The Bowling Green of 2017 isn’t your grandpa’s Bowling Green, or even you from two years ago’s Bowling Green. Things have changed in a hurry up in Ohio, and we’ll get to see firsthand just how... far... the program has come with a week four matchup in Atlanta.
Last Season in Review
Few teams in all of college football had a rougher time than Bowling Green in 2017. Once a perennial winner under the guidance of Urban Meyer, Dave Clawson, Dino Babers, and others, the Falcons faltered to a 2-10 finish under second-year head coach Mike Jinks. The team finished at a Roofian 125th out of 129 FBS teams in total defense and 85th in total offense, a couple of figures that make me wonder how they managed even two victories.
Not unlike Tech, BGSU responded to the awful defensive performance by moving on from defensive coordinator and associate head coach Perry Eliano. Unlike Tech, however, the Falcons elected to keep the remainder of the staff in tact for one more go around while adding a 10th assistant to the mix. It’s hard to imagine that 2018 won’t be do-or-die for Jinks in year three as Bowling Green looks to get back it its winning ways of the previous decade with their iconic #MACtion offensive flair.
Mike Jinks is a disciple of Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, meaning he’s going scream pass like a Miami fan when Steve Harvey asks for a number between one and three. BGSU is a team that has always relied on a prolific offense, and there will be some serious holes to fill even after a 2-10 season. Can you say attrition?
- QB James Morgan - 1260 yards, 9 touchdowns - Morgan, a two-year starter, transferred to FIU in the offseason. He split the majority of his 2017 playing time with another player who will remain nameless until we get to that point in the article, but losing a veteran starter to transfer is never a good start to the offseason. Unless you have Justin Thomas waiting, obviously.
- RB Josh Cleveland - 793 yards, 4 touchdowns - Cleveland, the team’s leading rusher in 2017, finished up his eligibility after a solid two-year run in Ohio.
- WR Teo Redding - 624 yards, 8 touchdowns - Redding wrapped up his career with Bowling Green and moved on to the NFL, where he’s currently with Detroit. He was the team’s leader in touchdown receptions and second on the team in receiving yards.
- WR Datrin Guyton - 585 yards, 2 touchdowns - Guyton was dismissed after a felony robbery charge after being dismissed from Oregon State in 2015. He was the team’s third-leading receiver and the biggest deep play threat.
- LB Nate Locke - 93 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks - A true veteran on the defense, Locke finished his eligibility with a strong 2017. Unfortunately, no one else around him followed suit.
Now we get to hear about the guys who are returning for Bowling Green, including that aforementioned quarterback. Full disclosure: I focused on the offense once again because that defense didn’t seem to have much worth celebrating.
- QB Jarret Doege - 1381 yards, 12 touchdowns - Doege simply outplayed Morgan last season, blowing him away in everything from QBR (143.4 vs. 102.6) to completion percentage (63.8% vs. 45.3%). He looks like a key player to watch for.
- RB Andrew Clair - 725 yards, 4 touchdowns - Clair had the most 2017 rushing yards of any returning player and figures to see his 107 carrier bump up with no more Josh Cleveland to compete with.
- WR Scott Miller - 722 yards, 4 touchdowns - Miller was the team’s leading receiver in 2017 and figures to hold that role again as a senior given the aforementioned departures of the team’s #2 and #3 receivers.
- S Fred Garth - 95 tackles - The team’s leading tackler in 2017, Garth returns for his second and final FBS season after transferring from Northwest Mississippi Community College prior to last season. He is one of many Falcons who found their way from the community college ranks.
- DL David Konowalski - 3.5 sacks - Konowalski is the team’s co-leader in sacks at just 3.5. This is why you should feel sympathetic for me as I try to find true impact players on one of the nation’s worst defenses, though I’m sure Konowalski is a fine player himself.
- HC Mike Jinks - Yay... continuity?
Please win this game. I promise I didn’t cherrypick players for this list — the guys listed as returning and departing are comprised mainly of BGSU’s seven All-MAC picks at the end of the season, with much more talent seemingly leaving than coming in. These guys even lost their two All-MAC specialists, one due to a strange case of eligibility mismanagement and one to the NFL, and then had their backup punter leave the team.
The good news is that if Tech struggles to win this game, our season would likely already be over with three previous losses already on the record against South Florida, Pittsburgh, and Clemson. The simple truth is that BGSU is the second-worst team on the schedule this year and will hopefully not provide any major slip ups like we’ve seen against certain other G5 teams which will remain nameless.