Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Falcons focused on improving defense

BOWLING GREEN - The numbers put together by the defense of the Bowling Green State University football team are pretty ugly.

The Falcons are 119th in Division I FBS in total defense, allowing 511.8 yards per game. That's 119th out of 120, mind you. BG stands 116th in rushing defense (249.6 yards/game) and 105th in pass defense (262.2 yards/game).

"We're not happy with the numbers," sophomore linebacker Dwayne Woods admitted.

"But those numbers don't affect the way we practice - we always continue to play hard on a daily basis."

In defense of the Falcon defense, the early season opposition has been stacked against it. Three of BG's first five opponents are ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense: Michigan is second (565.0 yards/game), Tulsa is eighth (507.8) and Troy is 10th (479.25).

"We haven't played against teams that make it conducive to your defense being the top 10," BG coach Dave Clawson said. "But at the same time we haven't played well enough; our numbers need to get better."

One of the numbers that bothered both Woods and Clawson was the Falcons' inability to stop opponents on third down. Buffalo converted 12-of-19 such chances (63.2 percent) in BG's 28-26 loss last Saturday, and on the season opponents have earned first downs on 54 percent of their third-down plays.

"Our inability to get off the field on third down just killed us last Saturday," Clawson said. "Buffalo converted 12-of-19 third downs, and because of that the time of possession was almost two-to-one, and because of [the third down conversions] they controlled field position."

One number that has been good for the Falcon defense has been the turnovers created. BG has picked off 11 passes and recovered six fumbles; what's more, three of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns, while many of the other turnovers have resulted in scores by the offense.

"Certainly our ability to create turnovers has been a real positive this year," Clawson said. "We're through five games, and we're getting close to our take-away total from last year [19].

"But there's obviously so many things we've still got to get cleaned up from a defensive standpoint."

Clawson said there's one thing he has seen consistently from his defense: effort.

"There's not one guy on our defense or our coaching staff who is thrilled with where our defensive numbers are, and I'd be disappointed if they were," he said. "But when I turn the film on, our guys are giving tremendous effort. There are so many good young players for us, I'm very excited about it.

"I think Dwayne Woods is becoming one of the best linebackers in the entire conference. I think Chris Jones, a sophomore defensive lineman, is going to be a great tackle, and freshman Jairus Campbell is playing extremely well. Cameron Truss, the last two weeks, has played very well at cornerback."

QB UPDATE: Starting quarterback Matt Schilz remains questionable for Saturday's game against Ohio.

"He practiced [Tuesday] - not the whole practice," Clawson said of Schilz.

"He did that a week ago and didn't feel as good on Wednesday, so we're holding our breath right now.

"It's going to be a game-time decision based on how he feels. I'm optimistic, but I was optimistic last week. We hope that he can go, but we have to plan for if he can't."

KICKING CHANGE? Even though senior kicker Bryan Wright missed an extra point and a field goal Saturday, Clawson said he won't be making a change at that position.

"Bryan won the job in camp, and it wasn't really competitive," Clawson said. "You don't make a change just for the sake of making a change. You make a change because you believe the other guy can perform better and the other guy gives your team a better chance to win. Bryan is our best kicker.

"I was very comfortable, with three seconds left and the game on the line [against Buffalo], putting him in the game and having him kick that field goal.

"It was a good kick; he hit it pure. The extra point was not on him; it was blocked [by a player who got] through the 'A' gap. He did not mis-hit that kick; it was poor protection."

Contact John Wagner at:

or 419-724-6481.

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