Bowling Green Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

Posted Aug 7, 2006

Bowling Green Falcons Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Starting at the top – Two summers ago, the Falcon faithful was a tad bit unsure as to how the 2004 offense would perform.  After watching one of the best QBs in school history, Josh Harris, venture off to the NFL, in addition to having their head coach up and leave for Utah, ‘worry’ might be too strong a word, but there were questions.  Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but the arrival of Omar Jacobs answered any and all questions that the Falcon supporters may have had.  Not only did Jacobs fill the shoes of Harris, he set a standard for himself, and all BGSU QBs, to follow with a season that included 40 touchdowns and only four interceptions.  Although his 2005 performance was a shade below his phenomenal 2004 season, Jacobs decided that he had played enough as a collegian, and took his game to the NFL.  Leaving the Falcons in the exact same situation as in 2004 – ‘constructing’ a new QB.  However, that’s where the similarities end.  Jacobs had a solid running game, led by P.J. Pope and B.J. Lane, to utilize when teams attempted to sit in nickel and dime coverages throughout the game.  On the other hand, projected starting QB Anthony Turner may end up being the running game in ‘06, as Pope and Lane depart with Jacobs.    In 2004, Jacobs had one of, if not the, most talented crew of receivers in the MAC returning to assist him.  Consequently, Turner’s leading returning receiver, Corey Partridge, had only 23 receptions last season.  All the ‘rookie’ QB loses is the duo of Steve Sanders and Charles Sharon, who combined for 130 receptions and 20 touchdowns.  Ouch.  Any more good news?  Well, Turner does have an offensive line with three returning starters, including All-MAC candidates Kory Lichtensteiger and Derrick Markray, to help open some running lanes for him and time to throw.  Finally, something to cheer about.  Turner gives the Falcons a little more overall athleticism at the QB spot, so expect to see more zone read and even some option out of the gun, more of the package used with Harris.  As such, 2006 presents a much different challenge for Gregg Brandon, Greg Studrawa and the Falcon offense.  More difficult than in 2004?  Perhaps, but definitely different.

2nd and Seven – Who gets it? – Remember that scene in the Adam Sandler classic The Waterboy when Sandler’s character Bobby Boucher intercepts the ball and then looks around for someone to toss it to? (Okay, so he did have #62 in mind, but that’s beside the point)  Boucher’s frantic search for the ‘right’ ball carrier might be emulated by Turner, when he needs a break and/or the Falcons want to exploit the running game.  Former RBs P.J Pope and B.J Lane, the one-two punch of the past three years, have left the proverbial building, leaving a massive void in the running game (and also due to their impact out of the backfield as receivers).  Of the four candidates to replace Pope as the starter, only one got significant carries last year, Bobby Thomas, and he only outrushed Turner by 13 yards.  Now, keep in mind that #62 did run for a touchdown after Bobby tossed him the ball, so maybe it’s not entirely bad news.

3rd and Three – Parks and no recreation – The Falcons have suffered a number of key personnel losses on the defensive side of the ball over the last few years, but one guy who returns in 2006 who could be and should be a major play maker off the edge is Devon Parks.  The senior isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, weighing only 252 pounds, but his quickness off the corner is evident when he’s on the field.  The key for Parks is two-fold – one, get off of blocks against the run and two, get pressure out of the base defense and don’t get pushed by on the pass rush.  Parks lack of tremendous size forces him to beat OTs off the ball, as he can’t really get in a bull rush situation and win too many battles.  As much as Parks can generate pressure in the passing game, his ability to hold the edge against both tackles and tight ends might be ultimately more important.  The Falcons gave up 175 yards per game against the run, but have a strong presence in DT Brad Williams and Brad Davis, and need one on the edge.  That has to be Parks.

4th and One – Ready for prime time – As a true freshman, the Bowling Green coaching staff thought so highly of cornerback Antonio Smith that they inserted him in the starting lineup and haven’t taken him out since.  The youngster broke up eight passes last season, in addition to his two interceptions.  However, without Jelani Jordan, he of the six interceptions on the other side, Smith may see a little more action in 2006.  But, this guy is a well-rounded player who’ll accept the challenge that’ll be thrown his way.  And, if you decide to run into his area, he’ll show you how much he appreciates contact – just ask John Stocco from Wisconsin if he remembers getting tagged by Mr. Smith.  Either way, the focus for Smith is to shut down his side of the field against the passing game; if a WR just happens to catch a pass, he’ll administer a headache in a hurry.

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