Here's an update on the Falcons as they begin this week's preparations for their contest Saturday at home against Miami ...
- There are a few changes to the two-deep for the Falcons, and they are focused on two position. The first position is the slot wide receiver spot, where redshirt freshman Ryan Burbrink is listed as the starter and Jermal Hosley, a true freshman, is now the back-up.
That reflects a change from the previous week, where three players all were listed as "or" starters. The third potential starter besides Burbrink and Hosley, Heath Jackson, has been removed from the two-deep, and is not expected to play against the RedHawks. Jackson has been slowed by knee issues this season.
The second position that has seen changes is the defensive line, where several back-ups and one starter have changed. Nose tackle Ted Ouellet now will be backed by redshirt freshman Taylor Royster, who replaces true freshman Mike Minns. Defensive tackle Chris Jones now will be backed by sophomore Zach Colvin, who moves from a starting end position to replace Royster behind Jones.
Redshirt sophomore Bryan Thomas replaces Colvin as the starter at one end position, while redshirt freshman Bryan Baird is the back-up to Thomas. The other end position remains Charlie Walker as the starter and Ronnie Goble as the back-up.
It's worth noting that Thomas, Jones, Ouellet and Walker were the starters against Akron, while Royster, Goble and Colvin also played on the line along with transplanted tight end Kendall Montgomery.
- There also are a few things to watch on the special teams depth chart. One is the place-kicking situation, which still lists Stephen Stein "or" Tyler Tate as the starter. Stein did all the place-kicking against Akron.
There will need to be a change made on kickoff returns, where Jackson has been listed as the back-up to BooBoo Gates. I don't have anything official, but I would guess it would be John Pettigrew.
Speaking of Gates, he no longer is listed as an "or" at the punt returner position. Burbrink is the starter there with Gates in reserve.
Finally, the imminent return of Bart Tanski (who was in uniform at Akron but did not play) will probably make him the back-up to Alex Bayer as the holder for placement kicks.
- Akron coach Terry Bowden praised the Falcons' defense for its play Saturday, especially in the second half. "BG made some great adjustments at halftime," he said Monday. "I felt we were playing one of the better defenses in our league, especially their front seven. They pushed us around inside. And Jones is about as fine a player as I've seen in a long time."
- Miami coach Don Treadwell also praised the BG defense after watching film (and remembering last season's meeting). "They have a very strong defense," Treadwell said. "They came in [to Miami] and did a tremendous job against us. I was impressed at that point. ... They have a very capable defense that at any point in time can be a dominating defense. Obviously they showed that against Akron."
- Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson talked about the play of the offensive line, especially in the second half at Akron. "They were physical, they kept people for the most part covered up," he said. "And I thought our backs did a nice job of finding seams and hitting holes. Anthon Samuel was on his way to having a really good game before he got nicked up a little bit, but John Pettigrew and Jamel Martin stepped up and played very well also. All three of those guys were productive with the football."
- Clawson said that tight end Alex Bayer has really become a very good player. "I think we knew that even when we were redshirting him. On scout team we saw he has really, really good hands and can make plays. He has done a good job of developing in our strength program, becoming a lot stronger at the point of the attack than he was a few years ago. I think he has become a very complete football player. ... He really does a nice job of finishing blocks and in pass protection. He's a complete tight end."
- I will have a story in Tuesday's Blade about the team's first-half struggles, but I asked Clawson Monday what he thought the main areas of concern were. "Coaches always say it's execution, and in this case it really was," he said. "We didn't 'fit' the run game like we were supposed to [in the first half]. There were times we outnumbered them in the box and the running back just outran us. We took really poor pursuit angles in our run fits.
To oversimplify, by "run fits" Clawson is talking about how the defense defends each "gap" on a play. If a player fills the wrong gap in the line, the gap he is supposed to fill is left open and can be exploited by a strong runner like Akron's Jawon Chisholm, who finished with exactly 100 yards on 16 carries Saturday.
"In the secondary, played well in the second half," Clawson said. "But in the first half we gave up some plays. We really had to tighten things down. In the second half our cornerbacks played better and our coverage was tighter, and that forced them to hold onto the football a little longer -- and allow our pass rush to get there.
"There were a lot of things that, going into the game, we wanted to execute -- that we did execute in the second half and didn't in the first."
- Clawson also had praise for the coaching staff for the adjustments they made at halftime. "I thought our staff did a great job of changing up the plan, because Akron came out a little different -- and in some ways a lot different -- than they had shown in their previous three or four games. Credit to their staff for catching us off-guard and playing a lot more zone than we anticipated."
- Clawson said the Falcons knew the Akron offense would make plays and get yards. "Coming into the game, we thought the keys were third-down defense and red-zone defense," Clawson said. "In those two areas, I thought our defense played well."
The Zips were 6-of-18 on third-down conversions in the contest, a 33.3 percent conversion rate that is slightly below their 37.7 percent rate coming into the game. But Akron was 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) in the first half and 1-for-7 (14.3 percent) in the second half. Big difference.
Also, Akron was 1-for-2 in the red zone. I don't think the 50 percent success rate was as important as the small number of red-zone chances. The Zips came into the game having created 25 red-zone chances this year, the third-highest total in the MAC. They had an 84 percent conversion rate, with 16 touchdowns that was tied for most in the league.