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Defense has fueled BG's success (12-6-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by By JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor   
Friday, 06 December 2013 10:17
File_NIUvsFalcons_2003_rotator
File photo. Fans rush the field after BGSU defeated N. Illinois at Doyt Perry Stadium on Otober 25, 2003. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green hopes its November success, carries over into December.
The Falcons, 9-3 overall, face Northern Illinois, 12-0, tonight in the Mid-American Conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field. Kickoff is at 8.
BG was 4-0 in November to clinch the MAC East title, and the defense was a difference-maker. The Falcons had closed October with tough losses to Toledo and Mississippi State.
‘‘We locked back in, we reset our focus,’’ said fifth-year senior linebacker Paul Swan. ‘‘We knew that November was going to be a tough month, and we had to get through some obstacles.
‘‘We knew we had to really step up our play. We were definitely validated, and it’s really helped our team.’’
Opponents scored only 17 points against BG in November, including just one offensive touchdown. No team scored in the second half against the Falcons in November.
‘‘Our whole defense, collectively, is a strength this year,’’ Swan said. ‘‘There’s not really one guy out there, making all the tackles, making all the plays. Everyone from the defensive line to the linebackers, to the safeties, to the corners, everyone is making a play at some point.
‘‘That’s the way our defense is built, for all of us to make plays. It’s not really one guy just doing everything, it’s everyone collectively, helping and doing their part.’’
A return to health by BG’s starting defensive line, has made a big difference, BG head coach Dave Clawson said.
Tackles Ted Ouellet and Jairus Campbell, and ends Charlie Walker and Bryan Thomas, all starters, were slowed by nagging injuries early in the season.
‘‘I don’t think any of those guys were 70 percent or 60 percent for the first two months of the season. That’s where having some of those long weeks in between Mississippi State and Toledo, in between Toledo and Miami (helped),’’ Clawson said. ‘‘Earlier in the year I don’t think those guys were playing at the level they are capable of, and they weren’t healthy. We weren’t playing them as much because of that, and at times they weren’t playing at all.
‘‘Right now, those four are as fresh and healthy as they have been all year. We are now generating a pass rush, which we didn’t do the first two months of the season,’’ Clawson continued. ‘‘When you can control the line of scrimmage, and get a pass rush with four guys it makes playing defense in the back end a lot easier.’’
BG is fifth in the country in scoring defense and seventh in total defense. The Falcons have allowed opponents to score just 13.8 points per game this season while allowing just 296.6 yards per game
BG ranks first in the country, allowing just 15 scores in 26 red zone trips. Of the 11 stops, four have come by virtue of missed field goals, three by recovered fumbles, and four by fourth down stops.
“Their defensive line is right up there with Iowa’s defensive line, same thing with their linebackers,’’ said NIU offensive coordinator Bob Cole. ‘‘The thing they’ve got going for them now is they’ve been together. They have seven or eight kids that have played together for three years on the defensive side of the ball.
‘‘They’re extremely sound, they’re well coached, and they fit in their gaps. You’re rarely going to find them out of position, and they’re aggressive. Then they have good enough defensive backs where they can sit there and play man-to-man on you, so they can do a lot of things up front with their front seven. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.’’
BCS: Northern Illinois is looking to make a BCS bowl for the second straight year.
NIU is ranked No. 14 in this week’s BCS ratings. The Huskies are the top-ranked team from a non-automatic qualifying conference.
However, knocking Northern Illinois out of the BCS picture isn’t the motivation for Bowling Green tonight.
‘‘I always talk about what the motivation is for us. Our motivation isn’t to keep another team out of something. Our motivation is that we want to win the MAC, and that’s enough motivation for our guys,’’ Clawson said.
EXPERIENCE: Six players on the Huskies roster will be playing in their fourth MAC title game, including quarterback Jordan Lynch, and standout safety Jimmie Ward.
In all, 38 current players have played in at least one previous MAC title game, and 29 have seen action in two MAC title games.
Last Updated on Friday, 06 December 2013 10:59
 

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