Florida quarterback Jacoby Brissett is tackled by BG defensive lineman Charlie Walker.
Associated Press Enlarge
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Bowling Green State University football coach Dave Clawson hoped that the kicking troubles that had haunted his team the last two seasons were a thing of the past.
Instead, Stephen Stein missed a part of short field-goal attempts that played a role in the Falcons' 27-14 loss to No. 23 Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Field Saturday.
"I was really optimistic coming into this season," Clawson said of his team's kicking. "We had a good camp -- in one scrimmage we made 7-of-7 kicks. And we have been more consistent with those kicks than we have ever been.
"But you have to take that into the game, and we didn't do that."
Stein made both of his extra-point attempts but missed field-goal tries of 31 and 29 yards.
The first miss came just before the half when the Falcons, trailing 14-7, pushed the ball to the Gators' 13. Stein's 31-yard attempt with five seconds left on the clock bounced off the right upright.
"When you get the ball down there [near the end zone], you have to get points," Clawson said. "Those are knives right to the gut when you have a nice, big drive like that with a lot of third-down conversions and you miss a chip shot.
"We had a chance to go down just four points, and instead you're down a touchdown. If we score a touchdown in the third quarter, then we have a lead. That can change the game.
"Maybe when they fall behind they throw more than they want and we 'pick' one. But we never had a chance for that to materialize."
Stein's other miss came in the third quarter, right after Florida had kicked a 34-yard field goal to take a 17-14 lead. BG drove down to the Gators' 10, but Stein's kick sailed wide right.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Falcons drove into Florida territory, and Tyler Tate began warming up on the Bowling Green sideline. Tate, a freshman, and the senior Stein had battled for the kicking job in the fall.
"If we had another field goal attempt, Tyler Tate was going to take it," Clawson said. "With those two, it's been neck and neck all camp.
"When you miss two short ones like that, we're going to give someone else a chance."
STOP THE RUN: The Falcons struggled to stop other teams from running the ball last season, allowing 203.4 yards per game.
Saturday, BG allowed Florida to gain 243 yards on 46 attempts, but that number comes with an asterisk. The Gators had 125 yards on 15 rushes in the second quarter. In the other three quarters, they managed just 95 yards on 27 attempts.
Still, that wasn't good enough for senior linebacker Dwayne Woods.
"I still feel they had too many big runs on us," Woods said. "Where we put our standards, I thought this wasn't good enough.
"You can say it's an improvement, but as a senior leader of the defense I still feel it's not good enough."
YOUTH IS SERVED: Of the 73 players who traveled with the Falcons, there were only nine seniors -- including just three fifth-year seniors. And one of those fifth-year seniors was Bart Tanski, who did not dress for the game because of injury. The breakdown also saw 20 juniors, 21 sophomores, and 23 freshmen, including eight "true" freshmen.
INJURY REPORT: Clawson said the Falcons came out of the game relatively injury-free, except for some cramping that was to be expected in the Florida heat and humidity.
Among the players who were expected to play for the Falcons but did not were wide receiver Heath Jackson and defensive lineman Ronnie Goble, both of whom have been nursing injuries.
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