a 46-yard quick change at the end of the second half in the game's deciding sequence.  So, at least two of those are pretty short fields and the other is a pretty difficult situation.  So point on is that the offense wasn't holding up their end of the bargain.  Even at 28 points allowed, BG has a shot to win the game.

The defense made one deadly mistake....that big pass play on the opening drive of the second half was just a killer and you've got to come out with more focus than that.

It may turn out that the weather worked for BG's defense as well.  MTSU came in passing on about 70% of their downs.  At the Doyt, they passed on 45% of their plays.  Given that they ran at 4.3 yards per attempt...and passed at 9.3 yards per attempt...on a sunny day if the play mix was a little different we might not be feeling so good.

Still, Stockstill was only 18 of 30 in a high-percentage offense and they seemed to be out of rhythm for a lot of the game.  I thought coverage was strong across the middle and a little weaker along the sidelines...and a couple of times their guys just went up and got the ball.

I'm not sure what Dino Babers' year-three plan was, and it may not have existed, but BG is running guys out there in the secondary who were not signees and some have only been with the program since the summer.  Tavarous Wade, walk on.  Montre Gregory, showed up in July.  Cam Jeffries, true freshman.

Further, the defense was playing with its best player in limited position--Austin Valdez did appear but made only 2 tackles--and Brandon Harris was DQ'd for a targeting call that seemed questionable, but they looked at the replay.  Ben Hale did not play.  Not making excuses, just pointing out that there's duct tape being applied to the operation.

I thought early on the defense was effective, tackling in space and controlling the run.  They forced punts on 3 straight drives after BG went down 14 in the 3rd quarter, but the offense failed to capitalize to get us back in the game.  That's a great job to rally after struggles.

Not saying they can't be better, but I think they held their own.

Also, they gave up a big play, but they made one, too, with Mack's INT and near-pick-six setting up one of BG's 3 TDs.

There's a focus on penalties, BG had 8 penalties in the first half, four of them on the defense.  (Fun note.  Only one penalty was called in the 2nd half on both teams).  But, the only one that led to a score by MTSU was the pass interference on their game-tying drive.

MTSU did win 3rd down at 7 of 14...and BG forced only one turnover...and BG had only one sack...but it is a short drop attack that is tough to pressure.

Everyone's going to get a big test Saturday.  Memphis is looking really, really good and I expect adversity to continue to press on our guys.

Soaking Defeat--The Offense

Let's start with the positive.

When BG couldn't grind out a first down against North Dakota to kill the game, Coach challenged his line and his line coach a little bit in the press conference afterwards.  He said, essentially, that we are too good up there not to be able to grind out a first down.

The line came back against Middle Tennessee and played the way we would expect them to.  Coach said after the game that they fought hard--and two of them got injured, Beggan for sure and I think McAuliffe was the other one--and really went to war with the Blue Raiders.  So, good job for our guys responding to the challenge.

You could see the results in the run game.  Coach said that they thought they could run on MTSU, and the weather only made that an easier decision.  In fact, he told the offense that there were only two real plays in the second half....inside zone and outside zone.

And BG had excellent success running the ball.  Credit to the line, and to Coppet and Cleveland, both of whom had big days.  Cleveland 18 for 153 and a score, with a TD, and Coppet was 27 for 117.  That's 8.5 and 4.3 yards per carry respectively.  Donovan Wilson also joined in with 36 yards on 10 carries and 2 TDs....playing the big man role in short yardage scenarios.

He's an interesting stat....those 3 backs only lost 1 yard on all their rushes.  That's pretty good, and probably more of a measurement of the line than the backs.

BG ran for 304 yards overall, which is a good day's work, and it kept BG in the game.  Had BG been one-dimensional in the middle of that monsoon, things could have gotten a lot worse.  BG had third quarter drives of 12 plays and 11 plays...both of which ended turning the ball over on downs in the red zone.  Coach Jinks points to those 4th down plays as examples of BG just needing to learn how to get that extra yard.

So, the line and the running game...positive.

Now, the negatives.

First, you just can't escape the overall issue...yes, BG scored 21 points.  So, that's 3 scoring of which started at the MTSU 1 and one of them on the MTSU 21.  One of those was a special teams turnover and the other an interception, but they were basically gifts to the offense.  So, for a 60-minute game, the offense generated one real scoring drive...and none in the second half.  That simply is not good enough to win games.

Second, BG had, really, five turnovers.  The muffed punt was technically not a fumble, but that's one and it was Ronnie Moore.  The other four...look this is a fact, were two fumbles by Knapke and two interceptions by Knapke.  Yes, the ball was wet, I get that, but this isn't the first time that this has happened either.  Coach said in the presser that the turnovers cost the team the game, and I think that's certainly hard to argue.

Also, BG's productivity in the passing game was poor.  The Falcons were 18 of 32, which is 56%, with 2 picks, no TD and just 129 yards, which is 4 yards per attempt and 7 yards per completion.  MTSU had double on both of those last numbers in the same rain.

Unless we can really turn into 3 yards and a cloud of dust, we're not going to win games with five turnovers and passing numbers like that.  Coach made reference to the fact we were running into some light boxes...the question is are we going to be able to pass against a heavy box.

I know the Falcon Nation is up in arms about our QB.  I don't want to rip the guy.  He's one of us and as far as I can see he is a stand-up guy playing his heart out for us.  The facts above are facts, though, and beyond that, you all can see what I see on the passing offense.  There's no need to belabor the point.

I know people are screaming for Morgan.  The backup QB is always the most popular guy in any fan base--he's rich with potential and poor of reality.  Yes, I know Morgan looked good against OSU, but he was playing against backups in a blowout game.

There are a couple possibilities here.  First, I believe that if Morgan was clearly better in practice he would be in the game now.  Unless--and this happens--Coach is so addicted to having an experienced QB that he is kind of blinded to the difference...much like when Dave Clawson started Matt Schilz over Matt Johnson for about 25 seconds in '13.

But, on balance, I trust Jinks' judgment on this.  If Morgan was a clearly better, he would be in the game.

Here's the thing.  As I understand it, the concern with Morgan is that he makes some bad in the North Dakota game...and OSU for that matter.  Well, here is the thing.  I am not a person who says it can't get worse.  It can always get worse.  But I don't know what kind of decision making you are getting out of the starter...and maybe they are execution errors, not decision errors...but if you are playing Knapke to limit mistakes, that's tough to square.

The Schilz-Johnson comparison is very attractive.  One thing to remember is that Johnson was a redshirt sophomore when he stepped in for Schilz.  Morgan is a redshirt freshman.  That's one less year in the program and could be huge from a development standpoint.  Also, Johnson spent his first two years in the same system...Morgan has spent two years in two systems.  Finally, when Johnson did play as a r-FR, he was not effective.  The light did not come on until the next year.

I think you will see Morgan more and relatively soon.  But, if it was as obvious as it seems to us, it would have happened by now.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Soaking Defeat---overview

I attended my first game at the Doyt in 1971.

I do not ever remember being there when it rained that long and that hard.  The third quarter was borderline ridiculous, as we experienced a torrential downpour for most of the period.  There was standing water on the field and twice the officials met with coaches about the playability of the conditions.

In all that rain, though, the favored team came out in front as Middle Tennessee State put a 41-21 defeat on the Falcons.

This was a tough one for BG from the get-go.  The sad thing is, they did a pretty good job with the Blue Raider offense...but our offense...oh my.

The basic storyline looked like this.  BG came out playing well, in general.  There were mistakes on both sides, but BG was (I felt) showing some better playcalling---more runs and more variety in pass routes, including routes with the WR coming back to the line, which I think were easier for Knapke to complete.  The defense was playing well, tackling in space...things were OK.

With about 5 minutes left in the first half, BG was up 21-14.  MTSU started on their own 20 and, aided by a pass interference penalty on the Falcons, scored with inside 2 minutes left to tie the game at 21.

BG still had time for a drive, and made 2 first downs before Knapke fumbled (one of two in the game) around midfield.  MT recovered, and started at the BG 46 with :55 left.  They used only :26 of it before scoring again, this time taking the lead--for good as it turned out--at 28-21.

Then, they scored a 78-yard touchdown on the first play of the 3rd quarter and take a 35-21 lead that was decisive.  That's 3 touchdowns on 6 plays and from there BG was behind the 8-ball and did not, in fact, score at all in the 2nd half.

Post-game, Coach Jinks sounded a little more frustrated than he did last week.  He was talking fast and being rather emphatic.  Obviously, you don't need too much football knowledge to know that if you turn the ball over 5 times--2 fumbles, 2 INT and 1 muffed punt inside your own 10--that's going to make it next to impossible to win, and it did.

He followed his theme from last week that BG needs to make the ordinary plays.  BG failed on two 4th down plays deep in their territory by very short distances, and he says we need to figure out how to convert that distance.

OK, that, and, you know, fewer turnovers and a more productive passing game.

He did say that he saw some improvement and I would agree with that.  BG did play better than they did in the previous two games, but they remain a long way from being in a position to consistently win games.

I'll look at the offense and the defense tomorrow.

Big picture is that this season is unfolding along a worst-case scenario.  BG is just one play from being 0-3 and they travel to Memphis this week, where the Tigers destroyed Kansas today.  Even at 1-2, it will be a miracle not to hit MAC play at 1-3.   The team is banged up as well, which does not help matters, and there doesn't seem to be a path forward on the team's bigger, pressing issues.

Friday, September 16, 2016

25 Questions, 2 Nobel Prizes

What is their body of work?

This is a pretty good program.  Their coach has been there for 11 seasons,  and he started the year 64-61.  They have had four straight non-losing seasons, with the most in that period being 8 wins.  They won 10 games in 2009.  They are 1-1 this year, with a win over Alabama A&M and a loss to Vanderbilt.

James Buchanan...alum....Nobel Prize winning Economist
How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 27, which is a lot.  There are 12 FR on the two-deep as well.

Who are their statistical leaders?

QB Brent Stockstill is #5 in the nation in completions, #3 in passing TDs and 7th in passing yards per game.  Also #7 in total offense.

WR Richie James is #8 in receiving yards, #2 in receptions per game,

What is their turnover ratio?

They struggled with turnovers in the Vanderbilt game and are -2 for the year.


 How is their QB play?

He's good.  Real good.  The son of the coach, you can see Stocksill's national rankings above.  He's completed 67% of his passes, with 8 TD and 2 INT.  He has 10.7 yards per completion, which is probably the biggest thing holding down his ranking.  His efficiency rating is almost exactly what it was last year.  He doesn't run a ton, but when he does he can make some yards.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They have 39.5 YPG and 6.6 yards per play, both of which are really good.
This man founded the Grameen Bank, which is actually cool.
Also a Blue Raider.  Also Nobel Prize.        s

Can they run the ball?

Well, they don't run very much.  Their backs average 10 or fewer carries per game.  However, when they do run they average 6.3 and 5.5 yards per carry.

Do they pass the ball?

See above.  They did have two starting WRs injured since the start of training, but it does not seem to have slowed them now.  This Richie James is a beast.  Both he and Stockstill are sophomores.

How is their run/pass balance?

The run on 34% of their plays, which is one of the lowest I have ever seen.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They converted on 51%, which is 29th in the nation.

Do they score in the red zone?

They are deadly at 5.8 points per trip.

Did they protect the quarterback?

Yeah.  Get this.  They have allowed 1 sack in 118 passing attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.
This is MTSU Alum and former Nasvhille Mayor....
Bill Boner.
I swear.
They have allowed 23.5 PPG and 4 per play, both of which are really good, although they have played one FCS team--and it was a mess.  In fact, Alabama A&M only had 6 first downs in the game, so that was a pretty one-sided game.  Take into account below.  They gave up 47 to Vanderbilt.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They allow 4.5 yards per carry so far this year, which is good.  They were supposed to have a front 7 that was in the middle of the pack in the CUSA based on Phil Steele.  They have up a 200 yard game to a Commodore RB.

Can they be passed on?

They are difficult to pass on.  They are #11 in FCS in pass efficiency defense.  They are allowing 46% completions, 1 TD over 1 INT and about 8 per completion.  They actually held Vanderbilt to 113 yards passing.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They are #8 in the country, which is a lot of Alabama A&M.  Having said that, Vanderbilt was 4 of 12, so the answer appears to be yes.

Do they defend in the red zone?

They are not good, at 6.4 points per trip.

Do they pressure the QB?
Lady Alumtebellum.

Well, yeah, they are sacking at 10% of passing attempts, which is very good.

Special Teams:


They are not good....#96 in net punting.  No blocks.  No TDs allowed.

Punt Return?

Well, Richie James is their returner and he hasn't done anything huge yet this year.  They have a block but they also muffed a punt and gave up a safety.


He's 3-4 on the year with a 46 yard long.  Off to a good start.


They are holding their opponents to starting on the 20, which is not very much.

Kickoff Return?

They start on the 24, which is not average.

Call him Lightning.
Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Big challenge for BG.  This is a team that can really sling the ball, and BG offers a very thin secondary, especially with Ben Hale doubtful.  James is a good WR, much like BG saw at OSU.  I think you can expect BG to not repeat their mistake and go with a zone against the Blue Raiders.  The Falcons need a strong performance in this game...I'm worried if they don't get it, then the whole effort could start to go south by the end of next week.  BG simply won't be able to keep up with them without executing much better on offense.

So, if BG is truly a play away, let's hope they make that play.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

International Centre for Special Teams Research North Dakota Style

If you read this blog, you know that I started in 2009 using my own system for evaluating special teams play for Bowling Green.   You can read the full introduction and see the scoring system here, should such a thing interest you.  The basic idea is that you get positive points for good plays outside the middle area of the bell curve on the right and negative points on the left.  The system doesn't care if you get to the 26 or 28 on a kickoff or if you make a short FG...make a long FG or miss an easy one, now we're talking.

So, I was actually relatively dismissive of Coach Jinks' statement that special teams were pretty good in the North Dakota game, but actually BG did have a good game.  The punting was good and so was the kickoff coverage, save one return.  It was enough to take over the missed PKs and the poor kick defense on that one play and Ronnie Moore's running the ball back inside his own 20.  Oh, and we didn't have a category for it, but I deducted one point for the attempt to return the FG.

BG ended up +2 for the game.  North Dakota was +2.

Here is how it broke out.

BG Positive (+7)

49 yard net punt (+1)
45 yard net punt (+1)
BG KOR to 36 (+1)
ND KOR to 19 (+1)
48 yard net punt (+1)
49 yard net punt (+1)
45 yard net punt (+1)

BG Negative (-5)

Miss 30 yard FG (-1)
-6 PR inside 20 (-1)
Missed xp (-1)
ND KOR to 46 (-1)
Failed FG Return (-1)

ND Positive (+5)

50 yard net punt (+1)
44 yd FG (+1)
ND KOR to 46 (+1)
Punt inside 20 (+1)
Punt to BG 10 (+1)

ND Negative (-3)

ND KOR to 19 (-1)
BG KOR to 36 (+1)
Missed xp (-1)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Jinks Presser

Coach Jinks addressed the media yesterday.  Nothing terribly newsworthy was revealed...I would watch for injury reports from The Blade tomorrow, because we got pretty dinged up Saturday.  Anyway, beyond that I have to say that Coach is a pretty stand-up guy, direct and honest.  I suspect his easygoing demeanor will throw some fans--as it did with Louis Orr--into thinking he isn't intense, which I believe he is.

Anyway, he feels that we are a couple plays away.  He just sees that if we could execute a couple plays differently. the whole thing would be better.  I get his point.  Football is a different game...if you make an extra yard for a first down and keep a drive going and then you score on that drive it effects the next drive....etc.

His specific example is a play where BG caught a pass near the stick, could have just plowed forward for a first down but cut back, lost yardage and had to punt.  "If we make that first down, they're tired and we probably score," he says.

And while I get that it was a big play, Coach spent much of the rest of the day talking about BG's poor, even if we make that first down, we still have to execute our way down the field and that is far from a sure thing.

So, I guess I don't think we're just a play away.  But, some plays do matter more than other plays.

He was asked often about the QB.  He's going to keep Knapke as the starter.  Has "all the confidence in the world in him."  Says he sat out all of last year and this is a somewhat new offense.  On the other hand, talks about all the reads the QB has to make in the offense and seems to indicate he was messing them up---in other words, he's making more mistakes than it looks like he's making.

And, he gave Morgan a shot and we saw what happened.

Finally, he shared the fan's frustration with that last drive.  He says that while he feels like they should have opened it up a little bit, he also told the OL coach that with the line we have, he should be able to make 10 yards in 3 plays to win a game.

Which is correct.  Also correct is that the OL coach was coaching his second game ever.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Past and Future Opponent Land

Ohio State (2-0)  Won easily over Tulsa
Middle Tennessee (1-1) Lost 47-24 to Vanderbilt
Memphis (1-0)  OFF
EMU  (1-1)  Lost 61-21 to Missouri
OU (1-1) Won 37-21 @ Kansas
UT  (2-0) Beat Maine 45-3
Miami (0-2) Lost 21-17 to Eastern Illinois
NIU (0-2) Lost 48-17 to USF...(you think people are nervous in BG?)
Akron  (1-1) Lost 54-10 to Wisconsin
Kent (0-2) Lost at home to North Carolina A&T
Buffalo (0-1) Off

For the MAC...uh...not a super Saturday.  Yes, you get the big CMU upset on the incredible hitcha nd hail mary...but then it turns out #maction officials gagged it up.  You have 2 and almost 3 FCS losses.  Yeah.


FBS:  5-9
P5:  3-6
FCS:  6-3

On the football coaches

So, the Falcon Nation is clearly anxious.  That's landing in a number of places, including some of our players and our coaches.

So...the coaches.

Look, I was concerned about this from the start.  That we got someone untested when we didn't need to, that Texas HS football isn't college football, that we brought in guys on the staff who have mostly not even been assistant coaches, that we raided the graduate assistants and quality control assistants from an average program that should be stealing our coaches...that's all been written here.

Furthermore, the coaches have done nothing to make us think that they were ready for this assignment.  Maybe they are--maybe (even probably) the results would be exactly the same if Babers hadn't left--but there's no phase of the game that you can point to and say, yeah, that's a unit that is exceeding what we thought they could do.  To me, whether the coaches are up to this job remains a very open question, and more open now than it was at the beginning of the year.

Having said is way too early to give up on them.

First, they aren't going anywhere and the quickest route to an answer we all want is for these guys to prove themselves and succeed.  At Miami and Ball State--for example--it took years to recover from a bad coaching decision, if it has happened.  In fact, anyone remember 2010 at BG?  That season was on Gregg Brandon, even though he was gone.

So, the best way to avoid that fate would be for these guys to turn out to be good coaches.  Again, I have my doubts, but I could also be proven wrong.

Second, yes, both games fit the narrative of coaches who are in over their head.  Having said that, it isn't the only narrative.  I'm not sure any coach could have taken the MAC's 11th ranked QB from two years ago, an almost entirely new WR corps, losing their all-time best RB and nearly their entire defensive secondary and be producing results that would make everyone happy.

I feel like we are producing on the lower end of what I thought we would, given all of those changes.  I mean, Knapke isn't any worse than he was in '14 and he had better receivers that year.

Again:  I don't see any evidence the coaches are succeeding but I'm nowhere near deciding they are destined to fail.

Here's the thing.  It isn't going to get better right away.  In fact...

Well, Coach Jinks is upbeat, which is largely his only option, team just needs some consistency and make the ordinary plays and "we'll be fine."

But, give the current trajectory, winning either of the next two games is looking pretty unlikely.  If people are grumpy now, it is going to be worse at 1-3.  The MAC East should help to ease some pressure, as it always does.  Even with that, the team that played last night is not going to run the table in the East, flawed though it might be.

BG has won 2 championships in 3 years.  We are having good times.  Even if this year isn't great, the best path to success is not to have to reboot the program--probably after 4 years in a 5 year deal at the earliest.

Finally, a reminder.  They don't appear to be in over their heads on recruiting.

"Sweet" Victory #1: Escape at the Doyt, Other Observations

So, various thoughts and observations.

I didn't really mention in the game summary that Scottie Miller had a huge game.  He scored 3 times, twice on big plays deep in the middle of the North Dakota secondary.  The young man can run and he's a football player.

After the game, coach said the Fighting Hawks were really focused on Ronnie Moore, which opened some space up for Miller, which he and Knapke took advantage of effectively.

Moore left the game with an injury, but coach said it was a thigh bruise and he expects him to be OK.  He did not mention (or was not asked) about Coppet, or Austin Valdez who left the field after UND's last touchdown.

I felt like BG made two huge blunders from a coaching standpoint.

Having Miller return the missed long FG was crazy.  If he had run it out BG could have been deep in its own territory and even by downing it BG started at the 20.  If the ball had been allowed to drop in the end zone, we would have had the ball on the 37.

The other was BG's last two possessions.  BG seemed really to be in a run the clock out mode and it totally gave UND a chance to make that drive.  This is one of the disadvantages of using an offense like need to grind out a couple first downs on the ground, and you just don't have that in your arsenal.

It is kind of like playing prevent offense.  Two first downs--even one--on that last drive and the game is over.  I just think you need to open the playbook a little.  Jet sweep, high percentage passing play, something that isn't running into a crowded box--especially since BG had not run effectively well during the game.

To the point, those last drives were 1:57 and 1:04 (with UND timeouts).

 Coach said after the game that Knapke is the starter.  He said "he was to play well" and I think that's a key statement.  Knapke makes some plays, he just doesn't make nearly enough.  He misses reads, takes sacks, and is not an accurate thrower.  As I said last night, it isn't all him.  There are issues all over the offense, from receivers to the line to the running game to, I assume, new and learning coaches.

Here's the thing.  If Morgan was demonstrably better, he'd be in there.  He was highly touted and he has a big arm, but if he was clearly outshining Knapke, he'd be in there.

Random:  UND ran more plays than BG.

Antonio Sotolongo had a big game with 11 tackles.  Valdez had 10.

It was good to have Gus Schweiterman back.   He had 4 tackles, 3 sacks, and all the tacklers were for a loss.  He also had the huge sack late in the game that was wiped out due to defensive holding.

Ben Hale didn't play.  No idea what was up there.

North Dakota had no turnovers.  BG had 3.

I felt that a key point of the game came in the first quarter.  BG had scored on its second and third  drives and appeared to be setting up the rout.  Meanwhile, North Dakota did not have a first down.  BG drove down the field on a 16 play drive, converting two fourth downs, got the ball to the 15 and then took a big sack on first down.

BG ended up going for a 30-yard FG and missing.  It seemed to energize UND, who made four first downs on their next drive--which stalled--but that was where the game turned from blowout to dogfight.

That late score by BG in the 2nd quarter was critical.  You get the ball with 1:43 left and its only 14-10.  If you don't score, you come out with UND getting the ball down 4....its a different half.  (They did score and would have been ahead).

Instead BG found Scottie Miller for another long, quick strike--credit to him, Knapke, the offensive line and the offensive coaches.  That one they got done.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

"Sweet" Victory #1: Escape at the Doyt

So for all the things that went wrong today...there is one thing to remember.  The only worse thing would have been to lose.

The W flag is flying over the Doyt tonight, as BG just eked out a 1-point win over North Dakota.

It was pretty much the only redeeming feature.

BG's offense and defense were inconsistent, special teams not involving Joe Davidson were poor, placekicking was sad, BG turned the ball over 3 times, BG got conservative at the end and couldn't make 3 first downs to ice the game...BG was beaten in every phase of the game and was out-coached, too.

And a few inches on Alphonso Mack's outstretched hand from a home loss to an FCS team.

That didn't happen.  It's a win.  But it is the second disconcerting performance in a row.

A few thoughts.

The offense is just not effective right now.  That starts with the QB, but it isn't all on him.  Knapke was--as he has always been--very inconsistent.  He made two great throws to Scottie Miller that led to long TDs and saved the game.  In other news, he completed only 58% of his passes, threw 2 picks and was sacked 3 times.  After BG took a 27-20 lead, they had only 3 more first downs for the remainder of the game.

And, yes, James Morgan did get a shot, and he threw two passes and completed one and had his second pick-six in as many games.

It isn't all on the QBs.  There were fewer drops but BG receivers need to fight more for the ball when there is a contested of which ended up in an INT.

BG had trouble getting the run established as well.  Josh Cleveland averaged 4 yards per carry and Fred Coppet averaged 3.3 yards per carry.  (Coppet also left the game with what looked like an arm injury).

Finally, while I felt the line held up OK in Columbus, I felt they were losing a lot of battles out there today.

So, yes, Knapke has to play better, but it just isn't on him.  As Coach said after the game, the QB is the key to the offense, however.

Watching them feels just like 2014.

Coach Jinks said in the post-game that BG's defense kept them in the game.  Which he is right about.  Also much like 2014, the defense was on the field hanging on for dear life after the offense flashed on and off the field.

I was shocked to see that UND had only 4 of 17 on third down.  I could have sworn that was worse.  Now that I think about it, there was more than one time that UND threw short of the sticks and BG came up with big, solid open field tackles to prevent the first down.

Other times, especially late when they might have been tired,  the tackling was way less effective.

Most worrisome was the success that UND had running the ball.  John Santiago--who is a good runner--was 18 of 119, which is 6.6 yards per carry.  Before the season we had feared that BG might not be able to get off the field on the run, and that was certainly an issue in this game.  (Collectively, the RBs for the Fighting Hawks had 5.7 yards per carry).

Their completion percentage was similar to BG's at 58%, with only 10 yards a completion---but no picks and they were sacked 4 times.

And BG's defense gave up only two touchdowns.

It just seemed like they were unable to string plays together.  For example, in the 4th, after a penalty and a sack, UND was 3rd and 20 from their own 6--huge opportunity for BG to take field position and put the game away.  BG gave up a first down pass on 3rd and 20.  Same drive, after another sack, UND converted a 2nd and 18.

UND also was able to pass on the game's final drive.

BG did make the play on the conversion, as Alphonso Mack made a tip to break up the pass and ensure the victory.

Finally, Coach Jinks was positive about special teams.  I wouldn't go that far.  Any special teams play that did not include Joseph Davidson was shaky.  BG msised a 30-yard FG and an extra point, cost themselves 17 yards by trying to run a FG out of the end zone and downing it, and gave up a 46 yard kickoff return.  Special teams were far from a strong point.

More on this tomorrow...including a look at where we are now.  For tonight, as ugly as it was, it would have been worse to lose.