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Published: Tuesday, 9/11/2007

Falcons confident but battered a bit

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Falcons quarterback Tyler Sheehan and the rest of his teammates can use a break after getting beat up by the Spartans. Falcons quarterback Tyler Sheehan and the rest of his teammates can use a break after getting beat up by the Spartans.
AL GOLDIS / AP Enlarge

BOWLING GREEN - Good news along with some bad has surfaced after two weeks into Bowling Green State University's football season.

The good: The Falcons have erased preseason skepticism and appear to be a team capable of competing for a Mid-American Conference East division title.

The bad: The team's athletic trainers are overworked.

BGSU's collective ego is just fine after starting the year 1-1, but the players are physically battered and bruised following games against Big Ten foes.

But there's more good news. The Falcons have this week off to rehabilitate.

"I think it's good timing after playing two Big Ten schools," receiver Marques Parks said. "We might be more banged up than if it was two MAC opponents. There are a lot of bumps and bruises and some guys with injuries. The off week is going to help us get those guys back to 100 percent."

One player BGSU will be without indefinitely is running back Eric Ransom, who injured his knee Saturday in the first half of BGSU's 28-17 loss at Michigan State. Ransom, who was sidelined much of preseason camp with a hamstring issue, will undergo an MRI test later this week.

"I don't know how bad until the MRI, but I don't think it's good," Brandon said.

Kicker Sinisa Vrvilo offered a more promising assessment of his former junior college teammate's knee.

"I talked to him a little bit and he should be OK," Vrvilo said. "He's walking, so that's a good thing."

Ransom has emerged as BG's top running back, though in the Falcons' high-octane passing game he is used primarily as a receiver and blocker.

He adds to BG's long list of receivers who have suffered injuries already this year. Corey Partridge (sprained ankle) may or may not be back against Temple in two weeks; Keston Cheathem (separated shoulder) played Saturday after missing the Minnesota game; Freddie Barnes sprained his ankle in camp but is now fine; and Calvin Wiley is out for the season with a knee injury.

"It is tough. Unfortunately that's football," said Parks, who broke his fibula two years ago. "People get hurt all the time. As much as you don't want to admit it, it is part of the game."

Offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger was also hurt Saturday but missed only one play.

"I think my team's pretty beat up right now," Brandon said.

For BGSU, its next two opponents are not very good. Temple (0-2) has been one of the nation's worst teams over the past few years (although it was against BGSU when the Owls snapped a 20-game losing streak last year) and Western Kentucky is in its first year as part of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). The Hilltoppers are 1-1, losing to Florida in week one and defeating West Virginia Tech 87-0 on Saturday.

"The minute we put the Michigan State game to rest [Sunday], the immediate talk was 'let's get Temple film' from a lot of players," Brandon said. "I don't think we have to get their attention for this one."

SEEKING IMPROVEMENT: Brandon mentioned kickoff coverage and kickoff return as his team's biggest concerns. The Falcons averaged just 19 yards per return Saturday while Michigan State averaged 29.

"Our kickoff return game is not where it needs to be," Brandon said. "We have to get better at that. We need to find a guy back there that will hulk it up. I think we have some good candidates and we'll keep pouring reps to them."

Tarell Lewis had three returns for 57 yards.

SURPRISE: BGSU's players of the game against Michigan State were Derek Brighton on offense and Adrian Baker on defense. Brighton (seven catches, 67 yards) started because Corey Partridge was hurt, and Baker, who had an interception and a pass deflection, did not start but rotated at defensive end.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com



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