Sunday, April 29, 2018

BG Draft Report--Updated

So, to no one's surprise, there were no Falcons taken during the draft this weekend.  The only player who even had a remote chance at being drafted was Joseph Davidson, and you just don't see punters drafted that often.

In fact, he had a worse day than might have been imagined. Not only did he not get drafted, but he also wasn't signed as a UDFA, instead getting a mini-camp invite.

For all I know, that's the common route for punters, but I was surprised.

A UDFA is a player who is invited all the way through to training camp and is someone the team wanted to lock up.  Mini-camp invites are really long shots, and in fact the teams don't even announce a "release" when the player doesn't make it.

Teo Redding was similarly invited to the Lions mini-camp and Ryan Hunter to the Chiefs.

More likely, Hunter will play in the CFL.  He's a high priority as a Canadian citizen and is expected to be one of the top draft picks in their draft, which is coming up soon.

For the MAC, there were five players picked in the draft:

3rd round, 92nd overall OL Chukwuma Okorafor (Western Michigan) by the Pittsburgh Steelers
5th round, 157th overall TE Tyler Conklin (Central Michigan) by the Minnesota Vikings
5th round, 170th overall DB/KR Darius Phillips (Western Michigan) by the Cincinnati Bengals
7th round, 227th overall LB Quentin Poling (Ohio) by the Miami Dolphins
7th round, 249th overall QB Logan Woodside (Toledo) by the Cincinnati Bengals

UPDATE:  See the comments below and credit to the commenter...Redding is on a UDFA.  Also, I have seen elsewhere that Hunter was a UDFA as well.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Clater to Transfer

More transfers from the football program.  This one is on offense and at WR.  Calvin Clater, who came from Fort Worth.  You will remember him from being the Texas HS High Jump champion and as a two-star recruit.

No idea what is going on.  Easiest guess is he doesn't like where he ended the spring on the depth chart but I have no idea.  Coach has said he has been selling the recruits on playing time, so perhaps they have an expectation.

Anyway, the larger issue is that the biggest reason we had to believe in Coach Jinks was his recruiting and specifically this class.  He has talked about the need to "stack up" strong recruiting classes.  Well, of that '17 class, three of the players left without ever stepping on the field and one is suspended after playing only one season.

The team was bad last year and I think the consensus was a combination of poor talent and poor defensive coaching.  Coaching has been addressed, but the margin of error on when this gets turned around is relying on these recruiting classes.

On this year's recruiting, BG has no verbals yet.  Miami has 13 and 10 of them with 3-stars.  Toledo has 3, all with 3-stars.  In all, 6 teams have at least one verbal.

Last year, BG's first verbal didn't come around until Patrick Lupro on April 24, and he went to WMU anyway.  It will be interesting to see how BG's recruiting goes this year.

Best of luck to Calvin in his future endeavors.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

BG Loses Another d-line transfer

OK, so there's another d-lineman on his way to another school.  This is Tyree Jackson, who redshirted last year and says he is moving along.  He joins Jamari Rouse, who made a similar announcement recently.  Both are Florida d-lineman who leave at a position where BG already lacks depth.  Obviously, we have new Coaches and that could be a factor.

Both were 3-star recruits from Florida.

Just for facts, BG had 12 3-star recruits in that class and 3 of them now are gone, if you count Wilcox as gone.  BG has 12 d-lineman on the spring roster, not all of them scholarship players.  The incoming class had only 1.

Best of luck, Tyree.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Blade's Briggs Kills It

So this one is a must read. 

David Briggs is the sports columnist at The Blade, and he's a good one.  Young man can write and he can make a point and he can be entertaining.  He makes his point and his opinions but he isn't an asshole about it.

Today the subject was the BG football program.  I'm not going to reprise it here because you should read it the way he wrote it.

Just going to make two little excerpts.

First, he refers to the Jinks statements last year that the team was close and that everything would be fine as a "Baghdad Bob routine" and if that doesn't make you laugh out loud, you need to have your sense of humor checked.

Second, he has this quote which I would like to comment on:

“This is a different game than high school,” he said. “You’re not allowed time to grow and learn from your mistakes. If I could do it over again, maybe I would have made some different choices because it is a different game. Looking at our situation when we did take this thing over, there were a lot of challenges, and maybe having that stability would have helped with that transition. There’s some validity there. There’s great validity there.”
Which is nice to read.  It is something I (and others) have been saying since the day of the hire and the day the assistants were announced.  Coaching high school is not the same as coaching college...NOT EVEN IN TEXAS.  And, as Briggs points out, the assistants were the wrong way to go giving what the program is facing.

In contrast, you see Nate Oats on the Buffalo MBB sideline.  He was similar to Jinks, just a couple years out of HS.  What did he do?  Hire two coaches with 25+ years of college coaching experience.

Anyway, the column is excellent.  Let me make a couple points.

First, I admire Jinks for holding himself accountable for those failings.  He has done it before.  He is a good person, something I say with 100% confidence.  He is willing to admit when he could have done better and he is willing to learn from his mistakes.

Not everyone is.  Don't minimize it.

Second, and most importantly, where do we stand today, coming off the worst two seasons in our history?  Well, to begin with, he has kept the team and the recruits and the program together and that's to his credit.  More importantly, the defensive coaching--which we should all be able to now admit was insufficient--is now completely turned over with experienced coaches with strong track records. 

I think the offense is on an upward trajectory and with even moderate defensive improvement BG is back on the road to being competitive again as the defensive players gain experience and those Jinks recruits filter into the mix.

Even with the abject disaster of the first two seasons, it is entirely possible that this thing could be turned around.  I will always contend that better coaches were available when Jinks was picked, but that's not relevant right now.  Unless we want to live through 2-3 more years of failure followed by another rebuild, the current arrangement needs to work.

It is not done, for sure.  Jinks has yet to prove himself.  He's done some things right but he hasn't gotten any kind of results yet.  He may never.  But the program has not looked better since he got here.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

BG MBB: Defensive review

So last week we looked at the BG MBB offense.  Now's a chance to go back and look at the defense.  This is a far more interesting case...and partly confounding at first.

Here's the thing.  Based on the AVERAGE stats, BG was in the middle of the pack on defense.  BG was 7th in defensive efficiency.  And yet, anyone who watched the team live would have to think that BG was often just awful on defense.  How can that be?

So, I went digging into the numbers a little bit.  I would suggest to you that the actual issue is not the average but how the average was arrived at and therefore, really, consistency.

There are multiple ways to arrive at an average.  The normal way is to have a bunch of results right around the average and fewer as you get away from the average.  You could also have a bunch of good results and a bunch of bad results and then that would average to the middle.

Let's test that on BG.  The MAC average points per possession was 1.057.  BG was 1.064.  For comparison, we will also look at Kent at 1.059, the nearest team to BG.

So, what you'd expect is a team averaging where BG and Kent did to have games around the average, say from 1.0 to 1.1.  Kent had 7 of their 19 games in this middle range.  BG had 3.

Meanwhile, BG had 8 of their 19 games at 1.13 or more.  Kent had 5.  BG had five games over 1.24 and Kent had 1.

And that's how you can be an extremely inconsistent defensive team and still end up in the middle of the pack on average.

BG had some good games, too.  BG had 8 games under 1 point per possession and Kent had 6.

Now, does that all matter.  The answer is, obviously, it does.

BG had 8 games under a point and went 6-2 in those games.
BG also had 8 games over 1.13. (1-7)
BG had five games over 1.24 (1-4)

For the curious, the outlier is the 2/13 WMU game, the only one where BG played dreadful D and then outshot it.  The games where BG played good D and still lost were the @Kent and @BSU.

There was a narrative for much of the season that BG needed to get stops to get in transition to help their offense.  I just can't see how this can be the whole story.  When playing better than average defense (when you'd expect that all to kick in) BG was only 6-4.  As I noted in the offensive review last week, BG simply also has to get better as a shooting team.  You should win when playing above average defense.

Having said that, you can see that in a staggering 20% of the games BG's defense gave them virtually no chance to win.

A few more points.

Going back to averages....

BG was the best team in the MAC on the defensive boards.  This is vital to the transition concept.  BG was also 10th in steals.  It seems like you don't see teams do well in both.  There's a trade-off in spacing.

Anyway, beyond that BG was average against the shot, at forcing turnovers and keeping teams off the line.

BG was 11th defending the 3FG.

So, as with much of the program, there's major work to be done here, especially as the personnel continues to evolve.  My understanding is that Laster is a strong defender.  From an observation standpoint, BG seemed to give up a lot of PGs driving straight at the basket which I suspect played into late-season PT allocation.  

Last point.  You don't have to be a great defensive team to be in the top ranges of the MAC.  UT was in the middle of the pack as well.  But you will never reach any of your goals--regular season title, 20 wins, MAC tourney title--without playing more consistent defense and being a multi-dimensional team.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Spring Game Report

So the Spring Game is in the books.  BG still has a week of practice upcoming to get ready for summer workouts.  This "game" was held in the Perry Field House due to the awful weather so a lot of things were limited.  No one got injured, which is a primary goal.

The format was that the defense was spotted 27 points and the offense tried to catch up on 4, 10-minute running clocks.  The offense did not catch up.  Had last season been played under similar circumstances, BG would have been 9-3.

Jarrett Doege had a limited, but good to nearly perfect day.  All signals point to him continuing to improve, which is obviously a key element to the team being better on offense.

You might have seen a completed pass to a Justin Sawmiller.  Like me, you might have asked, "who is Justin Sawmiller?"  He's a senior who actually played one year at UC.  The Blade had noted in the preview that BG would be playing a lot of depth at WR due to health issues with Phoutavong, Morris and Guyton.  Coach said WR depth was a key reason why BG couldn't divide into 2 true teams.

Also, The Blade noted that long-time defensive player Jack Walz has moved to WR.

Coach said that the offense is now focusing on "the little things" which would seem to indicate that they are happy with where things stand.

Taborn and Labus also did not play.  As I have noted, I think the offensive line is the primary remaining question mark on the offense and could be a limiting factor.

As for the defense, Coach said that the defense is playing fast and running to the ball.  However, they have been "throwing a lot of things at them" and there is work to be done on the scheme type stuff.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Jamari Rouse Transfers

So, this news on twitter this morning, Jamari Rouse has announced he is transferring from Bowling Green.  He is a d-lineman from Florida who red-shirted last season.  He was a 3-star recruit when BG signed him and was ranked as the #7 DT in Florida.

I have no idea how this was working out or what is up.  We have new defensive coaches.  He had options out of HS.  And, at least in basketball, we don't see guys willing to serve apprenticeships.  There may be other reasons, too.  He's a long way from home.

In any event, this is his life and his call.  Best of luck to him.

It does come at a position where retention has been a big issue for the Falcons and from that standpoint, it will make things more difficult.

Finally, if you look at the tweet and he actually posted an image of his release letter from BGSU.  Essentially, he is free to go to any school we don't play next year or that isn't in the MAC.  Interesting to see.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

MBB Review....Shooting Scourge

Back to men's basketball for a minute.  I wrote a little bit about this back when the transfers popped up, but since then let's take a more in-depth look.

Since then, things have stabilized, though not in a great place.  Just not in a worse place.  BG has 8 scholarship players and one player signed.  There haven't been any more transfers and there haven't been any additional verbal commits that I am aware of.  Spring signing opens on Wednesday.

I also wrote about the trend toward transfers in the MAC and that BG needs to hop on this train.  The trend of transferring out is not unique to BG...Akron and UT have both lost transfers in the last week.  I just don't think there are enough situations where guys are willing to start small as a FR and grow into a role.

Anyway.  Let's take a look at what's going on in the program.

I know that coach would like to say that all the issues we have are on defense.  But, I'm going to suggest that there are other issues.

Simply put, BG was the worst offensive team in the MAC in conference play.  We scored 1 point per possession (1.001).  That's just not good in any way.  In order to be .500 with that kind of offense, BG would need to be the #78 team in the NCAA in defense and the #2 team in the MAC.  And that's to be .500.  To win 60% of their games, they'd need to be around .96, which would be #1 in the MAC and top 20 in the country.

I know....if we got some stops we'd be in transition and be able to get some easy baskets.  I do get that.

But that just doesn't stand up to reason as the entire reason for our offensive struggles.  Remember, we were last in the MAC.  BG was 11th in 3FG% and 12th in 2FG%.  (BG's 2FG% is one of the 30 worst in D1 basketball).  Yes, those numbers might tweak up a little bit with some fast breaks, but what are we talking, five or six a game?  And you aren't going to score on them all.

The numbers are positively Orrian.  From my perspective, BG has never acquired a critical mass of playmakers on any given team and therefore is unable to break through and win on a consistent basis.  BG has been 11th or 12th in offense for all three of Huger's seasons.  The last time they were in the top half of the MAC in offense was 2012.

BG's shot mix is 2-heavy.  They were 10th in the MAC in the ratio of 3FG attempted.  If you are going to do that, you have to make 2 FGS and BG just didn't. 

A strength of BG's attack was getting fouled.  BG was second in free throw rate.  Unfortunately, a Falcon team that shot FTs well in November and December was 10th in the MAC in FT%.  Anytime BG was required to get the ball through that orange ring, we ran into issues.

BG was 7th in turnover percentage and third in offensive rebounding percentage.  All of the metrics were good except for the most important one, which is making shots.

Only one regular on the team had a D1 average EFG% and that was Wiggins.  Matt Fox did as well.  Only two players made 50% of their 2FGs...(the D1 average), and Lillard made it just barely.  Only one player shot above the D1 average of 35% 3FG and that was Turner and just barely.  (MAC Games only for all of this).

BG just doesn't have even average shooters and they are never going to play good enough defense to compensate.  They do everything else well enough to win.  More on the defense soon.

Matt Wilcox Suspended Indefinitely from Team

So, the news out today, first in The Blade, that Matt Wilcox has been suspended indefinitely from the BG Football program.  He was involved in a well-publicized fight on Spring Break, was already suspended and then there was another incident this weekend, according to The Blade.

Wilcox graduated early from HS and was in BG last spring.  He played in all 12 games for the Falcons, making 3 starts.  He made 14 catches for 1 score and returned 21 kickoffs.  He was definitely considered a future star for the Falcons, though he has been absent through Spring Ball due to the suspension.

I don't really get too involved in commenting on discipline issues, except to say that I think that BG should be a place that wins the right way.  I'm in favor of second chances but I'm not in favor of people abusing the system.  Everything from Coach has indicated that he is good at this part of his job, including the relative scarcity of similar events.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

MBB Lands JUCO Transfer PG

So, BG has landed a JUCO transfer to help shore up the holes left by transfers.  His name is Michael Laster.  (Note, OU had a guy named Mike Laster but this is a different guy).

Michael is from Central Georgia Tech, though he hails from Brooklyn, something that I assumed was important in his recruiting.  Also, he's a PG, something that BG obviously is in bad need of.

He was the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year last year.  He scored 15.5 PPG to go with 8 RPG and 7.5 APG, which are the kinds of things that do get you POY honors.  Honestly, I don't care if he ever gets a rebound, but he was #4 in assists in JUCO and had a 2.4 A/TO ratio.  (Both from his sophomore year).

Here's a local story about the young man and his evolution during his two years in JUCO.

He is 6'1".

Now, he's not a great shooter.  He shot 42% overall from the field and but 25% from 3FG.  (45% from 2FG).  Also made about 71% of his FTs.  Sometimes guys get lower percentages because they play on bad teams and have to force up bad shots, but this team won their region and scored 82 a game.  Also, for all of these stats, you probably should consider overall pace, which appears to be high.  His JUCO team scored 82 a game and was only 80th out of 203 teams ranked.

I have a post coming up where I will make the case that one thing BG needs to do is shoot better.  We were the worst shooting team in the MAC.  Laster's role in that will be as much about getting his teammates in a position to make shots as making them himself.

He certainly appears to fill a need.  What BG needs is All-MAC quality players, and we'll see if he's that good.

Scrimmage "Report"

I put report in quotes because I didn't see it, so this is sort of a meta-report of scrimmage information, based on Coach's short video segment at the end of the practice and then also a couple media reports.

Coach had a couple little nuggets in his talk.

The first was that we were working our younger QBs in the "QB Run game," something I was unaware we had.  (Babers and to some extent Jinks have both not wanted QBs running the ball).

The Blade said this:
Both backups ran the quarterback-option well, with Loy gaining 12 yards on three carries and Veasley adding 47 yards on seven attempts.
That's interesting to me, for two reasons.  First, BG needs to be able to convert in short-yardage situations.  This is interesting.  For all games, BG was 9th in the MAC in 3rd down conversions and for MAC games BG was third.  As you know, my view is that the MAC-only stats are more reliable.  Anyway, the option is interesting because it is difficult to prepare for and because I don't know how confident we are at just powering the ball forward with our line and we need third down conversions.

The second issue was penalties.  Thomas Schmeltzer of the Sentinel-Tribune tweeted that Jinks asked the refs to call everything.  Penalties were a big problem for BG, which had the most penalties and most penalty yards during MAC play last year. Coach told the Blade that we had 8 TDs called back by penalty last year, something Jinks called "crazy."  And he noted, correctly, that if we don't fix it, the results next year will be the same.

The other interesting thing coach said it was good to get outside and "watch these guys kick."  As you know, PK became an unexpected issue due to the botched monitoring of Jake Suder's eligibility.  The current roster has only one PK on it, and that would be Nate Needham, who has yet to prove himself anywhere at the college level.  The Blade tells us he made kicks from 32 and 36 and missed a 44-yarder.  There's always the possibility of bringing in some walk-ons or grad transfers for some competition in the Fall.

The punter is also new, but has a little more of a track record.

The defense was putting in the new schemes.  Overall, it didn't sound like either side dominated this scrimmage and it was relatively rough.  The Spring Game is next Saturday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

BG Football Defense: Nowhere to go but up.

So, BG had the opportunity to mic up Carl Pelini recently.  It's worth a watch.  I would say that his addition--along with an entirely new defensive staff--is the primary reason for some optimism in the BG camp.  First, the defensive coaches are finally guys who have been around a little.  Second, Pelini is a seasoned coach and a former head coach, something that Coach Jinks has already said is of great value to him.  Third, he has a proven track record of success in this exact job, something that no one on the original Jinks squad had.

With an improved offense...even if it might not be as good as some people expect...BG has a shot to stabilize on defense, combining better coaching with improving young players.

Also, I like Pelini because this is a perfect opportunity for him.  If you google him, you'll see that there have been some issues here and there.  And presumably, he wants to be a head coach again and this is a perfect opportunity for him to earn redemption.  He can hardly go anywhere but up.

To illustrate that last point, check this out.  Phil Steele did an analysis of how teams did in relation to their opponent's average.  For example, if you played a team averaging 400 yards per game, how did you do in terms of that average.  Did you hold them under their average or did they exceed their average against you?  (I like this because it eliminates all the whining about tough schedules.)

BG allowed teams 127 yards per game ABOVE their season average.  That's the second worst in the country.  For perspective, the media yards per game is 397 yards or so, meaning that BG an additional 32% over that.  (The actual number is actually a little less because Steele weeded out overtime and garbage yards for his analysis).

Anyway, with better coaching and improving players and talent, the defense almost has to get better this year and next, and Pelini is motivated to make the jump as big as it can be.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Derek Koch to Ashland

Derek Koch has announced his transfer to Ashland.  Best of luck to him!

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Happy Easter to the Falcon Nation!!

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