Clay Rolf hoists Bowling Green State University running back Travis Greene after Greene scored a fourth-quarter touchdown against Akron last Saturday. Rolf entered the game in the second quarter after an injury to teammate Jacob Bennett.
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BOWLING GREEN — Clay Rolf saw teammate Jacob Bennett hit the turf Saturday at Doyt Perry Stadium late in the first half of the Bowling Green State University football team’s game against Akron.
And Rolf knew he might be entering as Bennett’s replacement as the Falcons’ left tackle.
“He’s a tough man — he’s not going to go down for something minor,” Rolf said. “So I knew once he went down and wasn’t getting up that I might be going in soon.”
The junior from Eastwood High School more than held his own as Bennett’s replacement at offensive tackle, drawing praise from coach Dave Clawson for his role in BG’s 31-14 victory against the Zips.
“He pass [protected] well — on the touchdown to Travis Greene on the screen, he really made the key block,” Clawson said. “He stepped up when we needed him.
“That’s the key to having a good season: When somebody goes down, the next guy has to be ready. And Clay was more than adequate. He really played well.”
While Rolf has played in all five games this season, Saturday’s game against the Zips represented his first minutes on the offensive line with the contest still in the balance.
But Rolf, who switched from tight end to tackle this year, said it isn’t hard for him to prepare for games without knowing if he will be needed.
“I prepare as if I’m going to start. I prepare as if I’m going to play,” he said. “Once I get the opportunity, I have to know what’s going on.
“I take the mindset that I’m going to play, I’m going to start, and I’m going to get a lot of reps. That way, when the time comes on Saturday, I’m ready to go.”
STEPPING UP: Clawson said the play of sophomore Matt Johnson at quarterback is one reason the Falcons are averaging 487.4 yards and 32.8 points per game.
But Clawson said the switch at quarterback isn’t the only reason.
“We have all these wideouts who played last year — I think Shaun Joplin is better, Chris Gallon is better, and Ryan Burbrink is better,” Clawson said. “Ronnie Moore has given us a speed dimension we haven’t had.
“The tight ends, Alex Bayer and Tyler Beck, I think are both better. I think our offensive line is better. And at running back, Travis Greene has made people miss. Travis has given us some big, dynamic plays.
“But we are better around the quarterback. I don’t want to take away from what Matt Johnson has done, because he has played really well. But it’s not just him. We’re more physical up front, we are executing better, and we are better at a lot of positions.”
INJURY REPORT: The Falcons seem to be getting closer to returning to full strength.
Bennett, for example, has practiced all week and is probable for Saturday’s game against Massachusetts. Johnson, who had his hand stepped against Akron, also has participated in practice this week and is expected to start against the Minutemen.
Senior safety Josh Pettus, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury, is doubtful for Saturday, while senior defensive tackle Ted Ouellet, who did not play against the Zips, is questionable.
The Falcons also expect to get freshman running back Fred Coppet back for UMass. Coppet has not played since suffering a hip injury at Indiana.
And sophomore cornerback Darrell Hunter has officially been lost for the season. Hunter, who has not played because of a wrist injury suffered during fall drills, will redshirt this year.
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