BiG TWITTER POST: BG defense held UMass to 118 yards of total offense & forced 4 turnovers to win 4th straight in 24-0 victory at Gillette Stadium Saturday
BiG OVERVIEW: The Falcons drew first blood thanks to good field position, getting the ball on the UMass 35 and using seven plays to score a touchdown, which came on a 16-yard pass from Matt Schilz to Shaun Joplin with 5:12 left in the first quarter. But both offenses struggled for the rest of the first half and the scored remained 7-0 at the break. In the third quarter BG mounted a seven-play, 74-yard drive that turned into a touchdown when Alex Bayer caught a 2-yard scoring strike from Schilz with 3:42 left in the period. Less than a minute later the Falcons’ Dwayne Woods intercepted a pass by the Minutemen’s Mike Wegzyn and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-0 with 2:51 still to play in the third. In the fourth quarter BG tacked on three more points by driving 34 yards on nine plays, with Tyler Tate connecting on a 42-yard field goal with 10:11 left in the contest.
BiG PLAY: The Falcons had just scored a touchdown late in the third quarter that made the score 14-0, but UMass had returned the ensuing kickoff to its 42 for its best field position of the game. On a second-down-and-eight play BG’s Dwayne Woods stepped in front of a pass by quarterback Mike Wegzyn and made the interception to stop the drive; then Woods cut through the Minutemen offense and rumbled 48 yards for a back-breaking touchdown that effective sealed the win for Bowling Green.
OFFENSIVE BiG MAN: There aren’t a lot of choices for this award after the Falcons struggled to collect just 282 yards of total offense. Let’s give the nod to sophomore running back Anthon Samuel, who carried the ball 22 times for a game-high 60 yards (yes, that was the game high). Samuel also caught five passes for 58 yards, tying for the game high in receptions and leading in receiving yards., thanks in large part to a 36-yard reception … Receiving honorable mention are junior quarterback Matt Schilz, who completed 21-of-36 passes (58.3 percent) for 188 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions; and junior wide receiver Je’Ron Stokes, who tied Samuel for the team lead with five receptions for 21 yards. The five catches are a career high for the Michigan transfer.
DEFENSIVE BiG MAN: This is a tough one because there were a number of defensive players who fared well in the victory. You may want to debate this one, but I’m going to honor senior linebacker Dwayne Woods. Woods had only two tackles in the contest, but he also intercepted a pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown, one of four picks for the Falcons in the game. ... Honorable mention goes to sophomore linebacker D.J. Lynch, who led BG with 10 tackles, including four solo stops, and also had a pair of tackles for loss; sophomore rover Gabe Martin, who had seven tackles, including one behind the line; junior safety BooBoo Gates, who finished with six tackles, one for loss, and also had an interception he returned 37 yards; and sophomore safety Jude Adjei-Barimah, who had only one tackle but also had two interceptions, giving him the team lead in that category this season with three.
SPECIAL TEAMS BiG MAN: Let’s give the nod to freshman punt returner Ryan Burbrink, who had 63 yards on four punt returns for an average of 15.8 per return. His long was a 21-yard return, but his return yardage could have been much higher: the Falcons were penalized on four punt returns. … Honorable mention goes to the Falcons’ two kickers as senior Stephen Stein connected on three extra-point kicks while freshman Tyler Tate made a 42-yard field goal, the longest for the Falcons this season. … Junior punter Brian Schmiedebusch had eight punts for 356 yards, an average of 44.5 yards per punt. His longest punt traveled 55 yards, and he landed three inside the UMass 20. … Freshman kickoff specialist Anthony Farinella had five kickoffs that traveled 302 yards, an average of 60.4 yards per kick. He had a pair of touchbacks, and his net yards per kickoff was a solid 41.6 yards per kick.
BiG NUMBERS: The BG defense produced some ridiculous defensive numbers, but none of them were “big.” They all were little, actually: The most impressive were the 118 yards the Falcons allowed, including just 33 yards passing. The Falcons allowed UMass to complete just 13 passes out of 34 attempts, meaning BG gave up just one yard per completion and 2.5 yards per attempt. The Minutemen had just six first downs (two of which came on penalties). And while those numbers are impressive, the four turnovers (all interceptions) are also a huge part of the Bowling Green’s fine defensive performance. Lastly, UMass had 15 drives in the game, and a mind-boggling 10 of them added up in three-and-outs (or less, when you consider three of those drives were ended by interceptions).
BiG QUESTION: Can the Falcons clean up the problems they had on offense and special teams? The BG offense also struggled to move the ball, finishing with just 282 yards and also having three drives that were three-and-out not counting the ends of the two halves. Special teams also had problems with penalties on punt returns, which cost the Falcons a lot of yards. It’s hard to imagine the defense will be able to dominate an opponent like this again, so the offense and special teams will have to be better.
POST-GAME QUOTESBG quarterback Matt Schilz on the problems of the offense, especially early: “We have to start the run game. They showed some different looks we hadn’t seen. In games like this, you just have to keep fighting.”
BG coach Dave Clawson on the struggles of the offense: “I was concerned with their [defensive] front going into the game. They have very good defensive tackles and good ends. That’s the best front that we have played since Virginia Tech. They are experienced up front and inexperienced in the back end, and a lot of the things we wanted to attack in the back end we couldn’t because of how well they played up front.”Clawson on the success of the BG defense creating turnovers and short-yardage plays: “A lot of that was just three-man rush. Our d-line is playing well. Plus we defended the run well and made them one-dimensional. That’s the secret to our success: If we can defend the run and make the other guys one-dimensional, we can tee off. And we have a chance to win some games.”
BG linebacker Dwayne Woods on the play of the defense, especially in recent weeks: “We’ve come a long way since my freshman year. We worked out butts off, and we’re getting better. We feel we’re the most physical team other clubs are going to play against. We want to be the most physical defense in the MAC.”
I asked Schilz if the first-half struggles were frustrating: “It wasn’t frustrating,” Schilz said. “We knew they were playing us tough, and we had to try and get chunks with every play. We knew the defense was playing pretty well, and we knew we just had to come out and not make any mistakes.”