Here are a few notes and quotes from Wednesday's practice and coach Dave Clawson's weekly press conference ...
- First, an injury update -- which continues to be full of good news. Coach Dave Clawson said the Falcons did not lose any players to injury in the Idaho contest.
Outside of DL Hunter Maynard, who is out for the season, and WR Bart Tanski, who no longer is wearing a sling but still is rehabbing a broken collarbone, BG does not have anyone missing from the two-deep. What's more, WR Heath Jackson, who missed the first two games with knee problems, has been cleared to play against the Rockets.
- Second, the Falcons had a visitor at today's practice. The visitor was Paul Miles, a Bowling Green Hall of Famer.
For those who don't remember Miles, he starred at running back for the Falcons from 1971-73. By the time he graduated, he was the school's all-time rushing leader with 3,239 yards, a mark surpassed only by Dave Preston.
I'll have more from Miles, who now is a well-regarded musician, later in the week (hopefully Sunday).
- As you can imagine, there was a fair amount of "ramp-up" for the Falcons' contest against their arch-rivals. "When you play your rivals, there's always a little more pep in your step," Clawson said. "You don't need to do much to motivate the players to get ready for practice."
When asked if the game is pivotal, Clawson said, "I think you could play this game in July, two months before the season begins, and it would be pivotal. Our players know the importance of this game -- they learn about it in the recruiting process. They certainly learn about it the second they get here. The fact that it's the MAC opener makes it more critical."
When asked about why the rivalry is so strong, Clawson said, "I think it's the geography of it. You have two schools in the same conference that are 20-25 minutes apart. And we fight over everything: We're in the same media market, we fight over the same recruits -- there's very little that we do that doesn't cross over with them competitively."
When asked what the rivalry meant to him," DT Chris Jones said, "This being my fourth year here, I like how coach [Clawson] said we are very educated on this rivalry. I know the emotion involved in this game. Emotionally, this goes to another level.
"The intensity [starts] with practice the whole week. You hear about what Toledo has done, and how they beat us the last two years, and it's running inside of us. When you get to Saturday, and you get to go head-to-head against them ...
"The best thing is that you know each team is going to give its best effort. Both teams go harder and harder trying to beat the other team."
- I asked coach Clawson about the departure of former BG assistant Stan Watson to join the staff at UT, and how that affects both how the two teams will be coached and how it affects the rivalry.
"[Stan Watson and Toledo head coach Matt Campbell] had played football together in college and are best friends," Clawson said. "I said jokingly in a staff meeting shortly after Matt was hired as head coach there that Stan would be up there in a few weeks, and he was. I think we almost anticipated it ... those two have a long-standing friendship, and Matt was the reason Stan was here. It wasn't a shock. Plus [Watson] went from an assistant's position here to a coordinator's position there, so it was a good move for him professionally.
"There's certain things he knows about us, but there are certain things we know about the way he coaches. I don't think it's a huge advantage either way."
- Even though Toledo used Terrence Owens as its quarterback at Wyoming, both Clawson and defensive tackle Chris Jones said you have to prepare for both QBs.
"Austin Dantin started the Arizona game, and he is a very good player, too," Clawson said. "They're going to play the hot hand, and certainly when Owens came into the game their offense picked up. And that carried over to the Wyoming game, where he was hot from the start and played very well: He was very accurate, and he threw the ball down the field very well, he made plays with his feet.
"I remember the '09 game when Dantin played here as a true freshman, and played well with a lot of courage -- and nearly brought them back. He's made plays too. He's a good athlete who throws the ball well. Who plays is a decision their staff has to make, but we have to prepare for both because they are certainly capable of playing both. Both of those quarterbacks are capable of moving their offense."
Jones confirmed that the Falcons are preparing for both, adding, "I'm not sure we do anything special [to prepare for them]. They have a two-quarterback system, and they're both very good players who are athletic."
- Senior Chris Jones is one of the few Falcons who has tasted victory against Toledo, which has won the past two meetings. “The joy that I felt after that game was incomparable to any other game,” he said. “I knew what it meant to those seniors, and I know what it’s going to mean to me this Saturday.”
And how did that compare to the last two seasons? "It's disappointing when you lose a football game, especially when it's a rivalry game," Jones said. "Being to geographically close, you hear about it from a lot of people and it starts ringing in your head."