With a season littered by slow starts, coach Dave Clawson knew the Bowling Green State University football team had to do something different to prepare for Tuesday’s game at Miami.
“We had to change things up,” he said. “We switched our practice schedule a little bit. The beginning of our practice mimics our pre-game routine, and we went right into a team period so they had to play football and execute right away.”
While the result was an easy 45-3 romp over the RedHawks at Yager Stadium, Clawson wasn’t sure if the practice change was the reason.
“Who knows [if it worked]?” he admitted. “We had to do something different. We got off to a fast start, so we’ll do it again next week.”
The Bowling Green defense limited Miami to just 228 yards of total offense, including just 97 yards rushing, despite a game plan Clawson called “vanilla.”
“We didn’t do a lot of scheming against them,” he said. “We wanted to keep the ball in front of us, and we didn’t want to give up big plays.
“We weren’t quite sure what they would do and who we were going to do it with. The plan was to make them sustain drives, and in some cases I think they stopped themselves.”
The RedHawks collected 85 of those yards in the first quarter as they converted four-of-six third-down plays.
“On first and second downs, we were getting them where we needed them to be,” BG safety BooBoo Gates said. “But on third down we weren’t getting off the field.
“Their receivers were making catches and we weren’t capitalizing on our blitzes. When the blitzes started hitting home and we were getting better coverage, that’s when we got off the field.”
The Falcons also recovered three fumbles, with Gates returning one for a touchdown and the other two setting up scoring drives.
“When [the defense] is able to generate turnovers and give us a short field, and we are able to capitalize on it, that’s huge for us,” quarterback Matt Johnson said. “Hopefully we can generate a little rhythm and get some momentum from that.”
The BG offense scored on its first four possessions of the first half, then added 21 third-quarter points to pull away. The starters, who were off the field by the time the third period ended, rolled to 417 yards of total offense, including 165 yards rushing.
“We came into the game knowing they didn’t ‘stack the box’ a lot, so we prepared heavily for the running game,” said running back Travis Greene, who finished with 112 rushing yards. “It felt good to get off to a fast start – it put us in a comfortable spot in the game.”
Perhaps the most impressive statistic for the BG offensive starters is that the Falcons ran 57 plays in the first three quarters, and 27 of them (better than 47 percent) resulted in first downs.
“I thought we were extremely efficient,” Clawson said. “Until our back-ups were in, we never punted. With the exception of the interception, we drove the ball and on every drive we got points.”