2018 RECORD: 3-9 (2-6 in MAC play)
HEAD COACH: Scot Loeffler (First year)
2019 PRESEASON POLL: Sixth in MAC East Division
Two figures jump of the stat sheet when analyzing the 2018 Bowling Green Falcons.
First, they allowed a MAC-worst 40 points per game. Second, BG finished last among MAC teams with a minus-8 turnover margin.
Suffice it to say, such is not the performance upon which successful seasons are built. The stats are, however, the stuff of which coaches are replaced - and such was the case. After dismissing . . .
Here is more on the Falcons . . .
Scoring Offense: 24.3 ppg (7th MAC)
Scoring Defense: 40.0 ppg. (12th MAC)
Total Offense: 355.2 ypg (9th MAC)
Total Defense: 448.1 ypg (10th MAC)
Turnover margin: minus minus 8 (12th MAC)
➤➤ Loeffler and new offensive coordinator Terry Malone (formerly at Michigan) should enjoy working with this Falcon offense -- and vice versa. Leading receiver Scott Miller (71 catches, 1,148 yards, 9 TDs) was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but there are certainly some quality playmakers returning.
➤➤ Quarterback Jarret Doege is back for his junior season after throwing for a whopping 2,660 yards and 27 touchdowns last year. The yardage was second-best among MAC quarterbacks, while his 62.2 percent completion rate was also among the leaders.
Both of the top passers - Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson and Doege -- finished with 12 interceptions, albeit the latter played two less games.
Backup QB Grant Loy, although 6-5, 226, also gives a run option should BG decide to employ that weapon.
➤➤ Bowling Green really leaned on its passing attack last year. Consequently, the run game finished 11th (MAC) with just 116.6 ypg. Improving on that and getting more balance into the offense is one of the challenges for 2019. Junior Andrew Clair actually averaged 5.2 ypc on 135 touches that produced 702 yards with five touchdowns. Ra’Veion Hargrove picked up some valuable freshmen experience with 33 totes for 127 yards and a score.
➤➤ Both running backs also contributed to the pass game. Hargrove caught 10 balls for 113 yards and a TD. Clair totaled 19 catches 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
➤➤ Junior Quintin Morris was second among Falcon receivers, grabbing 42 balls for 515 yards and seven scores. BG will add to the mix Washington State transfer Isaiah Johnson-Mack. He owned nearly 100 catches and scored six TDs over two seasons with the Cougars.
➤➤ Four starters (including three seniors) return along the offensive line, but it is a unit that must step up for the Falcons to move up.
➤➤ Just three starters return, but it is a unit that Loeffler and his staff will want to mold, anyway.
➤➤ New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has extensive experience, including four seasons in the NFL and collegiate stops at Georgia,Auburn, Notre Dame and Louisville.
➤➤ Stopping the run is one of the keys to improving the defense. Bowling Green surrendered 280.5 ypg (last MAC) to opposing rushers. That was 40 yards more than the 11th-ranked team and 60 more than Kent State at No. 10.
➤➤ The three returning starters on defense are spread between three levels. Sophomore Karl Brooks is at defense end. Junior Kholbe Coleman is back at linebacker and Jerry McBride returns at safety. The latter was second among Falcon tacklers in 2018 with 106 stops (67 solo), but it would probably be a good sign if his tackles numbers (especially solo) went down while people up front recorded more hits. After McBride, the other backs are less experienced.
➤➤ Nate Needham hit 6 of 10 field goals and converted all 34 extra points last year. His long was 43 yards. Matt Naranjo is back after averaging 41.2 yards per punt.
The Falcons should be poised to have a big offensive year, especially if BG finds (a) suitable replacement(s) for Scott Miller. Fixing the defense is a much more challenging task.
The non-conference schedule includes trips to Kansas State and Notre Dame. Inter-division MAC tilts are Toledo, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.