BOWLING GREEN - Ever since Urban Meyer took the coaching job at Bowling Green State University early last December, the date circled in red on the calendar has been Sept. 1 - that's when the Falcons will play their first football game of the season at Missouri.
There were a ton of preparations that had to take place before that, however, and as assistant coaches were hired, recruits signed, spring football completed, and off-season strength and conditioning cranked to a higher gear, the highlighted date inched closer.
Following Saturday's full-squad scrimmage that completed an intense first week of two-a-day drills, Meyer said it's time to zero in on that target.
“I think it's time to regroup a little bit, get re-energized, and now focus our sights on Missouri,” Meyer said. “Up until now we've been putting in offense, putting in defense, and just trying to acclimate to the double days. This week's going to be critical. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be the most critical practices for this football team.”
Meyer said he was concerned that his offensive units managed to get in the end zone a bit too often in the scrimmage, and that the scoring was not necessarily due to them being sharp and crisp. Meyer said he felt the BG defense, which returns nearly intact after being the fourth-best in the Mid-American Conference a year ago, was sub-par in the outing.
“My initial feeling is that I'm disappointed in the defense,” Meyer said. “There were far too many points being scored, and there's not this great execution of offense out there. It would be different if it was just guys making plays and this great execution of offense, but there wasn't.”
Meyer said his preferred format for scrimmages definitely puts the onus on the defense to perform, but that is an intended outcome. He likes to spot the ball down the field, and not have each offensive series start 80 yards away from the end zone. A lot of times the offense went to work inside the defenders' 20, or red zone.
“The thing we do is we put them in the red zone. We do a lot of work in the red zone. I'm a firm believer that's where you win or lose games,” Meyer said. “When you get the ball down there, you have to score, so the defense has its backs against the wall. Very rarely do you drive the ball 80 yards - not many teams do that - maybe once a game.''
Meyer got a good look at quarterbacks Andy Sahm, Josh Harris and David Azzi in the scrimmage. Sahm is a redshirt junior who has started 17 games for Bowling Green over the past two seasons, while Harris is a talented athlete who played at quarterback, running back, kick returner and receiver last year as a true freshman, and Azzi is a redshirt freshman from Canada whom Meyer praised throughout the spring. All three showed the ability to move the predominantly one-back, receiver-heavy, wide-open attack that offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon has put in place.
Meyer also alternated redshirt freshman Sean Suisham from Canada and true freshman Nate Fry from Findlay in the place-kicking role, but said a decision on who makes the kicks for the Falcons at Missouri will likely be made close to game time.
LEWIS NEEDS SURGERY: Junior tailback Godfrey Lewis will have arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus on Wednesday. A determination on his availability and playing status will be made following that procedure. Lewis, who injured the knee in practice last week, was a medical redshirt last season when a stress fracture of the tibia kept him off the field. The Toronto, Canada, native had 500 yards rushing in 1999.