Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Special teams' play a cause of concern

Uneven performance puts BG off game

BOWLING GREEN -- Most fans will remember that the Bowling Green State University football team missed two field goals that could have helped them upset Florida.

Those two misses were just a part of the special teams problems the Falcons suffered through in "The Swamp."

"We had a number of special teams breakdowns that I thought really hurt us," said BG coach Dave Clawson. "Two shanked punts led to 10 points, we mishandled two kickoffs that gave us field position on [our] 16- and 23-[yard line], and there was a punt that we failed to secure.

"We just didn't perform the way we needed to in a game like that."

A perfect example of the Falcons' uneven play came from All-Mid-American Conference punter Brian Schmiedebusch, who had three punts net 43 yards or more and also ran a fake punt for a crucial first down. He also had two "shanks" that traveled 16 and 10 yards that set up Florida scores.

Twice Bowling Green nearly had punts blocked, and twice BG came close to blocking Gator punts, only to miss.

"Special teams were something that I thought last season were very strong, and we have everybody back," Clawson said. "I was probably as disappointed in our special teams performance as I was in anything we did on offense or defense."

There won't be many changes on special teams Saturday when the Falcons host Idaho at Doyt Perry Stadium, but there is one notable switch as redshirt freshman Tyler Tate takes over place-kicking duties from senior Stephen Stein, who missed on field goals of 31 and 29 yards at Florida.

"Both Tate and Stein were neck-and-neck to win the job," Clawson said. "Their percentages [of makes] were very close in the fall. But part of the competition is to see how we kick in games, and this week Tyler will get a chance to see how he can do.

"We don't want to go back-and-forth on this decision. I'm not going to hit the panic button on this area."

SELFISH PENALTY: Some may view the "Gator chomp" tailback Anthon Samuel gave after scoring a game-tying touchdown in the third quarter as a fearless bit of bravado. Clawson was one of those who did not.

"There's not one ounce of me that was happy about that penalty," Clawson said. "It's selfish, and Anthon is not like that.

"I thought he was excited and caught up in the moment, but that doesn't make it OK."

Samuel scored on a 12-yard run early in the third quarter, then gave the "Gator chomp" motion before also giving the "slash" motion that usually draws an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration.

"The official indicated he was going to let the 'chomp' go out of excitement, but the 'slash' made it a no-brainer [to call the penalty]," Clawson said.

The 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff helped set up Florida on BG's 47. While that drive stalled the Gators were able to pin Bowling Green on its 2 for its next drive, and a three-and-out followed by a 10-yard punt set up the field goal that gave Florida the lead for good.

INJURY REPORT: Clawson probably was looking for wood to knock on after his team came through the Florida contest injury-free.

He said Wednesday that the Falcons didn't suffer any injuries that would knock a player out of action Saturday, and that two injured players could return.

Defensive lineman Ronnie Goble is "good to go," according to Clawson, after missing the Florida contest because of a high ankle sprain. Wide receiver Heath Jackson was upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Saturday's game despite knee problems that forced him to the sidelines against the Gators.

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

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