BGSU vs. Buffalo keys

Bowling Green quarterback Matt McDonald hands off to running back Andrew Clair during first half action, as the Falcons battle against Toledo for the I-75 trophy. (Isaiah Vazquez/ BGSU Marketing & Communications)

Just another week.

That’s the way BGSU Football Head Coach Scot Loefler likely addresses his team this week after starting his second season as head coach with the Falcons at 0-2 following a 62-24 loss at home to Kent State. 

The score, though lopsided, is relatively deceiving. At the end of the first quarter, the Falcons were tied at 10, looking good in all three phases and were not anything like the team we saw in Toledo during the opener.

After that, the Falcons were held scoreless until freshman running back Terion Stewart started his college career off with a bang, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to go along with 162 yards on 14 carries. But even in a loss, good things can come out of it. With the Falcons now looking to face the 2-0 Buffalo Bulls at the Doyt this coming Tuesday, it’s important the Falcons look at what they did right, and fix what they did wrong. Here’s what I think the Falcons need to do to bounce back this week:

Defensive Consistency

Last week’s game was a tale of two defenses. In the first quarter, the defense for the Falcons bent a little but did not break. They only allowed one big play, a 50 yd pass that was bobbled and then caught by the receiver, 10 points and gave their offense an opportunity to compete and not play from behind the entire game. That confidence disappeared in the second quarter, as Kent State’s quarterback Dustin Crum diced the Falcons and went into halftime scoring 28 unanswered points.

You can chalk some of that up to defensive lineman Karl Brooks not playing, but this defense just looked out of sorts from the second quarter on. Not only could the defense not get off the field, but there was no pressure getting to Crum since the Kent State offensive line played well. With an offense that is still finding its up-and-coming players, and a quarterback that’s struggling, you have to do better and give your team a chance to stay in games.

The biggest problem was the secondary. When there are dynamic receivers, oftentimes corners will let receivers beat you short so as to not get beat deep. This is typically shown when a corner is giving around five to 10 yards of cushion at the start of the play. The biggest problem with that philosophy in this case was where the Falcons had positioned their safeties. In the formations, the safeties were only playing about 10 yards off the ball and tight together. This meant if the corners got beat nothing was stopping those receivers.

This did not help the Falcons. Not only did the tactic get realized, but shredded miserably. This team needs to play how they did in the first quarter. The bend doesn’t break mentality, special teams making plays and the offense being able to finish drives with points on the board. This is what the team has shown they can do, just needs to come through more often. Putting pressure on the quarterback and playing solid defense is a must for any team that hopes to win.

Discipline

Not all of this is on the defense, but the amount of offsides penalties and the lack of discipline from the defense was insane. In penalty yards alone, the Falcons had 81 yards on 12 penalties, with most of those being offsides. Often when you jump offside, you provide an offense with a free play, and Crum didn’t beat four-star Auburn transfer Woody Barrett because of good behavior.

Good quarterbacks make you pay when you give them multiple opportunities to do so. And that was evident with his four touchdowns in the first half. The Falcons have to ensure that they aren’t doing the offense any favors by giving them better field position, and for that matter, free yardage in the penalties.

Now the defense isn’t the only one to blame. The offense had a few costly penalties themselves, namely on an illegal block that killed their opening possession in Kent State’s redzone. As I already mentioned, the Falcons’ offense was having enough problems moving the ball without getting pushed backwards due to penalties.

The penalties and turnovers crushed any chance of winning in Toledo, and it became apparent at home that the problem was penalties against the Golden Flashes. As you hear the best coaches say, you must clean up the errors if you want to compete in games. Look for the Falcons to do better against the Bulls on Tuesday.

Feed The Freshman

Of the six Falcons this year to register a stat in the rushing category, no one has been more effective than the two freshmen for the Falcons: running backs Terion Stewart and Trevon Raymore. In the game against Kent State alone, the pair had 224 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns. The two also accounted for most of the teams total yards with the team accumulating 365 total yards. To put that into perspective, the third highest rushing player for the Falcons, Andrew Clair, averages 3.1 yards a carry, and has 37 yards rushing. For an offense that has Matt McDonald, who has completed 14 of his 50 pass attempts, you must run the ball more effectively to take some of the pressure off his shoulders.

So, feed the freshman. In a year that doesn’t take into account eligibility, this coaching staff is given a great opportunity to see the players they recruited, and what needs to be on the list. Lots of freshmen don’t play right away, but these guys have earned snaps. There are plenty of other needs for the Falcons to improve upon, such as giving Quintin Morris the ball more and pushing for McDonald to perform better. But for an offense establishing a new identity, take some pressure off a struggling quarterback. This may be the perfect combination for this offense, and finally allow the team to push forward down the field more consistently.

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