The Falcons rank No. 119 in Athlon's Top 130 for 2018
Bowling Green and coach Mike Jinks are desperate to see their fortunes trend upward after a clumsy couple of seasons. BG's recruiting classes have been ranked in the top three in the MAC the past two years, and the addition of Carl Pelini to run the defense addresses the Falcons' most urgent need.
Previewing Bowling Green Football's Offense for 2018
Bowling Green struggled during a brutal two-win 2017 season, and if the program's fortunes are to change, there will need to be more production and efficiency from the offense. The Falcons turned the ball over 25 times in 2017 and saw the opposition convert those miscues into 100 points.
The coaches are expecting big things from sophomore quarterback Jarret Doege, who started five times as a freshman and completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
Sophomore Andrew Clair will take over as the featured tailback after averaging 6.8 yards per carry as a freshman while sharing the job with then-senior Josh Cleveland. Junior Matt Domer comes back from an injury-shortened 2017 to complement Clair. After playing defense throughout his career, senior Dorian Hendrix has moved over to play fullback, filling a void there.
The receivers were the deepest and most experienced group on the offense at the end of spring ball, with five of the top six from 2017 returning. However, Datrin Guyton and Matthew Wilcox were removed from the team due to off-field incidents. Two-time All-MAC performer Scott Miller had 63 catches for 722 yards a year ago and leads the group.
The line lost depth and experience to graduation but returns senior tackle Austin Labus, who started 12 games a year ago and anchors the group. Juniors Jack Kramer and Lorenzo Taborn and sophomore Caleb Bright all have more than a handful of starts to their credit and should help provide the foundation up front
Previewing Bowling Green Football's Defense for 2018
The call went out for a dramatic overhaul after the Falcons allowed an alarming 506.6 yards per game last season. Bowling Green has hired Pelini to run the unit and brought in several new position coaches. With five of the top six tacklers returning, the opportunity for significant improvement is there.
Senior end David Konowalski leads the group up front after starting 12 games last season and posting a team-high 8.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. The linebackers are an athletic lot, led by senior Brandon Harris, with 92 tackles and three fumble recoveries in 2017. Sophomores Armani Posey and Kholbe Coleman as well as junior college transfer Brandon Perce give the unit plenty of punch.
The defensive backfield returns nearly every starter from last season, led by corner Montre Gregory, safety Marcus Milton and rover Fred Garth -- all seniors. The secondary also welcomes back junior Jamari Bozeman, a third-team All-MAC pick at safety in 2016 who was sidelined last season with injuries.
Previewing Bowling Green Football's Specialists for 2018
The Falcons lost NFL-bound punter Joe Davidson, whose net average of 42.3 yards was in the top five nationally, and were looking to junior college transfer Cooper Lee to take over. However, Lee was dismissed from the team in late May. The placekicker is new, too -- sophomore Nate Needham.
Pelini has some decent building blocks with Bowling Green's veteran secondary and athletic linebackers. Doege has the confidence of his coaches and teammates after making five starts as a freshman, while Miller provides a clear No. 1 target on the outside. The first month of the season will be rough, with Oregon, Maryland and Georgia Tech all on the schedule, so a break-even year will require a strong conference showing.