- First is a bit of good news regarding junior safety BooBoo Gates, who was injured in the Ohio game and missed the Kent State contest. Coach Dave Clawson said Gates practiced Tuesday and is "probable" for the Buffalo game.
- One player who is battling a tender ankle is cornerback Darrell Hunter. Clawson said Hunter is better than he was earlier in the week, but he remains "questionable" for Friday's game. Cameron Truss and DeVon McKoy are available for action, while freshman Will Watson will see more action if Hunter cannot go.
As for other injuries: all of the other potential injured players that have been talked about in recent weeks -- RBs Anthon Samuel and Andre Givens, DL Ted Ouellet, and anyone else you can think of -- practiced Tuesday and at this point are going to play Friday. If reps were limited, they were limited just to keep players fresh late in the season.
OK, finally got some other quotes finished. Here are some highlights from Wednesday's press conference. ...
- One of the questions I asked was whether the team was able to rebound from the Kent State loss, which ruined this team's MAC Championship aspirations. “We all put a lot of work into this team and this season,” OT Jordon Roussos said. “But we have no choice; we have to think of the greater good. We have to realize that, even though we’re not going to be able to win the MAC Championship, going to a bowl game is a great and prestigious honor. Not many teams get to do that, and I could get to do that twice in my career. So I’m excited for what the rest of the season has to honor.
“We certainly haven’t forgotten [that game], but we realize [losing] is part of the game. We’ve been out practicing, and we know that we’ve been in games where a couple of plays [can be the difference between] winning and losing the game. We have to prepare the same every week. That’s what has been different this season: We’ve been able to bounce back and really work [even when we are down].”
- Roussos was asked what he, as a senior, would tell the team if he was given a chance to speak before the Buffalo game. “I’m not ready to leave me cleats on the field and walk off,” Roussos said. “To the seniors, to the younger guys, to the coaches, to the medical staff and weight-room staff, [I would say] this is too much fun to end. Not just the winning; being around everyone [is fun]. In my mind, there’s no other option. We don’t want this to end, so we’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep this journey going.”
- Funny line of the day: Roussos was asked if he was more about being with his teammates than anything else. “I’m with the guys when we’re doing the off-season program, but I wouldn’t want to do that again,” Roussos said, drawing laughs. “Football is temporary: your body breaks down, you get injured, and eventually you can’t play football. But what you take from football is the bonds, the relationships you build with people. To me, that’s everything. One of things that drew me here is that it’s like a family atmosphere, and that has always stayed important. I want to win, and I want a bowl game more than anything, but as long as we’re together that’s all gravy to me.”
- DB Jude Adjei-Barimah was asked how hard it was to bounce back from the loss to the Golden Flashes. “It hurt, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “But we came back on Sunday and realized there’s still a lot to play for. So it was time to watch the film, correct the mistakes, and move on.”
- Coach Dave Clawson gave this analysis of the Kent State game. “Defensively, we didn’t tackle a very good skill player [Dri Archer] as well as we needed to. I thought Kent’s O-line played well, too, so they created a little bit bigger space than we’ve been giving up lately. We didn’t tackle in space as well as we had. The result is a bunch of big plays – three of them led to touchdowns.
“Offensively, we never got the running game going. Kent’s good up front, they do a lot of different things, and I don’t think we handled it really well. Their players made plays. We didn’t stay on blocks and execute our base offense as well as we needed to. It was good to see our passing game get going a little bit, but our failures in the red zone and our two turnovers were very costly – and ended up being the difference in the game.
“Kent’s a very good team, and we needed to play our ‘A’ game to beat them. And I don’t think we played our ‘A’ game. We didn’t play poorly, but we didn’t execute at a level we needed to to win a championship.”
- Clawson had praise for Friday's opponent, Buffalo. “When the season began, the two teams I thought could surprise people were Kent State and Buffalo,” he said. “Buffalo had a lot of people back from a year ago, and Buffalo is a much better team than their record.
“I give their coaching staff a lot of credit. To start a season out the way they did and lose six consecutive games, to find a way to win three in a row is good coaching. To get a 1-7 team keep working and keep improving to win three in a row speaks highly of their coaching staff and speaks highly of their players.”
- How important is it that the Falcons claim a win Friday, especially in terms of the bowl implications? “I believe how you finish is a reflection of how good a football team you are,” Clawson said. “Within the conference we’re playing as well as anyone except Kent State and Northern Illinois in terms of how we’re finishing, and we hope that plays into bowl selection.
“But that is something we don’t control. The bowl system is a unique entity, and they pick teams for different reasons – geographic reasons, how many people travel, how a team draws. A couple of years ago when we had Freddie [Barnes] and he was ready to set a [receptions] record, that certainly helped us. But we’re just trying to beat Buffalo to win our eighth game. We believe that, if we do that, we will be very attractive to a lot of bowls. But I don’t run the bowls.”
- I will have several stories on Friday's game at Crew Stadium in Columbus, which is being called the "Black Friday Clash." Here is what Adjei-Barimah, a Columbus native, said about the contest:
“Every single one of us [from Columbus] is excited to get to go back home. We take the fact that we’re from Columbus very seriously, and we look forward to go down there and get that win. There has been a lot of people [asking for tickets]. Extended family, old football coaches – even coaches from little league. I’m going to try my best [to get everyone tickets].”
Click here to get a bit of a view of Crew Stadium, including the end zone markings for the contest.
Click here to read this story in the Columbus area newspapers about the game coming to Columbus.