2014 Bowling Green Falcons Team Preview
Bowling Green Falcons
Head Coach: Dino Babers
2013 Record: 10-4 overall, 7-1 MAC East
2013 Bowl Result: Lost to Pittsburgh 30-27 in the Little Caesars Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 5 defense
Odds to win 2015 College Football Championship Game: field 30-1
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Last season, the Bowling Green Falcons went 10-4 and won the MAC Championship game 47-27 against a previously unbeaten Northern Illinois team. The Falcons lost to Pittsburgh 30-27 though in the Little Caesars Bowl. The other losses came to Indiana, Mississippi State and Toledo. Besides a blowout loss to Indiana, the other losses were by a total of 7 points.
Coach Dave Clawson left Bowling Green for Wake Forest to become the head coach there. The Falcons hired Eastern Illinois head coach Dino Babers to replace Clawson. Babers has installed a no huddle frantic tempo offense. He gets 12 starters back from last year’s championship team. Bowling Green is considered one of the favorites to win the MAC along with Northern Illinois and Toledo.
Babers and new coordinators Sterlin Gilbert and Matt Mattox have worked hard to get the Falcons used to the new much quicker pace of the offense throughout the spring and fall. They get seven starters back from last year’s offense. Last year the Falcons averaged 266 passing and 193 rushing yards per game. Bowling Green scored 34.8 points per game. Bowling Green was #39 or better nationally in all three categories.
Junior quarterback Matt Johnson is back after he started all but the first game of the season last year. He completed 64.2% of his passes for 3,467 yards with 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also rushed for 238 yards on 117 carries with 5 touchdowns. He should thrive in the new offense.
Running back Travis Greene is also back after he had 279 carries for 1,594 yards and 11 touchdowns. Greene also had 18 catches for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. Andre Givens, Fred Coppet, and William Houston all return as well. They each had at least 45 carries and over 200 yards. Houston had 11 rushing touchdowns.
The Falcons must replace leading receiver Shaun Joplin (54 catches, 908 yards and 3 touchdowns) and tight end Alex Bayer (37 catches, 593 yards and 4 touchdowns). Bayer is now with the St. Louis Rams. Ronnie Moore is back after making 28 catches for 547 yards and 7 touchdowns. Ryan Burbrink had 30 catches for 477 yards and 2 touchdowns. Heath Jackson had 32 catches for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. SMU transfer Gehrig Dieter and true freshman Roger Lewis will also contribute. Chris Pohlman is the new tight end but only made 4 catches last year.
Three starters return for the offensive line. Junior Alex Huettell moves from guard to center. Tackles Logan Dietz and Jacob Bennett are also back.
Bowling Green was #10 nationally in total defense at 321 yards per game and #5 in scoring defense allowing just 16 points a game. Only five starters are back for new coordinator Kim McCloud.
Both ends return in Bryan Thomas and Charlie Walker. The seniors combined to start 22 games last season. The starting tackles must be replaced but junior Taylor Royster and senior Zach Colvin both have a lot of experience.
Seniors Bryan Thomas and Charlie Walker return at outside linebacker. Redshirt frehsman Nate Locke and Paul Senn will platoon in the middle.
Senior free safety Ryland Ward is the only returning starter in the secondary. Jude Adjei-Barimah and Darrell Hunter will start at the corners, and Brian Sutton will start at the other safety.
Kicker Tyler Tate is back after making 18 of 22 field goals, including 6 of 8 from beyond 40 yards. Joe Davidson takes over the punting duties. Bowling Green led the MAC in both punt returns and kick returns and should be good again with Burbrink and Moore.
Outlook / Schedule
Bowling Green should get a couple of games to adjust to the new offense with games at Western Kentucky and at home against VMI. Then they host Indiana and travel to Wisconsin. In the MAC, the Falcons travel to Massachusetts, Ohio, Akron, and Toledo. Bowling Green hosts Buffalo, Western Michigan, Kent State and Ball State. Games against Big Ten teams Indiana and Wisconsin are the toughest on the schedule, along with road trips to Akron and Toledo. Still They should win at least 9 games and the MAC East Division title.
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