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Published: Thursday, 9/29/2011

Young DBs step up for BG

Sophomore Foster is oldest among crew

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Foster Foster
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BOWLING GREEN — Believe it or not, safety Aaron Foster is the veteran of the secondary for the Bowling Green State University football team.

Of course, “veteran” is a relative term. Foster, the Falcons’ “whip” safety, is a sophomore in just his second year in the program.

But when the rest of the starting secondary has two redshirt freshmen and one true freshman, as the Falcons did in last Saturday’s win at Miami, that makes a sophomore into a veteran.

And the veteran of the BG secondary was impressed but not surprised by the play of his freshmen teammates as the Falcons allowed just 265 yards passing in knocking off the RedHawks 37-23.

“They had great springs, and that carried over to the fall,” Foster said of redshirt freshman DeVon McKoy and Ryland Ward and true freshman Darrell Hunter. “I’m just trying to set a tone for them, because I know they have energy. They want to prove what we can do as much as I do.

“This year it’s easier for me to learn the whole defense, bark out signals to the guys, and make sure everybody is right. I take it upon myself to lead the guys, to be the leader.”

Last season Foster played in 12 games in his first year on campus, starting three times and making 25 tackles.

“I think they’ve come along a lot better than I did,” Foster said of this year’s freshmen. “I got thrown into the fire, and I didn’t know what I was doing — I was just running around.

“They had a year to get stronger, and they know what they’re doing.”

Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson was happy with the play of his secondary, especially Hunter in his first college start.

“For a true freshman playing in his first game, I thought he played awesome,” Clawson said. “Did he do everything perfectly? No. But he did not back down, he tackled, he covered, and he was aggressive.

“He did not have that ‘deer in the headlights’ look.”

The Falcons’ young secondary will receive its toughest test this season at West Virginia, which last week set a school record by throwing for 463 against nationally ranked LSU.

How will the Baby Birds deal with this challenge?

“We need to remember that it’s just football,” Foster said. “Sure we’re young, but when it’s all said and done it’s still football.

“We’ll walk out there confidently until somebody proves us wrong.”

INJURY REPORT: Clawson said the status of three injured Falcons — offensive lineman Chip Robinson, cornerback Cameron Truss, and running back Anthon Samuel — would be a game-time decision Saturday.

Robinson did not practice Wednesday, while Truss and Samuel were in pads.

“We hope those guys can go,” Clawson said. “But if by playing them we jeopardize the season, or if by playing them they are reinjured and we won’t get them back to the level we need them, we’re not going to play them.”

CROWD NOISE: The Falcons play music loudly during practices at Doyt Perry Stadium to simulate crowd noise.

In practice this week the players are hearing a lot of John Denver’s ode to West Virginia, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

BG CONNECTION: While former Falcon coach Don Nehlen no longer leads the Mountaineers, there are several Nehlen ties in the program.

Nehlen’s son, Dan, is the equipment manager at West Virginia, and his grandson, Dan’s son, Ryan, is a walk-on wide receiver for the Mountaineers.

Don Nehlen served as head coach at Bowling Green from 1968-76 and was 53-35-4 with the Falcons. He spent 21 years (1980-2000) as the head coach at West Virginia and is the school’s all-time wins leader with 149, more than double the 60 wins by the coach in second place, Rich Rodriguez.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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