BOWLING GREEN - It's usually coach-speak to say the team isn't worrying about anyone but itself. But this week, that's close to the truth for the Bowling Green State University football team.
Today the Falcons will be wrestling with their demons more than wrestling with Temple, their opponent at Perry Stadium at 4 p.m.
The game is the home opener and homecoming for BGSU. It ends a five-game away streak dating to last season. The Falcons are one of the last Division I-A teams this season to have a home game.
It's not that the Falcons (1-2, 1-0 MAC) are overlooking the 0-4 Owls, whom they beat 70-16 in Philadelphia last year. It's that the weaknesses exposed in BGSU's first three games, on defense, special teams and even offense, need correcting before the team enters the bulk of Mid-American Conference play next week.
"We have to take a lot of steps to get better, and Temple is the first step," quarterback Omar Jacobs said. "We have to correct mistakes, and if you're not getting better, you're getting worse."
BGSU coach Gregg Brandon said he wants the Falcons to improve upon a number of things: be sharper defensively, especially on tackling, run the offense at a fast tempo, and be more aggressive. Something he told Jacobs, in particular, after the Boise State loss was to try not to overanalyze defenses trying to confuse him.
"I told him after the [Boise State] game that it was the first game where he didn't manage our offense," Brandon said. "That's the No. 1 thing we talk about with our quarterbacks, manage the offense. Omar has put a lot of pressure on himself, and that's natural. He has gotten a lot of [publicity] and a lot of hype, and he's got to deal with the good and the bad. Right now, he's dealing with the bad."
Two of Jacobs' three TDs at Boise State were against the reserves after the Falcons were down by 41 points in the fourth quarter. Before that, he struggled. Jacobs, with 1,106 yards passing and 13 touchdown passes on the season, is ready to step up to a challenge he hasn't yet faced in his college career - returning to form after a poor game.
"Everyone has bad games, but great quarterbacks come back and bounce back," Jacobs said. "You still have to move on and lead your team to the next game. We have put it behind us."
One comforting thought for BGSU is that when it started the season 1-2 last year, one of the losses was in league play. This year the Falcons' early league game was a win at Ball State.
"Muncie, it was a tough game, and we pulled it out," Jacobs said. "That MAC win is lingering right now; we have that to lean on."
After the below-.500 start last season, the Falcons went on a seven-game winning streak before losing in the regular-season finale to the University of Toledo. This year's schedule is set up similarly, with four of BGSU's next five games at home.
In the Falcons' division, Miami already has a league loss, as does Kent State. The Falcons want to iron out inconsistencies in this game, then continue to move closer to their goal of a MAC championship.
"It's well within our reach," offensive lineman Rob Warren said. "We just have to go after it."
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