BOWLING GREEN - After Bowling Green State University's discomforting loss to Kent State on Saturday, Gregg Brandon gave his team a similar version of what he told the media.
"Somebody has to emerge on this team besides [quarterback] Freddie Barnes, somebody has to emerge as a playmaker," said Brandon, BGSU's coach. "Whether it's [receiver] Corey Partridge, whoever it is. Somebody has to show up and make plays in crunch time."
Chris Bullock ingested the speech quickly, every word. He wanted to make sure he followed the plea precisely.
Bullock, a redshirt freshman running back for the Falcons, has gotten a taste of playing time, and he wants to make the difference that gets BGSU a win.
"That's really what I want to be for this team, a playmaker," Bullock said. "They're looking for somebody to step up. I'm willing to do that."
In the loss, Bullock's first opportunity for extended playing time, he rushed for 99 yards and caught three passes for 24 yards. A fumble with four minutes left marred the performance for him, but his coach was pleased overall.
"It's nice to see him carry the ball," Brandon said. "He put it on the ground once, which is unfortunate, he's got to do a better job of taking care of the football. But he ran hard and made some nice runs, ran over some people and ran around some people."
In high school in Destrehan, La., Bullock played in a spread offense similar to BGSU's. At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, Bullock said his teammates tell him he's "like a back they've never really seen."
"I think he is kind of a cross between a tailback and a fullback," Brandon said. "He has the finesse and speed to play tailback, but he also has the power to carry the ball."
Brandon was impressed with the potential Bullock displayed in spring ball ["He showed a degree of toughness"]. Bullock's chances for playing time grew greater in the summer when Bobby Thomas, who played as a true freshman last season, was ruled academically ineligible for the season.
As a backup to junior Dan Macon, Bullock got in on some junk plays at the end of the Wisconsin game. He didn't play against Buffalo but had four carries for 18 yards in the fourth quarter against Florida International, including a nine-yard burst for a first down on what turned out to be the Falcons' winning touchdown drive.
"It was a chance to get Chris in the game at an important time," Brandon said after the FIU game. "We are going to need both Dan and Chris throughout the season. To put Chris in when the game was still on the line, for him to run the ball and have a couple good carries, I think that was something."
Against Kent State Bullock entered in the first quarter. He was the primary back in the second half when Macon tweaked an ankle. Bullock touched the ball 20 times, a number Brandon thinks could come close to repeating itself Saturday at Ohio.
With the Falcons already sporting a Mid-American Conference loss, Bullock knows the importance of the MAC East matchup.
"This game really can show if our season goes up or down," Bullock said.
If his team needs him, he wants to be the one pushing the Falcons over the top.
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