The Bowling Green football team held its first scrimmage since falls drills began on Saturday, Aug. 11. Here are a few notes, highlights and thoughts from that scrimmage.
OVERVIEW: The Falcons scrimmages for roughly two hours, focusing on a lot of "situation" drills such as "red zone," sudden change of possession, and similar situations. There also were a limited number of kickoffs, punts and extra-point/field goals attempted. The offense seemed to have the better of play overall, although there were strong points for the defense as well.
OFFENSIVE NOTES: The offense had the better of the play against the defense, but there were hiccups along the way. The good news included several long drives -- one of nine plays, one of 10 plays and one of 16 plays. The problem is that two of those three drives ended up with the offense turning the ball over on downs. The Falcons had a variety of different plays from scrimmage: Jamel Martin scored on a nifty 3-yard run; Matt Schilz threw a 4-yard TD pass to Clay Rolf; Matt Johnson threw a 34-yard scoring strike to Shaun Joplin; James Knapke threw a 3-yard touchdown toss to Jared Cohen; and Malik Stokes scored on a 3-yard TD run. The hiccups included at least five penalties -- all of the holding or offsides variety -- and several missed signals and reads, especially from the receiving corps.OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE SCRIMMAGE: There were several big plays along the way, including a 24-yard pass-and-catch play from Matt Schilz to Je'Ron Stokes and a strong 18-yard pass play (on third-and-14) from Matt Johnson to Jared Cohen. But the strongest offensive play came on first-and-10 from the defense's 34-yard line. Johnson found Shaun Joplin in single coverage down the right sideline and found him for a touchdown. Making the play even more impressive was that Joplin was interfered with on the play.
DEFENSIVE NOTES: The defense had its moments, including several sacks (with Chris Jones doing the honors) and several other tackles for loss (with Dwayne Woods making at least one of those plays). But the defense struggled to stop the run; in fact, many of the drives ended not because of a play by the defense, but because of an offensive mistakes. The defensive line did get stronger as the scrimmage went on; I think that's a function of the depth of players on the defensive line -- there are a number of guys challenging for playing time at that position. But there were a number of running plays that ended with positive yardage, and very few that ended with negative yardage.DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE SCRIMMAGE: The scrimmage ended on a positive note for the defense, as freshman defensive back Will Watson stepped in front of a pass by quarterback Malik Stokes, bobbled the ball briefly, then pulled it in and ran 28 yards for a touchdown. It was a strong effort by the Tampa native, who is pushing to get onto the field as a true freshman.
PUNTING NOTES: Punter Brian Schmiedebusch punted the ball four times (in a row) in the "first half" and four more times in the "second half." The highlight was the second punt of the first set, which he drilled; the ball was snapped from the 25, and I believe it bounced on the opponent's 16, making it a 59-yard punt. Even if I have the distance wrong, know this: it easy cleared the returner's head, because all he did was turn around and race after it. Schmiedebusch did shank one punt, but the shank came on a punt from the back of the end zone (less than 10-yard snap, compressed area, under pressure).
PLACE-KICKING NOTES: I believe freshman Tyler Tate handled the kickoffs, while Tate and senior Stephen Stein split the field goals and extra points. ... As noted in the game story, BooBoo Gates took the opening kickoff on his 3-yard line and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown. He also had another long return, and looks as if he will be a force on kickoff returns. ... The other two kickoffs in the scrimmage were near the back of the end zone. ... There was a missed extra point (by Tate, I believe, but my notes are unintelligible on this point), but Tate definitely connected on a pair of field goals. Stein did not miss an extra point.
SCRIMMAGE THOUGHTS: I thought the defense would dominate, especially because it is early in the practice schedule, but they didn't. In fact, I agree with coach Dave Clawson that the offense got the better of the scrimmage overall. ... Chris Jones is primed for a HUGE year. ... I was amazed at the depth at nearly every position. Putting together a two-deep for this roster won't be easy, and I think some Falcon football fans may be surprised at some names who aren't starters. ... There is depth at the receiver position, but at this point there is no standout like Freddie Barnes or Kamar Jorden. ... While Anthon Samuel has been strong at running back, there is terrific depth at that position as well. Bowling Green could use five different players at that position -- Samuel, Jordan Hopgood, Andre Givens, Jamel Martin and John Pettigrew -- and still have success. ... Quarterback Matt Schilz is much "bigger" than in past seasons. In fact, I've had several players remark at how the team is bigger and stronger physically as a whole. The players deserve credit for buying into the strength and conditioning program of Brandon Hourigan.
Click here to read the story from Saturday's scrimmage that appeared in The Blade on Sunday.
Click here to view the photo gallery from Saturday's scrimmage, courtesy of The Blade's Jeremy Wadsworth.