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Published: Thursday, 10/6/2011

Falcons look to protect ball against Broncos

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
West Virginia's Keith Tandy pulls down an interception in front of BG's Kamar Jordan. BG's Matt Schilz threw three interceptions. West Virginia's Keith Tandy pulls down an interception in front of BG's Kamar Jordan. BG's Matt Schilz threw three interceptions.
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BOWLING GREEN -- In its three victories this season, the Bowling Green State University football team has turned the ball over six times and has recovered three more turnovers than it has made.

In their two losses, the Falcons have committed 10 more turnovers than they have recovered.

BG coach Dave Clawson said those numbers are no coincidence, which makes cutting down on the 16 turnovers the team has lost in its first five games a priority.

Take, for example, the three interceptions quarterback Matt Schilz threw in the Falcons' 55-10 loss at West Virginia. Clawson had no problem with the one that came on a fourth-down play, saying that's a do-or-die situation, but the other two bothered him.

"We were trying to force a play when a play wasn't there," Clawson said. "Those were bad picks -- not that there is ever a good pick. But sometimes the ball gets tipped or goes off a guy's hand or will be thrown just a hair behind and the defensive player makes a great play.

"And the fumbles, for the most part, are backs trying to make some extra yardage -- and sacrificing ball security to do it. And you can never do that."

Schilz said he and the rest of the offense will look to curb turnovers when it plays at Western Michigan on Saturday.

"I've got to be more careful with the ball this week," Schilz said. "I have to put our defense in a better position -- when West Virginia ran the ball, our defense was out there the whole game. I need to do a better job of keeping our defense off the field by getting yards and getting first downs."

Another problem Clawson said needs to be addressed was poor tackling by the defense, which was a factor in the 643 yards of total offense the Mountaineers accumulated.

"We have some guys on our defense who are pretty good tacklers," Clawson said. "But in West Virginia we didn't do a good job of coming off blocks, and that created more space. When you have to make more tackles in space against better athletes, your problems are compounded.

"In the first four games we tackled at a very high percentage. When you struggle at something, it rings truer with the players that something is important. For us, this takes more meaning when we missed as many tackles as we did a week ago."

FRIENDS OR ENEMIES? On Saturday, Clawson and Western Michigan defensive coordinator Dave Cohen will be enemies.

But the rest of the year?

"He might be one of the best friends I have in coaching," Clawson said of Cohen, who was Clawson's defensive coordinator at Fordham from 1999-2001. "There was a bunch of us that [were graduate assistants] together [at Albany in 1989], and he's a great guy. He was in my wedding; I was in his."

Clawson gave Cohen credit for helping him get the Fordham program rolling.

"He did such a great job of recruiting and a great job of running the defense, I don't know if we would have turned that program around if he wasn't there," Clawson said.

Clawson said he and Cohen have stood on opposite sidelines 11 times through the years.

"He's a guy I talk to a lot during the season, but this week the calls aren't as frequent," Clawson said.

INJURY UPDATE: The Falcons lost a pair of key defensive players during the West Virginia game.

Nose guard Ted Ouellet suffered a stinger for the second consecutive week, while rover Keith Morgan suffered a concussion. Neither will play at Western Michigan.

At yesterday's practice, running back Jordan Hopgood and wide receiver and special teams performer Steven Dunlap were not in uniform. Freshman Anthon Samuel is expected to play against WMU in Hopgood's stead, while BooBoo Gates will continue to handle kickoff returns.

Two players who have missed the past two games, cornerback Cameron Truss and offensive lineman Chip Robinson, are expected to be available to play against the Broncos.

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



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