BOWLING GREEN - For the eyesore that is Bowling Green State University's special teams play, more practice isn't what will fix it.
"We're spending a lot of time on the kicking game now, we're just not doing a good job coaching it right now," BGSU coach Gregg Brandon said yesterday. "We've got to do better."
BGSU made nearly every special teams error possible in its 48-40 win over Buffalo on Saturday. The ugly lineup follows, by quarter.
First quarter: Buffalo returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. Buffalo blocked Sean Ellis' 23-yard field-goal attempt.
Second quarter: Buffalo blocked Alonso Rojas' punt at the BGSU 17 and returned it for a touchdown. Buffalo returned a punt 55 yards to the BGSU 31; Erique Dozier's tackle prevented a touchdown.
Third quarter: Buffalo returned a kickoff 29 yards into BGSU territory. Ellis had an extra point blocked.
Fourth quarter: Rojas punted 15 yards.
Second overtime: With BGSU tied with Buffalo at 40, Rojas missed the extra-point attempt that would have won the game.
Two weeks ago, special-teams blunders, including a blocked punt, allowed Wisconsin to score twice against the Falcons.
Further complicating matters, Ellis left the Buffalo game with a sore hip flexor and his status for Saturday's game against Florida International is unknown.
"He was not healthy Saturday night," Brandon said. "He couldn't kick with all his power."
In addition to personnel issues, BGSU is still working on finding a workable punt formula. The team has been experimenting with its "spread" punt formation, looking for a way to accomplish the basics of protecting the punter and setting up effective return coverage. Pulling off both at the same time has been a challenge.
"We've got to look at some of our schemes, particularly on punting, and some personnel," Brandon said. "We've got to do a better job overall. And we will."
SAME BOAT: FIU has had its special teams trouble as well. The Golden Panthers missed an extra point in each of their first two games, and it ended up being the difference in the games, as they lost 7-6 to Middle Tennessee and 21-20 to South Florida.
However, they've had successes too. Their first touchdown of the game against South Florida was an 82-yard punt return by Chandler Williams.
QUOTE-UNQUOTE: Brandon on the Buffalo game, which included two weather delays and three overtimes: "It was the weirdest game I've ever been through from start to finish."
STROCK'S TAKE: Florida International coach Don Strock commented yesterday on BGSU.
"Obviously they're a team that's been to bowl games. They're in the hunt up there every year," Strock said. "They're an excellent football team. They're well coached. This is a team that knows how to win football games, something we're trying to teach our players."
EXTRA POINTS: The Falcons hope to have receiver Corey Partridge back for Saturday, although his status is still day-to-day. This is the first year FIU is bowl-eligible after joining Division I-A in 2004.
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