The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
BOWLING GREEN – Film study after a victory generally is a pleasant experience, especially for teams on a four-game winning streak.
That wasn’t the case for the Bowling Green State University football team Sunday as it suffered through a showing of all 17 penalties that were called in its 24-0 victory at Massachusetts one day earlier.
Two of those penalties were declined, but the 15 that were called cost the Falcons 130 yards. What’s more, it made the victory over the winless Minutemen a lot more stressful than it needed to be.
“I was very disappointed in the number of penalties we had,” BG coach Dave Clawson said. “Over the first three years, we’ve been one of the least-penalized teams in the league.
“In a lot of cases [the cause] is a lack of discipline, and at some point [the penalties] will really hurt us.”
Through eight games the Falcons have been called for an average of 66.9 yards per game in penalties. In the Mid-American Conference only Toledo, which has been flagged for an average of 68.0 yards in penalties per game, has had more.
“Some times things just happen,” Clawson said. “Say a guy tries to make a tackle, and he accidentally grabs a facemask. But the ones that bother me are the offensive [illegal] procedures and the defensive offsides.
Through its first eight games the BG offense has been penalized 34 times. It has been called for a false start 20 times, with freshman guard Alex Huettel flagged at least seven times, and drawn 10 holding penalties, with freshman tackle Fahn Cooper and junior wide receiver Shaun Joplin caught three times each.
“The solution is to keep emphasizing and keep drilling,” Clawson said. “I would say that over half of those penalties are from the freshman, so you hope by game eight or game nine they aren’t freshmen [in terms of experience].”
The BG defense, which had drawn just 12 flags in its first seven games, had six penalties against the Minutemen that gave the opposition 49 yards.
And the Falcons' punt return unit was flagged for an illegal block three times, costing the Falcons 84 yards in returns.
“On special teams we’re trying to get freshmen involved and take away some of the reps from guys who play on defense,” Clawson explained. “These guys are taking pride that their guy doesn’t make a play, but they’re going about it the wrong way.
“They’re not using proper technique. And at times they’re blocking a guy in the back who is not even in position to make a play.
“There’s a fine line between playing hard and playing smart, and we have some guys who are not playing smart in those situations.”
THREE AND OUT: The Bowling Green defense was especially tough on third downs at UMass, allowing the Minutemen to convert just one of their 16 third-down plays into a first down.
Clawson said a major reason for his team’s success on third downs was that it had a lot of success on first and second down, too.
“We forced a lot of third-and-longs, and when you get a team to third-and-long, that’s a difficult down to convert,” he said. “Our kids up front are doing a good job rushing the passer, and that allows us to leave seven and at times eight in coverage.
“We’re getting a pass rush, we’re covering pretty well in the back end, and I don’t think we’re conceding a lot of easy throws.”
The Minutemen needed at least six yards to convert a first down on 11 of their 16 third-down plays and had only two third-down plays that were closer than four yards.
UMass tried to pass on 11 of its 16 third-down conversion attempts and completed only one pass, for no gain, while BG's Jude Adjei-Barimah picked off a pair of third-down passes.
WOODS WINS MAC HONOR: Senior linebacker Dwayne Woods was named Mid-American Conference East Division defensive player of the week.
The Cincinnati native finished with two tackles in the Falcons' win at Massachusetts Saturday. He also had a pass breakup and an interception, which he returned 48 yards for a touchdown.