There are going to be at least six new starters in the defensive lineup when Bowling Green opens the football season on Sept. 4 at Troy.
|Paul Swan (left) grabs John Pettigrew by the shirt. (Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
And how well the defense is able to play will go a long way to how successful the Falcons will be in 2010.
The defense continued to show improvement Friday night during Bowling Green’s annual spring football game. In a scoring system where the defense earned points for stops and turnovers, the defensive was able to prevail 64-62 over the offense. The offense got points for scores and first downs.
“We’re a lot better on defense than we were a year ago,” BG head coach Dave Clawson said. “Our guys are playing faster. We’re going to pressure and blitz a little more.”
BG’s defense was able to take advantage of BG’s youth at quarterback and in the wide receiver crops. Four different quarterbacks took snaps for the Falcons and they were a combined 31-of-65 passing for 337 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
“I definitely think we have something to prove,” said BG’s Darius Smith, a defensive tackle who will be a redshirt senior in the fall. He had two interceptions and three solo tackles Friday. “I think this spring we showed a lot more toughness that we did last year and that will help us in the season.”
The defense showed a number of blitzes, resulting in eight sacks, Friday night.
“They’ve got to be able to do it against those type of looks next year,” Clawson said about his quarterbacks. “To protect them and keep it simple for them in the long, isn’t going to help them.”
The first half was played under normal conditions with two 15-minute quarters. The second half was played with a running clock.
BG’s offense got 18 possessions in the first half and managed two touchdowns and one field goal. The Falcons missed two other field goals and an extra-point in the game.
Matt Schilz, who will be a redshirt freshman in the fall, got the first call at quarterback and moved the offense well until stalling at the 20-yard line. Schilz later threw two interceptions in the first half. He played seven possessions in the first half and for the game he had nine opportunities, going 15-of-28 for 133 yards.
Kellen Pagel, who is a walk-on to the program and will be a redshirt freshman this fall, got five possessions in the first half and seven for the game. Aaron Pankratz, who will be a redshirt sophomore and who has the only game experience for the Falcons, got four possessions in the opening half and five for the game. True freshman Caleb Watkins, who graduated from high school early, had two opportunities in the first half and three for the game.
Clawson said he would have to watch the film to evaluate the quarterback play.
“A lot of times we showed out youth today, just not managing the play clock,” Clawson said. “We’ve got to get that cleaned up.”
“We dropped way too many balls. That’s been a problem the last two weeks,” Clawson added about the wide receivers. “Being a good receiver is hard ... We’re playing at wide receiver with some guys who haven’t played.”
Watkins engineered the first touchdown drive in the opening half.
Taking over at the 27-yard line after Dwayne Woods’ interception of Schilz, the Falcons were hit with a false start and a sack. Watkins then found Shaun Joplin, a walk-on who will be a redshirt freshman, for a 7-yard gain. On third down, Watkins threw probably the best pass of the scrimmage, showing good touch to hit Joplin along the sideline for a 28-yard gain. John Pettigrew, a sophomore in the fall, then rushed 3-yards for the TD. Matt Oczypok, who will be a redshirt freshman, kicked the point-after with 3:08 to play in the first quarter.
The offense had scored a field goal earlier in the first quarter as Pagel completed passes of 29 yards to Eugene Cooper, a junior college transfer, and 22 yards to Justus Jones, who will be a redshirt junior. Pettigrew also carried four times for 15 yards on the drive. Jerry Phillips, who will be a redshirt sophomore, hit the 21-yard field goal.
Late in the first half, Pankratz moved the team 49 yards for a touchdown helped in part by a 20-yard screen pass to Erique Geiger, who will be a redshirt freshman. The score came on Pankratz’s 8-yard pass to Steven Dunlap. Oczypok kicked the PAT with 10.2 seconds remaining. Pankratz was 3-of-6 for 33 yards on the drive.
In the second half there were only six possessions because of the running clock.
The Falcons scored one touchdown in the third quarter with Schilz at quarterback. He had a nice 20-yard completion to Jones and then Pettigrew took over, scoring on a 1-yard run. Stephen Stein missed the PAT. Pettigrew carried six times for 18 yards on the drive.
Clawson said Pettigrew has been hurt during the spring, but he looked good on several carries in the scrimmage.
In the fourth quarter, Smith turned in the most exciting play of the evening, returning an interception of a Pagel pass 61 yards before it was ruled that he was stripped of the ball by Jones with Cooper recovering at the 1-yard line.
“In the spring game, I think that was a great lesson learned,” Clawson said.
“I just got too happy,” Smith said. “I felt that somebody might be behind me, but I got a little tired and too happy. I was holding the ball the wrong way and the worst happened.”
On the final series of the game, with Watkins at quarterback, the Falcons moved 64 yards for a score as Mark Mays, who will be a redshirt freshman, carried the ball six times for 31 yards, including a final yard for a score with 12.6 seconds remaining. Mays attempted to rush for the 2-point conversion, but was stopped. Watkins also found Joplin for a 16-yard gain on the drive.
“We’re getting better, but we have a lot of work to do,” Clawson said.
NOTES: Kamar Jorden finished with 10 receptions for 87 yards ... Veteran receivers Tyrone Pronty, Calvin Wiley and Ray Hutson did not participate ... Nick Torresso, who will be a senior in the fall, has moved from the defensive line to offensive left tackle ... A total of six different players were each credited with seven tackles.
|Scott Lewis (left) gets a few pointers from Coach Clawson. (Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)