BOWLING GREEN — The defense has been the headliner in the early days of Bowling Green State University’s fall football camp.
And that continued in the team’s first scrimmage Saturday at Doyt Perry Stadium. The first-team defense did not surrender a touchdown, and the two TDs by the offense came on short fields — and only after impressive individual efforts.
“Those guys have done a great job studying their craft throughout the spring,” BG coach Mike Jinks said of his defense. “They were focused in the summer, and we’ve put an emphasis on defense in the culture we’re trying to create.
“It was great to see those guys fly around the way we did.”
IN PICTURES: Falcons scrimmage at Doyt Perry
When the first-team offense squared off against the first-team defense, the Falcons O managed to pile up the first downs and gain yardage until it reached the red zone — the area between the goal line and the 20.
And while BG did score on three of its four red-zone possessions, it managed just one touchdown and two field goals.
“The offense did not play poorly,” Jinks said. “We controlled the clock, we converted on third downs.
“But when we get in the red zone, we have to score. And our problems were self-inflicted.”
A perfect example of that came on the first possession, when the first team offense drove from its 25 to the defense’s 20. But a botched snap led to a fumble that defense tackle Gus Schwieterman recovered to stop the drive.
“I thought we came out and did a great job of being physical — and of not giving up big plays,” Schwieterman said. “There were no long passes or long runs.
“We came out with a ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ attitude, and we stood tall, especially in the red zone.”
Senior defensive lineman David Konowalski and junior safety Jack Walz both had tackles for loss; defensive linemen Malik Brown, a senior, and freshman Tyree Jackson were among those who were credited with a sack; and freshman defensive lineman Josh Crosley sniffed out a screen to minimize the damage and stop a drive.
“This was the first time we really were able to go after the offense,” senior linebacker Nate Locke said. “We’ve had a lot of success in camp, but you don’t know for sure because you’re not going full-go and tackling.
“We showed up. We were physical and we played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”
Sophomore quarterback James Morgan showed he is clearly the No. 1 quarterback for the Falcons, completing 6- of- 10 passes for 55 yards while commanding three drives into the red zone. Two were capped by field goals from Jake Suder, while the other ended with the missed snapped.
“I thought it was little things [that held us back],” Morgan said. “If we can clean up our execution, we’ll be in good shape.
“For the most part we’re in the right spots. The plays are there; we have to execute them.”
Redshirt freshman Grant Loy completed 1-of-7 passes for 14 yards, while true freshman Jarret Doege connected on 3-of-6 for 43 yards and the lone touchdown pass, a 32-yard strike to Deric Phouthavong down the left sideline.
Datrin Guyton was the only receiver with more than one reception, catching two passes for 34 yards as Scottie Miller was among those kept out of the scrimmage.
In the running game, senior Josh Cleveland carried the ball five times for 44 yards, while Donovan Wilson had six carries for 36 yards. Freshman Andrew Clair had five attempts for 21 yards, including a one-yard scoring plunge late.
INJURY REPORT: While several players did not see action in the contest, Jinks said none of the injuries are considered serious at this point. Among those who missed the scrimmage are linebackers Kholbe Coleman and Jerry Judd, defensive backs Armani Posey, Jamari Bozeman, and Robert Jackson, and Miller at wide receiver.