By: chalifour.eric | 5/5/12, 11:50 AM EDT
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#94 Bowling Green
MAC East PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Dave Clawson, 14-23 (3 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Warren Ruggiero | DEF. COORDINATOR: Mike Elko
The Falcons should see the dividends from the hardships they endured on the offensive line last season when the healthy bodies barely met the needs. There should be a dozen linemen capable of playing on the top unit this time around, led by five who started at least six games in 2011. Senior Chip Robinson and junior Dominic Flewellyn, both guards, and senior Jordon Roussos, a tackle, lead the deep group.
Junior quarterback Matt Schilz enters his third year as a starter after posting five games with at least three TD passes last season. Tailback Anthon Samuel was the conference’s top freshman, rushing for 844 yards with five 100-yard games and five TDs in nine games. A wrist injury kept Samuel out of spring ball, but he will be ready to go in the fall. Sophomore Jamel Martin leads a deep group ready to spell Samuel.
The Falcons are thin on experience at wideout after graduating six players at the position, with junior Shaun Joplin the lone returnee who made any impact last season. Michigan transfer Je’Ron Stokes (three receptions in two years with the Wolverines) and sophomore Heath Jackson will need to come through in a significant manner. Junior Alex Bayer had 20 grabs as the steady starter at tight end last season.
The defensive line brings back most of the key pieces from last season, led by senior tackle Chris Jones, a first-team all-conference pick in 2011. Jones forced three fumbles and had 8.5 sacks and 14 stops behind the line as a junior and should be in the hunt for Defensive Player of the Year honors in the MAC. Juniors Jairus Campbell and Ted Ouellet bring loads of experience on the interior, while junior end Ronnie Goble is another returning starter up front.
Senior linebacker Dwayne Woods is back after earning first-team All-MAC honors. He led the Falcons with 111 tackles. Junior Paul Swan is a returning starter at the other linebacker post in the Falcons’ 4-2-5 scheme.
Experience is widespread in the secondary, where five starters return, none of them seniors. Sophomore Ryland Ward and junior BooBoo Gates will get the nod at the two safety spots, with Gates transitioning from the Rover spot. Junior Cameron Truss and sophomore DeVon McKoy are the most experienced returnees at the corners.
This should be a definite strength for the Falcons, with placekicker senior Steve Stein and junior punter Brian Schmiedebusch back as starters.
Schmiedebusch was a Ray Guy semifinalist in 2011 with his 45.3 yard average — sixth-best in the nation — and 19 punts of over 50 yards. Joplin and Gates should give the return game some electricity.
Dave Clawson’s first season at Bowling Green, in 2009, produced a 7–6 record and a spot in the Humanitarian Bowl. Since then, however, the Falcons are 7–17.
“We’ve played a lot of young guys the past couple of seasons, and they gained some very valuable experience,” Clawson says. “Now that they have been through it and seen what playing at game speed at the college level is all about, we expect good things from them.”
Assuming that Schilz remains healthy, the offense should have little trouble putting points on the board. If the defense, which brings back nine starters, can simply pull its weight, then the Falcons should be in position to battle Ohio for supremacy in the MAC East.