Falcon defense ends spring on strong noteWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With just under five months to the kickoff of the 2010 football season, the BGSU Falcons have much to replace from last season’s squad that went 7-6 overall, and 6-2 in MAC play. The team fell just short last season of beating the Idaho Vandals in the Humanitarian Bowl by a score of 43-42.
The Falcons entered this year’s spring practice with many holes to fill, mainly at the quarterback and wide receiver positions. BGSU and its second year head coach Dave Clawson will need to fill the void left by four year starting quarterback Tyler Sheehan. Sheehan finished his career last season, completing 373 out of 575 pass attempts for 4,052 yards and 27 touchdowns.
BGSU will also need to find a new go to receiver now that Freddie Barnes, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, will be playing in the NFL next fall. Barnes broke several NCAA receiving records in 2009 with 155 catches for 1,770 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The BGSU spring game, which was held this past Friday night at Doyt Perry Stadium on campus, went a long way in answering some of the lingering roster questions prior to the start of fall practice. But it was the Falcon defense that stole the show, en route to a 64-62 victory over the offense in front of a crowd of 1,100 fans.
“We are a young team and anytime you can come out and get reps, it is a chance for you to get better,” Clawson said, after the game. “We still have a lot of work to do though.”
Four players are vying to be the man under center for the Falcons next fall, and all had a chance to showcase their stuff. Matt Schilz took the majority of snaps for the offense to mixed results. Schilz was 15-28 for 133 yards, but he threw two costly interceptions to defensive end Darius Smith.
Probably the best performance from the quartet of quarterbacks was Aaron Pankratz, who threw the only passing touchdown of the night to receiver Steve Dunlap. Kellen Pagel and Caleb Watkins had respectable showings as well.
“We are far away from making a decision at quarterback,” Clawson said. “We showed our youth today, and we took some delay of game penalties tonight that an experienced quarterback wouldn’t take. They have to be able to perform next year, and they will need to be able to handle that stuff on offense.”
At receiver, the Falcons look to be having a bit more stability to replace Barnes in the lineup. Kamar Jorden led all of the receivers with 10 catches for 87 yards.
Southview graduate Shaun Joplin had a good game as well. Joplin caught four passes for 66 yards, and he was the Falcons lead punt returner all evening. Coach Clawson praised the Sylvania native after the game for his performance.
“Shaun had a great game tonight,” he said. “He has gotten much better since the fall. He has an excellent skill set, and he needs to continue to develop and learn the offense.”
Joplin was also pleased with his effort.
“It was nice to come out and play well tonight,” he said. “I enjoyed playing in front of my family and friends, and I am going to keep working hard to get better for next season.”
The defense showed great improvement from last year, and the unit stifled the inexperienced offense. It was the aforementioned Darius Smith who made the biggest plays, and unfortunately, the most embarrassing play of the game.
Smith nearly returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown, but a strip by receiver Justus Jones prevented a defensive touchdown.
“That was a great lesson learned in a spring game for Darius,” Clawson said. “He hopefully will remember that in the fall.”
Clawson said the Falcons still have much to work on prior to the season opener. BGSU opens the season on the road at Troy University on September 4th. The first home game is September 18th against Marshall University.