Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
Central Michigan will face its biggest defensive challenge today when it lines up against Bowling Green.
Receiver Freddie Barnes leads the country in receptions per game and during the past two games he’s had 32 catches for 438 yards and six touchdowns. Similarly, quarterback Tyler Sheehan has put up gaudy numbers during the past couple weeks completing 72 of 104 passes for 881 yards and seven touchdown passes.
“It’s neat when sometimes you get that quarterback and those receivers are on the same page and they allow you to do a lot more with your offense and these things aren’t an accident,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “Those guys spent a lot of time this summer running these routes and throwing it and catching it. They’ve certainly got a great feel for each other and they’ve got great confidence in each other and thank goodness for it because it’s been a major reason why we’ve been so productive on offense.”
While teams have tried to double and sometimes triple cover Barnes to limit his effectiveness, the Bowling Green coaching staff has done a great job of moving him around the field. Sometimes he’ll be the boundary receiver, sometimes he’ll be in the slot, and sometimes he’ll run the ball out of the Wild Falcon formation from the backfield.
But what’s been key for the Falcons these past few weeks has been the play of the team’s other receivers. While Barnes has put up ridiculous numbers, players such as Chris Wright and Adrian Hodges have been equally as effective and the Falcons have several other receivers that are capable of having big games if too much attention is paid to Barnes.
“I think any time you put emphasis on taking any one individual away from their offense they have other individuals that are extremely capable of stepping up and having big games,” Central Michigan coach Butch Jones said. “That’s the thing that makes them so difficult to defend, it’s not just Freddie Barnes. And Tyler [Sheehan] can make all the throws. I think he’s a great quarterback. So I think it makes it extremely difficult. I think the thing you got to do is you’ve got to be able to contain Freddie and tackle him. You know he’s going to get his catches.”