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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW
BGSU strength will be veterans in the trenches
Falcons open Saturday against Wisconsin
By MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
BOWLING GREEN - Junior Drew Nystrom, all 317 pounds of him, ambled toward the tables set up in the shadow of the Perry Stadium video board on Saturday. He was looking forward to meeting fans, but he wasn't sure it would be mutual.
<center></center> "Who's going to want the left tackle's autograph?" he said, laughing.<center></center> Their play isn't as photogenic as quarterbacks or receivers. But linemen, on both sides of the ball, are the face of this year's Bowling Green State University football team.<center></center> Going into their season opener against Wisconsin at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Falcons don't have much experience at skill positions. What they have are veteran offensive and defensive linemen.
<center></center> "That's the heart of the team right now, both sides of the ball," BGSU coach Gregg Brandon said. "Through the course of the Mid-American Conference season, I think our line will have to carry us."<center></center> Nystrom is one of three returning starters at offensive linemen, along with center Kory Lichtensteiger and right guard Derrick Markray. Lichtensteiger has been named to several preseason award watch lists, and he and Markray were selected second-team All-Mid-American Conference last year.<center></center> The linemen welcome the attention, but not without a warning.<center></center> "I don't know if they want the spotlight on the linemen," Lichtensteiger said.
"We're guys that would rather have their helmets on, not really have the face time. You get somebody like Omar [Jacobs], he looks good without his pads on. He's got the hair, you can pick him out of the crowd just by the way he looks.
"We'll take the press and everything, but we're just not used to it. We don't know what to do with it."
Nystrom, though, contends the lines have been this important since he arrived on campus three years ago.
"It's not any different this year," Nystrom said. "Each year, the coaches always tell us, the line is the heart and soul of the team. Each year the success is predicated on how we do.
"This year it's more obvious because of the lack of experience at the skill positions."
Lichtensteiger and Nystrom have played significant roles since they were freshmen. Lichtensteiger moved to center this year after spending two years at left guard.
Last year Nystrom and Markray played together on the right side.
Brandon split them up this year, moving Nystrom to left tackle, to spread around the experience.
"A lot of our success depends on how well we do," Lichtensteiger said, "so we've got to step it up."
Seniors Devon Parks and Brad Williams, both recently named team captains along with Lichtensteiger, return on the defensive line.
<center></center> As a defensive end last season, Williams led the team with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last year, had 2 1/2 sacks and forced two fumbles. This year he's moved inside to defensive tackle.<center></center> "We have great leadership, some guys who have played a lot of football," Williams said. "It's going to bring other guys along and get things done."<center></center> Parks recorded four sacks and 8 1/2 tackles for loss. If Parks, a starter since he was a freshman, starts all 12 games this year he can tie the school record for most consecutive starts, set by former center Scott Mruczkowski.<center></center> "Those are two veteran players who have been around the block," Brandon said. "I'm expecting those guys to hold it together up front."<center></center> As for the new starters, senior John Lanning will play left guard after backing up at center last year. Junior Kevin Huelsman will play right tackle.<center></center> On the defensive line, sophomore Nick Davis enters as the nose guard and redshirt freshman Jacob Hardwick will make his first start at defensive end.<center></center> Sophomore Diyral Briggs, who showed promise as an end last year, has been recovering from a broken foot, but will play Saturday.<center></center> The Falcons' other returning starters are Sean O'Drobinak at tight end, Ruben Ruiz and Corey Partridge at receiver, Antonio Smith at cornerback and Terrel White at linebacker. The rest are unproven, but Parks said he thinks the leadership of the lines will help them through.<center></center> "We've played against schools like Oklahoma and Ohio State, and some of the younger guys have never been through that environment," Parks said. "We can help just by showing how we carry ourselves, we're not walking around nervous. We're prepared. I think that will help put them at ease."<center></center> Contact Maureen Fulton at: [email protected]
Hello, Buckeye Planet, one curious Falcon here taking up Buckeyekicksbuttocks' kind invitation to stop by.
Looks like Buckeye Planet is not quite quivering with trepidation for this OOC matchup! Congratulations on the 2006 season so far, Buckeye life must be pretty good these days.
BG is a pretty young team this season - hard to tell how they're going to come out of the gates from week to week. I don't think anyone was unhappy with the Wisconsin game at Cleveland, BG did the biz at the other OH-IO this week, but that nutmegging at home to Kent State kept the mods busy at ay-ziggy-zoomba.com!
I guess the one problem with a football is that you never know which way its going to bounce, even if you're a Buckeye. Can't help feeling like the ball bounces the wrong way for us more often than not, but a few friendly bounces on Saturday woudn't go amiss!