Monday, November 30, 2020

Appalachian State Preview

Next up is the Appalachian State Mountaineers in Boone NC.

Boone NC is in northwest North Carolina.  It is indeed named for Daniel Boone, who is said to have camped there and a couple of his nephews lived there.

App State is in the Sun Belt Conference, where they were picked to finish fourth in their division.  The Sun Belt has created divisions to cut down on COVID travel.  They are going to play Friday-Saturday series much like the CCHA used to do back in the day.

They were 18-15 last year, coming off eight straight losing seasons.  They have been in the NCAA Tournament twice, getting a six-seed when Bobby Cremins coached there.  Press Maravich also coached App. State...unsuccessfully.

From last year's team they lost two double figure scorers, one of whom also averaged 7.7 RPG.

Their leader returnee is Justin Forrest, who was first-team All-Sun Belt last year and in the pre-season this year.  He was their leading scorer at 17.3 PPG.  He's not an efficient scorer though.  He shot  39% and 31% and had an underwater A/T ratio.  He's a 6'2" G.

They have 7 newcomers, like seemingly everyone.  One of them is a transfer from Southern New Hampshire (stand up if you've seen that stupid commercial).  His name is Michael Almonacy, and he is supposed to stabilize the PG position for them.  He averaged 15 PPG at SNH, though he had 5 TOs in the opener.

Oh yeah, the opener.  Get this...they played South Carolina State.  Beat them by 20 on the road.  Sophomore Donovan Gregory scored 14 points to lead them in that game.

A couple of notes.  Last year, they drew A LOT of FTs.  They were 11th in the country in FT Rate and 299th in making them.  

Against SC State, they shot 72% from 2FG and 26% from 3FG.  They were also awful from 3FG last year.

The game was slightly different.from BG's game with the Bulldogs.  App State was up 27 at halftime and then SC State won the second half, eventually losing by 20.

They play a slow pace---67 possessions per game, which is less than BG's average of 70.

BG is a 2-point favorite.  This game--on the road--will help us learn about this team.  The next game starts MAC play, so there's not much chance to fine tune.  This is a game you'd like to see BG win--or any team picked to win the MAC.  (The Sun Belt is the 15th ranked conference, two behind the MAC).

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Dominant Five Minutes Deliver Victory to BG MBB

 BG was faced Saturday with South Carolina State, an opponent they were favored to beat by 22.  And BG did end up winning by 23, so it's all good.  They did what they were supposed to do.

The first half was a little frustrating.

Before we dive into the numbers, it is important to note that this was a very fast-paced game.  In total, BG had 84 possessions.  That's against an average of 70 from last year and BG was in the top 25% of the country for pace.  It's the most possessions in a D1 game since Florida Gulf Coast two years ago.

What does that mean?  It means all the numbers are going to be naturally higher, but that doesn't necessarily signify a better performance.

So, it was 45-43 at the half.  I was thinking, how could BG allow the Bulldogs to have 43 points in a half.?  I looked at their shooting numbers and they were good but not mind-blowing.  Thing is, there were 40 possessions in the first half, leaving them with 1.06 points per possession, which is a good number but not as shocking as 43 points in a half might look.  BG had 1.11 points per possession, which is good, but not as great as the raw number looks.

For reference, UM had 1.3 for the game the other night.  BG had 1.11.

The second half was a little more what we hoped for.  BG scored the first 21 points of the half in less than five minutes.  In doing so, the game was over.  The lead was never closer than 19 again and got as high as 31.  BG just threw stifling defense onto the Bulldogs...forcing 7 turnovers in those five minutes.  And then BG scored at will on the other end.

For the curious, that means 44 second-half possessions.  SCSU was at .8 points per possession (more what we were looking for) and BG at 1.28.

The stats are surprisingly even.  SCSU ended up shooting about as well as BG did and BG turned the ball over quite a bit.  The Falcons dominated the boards (as you would expect) and had a ridiculous edge on FTs.  BG was 31 of 36 from the line and SCSU was 3 of 5.  That's a huge disparity.

I have a theory that when you see that, it impacts FG%.  If BG gets fouled every time they have a good shot, their shooting % is going to be lower.

With all tempo-disclaimers, it was BG's first D1 100+ game in 23 years.  (Against Akron...THAT's how long it has been).

 Daeqwon Plowden had a big game.  He scored on 7 of 12 shooting...7 of 8 from 2 FG and missing all 4 3FGs.  He added 16 rebounds.  Diggs had 17 (3 of 6 from 3FG and 8-9 at the line), Turner 16 (4 of 13 FG and 6-6 at the line) and 6 assists, Fields with 15 on 5 of 7 shooting and Metheny with 13 on 3 of 6 from 3FG and 1 assist over 4 turnovers.  No other Falcon scored 4 points.

Josiah Fulcher made his BG debut, logging almost 16 minutes.

Last note:  at this early date BG is #13 in the nation at the FT line.

Up next, Appalachian State tomorrow.  Preview coming, but this should be a decent chance to see where we are.

Another Long Afternoon in Athens

 Well, it doesn't get much better for the Falcons on their very long and difficult 2020 season.  They were blown out by OU from the opening whistle, losing 52-10.

There's not much to say about the game.  OU ran 63 total plays, 48 of them runs.  They averaged 7.4 yards per carry.  Tuggle averaged 12.3.  

On the other side of the ledger, an offense that showed a little promise in the Buffalo game managed only 12 first downs.  McDonald was 9 of 20 with 3 picks and 125 yards.

For a positive, Andrew Clair continues to be a top-flight player.  He was 15 for 118, which is over 7 yards per carry.

McDonald threw one TD pass...and for a statement on where our program is, how does this work for you?

The touchdown pass to Javonte Kinsey in the second quarter marked the first touchdown reception by a wide receiver for a Falcon since 2018.


BG was 1 of 10 on 3rd down.  Also, McDonald left the game injured and was replaced by walk-on LaBronz Davis.

So, the program is in a place we just haven't seen it before.  We are just completely non-competitive.  BG is not just 0-4.  They have an average margin of defeat of 35 points.  And these are conference games.  There are no Ohio State games in this data.

We're just not competitive at all.

An already weak BG team played without the four suspended players and a total of 8 players who played against UB, based on the participation stats from the OU game.

The natives are getting a little restless, which is not a surprise.  When you are this bad, doubters are going to creep in.  It is very bad right now.  You only have to spend five minutes on Twitter to find people who think we literally hired the two worst assistants in college football (Loeffler and Van Gorder) if you want back up.  And you have CMU going 1-11 and then turning around in one year with McElwain...and Sean Lewis with a winning record at Kent in his second year.  

And I think you had the expectation that Matt McDonald was going to create a whole new situation for the offense.  No one had seen him play and he hadn't played for years and there's not a lot of support, so I think expectations were a little high.

Anyway, there's some people who aren't trusting the process.  And it's not a surprise.

Coach addressed the CMU-type situation in the Unglued Presser by saying that in situations like that you had a good foundation with a poor coach.  In BG's case, he argued, there was no foundation.

For what it's worth, I'm still on board.  I didn't expect much improvement this year and I don't expect it next year.  I'm not sure the reincarnated Knute Rockne could get much more out of this team.  Of course, this is all speculation.  It might not work out...Loeffler might not get it done.  But you can't judge him on what's happened to date and to the extent you can it's that he has the fortitude to take the more difficult route and not the easy way.

I'm sold on the process and the guy.

The most important event for the Falcons is December 16.  That's the early national signing day.  The process only works with 3 stellar recruiting classes in a row.  For the sake of argument, let's give them 1.  An average recruiting class is a way bigger problem than losing by 42 to OU.

Friday, November 27, 2020

BG Football Heads to Athens

 Wait, football is back, too.

The 0-3 Falcons will take on the 1-1 Ohio Bobcats.

OU was picked to be 3rd in the East.  (Can you believe that Buffalo was picked #2 in the East?)

As mentioned, they are 1-1.  They lost 30-27 to CMU and beat Akron 24-10.  Because their Miami game was cancelled due to COVID, they have not played since November 10.

OU is QB'd by Kurtis Rourke, who takes the reins from his brother Nathan, who was the original Air Canada.  He's been effective.  He's completed 61% of his passes, at 16 a completion, with 2 TDs and 0 INT.  Usually OU has a decent QB run game, but they haven't done it much this year.

However, as always, this is a run-focused team.  They have run the ball 66 times and passed it 36.

At RB, they are led by Tuggle is a JUCO guy who was their #3 RB last year.  He's averaging 5.7 YPC, in the top 5 of the MAC.  We saw how BG responded to a run-focused offense in our last game and hopefully, BG has used their break to lock that down a little.  (Note that half of Tuggle's output has been against Akron, but Akron's YPC allowed is 6.4 and BG is 6.3).

OU always has big play WRs.  Isiah Cox is probably their top WR, averaging 21.5 per reception.  Shane Hooks has 7 total receptions to lead the team and he's averaging 15 a catch.

They lost 3 All-MAC OL since last year.

On defense, OU typically plays pretty well.  They allow 4.5 yards per rush so far, which is 5th in the MAC.  With only two games and one against Akron, it's very tough to know what's happening.  (Akron has a high-performing JUCO RB).

They have been difficult to pass against.  They have allowed 57% completions at 11.2 YP Completion, 2 TD and 2 INT.

They also have 8 sacks and 5 against CMU.

For special teams, they are 1-4 on FGs with a 44 long.  They are 8th in net punting and lead the MAC in kickoff returns, as it seems they always do.

Overall, BG showed some signs of improvement on the offensive side of the ball against UB.  If that can continue, BG has a shot to compete in this one.  My fear is that our inability to stop the run will allow OU to do what they are comfortable doing and they will put the game away.  But who knows?  They have been off for a while.  Maybe they are rusty.

South Carolina State Preview

OK, so it's leftover day.  Tomorrow, the Falcon MBB team gets back onto the court, this time at the Stroh, to play South Carolina State.

They are the Bulldogs and are in Orangeburg, SC.  It is an HBCU.  Probably their most notable athletic alumni is Deacon Jones, who is a Hall of Famer.  Also, Bobby Lewis, who invented the 2-ball dribbling drill.

They play in the MEAC which is the second-lowest ranked conference in college basketball.  The Bulldogs have played in the Divison 1 Tournament five times, the last in 2003.  They also appeared in the DII tournament five times.

They were picked to finish last in their division in the MEAC.  They had the lowest point total in either division and that counts an unfaithful elector who picked them first.

They were 11-18 last season with a kenpom of 339.  They finished 6-10 in conference.  This year, they are #356, which makes them the second lowest ranked team in D1.

The reason is roster turnover.  They returned only one player who played more than 10 minutes a game last season.  In total, they have 10 new players.

In their only game, they lost by 20 to Appalaichan State, picked to finish #4 in their division in the Sun Belt.

They started 3 FR and a SO in that game and had 3 FR and 2 SO come off the bench.

They had one JUCO player they seemed high on (Brandynn Manning) who was DNP in the first game.  Their leading scorer was FR Floyd Rideau with 12.  FR Latavian Lawrence had 10 rebounds.

So, this is one the Falcons should win and win comfortably.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Michigan Shreds BG Defense

 Well, it didn't turn out to be the dangerous opener that we hoped it would be.

Not dangerous for Michigan, anyway.  

As it turned out, it was no contest.  UM jumped out to a 10-2 lead.  BG got back in the game, but the Wolverines had the lead up to 10 and led 8-10 for most of the first half.  BG had it down to 3 with 4 minutes left and then trailed by 7 at the half.

Michigan opened the second half on a 6-2 run to get the lead back to 10 and it was never closer than 8 for the remainder of the game.  BG trailed by 10 or more for the last 13 minutes of the game minus one possession.  They trailed by as much as 19 and lost by 14.  BG never led.

There wasn't a lot of mystery as to how it happened.  On UM's offensive end of the court, the game was no contest.  UM scored 1.3 points per possession, which is the most in a couple years for the Falcons.  It was a combination of two things--Michigan had a ton of open looks from 3 (I'm talking OPEN) and then their big men operated in the low post with complete impunity.

BG's post defense was hampered by Dylan Swingle getting two fouls in the first 2 minutes of the game and play only 7 minutes.  He was replaced by Jacob Washington, who ended up playing only 14 minutes.  And the Falcons won't play many teams with these big men...but it was no contest.

UM did a great job moving the ball and invariably found someone who was wide open with two Falcons on a pell-mell close out.  BG was disorganized on defense and never fixed it.

UM shot 68% from 2 FG...worst since the Akron debacle at the end of the season a couple years ago.  As you can see below, BG had the advantage on turnovers but UM still had an effective game, and then won the offensive rebounding and free throw battles.  BG committed 24 fouls without fouling at the end.

BG's offensive game was not bad.  Trey Diggs...OMG.  More on that.  BG scored 1.11 points per possession, which is normally a winning number.  Over this season and the previous two, BG has only lost twice scoring at that rate.  It was a normal formula for BG....OK shooting but creating extra possessions by taking care of the ball.  BG made only 34% of their 2FGs, which you'd like to see improve.  Rebounding was a little low and the FTs were not bad and BG made 18-22.

Individually, you have to mention Trey Diggs.  Diggs went on a streak in the second half where he made five straight 3s.  And not just made.  They didn't hit the rim of even come close.  Every shot snapped the net.  Honestly not sure I have seen a Falcon with that kind of a streak.  Diggs ended up with 21 on 6 of 11 shooting overall and 3-3 at the line.

Justin Turner had 24 points on 24 shots, so that's big volume but it's a lot of possessions, too.  He shot 9 of 24 and 3-3 at the line.

Daeqwon Plowden had 15 points, shooting 2 of 7 and both of the baskets being 3FG.  He also led the team with 7 rebounds.

From a personnel standpoint, there were a couple surprises.  First, Matiss didn't play due to injury and Josiah Fulcher was out on what Coach said was a disciplinary issue.  

As I expected, Swingle started and then hardly played after that...he was in foul trouble.  The biggest surprise was that Kaden Metheny started at PG with Zeigler coming off the bench.  It wasn't just a change of pace, either.  Metheny played 24 minutes and Zeigler 15.

Jacob Washington played 15 minutes, scored 4 points on 2 of 3 shooting and had 5 rebounds.

So, the opener is in the book.  Saturday's game should present a much easier challenge.  As for this, I think we all thought this was possibly a game that a good team from BG--we hope our best in a generation--was capable of winning, as past BG teams have done.  In that sense, it was sobering.  Which is fine.  The final verdict will come later this year and be delivered at the Q...if that all happens.  For now, it was not the start we'd been working for.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Falcon Nation


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Michigan Preview

So, this uncertain season opens with a very interesting game.

Simply put, BG is playing on the road on a Big Ten floor and this is one you'd think you'd have a shot at winning.

The Michigan program seems to be on the way back.  Juwan Howard is reported to have the country's top recruiting class in the fold for next season.  For this year, however, this does not appear to be a great Wolverine team.  They are picked 6-8th by ESPN's basketball experts and 9th by CBS Sports.

Also, while this is a road game, there won't be a building full of fans exacerbating the home-court advantage.

In short, this is a game where the team picked to win the MAC could be dangerous.  Michigan is ranked #25--all the better if BG pulls the upset.

If you want a fuller preview of the Wolverines, you can check here.

The basic idea is this.

  • Last year they were 19-12 but finished with a kenpom of 16.
  • Their biggest loss was Zavier Simpson, who was 2nd-team All-Big Ten last year.  He will be a hard person to replace.
  • They have Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner.  These are both good players but they did not make the All-Big Ten team.
  • Beyond these two guys, they are counting on a couple of transfers.
  • One is Mike Smith, who transferred from Columbia, and the other is Chaundee Brown Jr, who is a transfer from Wake Forest.
  • A UM observer noted the story of Jaaron Simmons, who transferred from OU to UM with great numbers and never contributed. One thing did not translate to the other.  (Simmons remains the UM staff).

One trivia note.  Michigan has a freshman from Toledo whose name is Zeb Jackson, Jr.  Falcon fans will remember that name, as his Dad was a RB for the Falcon football team back in the day.  In fact, The Blade reported that Coach Huger and Zeb Jackson were roommates in their days at BG.

So off we go.  Under normal circumstances, we would have been anticipating this game for months.  It came about quick this time, but it appears it will be played and BG has a shot to pull the upset.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Men's Basketball Is Back

I had no idea how routine-based my sports-fandom was.  It's completely disorienting to be opening the door right now for men's basketball--which could be the YEAR WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR.

Unless last year was.

More on that.

First, I continue to be very uncomfortable with collegiate athletics in this health environment. I thought that with football and given the spread of the disease I think it just as much now.  It's really hampering the start of D1 basketball all over the country...

 So, we start with full knowledge that we have no idea where this is headed.  We might or might not finish this season and we might or might not make it to the New Year.  Or next week.

One day at a time, I suppose.  And hoping no one gets seriously ill.

When last we left the Falcons, the men were in Cleveland preparing to play a few hours later against the Rockets.  BG was heading to Cleveland on a 3-game losing streak, including 10+ losses to Miami and Kent.  Having said that, the 2019 team went to Cleveland on a cold streak and made the final.

Of course, that game never happened and the whole thing stopped suddenly.  No MAC Tournament no Big Dance.

Most disappointingly, the 3-game losing streak came after BG beat Akron by 18 at the Stroh and seemingly set the stage for a run to the Big Dance.  Alas, we will never know.

BG did finish second in the regular season for the second straight year, something we would have been thrilled with anytime since WVU or even longer.

BG finished 21-10, the first back-to-back 20 win seasons since 1947-1949.  Less ambitiously, it represents the first back-to-back WINNING seasons since 2002.  That's true for overall and MAC games.

Simply put, we are competing at a level that we have not seen in 20 or 60 years, depending on how you look at it.

And given the success we had, graduation was fairly kind....Dylan Frye (all-time 3-point shooting leader), Marlon Sierra and Michael Laster.  Mattos and Gadsen transferred. Only Frye and Mattos were starters...Sierra and Laster were both useful role players as was Mattos in spots.  

Of course, there was one other guy who celebrated senior night last year and that was Justin Turner.  You all know the story.  He entered the portal and then walked back into this dimension, staying at BG.  

That was huge.

BG returns everyone else, hopefully a year better.  You have a starting lineup that features Turner (all-MAC 1st year), Plowden (all-MAC 2nd team), Caleb Fields and Davin Zeigler.

This is significant.  I'm not sure when BG has put four more athletic players on the court at the same time.

You start with Justin Turner--don't know how much you can say about this guy, except he's one of our best players ever and will likely leave as the all-time leading scorer.  He's well-loved and a clutch player--we are lucky to have him and we should enjoy the gift of seeing him play.

Daeqwon Plowden was 2nd-team all MAC and is one of those guys that you get the pleasure of seeing develop.  He has gotten better and better and late in 2019 seemed to blossom into a top-tier player.

Caleb Fields will also be back...he's not a huge scorer but he is a strong defender and a solid ball handler and passer.  

And then the newest of the four is Davin Zeigler.  Forced into action when Frye had his temporary departure, he is a terrific athlete and comes from a basketball family and presents a lot of issues at the point for MAC defenses.  And, has had a year working with our PG Coach.

For the 5th guy, BG has a couple options that I think make the team strong.  Huger has shown a propensity to start a more traditional 5 and then not play the guy that much after that.  See Mattos, who started every game but averaged 15 minutes played.

If he goes that way, BG has Dylan Swingle in the post. He's a big body and I believe has the skills to be a strong player in our conference, but we'll have to see if that plays out as things move forward.  If BG chooses to go with a more modern positon-less model, Matiss Kulackovskis is available as well.

Behind those guys, BG has a really athletic bench.

It starts with Trey Diggs and Chandler Turner.  Diggs was BG's leading 3-point shooter last year and at 6'6" presents matchup challenges on the offensive end of the court.  Turner played only 6 minutes a game but from what I hear is a talented player just stuck behind players who were more developed than him.

Then, we have some new guys.  Time will tell, but I think this group of freshmen will show themselves to be significantly better than the guys they replaced who left last year.  Coach Huger is continuing to bring talented players to BG...I've noted so many times, you need a critical mass of good players and then some luck to win the MAC.  Hope we are moving in that direction.

Josiah Fulcher of Lima was TRAC player of the year twice and the #7 recruit in Ohio, based on 247. First-team All-Ohio, District Player of the Year.  He's a combo guard that shows great promise.

Kaden Metheny is also coming in at PG.  He was West Virginia POY and all-state 3 times.  Had 17 D1 offers.  Another player with great promise.

And then Cam Young.  He's 6'7", twice second-team all-state, 15 offers, including Penn State.  Again, great promise.

BG does have one JUCO player...Jacob Washington, who I would suspect will take the Sierra role on the team.  He's 6'8" and 220 pounds and was all-conference in JUCO.

Lastly, Isaac Elsasser is back as a walk-on, as well as Jackson Watson, son of former Falcon Steve Watson.

One change that shouldn't be forgotten.  Anthony Stacey, BG's lead assistant, left to go to Whitmer where he is now the Head Coach.  I'm not around the team, but I suspect he had a big role on the team.  Also, Mike Summey left to go to his alma mater, NC State.

Kevin Noon is back.  BG added Brandon Watkins (from NIU) and Steven Wright, a former BG player who is on his first D1 coaching gig.  BG needs to be able to develop chemistry with these new coaches.

Look, BG is picked to win the MAC, as they were last year.  We have an excellent shot and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.  This could really be THE YEAR.

Perrysburg OL Commits to BG


BG has its 15th verbal by my count....and it fits directly in with our philosophy of recruiting local.  This young man is Cade Zimmerly of Perrysburg and he plays the offensive line for the Yellow Jackets.'

Based on this story in The Blade,  he was planning to play DII at the University of Indianapolis.  BG had recruited him as a PWO, and then came through with a scholarship offer.

He is a highly recognized player.  He was Division I regional lineman of the year and co-MVP in the NLL...something that is particularly special when you play on the line.

The Blade points out that at 260 pounds, he will need to bulk up once he arrives at BG, even to play at center, which is where they say we have projected him.

He's our 3rd OL commit to date (by my count).  We expect a full class (to say the least) and Coach has said before that he wants 5 OL in this class.

Everybody's timing is all off-kilter, but signing day is December 16.  There are no in-person visits, so this is a challenging time.  As much as anything, this is where pressure is falling onto our Coaches.  They literally need three home run classes in a row and they have one done.

Stay well and hang tight everyone.

Welcome to the Falcons Cade.

UPDATE:  Zimmerly was named the Blade 2020 Player of the Year.  Click the's a great story on the young man we are getting.  He's been achieving while undersized his whole career and has built his success on the weight room.  His coaches rave about him.  Must read.

Monday, November 23, 2020

More info on Disciplinary Issue

A couple of updates from the media on the disciplinary issue.  First, Jordan Strack indicates that the issue extends well beyond the 4 players suspended.  As noted. Strack is reporting that the issue was failing a drug test.

As luck would have it, Coach had his presser today, too.  The official version BGSU put on Youtube doesn't include the widely reported quote from below. 

Which is all well and good.  I'm concerned about the secrecy we are operating under with our football program....we have been untransparent about COVID and now this.  Not that full details are necessary or ever given out, but someone would have noticed something when four guys didn't play Saturday.  And, as Loeffler is learning, it is very hard to keep a secret today and it might be more trouble than it is worth.

In fact, I see in the Sentinel that the suspensions were widely discussed on social media over the weekend.

The presser was nothing special.  He feels like the offense is making progress and if they can finish drives then BG can start to put some points on the board and be a little more competitive.

Finally, this, from Ol' Frank:

Falcons Indefinitely Suspend Four Players

Ouch.  Things don't get easier.  The Blade has the four players suspended.  The University is not commenting for "privacy" reasons, but The Blade has confirmed who they are.  Coach Loeffler has his presser today and we will see what he says.

Three are redshirt seniors--Isaiah Johnson-Mack, Ty Redding and Rodell Rahmaan.  R-SO Noah Massey was also included.

Of course, we have no idea what happened.  It becomes part of the story of trying to rebuild this program, which has been obviously difficult and going to continue to get better.  

Maybe they will be back.  Seems not likely, but they aren't listed as dismissed.

In specific, we started the season with a paucity of seniors and three of them were just suspended.  We started thin at WR and one of our better ones was just suspended.  Also, three of them played on an already strapped defensive unit.

All four of the players came here under Coach Jinks.

  • Johnson-Mack was a WR at Oregon Washington State and had some big numbers.  Transferred here, seemed like a big deal but never got traction at WR and was moved to DF and then LB.
  • Ty Redding is a DB whose brother played here at WR and had some training camp time in the NFL.
  • Rodell Rahmaan transferred to BG from Urbana, and was a WR and then moved to defense.
  • Noah Massey is from Houston and was prominently featured in the offense.

I guess I'm supposed to comment.  We're trying to build a culture and to develop young men into adults.  There have to be standards.  I'm not a zero-tolerance guy, but I do trust Coach Loeffler to be doing what is right for the program and being fair to the young men involved.

It's a bit of a cliche, but we are in a "trust the process" mode.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

BG Stays Within 25 of the Bulls

The Falcons dropped their sixth straight game last night, losing 42-17 to Buffalo at the Doyt. On the plus side, it is the only game of the six where the final deficit was less than 35 points.

UB is really good--probably the best team in the conference--and the game was no contest from the opening whistle. There were some positive moments on offense and it was the best game BG played this season.  Which is a low bar, but we will take what we can get about now.

A few random observations:

  • BG went without five of its assistant coaches.  Four of them were isolated in a contract tracing situation and one of them--Erik Campbell--was dealing with a dire family emergency.  It is possible he will not return to the team this year.
  • As mentioned, the offense had its best game.  This is truly a different team with Andrew Clair on the field. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 14 overall attempts.  Denley had 5 per carry and Terrion Stewart had 4.7 yards per carry...although he did score both of BG's touchdowns.  In short, BG's running game was much improved and when Clair plays we just have a better shot.
  • It seemed to open up the pass game.  McDonald was 17 of 27. He completed only 14 passes in BG's first two games total.  He had 219 yards, which is 13 yards per completion.  On that front, good numbers.  He did throw one pick, nearly threw another and was sacked four times.  Still, a much more complete offensive performance.
  • For my money, BG had two opportunities to go for it on 4th and short in the first half and didn't take them and I felt like that was a mistake.  One led to a missed FG and another was a punt.  You're 0-2 and you lost your last five games by 35+ points and your only chance to stay in the game is to score...I'd just think you don't have anything to lose at that point.
  • Anyway, that's not what we did and I suspect in the end it wouldn't have mattered that much.
  • The sooner Jaret Patterson heads out of Buffalo, the better for us.  In the last two years, he's had over 600 against us in two games.  I think we had some seasons where our leading rusher had that many. (At least one.  In 2008 Anthony Turner led BG in rushing with 519 yards.)
  • One thing about Lance Leipold.  If you can't stop the run, he's not going to pass.  I admire that.  How often do you see a team running the ball like crazy and then come on and throw three incompletions or even a pick and turn the game around.
  • They ran the ball 48 times and passed only 14.  They averaged 8.3 yards per carry when they ran.  It was a completely dominating performance on the ground.

So the beat goes on.  There was some progress in this one, but the Falcons remain a long way from being competitive.  In fact, if you want to measure, in 3-4 years we want to be as good as UB is right now.

There's only one way out of this, and that's to stay the course.  These guys who are struggling are going to turn into players someday and I hope we can compete.  We'll remember these days.

Let''s stay behind 'em.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Unforgettable Loeffler Presser

So, you have probably heard that Coach Loeffler did his presser.  It was a doozy.  A classic.  It goes up there in the top pressers of BG History, which (off the top of my head) include Dan Dakich yelling at Dan Cummins, the "train has left the station" Dino Babers presser, the Gregg Brandon "our fans are pathetic" presser...just off the top of my head.

Honorable mention to Dakich's post-game interview with Todd Walker after the debacle in Buffalo.

And the never to be surpassed press conference in a BG facility, which is Charlie Coles and "sandwiches."

Anyway, I'm not going to try to summarize it.  You must listen.  It cannot be adequately described in words.

I don't know who set him off....he keeps demanding common sense...but most people I talk to and hear from understand what's going on.  I checked in on and there are a couple critics there, but nothing you wouldn't expect.  So I don't know who it was or what it was.

But, dang. Note, in particular, references to "using" this school for 2 years and recruiting a bunch of people who don't belong here.  (Looking at you, Dino).  And that whenever a guy comes in for a fired coach and wins right away, it's just that things were OK and the previous coach ran out of time.  (Looking at you, Urban Frank Meyer III.)

I'm on board.  I believe this is the right guy and the right approach.  Ultimately, we will succeed or we will not, but that uncertainty would exist with any approach.  This is how we should do it and he's the perfect guy.

Enjoy....this is unforgettable.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Embracing the suck

 So after the game, Coach Loeffler quoted that famous phrase from the Navy Seals....that you have to "embrace the suck."

He then finished with this...."because this sucks."

It certainly does.  Just a reminder that comes up from time to time. For as much as it sucks for the fans, it sucks 10x more for the people who are living it day in and day out.  Can't compare.  You're getting your brains beat out and there's just not much you can do about it.  And you're not losing a baseball are getting your brains beat out.

Them, not you.

As Coach says, he watches this from the sidelines and "I want to throw up."

His message is we have to enjoy the process of improving.  Because the next couple games are going to be rough as well...and beyond that.

No one can deny that our tackling was terrible.  Coach says we have guys out there who aren't strong enough yet to make those tackles.  He noted the sideline route for a TD where the WR ran right through the tackles of 3 BG defenders who weren't strong and athletic enough to make the tackle.  He has them in the weight room more now than any other team he has worked with during the season.

I recall Coach Clawson making a similar observation at a similar point in his turnaround.

No one can deny the offense is anemic.  Remove Terion Stewart, who came in when the game was decided and had 162 rushing yards, BG had 200 yards through about 3 quarters.  We threw only 20 passes and completed only 6.  We had dropped balls, protection issues and on one play converted a 3rd and 15 only to have an illegal shift bring the play back.

No one can deny we had too many penalties, and mostly off-sides and alignment issues.  Coach says those are no talent issues and we certainly need to get those cleaned up.

Last year, BG lost to Kent by 42.  And BG got it down to 38 in this one...which is just a little gallows humor.  BG played without Andrew Clair and Karl Brooks, probably our best offensive and defensive players.  Injuries are no excuse, but it's weird how they seem to strike undermanned teams.

It's going to take time. A lot more time.  We need three recruiting classes in the door before this has a chance. And we have one.  There are glimmers of hope.  Terrion Stewart could be a really good player.  Kinsey could be a really good player.  There are others.

But right now, this team is just a long way from competing.  Let's stay behind them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Lichtensteiger Video Welcomes BG Back to Empty Doyt


You can see above, as Falcon Hall-of-Famer Kory Lichgensteiger narrates, a heartwarming video about the first home game under COVID. (Made by BGSU).

It's well done and pretty moving.  Sad but resilient.

I can't deny it.  It's a pretty sad day.  On my TimeHop, I get pictures from this time of year, pictures from my seat in the Doyt. Today is the anniversary of the Fog Bowl.  And you think about the decades of happy memories going to games there.  It's nearly beyond my comprehension that we're going to play games and I won't be able to be there.  

It's the right thing to do and I support it, but man it's hard to fathom.

And then basketball, too.  And hockey.  There's going be a basketball and football season and I won't see any of it live.

It's painful.

To be sure, people have had worse...loved ones dying, permanent disabilities, lost jobs, lives upturned.  We'll survive this.  But there's loss here, nonetheless.

I watched the top physicians from Ohio on the DeWine presser yesterday.  These men and women (speaking with actual knowledge) think that an effective vaccine will be widely available next summer. Which means by the 2021 season there's a shot we're back to normal again.  And that would be great.

In the meantime, this is how we live.  Ohio set a new record for new cases and new hospitalizations. And who knows how many games will be played--I just saw that LSU-Alabama was canceled for Saturday.  We can't afford to cling to anything right now.  We just need to get through this

Monday, November 09, 2020

Kent State Preview

 Next up are the Golden Flashes, traditionally someone who has looked like a win on our schedule, but actually is trending up and is competing with former BG Assistant Sean Lewis at the helm.

And need we forget, they delivered a 62-20 pasting on the Falcons last year.  Vegas believes this game will be closer, installing the Flashes as a 20 point favorite.

They were 7-6 last year and won their first bowl game ever.  It was their first winning season since the unforgettable 2012 season.

They return 7 starters on offense from that team and six on defense.

Lewis is a Babers-disciple, so no surprise that the focus is on the spread and a Baylor-style offense.  They were 4th in the MAC last year in scoring and 3rd in yards per play.  Their QB--Dustin Crum--led the MAC in passing efficiency.  They were also 4th in rushing yards and 6th in yards per carry.

They lost a lot at RB, but in their opener had a True FR and a redshirt-FR split carries and average 5.4 yards per carry.  

They also returned Isaiah McCoy, third-team All-MAC WR.  He caught 8 for 104 and a score against EMU.

Crum is also a threat to run.  He was only sacked once in the EMU game.

Overall, we can expect to see a team using a proven offensive system with good players across the board.  They only scored 27 against EMU, for whatever that is worth.  They had one turnover and were 2-4 in the red zone.

On defense, they were 6th in scoring defense and 10th in yards per play allowed last year.  They were +6 in turnover margin last year, which explains how they ended up with a winning record while allowing so many yards per play.

As noted, they lost players from that defense.

Last year, they were 9th against the run and 8th in defensive pass efficiency.  They did a good job with EMU, but you never know what EMU has.  The Eagles lead back did average 7 yards per carry and the Flashes got five sacks, which impact rushing totals.  Even removing sacks, EMU had 3.3 yards per carry.

Eastern was effective passing the ball, with 60% completions and 11.5 yards per reception.  However, don't forget those five sacks and add in two picks.

In terms of special teams, the Flashes graduated an all-MAC kicker.  The new guy did not attempt a FG and missed an XP.   Their net punting was under 40 yards, so not a great opener on that front either.

Loeffler said in the presser that BG bounced back well in practice after the UT loss.  Between that game and last year's Kent win, you'd hope to see them rebound.  There's a ceiling right now on how good they are going to be, just based on youth.  However, if McDonald has his timing back and Clair is available, this is a game BG could surprise in...though I don't think 20 points is an unreasonable spread.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Loeffler Presser

So, Coach Loeffler had his presser today.  Here are a few of the more interesting observations.

He said the offense was atrocious in the first half.  Also, the snap on the punt was "disappointing."

What was positive is that in previous years we would have folded, but in this case we stuck with it and at least completed.

Usually a game comes down to 3-4 players, but he said there were 12-14 plays where BG had the chance to make it interesting and just failed.

On the Broden fumble, he did everything right, "eye to the tuck, high and tight" but wasn't strong enough to protect the ball from the older UT defenders.

"We need to get into the weight room."

He was by and large complimentary of how Broden played.

McDonald was one count behind all night.  Coach says he is better than that, but no excuses, he was not effective.

Just to know what's in coach's head when he isn't translating things for the fans, here is a verbatim description of the first pick.

We were in a 3 x 1 bunch they brought a 3-fire zone.  It was Sam/Will off the edge.  We picked it up.  Matt came off the bounce, off a quick five...had good body position.  He tried to fit it through the middle vertical on the 2/3 match player on the backside.  He made the right read and threw it behind him.

Second INT, we gave up a QB hit when they rushed three and we had 7 guys blocking, it was a TD for Broden if we can make the throw. Obviously, can't let the QB get hit in that situation.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Falcons Lose to Rockets

 Football is back...long night for the Falcons at the Glass Bowl.  They started out playing about as badly as you can, stabilized the effort for a while and then ran out of gas as the Rockets piled onto the margin, ending up with a 38-3 margin.

As noted in the preview here, this team has a long way to go. 

The defense actually had some decent moments.  The offense really did not.

BG got the ball first and went three and out.  The snap to punter Matt Naranjo was wide of him by quite a bit and he was forced to panicpunt, and UT started on the 21 and scored to go 7-0.  

On the next possession, it was third down and McDonald threw a pick and UT started on the BG 25 and scored to go up 14-0.

BG was making some progress on its next possession, with Tyrone Broden catching a pass and running inside the Rocket 30 when he fumbled and the Rockets recovered and went down the field and scored again, leading 21-0 with 3 minutes left to play in the first quarter.

BG did battle back.  They stabilized on defense and UT didn't score again until there was about 6 minutes left in the 3rd.  You need a score to make it interesting and the offense failed to get into the red zone during that time and turned it over once.

After the Rockets scored to go up 28-0, BG got to the Rocket 2, ran a brutal series of plays, had a false start and inexplicably kicked a FG.

As noted, this team is still a ways away.  BG played 13 true FR, and 6 redshirt FR, by my count.

I think you're going to see that you gave up 38 points and think the defense got torched.  No doubt, they can improve, but the offense made it way harder, with turnovers and few sustained drives.

BG averaged 4.8 yards per play.  BG's running backs were 22 for 57, as the line had trouble making space for them most of the time. McDonald was 8 of 30 passing...that's a correct number...with 2 picks.

McDonald is better than that, and it was his first meaningful snap in a long time, so let's give him a little time to settle in.

Doesn't change the fact that the offense did not pull anything close to their weight.

Also, Andrew Clair appeared to be injured early in the 3rd and did not return. I thought I saw him standing next to Coach Loeffler in a sling.

BG had 15 first downs, 5 of them after it was 28-0.

The defense didn't end up with great numbers but it wasn't awful.  The UT backs average 5 yards a carry.  Peters completed 20 of 32 for 214 and 4 TDs.  That's 10.7 per completion, which is not  a huge amount of yards.

After the first 3 scores, BG held them scoreless on 8 out of  9 possessions.  BG defenses in the previous few years have folded in that situation, but this one didn't.  They're still very young and unproven, but they showed heart.

Well, that's that.  We hand the trophy back after a little more than a year.  Next up is KSU, on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Ready or Not, Here it Comes...

 Well, the 2020 season will kick off on Wednesday.  It will be played under the shadow of COVID--see Trevor Lawrence.  I hope all our players stay healthy through this shortened season and that by next Fall we can have a vaccine or a cure and be back to normal.  With cases spiraling in Ohio right now, it's going to be a long month.  We have Thanksgiving ahead of us.  It will be good to have the diversion of football, but only if it can be safe.  The decision is made, so let's hope it works out.

What to expect of the Falcons?  It's no secret, last year was rough, save one glorious day in the sun at the Doyt.  Glorious.  Still, it was a grim year.  In MAC games, BG was 11th in offense and 12th in defense, with an average margin of defeat of 23 points.  In the worst trough of our program's history, I estimate this to have been BG's least successful team since 1935.  That's not a slam on the people involved, just a picture of where we were.

To give you the conclusion first, we might be a little better this year, but we're still incredibly young, with 60% of the roster with Freshman eligibility.  My guess is that it will be 2022 before we are competitive.  That's not to say we won't improve, because I think we are making progress and I believe in our staff and their commitment.  But, you gotta have good players and a bunch of them and they need to be D-1 tested and that's a long way off.  The effect of the Babers and Jinks hires shows how important head coaches are in college football.

The Blade says our two-deep reflects a "commitment" to our youth movement.  It's mostly necessity.  We're committed to our youth movement for the same reasons that people on the Titanic were committed to lifeboats.

So, starting with the offense.  BG averaged 17 points a game--ranked #11 (All MAC games only).  We were 11th in yards per rush and 11th in passing efficiency.  

There's good reason to think the offense will be better.  It will make a big difference if true.  It starts at the main position, QB.  God bless Grant Loy, a leader and someone who will never pay for a drink in Bowling Green, but he's just not an everydown FBS QB.  He answered the bell when we were desperate for a QB and he fought through a very tough year and I admire him 100%.

Having said that, the hope is that Matt McDonald is a huge step up.  That would be critical.  There's been a lot written--he was a top HS QB until an injury his junior year.  Got in the wrong spot at BC.  He had won the job last year...ahead of Loy and Wade.  I think it will be an improvement but no one has seen McDonald in significant game action since he was in HS.  He could be an improvement or an IMPROVEMENT.

The other addition will be Andrew Clair, who was injured most of last season.  If he can remain healthy, he's a difference-maker for our offense.  Hopefully, the shortened season will help with that.  He and Denley can be effective in the backfield.  Hope for health, we are very thin at that position.

So, add McDonald and Clair and you have Quintin Morris back and you have some playmakers.  

It's hard to imagine that BG has as few high-level WRs as we do, given that it seemed like we recruited a dozen a year for a while.  You have Morris, Motes, Gazarek and Christian Sims rotating at TE, our key position.  Morris we know about and Sims has been effective as well.  Motes is a football player and we love Gazarek, but it's his first year.  

Julian Ortega-Jones had 20 catches last year and is starting at one WR and Tyrone Broden--who had none--is at the other.  Noah Massey and Jahylin Embry (True FR) are behind them on the depth chart.  I think it's fair to say that we are pretty thin at WR.  Morris and Denley were our leading receivers last year and Clair is an effective pass catcher as well.

The issue that will limit the ceiling of the offense is the offensive line.  BG has 32 starts on the o-line.  Joe Ware, at LT, has none and is in his fifth year of the program.  John O'Brian at G and Cameron Stage at C have none.  In the 10-man rotation, three of the players are true FR.  This is an untested and young group and they will be under a lot of pressure.  Clair will need space to run and McDonald will need time to throw.  Playing as much 12 as we will play will help.

As mentioned, BG averaged 17 PPG.  You need 30 to be in the middle of the pack in the MAC.  So we have a ways to go...and that's just to be in the middle.

Having a better offense will help a defense that is even more in a rebuilding phase than the offense.  BG allowed 38 points or more something like that last four years.  Last year, BG allowed 40 PPG, last in the MAC.  We were last in rush defense (6.4 per carry...the next team was 5.6) and tied for last in defensive pass efficiency.  BG's defense has been a hot mess since Elko left.

A few first downs on offense will help, to be sure.

BG has 4 seniors on its defensive depth chart.  Kholbe Coleman and Roland Walder (DE).  Jerry McBride is recovering from injury and is on the roster, but not the two-deep.  (The others are Isaiah Johnson-Mack, the WR transfer from Oregon State who has changed positions and Ty Redding, 1 start).

Meanwhile, there are nine FR on the two-deep, with three of them being true FR.

The top eight defensive linemen have 27 starts among them, with 20 of them being Karl Brooks.  Jordan Murphy is back...he was making progress before an ill-timed injury.

The LBs are little better...Coleman and Roberts have played some, but true SO Darren Anders is the third starter and the backups are 2 True FR and Isaiah Johnson-Mack, who was moved from WR to LB and has not played a game at LB.

The D-backfield is just as young.  Caleb Biggers has played quite a bit and he's starting at one CB.  Problem is the other CB is Diata Burns, a JUCO transfer who was in on 14 tackles his last year of JC ball.  True FR Myles Williamson and Ty Redding (1 start) are behind them.

At S, Jordan Anderson, who played effectively last year as a true FR is starting at one spot and Davion Daniels is at the other position.  He has not played a snap.  Behind them, are Sy Dabney, who played mostly on special teams and Patrick Day, who played in the Akron game.

It's just very thin.

The good news is that there is some consistency of scheme.  After going least they are doing the same things this year that they did last year.

Still, any improvement over the 40 PPG allowed last year would be an accomplishment.  The defense needs to get some traction...meaning players here year over year with consistent coaching and player development.  I think we will get that and it will improve, but we're thin.

Special teams should be fine.  Matt Naranjo is a good punter and Nate Needham was respectable at K.

One last note.  The 2nd string QB is listed as LaBronz Davis, which is a little bit of a surprise to me.  He's a R-FR walk on.  I had figured it would be Sparks, Keller or Melton.

I just think we have to be patient.  It's going to take all of five years to get back where we need to be.  But we are doing it right, and if our AD does a better job of hiring coaches than the previous one did, we will have a shot to be consistently competitive.  In the meantime, it's going to be hard to watch once in a while.  If we win 2 games this year, it will be an accomplishment.  Anything more and we are ahead of schedule.