Doyt L Perry Stadium
By MIKE SMITH
A pair of one-win teams coming off emotional games will square off Saturday when Bowling Green hosts Miami.
BGSU is coming off a 42-35 loss at rival Toledo last Saturday as the Rockets scored their decisive touchdown with just 18 seconds remaining. Miami’s emotion comes from registering its first win of the 2016 season with an 18-14 decision over visiting Kent State. Quarterback Gus Ragland, making a surprise return from his spring ball knee injury, hit Kenny Young on a 55-yard score with under two minutes left to lift MU on top.
Miami head coach Chuck Martin sees an undervalued Falcons team with . . .
“They could just as easily be 3-0 in the league as they are 0-3,” Martin said. “The three league games are shoulda, woulda, couldas. (Take away) a couple turnovers here and there, and they’re easily 3-0 and right where they’ve been the last two years.”
“You’ve heard it said that games are won or lost sometimes in three-to-five plays,” Jinks said Monday. “It was definitely one of those ballgames (at Toledo). We had our chances, (but) … they made the plays they needed to to get the win. “
In addition to turnovers, the Falcons have struggled at times on defense. They are last among MAC teams in scoring defense, allowing an average of 45.9 ppg.
Bowling Green faces some uncertainty in preparing for the RedHawks. Head coach Mike Jinks isn’t sure about Miami’s situation at quarterback.
Ragland, a redshirt sophomore who once ran for six touchdowns in the championship game to help Cincinnati powerhouse Moeller High School win a state title, was a surprise starter last week. He brings move mobility to the position – even coming off his injury.
Sophomore Billy Bahl is a big play throwing QB who can be somewhat inconsistent. An injury just before halftime of the Ohio game kept Bahl out of the second half that week and all of Saturday’s game.
“They’ve played a couple guys (there) throughout the year. We’ll do our best to go back and evaluate what they do well,” said Jink, who added MU would likely “try to ground and pound you a little bit. We’re just going to have to match their physicality.”
One of the match-ups for this week will be BGSU quarterback James Morgan and his receiving corps against Miami’s defense. The RedHawks “D” has moved up to first place in total defense (334.7 ypg) and is second in pass defense (177.0 ypg).
“They’re playing pretty well on the back end, so we’re going to have to be able to run the football with some success and make them bring the extra guy in the box to create some favorable matchups for us,” Jinks said. Miami ranks eighth in defending the run (157.7 ypg).
Martin, meanwhile, expects his defense to be challenged by a little bit of everything.
“Offensively, they’ve got excellent skill on the perimeter, and they’ve got some tremendous tailbacks,” he said. “They’ve got a really strong-armed quarterback that can make every throw.
Noting the Falcons scored 28 second half points at Toledo, Martin added, “They can really score in a hurry.”
► Martin was encouraged by improvement during the course of last week’s game. “Our defense kept us in it the first half. They ayed tremendously well when our offense didn’t relly have our footing (yet). (We were) starting our third (different) quarterback in three weeks. Gus Ragland was coming off a six-month ACL (rehab. He) cleared on Monday and practiced for three days. … We were a ittle bit out of synch, which was to be expected.”
► MARTIN ON RAGLAND’S PLAY: “It was a gutsy effort by him and a tremendous second half. … He got better as the game went on and created some opportunities with his feet.”
► MARTIN ON GETTING THE FIRST WIN: “We feel like we’ve been really close five straight weeks. We didn’t do anything super fancy down the stretch. We just played solid football and the results came our way this time.”
► JINKS ON REDSHIRT FRESHMAN QB JAMES MORGAN: “He’s a competitor. he can make every throw, and when he gets in a rhythm, he can be tough to deal with.” Morgan earned MAC East Offensive Player of the Week honors last week.
► Jinks likes the Falcons special team play. Among the weapons is junior punter Joseph Davidson. He made seven boots against Toledo, one of which traveled 82 yards. His three punts the previous week included a 79-yarder, and he averaged 59.7 yards on the day. Davidson has six punts of at least 60 yards over the past four weeks. The 82-yarder and 79-yarder are the longest two punts in the nation this year. Overall, he ranks fourth nationally with a 47.5 yards per punt average. He has garnered MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week in each of the last two weeks.
► The Falcons kickoff coverage ranks 19th among all FBS teams and is second in the MAC. The Falcons ranked eighth among MAC teams in kickoff coverage last year.
► Bowling Green’s three MAC losses have been by a total of 16 points. Each game hs been decided by one score.
► Ronnie Moore ranks seventh in program history with 2,448 career receiving yards. Fred Coppet, meanwhile, is seventh all-time in program history with 2,358 rushing yards.
► Bowling Green has won four of its last five encounters with Miami, although the two schools have not met since 2013. Miami leads the series, 42-23-5