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Published: Sunday, 10/7/2001

Meyer sells; Falcons buy, beat Kent State

BOWLING GREEN - All during the week as Bowling Green State University prepared for Kent State, Urban Meyer and his coaching staff earned every dollar the school is paying them this season.

Meyer understood the recovery period following the Falcons' devastating loss at Marshall could linger for a while. Beating Marshall would have put the Falcons at the top of the Mid-American Conference's East Division.

Meyer also knew that bouncing back from the Marshall loss to play Kent State in the Falcons' homecoming game would be difficult. The Golden Flashes are near the bottom of the division. Convincing the Falcons not to approach Kent State like a Pop Warner opponent was a test of all of Meyer's motivational skills.

Meyer was so fearful of losing his emotional grip on his players that he called South Carolina coach Lou Holtz - his former boss at Notre Dame - for advice. Meyer can know all of the X's and O's, but once players quit believing in a coach - or in themselves - a coach is in trouble.

BG athletic director Paul Krebs hired Meyer for exactly this kind of situation. Krebs figured Meyer could figure out a way to turn BG's program around and start winning games the Falcons had grown accustomed to losing.

I was completely impressed with Bowling Green's 24-7 win over Kent State yesterday at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. Meyer and his players handled the week with poise, maturity and confidence.

“We came back from a devastating loss. I'm proud of the effort. We came out and played determined today,” Meyer said.

BG outgained Kent 414-197. The 4-1 Falcons dominated time of possession by almost a 3-to-1 ratio. They ran 100 plays to only 45 plays for the visitors.

The Falcons' new coach is a salesman. He knows how to make the players believe football is vitally important to their lives. He can get them to buy into whatever he's selling.

BG led 17-0 but Kent State rallied to make it a 10-point game (17-7) right before intermission.

In the locker room, Meyer took his cue from his players. He didn't scream at them, because he sensed they were displeased with their effort and were waiting for him to lead them.

Meyer said BG's “most important drive of the game” was the one following the second-half kickoff. The Falcons responded by driving to the Kent State 42 before quarterback Andy Sahm threw an interception.

After stopping Kent State on downs, BG drove 65 yards in 14 plays, eating 6:59 off the clock. Backup quarterback Josh Harris threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Kurt Gerling for a 24-7 lead. It was only the fourth pass on a drive featuring several aggressive running plays as the Falcons dominated the line of scrimmage.

If you're searching for gaudy words of praise, words fail me. It was a win, though. A much-needed win for a team that has already doubled last year's win total and now faces two straight road games before returning home to face Miami of Ohio Nov. 3.

Meyer said it himself: BG's win wasn't a thing of beauty. The thing I'm starting to notice about the 37-year-old Meyer is that he coaches without ego. He's not interested in being known as the best young coach in college football. He just wants to win.

John Harris is a Blade sports columnist. E-mail him at jharris@theblade.com.



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