Matt Johnson jolted BG’s offense with 1,000 yards passing and four scores.
BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University football team is one-third of the way through the season, and there’s much to like about the Falcons so far.
Coach Dave Clawson said one pleasant aspect of the Falcons’ 3-1 start is an improved passing game, which will test Akron at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Doyt Perry Stadium.
“We’ve had two games in which we threw the ball better than at any time last year,” he said. “I think there’s a lot more continuity and consistency in our passing game than a year ago.”
Much of the credit goes to sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson, who has completed 74 of 114 passes (64.9 percent) for 1,000 yards and four touchdowns.
Another area that drew praise is special teams. BG has a punt return and a punt block for a TD, and the punt and kickoff coverage units have been solid.
“Last year was a little bit of a disappointment special teams-wise, but I think we’re starting to get that edge back,” Clawson said. “I think our coverage units are better, and I feel better about our return units.”
When asked about areas of concern, Clawson said he would like to see his defense generate a better pass rush.
“We had a pretty good player a year ago [in Chris Jones] where we could get a four-man pass rush, we could get a three-man pass rush — we could have gotten a one-man pass rush,” he said. “We’re not getting enough of a pass rush when teams drop back to throw the ball, and we’re not disrupting enough balls, and we still don’t have an interception.”
While he joked that the Falcons probably lead FBS schools in one-yard touchdowns — BG has seven in four games — Clawson said he would like more “explosive” plays for scores.
“Every now and then it would be nice to have a 45-yard touchdown, or have a drive where you don’t have to make two or three first downs [to score],” he said. “It’s good that we’re able to sustain drives and convert third downs, but I’d like to see us get more big plays for touchdowns.”
NO WORRIES: Tyler Tate missed his first extra-point attempt against Murray State, and he missed a pair of field-goal tries in the loss at Indiana.
But Clawson said he is not worried about Tate or the BG kicking game.
“You want your kicker to make every kick, so every time you miss one, you’re concerned,” Clawson said. “I was a little worried after he missed the first extra point, but the next six he put right down the middle and didn’t mishit any of them.”
INJURY REPORT: The Falcons may get junior All-MAC rover Gabe Martin back for Saturday’s game against the Zips. Clawson said Martin is probable for the game.
Two seniors, safety Josh Pettus and defensive tackle Ted Ouellet, are listed as doubtful, while freshman running back Fred Coppet is questionable as he attempts to come back from a hip injury suffered at Indiana.
Diontre Delk is out for the season, while fellow cornerback Darrell Hunter will sit out Saturday’s game. Clawson said Hunter’s season status may be determined by next week.
GAME BALL: After Wednesday’s practice, Johnson gave the game ball from the Murray State win to Sam Smolenski, a student photographer for the BG athletic department.
Near the end of the first half, Smolenski was knocked down on a play on the BG sideline near the end zone. A Murray State player hit Johnson late out of bounds, and Johnson collided with Smolenski.
Smolenski, a Toledo native, was taken from the field on a stretcher. She was treated and released at Wood County Hospital.