Jamel Martin slashes through the defense in Thursday night's scrimmage at BG's Perry Stadium.
BOWLING GREEN -- If the Bowling Green State University football team's coming season is half as exciting as Thursday night's scrimmage was, well, 2011 is going to be a wild ride.
The Falcons' second scrimmage of fall camp featured nearly every play imaginable: long touchdown passes, interceptions, fumble recoveries, blocked punts, safeties, you name it.
The BG offense had two turnovers, one of which the defense turned into a TD. But the defense also struggled, allowing a 67-yard scoring pass from Matt Schilz to Adrian Hodges on the first play from scrimmage.
Thursday's effort, which was shortened by a hard rain that drove the team off the Perry Stadium turf prematurely, came in sharp contrast to the first scrimmage one week earlier, which was much cleaner.
But Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said there was a reason for the uneven performance Thursday night.
"As a coach, you prefer the first [scrimmage], where it's cleaner football," he admitted. "But in the first scrimmage we didn't have the whole offense in and we didn't have the whole defense in. When you get everything in, this sometimes happens.
"This gives us a great opportunity to fix problems. We weren't as clean as we were a week ago, but we had a limited menu in then. Now that everything's in, there is a lot of great teaching tape."
After that initial score, the defense generally had the better of play. That unit nearly produced a touchdown when freshman defensive back Brian Sutton intercepted a tipped pass and wasn't tackled until he got inside the 5-yard line.
Midway through the first half, junior defensive tackle Chris Jones picked up a fumble and rumbled 51 yards for a score.
"That's a defensive lineman's dream, to be able to pick up a fumble and take it to the house," Jones said. "[As a unit] we're trying to crack down on allowing so many big plays. When they happen, we need to rally back and not let that get us down.
"We started out sluggish, but I thought we picked it up and were playing pretty well at the end."
The defense also got an interception late in the first half when redshirt freshman safety Jude Adjei-Barimah stripped a ball while tackling a receiver.
"We generated turnovers on defense, and I thought overall the defense got the better of the scrimmage," Clawson said. "At times we missed some tackles on the perimeter, and that was disconcerting.
"Offensively, at times we looked sharp and at times we looked sloppy. We dropped a couple of a passes, and we gave up two safeties, and we need to be more consistent than that.
"And the turnovers were disappointing."
The two safeties do come with an asterisk: they came during a part of the scrimmage when the offense was starting drives on its own 1-yard line.
"You're not putting the offense in a position to succeed, but that's football," Clawson said. "There's going to be times where the other team downs the ball on the 1-yard line, and you have to pound it out."
Sophomore kicker Kyle Burkhardt, a Central Catholic grad, connected on field goals of 31, 37, and 43 yards and was impressive.
"Kyle looked great," Clawson said. "He was hitting it pure: It looked as if he was out at the driving range and in a groove.
"That was great to see. We haven't had that in my two years here. We just need to carry that over into the games."
Burkhardt knows he still is in a battle with junior Stephen Stein for the field-goal and PAT kicking.
Quarterback Matt Schilz throws a pass during the Falcons' second scrimmage. Schilz connected with Adrian Hodges for a 67-yard TD on the first play of the night.
"I think it's been a good camp between me and Stein. We've both been making kicks, and we've been really consistent.
"My goal is to be the starter this year, It's like any position: It's a battle, and you have to earn your spot."
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.
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