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Published: Saturday, 8/31/2002

BG plays rookies, keeps playbook basic in victory

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Thursday night's 41-7 romp over Tennessee Tech goes into the book as a single win - one victory for Bowling Green State University. But the future dividends might make it worth a whole lot more.

Since his team built a 41-0 first-half lead in its season-opener, BG coach Urban Meyer was able to control the course of the evening like a poker player holding three aces. Meyer rested his starters for half the contest, protecting them from injury and giving a multitude of younger players the opportunity to face game competition. He also showed Missouri and Kansas, the Falcons' next two opponents, very little.

“We won the game, we got to play a lot of guys, and we got to kind of keep it close to the vest,” Meyer said. “There were a lot of things that we had in the game plan that were there for us to use, but in the second quarter we decided to just run our base offense and our base defense and stay with that.”

Meyer went two and three deep at some positions - and 21 Falcons played in their first game. Meyer now has film to evaluate the performances of those previously uncertain commodities.

“For the development of the football team - that sort of thing is critical,” Meyer said. “I was at Notre Dame for five years and we never got to do that - because our schedule was so hard. You wouldn't put them in when it was 20-19 in the fourth quarter, so the first time your backups ever got to play was when they became starters - and that's not how you develop a program.

“In the second half we played all backups. Now we need to identify which of those backups we can fit in the puzzle - we can't just play the starters all of the time.”

The Falcons basically were treading water after building the huge lead, and although there were some mistakes made, those were not unexpected, Meyer said.

“The guys who were in there played like twos and threes and backups,” he said. “You saw true freshmen out there playing corner. I think there were some really good efforts by some talented young guys. It was the first time some of these guys played - and it looked like it at times. The way we see it - be happy you won but also realize that you need to get better to accomplish the things we expect this team to do.”

BG has a bye next week, and will host Missouri Sept. 14. The Falcons opened the 2001 season with a 20-13 win over the Tigers.



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