At first glance, it looks like Kent State would be considered the favorite
in Saturday's game at Bowling Green. The Golden Flashes enter the contest
at 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the Mid-American Conference while the Falcons are
1-6 and in search of their first league win.
BGSU had a lot to celebrate in a 44-28 win over Marshall.
But, don't be so quick to count out the host Falcons.
BGSU has lost three games in the finals seconds, including last week's
28-27 loss at Temple. The Falcons came up short on a two-point conversion attempt
with no time on the clock against the Owls, but head coach Dave Clawson was satisfied with the way his team responded after he called them out for
their lack of effort and intensity in previous weeks.
"Certainly after Temple, I didn't have any of those feelings," Clawson
said. "I thought our guys competed extremely hard. What happened is we
had a great week of practice. Guys prepared well, played with great effort
on the field. You have to do those things to give yourself a chance to win
and we certainly gave ourselves a chance to win."
At Troy in the season opener, the Falcons lost, 30-27, when Troy kicked a
field goal with four seconds left in the game and four weeks later Bryan Wright's 40-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired to
give Buffalo a 28-26 win over the Falcons.
That's the difference between having a young team, especially in the
skill positions, and a veteran squad as Bowling Green had last year when they
pulled out four games in the closing minutes of those contests.
"It's really a reverse from a year ago," Clawson said of
the results in the close games. "Last year we certainly won the Buffalo
and the Kent game on the last play of the game. The Troy game and our rival
game were tied late in the fourth quarter and we found ways to win those games
and that's a four-game swing for the positive. Now this is a three-game
swing for the negative.
"The bottom line is we didn't make those plays and that's
why we are where we are. We need to find a way to make those plays and get
over the top and win some of those games. We're certainly not happy with
our record, but I thought last week we made some real positive strides and
now the key is that can't be a one week deal."
Kent State has had its own issues, too.
The Golden Flashes led by 14 at halftime last week at Toledo before the Rockets
dominated the second half to win, 34-21.
Kent State's offense has yet to put together a complete game, but the
Flashes are much better on defense. They lead the MAC by allowing just 302.8
yards per game.
"Defensively they're the best defensive team in the league. They're
the best rushing defense. They've held up very well against schools like
Boston College and Penn State," Clawson said. "Their defensive
scheme is very difficult to prepare for. It's a ton of blitzes. They're
never sitting still. They're bringing corners, they're bringing
safeties, they're bringing linebackers from every angle. Certainly with
our offensive line situation, and as young as we are up there, that presents
Bowling Green's offense ranks just eighth in the MAC, but the Falcons
are fourth in passing offense with 251.0 yards per game. Kent State's
defense allows 225.3 yards per game, so that match-up could determine the outcome.
BG leads the overall series, 55-16-6 and is 24-9-4 against Kent State at home.
The Falcons have won 16 of the last 17 at home against Kent State.
BOWLING GREEN NOTES:
Clawson isn't second-guessing his decision to go for two at Temple. The
Falcons had been struggling in the kicking game and starting running back Willie Geter was banged up. He knew those two things could cost his team in an
BY THE NUMBERS
"The decision to go for two was not one I lost sleep over. We were on
the road against a good football team. We were extremely banged up and injured;
a lot of our better players, Willie Geter and Eugene Cooper, we were
so thin," he said. "A lot of it came down to we were not hitting
field goals. A lot of times overtime games come down to your ability to run
the football and kick field goals. If it was the NFL overtime, or everyone
got the ball on the 20-yard line it might have been a different decision. But,
with the way the college rules are, where you start with the football and the
emphasis on the ability to at least get three and live another day, I did not
feel great about our ability to run the football and kick field goals to stay
Calling the Play
In the game-winning situation Clawson went to a play the Falcons had been executing
perfectly. This time, they came up short.
"We had had a lot of success at our tight red zone offense, not only
with our previous two-point play but the touchdown and the call we had before
that we scored on," he said. "We were executing our tight red zone
offense very well, so why did we go for it? I thought we'd make it. I
really believed we were going to win the game with that play."
Geter a Pain in the Flash
Bowling Green's rushing offense ranks dead last in the MAC, but don't
tell that to Willie Geter, who averages just 66.7 yards per game and 3.8 yards
per carry this year.
Two years ago Geter carried 22 times for 203 yards and scored a touchdown
in a 31-20 win at Bowling Green. Geter's performance was good for the
seventh-highest single game rushing record in BGSU history.
Last season the Flashes bottled Geter up, as he carried 10 times for just
Bowling Green kicker/punter Bryan Wright leads the MAC in punting
with a 42.03 yards per punt average. He's also excelling on kickoffs.
But, he has struggled on field goals and PAT's. That led Clawson to
open the kicking duties this week to sophomore Stephen Stein and
freshman Kyle Burkhardt.
As of Tuesday, neither had distanced himself from the other.
"We've had an open competition this week for our PAT-field goal
job," Clawson said. "Bryan Wright is no longer going to be handling
the PAT-field goals. He's done a great job all year of punting the football.
He's done a great job with our kickoffs, putting a number into the back
of the end zone. We've struggled with field goals. I think his burden
right now is a little too much. He does a great job with it in practice. It's
just has not carried over (into games)."
Thinner in the Secondary
Despite a lack of numbers in the defensive secondary, Clawson dismissed from
the team safety Robert Lorenzi, after an off-the-field incident
"I met with Robert Lorenzi earlier (Tuesday) and he has been dismissed
from the football program," Clawson said. "These are always hard
decisions. I just felt that he no longer should have the privilege of representing
Bowling Green on the football field."
While Clawson looks at each case individually, he didn't like what he
saw out of Lorenzi.
"In this case there is just a pattern of behavior that I was just not
comfortable with. Because of that he will no longer be representing Bowling
Green on the field."
The lack of depth in the defensive backfield surely made Clawson's decision
much more difficult, but he knew the impact of this decision would carry over
into the future.
"It's brutal, but I've said this before, you can't
have discipline and only apply it when it's convenient," he said. "Our
depth and our numbers right now are lower than at any point I can remember,
even when I worked at the FCS level where you're limit was 63. We're
Running back Willie Geter was expected to practice on Tuesday. Wide receiver
Tyrone Pronty practiced on Monday and wide receiver
Eugene Cooper is doubtful for Saturday's game. Defensive back
Cameron Truss is not expected to play and offensive lineman Blaec Walker is out
for the year. Offensive lineman Scott Lewis is expected to be available
for Saturday's game after practicing for the second straight week.
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