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Published: Wednesday, 10/20/2004

Bad phone connection at Temple turned out to be good for Falcons

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Beckman Beckman
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BOWLING GREEN - Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Well, necessity created a change that has benefited the Bowling Green football team.

The "necessity" came during the Falcons' contest at Temple on Oct. 2. That day the phone lines that connected defensive coordinator Tim Beckman in the press box to coaches on the field weren't working, so Beckman moved to the sidelines.

The results were so impressive, Beckman has stayed on the sidelines.

The Falcons gave up an average of 28 points and 446.0 yards per game with Beckman in the press box for their first three games, admittedly against top-notch opponents such as Oklahoma and Northern Illinois. While the caliber of opponent has dropped, the statistical drop has been noticeable as well: BG has given up just 14.3 points and 326.7 yards in its last three contests.

"I think he [Beckman] has found that our players have more of a level of comfort with him down there calling defenses from the boundary," said Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon.

Brandon added that having defensive tackles coach Mike Ward and cornerbacks coach Vance Joseph in the press box has aided Beckman's transition to the sidelines.

"With Mike Ward, who has been with 'Beck' for a long time, and the experience of Vance Joseph, that was something we probably should have done from the get-go," Brandon said of the move. "With Tim, it has been a matter of being comfortable on the boundary and trusting the eyes in the box."

Brandon said the Falcon defenders favor the move.

"I think our players like him down there, because he can jump in their face after a series," Brandon said. "It's a little different screaming at a guy through a headphone rather than looking at him in the eye."

Defensive lineman Ryan Newble said having Beckman on the sidelines has both positives and negatives.

"He sees everything," Newble said. "When we mess up, he's right there when we run off the field. That's about the only negative thing - there's nowhere to run."

Don't look for Brandon to make a similar move with offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa, who will remain in the press box calling plays.

"He's doing a nice job; his play selection has been excellent all season," Brandon said of Studrawa. "He's kind of grown with [quarterback] Omar [Jacobs]. And he wants nowhere near the boundary, especially for a game like last Saturday [which was cold and rainy]."

NIT-PICKING: Brandon had few complains after watching the film of the Falcons' 51-13 win over Ball State.

"That was probably our best overall game in all phases of the game," he said. "It was over at halftime, and we came out a little flat in the second half. But a lot of kids got to play, and that's a good thing for our program."

"SPECIAL" TEAMS: The Falcons' special teams have been strong in every phase of the game this season. As a team, BG ranks second in kickoff returns (21.3 yards/return) and fifth in punt returns (12.5 yards/return); the Falcons also are tied for first in net punting (37.4 yards/kick) and fifth in kickoff coverage (17.9 yards/return).

Individually, B.J. Lane leads the MAC in kickoff returns with an average of 33.6 yards per return, while kicker Shaun Suisham tops the conference in kick scoring with 8.3 points per game.

"There's such an emphasis on special teams at Bowling Green because of the opportunities that they present," Lane said.

INJURY REPORT: While the Falcons lost both starting safeties to injury during last week's victory, Brandon said he expects to have both back for Saturday's game at Ohio.

T.J. Carswell suffered a slight hamstring pull, but Brandon said he could have played Saturday if necessary. Keon Newson suffered a broken thumb; doctors will put a screw in it, put a cast on it and "he'll be good to go," Brandon said.

Meanwhile the Bobcats will be without linebacker Dennis Chukwuemeka, who sprained his MCL in the loss to Marshall. Despite having missed the past two games, Chukwuemeka ranks second on the team with 38 tackles.

Ohio coach Brian Knorr said the Bobcats hope to have linebacker Tyler Russ, who broke his clavicle a month ago, back for Saturday's game.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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