So what did we learn Saturday afternoon when the Bowling Green Falcons of the Mid-American Conference took on the #5 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus?
Now, I could try and be funny in answering that question. I could say something like, we learned that the scoreboard at Ohio Stadium could handle triple digits if necessary (Yes, that’s an actual discussion I overheard in the press box on Saturday). I could also say that we learned that the guys and gals in the Ohio State ROTC program are in really good shape. They have a tradition where they drop in the end zone and do a push-up for every point the Buckeyes have on the scoreboard (Yes, they certainly needed to be “Army Strong” by the fourth quarter on Saturday). And finally, I could say we certainly learned what the Bowling Green kick-off return team looks like (Yes, the Falcons returned 12 kick-offs in all on Saturday, with Scott Miller personally returning six for 106 yards).
Granted, when you lose like the Falcons did on Saturday, 77-10, most of what you learned can’t be good. Bowling Green head coach Mike Jinks admitted as much in his post-game press conference when he said, “It's hard to take positives out of a butt-whooping like that.” It was Jinks first ever game as a college head coach. Tough assignment your first time out, don’t you think?
But trying to stay positive, here are my five take-a-ways or five things I learned from Saturday’s bludgeoning of the Falcons by the mighty Buckeyes.
- Ohio State is really talented and well coached. Duh! We kind of knew that coming in, right? True, but Saturday certainly validated the points. The Buckeyes lost so much talent to graduation and the NFL last year, but they just seem to plug in the next set of five-star recruits and keep winning. The talent discrepancy between the two teams was shocking. It’s a testament to the program Urban Meyer has built at Ohio State. Bowling Green has beaten the likes of Indiana, Purdue, Maryland and Northwestern from the Big Ten in past seasons. For the most part, those teams tried to line-up and play smash mouth football against the smaller Falcons. But Meyer knew the best way to beat the Falcons on Saturday was through the air, since the BG defensive backs couldn’t stay with his receivers. So he did it over, and over, and over again.
- The Bowling Green defense is a work in progress. First, let me say that I don’t think the Falcon defense is as bad as it would seem after Saturday’s lopsided loss. For one, they won’t see another team like the Buckeyes on their schedule the rest of the year. They should do fine in the rest of their non-conference schedule, as well as against MAC teams. Linebackers Trent Greene (16 tackles) and Austin Valdez (10 tackles) remain the heart and soul of the defense. But, the inability to put pressure on the quarterback and cover receivers remains a concern. Because every team left on the Falcons schedule will watch the Buckeye game tape. If only they had the athletes to execute what they’ll watch…
- In games when it comes down to field goal kicking, the Falcons are in trouble. In the first quarter, the Falcons went for it on 4th and 14 from the Ohio State 22-yard line, rather than attempting a 39-yard field goal. The Falcons turned the ball over on downs and Jinks in the post-game press conference said, “It was a little bit out of our range.” What? You can’t find someone you can have confidence in making a 40-yard field goal with some regularity? Seriously? To his credit, Falcon kicker Jake Suder did nail a 33-yard field goal later in the first half. But apparently his range stops somewhere between the 33- and 38-yard lines.
- The Falcons have options at quarterback. This is no indictment of starter James Knapke, but it was good to see back-up quarterback James Morgan come in and be productive. Morgan was highly recruited out of Wisconsin two years ago, and redshirted last year as a true freshman. He finished 9 of 10 for 65 yards on Saturday and had some very nice throws. True, he did do it during garbage time in the fourth quarter, against the Buckeyes reserves. But he was cool in the pocket, delivered the ball on time to the right receiver, and that couldn’t have been easy in his very first college game, in front of 107,000+ people.
- Joe Davidson is the real deal. Davidson punted six times on Saturday for a 46.6 yard average, and had a long punt of 60 yards. His punts also had great hang time that allowed his teammates to cover effectively. The Buckeyes managed only two net yards on the six punts from Davidson. A First Team All-MAC selection last year as a sophomore, Davidson has a great frame at 6’ 7” and some people are already talking about his pro potential.