BOWLING GREEN — The formula the Bowling Green State University football team has used to win its last five games has been pretty simple.
The Falcons play great defense, then get enough contributions from the offense and special teams to claim the victory.
The defense has more than held up its side in that bargain. BG’s defense ranks among the FBS leaders in scoring defense (ninth) and total defense (eighth) as the team prepares for Wednesday’s game at Ohio, which kicks off at 8 p.m.
The offense? Well … it has been good enough to win the last five games.
There have been good moments, such as the 472 yards of total offense at Akron, and the 486 yards the following week against Miami. But the last two weeks BG has sputtered, gaining just 282 yards against winless Massachusetts and finishing with just 356 yards against Eastern Michigan.
BG coach Dave Clawson said he uses more than the point total and yardage total to evaluate his offense.
“I love that we held the ball for almost 35 minutes [against Eastern Michigan],” he said. “I love that, with 9 minutes, 10 seconds left in that game, our offense kept the ball for the rest of the game.
“I love that we’re running the ball so well. … Right now we’re just not throwing the ball as efficiently as we need to.”
Two years ago the Falcons had the worst rushing offense in FBS football, but those times are a distant memory as BG averages 169.67 yards per game. In particular the passing offense has struggled, ranking 105th out of 120 schools in pass efficiency (113.90) and 82nd nationally in passing yardage with 213.78 yards per game.
“[The struggles in the passing game] are partly my fault,” BG quarterback Matt Schilz admitted. “Our offensive line has done a good job in pass protection, but they have to be better.
“I have to make the right reads and throw the ball better, and our receivers have to run the right routes and make plays.”
Schilz has completed 165 of 287 passes this season for 1,752 yards and nine touchdowns. That 57.5 percent mark in completions is a step backward from last season’s 59.5 percent, and his 194.7 passing yards per game is short of last year’s 252.0 yards per game mark.
“I have a very high standard that I want to play at,” Schilz said. “I’m meeting with the receivers more and throwing with them more.
“I put it on me. I understand that responsibility, and I’m working to be better.”
The responsibility for the struggles in the passing game does not fall exclusively on the shoulders of the quarterback because spotting blocking, a poorly run route or a dropped ball all can sidetrack an offense. Schilz said his confidence in himself and his offense at this point in the season remains high.
“You have to be mentally tough to play quarterback,” he said. “You can’t let anything affect you — what people think or say.
“You just have to play the next play, keep grinding and keep getting better.”
INJURY UPDATE: The extra days the Falcons have had to prepare for Wednesday’s game have helped the team get healthy.
Running backs Anthon Samuel and Andre Givens are expected to be available for the contest against the Bobcats after missing all or part of the Eastern Michigan game Oct. 27.
Both wore yellow “do not hit” jerseys for Monday’s practice but took part in drills.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.