Football Falcons adjusting to faster pace (3-22-14)

BGSU’s Matt Johnson (11)
throws the football during a spring scrimmage Saturday morning. (Photo: J.D.
Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)

There is no question that the transition from the Dave Clawson-era of Bowling Green football to the Dino
Babers-era will take some time and patience.
An entirely different offensive philosophy from Babers meant that the returning Falcons had to work
quickly to learn the new system.
Babers and the rest of his staff saw their most updated body of work Saturday morning in the team’s first
scrimmage of spring practice. It was BG’s first outside practice of the spring session.
“It was great to have the space and to get to work in the Doyt for the very first time,” Babers said.
“It’s been a long haul, and the weather has been really rough this year, but it was fantastic to get
outside for the very first time. I think the guys really appreciated it,” he said.
Aside from the players and Babers being excited to get outside, what stood out most was the offensive
tempo.
The Falcons ran 120 plays in about 1½ hours, which is still slow by Babers’ standards. “That’s behind
pace for us,” he said. The displeasure with the speed became evident when Babers shouted to the
sidelines during a team huddle asking what was taking so long.
“We were not Falcon Fast today,” he said. “… We’ve got to get the team to speed up and we’ve got to get
the officials to move a little faster and everything will be great.”
“It’s going to take the rest of spring, all the way through summer,” quarterback Matt Johnson said of
getting used to the tempo. “Even coach Babers said, this year he’s still going to think we’re going
slow. It’s just a process. Every day we have to get a little bit faster and a little bit faster.”
On the other side of the ball, BG’s defense appeared to have not lost a step.
The unit that led the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense and total defense in 2013 was a force
throughout the scrimmage forcing a handful of interceptions and fumbles.
“I got an opportunity to see the defense really strike and play full speed,” Babers said. “We’ve got an
excellent defense and it’s only going to get better. We have to make sure the offense keeps pace with
our defense because we’re going to have a very, very good defense.”
Senior defensive back Brian Sutton said the defense stressed the importance of creating turnovers. BG was
fourth in the MAC last season with 21 defensive turnovers.
“We created a lot of havoc and got a lot of turnovers, which is the emphasis of this year,” Sutton said.
“The last few years we’ve been a great defense, but last year we didn’t have that many turnovers. That’s
the area that we pointed out and we’re trying to pick that up this year.”
An increased offensive tempo likely means more time on the field for the defense, but Sutton does not see
that as an issue with this group.
“We’re up to the challenge, I can guarantee you that. We’re up to the challenge,” he said. “We’re going
to be on the field a lot more, and we’re going to be scoring a lot more touchdowns.”
The Falcons return to practice next week before scrimmaging again next Saturday.