2011 Bowling Green Preview
Bowling Green DT Chris Jones
Bowling Green DT Chris Jones
Posted Jul 22, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Bowling Green Falcons

Bowling Green Falcons

Preview 2011

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Dave Clawson
3rd year: 9-16
12th year overall: 67-65
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 17, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Bowling Green Players
1. LB Dwayne Woods, Jr.
2. WR Kamar Jorden, Sr.
3. DT Chris Jones, Jr.
4. QB Matt Schilz, Soph.
5. S Jovan Leacock, Sr.
6. CB Cameron Truss, Soph.
7. S/KR Boo Boo Gates, Soph.
8. C Ben Bojicic, Sr.
9. LB Paul Swan, Soph.
10. OG Chip Robinson, Jr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 1 at Idaho
Sep. 10 Morgan State
Sep. 17 Wyoming
Sep. 24 at Miami Univ.
Oct. 1 at West Virginia
Oct. 8 at Western Michigan
Oct. 15 Toledo
Oct. 22 Temple
Oct. 29 at Kent State
Nov. 8 Northern Illinois
Nov. 16 Ohio
Nov. 25 at Buffalo

If nothing else, Bowling Green has been interesting.

It might not be coming up with championships, and it might have taken a major step back after a decent 2009, but the program is always doing something that needs to be watched.

Whether it was Urban Meyer's spread attack, or the fireworks put up under Gregg Brandon, or the record-setting passing numbers Dave Clawson's team came up with two years ago, the Falcons always seem to bring something to the MAC party that scares the rest of the conference teams. But now the wins have to start coming.

The 2010 Falcons only came up with two wins and only cranked out one MAC win, beating Central Michigan 17-14 on a miracle finish. But for all the problems and for all the losses, there was nothing out of the blue. Last year was supposed to be all about rebuilding and reloading, and as painful as the process might have been, the hope has to be that the step backward will lead to a big leap forward.

It's not just that seven starters are back on both sides of the ball; it's that the player return at key spots. Gone last year was record-setting receiver Freddie Barnes and four-year starting quarterback Tyler Sheehan, and most of the other key parts of the passing game also had to be replaced. Only three starters were back on offense and four returned on defense, with the entire linebacking corps going in an overhaul. The lack of experience on both sides of the ball showed with inconsistency, a lack of firepower, and not enough big plays in the close games.

Good, veteran teams win the tight ones, and last year the Falcons lost four games by a grand total of nine points. An experienced team doesn't lose at home to last year's Buffalo team by two, and it finds a way to close out Miami instead of losing on a last second field goal. Bowling Green lost to Temple by going for two with no time left on the clock rather than hit the extra point to go to overtime, and it lost the opener to Troy by three after getting picked off deep in Trojan territory.

Of course, it's not always right to do the ifs and buts game, but have the Falcons gotten right breaks in three of those four close games, the rebuilding year would've been a respectable 5-7 instead of a disastrous 2-10. This year's team should win those games.

The offense should be able to start bombing away again now that quarterback Matt Schilz knows what he's doing, while Kamar Jorden should be one of the MAC's leading receivers. There's speed in the backfield and four returning starters on the line.

The defense had to undergo a total overhaul two years ago and was still improving last year. The payoff should come with everyone of not returning in the back seven, and with good promise and potential up front.

The East is the far easier of the two divisions, and a few key wins could finally bring a title. The Miami game is on the road, but Temple and Ohio have to come to Doyt L. Perry. The fireworks will come, the passing game will be excellent, and the Falcons will be one of the keys to the MAC season. And they'll be entertaining along the way.

What to watch for on offense: Schilz to Jorden. In 2009, QB Tyler Sheehan threw for 4,051 yards and 27 touchdowns with seven picks. He completed 373 passes, and Freddie Barnes caught an NCAA record-setting 155 of them for 1,770 yards and 19 touchdowns in an unstoppable season. There wasn't any semblance of a running game, but Sheehan and Barnes were throwing it around the yard at will. Last year, Matt Schilz, trying to figure out what he was doing, only threw eight touchdown passes with 14 picks, and he only threw for 2,223 yards, but Kamer Jordan still had a huge season catching 96 passes for 1,109 yards and four scores. While there will be some attempt to start running the ball, the bread will be buttered again by the passing game, and the combination of Schilz to Jorden will be among the most productive in America.

What to watch for on defense: The secondary. The run defense was among the worst in college football over the last few seasons, and it'll still be a problem for the front six in the 4-2-5 alignment, but the secondary also has to be tighter after struggling last year finishing 91st in the nation and 11th in the MAC in pass efficiency defense. Four starters are back, and while it's still a young defensive backfield, it's athletic and it should be better. If the line can come up with any semblance of a pass rush, the production will be there.

The team will be far better if … The run defense isn't miserable. For the second straight season, the run defense got beaten, battered, and bruised by anyone and everyone who tried to push the ball on the ground. The Falcons allowed 150 yards or more in every game but one, allowing 99 yards in the win over Central Michigan, and they got destroyed by Toledo, Ohio, and Michigan in blowouts. Fortunately, no one over the first month of the season can run the ball, but that doesn't mean Idaho, Morgan State, Wyoming, and Miami University aren't going to try.

The schedule: If the Falcons are any good, there's a shot to come up with three wins over mediocre teams – Idaho, Morgan State, and Wyoming – before starting out the MAC season with what might be the biggest game of the East season: at Miami. If Bowling Green can win that, all of a sudden it's Game On for the division title with Temple and Ohio at home. There's a rough stretch of three straight road games in the middle of the year, and having to play a terrific Western Michigan team and Northern Illinois is an awful break, but there's only one road trip from October 8th until the end of November.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Kamar Jorden. Can he be another Freddie Barnes? He caught 98 passes last year when the quarterbacks didn't know what they were doing. Now, with Matt Schilz ready to become a steadier, more productive passer, Jorden should blow up and become a statistical superstar. He has decent 6-3, 196-pound size and he's a good route runner, but now he'll have to live with everyone throwing the kitchen sink out there to stop him. He should be good enough to thrive anyway.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Dwayne Woods. He's not all that big at 6-1 and 219 pounds, but he can fly all over the field and he's a peerless tackler making 134 stops last season. A huge hitter, when he gets a head of steam he blows up ball carriers and he can be great when he's allowed to fly into the backfield. A star recruit of a few years ago, he's playing like it with the athleticism and toughness to be in the mix for MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Jordan Hopgood. Bowling Green was 114th in the nation in rushing two years ago averaging a mere 86.5 yards per game with seven rushing scores. Last year the Falcons finished dead last in America averaging just 62.8 yards per game – 16 fewer per game than the second-worst team, San Jose State – but ran for 16 touchdowns. Enter Hopgood, a 6-0, 200-pound all-around playmaker who ran for 167 yards with six touchdowns and caught ten passes for 60 yards. Now he needs room to move, and the line that was so lousy over the last two years has to start opening up some holes.

The season will be a success if … The Falcons win the East. It'll be a big push to go from 2-10 to MAC East champion, and it'll be even tougher with a road date at defending champion Miami and with dates against Western Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois from the West, but the slate isn't that bad with some of the biggest games at home. Winning the division might be a bit too much to ask for, but if the experience can translate into production, it's a reasonable goal to shoot for.

Key game: Sept. 24 at Miami University. It's the MAC opener and it's a chance for Bowling Green to show that it's going to be a big player in the race. A loss would be put the Falcons behind the eight ball; they'd need to probably sweep Temple, Ohio, and the rest of the East considering they likely won't win more than two of three games against NIU, Toledo, and Western Michigan in the West.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Rushing Yards: Opponents 2,493 – Bowling Green 754
- Field Goals: Opponents 13-of-19 – Bowling Green 5-of-13
- Sacks: Opponents 34 for 246 yards – Bowling Green 17 for 97 yards

- 2011 Bowling Green Preview | 2011 Bowling Green Offense
- 2011 Bowling Green Defense | 2011 Bowling Green Depth Chart