After another home loss last week to the Buffalo Bulls, BGSU Head Coach Scott Loeffler said that his team had a show of confidence. And honestly, he wasn’t wrong.
The Falcons fell 42-17, and this was a game through halftime. A 21-3 deficit with the Falcons to receive the ball in the second half is actually a pretty good place to start. The defense cleaned up the penalties and was playing this passing game perfectly throughout, holding quarterback Kyle Vantrease to 74 yards on 7 of 12 passing.
Offensively, the Falcons had a pretty decent showing, putting up 17 points thanks to another two touchdowns by freshman standout Terion Stewart. Matt McDonald threw another 200-yard game and is seemingly starting to feel more comfortable as the starter.
Now, the question may be, what went wrong to allow the Bulls to still win? Below are my keys to the upcoming game against the Ohio Bobcats, to hopefully turn Loeffler’s confidence into the Falcons first win since November of last season.
Stop the Run Game:
Going back to the question I posed in the introduction, if the team did so well stop the pass, then what was the problem? Well, it might have been running back Jarrett Patterson putting up 301 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries.
Patterson absolutely destroyed this Falcons’ defense, and he isn’t the first running back to do so this season. The Falcons’ defense has been horrendous against the run, now having allowed a 100-yard rusher in two games this season. Toledo’s leading rusher to open the season had 93 rush yards.
I mentioned back in my first keys to the game against Toledo that a true way to hold a team at bay is to run the ball effectively and control the clock. The Falcons ran the ball well against Buffalo. Andrew Clair ran for 85 yards and had a great return to action after missing the Kent State game, and Stewart continues to impress with another two scores under his belt. But this squad was clearly outdueled by the Bulls.
It doesn’t matter if Bowling Green can run the ball effectively when the other team is doing it better. Now, the defense hypothetically gets an easier matchup this week when they have to go up against De’Montre Tuggle who is coming off a two-touchdown, 139-rush yard game against Akron. Notching 17 points isn’t that bad of a game for an offense, especially with McDonald finally starting to find his stride, but that doesn’t matter when one player can control not only the clock, but the entire game.
The run defense must get better or the Falcons won’t win this year, it’s as simple as that. If they do that, they win this game.
If the Falcons could have taken away Patterson in this game, the Falcons would have been sitting pretty. Having watched the game though, there are some nitpicky things that you can start looking at. For me, one of the things that I would be willing to poke at is the aggressiveness that Loeffler showed in this game.
Allow me to take you back to the final drive of the first quarter for the Falcons. The offense is moving the ball downfield rather well thanks to quality runs by Claire and a 26-yard pass to Julian Ortega-Jones. The offense goes for it once on fourth down and makes it. Later in the drive it is fourth and two on Buffalo’s 16-yard line. They decide to kick and take points to make it a 7-6 ball game. Just before the kick (which missed), came the end of the quarter. A few fans, myself included, were thinking he may have been going for it and he wanted to see the defensive response. Kicker Nate Needham came back out though to start the second quarter and missed a 33-yard field goal. The very next drive, Buffalo drove down to score a touchdown to make it 21-3.
What doesn’t make sense to me is why they wouldn’t be looking to be a little more aggressive, having lost two games already this season. As I said, this may be nitpicky, but the Falcons, looking to take their first lead of the night with the ball deep in Buffalo territory, seems like a no-brainer to me. Force Buffalo to turn up its intensity.
I can understand taking the points there, and that you expect Needham to nail a chip shot, but the reason you win big games, comes from being aggressive and capitalizing on big plays. I would expect the team to be more aggressive against Ohio to finally get that first win of the season.
Feed the Freshman
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: feed the freshman. Terion Stewart has started to become a focal point of this offense. Leading the team in rush yards and touchdowns in a game and a quarter of work.
Clair is the clear-cut starter and a definite difference maker when he is on the field, but the freshman from Sandusky has just as much power to change the game. He will be a huge piece of this offense down the line for sure.
As mentioned in weeks prior, this is a great season to see what this coaching staff has to work with for the next few years, and as it seems right now, Loeffler and his staff hit a homerun going not that far away to find a talent.
Mark my words, Stewart is a star in the making, and is going to have a fantastic collegiate career.