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The big 2015 Bowling Green football guide: The team to bring MACtion back

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The 128-team countdown reaches a team sure to give you a couple midweek shootouts to watch this season.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Bowling Green wasn't very good

Sometimes winning's enough. It's not Bowling Green's fault that the MAC East was full of teams in various stages of rebuilding. It's not the Falcons' fault that they had basically clinched the division title when they fell into a November funk. It's not their fault that eight teams (including Indiana and all but one East rival) couldn't beat them.

Still, BGSU wasn't very good, even by MAC standards. After winning the MAC and finishing a robust 39th in F/+ in 2013, the Falcons plummeted to 98th in Dino Babers' first year as head coach. The Falcons didn't have the pieces to operate Babers' tempo-and-more-tempo system, and a salty defense became a porous one.

Yes, the Falcons won a second straight East title, went 8-6, and attended a third straight bowl, but the win totals belied a significant drop in quality. Against five top-70 opponents, BGSU went 0-5 with an average loss of 46-20 and lost by a combined 127-48 against the two top-50 teams on the docket.

But considering the hand they were dealt, winning some games was enough.

2. That might not matter

After a late-season funk that featured blowout losses to Ball State at home and NIU in the MAC title game, Bowling Green rallied to win an exciting Camellia Bowl in South Alabama's backyard and avoid what might be the oddest record in college football: 7-7. (6-8 might be even stranger.) This may not have been a season of high quality, and the Falcons may not have beaten a team ranked higher than 88th, but I'm guessing they won't be apologizing too much.

Not only did BGSU lose its head coach, Dave Clawson, to Wake Forest; the Falcons also lost star quarterback Matt Johnson in Week 1. And defensive tackle Zach Colvin. And likely starting receiver Chris Gallon never saw the field. Combine that with the 10 other 2013 starters BGSU lost, and a dropoff became nearly unavoidable.

Sophomore quarterback James Knapke, thrust into action earlier than he expected, struggled with inconsistency: 88.2 passer rating against Wisconsin, 134.1 against UMass, 89.9 against WMU, 138.2 against Kent State, 54.0 against Toledo, 160.3 against South Alabama. An offense reliant on efficiency and passing couldn't count on either. And the defense's attempt at aggressiveness alternated between effective (4.9 yards per play allowed against WMU, 4.4 against Akron) and tragicomic (9.7 against Wisconsin, 7.4 against WKU, 7.1 against Ball State).

The offense returns nearly everybody, plus Johnson and Gallon. So Babers' offensive vision should come closer to fruition. The defense? Well ... shootouts are fun, right?

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 8-6 | Adj. Record: 3-11 | Final F/+ Rk: 98
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
29-Aug at Western Kentucky 50 31-59 L 15% -24.3 3%
6-Sep VMI N/A 48-7 W 66% 9.7 100%
13-Sep Indiana 88 45-42 W 11% -28.8 4%
20-Sep at Wisconsin 25 17-68 L 4% -40.8 0%
27-Sep at Massachusetts 120 47-42 W 47% -1.5 76%
4-Oct Buffalo 114 36-35 W 37% -7.4 48%
11-Oct at Ohio 106 31-13 W 86% 25.2 100%
18-Oct Western Michigan 56 14-26 L 40% -5.9 21%
4-Nov at Akron 105 37-10 W 64% 8.5 87%
12-Nov Kent State 107 30-20 W 25% -16.1 37%
19-Nov at Toledo 59 20-27 L 20% -19.5 6%
28-Nov Ball State 91 24-41 L 6% -35.5 1%
5-Dec vs. Northern Illinois 69 17-51 L 14% -25.5 1%
20-Dec vs. South Alabama 89 33-28 W 39% -6.4 51%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 25.7 87 34.9 106
Points Per Game 30.7 55 33.5 108

3. Either a midseason peak or nice scheduling (or both)

Looking at the structure of BGSU's 2014 schedule from top to bottom -- two top-50 opponents in the first four, then a run of six games in seven against teams ranked 105th or worse, then four top-100 teams to end the season -- you could probably figure out the Falcons' October was going to be better than September or late-November. And that's what played out.

The Falcons went 6-0 against teams ranked in the triple digits, 0-5 against the top 70, and 2-1 against those in between.

That said, adjusting for opponent, it appears BGSU played its best ball when its worst opponents were on the slate. Be it because of a mid-season peak or a system amenable to dominating bad teams (and getting dominated by good ones), BGSU timed its good games in a way that assured the best possible record.

  • Average percentile performance (first 4 games): 24% (record: 2-2)
  • Average percentile performance (next 5 games): 53% (record: 4-1)
  • Average percentile performance (next 4 games): 16% (record: 1-3)

I don't do much with Covariance -- the concept of comparing your level of performance to the quality of your opponent -- because I don't trust the sample sizes enough, but BGSU was a best-against-worst team. We should find out this fall whether that was a random occurrence or a feature of the system (as in, BGSU needs an athletic advantage to do the damage it wants to do).

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.90 38 IsoPPP+ 90.6 91
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 38.8% 96 Succ. Rt. + 90.8 106
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 31.5 98 Def. FP+ 96.0 108
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.4 75 Redzone S&P+ 84.8 114
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 24.1 ACTUAL 23 -1.1
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 44 98 104 91
RUSHING 56 76 85 57
PASSING 41 109 111 101
Standard Downs 99 94 101
Passing Downs 82 102 62
Q1 Rk 73 1st Down Rk 93
Q2 Rk 78 2nd Down Rk 83
Q3 Rk 122 3rd Down Rk 103
Q4 Rk 89

4. When your identity doesn't match your strength

The Babers system, culled from Art Briles and other high-octane influences, wants to move quickly and wants to throw.

Babers has made stops at seemingly every school in the country, but his last stop before taking his first head coaching job at Eastern Illinois was in Waco, where he helped to master Baylor's mach-speed attack. He brought it to Charleston, Ill., and immediately turned around a flagging program. His 2012 EIU improved from 2-9 to 7-5 and reached the first round of the FCS playoffs; in 2013, the Panthers erupted for 11 wins and a quarterfinal appearance.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns and somehow threw only nine interceptions with 20 sacks in almost 600 pass attempts. EIU attempted nearly 45 passes and 42 rushes per game; on September 21, the Panthers gained 577 yards and scored 39 points on Northern Illinois. The only team that did more damage than that to NIU's defense? Bowling Green in the MAC title game.

From a stat perspective, perhaps the most important single category for an offense with a "throw a lot and move quickly" motto is pass efficiency -- or, in the tables above, Passing Success Rate. Against Western Kentucky in an exciting season-opener, it appeared Matt Johnson was going to produce efficiency in droves; he completed almost 70 percent of his passes with a 151.6 passer rating. After a dreadful start against WKU (three three-and-outs and a turnover on downs), BGSU went MFG-TD-FG-TD-TD-punt-TD the rest of the way. Johnson clicked, Roger Lewis and SMU transfer Gehrig Dieter combined for 15 catches and 155 yards, and it appeared the offense was going to operate as intended.

But when Johnson was lost with his hip injury, the efficiency vanished. Passing Success Rate+ was almost the lowest on the board above. (The only ones lower: Redzone S&P+ and, for some reason, third-quarter S&P+.)

BGSU had a trio of big-play backs in Travis Greene, Fred Coppet, and Andre Givens, but only Greene was able to avoid losses and inconsistent rushes.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
James Knapke 6'2, 220 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8157 280 483 3173 15 12 58.0% 20 4.0% 6.1
Matt Johnson 6'0, 221 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7000 25 36 313 1 0 69.4% 3 7.7% 7.6
Cody Callaway 6'1, 189 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8226 12 26 153 1 1 46.2% 5 16.1% 4.1
James Morgan 6'4, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8741

5. Hey, Matt

Johnson is a bit of a gunner. He probably deserved to throw more interceptions than he did in 2013, and he "still has a little bit of maturing to do." (That apparently goes for both quarterbacking and pranks.) His return does not guarantee a sudden level of efficiency.

Still, it's hard not to be excited about the prospects of Johnson running the show for a full year. The signal caller from Harrisburg, Penn., managed a 161.7 passer rating in 2013 and played nearly perfect in two postseason games; he went 41-for-59 for 665 yards, five touchdowns, and no picks against NIU and Pitt. (He also played with fire and took plenty of sacks.)

Assuming Johnson indeed wins the job -- he'll still have to fend off Knapke and sophomore Cody Callaway, not to mention big-time freshman James Morgan, a blue-chipper by MAC standards -- he'll inherit a nearly complete skill position roster. He'll have an offensive line that returns five starters who have combined for 125 career starts, including all-conference guard and three-year starter Alex Huettel. If he matures, he could put up Garoppolo-esque numbers.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Travis Greene RB 5'10, 183 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 180 949 12 5.3 5.7 38.9% 0 0
Fred Coppet RB 5'9, 189 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8465 141 764 6 5.4 7.1 32.6% 1 1
Andre Givens RB 5'9, 189 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8600 102 479 8 4.7 6.4 29.4% 2 0
James Knapke QB 6'2, 220 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8157 47 262 2 5.6 3.9 55.3% 5 4
Ronnie Moore WR 5'9, 168 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7819 21 129 2 6.1 6.1 47.6% 3 1
Chris Pohlman TE
11 23 0 2.1 0.7 9.1% 2 2
Cody Callaway QB 6'1, 189 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8226 7 0 0 0.0 0.0% 2 1
Matt Domer RB 5'11, 190 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8478







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Roger Lewis WR 6'0, 196 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7667 139 73 1093 52.5% 26.4% 59.7% 7.9 173 7.9 88.2
Ryan Burbrink WR 5'8, 183 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) NR 101 64 758 63.4% 19.2% 58.4% 7.5 -18 7.5 61.1
Ronnie Moore WR 5'9, 168 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7819 90 56 690 62.2% 17.1% 54.4% 7.7 9 7.6 55.7
Gehrig Dieter WR 6'3, 204 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8475 58 35 460 60.3% 11.0% 46.6% 7.9 32 7.6 37.1
Heath Jackson WR
51 34 270 66.7% 9.7% 68.6% 5.3 -138 5.0 21.8
Chris Gallon (2013) WR 6'4, 229 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.7900 43 24 232 55.8% 11.2% 51.4% 5.4 -81 5.7 32.2
Travis Greene RB 5'10, 183 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 41 27 175 65.9% 7.8% 46.3% 4.3 -150 4.3 14.1
Herve Coby WR 6'0, 179 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.7800 10 7 56 70.0% 1.9% 50.0% 5.6 -27 5.5 4.5
Fred Coppet RB 5'9, 189 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8465 10 7 26 70.0% 1.9% 50.0% 2.6 -57 2.3 2.1
Chris Pohlman TE
10 2 11 20.0% 1.9% 50.0% 1.1 -23 1.0 0.9
Teo Redding WR 6'1, 165 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8378 8 5 59 62.5% 1.5% 50.0% 7.4 -2 8.3 4.8
Andre Givens RB 5'9, 189 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8600 4 3 9 75.0% 0.8% 50.0% 2.3 -26 2.1 0.7
John Klingerman WR
3 2 21 66.7% 0.6% 0.0% 7.0 -3 N/A 1.7
Derek Lee TE 6'4, 255 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7659
Scott Miller WR 5'10, 163 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7956
Deric Phouthavong WR 6'3, 205 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7756








6. A nearly complete set of skill position players

The only offensive "starter" who isn't scheduled to return in 2015 is tight end Chris Pohlman ... and BGSU doesn't use a tight end much. In fact, if not for the loss of receiver Heath Jackson and guard Darion Delaney, the entire SECOND-string would return intact as well. BGSU was young and got even younger because of injuries.

Because of tempo alone, a lot of BGSU players put up impressive stats. Travis Greene rushed for nearly 1,000 yards, and Jackson, Ryan Burbrink, and Ronnie Moore (the three leading returning receivers from 2013) combined for 147 catches and 1,623 yards. (Burbrink and Moore are also strong return men on a good special teams unit.)

Those players were proven entities. The breakout performance of 2014 came from a freshman. Roger Lewis' 53 percent catch rate will need to improve -- it helped to cause some wild ups and downs: in successive games midseason, he had nine catches for 148 yards, then one for 13, then six for 100, then two for 11 -- but the three-star wideout from Pickerington, Ohio, made a huge impact, especially in the bowl. Against South Alabama, he started with a 44-yard touchdown and finished it with a 78-yard game-winner.

If Lewis develops like a normal second-year guy, and if Chris Gallon returns to form as a contributor, this offense could produce obscene numbers. Hell, it'll need to play at a high tempo just to give everybody the touches they deserve.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 94.9 2.8 2.98 35.8% 69.8% 21.6% 117.3 2.8% 6.7%
Rank 92 85 93 97 43 100 43 20 49
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
Alex Huettel RG 6'4, 309 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7800 41 2014 2nd All-MAC
Jacob Bennett LT 6'5, 332 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7693 28
Logan Dietz RT 6'6, 298 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8232 28
Ben Steward LG 6'6, 300 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7824 14
Tim McAuliffe C 6'0, 274 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7776 14
Darion Delaney LG
0
Christian Piazza LT 6'6, 286 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7600 0
Spencer Cairo RG 6'2, 314 Sr. NR NR 0
J.J. Beggan C 6'3, 305 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7851 0
Ryan Hunter RT 6'4, 324 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7633 0

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.88 85 IsoPPP+ 89.3 102
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 44.2% 96 Succ. Rt. + 90.5 106
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 29.1 89 Off. FP+ 96.0 110
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.3 59 Redzone S&P+ 89.8 107
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 31.3 ACTUAL 33.0 +1.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 118 106 105 102
RUSHING 101 105 96 103
PASSING 125 101 108 96
Standard Downs 107 105 100
Passing Downs 95 88 89
Q1 Rk 88 1st Down Rk 111
Q2 Rk 120 2nd Down Rk 108
Q3 Rk 93 3rd Down Rk 106
Q4 Rk 120

7. Only one gear

At first, it seemed like a perfect fit. When he came to BGSU from Eastern Illinois, Babers brought aggressive defensive coordinator Kim McCloud. McCloud fancied a defense not dissimilar to that of Baylor's Phil Bennett: aggressive, fast, and capable of making big plays that, when combined with an exhausting offense, can devastate an opponent. This type of defense is willing to allow big gains because it knows the offense is going to click. And it knows that if it can flip the field with a couple of big turnovers, the game's over.

On paper, that works. But when the offense is battling inefficiency, then defensive discipline might trump risk. BGSU had plenty of the latter and very little of the former.

The defense was able to create negative plays against the run, and it forced its share of turnovers (nearly 2.5 per game). But despite an experienced secondary, opponents knew they could pass. Whatever aggression BGSU had, it tended to die out as a half unfolded -- BGSU ranked 120th in both second- and fourth-quarter S&P+. If you could keep the Falcons out of the backfield (and good offenses typically could), you could move the ball at will.

So Babers made changes. He kept McCloud but changed his title to Assistant Head Coach and brought in former Western Illinois coordinator Brian Ward to lead the defense. Ward's Leathernecks defense played with a bit more of a controlled aggression -- fewer sacks, lower yards per play -- and we'll see what changes he brings to the table.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 105.7 2.59 3.68 42.7% 61.1% 25.1% 93 3.0% 6.1%
Rank 41 23 101 108 31 8 80 105 86
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Charlie Walker DE
14 41.5 4.6% 5.0 1.0 0 1 1 0
Gus Schwieterman DT 6'2, 261 So. NR NR 14 37.0 4.1% 7.5 2.5 0 1 1 0
Bryan Thomas DE
14 35.5 4.0% 15.0 7.0 0 3 5 0
Taylor Royster NG 5'10, 255 Sr. NR NR 14 28.0 3.1% 5.5 1.0 1 2 0 0
Zach Colvin (2013) DE 6'3, 287 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7500 14 17.5 2.4% 5.5 0.0 0 0 1 0
Kendall Montgomery DE
14 14.5 1.6% 3.5 2.0 0 3 1 0
Bryan Baird DE 6'4, 238 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 13 13.0 1.4% 4.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Jhalil-Nashid Croley DT
12 9.5 1.1% 1.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
Izaah Lunsford NG 6'3, 300 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 13 9.0 1.0% 2.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Shannon Smith DL 6'0, 281 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8600 12 7.5 0.8% 3.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Terrance Bush DT 6'2, 238 Jr. NR NR 6 7.0 0.8% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Mike Minns (2013) DT 5'10, 313 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8289 11 6.5 0.9% 1.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Malik Brown DL 6'4, 251 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8387 6 3.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Shemar Moss DE 6'1, 240 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8150
Tyler Horstman DE 6'4, 230 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7759
Jack Kramer DT 6'3, 295 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7948







Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Gabe Martin MLB
14 84.5 9.4% 18.0 2.5 2 4 1 0
James Sanford SLB 6'1, 194 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8417 14 55.5 6.2% 4.0 2.5 0 4 2 0
Paul Senn WLB
10 34.0 3.8% 4.5 1.0 0 3 1 0
D.J. Lynch WLB
10 27.0 3.0% 4.5 1.0 0 2 0 0
Nate Locke MLB 6'0, 227 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7383 14 20.5 2.3% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Austin Valdez SLB 6'0, 226 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7963 13 14.5 1.6% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Banks LB 6'2, 218 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893 4 5.0 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Monti Phillips LB
9 5.0 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Zac Bartman LB 5'11, 211 Jr. NR NR 11 4.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jalen Dingle LB 6'1, 213 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7859
Brandon Harris LB 6'3, 205 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8055
Matt Finkler LB 6'2, 234 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7793








8. Any ends or linebackers?

When the Falcons knew they could attack the line, they did damage. They ranked eighth in Stuff Rate and 31st in Power Success Rate, which is a strange combination considering their overall poor rush defense numbers. If you got past the line, you found plenty of space to run.

In theory, the return of quick tackles Gus Schwieterman and Taylor Royster should ensure more boom-or-bust tendencies. They combined for 13 tackles for loss but averaged 6', 258 pounds. They're either going to disrupt a play or get pushed over.

There is some size available further down the depth chart: Shannon Smith is a 281-pound former three-star Composite signee, and 5'10, 313-pound road-grader Mike Minns is scheduled to return after missing 2014. Plus, returnee Zach Colvin could play inside or outside on the line.

But tackle is the least of BGSU's concerns. Not only do the Falcons have to replace last year's top three ends (Charlie Walker, Bryan Thomas, and Kendall Montgomery, who combined for 23.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks), they also face life without one of the nation's best run-stuffing linebackers. Gabe Martin was incredible, posting 15.5 non-sack tackles for loss, logging 2.5 sacks, and defensing six passes. He was a weapon near the line, a one-man Havoc Rate, and he will be missed. So will fellow linebackers Paul Senn and D.J. Lynch.

Babers has acknowledged that he could put quite a few 2015 signees on the field. He signed a pair of studs in the offensive backfield who might not need to play, but opportunity exists at end and linebacker if someone like Shemar Moss or Brandon Harris hits town ready.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Brian Sutton SS
14 81.5 9.1% 7.5 1 0 1 3 1
Jude Adjei-Barimah CB
14 69.0 7.7% 4 1.5 1 11 2 0
Ryland Ward FS
12 63.0 7.0% 1.5 0 3 2 0 1
Nick Johnson CB 6'2, 178 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7759 14 62.5 7.0% 0 0 5 8 0 0
Dernard Turner FS 6'0, 189 Sr. NR 0.7000 14 36.0 4.0% 2.5 0 0 0 1 0
Darrell Hunter II CB 5'9, 178 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7300 11 27.0 3.0% 0 0 0 7 0 0
Will Watson CB 5'11, 179 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8100 12 16.5 1.8% 1 0 0 1 0 0
Isaiah Gourdine SS 6'2, 198 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8282 13 15.0 1.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Clint Stephens CB 5'10, 180 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8132 11 12.5 1.4% 0 0 4 9 0 1
Nilijah Ballew DB 6'0, 204 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8649 10 7.0 0.8% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Matt Robinson DB 5'8, 175 So. NR NR 11 6.5 0.7% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Victor Osborne DB
4 6.5 0.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Alfonso Mack DB 5'11, 178 Jr. NR NR 5 2.0 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jack Walz III DB 5'10, 190 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7956
Trevahn Beery DB 6'0, 166 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7759
Antonyo Sotolongo DB 6'0, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8181
Bobo Jones DB 6'1, 181 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8013
Jamari Bozeman DB 6'2, 190 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7859

9. A high ceiling in the green secondary

The stats for the Bowling Green secondary are confusing. Four Falcon cornerbacks defensed at least seven passes each, and safety Brian Sutton contributed 7.5 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles. This was a unit as aggressive as Babers and McCloud wanted, and the aggression often paid off.

It often didn't. BGSU ranked 101st in Passing S&P+, and opponents felt the risk of passing was worth the reward. With a rebuilt pass rush, the last thing BGSU needs is inexperience, but that's what it will have to deal with. Sutton and Ryland Ward are gone, as is starting corner Jude Adjei-Barimah. While seniors like safety Dernard Turner and corners Darrell Hunter and Will Watson are in the mix, the success of BGSU's defense might come down to underclassman breakthroughs.

That might not be as scary as it sounds. Sophomore corner Nick Johnson defensed more passes than Adjei-Barimah, and sophomore Clint Stephens accomplished something I'm not sure I've ever seen: more passes defensed (13) than tackles (12.5). That suggests he's either a future lockdown corner or the worst tackler in college football. Or both. He's also a potential lightning bolt in the return game.

Along with these two, former four-star signee Nilijah Ballew was groomed for a larger role this fall, and BGSU could welcome as many as five three- or high-two-star freshmen and redshirt freshmen into the rotation. The ceiling is high, and odds are good that BGSU will have a ferocious secondary in about 2017.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Joe Davidson 6'7, 220 So. 82 42.5 3 24 24 58.5%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Anthony Farinella 6'2, 190 Jr. 87 58.0 15 3 17.2%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Tyler Tate 6'0, 185 Sr. 45-48 18-22 81.8% 5-7 71.4%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Ronnie Moore KR 5'9, 168 Jr. 20 21.2 0
Clint Stephens KR 5'10, 180 So. 19 24.3 1
Ryan Burbrink PR 5'8, 183 Sr. 13 9.8 1
Teo Redding PR 6'1, 165 So. 2 3.5 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 57
Field Goal Efficiency 29
Punt Return Efficiency 74
Kick Return Efficiency 37
Punt Efficiency 35
Kickoff Efficiency 108
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 13

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
5-Sep vs. Tennessee 24
12-Sep at Maryland 62
19-Sep Memphis 41
26-Sep at Purdue 84
3-Oct at Buffalo 114
10-Oct Massachusetts 120
17-Oct Akron 105
24-Oct at Kent State 107
4-Nov Ohio 106
11-Nov at Western Michigan 56
17-Nov Toledo 59
24-Nov at Ball State 91
Five-Year F/+ Rk -12.4% (81)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 100 / 96
2014 TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 10 / 7.2
2014 TO Luck/Game +1.0
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 14 (10, 4)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 5.3 (2.7)

10. Better hope for another good October

After an injury-related false start, you have to like where the BGSU offense is headed. There is a nearly perfect mix of experience and young athleticism, and Matt Johnson returns to lead what should be a frenetic attack. Recent signees were rated highly, and there's reason to believe the offense will remain prolific for years.

There's also reason to believe the defense will hold BGSU back. There were plenty of breakdowns in 2014, and this year's defense, working under its third coordinator in three years, is far less seasoned. This could mean fun things for viewers -- the Falcons could single-handedly bring MACtion back after a couple of less-MACtionable seasons -- but it could mean BGSU will struggle to defend its division crown if someone like Akron or Ohio takes steps forward.