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Bowling Green receivers struggling early

September 28, 2016 GMT

There is blame to go around in every meeting room for Bowling Green’s 1-3 start, in which it has been outscored 221-61.

The defense has been exposed, the quarterbacks have been erratic at times, and the wide receivers have been unreliable in all four games — the fourth resulting in the Falcons’ worst loss since 1920, tying the worst margin of defeat in program history.

Some want to blame players, others want to blame coaches. But coach Mike Jinks has only one place for the blame.

“It’s always going to be on me, period,” he said Monday in his weekly press conference.

The Falcons have been spoiled with elite receivers over the last two season, particularly with standouts Gehrig Dieter and Roger Lewis.

This year’s team has yet to find any player to come close to matching the skill those two possessed before moving on. Dieter used his graduate transfer option to head to Alabama, and Lewis signed with the New York Giants after leaving for the NFL with two years of eligibility remaining.

The core group of receivers this season are sophomore Deric Phouthavong, junior Teo Redding, sophomore Scott Miller, senior Ronnie Moore

and freshman Marquis Zimmerman.

None have stood out, and all have made freshman-type mistakes with drops, wrong routes and a lack of physicality.

“I’m not going to go back and sugar coat stuff,” Jinks said. “Like I told them, there’s not a guy on this team that can point a finger at anybody because everybody has been given an opportunity to play. All ... nine or 10 receivers have rolled in there, and every one has dropped two or three balls.”

The wide receivers, outside of Moore, lack experience and a confidence to know they’ll get the job done on a play-by-play basis. Each has shown flashes of potential, but none has made plays consistently this season.

Miller leads the team with 22 receptions and 267 yards, the bulk coming in a five-catch, 161-yard performance against North Dakota.

Miller’s three touchdown receptions are the only passing touchdowns for the Falcons this season.

Moore is second on the team with 18 catches for 138 yards, while Zimmerman is third with 12 catches for 126 yards.

Bowling Green has just three passing plays of 40 yards or more, none of which have come from a vertical pass down field.

Moore has moved from the slot receiver to outside in order to try to stretch the field. Zimmerman has taken his spot in the slot, opposite of Miller.

“We have a lot of young people who have to get comfortable and trust themselves,” said Moore, who had a drop that turned into an interception in Saturday’s loss to Memphis. “They’ve got to believe in themselves that they are going to make the play.

“Gehrig knew he was going to go up and make that catch, and Roger knew if it was a deep ball he was going to come down with it.”

The mistakes have come in bunches in all three losses this season, and more often than not, those mistakes have turned into quick points for the opponent.

In Saturday’s loss, James Knapke had thrown three interceptions in the first half, but two of them came off perfectly-thrown balls that were dropped and fell into the defenders hands. Both resulted in Memphis touchdowns.

“You’ve got to learn how to handle adversity,” Moore said. “That’s the main thing we’re trying to get down pat. When we get down, just everybody don’t get down — keep fighting.

“You can’t let the lows bother you,” he added. “If you let the lows bother you, you’re a team captain and they see you shut down, then they’re ready to shut down.”

The Falcons won’t change anything about they’re preparation in the coming weeks. Jinks is adamant that the issues facing the wide receivers and other groups will be ironed out over time.

He said that last week was the best week of practice Bowling Green has had this season.

“The one thing that I want to see is, right now nine or 10 guys are playing and we need four to step up, OK do it together,” Jinks said Tuesday after practice. “Do it for your brother, do it for the guy next to you. And when your teammate is in make sure that you’re up on the sidelines cheering them on, and make sure you’re wanting to see them be successful.

“When you go through a spell like this you have to shut out the outside and make sure you come together as a family. That’s been the approach the last 36 hours and that’s where it will be for the last nine weeks.”