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HomeSportsBGSU
Published: Sunday, 9/13/2009

Pass defense steps up early for Falcons

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green' s Roger Williams tackles Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert in Saturday night's game. Bowling Green' s Roger Williams tackles Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert in Saturday night's game.
L.G. PATTERSON / AP Enlarge

COLUMBIA, Mo. - First-time starters Roger Williams and Adrien Spencer passed their first test a week ago, flying around in Bowling Green State University's defensive secondary.

But what they faced in the season-opener against Troy wasn't considered quite on par with the passing attack No. 25 Missouri has.

Tigers sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who made a stellar debut a week ago by leading Missouri to a 37-9 drubbing of Illinois, posed a stiff test for BG's pass defense. He debuted as Missouri's starting QB by completing 25-of-33 passes for 319 yards, including three TDs.

However, Williams and Spencer and the rest of the Falcons pass defense held the Tigers' attack to a pair of field goals by Grant Ressel in the first half as BG took a 13-6 edge into halftime.

Heading into the matchup with Missouri, BG coach Dave Clawson commended Williams and Spencer for strong efforts against Troy, which included an interception apiece. However, he made it clear that what happened a week ago had no significant bearing on this week's meeting with the Tigers.

"You take those guys on the road, and they're going to get their first start on the road in front of a big crowd," Clawson said. "Missouri is an excellent football team, and we can't wait a quarter. We can't wait two series to adjust. We've got to be ready to play early. "Missouri is not a team that you can spot them a 14-point lead."

CLAWSON WORKS SIDELINES: The Falcons' first-year coach started expressing himself to the officials early in the game after a couple of questionable penalty calls were made in the Tigers' favor.

The normally composed Clawson questioned a personal foul call on BG defensive end Brandon Jackson when he shoved Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert as he was scrambling out of bounds. He also expressed his opinion to the officials after Sheehan was tackled near the Falcons' sidelines. He kept talking to the officials throughout the half before the officials made it clear they had heard enough. During a media timeout in the second quarter, the officials gestured to him to move away from their huddle.

TOUGH ODDS: Based on recent Tigers history, the odds for the Falcons spoiling Missouri's home opener yesterday weren't promising.

Missouri owned an undefeated record in games following the previous four wins over Illinois (2002, 2003, 2007, 2008). They routed Ball State in 2002 (41-6) and 2003 (35-7), Mississippi in 2007 (38-25), and Southeast Missouri State in 2008 (52-3).

The Tigers opened this season with a 37-9 victory over Illinois.

HOME COOKING: Missouri's all-time home-opener record dating back 118 seasons stood at 83-31-4 (72 percent winning percentage) before last night's kickoff.

Furthermore, since the Tigers' home stadium became recognized as "The Zou" before the 2003 season, Missouri's record over the last six seasons at Memorial Stadium stood at 30-7.

The Tigers entered the game riding a nine-game home win streak against nonconference opponents dating back to the 2005 home opener.

PINKEL'S RECORD: Former University of Toledo coach Gary Pinkel went into the game owning a career record of 133-78-3, including a 60-41 mark over nine seasons at Missouri.



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