Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Falcon Football Game By Game

It's here...a mere 60 (or so) hours before the kickoff of the season.  Here, for the purposes of humbling, is how I see the season unfolding.


In '13 or '15 this would have been a winnable game.  Still is winnable, I suppose, but with both teams trying to rebuild, I'm going to say MSU wins at home.

South Dakota  WIN

The Coyotes are picked to finish #7 in the MVFC, so I'm thinking BG should notch its first win.

@Northwestern  LOSS

Northwestern is the toughest game on the non-conference schedule.  They could win the Big Ten West and this one is a likely BG loss.

@Middle Tennessee State  LOSS

The Blue Raiders took the Falcons last year at the Doyt.  They lost a bunch of starters, but return their QB and WR combo and are likely C-USA contenders.  This one isn't outside the realm of possibility, but I think MTSU will win this one.

Akron WIN

I see a win here.  The Zips are always, you know, OK.  I despise their strategy of getting so many transfers.  I'm going BG.

@Miami  LOSS

Miami is back where they have traditionally been, which is as one of the MAC powerhouses.  They beat BG last year at the Doyt and they will be too much for BG to handle.


OU is the other team that is favored to win the East.  OU won last year in Athens.  This is a good bellwether game for us, at home.  If BG is improved, this is one that could be picked off.  However, on a close call, I think BG loses this one.


Yeah, this is another tough one.  NIU is getting back, just like BG, but they are not what they once were especially on offense.  NIU blew BG out last year in DeKalb.  I'm going to take this as my upset for the year.

@Kent WIN

BG should win this one as Kent is struggling and now has issues with the health of their coach.  Falcons get win #4.

@Buffalo WIN

Buffalo seems stuck.  I like the Leipold hire, and as an away game this one could be tough but I will take BG to win their third straight.

Toledo  LOSS

I know.  Look, at home, with a team maybe getting stronger every week and coming off a bye...maybe the Falcons get it done.  If they do, Jinks can breathe easier, that's for sure.  Probability is not in our favor.


BG should have won this game last year.  The Eagles are rebuilding and getting better, but I think BG gets this win.

SO.  6-6/5-3.  Bowl game.  Almost for certain no to win the East with the losses to Miami and OU, but still showing improvement and an upward tick and winning four out of the last five.

Let's see what actually happens.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Football Depth Chart--Spartan Version

BG released its new depth chart for the MSU game...nothing major changed, but we're not just about major changes.  We're about all changes.  Major.  Minor.  You get the idea.

So here they are:

On the o-line, rFR Caleb Bright started fall practice at RG1, and now he is at RG2 and C2.  Jack Kramer has moved back into the starting role at RG.  The RT2 was Joe Ware at the beginning of Fall, but now rJR John Kurtz is in that spot.  Coach has said he only really has a lot of confidence in the top 7 guys, which I would assume is the 5 starters, Bright and Clancy.

At QB, Jarrett Doege is now an "OR" with Grant Loy.  I think it's pretty clear.  If mop up is needed in a blowout, it will be Loy, but if Morgan goes down Doege is going in.

At WR, the starters are the same....Guyton, Miller and Redding.  Phoutavong and Pough also remain as backups, and the only change is that Mike Wilcox moved onto a 2-line ahead of Jared Wyatt.

RB stayed the same....Wilson and Cleveland, though Domer and Clair could also get carries in E. Lansing Saturday.

On defense, the d-line remained exactly the same, as did the starting LBs.  Amari Posey held the OLB2 line, but in the middle Jerry Judd was beaten out by true FR Kohlbe Coleman-Abrams, who has forced the redshirt right off his body.  On the other OLB spot, Jack Walz II has returned from injury and into a backup role behind Aaron Banks, replacing Niljah Ballew.

In the backfield, there has been shuffling due to the injury to Jamari Bozeman.  Jeffries and Jackson remain the starters.  Montre Gregory has moved up to a #2 to replace Clint Stephens and true FR Darius Wortham has moved up to the other backup to replace Marcus Milton, who is now playing S.

At S, JUCO Fred Garth remains a starter, and Tavarous Wade has moved into the FS1 position from the FS2 spot.  Milton and rFR Torrain Hampton are now backup S, with Ben Hale moving off the chart.  Nonetheless, Coach indicated that S is wide open and a bunch of guys will get time there Saturday and then next steps will be determined.

Suder and Davidson remain in their spots.  Nick Fields will still KO.  Gabe Skrobot will long snap.  For KR, we are expecting to see Wilcox and Clair, two true FR.  Milton and Wilcox are listed as PR.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jinks Presser

So I watched Coach Jinks' presser for the opening week.  Not too much of note, but a couple things.

I suppose the biggest thing is the program's "identity."  Last year, BG finished with wins because it stopped trying to Air Raid the ball all over the place and buckled down and ran the ball like crazy, getting multiple 100-yard rushers each week.  I think a lot of people wondered how indelible that identity was going to be once there were better receivers and a more experienced QB.

Coach said that the running game is going to be our identity.  We are going to run and by physical.  So that will be interesting to see.

He indicated that Matt Domer and Bryson Denley could see action as well.

Finally, he was big on Khole Coleman-Abrams.  This is the young man from Hoover High in AL.  He's a true FR LB.  Coach says they'd like to redshirt him, but "he won't let us."  He's on the two-deep as backup MLB.  This is pretty interesting.  He certainly wasn't a highly recruit player, but he's making his mark very early for BG.  With Locke a SR, Abrams has the ability to lock that position down.

Season Scenarios

OK, so it is now game week.  Coach Jinks has a presser later today.  By Saturday, we will be back in play again.  Let's enjoy it, kids!

Wanted to look at some various scenarios for the season.  As I noted in my previews, I think this team is set up for an incremental improvement.  We need that at least.  Our coaches have yet to prove they can execute a winning game plan against a good team.  We need a couple wins to know that we have the coaches to convert the talent they are recruiting into championship players.

The schedule is tough.  Honestly, in my view, if BG goes 6-6 and makes a bowl game, that's acceptable progress.  That's not guaranteed.  A 5-7 or even 4-8 record is possible...especially if the team is hit by injuries and especially then in a couple areas where depth is probably not what it should be (both lines, the d backfield, for example).  Even with relative health, 6-6 is not guaranteed.

Here's why.  BG has three very difficult non-conference road games.  Odds are strong you start the conference season 1-3.

So, you need to find 5 wins in the MAC.

Yes, Buffalo, Akron and Kent are beatable.  However, you play at Buffalo and at Kent.

In terms of the division leaders, you play @Miami and have OU at home, both tough games.

Cross-over games are really tough.  You have NIU and UT at home and then you are @EMU--a team that is getting better every year.

Another 4-8 year is not out of the question.

So.  A few scenarios.

The Reasonable Expectation:

BG beats South Dakota, Buffalo, Kent and Akron.  And then, let's add EMU and Miami.  Or OU.  See what I mean?

Somewhat above expectations

So, to go 7-5 (6-2 in MAC), you'd have to beat Miami and OU.  Or pick off one of cross-over games...NIU or UT??  If this happens, you have a very good shot to win the division or be in a tie-breaker.


You go 8-4.  Whether that's 7-1 in MAC play or you pick off an upset in one of the non-conference games.  Either way, this team wins 8 games and we can stop worrying.

Somewhat below what you'd like to see

Team goes 5-7.  You're going to need to beat EMU, Miami, or OU to get this done, probably.  The 6-6 scenario has 2 wins among those 3.  This one has 1.

A long summer of hand wringing

Team goes 4-8.  You beat none of those three.  This is possible.  Team makes no progress over last year as it relates to the win/loss record.

I don't want to think about it

Team goes 2-10.  You beat South Dakota and Kent.  This scenario isn't very likely because I honestly think we are going to be better.  On the other hand, everyone else is working to get better.  Last year we had the easy part of the schedule at the end and this year it is kind of in the middle.  It is not impossible, especially if you have injuries.

Again, from my view, a 6-6 win is a success for this team.  (Also, anybody hanging 70 on us again would make it tough to be upbeat about the year).  Anything better is great.  Anything less is not the end of the world (obviously) and doesn't mean the Jinks experiment has failed.  It just means we haven't gotten any evidence it is going to work and it sets you up for a third year that will be a make or break year.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Special Teams Preview

As you know, I am a big believer in the importance of special teams.  They might not win you a game, but they can certainly lose you a game.  You need to be able to defend a kick, punt the ball, make a field goal to ice the game.  Or win it.  It's just important.  I still have PTSD from the Brandon years.

I think BG's special teams are in very good shape, in fact.

Start with the punting game, because it is the easiest.  BG simply has one of the best punters in the country.  Joe Davidson is just incredible.  He can punt it high or he can rugby punt it.  He is an athlete.  He gets it inside the 20.  He's also an academic all-american.  He's a credit to our program.

Next is placekicking.  Jake Suder--now the nation's most famous walk-on--is back.  He struggled early last year and BG spent a lot of time going for it on 4th.  However, late in the year, and in every live situation he's been seen in, he has really improved.  I feel a lot more confident with him now than I did mid-way through last year and I think the team feels that way, too.  I'm not sure he's going to be the best kicker in the MAC, but he's going to get the job done for us.

The return game should improve as BG brings more athletes in.  Matt Wilcox might be expected to make a contribution here.  BG was 5th last year in kickoff returns, so that's pretty solid already.  They were 4th in punt returns, which is also good.  Because punters kick to minimize returns, you don't see very many punt returns anymore.  BG had 15 in 8 MAC games last year.  It is still important.  One thing you don't measure is when a guy runs up to fair catch the ball before it hits the ground and rolls for 10 more yards.  And, in both cases, of course, not fumbling.  Don't make any mistakes, and once in a while break a big one.

Kickoffs.  This is interesting.  BG was 7th in kickoff coverage last year.  First, BG led the MAC with 15 touchbacks.  That's my favorite one.  They were 11th in depth of the kickoff for ones that ended up on the field...but allowed only 7.5 yards per return, which is the best in the a lot.  Just one thing to keep in mind...if you chip a high kick and the guy catches it at the 18 and you tackle him at the 23, that's the same as kicking it to the goal line and him getting to the 23 and maybe better.

In general, you'd expect kick coverage to improve as the depth and talent in the program increases.

So, I'm optimistic about the special teams.  They were above average last year and should be better this year.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Falcon NFL Update

NFL Update....

Some less than good news.

Jude Adjei-Barimah (TB) and Gabe Martin (AZ) were both waived/injured.  You can see below what that means...they could do on IR (which would be best case) but it is possible that it also signals their release from their teams.

By my count, that leaves Chris Jones (SF) and Roger Lewis (NYG) as the Falcons in the NFL.  (UPDATE:  By my WRONG count, FYI.  Izaah Lunsford is on the Packers roster and listed as the #3 DE in a 3-4.   Gehrig Dieter also remains in the KC camp.

4. Up until the final cutdown date, injured players with less than four years of service cannot go onto IR without first passing through waivers. Those players are released with the “waived/injured” designation. Known as “injury waivers,” this process exposes the player to waivers, but warns other teams that the player is injured. If the player clears injury waivers, the team can then either place the player on IR or agree to an injury settlement (paying the player for the weeks that he is expected to be recovering from his injury) and then release the player.

(h/t) Perry Boise x2

Defense Preview

Now it is time to look at the defense.  There's no other way to put it, '16 was a rough year for our defense.  I'm going to cut them a break by not counting the two non-conference games where BG gave up the most points in the program's history in the stats, which are all conference-only.  That wasn't all on the defense--the offense was spending almost no time on the field--but a lot of it was.  In particular, the Memphis game has to go down among the worst defensive performances in the program's history--that wasn't OSU we were playing that day.

Anyway, the defense did get better results later in the year.  BG had gone to its running game and was keeping the defense off the field more, and the opposition certainly got easier, including two teams that were playing QBs who started the year at another position.

Another way the offense made the job harder for the defense can be seen here.  BG finished the year 7th in scoring defense and t-4th in yards per play.  You don't usually see that kind of spread.  I have to believe that BG's turnovers were the issue here.  Just makes the job a lot harder.  If that gets fixed...and it has been a focus...the defense should improve just on that alone.

Now, looking forward.  Should the defense improve or not?

In general, you have to believe it will.  BG played a ton of young guys in a mis-aligned scheme last year and didn't get much help from the offense.  Another year should improve all of those things and you'd expect the numbers to improve.  Even a field goal improvement per game would have put BG 4th in scoring defense last year.

Now, when last year ended it looked like BG had a lot of players coming back.  Yes, you were losing two D-line starters, with Bush and Lunsford graduating.  You were going to miss Trent Greene a bunch at LB and Mack at CB, plus Will Watson was graduating.  But, you expected Clint Stephens, Ben Hale and Jack Walz II back from injury.  In general, the defense was not losing very much.

Since then, that situation has deteriorated.  BG lost CJ Pickrom--who had gotten reps at CB.  Tyrik Jones--who had come on as a d-line playmaker--left the program.  All-MAC MLB Austin Valdez transferred to Syracuse.  And then All-MAC S Jamari Bozeman has been lost for the season, in all likelihood.

So that's going to make things more difficult.  John Wagner wrote a column about whether the Bozeman loss was a season-killer, and he concluded it did not need to be, which I agree with.  Either way, the path to improvement is more difficult than it was expected to be when the season ended.

On the positive side, the defense appears to have carried the day most of the time in camp.  At the scrimmage I saw, I certainly felt that the defense was playing hard, with energy and with a tremendous amount of cohesion.  The scheme has been simplified.  Only three R-FR were on the camp two-deep.  There's reason to think with all that you could get a FG improvement.

The d-line will be a major indicator.  BG was strong against the run last year, 3rd in yards per carry against.  They lost some players from the rotation, which was already softened by the program's difficulty in keeping d-linemen in the fold.

Remember, the d-line is a rotation-deal.  You need 8 productive guys at least to compete.  There are some anchors. Long-time overachievers David Konowalski and Gus Schwietermen are back.  Shannon Smith is playing NT...he's played 37 games over three seasons.  From there, it gets a little softer.  Brian Sanders has played 18 games with 14 tackles.  Nico Lautenan played in 10 games and made 10 tackles with 4 in the Memphis game.

Kyle Junior got some positive comments from camp.  He played all the games last year and came on late in the year, so he could be on the upswing.  The other two players in the rotation are Dirion Huthcins (R-FR) and Jonah Harper (transfer) both of whom have not played a snap.

One other player who I think will contribute is Josh Croslen.  True-FR from Steele HS, he engulfed a guy in the scrimmage and looks to be a real player.

Point is, the line is going to be key.  That rotation needs to control the line of scrimmage to let BG's solid LB corps make plays and it needs to get pressure to help out BG's backfield.  They looked good to me in the scrimmage.

Linebackers.  Even losing Valdez and Greene, the corps looks solid.  Nate Locke played a lot while Valdez was injured and was effective and Brandon Harris seems to be coming into his own.  I also thought Aaron Banks seemed to be thriving in the scrimmage.  If the line holds their own, I think LB is the strength of the BG defense.

Now, BG was 8th in pass efficiency defense last year.  The backfield had a lot of issues, most of them stemming from injuries and suspensions that forced players to play who would have red-shirted any other year.

At CB, BG looks to be improved.  Clint Stephens is back, and The Blade reported that Robert Jackson and Cam Jefferies--both of whom played as true FR last year--and transfer Montre Gregory are playing well.  That's good.  With a little support up front, BG can definitely improve that #8 ranking incrementally, with strong possibility for the future.

At S, Bozeman causes a problem.  The Blade reported that Marcus Milton was moved from CB to S to help cushion that blow.  JUCO Fred Garth should make an immediate contribution at ROV.  Tavaraus Wade is also back--saw quite a bit of time last year--and Ben Hale is back from injury.

I think the defense improves.  There are question marks up front and in the backfield, but I believe they will be better and that's important.  They also start fall with only 4 seniors on the 1-line and Bozeman still has his redshirt.

Last thing.  Coach Jinks has said that defense is important to the identity of the program.  He's more old-school than that.  He's not one of these typical Big XII basketball on grass guys.  That's good news.  With his vision for the program--and its big--we need to beat people on both sides of the ball.  I looked it up.  The '13 team averaged 37 PPG and allowed 11.  Jinks has continued to recruit defense.  Some progress will give us confidence in our DC--who is only in his second year at that position--and show things continuing to point up.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Falcon Football Preview: The Offense

Football season is coming around the corner...time to take an uninformed look at what the season might hold for BG.  We'll start with the offense.

Overall, you have to expect the offense is going to be better.  They should be stronger at two position groups and hopefully as good at two other ones.

All the numbers listed below come from MAC games only from last year.

So, when you look at all 8 games, BG's offense was actually #4 in the MAC.  The Falcons had 29.6 per game, and if you could add another touchdown a game you'd be #2 in the MAC.  (WMU led at 45).

Anyway, when you look at improving, yes, BG is likely to improve but it isn't like you're likely to get 14 points more a game.  I don't think when you compare this offense with the Johnson-Greene-Lewis-Deiter offense (47 per game) isn't that good.  The '13 offense scored 38 points a game...I'm not sure I see the developed skill players that offense had either.

BG was 3-5 in MAC play.  Given the schedule, a two-game improvement would be significant for the program, and any my view is that the offense is only going to provide so much additional production.

Last year, Coach Jinks felt like BG found an "identity," by which he meant that BG had discovered that it could play fast but run the ball, something BG did relentlessly down the stretch, sometimes getting 3 RBs with 100-yard games.  It was different than the identity had been only one year before and what it had been imagined to be early in the year (Air Raid).

So let's start with the running game.

BG was 6th in yards per carry last year.  From that, they lost their #1 RB, 1,000-yard rusher Fred Coppet.  The cupboard is certainly not bare...they return Donovan Wilson and Josh Cleveland.  Wilson was the least productive of the three backs, however.  Now, he probably was in some lower-yardage situations and he could improve.  Cleveland was over 6 yards a carry, so that's not likely to get a lot better.  There is some competition for the #3 spot, but no one with proven ability.  Anyway, I think the best you can expect out of the RBs is that they will be as good as they were last year.

Running isn't just running includes the line as well.  BG lost 3 starting lineman from last year and ranked #89 on Phil Steele's list of most returning offensive starters.  Again, the cupboard is not bare and I don't expect a big drop off, but I wouldn't expect this line to be a lot better than before.

So, switching to the passing game.

Of course, James Morgan is the key determining factor.  He has an incredible arm, but Coach has said he tends to think and not react.  Now, last year he was a freshman and making his first starts.  He ended up the #10 ranked QB in the MAC.  He completed 55% of his passes, whereas the top QBs in the MAC were all in the 60's.  He threw 12 INT on 280 attempts.  Robach, for example, threw 6 on 320.  Terrell--the championship QB--threw 1 in 220.  In all conference play, QBs threw picks on 2.8% of passes and Morgan was at 4.3%.

Normally, you would expect to see a big improvement from year 1 to year 2.  There is certainly room.  Coach has said the INTs have to come down...that's a killer.  If it does, and if completions get up into the 60s, that's good progress and the passing game should get better.  BG was 8th overall in passing efficiency.  EMU had 60% completions and 8 picks and was ranked 4th, just for reference.  You'd hope to have the running game free up passing lanes, but you also have to find out if the line can protect the QB.

As for receivers, again, I expect BG to be better but how much better isn't clear.  You lost Moore (42 catches) and Zimmerman (22 catches).  You return Scotty Miller, who's All-MAC and you are going to compliment him with Datrin Guyton, who has the potential to be a real force in this conference.  Redding remains the #3 guy....Coach indicated in Fall practice that he had really made a jump forward, which would be great because he shows great ability but has not had a really big break out.  There's some new blood behind those guys--both Phoutavong and true FR Quinton Morris offer uncoachable height.

Anyway, the key reason to think that the receivers will get better is that Guyton is a true deep threat and Morgan has the arm to get it there and that should create some big plays and then also open up some stuff underneath.  Miller catching the ball in space across the middle should scare any defense.  Anyway, between Morgan maturing and the addition of Guyton, I think the passing game could take a significant step forward.

 A couple other things.  BG gave up 18 sacks, though that was on a lot of attempts.  Either way, that number needs to stay as low as possible.  We've discussed the inexperience of the line.  This is partly on Morgan though.  He just can't hang onto the ball.

Finally, the biggest play in football is 3rd down.  BG was absolute last in 3rd down in the MAC and 124th in the country.  BG simply has to move the chains more.  Long possessions will make a huge the defense...and help put points on the board.  Hopefully, you end up in more convertible situations with more complete passes and consistent running, but either way, BG is not going to go 5-3 in the MAC at 34% conversion of 3rd downs.

So, I think offense should take a step forward.  As with all things, though, I think Falcon fans should be careful with expectations.  The offense will be better but I'm not sure they are ready for a quantum leap forward.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Falcon MBB Captain Launches Podcast

Brent Klassen was a member of the last BG basketball team that I would say was truly relevant in a MAC race.  Yes, I know BG won the regular season in 2009, but the last time you really felt people circled BG on the schedule was that long ago, the 2001-02 team that made the MAC Final and lost to KSU.  That was the last pre-WVU year...and I have written plenty about how that is a turning point in Falcon basketball, which has struggled to reach those heights again.

Klassen was a co-captain and co-MVP of that team.  Well, he's stayed interested in the game--and the mid-Major game--and has launched a podcast to talk about mid-major basketball.  It's called "Bringing up the Middle" and the landing page will tell you how to subscribe.

He appears to have a good sense of humor, as you can see here.

I haven't listened yet, but I plan to listen on the way to work tomorrow.  Falcon fans should do the same!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Adjei-Barimah injured in Tampa

Thanks to commenter Perry Boise, who pointed me to some unfortunate news about Jude Adjei-Barimah down in Tampa.

Jude has broken his patella for a second time.  It happened once late last year and then he broke it again in a non-contact drill in practice.

He was expected to be the Bucs' nickelback, so this has to be very disappointed for Jude.  He is slated for surgery and could miss four months and probably the entire season.

Get well, Jude.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jinks Clarifies QB Situation

So, here's the QB news I think we all expected.  As I speculated over the weekend, I think they have more confidence in Doege, but would like to put a year between him and Morgan, eligibility-wise if it can at all be pulled out.  But, any minor injuries or garbage time reps will go to Loy.

We didn't do much with Loy because he was a walk-on, but this is a really interesting story.  He didn't really blossom as a QB until his senior year due to a broken back as a sophomore.  He was also a highly decorated basketball player.  Check this article.  The lengths that this dude went to get into college football--before BG, he was signed to play at Dodge City Community College in Kansas--are pretty inspiring  Little surprise that he has worked his way up the BG Depth Chart.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Blade on the scrimmage...

John Wagner weighs in here on the scrimmage....

A note of interest...

First, the BG defense played effectively without Bozeman and Jackson, two big parts of the secondary, as well as Posey and Judd.  However, the offense was working without their best returning receiver in Scotty Miller.  No one is believed to have a serious injury.

Scrimmage Report

So, made it down to BG to pick up the season tickets and get a first look at the Falcons for the year.  It was a beauty day and it is always great to see the guys again.  A few general impressions:

First, I honestly don't know if the defense is going to be better, but I honestly can't see how they aren't.  First, they were playing with a HIGH degree of enthusiasm and energy, including from the sideline.  I wasn't keeping track, but it seemed to me that the defense won more than their share of the battles.  Not all of them, but more than their share.  Brandon Harris, in particular, seemed to be all over the place.  Banks, too.  Josh Croslen swallowed a running back.  Anyway, the defense seemed to me to get the better of it.

As for the offense.  Well, I guess if you thought it was just going to be one down year and then be back to the offenses those MAC Championship teams had, I just don't see it right now.  Not that they won't be better, but I guess I wouldn't expect it to be a machine offense.  They made yards, for sure.  I thought all the QBs missed more throws than expected.  I thought they gave up a lot of "sacks" and yeah, I know that favors the defense because the QB doesn't actually have to be brought down, but also those throws were missed by QBs who didn't have to worry about being hit.  I thought the inside rushing game wasn't great and the only RB getting yards was Cleveland...and he was very effective.

I guess I would say that the line could improve...and let's not expect SO James Morgan to be SO Matt Johnson.  As for the backup QBs, they all missed throws.  Doege dropped some nice passes in and then missed some.  My uninformed suspicion is that they will leave Foy on the 2-line and would like to redshirt Doege, but depending on when the need came they might use Doege in a critical game, depending on how he develops.

The other thing was the coaching.  Last year, my recollection is that the Coaches were fairly retired and quiet.  Sort of Baberish.  Cool.  Not this year.  They were highly involved.  Lots of cursing.  Love it.  When Phoutavong accessorized a great TD catch with a taunting penalty, coach spent 15 seconds "correcting" him with his hand pulling on his face mask.  He had a "talk" with another player who threw his helmet and threw one defensive player off the field.  Called time out and seemed to be yelling at the coaches.  It was much more intense than we had seen last year.  I don't actually know if that is good or not, but I have to assume this is more in line with the way football is usually coached.

Anyway, just a few weeks to go.  Overall, my optimism meter for measured progress this year is modestly up.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

BG with D-back Verbal

The Falcons are piling up the verbal commits of late.  Today we have James Harris, Jr., of Pompano Beach, Fla.  He is a d-back and a 2-star recruit at 24/7.  Also according to 24/7, he had an offer from Florida Atlantic, which is literally down the street from him but he has opted to make his way North to play in the MAC.

Not a ton of numbers on him.  This article from Miami about South Florida's hotbed of DBack prospects said this about him:

Yet another sound football player who will benefit this season with the upgrade for the Tigers on the field as well as with the coaching staff. Harris has size, athletic ability and a passion for the game.

He was second-team All-Broward County as a junior, which is also no small feat.  He ran track as well and was second team all-county in the triple jump.

Welcome to the Falcons, James.

Falcons Snag Another 3-star verbal

The Falcon recruiting machine continues to work, picking up another 3-star recruit from Ohio.  This one is Jevon Henderson of Centerville, a 6'3", 265 pound D-tackle.  BG also have incoming FR WR Colin DeBord from the Elk's program, which is a successful Ohio program.

Henderson is a highly-sought after player.  He had offers from UCF, Duke, UC, Colorado State, Kent, Marshall, Miami, Northwestern, Ohio, Toledo and WMU.  So, on signing day, this is another player that a lot of people wanted who has committed to play for the Falcons.  24/7 says he is the #92 ranked D-tackle and the #53 player in Ohio.

He was very productive as a junior.  Remember that guys on the inside of the line don't always get a lot of numbers.  They can contribute to the team by clogging up the middle and drawing double-teams.  He had 52 tackles and 5 sacks in 10 games last year.  He was honorable mention all-district.

Welcome to the Falcons, Jevon.

Saturday, August 05, 2017


So, Coaches love to talk about turnovers.  You've seen it this year too.  A significant amount of the pre-season talk from our coaches has been about turnovers...both in a way that you would expect and a way you would not expect.

There's no surprise on offense.  You ran a freshman QB out there for most of the year (and James Knapke for the rest of it) and with that you are going to turn the ball over.  In fact, MAC play only, BG had the most turnovers at 19...which is 2 more than the next worst team, which was Ball State.  By comparison, WMU turned the ball over 5 times in conference play.  I'd say BG needs to get in the 11 range (where Miami was) to be competitive, and that's almost half.

The interesting thing is defense.  The Sentinel quotes a defensive player as saying Eliano burst into a meeting and said was BG's defense needs to do is create more turnovers....just that...and we will win the MAC.

Well.  Hmm.  First, that would certainly be great.  BG actually received 14 turnovers and only two MAC teams were above that amount---WMU and Kent.  BG forced the same number of turnovers as the division champ and one more than Miami.  Kent got 18 and they didn't win the MAC.  More on that in a minute.

In MAC play, BG had an average defense based on scoring and yards per play.  They were helped by playing some badly struggling offensive teams late.  John Wagner says "all signs point to an improvement on defense."  Not sure I would go there.  Yes, (as he points out), they are a year into the system, Stephens is back and Fred Garth is probably an instant upgrade in the backfield.

Even so, there are question marks at all three levels.  The line has depth issues, at least one of the LBs is pretty untested and the d-backfield remains a question mark.  Also, we have yet to see our coaching staff execute a strong game against a team with a functioning offense.  Furthermore, they have never done it anywhere else, either.  Until they do, it is a question mark.  As Wagner notes in the same article, they have to know the pressure is on

So, I guess I can agree the defense will improve.  But I don't think it will be a big improvement.

Anyway, here's the interesting thing.  Kent was +12 in turnovers last year.  That led the MAC and was #8 in the country (all games).  And they were 2-6 in MAC play.  How can you do that?  You go +12 and then you only win 2 games?  That's hard to follow.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Opponents for the Campbell Event

So, I found this online and it would purport to be the opponents BG will face in the round-robin event down at Campbell, which, as noted, is Buies Creek, NC.

Abilene Christian is in the Southland Conference, where they were 13-16 with a kenpom of 298.  BG will face off against Jalone Friday, who was the marquis recruit in what would have been Chris Jans' first recruiting class.  He led them in scoring last year (13.7 ppg) and blocked 34 shots.

USC Upstate...the SC is for South Carolina.  They play in the Atlantic Sun and were 17-16 last year, playing in the CIT and losing their first game.

BG is a clear outlier here.  BG plays in the MAC which is the #13 conference, based on kenpom.  The Big South is #28, the Atlantic Sun is #25 and the Southland is #27.  On the other hand, USC-U ended up with a higher kenpom than BG, while the other two were lower.  It does follow BG's scheduling practice of late, which is to schedule relatively softly while the program rebuilds.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Men's Basketball Schedule is out

So, in the midst of the anticipation over football, BG announced its non-conference MBB schedule.

Let's take a look.

First, BG has no P5 teams on the schedule.  The Frack Challenge is Florida Gulf Coast.

Second, BG headed further down the slippery slope toward EMU's schedule by adding a second non-D1 game.  Lake Erie College is DII and we are playing Lourdes (yes, that Lourdes, yes they have sports), which is in the NAIA, which is about as low as you can go.

They were 7-22 last year.

As I have stated before, I'm OK with playing one...the second one (and more) get harder to understand as prep for the conference season.

Now....the home games....

South Dakota, return game from last year, Coyotes beat BG 78-72.  They were 22-12 last year and played in the NIT.

Florida Gulf Coast, the legendary Dunk City team that went 26-8 and lost by 6 to Florida State in the NCAA tourney.

San Jose State....return game from last year when the Spartans beat BG 77-76 on their way to a 14-16 record.

Evansville, in a return game.  BG lost 69-66 last year.  They finished 16-17.

(and then Lourdes and Lake Erie).

So, in general, there are some interesting games, a couple good mid major teams, but only one big name.  The Florida Gulf Coast is a good get...but overall, a soft start for a young team.

On the road....

BG opens at Drexel in Philly.  They play in the CAA and they were 9-23 last year.  No idea, but hopefully this is a home and home.

BG is then scheduled to play at the Campbell multi-team event.  I assume multi-team event is a term for the kind of thing BG has been in pretty much every year, not a tournament per se, but it allows you to slip in a couple of extra games.

BG is scheduled to be there for three days.  Campbell is in the Southern Conference Big South Conference (h/t to commenter) and they were 19-18 last year.  There's no word on who the other two teams are.  I assume the teams will be announced by the hosts.

BG will play @Norfolk State, a return game from the game at BG, which BG won by 9 in unspectacular fashion.  Norfolk was 4-13 at one point with an RPI of 314 before they won 10 straight games.  They finished 17-17, 12-4 in the conference and qualified for the CIT.

BG will play @Old Dominion.  Hopefully, this is the start of a 1-1 with the Monarchs, who are a strong program.  They were 19-12 last year and play in the CUSA.

Lastly, BG will play @Green Bay, a return game from last year.  This is also a very good program.  they beat BG at the Stroh easily (77-61) and went 18-14.  They played in the CBI, losing to UMKC, a team they destroyed...also at the Stroh.

So, for the road games again, nothing spectacular.  ODU and Green Bay and every solid mid-major programs, but there are potential wins against Drexel and in the Campbell thing (I suspect).  Also, Norfolk State may finish the job and beat BG this year.

This is essentially the scheduling strategy Huger has used since he got here, and follows a MAC trend of fewer P5 games and more non-D1 games.  I understand where it comes from and I understand it is tough to get teams to play at the Stroh.  I just think that it would help build a fan base to have at least a few more interesting matchups.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Blade Provides Additional Roster News

John Wagner had some more news on the Falcon football roster....

The biggest one is that Matthew Guvremont, the JUCO lineman, will not attend BG.  No word on what happened, normally academics in a situation like that.

Matt Naranjo is also transferring to BG.  He is coming from the University of New Mexico and will sit out this year.  He is a punter who walked-on at NM.  Apparently, he was a student manager who was punting after practice and caught the attention of the coaches.  He did punt in HS in Skokie, IL.

Also, BG picked up Roland Walder, a transfer from UK, as we had here earlier. 

Also CJ (or Charles) Lamar is back.  He red-shirted and then sat out and now is back with the program.  He is from Florida...he had been a recruiting target prior to coming to BG after not getting into Florida Atlantic.  He was all-state at DB, so could have special teams or even potential defensive application.