|BG successful on third down (12-03-13)|
|Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 03 December 2013 10:12|
In a season ladened with positive statistics for Bowling Green, the number of successful third-down conversions has played a major role in the success of the football Falcons.
Bowling Green, 9-3 overall, faces Northern Illinois, 12-0 and ranked No. 16 in the latest AP poll, in the Mid-American Conference championship game Friday. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. in Detroit's Ford Field.
The Falcons lead the MAC, converting 72-of-153 third-down opportunities, 47 percent.
There are several factors involved in converting third downs, and senior tight end Alex Bayer said it all starts with the offensive line.
The Falcons have seniors Dominic Flewellyn (left guard) and David 'Chief' Kekuewa (center), and redshirt sophomore Alex Huettel (right guard) in the middle. The three have combined for 95 starts as Falcons, with Flewellyn topping the entire team with 45 starts.
Redshirt freshmen Jacob Bennett and Logan Dietz have solidified the line at left and right tackle, respectively, this fall.
Bayer, who is second on the team with 42 starts, and senior tight end Tyler Beck are also involved in the blocking.
''Our offensive line has been unbelievable this year,'' Bayer said on Monday. ''We have two new guys on the outside in Bennett and Dietz, and they have been unbelievable in pass protection, and the run game. It's giving 'Matty J' (quarterback Matt Johnson) time to step up in the pocket and make his reads.''
BG's success on first and second downs has led to makable third downs.
''We're putting ourself in position where we have a running game, and that we feel confident in running on third downs especially with Travis Greene, who is, in my opinion, the best running back in the conference,'' Bayer said. ''When you have a guy like that and weapons on the outside, that's going to make you a successful third-down team.''
With Greene and the receiving corps, the Falcons have confidence on third down.
''We don't have to go to this one player,'' Bayer said. ''We know whatever the call is, or whoever is out there, they are going to be able to make a play; they know the situation.
''In the past, I think we have kind of relied on one guy, and maybe just one play in particular,'' Bayer continued. ''This year with how well the offensive line is playing, and how well the receivers, tight ends and running backs are playing, we can spread the ball out a little more.''
Also, by converting almost 50 percent of its third-down opportunities, BG's offense is giving the defense a rest and keeping the opposing offense on the sidelines.
''We've done a great job all year of controlling the time of possession, and it's going to be critical (against NIU),'' Bayer said. ''We want to make sure we're controlling the clock ... We're not getting any three-and-outs.
''We want to make sure when we do put our defense back on the field, we're not putting them in any bad field position,'' Bayer continued. ''That's going to be a huge key, to make sure we control the clock, and at the same time we're putting up points.''
For the season, BG is averaging 34:16 time of possession per game.
JOPLIN: BG's Shaun Joplin is the MAC East offensive player of the week.
Joplin caught six passes for a career-high 149 yards and a touchdown as the Falcons clinched a spot in the MAC championship game with a 24-7 win over Buffalo Friday.
Joplin, who had just one catch for 10 yards in the first half, exploded with five catches for 139 yards in the second half. Joplin's 23-yard TD catch in the third quarter gave the Falcons the lead for good.
BOWLS: By winning the MAC East, the Falcons are guaranteed a spot in a bowl game.
The MAC has three primary bowls- the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit; the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho; and the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile Ala. - plus secondary tie-ins with the BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.), New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque), Beef O'Brady's Bowl (St. Petersburg, Fla.), and Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego).
Little Caesars has the first pick of MAC teams this year, with GoDaddy second and Famous Idaho Potato third.
If Northern Illinois stays in the top 16 of the BCS standings it will go to a BCS bowl for the second year in a row.
The MAC has seven bowl eligible teams this season.
The bowl pairings will be announced Sunday.
TV: Friday's game will be televised on ESPN2 with Carter Blackburn (play by play), Danny Kanell (analyst), and Allison Williams (sideline) calling the action.
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