Saturday, August 31, 2019

BG Men's Basketball Schedule (Non-Con)

Oct 30  Findlay Exhibition
Nov 5 Tiffin
Nov 8  @LSU
Nov 11 Jacksonville in Coral Gables
Nov 15 Fairmont State

Paradise Jam

Nov 22 Western Kentucky
Nov 23 or Nov 24 UC or Illinois State
Nov 25 TBD

Nov 30 Dartmouth
Dec 7 Oakland
Dec 15 Cleveland State

Boardwalk Battle

Dec 20 Norfolk State
Dec 21 Drexel/Quinnipiac

Dec 31 Hartford

A few reactions....

BG plays LSU, its first P5 opponent since BG played Wisconsin in the last Orr year.  I think its a good thing...we should probably play one every year. 

Another oddity is that the LSU game is the only pure road game BG is going to play in the pre-MAC season.  That can't have happened very often.

BG will have a 31 game regular season schedule because they are playing two tournament-style events, one of them in the US Virgin Islands and one in Atlantic City.

We have six home games, and while none of those are high-profile opponents, the number makes me happy as a fan.

The Jacksonville game is an oddity.  We're playing them in the Miami area.  I'm told that is part of our commitment to schedule games in the hometowns of our players (see Ish Ali in San Jose).  We have multiple players from that area, since Huger has recruiting contacts down there.  What's odd is that we aren't playing a Miami area school, but rather Jacksonville on a neutral court.  Actually, BG could end up with more fans in the stands if all those families show up.  Jacksonville is 350 miles from Miami.

We could outdraw the Marlins.

We have two non-D1 games on the schedule...Fairmont State and Tiffin.  On record here as saying 1 is the right number, but I don't have to make the schedule.

There's no Frack game.  I'm guessing we're using some of that for the thing in Miami, but perhaps not.

We haven't played Dartmouth since 1968.

Anyway, we're clearly going to be pumped up for the men's basketball season.  Love to see our guys back on the floor with high expectations.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Sweet Victory!

And sweet victory it is.

I heard Urban say last year at OSU that the last thing he would ever do is apologize for winning.

And we shouldn't either.

Yes, Morgan State was badly outmanned.  That's an FCS team and the differences between FBS and FCS were clearly on display.

At the same time, this is the first time since Dino left that BG has done what they are supposed to do with an FCS team and that's beat them handily, especially on your home field. 

That's not nothing.  We will 100% take it.

BG was dominant on both sides of the ball.  BG outgained the Bears 620-70.  Morgan State made 4 first downs and one was on a penalty.  The Bears completed only 3 passes.  Meanwhile, BG ran and passed its way through their defense.

No need for the usual stats rundown...I'm sure they will look like you'd expect.

First, we got a good look at the pro offense.  Like any offense, when it clicks it is a nice thing to watch.  It looks funny to only see two WRs out there, I can't lie.  But, BG controlled the line of scrimmage pretty easily and did find the TEs open.  Morris was certainly dangerous out of that set.  All of BG's running backs did well.

Second, I thought it was interesting that BG lined up both Clair and Denley (more Denley) as a WR in non-empty sets.  I suspect of it being a case of getting your best players onto the field as much as possible, but Denley was a threat running and catching.

Third, you had to be impressed with Darius Wade.  For a guy who hasn't played in a couple years, he really delivered for BG.  As Coach mentioned after the game, he missed some open throws but he also made a bunch of them.  He seemed to have good pocket presence and the ability to run, although he scared me to death every time he did.  I think they kept him in situations where he was positioned to succeed.

Coach Loeffler even called himself out for a mistake.  With about two minutes left in the half, BG was on its on 22 with a 3rd and 4.  In complementary football, BG would have run or called what Loeffler said would be a "controlled" pass to move the chains, maybe kill the clock and at least protect field position.  Instead, BG got greedy, took a sack, shanked a punt and then had an illegal formation penalty, leaving MSU starting at the BG 30.  They got a FG off that...their only points of the game.

Coach said he heard Addazio's voice in his head saying "protect the damn defense."

Anyway, it was a good way to start, if only by beating a team you should beat.  Gets tougher from here.

Last thing.  Happy for the guys.  They had a demanding time over the spring and summer and I'm glad they got a reward for it.  They're giving it all they have.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

25 Bearish Questions

For you Browns fans, this is HOFer Leroy Kelly as a Bear.
What is their body of work?

Morgan State is a HBCU with a strong football history dating back to when college football was segregated.  In fact, 4 members of the HOF played at Morgan State.  In 2014 they made the FCS playoffs, but are 12-31 since then.  They were 4-7 last year.  Tyrone Wheatley, the Michigan standout, is their new coach.  BG beat them 58-11 in 2011 at the Doyt in their only matchup.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

They have 22...which is a young team.

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

Donte Small was #9 in nation in passes defended and is second-team pre-season ALL-MEAC
TE Xavier Garette is first-team pre-season ALL-MEAC
LB Rico Kennedy is first-team pre-season ALL-MEAC
OL Stefan Touani is second-team pre-season ALL-MEAC
LB Ian McBurrough is second-team pre-season ALL-MEAC

What was their turnover ratio?

They were even last season.


How is their QB play?

DJ Gollatt took over with injuries to the starter last year and will start the BG game.  He's 6'3" and 225 pounds, which is a good-sized QB.  He completed 54% of his passes at 11 ypc, which is nothing special.  He had 6 TD/4 INT and is a sophomore.  He also averaged 4 yards per run, with loss plays included.  On positive plays, he was probably nearer 6.

What is their scoring and yards per play?

They were 8th last year in the MEAC in scoring offense at about 18 per game and 8th in yards per play at 4.6.  They return 7 starters from that offense.
Elbows on the table?  Really?

Can they run the ball?

They were 7th in rushing last year in the MEAC at 3.8 yards per carry and return their top RB.

Do they pass the ball?

See above.  They return their #1, #3 and #4 receivers.

How is their run/pass balance?

They ran on 60% of their plays last coach this year, so who knows.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

They were 5th in the MEAC.

Do they score in the red zone?

They are OK at 4.7 per trip.  They had only 26 red zone trips.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They give up sacks on 9.4% of their pass attempts, which is very high.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

Morgan State was good as they were last year due to defense.  They finished 4th in scoring defense in their conference at 25.6 per game and 6th in yards per play at 5.6.  They return 8 starters on that defense.

Did they defend the run effectively?

They were #5 in the MEAC at 4.5 yards per carry.

Can they be passed on?

They were #5 in MEAC.  They allowed just under 50% completions but 13.6/completion, which is a lot.  They had 14 picks over 15 TD.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

They were excellent.  They were 3rd in the MEAC at 30.4%

Do they defend in the red zone?

They were very good at 4 points per red zone trip.  Note that the 3rd down and red zone account for the difference in ranking in yards per play and scoring.

Do they pressure the QB?

They led MEAC in sacks at 29, which is almost 8% of total passing attempts.  Their top two sackers return.

Special Teams:


Not good.  The guy they used last year was 8th in the conference at 31 net per punt.  They gave up 3 blocked punts and 1 TD return.

Punt Return?

Their top returning PR got about 7 a return on 11 attempts.  No TDs for the team and no blocks.


Hard to tell, last year's kicker has graduated.


They were 6th in KOR in the MEAC.

Kickoff Return?

They defended the KO very well, 2nd in MEAC.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Well, here is the deal.  First, FBS teams schedule FCS teams for a guaranteed win.  Over its last 3 FCS games, all at home, BG is 2-1 and the aggregate score is tied at 96.  Not too much farther to go, except that I don't think anyone can assume this as a guaranteed win.

Sometimes you get an advantage when you have a new coach, but in this game, both teams have new coaches.

Also, both teams have question marks at QB, though Morgan State's have certainly played more games than BG's has.

The first game usually gets a decent crowd of students, so hopefully there will be some people at the game.  BG should win this game, but I don't think there are any sure wins on our schedule.  A loss is a horrible start for BG...let's hope they can figure it out.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Football Season Preview

So, the first season preview of the Loeffler we go.

From my perspective, this program is in a rebuild...a serious one...and I'd encourage fans to not judge the new staff too heavily on this year's results.  Here are the things weighing on this year's squad:

1.  Inattentive recruiting from Dino Babers
2.  Below adequate recruiting from Mike Jinks--a lot of defections from "highly rated" classes.

That's why the roster is so thin...then add in...

3.  That this is the first year any of our existing players have benefitted from a D1-quality player development program....not to mention strength and conditioning...
4.   Even your best-case scenario at QB is completely unproven...

and you have the makings of a very rough year.  BG won 3 last year...and lost some key players from an already depleted team...

  • For example, BG was 8th in scoring offense and lost its QB and best WR
  • BG was 9th in scoring defense and lost its two best defensive players, at least.  7 of BG's top 9 tacklers did not return, 

Just here to tell you, that on paper things are going to be very rough.  You just don't dig out of this kind of mess in the first year.

I hear you, though.  The echoes of 2001 are ringing in your head.  A young coach no one has ever heard of shows up and takes a 2-9 team to an 8-3 team.  Beat Northwestern.  Destroyed Toledo.  It was a great time to be a Falcon fan.

Let's look at that lineup on the field in Evanston...Josh Harris, Joe Alls, Khary Campbell, Robert Redd, a guy name Bautista who is banned from being referenced here by his full name, Kurt Gerling, Chris Haneline, Brandon Hicks.

Not trying to be a downer, but just think it's worth taking a little bit of a wait and see attitude this year.

This also isn't like 2016, when Jinks took over a championship team that we probably overrated but then gave up the program's two worst losses ever in his first four games and we hadn't overrated them that much.

This is a 3-9 team.  Loeffler is here for a reason.

I like how Loeffler is approaching the job.  I like his assistants, I like his focus, I like his recruiting and I like his determination.  Hasn't coached a game yet, but so far you have to like it.  Whether he wins here or not remains to be seen.  To me, the biggest issue is that we not fall into the Ball State trap, where Brady was replaced by the wrong guy and they are still struggling.  Again, Loeffler hasn't coached a game yet, but I like the approach.  The players also seem to.

I think the ceiling is four wins....and then you add in that Kent beat us last year, Akron is picked ahead of us and will be as desperate for a win as the Falcons will be...and you're down to a possibility of two wins.  CMU is expected to be bad...I'd like to think we win that one at home.  Honestly, I don't think we win all three of these or lose all three.

If you're looking for more wins, you'd need to win all of those and then @Miami and @UB to get to 6-6.

Here's what 4-8 looks like....

Morgan State WIN
@K-State  LOSS
@Kent  WIN
@Miami LOSS

Anyway, I'd say 2-3 wins is the most likely amount.  If I'm wrong, nobody will be happier than me.

BG's is also implementing a new system on both sides of the ball.  BG's defense changes systems more than Elton John changes costumes.  On the offensive side, BG is going pro-style, which means a lot of two TE sets.  As Coach Loeffler has described it, you want TEs who block and catch because it puts the defense in a quandry...they either guard them with a LB and are open to the pass or put a CB on them and are open to the run.  Of course, that means you need a TE who can beat a LB in coverage, which we have yet to see, since we were rotating failed defensive players through the TE position last year.  This is the most despised offense on the internet, I kid you not.  That's doesn't have to mean anything.  If BG can maintain control of the ball, it helps the defense out a lot and NIU has played successfully (to say the least) in a power style.  Also, it gets cold and windy at the end of the season.

As for the defense, Brian Van Gorder is in town.  If the internet hates anyone as badly as they hate Loeffler, it's Van Gorder.  We haven't heard too much from Van Gorder, but in previous stops his defense has been described as complex, pro-style and heavy on zone blitzes.  Whether he tempers that for his BG defense has yet to be seen.  Van Gorder (and Loeffler) have had some high-profile failures, but that happens.

Everyone thought hiring Dave Clawson (#clawfense) was the worst move ever, too.

Anyway, it is great to have the team back.  Let's support them and let's get back where we belong.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Loeffler Intro Presser

So, Scott Loeffler did his first game week presser today.  Always interesting to see what kind of presser coach he one ever will be Gregg Brandon or even Dino Babers, but where on the scale does he fall?

First, and interestingly, he called out his strength staff.  He said that BG had guys doing 4 reps of 185 when they got here and now they are doing 20 at 225.  I've heard this too...some of the guys on the field look like different people.  Just another contrast between staffs.

Because of that, BG left camp 100% healthy, which, in our situation, is huge.  An injury-plagued practice would have ended the season right there.

He says the team is young and thin, but made great progress in the off-season.  That will be interesting to see.

He says they are coaching "complementary football" -- playing to each other's strengths.  What he means is that the offense and defense have to help each other.  An example of that not happening might have been in Dino I where the defense would get gouged, the offense would get the ball back and then be three and out in about 90 seconds elapsed time (not clock time) and then back on the field the defense goes.  Also, special teams have to be elite (Fleckalert).

He was asked about starting QB and said that "we've got an idea who is starting" but that it wasn't in our interests to say who it is.  Also, when asked about MacDonald, he said we are worrying about things we can control.

The rest was the usual stuff, except for the interesting clash of Loeffler, Wheatley and then several former Michigan players who are assistants there.  "Beyond weird," Coach said.

Also the depth chart was released.  Let's review.

There are no huge surprises.  A couple of things to point out...

  • Obviously, QB is open
  • Note the "12" personnel, with 1 RB, 2 WR and 2 TE.  BG has typically been in 10 over the past few years...or sometimes 11.
  • With Taborn gone, Caleb Bright is playing LT and Derek Downs at RT.
  • Julian Ortega-Jones had a big camp and moved into the starter position.
  • Note Quintin Morris at TE from WR--but noting that those are viewed as hybrids.  If they are covered as blockers, you're supposed to run a route, and vice versa.
  • Austin Dorris is the Indiana transfer at the other TE.
  • Only 2 true FR on our offensive depth chart, both at TE, a position we more or less did not use last year.
  • We start only 3 seniors on offense

  • On defense, the biggest thing I see is the Kholbe Coleman is moved to MLB, which is kind of a surprise
  • Evan Brown and Jerry Roberts are on the outside, both DB converts who are reported to have good camps.
  • The D-backfield is very young, with 3 true FR in backup roles.
  • NickP of The Blade said that the staff really liked JaJuan Hudson and to keep an eye on him.
  • The defense has 5 true FR on the depth chart, one on the DL.
  • The defense starts 6 seniors.

Special teams will start off with the same kickers and long snappers as last year.  For returns, Bryson Denley and Cedric Mitchell will return kickoffs and people are kind of excited about Jake Rogers returning punts.  He didn't make the WR depth chart, but we have fewer slots open as well.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Johnson-Mack moved to DB

So, we're a little behind the curve on this one, but the big news from the season ticket scrimmage last week, as reported by NickP, was that Isaiah Johnson-Mack was moved from WR to CB.

BG's trying to patch together a defense of some kind this year, and they were hit hard at CB.  It's tough all around...BG started as 9th in pass efficiency defense in the MAC last year, and then lost some guys to graduation and then some more to transfers.  We didn't give up a ton of yards because it was so easy to run on us, but the pass defense struggled as well.

What's interesting about it being Johnson-Mack is that he was actually a productive WR at Washington State.  And, at BG, WR is better than CB, but not a position where we were exactly stacked, either.  There has been some reporting that Noah Massey could be breaking out, and that might have given them the flexibility to make this move.  Morris and Marlow were back.  But, based on what we have seen, we are thin at WR, too and have questions about who is throwing the passes, too.

We're just a couple weeks away!

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Punter Verbal for BG

BG has another verbal from this area.  It is Matthew Paull, a punter who plays at Anthony Wayne.  Here's a camp report on him...says he can punt traditionally and do the roll-out punt.  Readers here know that I think special teams are really important, so good to see us working on some specialists as well.

Welcome to the Falcons, Matthew.