This week's three-and-out - a look at the Zips opponent - comes courtesy of John Wagner, Bowling Green Falcons beat writer for the Toledo Blade.
The Falcons had the best defense in the MAC last season, and so far little has changed in that area. As a team BG ranks in the top four in the MAC in every team defense category and leads the league in scoring defense (19.5 ppg) and total defense (372.0 ypg). The Falcons have nine starters back on defense, including four All-MAC players in safety BooBoo Gates, cornerback Cam Truss, rover Gabe Martin and tackle Ted Ouellet. So far Bowling Green's defensive formula has been simple: The Falcons totally negate the run to make an opponent one-dimensional, then limit the success of the team's passing game. So far, it has worked.
The Falcons offense last season "managed" games, but this season it has started "winning" games. Last year BG asked its offense not to turn the ball over and take advantage of scoring opportunities, otherwise relying on the defense to control the contest. This year the Falcons are scoring points -- they are third in the MAC at 33.2 points per game. Believe it or not, replacing a three-year starter at quarterback with a sophomore starting for the first time has given juice to the offense as Matt Johnson has completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 250 yards per game. Another sophomore, Travis Greene, has sparked the running game as he averages 102.2 yards per contest.
The Falcons use special teams as a weapon. Bowling Green already has blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown (Paul Senn actually took it off the Indiana punter's foot -- it was the SportsCenter play of the game a week ago). The Falcons also had a punt return for a TD against Tulsa and sniffed out a fake punt and stopped it short against Tulsa. Punter Brian Schmiedebusch is a two-time All-MAC punter, and BooBoo Gates has been an All-MAC kickoff returner. In recent years the field-goal kicking has been suspect, but Tyler Tate has overcome a few early season hiccups to make that less of a worry.