OPENING THOUGHTS: Who could blame anyone for worrying about the BG defense in this contest, especially when LB Dwayne Woods was not in uniform for the game. Well, no worries, as the defense shut down a high-powered offense for the second straight week. After the first drive, there really was only one play where the Miami offense broke free, and that was the 64-yard pass from Zac Dysert to Nick Harwell that set up the RedHawks third-quarter touchdown. There were a number of impressive numbers posted by the Falcons in this game, but hands-down the most impressive was limiting Miami to just 256 yards of offense.
OFFENSE: The Falcons put together a strong, solid, consistent effort to grind out 486 yards and 31 points (four touchdowns and a field goal). And BG did it with balance, finishing with 251 yards rushing (154 yards of which came in the second half) and 235 yards passing (as QB Matt Schilz completed better than 74 percent of his passes). One of the things coach Dave Clawson said after the game was that the offense challenged itself to get at least two first downs on every drive: BG had 11 drives (not counting the one at game’s end) and reached that goal on EIGHT of those drives (missing on the second drive of the game, a three-and-out ruined by a first-down sack; the first drive of the fourth quarter, where Schilz was intercepted on Miami’s 16; and the final “real” drive of the game, when the Falcons were stopped on downs on the RedHawks’ 12). The 27 first downs BG accumulated help the Falcons possess the ball for more than 37 minutes of the game, keeping Dysert and the Miami offense off the field while wearing down the RedHawks defense. Here’s a stat I struggle to understand: BG had a whopping 20 plays that gained two yards or fewer, including 11 that resulted in zero or negative yards. That’s more than 15 percent of the Falcons’ plays, not including incompletions. I believe Bowling Green survived those “negative” plays by posting 16 plays that gained at least 10 yards. Anthon Samuel had five of those “explosive” plays, including a 55-yard run, while Ryan Burbrink had three and two players, Shaun Joplin and John Pettigrew, had two each, and a total of eight different players had at least one. In short, strong effort by the offense.
DEFENSE: For the second week in a row the Falcons shut down an offense that had been running wild in previous weeks. Lots of crazy numbers, but let’s start with the one that ran counter to a statement BG coach Dave Clawson made earlier in the week about Miami QB Zac Dysert, who Clawson said was capable of carrying part of the load of the running game. Here’s the stat: Not only did Dysert finish with minus-21 yards rushing, he LOST yardage on all five of his runs –- he did not have a single run for positive yardage. The RedHawks had 19 plays gain two yards or less, including 15 plays that finished with zero or negative yards (when you add in the 18 incompletions, that means 33 plays –- or 55.9 percent of Miami’s 59 plays –- gained zero yards or worse. The RedHawks got the ball for 12 different series, and only four of those series gained more than 19 yards. Even if you take out the six sacks and the 26 yards of loss they generated, Miami still got just 29 yards rushing on 14 other runs –- two of which went for 11 yards each in the first quarter (so if you don’t include them, the RedHawks had seven yards on 12 actually running attempts). BG also did a great job of getting off the field, holding Miami to 4-of-14 on third-down conversions (28.6 percent). Also, remember the defense forced three turnovers, and turned one of them into a touchdown. And don’t forget: this was without Dwayne Woods on the field. Extremely impressive.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The BG special teams had a decent but not spectacular day against Miami. They didn’t cost the Falcons any points or cause problems, but they weren’t the weapon they could be, either. … Punter Brian Schmiedebusch averaged 41.7 yards on his three punts, which is good, but his net was just 28.3 yards per kick because two of them ended with touchbacks. Schmiedebusch has been solid the past couple of weeks, but he hasn’t been the weapon he was last season. … Kickoff specialist Anthony Farinella averaged 58.6 yards per kickoff on his seven kickoffs and had two touchbacks. Further, Miami averaged just 18.4 yards per kickoff return and had one drive start on its 15. In short, that unit was good but not great. … Bowling Green had three kickoff returns for 53 yards, and of its four drives that started with a kickoff, two began on the 25 and one was on the 39, with the worst starting on the 20. That’s not bad. … Ryan Burbrink had three punt returns for 19 yards, including a nine-yard return. It was a solid effort by the punt return team. … And the extra-point kicking saw Stephen Stein make four extra points and a 26-yard field goal, so there’s nothing to complain about here.
THE LAST WORD: I think Miami is going to be a good, but not great, team when this season’s final reckoning comes due. So handling this team the way BG did should result in a shot of confidence for the Falcons, especially since some doubts probably lingered after the first half of the Akron game. Overconfidence should be avoided as BG travels to UMass this weekend to face the winless Minutemen, who gave Ohio a battle a few weeks back before losing in the final minutes. Continuing a strong October with wins over UMass and Eastern Michigan are critical if the Falcons want to reach their goals of a MAC East title and a bowl bid.
WANT MORE? Here you go … First, click here to read this Blade game story and click here to read the Blade notebook, which looks at the defense playing without Dwayne Woods. Click here to read the in-game chat from the contest, and click here to read some extra notes and quotes from Saturday’s game. Click here to read the BiG Look at the contest. Finally, click here to view a photo gallery from the contest.