BOWLING GREEN - The timing of this weekend's game against Ohio State seems off for Bowling Green State University coach Gregg Brandon. The $650,000 payday for BGSU is stuck in the middle of three Mid-American Conference games.
Although the contest might present a challenge for the coaches to keep the season's progression on track, there's one noticeable advantage for the Falcons to play this game now rather than in September.
BGSU's secondary, consisting of mostly true freshmen, now has a bit of experience. The unit will need to use what they've learned so far against the Buckeyes' dynamic receiving corps, starring Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez.
"I know they're going to try to test our secondary quite often," linebacker Terrel White said. "We've just got to get pressure and help out as much as we can."
True freshmen Jahmal Brown and Jerett Sanderson start at safety for BGSU (3-2) along with sophomores Antonio Smith and Kenny Lewis at cornerback. True freshmen Tarell Lewis and Vincent Corner, along with redshirt freshman Calvin Wiley, serve as backups.
Smith, banged up for most of the year, played a full game against Ohio without tweaking any injuries, so "now we're only starting two true freshmen" there, Brandon said.
Despite their youth the Falcons' defensive backfield has fared decently.
BGSU leads the MAC in pass defense, giving up an average of 147 yards per game. The Falcons intercepted two passes against Ohio to bring their season total to six. They have forced at least one turnover in four of their five games.
"I've seen a big improvement [in the secondary]," White said. "They make calls now on defense, they communicate a lot better."
Opponents have scored just three receiving touchdowns on the Falcons. The unit also leads the league in defending third downs, allowing first downs 31 percent of the time.
"Those kids are getting better every week," Brandon said. "It's fun to watch them grow. I think [position coach] Dennis Springer and [defensive coordinator] John Lovett have done a great job with them."
The Buckeyes' passing attack is third in the Big Ten, but their passing efficiency ranks first in the league and 10th in the country. Brown said the worry about giving up big plays is there, but they won't necessarily play prevent defense.
"We'll try not to let their speed determine how we play our defense," Brown said. "If we try to play back in coverage and get worried about getting beat deep, big plays could happen elsewhere.
"Obviously they're better than any team we've played in the past. We'll just have to trust what our coaches tell us."
The Buckeyes' offense the past few years has made big plays seem routine, and the Falcons haven't missed the SportsCenter highlights.
"No doubt they have guys who can score at the drop of a dime," defensive end Devon Parks said. "Obviously, it is going to be a big task for our defense to try to limit their scoring opportunities."
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