BOWLING GREEN - Three extra days in between games for Bowling Green State University might heal a few bumps and bruises, but it's made the pain of losing three straight games even worse.
The Falcons haven't lost three games in a row since the 2000 season, a year before coach Gregg Brandon joined the team as offensive coordinator.
But Brandon is dealing with the setbacks in a way that has encouraged his team. Sophomore receiver Corey Partridge said his coach has stayed steady as BGSU prepares for its home game against Miami tomorrow.
"Coach has been very positive," Partridge said. "I thought he would be really upset and taking it hard on us. All the coaches have been very positive, and they've done a really good job of keeping our spirits high, keeping us excited to play football."
The defeats to Central Michigan, Temple and Akron have dropped the Falcons to 4-6, 3-3 in the Mid-American Conference. All were on the road. Other than replacing quarterback Anthony Turner in the second half against Temple, the only personnel changes during the losing streak have been because of injuries.
"I'm no different a coach when we win than when we lose," Brandon said. "Our plan has been proven, it's time-tested. When you lose, you start questioning what you're doing. That's one thing I've been stressing with our players and our coaches. We're not changing, we're not going to throw stuff out just because we've lost a couple games."
Brandon said the extra few days off will help a few of his defensive starters, linebacker Terrel White and defensive tackle Brad Williams, return to normal form after missing time with injuries. But most of the injury problems can't be solved with a spare weekend, like Freddie Barnes' sprained ankle, for example.
Falcons players believe they can overcome the inconsistency and injuries popping up over the past month.
"I think we're doing a good job of fighting through it," center Kory Lichtensteiger said. "There hasn't been a lot of negativity. A good thing that I see right now is that nobody's pointing fingers at each other."
Brandon sees the slide as a lesson for the 27 true or redshirt freshmen who have played, 12 of whom have started.
"Until it becomes important enough to us again, that's when we'll win again," Brandon said. "That's what the younger players, so many of them we're counting on, need to understand, that losing is not acceptable. [They say] 'Oh, OK, we'll win next week.' It doesn't work that way. We've just got to keep pounding into their heads what it takes to win."
With wins against Miami (1-9) and the University of Toledo (4-6) in the final two games of the year, the Falcons can avoid a losing season, something they haven't had since 2000.
"I've never been on a losing football team, and I don't plan to start now," Partridge said.