A blogger for Bowling Green named B.J. Fischer approached me this week about exchanging some questions and answers about Saturday’s Wyoming-Bowling Green game. Here is the link to his blog: http://orangeandbrown.blogspot.com/
Below are the questions I asked Fischer and his responses, followed by the questions he asked me and my responses.
Feel free to offer your thoughts and opinions.
1. Is Bowling Green as good as its statistics indicate, or is it more of a result of the opponents it’s played?
I would say that Bowling Green still doesn’t know what it has. BG played very well against Idaho–a win they were very happy to get, especially by a large margin–but beating Morgan State doesn’t really show you anything. I would say that the team is not as good as their statistics indicate, however, due to the influence of 50 percent of it being against a poor FCS team. BG struggled so badly (last) year that any level of success is encouraging.
2. What is the biggest difference in this team compared to the first two under coach Dave Clawson?
This team has the talent level that Coach Clawson thinks he needs to compete in the MAC. In his first year, the team was senior-laden and had some talent, but there were big holes in two of (former coach Gregg) Brandon’s recruiting classes, leading to a season last year that was just a mess. BG had several walk-ons getting significant playing time and at one point had an o-line that included a true freshman, a player who moved from D-line in the spring and a player who move from D-line during the season. This year, the team remains very young, but Clawson believes the talent level is coming back. Both the o-line and the d-line are significantly improved.
3. What are fans, players and even staff members there at BG thoughts of the return of former coach Gregg Brandon, now Wyoming’s offensive coordinator?
I would say that Coach Brandon left BG on pretty poor terms. While he succeeded early while he had the players Urban Meyer had recruited, once the program started to transition to his players, the teams got worse and worse. The worst moment came when BG had a small crowd for a 6 p.m. Friday game on a snowy November night against Buffalo. BG was still alive in the division race in theMAC, and led by 20-something points in the fourth quarter. The Falcons blew the lead, losing in OT.
Brandon stormed into the media room and said the following: “That crowd was pitiful. The fans that showed up, that’s awesome because they’re the true fans. But our kids deserve much better than that. To be in a game with so much on the line, that disgusts me.”
Coming as it did from a coach who had blown a 20-point lead in the midst of a very average season (BG finished 1-4 at home that year), it did not sit well with the fan base. BG did something I would never expect them to do, which was buy a coach out, and he was gone. Once he left, we realized he had two recruiting classes with a high rate of attrition and arrests, and last year was part of the recruiting hole he left behind.
For what it is worth, everyone thought he was a really good offensive coordinator. He did a great job calling plays during the Meyer years. He was promoted as a panic move when it looked like Meyer’s players would leave if he did not get the job, and he was unable to sustain success in the program as head coach.
4. What would you say are the two biggest strengths and two biggest weaknesses of BG this season?
Strengths: D-line and WR.
Weaknesses: Defensive secondary and special teams.
5. What’s your prediction for the final score?
I think BG wins the game, though I think it will be close. I would predict a final score of BG 35, Wyoming 30.
Here are Fischer’s questions about Wyoming and my responses:
1. Wyoming, like Bowling Green, is very young. Most importantly, you have to be one of the few teams playing a true freshman QB. Talk about Brett Smith, what you have seen so far, and what you expect from him for the year.
Smith has shown impressive poise and maturity as a true freshman. It helped that he graduated from high school early, enrolled at Wyoming in January and went through spring drills. It’s remarkable how this team has rallied around him — coaches and players. He has a good arm and quick release, and can make things happen with this feet. He hasn’t perfected the position by any means, but he’s a competitor. As long as he stays positive and the coaches stay positive, good things are ahead for this kid and this team.
2. Wyoming has had its struggles in football over the past 10 years (2 winning records). Do you think Dave Christensen has the program on a different trajectory?
I think the program in heading in a good direction. Depth is getting better across the board and the overall skill, speed and athleticism is improving. I think the direction is good. A big sign of that will be how the team does in the Mountain West Conference. It was 4-4 in 2009 and 1-7 last year. That’s where the improvement needs to be seen the most.
3. Wyoming’s first two games were against FCS competition. What do you think you have learned about Wyoming and what questions are still unanswered?
We learned Wyoming would fare well if it were a FCS team. All kidding aside, we learned that Smith has some moxie to him as he led the team on a game-winning touchdown drive with 22 seconds to play to beat Weber State in the opener. The Cowboys appear to have some big-play ability on offense at running back, receiver and quarterback. The defense got off to a slow start, but played well the last 2.5 quarters against Texas State. Wyoming has some ability and potential, but now it’s time to see it against competition more at and above its level.
4. Among the Wyomingf an base, what is the perception of the MAC. Do they get excited for a game like this, or would they prefer something else?
There is a mutal respect for the MACamong most of theWyoming fan base. The Cowboys played Toledo last year, and play it again next season. They’ve also recently played Ohio. And in 2008, Bowling Green came into Laramie and pounded the Cowboys. I know the coaches respect theMAC. Coach Dave Christensen was an assistant at Toledo from 1992-2000. Former coach Gregg Brandon was at Bowling Greenfor a while. I would say the respect is there.
5. Who do you see winning Saturday and why?
This almost a flip a coin game. Both teams have a lot of similarites. The home team has the advantage, but I see Wyoming pulling this one out in the end in a really good game as it withstands an early barrage by Bowling Green and then makes enough plays on both sides of the ball late. Wyoming 34, Bowling Green 30.