Here's an update on the Falcons as they begin this week's preparations for their contest Saturday at Akron ...
- There are a few changes to the two-deep for the Falcons, and they all reflect back on the same position. And that position is the slot wide receiver position, where injuries forced the Falcons to use Jermal Hosley, a true freshman, at wide receiver.
The Falcons were caught short at the slot because both Heath Jackson and Ryan Burbrink were not in uniform for Saturday's contest against Rhode Island. For this week's game the slot is an "or" position, with Hosley, Jackson and Burbrink all potential options.
The other position that was affected by the Burbrink/Jackson injuries was punt return. On this week's two-deep the punt return starter also is an "or" between Burbrink and BooBoo Gates, who returned one punt 80 yards for a touchdown but then fumbled a different punt.
"It's hit or miss [with Gates]," coach Dave Clawson admitted. "That one return [for a touchdown] I don't think those other guys could make, but those other guys have been more consistent at catching the ball. ... Ryan Burbrink, if he's healthy, will probably be our starting punt returner, just because he is so reliable catching it. But watching BooBoo [return the punt for a TD], that's exciting and it takes a lot of pressure off the offense. Maybe we'll have Burbrink catch it and lateral it to BooBoo."
- There won't be changes at the punt position, but Clawson remains unhappy with its performance. The Falcons have a "net" punting average (the net yardage of the punt after a return or touchback) of 32.58 yards per kick, which ranks 113th nationally (out of 120 schools) and 11th in the 13-team MAC. Last season BG finished fifth nationally and first in the MAC with 40.56 net yards per punt.
"Our punt team is not operating at the level it was a year ago," Clawson said. "When you have everybody back you expect it to get better, not worse. I don't think we're covering kickoffs as well, and I think that's an area we have to shore up."
- When Clawson was asked about the Akron game, he made the point that it's a big game for two teams that haven't met since 2009. "We're very aware that this is a conference game," Clawson said. "Both teams have one conference loss, and we really can't afford a second. We have to go on the road, which is difficult in this league, and play a team that is greatly improved and is playing extremely hard."
- Clawson praised the development of senior running back John Pettigrew, who is fighting for time at running back. "You have to love what he has done," Clawson said of Pettigrew. "He was a freshman who played a little bit, and then didn't play as much as he would have liked as a sophomore and junior.
A lot of times players in that situation stop trying or give up or don't think what they do matters, and he just turned on the gas. He put the pedal down and outworked people. Right now he is a very, very important part of what we're doing, not only on offense but on special teams. And he's an important leader in the running back group. If you would have told me two years ago that would happen, I would have told you that you were crazy. He has become a really, really good football player and good leader for our program. He is invaluable for us right now."
- Back to the two-deep for a moment: The starters at the PAT/FG position remain an "or" between Stephen Stein and Tyler Tate. Clawson said in the post-game press conference Saturday that Stein holds a slight advantage over Tate at this time.
- I have put together a short feature on Anthon Samuel for Tuesday's paper, but I have a note on Samuel that I thought was interesting. Samuel has played in 14 games for Bowling Green in his career, and he already has seven games with 100 yards rusher or more. Reaching the 100-yard mark in 50 percent of your games is pretty impressive.
Samuel has 1,221 yards in his career and is tied with Dave Windatt for 25th on the all-time list. Windatt played at BG from 1977-80.