2016 MAC: 3-5 (3rd, MAC East)
2017 MAC Media prediction: 3rd (MAC East)
Falcons gearing up for rebound
With road games at . . .
● Quarterback James Morgan had an up-and-down season in 2016. Although he threw 16 touchdowns, he also tossed 15 interceptions. The latter included three each against MAC East co-champs Ohio and Miami. The Falcons meet each of those schools in weeks two and three of conference play.
● BG ranked sixth in total offense, but fell to ninth in scoring offense thanks, in part, to the last place finish in turnover margin (minus-16).
● The Falcons were fifth in rushing offense (180.8 ypg) and eighth in passing (226.1 ypg).
● Leading rusher Fred Coppet finished his Falcon career with 1,030 yards in 2016. He registered six games with over 100 yards rushing on the campaign and eclipsed the century mark in each of the final three games – all BG wins in a four-win season.
Seniors Josh Cleveland and Donovan Wilson will step into the breech after having combined for 1,180 yards on 211 carries. Cleveland averaged 6.4 ypc, while Donovan was at 4.6 ypc.
● Although Ronnie Moore has departed, Morgan will nonetheless benefit from returning quality among the receiving corps. Junior Scott Miller’s 74 catches (968 yards, 10 TDs) was fourth among all MAC receivers. Senior Teo Redding owned 31 receptions for 423 yards and three scores.
● Maybe other BG opponents didn’t roll up the 77 points that Ohio State and Memphis did in 2016, but they certainly found the endzone often. In fact, the least amount of opponent points in any Falcon loss was 30.
Two of the better defensive showings were in the final two games – both wins. Bowling Green throttled Kent State 42-7 before finishing the year with a 27-19 victory over Buffalo.
● Run or pass, the Falcons struggled defending either at times. They were ninth in rushing defense (190.8), 11th against the pass (272.3 ypg) and last in pass defense efficiency.
However, there’s reason to believe that BG can make strides in improving the pass defense numbers, so long as the Falcons aren’t hit with another spate of injuries.
Safeties Jamari Bozeman (Jr., Third Team All-MAC) and Jerry McBride are back and the corners gained some valuable experience in 2016.
● Junior Brandon Harris anchors the linebacking group. Gus Schwieterman (Sr., DT) and David Konowalski (Jr. DE) are returning starters up front.
● Senior Joseph Davidson is already on the national map when it comes to punting. His 43.1 yards per boot was second nationally. He also showed excellent touch, registering just three touchbacks.
Jake Suder converted 9 of 12 field goals with a long of 44 yards last year. He was good on 35 of 38 PATs.
BG faces Toledo, Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan in cross-divisional play.
Back-to-back games at Miami and at Ohio in early October will be key matchups for all three teams.
The Falcons have some playmakers, and Morgan has the tools to improve on his freshman numbers of last year. Can the line come together enough to optimize BG’s offensive weapons?
Equally important, how much progress can the defense make, especially if it can stay relatively healthy? Even with last year’s discouraging numbers, Bowling Green was tantalizingly close. The Falcon’s lost three MAC games by a total of 14 points (3, 4, 7). Reversing just those outcomes would have made BG a MAC East contender in 2016.