|BG leadership steps to forefront (10-03-13)|
|Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 03 October 2013 08:27|
The veteran leadership on Bowling Green State University's football team stepped to the forefront last Saturday after Akron scored on its first two possessions to take a 14-3 lead.
Gabe Martin, Alex Bayer, and David 'Chief' Kekuewa were among those singled out by BG head coach Dave Clawson as having a calming influence on the team.
''I saw some real leadership in our program, the way guys were talking on the sidelines. There wasn't finger-pointing, there wasn't a sense of panic going on ... The conversation wasn't any different than if we were winning the game,'' Clawson said.
Clawson said he could see there wasn't any panic when the defensive unit came off the field.
''It was guys like Gabe Martin saying 'Guys we're better than this; we have got to step up and start making plays,''' Clawson said. ''It wasn't blaming the corner for getting beat, or questioning this guy for being in the wrong gap.
''Sometimes, when you are on losing teams, you have that reaction. They want to blame someone else, instead of bringing people together,'' he added.
The Falcons gave up six sacks in the first half, but Clawson said Kekuewa, the team's center, was great working with the other members of the offensive line.
At halftime, Bayer, a tight end, spoke calmly, firmly, and confidently with the offensive unit. The Falcons scored three touchdowns in the second half, including the game-clinching drive which took 8:01 off the clock, in a 31-14 victory.
''They were challenging each other in a positive way, rather then getting on each other in a negative way,'' Clawson said. ''As a head coach, I love that. You're thinking about what to say to these guys at halftime to get them going; you don't have to say anything, they are saying it to each other.''
Clawson hopes the team can put the slow starts to games behind them, starting Saturday in the Homecoming game against UMass. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. in Perry Stadium.
''We certainly want to come out of the gates, playing better than we did,'' Clawson said.
INJURIES: Cornerback Darrell Hunter has been ruled out of the season with a broken wrist.
Freshman running back Fred Coppet (hip) will play Saturday.
Defensive tackle Ted Ouellet, the only player from Massachusetts on BG's roster, is questionable for Saturday with a knee injury.
Offensive tackle Jacob Bennett, who left the Akron game with a leg injury, is expected to start against UMass.
Quarterback Matt Johnson had an X-ray at halftime of the Akron game after his hand was stepped on in the first half. Johnson was cleared to play, and he went 11-of-11 passing in the second half to help the Falcons rally for the victory.
RED HOT: Through five games, BG is 22-for-26 in the red zone, with 17 TDs and five field goals.
One of the Falcons' missed opportunities came Saturday when they ran out the clock against Akron.
BG leads the MAC defensively, holding opponents to 8-for-17 in the red zone. All eight scores have been TDs.
SECOND HALF: BG has out-scored its opponents 87-35 in the second half, including 45-14 in the third quarter and 42-21 in the fourth quarter.
JONES: Former Falcon Chris Jones, who is a rookie with the New England Patriots, got the opportunity to play Sunday in the Patriots' win over Atlanta.
A defensive tackle, Jones was the Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year last season. He was picked in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Houston Texans. He was released and spent a short time with Tampa, before being picked up by New England.
"This was the first game he was active for us. He's had a couple of weeks of practice, a lot of meetings with coach (Patrick) Graham, extra work on the field before and after practice, especially after practice, one-on-one and different group drills that we do. He's getting a better familiarity with our system and our communication, the techniques that we play. He did some of those in Houston, where he played both nose and end in a 3-4 scheme,'' said Bill Belichick, the Patriots' head coach. "Overall, he's getting familiar with what we do. Our calls, his assignments, block reaction, all those kind of things have been better over the past couple of weeks and he was active for the game. He had an opportunity to play some. Hopefully, he can build on that."
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