Below is our Q&A with B.J. Fischer writer at FalconBlog, addressing questions posed by our readers here at GoVandals.net.
1) Looking ahead to Thursday's season opener, give us three reasons why you think Bowling Green is going to beat Idaho, and what position group(s) would you classify as your strength, including players with game changing ability? (Offense/ Defense) Is there any "revenge factor", looking back on the Humanitarian Bowl?
Coach Clawson talked about the revenge factor in his presser and he said that he didn't expect much. We actually have only a few players on the team now who played in that game.
If BG beats Idaho, it will be because three things happened.
1. BG's defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage, letting the LBs roam free, and protecting our secondary. BG controls the run and pressures the QB from its base defense.As for positions of strength, I would say WR, D-line and LB. QB and RB show potential, but we have not seen it in games yet (and they are reliant on the line), and the d-backfield is very young.
2. The offensive line wins at least a fair share of the battles up front, giving the rest of the offense space to operate in.
3. The entire team is able to adjust to a very unique playing environment.
Game changing players include:
- WR Kamar Jordan, who had 96 catches last year.2) On the flip side, give us three reasons why you think Idaho is going to beat Bowling Green, and which position group(s) most concern you? (Offense/ Defense) What type of plays, and schemes would you run in order to have the best success against BG?
- DT Chris Jones (6 sacks last year).
- LB Dwayne Woods (our leading tackler)
- PR Eugene Cooper (2 TDs last season)
- C Ben Bojicic (not sure if a C is a game changer, but he might be our best offensive player).
As we will see in a minute, I think this is a tough assignment for the Falcons. If the Falcons lose, it will be because:
1. The O-line is better than last year but still not consistently productive, causing problems for the entire offense.From that analysis, you can see what my biggest areas of concern are. The O-line last year was just terrible. It was a concern before 3 players were injured and was a train wreck after that. At one point, BG was using a true Fr, a player who switched in the spring from defense and a player who switched during the season from defense.
2. The Idaho attack exploits a very young Falcon secondary.
3. A young team has a hard time adjusting to a road game in a tough environment.
Everyone's healthy now, some depth was added via the JUCO route, so things are looking up. The question is, did the line go from a 2 (on a scale of 1-10) to a 4 or a 6?
The other concern is the secondary. The hope here is that the front four gets pressure without blitzes, allowing the LBs to support coverage, and that the front four protects against the run, keeping the safeties out of the box.
If I was Idaho, I would pressure our O-line with a lot of stunts and zone blitzes, both to see if they can make the adjustments and also to see if they can make our QB uncomfortable in the pocket, which was an issue last year.
On offense, I'd leave a guy in to protect the QB and run fewer receivers upfield to test how long BG can hold coverage. I'd also want to find out if BG has really improved stopping the run.
3) By and large, the Idaho fan-base is expecting to be in contention for a bowl-berth this year at the very least. If you had to gauge the BG fan-base, where would you say their expectation level is for this season?
Falcon fans are anxious to return to success. Last year was among the worst seasons we have had, and it is the only double digit loss season in the program's history. I don't think BG fans expect to challenge for a bowl-bid, but they do expect to be much better this year. Since Miami went from being picked as among the worst teams in FBS last year to winning the conference championship, it certainly is possible. My fear is that BG fans expect more out of this team than they can deliver this year.
4) About this series between UI and BGSU, do the fans like the idea of playing a home-and-home with Idaho, what are their perceptions of U of I, and do they feel a little rivalry is developing?
That's an interesting question. Rationally, I think fans recognize that as BG tries to limit itself to one guarantee game and one FCS game and still get six home dates every season, that you are going to need to find teams who will play home and home with you. Hello Idaho and Wyoming. It would be nice if we could find FBS teams nearby who did that, but there simply are none.
Emotionally, I don't think our fans find Idaho an exciting opponent. We know next to nothing about the U of I, most people in our fan base have probably never been to Idaho and (to be honest) see it as a very rural Western state. (I've been to Idaho....so maybe I'm wrong.) College football is all about the mythology and the storylines, and we just don't know enough about Idaho's to really get pumped up.
Now, there is some potential here. If the game Thursday is as good as the bowl game and then the return game at the Doyt is as well, then a little rivalry could develop, and something could build off of that.
5) What do you think will be the final outcome of the game? We've heard that BG is a young, yet talented team. Do you believe they are talented enough to beat the Vandals?
I am on record as predicting a Vandal win. I don't think BG wins this game on the road. If we do, then perhaps we are better than I expect. The Falcon team is young and talented, and on the right vector, but I think that we have enough holes that the Vandals can exploit. I am looking forward to seeing how our guys match up with you, and would consider it a very good start if the Falcons did win.