The UMass football team is probably still having nightmares about Western Michigan’s swarming defense.
Using a 3-3-5 set, the Broncos utilized team speed to completely confuse a Minuteman offense that had been improving during the previous two weeks. UMass couldn’t get anything going on the ground, and by the time quarterback Mike Wegzyn figured out how to poke a few holes, it was already too late.
One has to imagine that the Minutemen would have preferred a slice of the same-old. They would have settled for a four-man front, a little more size and less chaos in the secondary. In essence, UMass would have rather faced the defense much like its own.
That’s exactly what Bowling Green brings to the table, but that might not be a good thing for the Maroon and White.
The Falcons run a 4-2-5 system that relies heavily on its big guys up front. During the MAC Coaches’ Teleconference, Molnar lauded the size and fundamentals of Bowling Green’s defensive line.
The unit is led by Chris Jones, a 6’1, 300-pound defensive tackle that is considered by many to be one of the better defensive players in the conference. This season alone, Jones has been picked as the MAC Defensive Player of the week three times. Jones took home the honor last week for his five-tackle, 2.5-sack performance against Miami (OH).
The senior currently leads the country with nine sacks and is second in the nation with 13.5 tackles for loss. Bowling Green was nice enough to put together a highlight reel:
The Falcons have also gotten production out of nose tackle Ted Ouellet, a Bay State native from Dover-Sherborn High School. Ouellet, a junior, has 21 tackles and three sacks this year.
While Bowling Green’s defensive line is its strong point, its linebacking corps is nothing to scoff at.
The Falcons are led by Paul Swann, a 6’0, 230-pound outside linebacker who has quietly led the team in tackles this season with 41. Dwayne Woods, a 5’11, 227-pound senior, mans what could be called the middle linebacker spot. Woods has 27 tackles, 3.5 for loss.
He missed the Miami (OH) game with an injury, but the Toledo Blade is reporting that he is probable for this weekend.
It’s hard to call Woods a true middle linebacker because Bowling Green uses its other outside linebacker as a rover – a position that either comes up with the other linebackers or rushes back into coverage like an extra safety. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Western Michigan used a similar strategy, albiet with more guys in the secondary.
Gabe Martin, a redshirt sophomore, handles these duties and has done a nice job for the Falcons so far. Martin is third on the team with 36 tackles and has 4.5 tackles for loss.
The Bowling Green secondary is young, but it has gotten the job done. The Falcons are third in the MAC in passing defense, allowing just under 218 yards per game through the air. The unit isn’t particularly flashy and so far only has four interceptions this season.
Cornerback Cameron Truss has statistically led the Falcons’ secondary with 40 tackles and three pass breakups. Safety BooBoo Gates is a returning starter and has big-play potential:
Bowling Green brings a traditional, punch-you-in-the-face defense to Gillette and will be a tough test for a UMass team waking up from a Bye week.
UMass’ offensive line has gone through several changes this season, and it sounds like Jamie Casselberry – who has been ever-improving at guard – is out this weekend. That could spell trouble for the Minutemen.
Bowling Green’s defensive line is one of the best in the MAC, and its linebackers are big and not afraid to blitz. If the Minutemen are going to compete this weekend, they will need to win the fight in the trenches and hope some of its experienced big guys can give Wegzyn enough time to operate.