2012 Bowling Green Preview
Bowling Green LB Dwayne Woods
Bowling Green LB Dwayne Woods
Posted May 2, 2012

CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Bowling Green

Bowling Green Falcons

Preview 2012

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Dave Clawson
4th year: 13-23
13th year overall: 72-72
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 28
Ten Best Bowling Green Players
1. LB Dwayne Woods, Sr.
2. DT Chris Jones, Sr.
3. P Brian Schmiedebusch, Jr.
4. QB Matt Schilz, Jr.
5. RB Anthon Samuel, Soph.
6. S Jerry "BooBoo" Gates, Jr.
7. LB Paul Swan, Jr.
8. TE Alex Bayer, Jr.
9. OG Dominic Flewellyn, Jr.
10. C Chip Robinson, Sr.
2012 Schedule

Sep. 1 at Florida
Sep. 8 Idaho
Sep. 15 at Toledo
Sep. 22 at Virginia Tech
Sept. 29 Rhode Island
Oct. 6 at Akron
Oct. 13 Miami Univ.
Oct. 20 at UMass
Oct. 27 Eastern Michigan
Nov. 7 at Ohio
Nov. 17 Kent State
Nov. 23 Buffalo

Dave Clawson set the bar high when he first took over in 2009.

The Falcon offense blew up with a record-setting passing attack on the way to a seven-win season and a bowl appearance. However, there wasn't any running game, the defense was a rumor, and the record was a bit of a mirage. There was a reason he was hired following a 6-6 2008 season, and two years ago came the payback with a 2-10 season in a true rebuilding year.

The program had to be torn down a bit to be built back up, and it was going to be a little bit of a project to get back to challenging again for the MAC title. After throwing young players to the wolves, the 2011 Falcons were experienced and better with a 5-7 season including a win over Temple and close calls against Wyoming, Toledo, and Ohio, and now it's time for all the work and all the patience to result in a huge year.

Last year's team was experienced, but that was nothing compared to the 2012 version with 20 starters back, depth, and several legitimate all-stars in key positions. With the talent amassed and the veterans in place, it's time to challenge for the East title.

The offense that struggled and sputtered so much at times over the last few years has no excuse to not be terrific. Matt Schilz is in his third year as the starting quarterback, and after taking his lumps and struggling with his consistency, now he knows what he's doing. His top receivers from last year might be gone, but the newly-formed corps should be far more talented and even more productive if given a little bit of time.

The ground game that's been non-existent at best, embarrassing at its worst, has a legitimate 1,000-yard threat in speedy sophomore Anthon Samuel to go along with the depth to keep him fresh. The offensive line that's been a work in progress over the last few years has five big, experienced bodies forming the best front five the program has had in years.

The defense was the biggest concern when Clawson took over, and now it should be a killer with linebacker Dwayne Woods a tackling machine in the middle and lightning-quick Chris Jones collapsing things on the interior. Five starters are back in the secondary in the 4-2-5 with enough depth to play around with the combination to get the best players on the field at all times. Throw in All-America candidate Brian Schmiedebusch at punter, and everything is in place to jack up the expectations.

Even with all the improvements and all the experience this still might not be the MAC's best team, but it'll be in the mix. After going 7-17 over the last two seasons, a winning season has to be a given; a MAC East title should be on the table; and the potential is there for the first MAC title appearance since 2003.

The program has waited long enough.

What to watch for on offense: A running game? Really? Not only did the Falcons finish dead last in the nation in rushing in 2010, it averaged just 63 yards per game – 14 yards fewer than the second-worst rushing team in the nation. Last year the ground game improved by leaps and bounds, but it still finished 91st in the nation averaging 123 yards per game. This year, as long as sophomore RB Anthon Samuel can stay healthy, there's reason to believe the ground attack could actually be a positive. The offensive line is big and experienced, and there are enough good backs to form a solid rotation. The bread will still be buttered by QB Matt Schilz and the passing game, but now he might not have to do it all alone.

What to watch for on defense: The attempt to come up with more big plays. The Falcons were 116th in the nation in turnover margin last year because the defense was miserable at taking the ball away with just six interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. There's too much experience and too much athleticism to not be more disruptive from all 11 positions, and now the mentality has to go from being merely competent on defense to dangerous. The pass rush has to come from the ends and the secondary has to start coming up with the game-changers.

The team will be far better if … it could stop the run. Yeah, the stats from the pass defense looked great, but that was because teams spent so much time running wild. The Falcons stuffed the weak and sad ground games, but they didn't have a prayer against Western Michigan, Toledo or Northern Illinois. BGSU was 4-2 when allowing 200 rushing yards or fewer and 1-5 when giving up 200 or more. Also, the team was 4-1 last year when it didn't allow a touchdown pass.

The schedule: The Falcons have their paycheck road games against Florida at Virginia Tech early on, but they also have winnable non-conference home dates against Idaho and Rhode Island to make up for it. The key, though, to the first half of the season will be the MAC opener against Toledo, possibly the best team in the West this year. Win that, and then things get interesting with winnable East games against Akron, Miami, and UMass before facing a resurgent Eastern Michigan. That's winnable, too, and then comes the possible showdown for the division title at Ohio in early November. If the Falcons are still in range for the title at that point, they should be able to hit the five-foot putts against Kent State and Buffalo in home dates, with the UB game played in Columbus.

Best offensive player: Junior QB Matt Schilz. If could end up being RB Anthon Samuel if he can stay in one piece, but the offense works around the passing game and Schilz is starting to come into his own after starting the last two seasons. He has to cut down on his interceptions and he has to be able to translate yards into points, but he's a big, talented passer who should be able to spread the ball around well and be the reason the Falcons get in the MAC East title chase.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Dwayne Woods. With only two linebackers in the 4-2-5 alignment, the Falcons need production from the two guys on the inside. Woods is only 5-11 and 227 pounds but he's tough as nails with unlimited range and big-time hitting ability. His production might have dropped off a bit last year, but he was every big the intimidating force and tackling machine he was in 2010. This year he should become a bit more of a national household name, especially if he comes up big early against Florida and Virginia Tech.

Key player to a successful season: Junior DT Jairus Campbell. The Bowling Green run defense has got to be better. The line needs more pass rushing from ends Ronnie Goble and Zach Colvin, and first-team All-MAC star Chris Jones will do his part on the inside, but Campbell has the 6-5, 295-pound size to start doing far more to hold up, while his backup, 6-0, 317-pound Hunter Maynard, needs to be an anchor when he gets his turn in the rotation.

The season will be a success if … The Falcons win the East. They might not be good enough to win the MAC title, but with Temple gone to the Big East the East division suddenly becomes very, very light. There's Ohio, an improved Miami, a decent Kent State, and that's about it. Any teams with this much experience and this many stars should shoot for nothing less than a spot in the championship.

Key game: Nov. 7 at Ohio. Losers in three straight in the series and in four of the last five games, Bowling Green probably can't win the East if it can't get out of Athens with a win. The Bobcats have won two of the last three East titles, but they should take a bit of a step back early on this year. If the Falcons can play up to expectations over the first part of the MAC schedule, they should enter the nationally televised game with the opportunity to come up with the biggest win in the program's recent history.

2011 Fun Stats:
- 2nd half scoring: Opponents 169 – BGSU 133
- Penalties: Opponents 75 for 611 yards – BGSU 58 for 505 yards
- Rushing yards per game: Opponents 203.4 – BGSU 122.9

- 2012 Bowling Green Preview | 2012 Bowling Green Offense
- 2012 Bowling Green Defense | 2012 Bowling Green Depth Chart