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Bowling Green football learns from loss at Michigan State

09/04/2017, 6:28pm EDT
By By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green football learns from loss at Michigan State

Bowling Green's Teo Reddin looks to evade Michigan State's Josiah Scott (22) and Matt Morrissey on a run in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game. BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University football coach Mike Jinks made an interesting distinction in his Monday press conference following the Falcons 35-10 loss at Michigan State.

“I felt, as a coaching staff, we got our team ready to play,” he said. “But we have to get ready to win. …

“We have that potential.”

When asked about the difference between the two, Jinks said, “There’s an edge, there’s a confidence. [Our players] felt they belonged on the field.

“But when you play a Big Ten opponent, you have to truly believe. That’s something we can instill as coaches.

“We’re going to have plenty of opportunities in the coming years. But we have to go to those arenas and come back with a ‘W.’ … When we put ourselves in a position to win a game, we have to do that.”

While much of the focus after the contest was on the struggles of Bowling Green’s passing game, which completed less than one-third of its passes for just 145 yards, the running game was not particularly effective, either.

The Falcons finished with just 67 net rushing yards, and no running back had more than 22 rushing yards on the day.

One problem for the rushing offense was the injury to left guard Lorenzo Taborn in pregame warm-ups. He was replaced by Caleb Bright, who has spent most of the fall working at center.

“My hat’s off to Caleb Bright, a redshirt freshman who stepped in and battled his tail off,” Jinks said. “He did not miss an assignment, and he fought the good fight.

“But [losing Taborn] had a little affect on what we were able to do running the football. Michigan State also had a lot to do with that. But we didn’t run the ball very effectively.”

Jinks said the Spartans bunched the line of scrimmage, forcing the Falcons to throw downfield. BG did have a 43-yard pass from James Morgan to Datrin Guyton that helped produce a first-quarter field goal, but a combination of errant throws and drops derailed the offense.

“Their front seven is pretty good,” Jinks said. “I was proud that we stuck with the run, because it created some of the 1-on-1’s in the passing game.

“But we have to hit on those plays.”

GOOD FIND: Jinks said he was pleased with the play of the Falcons special teams units.

“Michigan State prides itself on its special teams, and I thought we held our own against them,” he said.

In particular the second-year coach felt his team may have found some answers on punt returns and kickoff returns. Marcus Milton had one punt return for 10 yards and also properly read two punts that were touchbacks.

And true freshman Andrew Clair had 81 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 32-yard return, in his first college game.

“I don’t think we’ve had anyone as smooth or as confident as [Marcus] Milton in my time here,” Jinks said. “And [Andrew] Clair showed the unique ability to make guys miss, and that’s going to help us in the kickoff game.”

Contact John Wagner at jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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