COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2012 PRESEASON TOP 25
MAC East PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Dave Clawson, 22-28 (4 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Warren Ruggiero | DEF. COORDINATOR: Mike Elko
The Falcons hope to return one of the top offensive combinations in the league from a unit that averaged 365.5 yards per game last year. Senior quarterback Matt Schilz has started 35 games and has 50 touchdown passes and 7,832 yards on his resume. He had 2,585 passing yards and 14 TDs last season. The question mark surrounds running back Anthon Samuel, who has rushed for more than 1,800 yards and scored 16 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Samuel left school late in 2012 to be with his wife and son back home in Florida. His return is uncertain.
If Samuel does not come back, Andre Givens, Jamel Martin and Jordan Hopgood will battle for the starting assignment. Martin carried the ball 39 times for 205 yards last season.
Schilz’s top two targets will be Chris Gallon, who is 6'4" and caught 54 passes for 720 yards and six TDs last year, and the 6'2" Shaun Joplin, who had 40 receptions for 639 yards. The tight end also is a big part of the attack. Alex Bayer, who has started 30 straight games, caught 36 passes for 410 yards as a junior.
The offensive line, rich in experience, is a strength for Bowling Green. The Falcons return four players who started all 13 games in 2012 — center Chief Kekuewa, guards Dominic Flewellyn and Alex Huettel and tackle Fahn Cooper. Flewellyn, who earned all-conference honors last season, has made 33 straight starts.
The Falcons boasted the best defense in the MAC last season, allowing only 296.6 yards and 16.8 points per game. The 2013 unit should be strong again, despite the loss of tackle Chris Jones, the ’12 MAC Defensive Player of the Year. He tied for eighth in the nation with 12.5 sacks.
There is plenty of talent remaining on the defensive line. Ends Charlie Walker and Bryan Thomas combined for six sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. Tackle Ted Ouellet earned all-league honors after posting three sacks and six stops behind the line. Jairus Campbell is coming back from an injury that cost him 10 games in 2012 and joins Ouellet up front.
Gabe Martin, a first-team All-MAC pick, returns after leading the Falcons with 70 tackles last year. Paul Swan is another returning starter, and D.J. Lynch has plenty of experience with the unit.
Bowling Green is loaded in the secondary with all four starters back from a group that finished 13th in the country in passing defense. All-MAC performers BooBoo Gates (safety) and Cameron Truss (cornerback) lead the unit.
Punter Brian Schmiedebusch gives the Falcons a potent field position weapon. He earned second-team all-conference honors last season with 18 punts over 50 yards, a 40.8-yard average and 24 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line. Tyler Tate, 7-of-10 on field goals last season, handles the placekicking. The Falcons are looking for more out of their return units in 2013. They ranked eighth in the league in kickoff returns last season.
The Falcons should continue moving up the ladder in the MAC, and the top rung is next. Bowling Green went 8–5 last season, after going 5–7 and 2–10 in the previous two years, respectively. With eight starters back on offense, nine on defense, and a pair of veterans returning in the kicking game, fifth-year coach Dave Clawson has his program in position to win a division title for the first time since 2003, when Bowling Green won the MAC West.
The Falcons’ schedule is favorable. They don’t play Northern Illinois and Ball State — two of the top teams in the MAC West — and they host fellow East contender Ohio.