Here are a few thoughts about Bowling Green's 2012 Spring Football Game, which was played Friday at Doyt Perry Stadium ...
- I think the format of the game is an important point to consider when analyzing the play of the team. By that I mean that when you mix the team up, the level of play is affected because you have people that may not work together a lot. I think that is especially true in three areas: offensive line play, the connection between quarterbacks and receivers, and special teams coverage.
- Offensive line play isn't just an analysis of how each player performs, it's also analysis of how the group works together. When the defensive line uses stunts and twists, the linemen have to count on teammates making proper reads and picking up loose pass-rushers.
- That's a long preview to set up this thought: I thought the offensive line played relatively well, especially when considered against the line play a year ago. Yes, there were seven sacks, but five were against one line (White). I thought the Orange line, which was going against Chris Jones and Ronnie Goble, among others, performed reasonably well. I thought the best testament to that was the final drive, when the Orange needed to grind out first downs against a defense that knew it was going to run the ball ... and the Orange got the job done.
- Still not convinced that the offensive line was OK? Then let's compare the negative numbers from this year's game to last year's contest, where it was obvious that the defensive line dominated. In 2012 there were nine rushes that gained zero yards or a loss; in 2011 there were nine rushes that gained zero yards or a loss IN THE FIRST HALF and 18 such runs for the game. There were seven quarterback sacks in 2011, and there were seven quarterback sacks IN THE FIRST HALF in 2011, which saw 11 sacks for the game.
- Something else to consider: since it's the Spring Game, the team is running a "base" offense and "base" defense. If you notice, there wasn't a great deal of shifting before offensive plays. I may be wrong, but I think the offense is hindered more by that "base" level of play. I think the defense still can go out and make individual plays in a "base" defense, and the offense has to count on either a mistake or an exceptional individual effort to make a big play while running a "base" offense.
- Back to one of my early comments about how a Spring Game affects quarterbacks working with receivers they may not have thrown to much during practices leading up to the game. I believe that to be true, but even so I thought the Falcons' wide receivers had a disappointing effort Friday. I thought there were moments when some receivers stepped up, but I also thought there were moments when the same receivers fell back. I think the onus is on this group of players to step forward if the Falcons want to return to a bowl game in 2012.
- Don't know how much credit the defensive backs should get for the struggles of the wide receivers, but they deserve some. If the defensive backs continue to improve as much as they have this spring, they have a chance to be a force in 2012. And with all the returning talent on the defensive line and at linebacker, well, that would make the BG defense a force in the conference if they did.
- At the risk of suffering from "spring fever" -- a coach I knew once said that "spring fever" is the habit of some people who watch spring practice to turn players into future superstars -- I thought Ryan Burbrink is a player who can help the Falcons at wide receiver. His seven catches for 46 yards mark him as a potential possession receiver, in the future if not now, although I would guess some of his success was because he worked a lot this spring with QB Matt Johnson. Still, he seems to be a tough player who can hang onto the ball, and there's always a use for receivers who can do those things.
- "Spring fever" part two ... I thought Deejay White was a nice switch from wide receiver to running back, and I hope it continues when fall drills start. I thought White did a nice job of accelerating through holes and running north-south instead of east-west. I like running backs who aren't afraid to "run tough" between the tackles.
- I am surprised there hasn't been much complaining about the penalties. The game basically was decided by a personal foul call, and it came AFTER the fourth-down play. And I'm not complaining that the call was right or wrong -- I'm complaining that a disciplined team can't put itself in that position. If Bowling Green wants to complete for a Mid-American Conference title and a bowl bid, penalties like that just CANNOT happen. The White was whistled for six penalties that cost them 52 yards, and the Orange was pushed back 30 yards on four penalties. That ain't gonna cut it.
- "Spring fever" part three ... Defensive lineman Taylor Royster finished with six tackles for the White and had several sacks during scrimmages earlier in the spring. Not bad for a converted running back who is a walk-on from Lima Central Catholic High School.
Click here to take a BiG Look at the Spring Game. Click here to read the Saturday game story from the spring game. And click on the "comments" link below if you have questions and/or comments about the Spring Game.