OPENING THOUGHTS: Before the game the pressure was on the Falcons to dominate an inferior team. For the most part, BG did that. In general, the offense did what it was supposed to do, rolling to 30 first downs and 538 yards of total offense. For the most part the defense did what it was supposed to do, limiting Rhode Island to just six first downs and 171 yards of total offense. Special teams did get the ball rolling with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown but struggled a great deal after that. The hope for Falcons fans is that Saturday’s victory gets the confidence rolling for BG as it hits the heart of its Mid-American Conference schedule.
OFFENSE: Unlike last week, when the offense struggled to take advantage of opportunities, there weren’t many struggles against the Rams. First possession? An 81-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Second possession? A 90-yard drive that ended with in a touchdown. A bad third possession got the ball rolling for Rhode Island’s only touchdown, but the Falcons bounced back with a 65-yard drive for another TD. Also, the two-minute drill resulted in a 78-yard drive for another TD. BG posted a whopping 21 plays of 10 yards or more (or 28.8 percent of its plays) and just 14 plays that covered two yards or fewer. It’s interesting to note that three of those “negative” plays came on the drive that set up the touchdown; three came on the third-quarter drive that saw BG give up the ball on downs; and five came on the final drive, when the Falcons drove to the Rams’ 2 but failed to score. So that means there were only three other “negative” plays spread over eight drives. A few other observations: Bowling Green did a great job of controlling the ball in the second half, holding it for 10:13 (or better than two-thirds) of the third quarter and 9:10 in the fourth quarter (or better than 60 percent). Also, while BG was 4-for-9 on third down (that’s good but not exceptional), the Falcons had only three third-down plays in the first half (that’s called avoiding trouble). Finally, the Falcons didn’t turn the ball over on offense, which is a very good thing.
DEFENSE: Bowling Green was expected to dominate against a Rhode Island team that had struggled on offense this season, and the Falcons did just that. They held the Rams to just 171 yards of total offense, just six first downs and only eight points (which came after its back was against the wall following a sack and a short punt, although the defense did give up a 22-yard run on third down to set up the score). The defense limited Rhode Island to just four plays of 10 yards or more (just 7.4 percent of its plays) and forced 18 plays that covered two yards or less, including eight plays with no gain or negative yardage (14.8 percent –- twice as many as the “explosive” plays). BG forced URI into seven “short gain” plays out of 18 plays in the first quarter (38.9 percent), three of seven plays in the third period (42.9 percent) and four of 11 plays in the fourth quarter (36.4 percent). The “longest” drive for Rhode Island covered just 33 yards (that was the TD drive); the next-longest drive covered just 22 yards. Some nit-picks: The defense forced just two turnovers and got only one, and only two of the “negative” plays came in the second half. But the Falcons generally did their jobs on defense Saturday.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The BG special teams did well on their first two plays, kicking off and holding Rhode Island inside the 25 (the Rams’ first drive began on the 22) and then returning a punt 80 yards for a touchdown. From there? Not so good. Let’s break it down … Punter Brian Schmiedebusch averaged just 34.3 yards on his three kicks, and his net was just 21.7 yards per kick because of a touchback on one punt and an 18-yard return on the other. Right now Schmiedebusch simply is not the weapon he was last season. … Kickoff specialist Anthony Farinella averaged 58.4 yards per kickoff and had one touchback. But the Rams also had 163 yards on seven kickoff returns (23.3 yards per return), so BG’s net kickoff yardage was 34.9 yards per kickoff. After the first kickoff, URI started outside the 25-yard line (the yard line for touchbacks) on the next six kickoffs, which is unacceptable. … Bowling Green had two kickoff returns and netted a total of just 25 yards, including one kickoff return that saddled the offense with a start on the Falcons’ 10-yard line. … The punt-return game also was a mixed bag, with BooBoo Gates hauling back the first punt 80 yards for a touchdown but also fumbling another punt. … And the extra-point kicking saw Stephen Stein make four-of-five PATs while Tyler Tate connected on both of his kicks. Neither kicker attempted a field goal.
THE LAST WORD: I understand if doubts remain after Saturday’s performance, because BG obviously was the stronger squad. Let’s at least give the Falcons credit for doing what they were supposed to do. This week starts an important push for the Falcons if they wish to contend for the East Division title as they play at Akron, a team that has surprised the past few weeks by giving Tennessee a battle and then pushing Miami to the limit before losing. The Falcons' confidence should be up after the win, and that should help Saturday against the Zips.
WANT MORE? Here you go … First, click here to read The Blade game story from Saturday's contest and click here to read The Blade notebook, which focused on the young wide receivers and defensive line. Click here to read the in-game chat from the contest, and click here to read the BiG Look at the contest. Finally, click here to view a photo gallery from the contest.