- There are extremely few changes to the two-deep for the Falcons for Saturday's game. All of the changes involve back-ups on the offensive line, and are due to the injury to back-up LT Christian Piazza, a freshman who plays behind redshirt freshman Fahn Cooper. Sophomore Darion Delaney moves from LG to LT to replace Piazza, and senior Chip Robinson slides in at LG to replace Delaney as the back up to junior Dominic Flewellyn. And redshirt freshman Spencer Cairo is listed as the back-up to junior David "Chief" Kekuewa at center.
A large part of that is because the injury report changed very little -- at least at this point in the week -- following the UMass contest. The main injury concerns coming into that contest all played. The biggest names on that list were LB Dwayne Woods, TE Alex Bayer and RB Jordan Hopgood. Even RB Anthon Samuel, who left the field and went to the lockerroom in the first half, returned and played in the second half.
Also, the two-deep continues to show senior Stephen Stein and freshman Tyler Tate as an "or" option at kicker. UMass gave the best example this season on how the job is being shared: Stein took the shorter kicks, and Tate took the "long" kick, the 42-yard field goal.
- The Mid-American Conference announced today that Dwayne Woods is the MAC East Division defensive player of the week. Click here to read more about Woods winning this honor.
- In reviewing all the impressive numbers produced by the BG defense last week, here's one I should have given more weight to: the Falcons' success on third down. UMass faced third down 16 times in the game, and converted only ONCE. That's an unbelievably strong mark.
In Monday's MAC media call, coach Dave Clawson gave much of the credit for the team's defensive success to allowing a young group of players to play and develop the past two seasons. "We've had a relatively young defense the past two years, and a lot of those guys took their lumps in 2010 and '11," Clawson said. "Now we have a bunch of guys who have played a lot of football together. We're certainly benefitting from the investment we made in '10 and '11 of playing young guys. They're all getting better together: they understand the system, where their help is, what leverage they need on blocks, where to deliver the football."
- Just finished writing tomorrow's notebook. The first note looks at the penalties in the UMass game (and for the season), and there's also a note about the defense and its success on third downs against UMass (the Minutemen were 1-for-16 on third-down conversions).
It's worth noting a couple of Mid-American Conference statistics in those areas. First the bad news: Bowling Green is the second-most penalized team in the MAC this season, averaging 66.9 yards in penalties per game. The only team with more? Toledo, which is penalized 68 yards per game. In four MAC games the Falcons have averaged 76.8 penalty yards per game, and only Buffalo (87.7 yards per game) averages more.
Now the good news: BG leads the MAC in the third-down effectiveness of its defense, allowing opponents to convert just 37 of 117 third-down attempts (or 31.6 percent). That number drops to 29 percent in MAC games, second only to Ball State.
- Clawson also was asked about the play of junior center David "Chief" Kekuewa this season. "He's a very good player -- he's very strong, and he plays with great leverage," Clawson said of Kekuewa. "And the kid loves football -- you have to kick him out of the office. We ask him sometimes if he still has a place to live because he's here [at the stadium] all the time."
Clawson said it was a stroke of luck for the Falcons to find Kekuewa at Arizona Western, and another stroke of luck brought him to BG. "We kind of stumbled upon him," Clawson admitted. "We had graduated six receivers, so we were really looking to bring in one or two junior-college receivers. There was a receiver at his junior college that we were evaluating, but our coach that was out there really liked their center [Kekuewa]. The coach liked his demeanor, his leverage. At that point we weren't really looking to take a junior-college offensive lineman, but we brought his film back and decided he was too good to just not take him.
"We thought he would give us instant depth, and maybe even compete to start. And then there was one of those wild recruiting stories: He was supposed to go to another school one weekend, but he missed his flight and I guess he couldn't reach the coaches of the school he was going to. So he asked if we could get him up there that weekend, and we made the arrangements. He came up, had a great time, and committed on the spot. We kind of tripped into that one, but I'm very glad that we did."