2012 Bowling Green Preview – Offense
Bowling Green QB Matt Schilz
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Bowling Green Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: This is the year when it should all come together. Offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero has a veteran attack to work with led by Matt Schilz, who's going into his third year as the starting quarterback. While the quarterback play should be among the best in the MAC, the key to the improvement will be up front, where for the first time in several years the line should be a major strength with five starters returning and several options to play around with. The receiving corps is as talented as the program has had in a long time, but it's lacking experience and needs time to gel, while the afterthought of a running game has a burgeoning star in Anthon Samuel to work around. If he can stay healthy he'll be a legitimate 1,000-yard threat and there might be a bit more balance than usual.
Star of the offense: Junior QB Matt Schilz
Passing: Matt Schilz
245-412, 3,024 yds, 28 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Anthon Samuel
144 carries, 844 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Shaun Joplin
21 catches, 292 yds, 1 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Fahn Cooper
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Je'Ron Stokes
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Alex Bayer
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Schilz, 2) RB Anthon Samuel, 3) Bayer
Strength of the offense: Experience, Quarterback
Weakness of the offense: Receiver Experience, Balance
The Bowling Green passing game started to figure it out last year, and that was mostly because of the maturation of Matt Schilz, a 6-3, 211-pound junior who fought through a tough first year to connect on close to 60% of his passes for 3,024 yards and 28 scores in his breakout sophomore campaign. He's not going to run, but he has turned into a far more efficient passer and a far better decision maker, bombing away on Wyoming for 437 yards and four scores and lighting up Kent State for 400 yards and a touchdown. The problem, though, has been interceptions, throwing 14 in his first season and 13 last year with five coming in the last three games. In his third year as a starter he knows what he's doing and should have a strong command of the offense. If he can cut down on his picks and be a bit more consistent, he has All-MAC potential.
Redshirt freshman Matt Johnson was the team's top recruit last season and will be seasoned to take over the starting gig in 2014. While he's not all that big at 5-11 and 212 pounds, and he doesn't have the biggest arm, he's a playmaker who ranks fifth in Pennsylvania high school history in yards with 7.944 and eighth in passing scores with 85.
Watch Out For … Schilz to come close to hit the 3,500-yard mark. He'll have a retooled receiving corps to work with, but he'll get more room to spread the ball around and should be able to crank out 300 yards on a regular basis.
Strength: Schilz's experience. He was thrown to the wolves as a freshman and showed he could be one of the MAC's strong new prospects. After coming up with a terrific sophomore season, now he can be the type of leader who can carry the team by himself to a winning season.
Weakness: Interceptions. Schilz throws too many. The Falcons are 2-7 over the last two seasons when he throws two or more picks, and he has thrown at least one interception in 16 of his 22 career games.
Outlook: The Bowling Green passing game will always produce and Schilz appears to be ready to take the air attack to another level. While Johnson is a promising talent for the future, there's no backup experience with last year's No. 2 man, Trent Hurley, not around. Keeping Schilz upright and healthy will be a must until Johnson can get his feet wet.
Unit Rating: 7
The Bowling Green running game finally started to work a little bit last year thanks to the emergence of 5-11, 183-pound sophomore Ashton Samuel, a dangerous back out of Florida who led the way with 844 yards and five touchdowns averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Also a little bit of a receiver, he made 15 catches for 93 yards, but couldn't seem to bust loose. As a true freshman he was great right out of the box with 141 yards and a score against Idaho and he hit the 100-yard mark in three of the first four games and five of the first eight outings, but he started to hit a wall and was banged up throughout the second half of the season. Out this spring with a broken wrist, he's expected to be 100% for the start of the season and should be one of the MAC's most dangerous and effective runners.
Until the emergence of Samuel the running game was supposed to belong to junior Jordan Hopgood, a 5-11, 212-pound veteran who bulked up a bit over the last few years to fill more of a pounding physical role. He struggled in 2010 averaging just 2.2 yards per carry, but he scored six times. Last year he ran for 213 yards – averaging 3.5 yards per carry – and scored four touchdowns. A talent, he was wanted by Nebraska as a possible running quarterback or a receiver, but he has his niche on the Falcons.
5-10, 191-pound sophomore Jamel Martin got a start when Samuel was hurt and grew into the team's No. 2 running back as the season went on finishing with 280 yards and three scores. He didn't get too much work early on, but he came on late running for 50 yards against Kent State and 44 against Buffalo. Quick, he's good at getting through the hole in a hurry.
Part tight end and part fullback, 6-2, 247-pound junior Tyler Beck saw starting time for most of the season in the backfield and served purely as a blocker. He didn't get any carries, but he caught eight passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. He'll once again be used in a variety of roles and should be a bigger part of the passing game.
Watch Out For … even more from the running game. The Falcons have three decent backs able to form a decent rotation. The Bowling Green ground attack won't ever be Wisconsin, but everyone should combine for close to 1,500 yards. After years of no production on the ground whatsoever, this is a big boost.
Strength: Quickness. Samuel can cut and zip on a dime and Hopgood and Martin can move, too. This is a slippery group of backs that fills a role and can come up with yards in chunks when they get a chance.
Weakness: The Bowling Green offense. With Matt Schilz becoming stronger and more experienced, the passing game is only going to get better. The ground game is improving after years of being among the worst in America, but it'll always take a back seat to the passing attack.
Outlook: The running game has to average four yards per carry and be effective when it gets its chance. There's experience and athleticism in the backfield, and it all has to translate into more big plays when everyone gets a shot. Samuel has special rushing skills and is a threat for 1,000 yards, but he has to prove he can hold up. If he lasts a full 12 games this will be the best Bowling Green rushing attack in a long, long time.
Unit Rating: 5
The Falcons lose top targets Kamar Jorden and Eugene Cooper, and now it'll be up to junior Shaun Joplin to step up and become the main man for Matt Schilz. The 6-2, 197-pounder caught the game-winning scoring grab against Temple and was steady throughout the year, but now he has to be more explosive.
It'll be up to several untested prospect to shine right away, including junior Je'Ron Stokes, a transfer from Michigan who sat out last season and now will be looking to restart his career. The 6-0, 198-pound Philadelphia native has the talent and speed to be the new No. 1 target in place of Jorden, while 6-0, 178-pound redshirt freshman Herve Coby has big-time upside with excellent speed and great hands. Plucked out of Florida, Coby has a nose for the goal line and big play ability inside or out.
The team's second-leading returning receiver is veteran tight end Alex Bayer, a strong 6-4, 256-pound target who finished fourth on the team with 20 catches for 242 yards and two scores. A great route runner with soft hands, he always seems to find the holes in the defense. While he can block a little bit, his real worth is as a receiver, while 6-5, 258-pound sophomore Kendall Montgomery is more of a physical hitter. Very tall and with the look of a strong tight end he only managed one catch last year but it was for a score. He has the potential to be a far bigger part of the offense being used in the rotation with Bayer.
At 6-4 and 219 pounds, redshirt freshman Chris Gallon has tremendous size and the potential to be deadly around the goal line catching 17 touchdown passes as a high school senior in Orlando. A big play threat, he'll work in a rotation with Joplin, while 5-11, 176-pound sophomore Heath Jackson will see time as a special teamer and as an inside target playing behind Stokes. Extremely quick, Jackson has the potential to be dangerous in the open field and showed a spark throughout spring ball.
Also looking to become a big play target is redshirt freshman Travis Greene, a potentially strong kick returner with excellent open-field upside. The former high school quarterback isn't all that big, but he can move.
Watch Out For … Stokes. He was a big-time recruit for Michigan who didn't work out. On sheer skill alone he has the potential to put up big numbers over the next few years.
Strength: Talent. From Stokes to the expected emergence of Coby, Gallon, and Jackson the playmakers are in place to get the passing game rolling. With Matt Schilz spreading the ball around, the offense doesn't one guy to step up and shine.
Weakness: Experience. Jorden and Cooper combined for 155 of the team's 254 catches and 21 of the 28 scores. There might be good, promising players ready to step up, but it might take a little bit after a decent, but not great spring.
Outlook: The Falcons are loaded with upside, speed, and skill, but it might take a few games before everything starts to click. Bayer is an underappreciated tight end option who can serve as a safety valve, but it's the receivers who have to produce from the start. Give it a half a season and this group should be terrific.
Unit Rating: 5.5
With a massive improvement up front came a better season for the Falcons, but now a little bit of rebuilding and retooling has to be done on the outside. Gone is tackle/center Ben Bojicic, but junior Kyle Bryant
was supposed to be back after starting for most of the year on the left side. The 6-5, 305-pounder was going to start out the season on the right side but he was dismissed from the team for violating team rules..
Now the hope is for 6-4, 294-pound junior Fahn Cooper to emerge as the rock of the line protecting Matt Schilz. Big and athletic, he looked the part this offseason and allowed Bryant to be moved over to the other side. If he can hold up and do the job, everything else should easily fall into place for the emerging front five.
6-3, 291-pound junior Dominic Flewellyn spent last season at right guard starting all 12 games, but this year he's going to start out working on the left side – where he was originally supposed to start last year. Experienced, he has anchor potential for the run game with decent quickness, but he doesn't have run-blasting bulk. If moves back over to the right side, then 6-3, 298-pound senior Dominique Wharton will step in again on the left side after getting nine starts. A former JUCO transfer, he stepped in ready to go out of the box, and he was exactly what the team needed. He'll see more than his share of time in some way on the inside.
Getting the call again at center is senior Chip Robinson, a big 6-5, 310-pound guard who started three times for Wharton on the left side but spent most of the year in the middle. A rock in 2010 starting every game, he was banged up a bit throughout last year but he's ready to go now. Better in the middle, he's great in the phone book and can hit.
6-4, 296-pound senior Jordan Roussos has been a key part of the line for the last few years after starting out his career on the defensive line. A right tackle by nature, he started every game last year on the outside but will now kick inside to right guard while Flewellyn will move over to the left side. He has the size and the experience to be an anchor up front.
Expected to be one of the key backups is JUCO transfer Kelii Kekuewa, a 6-3, 300-pound tackle who'll start out the year as a backup center. Versatile, the Hawaiian can play just about anywhere up front, while 6-7, 281-pound sophomore Christian Piazza is a tall blocker with great potential at left tackle. He has the frame to be a tough pass protector to get around.
Watch Out For … more consistency. The positive out of a slew of injuries up front last year was the experience gained by several players who were thrown to the wolves. Once the pieces of the puzzle are all put in place the line should be steady.
Strength: Experience. This was a strength last year and it showed. Now the line is really experienced with five players who can be called returning starters mixing in with some decent backups who can be ready to roll if needed. All of a sudden, Bowling Green has a line it can count on – that's relatively new for this offense.
Weakness: Run blocking. It's a big enough line to do more, but in this offense the first goal is to protect the passer. This isn't a group that'll blast anyone off the ball, but it can trap and pull enough to open the holes needed for the quick backs. However, it has to prove it can be consistent when it comes to beating people up.
Outlook: After years of miserable production the Bowling Green line has the potential to be one of the best in the MAC. There's size, experience, and versatility to play around with. The coaching staff did a nice job of juggling last year when injuries struck, and now they know what they have to work with. If Cooper turns out to be great at left tackle, this will be a whale of a front five.
Unit Rating: 6
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Bowling Green Offense
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