Bowling Green Falcons 2016 Preview and Prediction


#97 Bowling Green Falcons





HEAD COACH: Mike Jinks, First Season | OFF. COORDINATOR: Kevin Kilmer, Andy Padron | DEF. COORDINATOR: Perry Eliano, Marcus White

Dino Babers led Bowling Green to the MAC championship last season and then left to become the head coach at Syracuse. Mike Jinks, former associate head coach/running backs coach at Texas Tech, has taken over the reigns of the Falcons and will look to keep the program's momentum going. Jinks' debut will likely have its share of growing pains, however, with just 10 starters returning.

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Previewing Bowling Green’s Offense for 2016

There is a very good reason that Texas native Mike Jinks is now stationed deep in the heart of the Midwest and running the program at Bowling Green — the rapid-fire offense the Falcons run is very familiar to Jinks, who spent the past three seasons at Texas Tech and is the new head coach at BG. His predecessor, Dino Babers, brought the Baylor look to Bowling Green, and Jinks sees no reason for an offensive overhaul to take place. But there will be a significant personnel shuffle, since the Falcons need to replace a quarterback who set school and conference passing records, along with five of the top six pass catchers from a year ago. 

Senior James Knapke is poised to take over at quarterback after making 13 starts in 2014 when the record-setting Matt Johnson was injured. Knapke’s 280 completions for 3,173 yards and 15 touchdowns that year left little doubt he could do the job. Senior Fred Coppet moves in at tailback after rolling up 825 yards and scoring five touchdowns in a backup role in 2015. 

The biggest holes are at receiver, where Roger Lewis left early for the NFL after finishing with 85 catches for 1,544 receiving yards in 2015. Possession man Gehrig Dieter led the team with 94 catches, but he chose to play his graduate year at Alabama. That leaves Jinks to lean on dynamic senior Ronnie Moore, who had 72 grabs for 954 yards last season, and junior Teo Redding, who made his first start last season in the bowl game and responded with 13 catches for 222 yards and three touchdowns. 

The line is a veteran group with four returning starters who are well accustomed to the fast tempo Jinks prefers.

Related: Athlon's 2016 College Football Rankings: No. 1 to 128

Previewing Bowling Green’s Defense for 2016

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The emphasis has been on establishing a solid foundation with the fundamentals of sound tackling, physical play and dogged pursuit, and all indications are that the Falcons are buying into what the new staff has been pushing. Bowling Green returns first team All-MAC linebacker Austin Valdez, who had 13 tackles in his first start against Tennessee, and he should be one of the league’s top defenders on a veteran unit. He is joined by senior Trenton Greene, another all-conference pick after his 127-tackle performance in 2015, and James Sanford, a third returning starter at linebacker. 

The secondary is also anchored by proven veterans, with cornerbacks Alfonso Mack, the team leader last season with six interceptions, and Clint Stephens, who has six picks in his career. 

Most of the rebuilding is taking place up front, where senior Terrance Bush is the lone returning starter after making 68 stops a year ago. 

Previewing Bowling Green’s Specialists for 2016

Punter Joseph Davidson led the conference last season with a 46-yard average and had 17 punts over 50 yards. Departed placekicker Tyler Tate converted only 8-of-15 field goal attempts last year. Sophomore Jake Suder is next in line.

Final Analysis

About four years ago, Jinks was coaching high school football in his native Texas. Now he is the head coach of a solid mid-major program in the Midwest, and he was hand-picked for the job due to his high degree of familiarity with the offensive approach. 

There is no rebuild necessary at Bowling Green. Instead, Jinks is looking to build on the winning culture, and maybe crank things up a tad faster with the frenetic offense. The Falcons are the defending MAC champs and have won 17 straight games against their fellow MAC East members. The bar is set pretty high for Jinks in his head coaching debut, but the system and the personnel on hand would seem to put Bowling Green in a strong position once again.