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Falcons becoming more of a team without Jacobs

The Falcons know they can play winning football – they proved it Saturday by doing everything they needed in order to win an important game at Kent State. But they know in order to do keep winning they need to step up as a team.

The truth is, with the exception of Omar Jacobs, BGSU doesn’t have anyone resembling a superstar. But, they do have a lot of talent – enough to win the Mid-American Conference and possibly more.

So the question is, why have the Falcons struggled so much this season? Of course you could point to the loss of Jacobs to a shoulder injury (an injury he may or may not return from in BG’s next game against the Miami RedHawks), but even when he was playing the team had less than stellar performances against Buffalo, Ball State and Boise State.

Some have pointed to play calling, others want to point to individual players. But the Falcons aren’t about individual players. They weren’t when Omar Jacobs was getting all of the media attention and they definitely aren’t with him out of the lineup.

The team knows they are just that, a team.

“We know when we want to play we can make hits; make tackles. So we just have to keep going,” said linebacker Terrell White after Saturday’s win.

That has seemed to be the case all year. Either everyone has stepped up or no one has stepped up. It’s not individual guys who aren’t shouldering their burden, or one big mistake that has cost the team the game.

And the players are either really good at staying on message, or they honestly believe they have the right scheme, the right preparation and the right players.

“It’s all about execution,” is a comment you hear often from the players both before and after games.

Indeed, as the team prepares for next week’s showdown against Miami in a game that will most likely decide the MAC East champion, you don’t hear anything except team execution.

Conventional wisdom says in order to beat the formidable RedHawks, the Falcons need their star quarterback.

But it wasn’t a message the team was buying.

“I think it is all about playing together,” said Ted Piepkow, a team leader and fan favorite who has been shaking off nagging injuries all season. “Having trust in the system, being in position to make plays and making them.”

So, according to the players, it isn’t about Omar, and it isn’t about any particular player stepping up. It’s about the team collectively taking a stand and not letting the opportunity to win a MAC championship slip through their fingers.

After saying for two weeks straight that people on his squad needed to step up, coach Gregg Brandon was asked after the Kent State win whom exactly stepped up to deliver the victory.

His answer wasn’t just one or two players that made one or two big plays. It seemed like he mentioned everyone on the roster – from starters down to seldom-used reserves.

Perhaps if the Falcons can win the biggest game of their season, his list will grow even longer.

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