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How does Bowling Green follow up on its best football team ever?

Per the numbers, 2015's Falcons flew higher than any other. So here comes a big transition.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. Stability is overrated

Bowling Green doesn't sit still well. Like Ball State, the Falcons tend to soar pretty high, then fall pretty low, with quick succession. And they've been doing this for a while.

They went 11-1 in 1985, 2-8-1 in 1988, and 11-1 again in 1991. After a period of sustained success (36-8-2 from 1991-94) under Gary Blackney, they hit a period of sustained lull under the same coach (19-36 from 1996-2000). They rose under Urban Meyer and Gregg Brandon (37-12 from 2001-04), then fell under Brandon (18-19 from 2006-08). They went 2-10 under Dave Clawson in 2010, then 10-4 under Clawson three years later.

Bowling Green does not sign up for 6-6. The Falcons have either won or lost at least eight games in 11 of the last 15 seasons.

That said, last year's high was particularly high. Going by SRS, Bowling Green's 2015 team was quite easily its best ever. Going by S&P+, it's the same story. The Falcons were in the 86th percentile last season; even through all of these peaks and valleys, they had only crossed over 80 percent twice before -- in 1985 (11-1 under Dennis Stolz) and 1975 (8-3 under Don Nehlen).

In 2015, Bowling Green scared Tennessee for a while, crushed Maryland, beat four bowl teams (Akron, Ohio, WMU, NIU) by an average of 30 points, and came up just nine points short of 600 for the season. The Falcons won the MAC for the second time in three years. They lost only to teams with at least nine wins. This was an outstanding season for the brown and orange.

And now the man responsible for these heights, head coach Dino Babers, is wearing a different shade of orange polo at Syracuse.

Every coaching change is a roll of the dice; with BGSU having won at least eight games in four straight years, is Mike Jinks the man to continue a rare run of stability?

He's a creative choice, at the very least. Jinks is a longtime Texas high school coach -- he was an offensive coordinator from 1999-2004, then led programs at San Antonio Burbank high school and Cibolo Steele high school for eight years. After going 43-4 at Steele from 2010-12, he got stolen away by Kliff Kingsbury and put on a different career track.

Jinx served three years as Texas Tech's running backs coach and in 2015 added the role of associate head coach. He served under one of the spread's steadiest hands (while defense has held Kingsbury's Tech program back, offense has in no way been a problem) and helped to develop maybe the country's most underrated running back -- DeAndre Washington, who rushed for 2,495 yards over the last two seasons.

Now, barely three years after leading Steele high school to a 14-1 record and a Texas 5A-2 state semifinal appearance, Jinks takes the reins at a conference champion in Ohio. It's a new area of the country for the Angelo State graduate, but for a school that loves itself some spread/air raid offense, his own strain of it could be pleasing to the eye.

One thing's certain: He's probably either going to win or lose big. Or, going by BGSU's history, both. One thing is certain: The turnover for BGSU in 2016 doesn't stop with just the coaching staff. The Falcons will be replacing a nearly 5,000-yard passer, a nearly 1,300 yards rusher, three wideouts who combined for more than 3,200 receiving yards, and an all-conference offensive lineman. The identity might not change too much in switching from Babers to Jinks, but the names sure will.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 10-4 | Adj. Record: 10-4 | Final F/+ Rk: 25 | Final S&P+ Rk: 19
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
5-Sep vs. Tennessee 18 30-59 L 20% 1% -13.8 -7.5
12-Sep at Maryland 76 48-27 W 71% 93% +30.7 +28.5
19-Sep Memphis 41 41-44 L 67% 67% +2.6 0.0
26-Sep at Purdue 93 35-28 W 48% 64% +6.8 +5.0
3-Oct at Buffalo 98 28-22 W 72% 88% -5.5 -2.5
10-Oct Massachusetts 100 62-38 W 85% 99% +20.0 +10.5
17-Oct Akron 84 59-10 W 97% 100% +40.9 +37.0
24-Oct at Kent State 109 48-0 W 97% 100% +38.0 +33.5
4-Nov Ohio 69 62-24 W 95% 100% +23.8 +17.5
11-Nov at Western Michigan 51 41-27 W 79% 89% +9.8 +11.5
17-Nov Toledo 20 28-44 L 43% 15% -21.9 -24.0
24-Nov at Ball State 110 48-10 W 94% 100% +17.0 +14.5
4-Dec vs. Northern Illinois 66 34-14 W 97% 100% +10.6 +8.0
23-Dec vs. Georgia Southern 48 27-58 L 29% 4% -40.8 -38.5

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 41.0 11 26.8 55
Points Per Game 42.2 6 28.9 84

2. Liftoff

Sometimes the defense just couldn't make plays. Bowling Green's defense was destined to allow plenty of points and yards simply because it was complementing an offense that couldn't stop scoring quickly. When you face more plays and drives, you're simply going to give up more from a raw numbers standpoint.

For much of the season, though, BGSU was actually able to make a few stops. In 10 wins, the Falcons allowed just 5 yards per play and 20 points per game. The offense, meanwhile, averaged 6.9 and 46.5, respectively.

In four losses, however, the defense had no hope. The Falcons allowed 6.4 yards per play and 51.3 points per game in those contests. The season began with a 59-point outing by Tennessee and ended with 58 by Georgia Southern. This was more or less a bend-don't-break defense, and it occasionally broke terribly.

For a while in October and early November, however, everything fell into alignment.

  • Average Percentile Performance (first 4 games): 52% (~top 60)
  • Average Percentile Performance (next 5 games): 89% (~top 15)
  • Average Percentile Performance (next 4 games): 78% (~top 30)

BGSU just didn't have the defense to stop good offenses, and it was costly. Despite a lofty S&P+ rating that suggested the Falcons probably would have done quite well over a 30- or 82-game season, they finished 2015 with an 0-4 record against top-50 teams and a 10-0 record against everybody else. All four top-50 teams had strong offenses, and it would have been interesting to see what BGSU might have done against a team more reliant on defense (Florida? Utah? Wisconsin? Georgia?). But when the Falcons hit a rhythm early in MAC play, it was a beautiful sight.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.29 50 IsoPPP+ 126.6 8
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 49.5% 7 Succ. Rt. + 122.7 8
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 29.9 67 Def. FP+ 27.9 33
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 5.3 4 Redzone S&P+ 122.5 8
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 22.0 ACTUAL 15 -7.0
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 4 7 8 8
RUSHING 52 3 3 8
PASSING 5 20 17 23
Standard Downs 20 12 28
Passing Downs 2 8 1
Q1 Rk 10 1st Down Rk 13
Q2 Rk 6 2nd Down Rk 38
Q3 Rk 19 3rd Down Rk 11
Q4 Rk 33

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Matt Johnson 383 569 4946 46 8 67.3% 36 6.0% 7.8
James Knapke 6'2, 237 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8157 14 20 173 1 0 70.0% 0 0.0% 8.7
James Morgan 6'4, 218 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8741
Elijah Cunningham 6'3, 190 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8166

3. Johnson had the touch

You don't score nearly 600 points without being good at quite a few different things, and in all circumstances Bowling Green had a strong offense. The Falcons averaged 6.5 yards per play away from home, 6.3 in losses, 6.6 against ranked teams, 6.3 against power five teams, etc. They could run when they needed to, and they could pass when they needed to.

But where BGSU stood out the most was on passing downs. A No. 20 ranking in Standard Downs S&P+ ranking is quite obviously strong, but a No. 2 ranking in Passing Downs S&P+ is even stronger. No one was more capable of unleashing a big play in obvious pass situations. That tends to fall quite a bit on the quarterback.

Matt Johnson had a deep, exciting receiving corps at his disposal, but it still takes poise to produce the way he did. His passer rating on first down was a perfectly strong 159.2, but it rose to 178.3 on third-and-4 or more. That's absurd. He was 59-for-94 for 979 yards, eight touchdowns, and no interceptions on such downs. He took a few hits along the way (BGSU was 72nd in passing downs sack rate), but on what I call play-maker downs, there was no play-maker better than Matt Johnson.

Inheriting Johnson would have almost assured first-year success for Jinx, but Johnson graduated, leaving behind a senior backup (James Knapke) and a big-armed, well-touted redshirt freshman (James Morgan) to battle for the starting job. Knapke held onto it in spring ball and has to be considered the presumptive starter at this point.

Knapke saw extensive action in 2014 when Johnson got hurt, but he was burdened with ups and downs. BGSU won the MAC East with him in charge, but that was due as much to a poor division as anything else. He was not nearly as productive in 2014 as Johnson was in 2013 or 2015, and he bears the burden of proof.

He also bears the weight of a relatively new receiving corps.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Travis Greene RB 223 1299 15 5.8 5.3 43.0% 1 0
Fred Coppet RB 5'9, 205 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8465 145 825 5 5.7 5.3 42.1% 1 1
Matt Johnson QB 77 380 4 4.9 3.2 45.5% 6 4
Donovan Wilson RB 6'0, 229 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8382 36 78 7 2.2 1.3 13.9% 1 0
Ronnie Moore WR 5'9, 170 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7819 9 55 1 6.1 8.1 44.4% 0 0
Matt Domer RB 5'11, 197 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8478 8 117 1 14.6 30.3 37.5% 0 0
Charles Lamar RB 6'0, 204 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7826
Leonard Skattebo FB 6'1, 245 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7444
Terence Stephens RB 6'1, 190 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7782







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Gehrig Dieter WR
141 94 1033 66.7% 24.5% 7.3 76.6% 56.7% 1.19
Roger Lewis WR 130 85 1544 65.4% 22.6% 11.9 65.4% 52.3% 2.18
Ronnie Moore WR 5'9, 170 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7819 96 72 954 75.0% 16.7% 9.9 59.4% 59.4% 1.51
Ryan Burbrink WR 79 56 627 70.9% 13.7% 7.9 67.1% 53.2% 1.49
Travis Greene RB 33 28 264 84.8% 5.7% 8.0 36.4% 45.5% 1.59
Teo Redding WR 6'1, 167 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8378 24 13 222 54.2% 4.2% 9.3 45.8% 45.8% 2.03
Derek Lee TE 22 18 108 81.8% 3.8% 4.9 68.2% 50.0% 1.02
Robbie Rhodes WR 6'0, 190 Jr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9860 12 4 194 33.3% 2.1% 16.2 75.0% 33.3% 4.66
Fred Coppet RB 5'9, 205 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8465 11 9 75 81.8% 1.9% 6.8 63.6% 45.5% 1.07
Scott Miller WR 5'10, 162 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7956 11 7 29 63.6% 1.9% 2.6 90.9% 36.4% 0.55
Chris Gallon WR 8 7 89 87.5% 1.4% 11.1 75.0% 75.0% 1.15
Herve Coby WR 3 3 58 100.0% 0.5% 19.3 33.3% 100.0% 1.90
Hunter Folkertsma TE 6'5, 244 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) NR 2 2 14 100.0% 0.3% 7.0 50.0% 100.0% 0.88
Tim Tupa WR 6'1, 190 So. NR NR
Deric Phouthavong WR 6'3, 202 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7756
Janarvis Pough WR 6'1, 177 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7780
Darrion Landry WR 6'2, 200 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8439
Rashaun O'Neal WR 5'11, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7882

4. A lot gone, a lot back

First things first: The cupboard isn't empty. Senior receiver Ronnie Moore had the highest success rate on the team last year (among those with at least 10 targets, anyway) and combined a tight end's catch rate (75 percent) with a relative big-play receiver's averages (13.3 yards per catch). His big moments were huge -- he had five catches for 95 yards against Tennessee and 11 for 234 combined against Kent State and Ohio -- and he'll be one of the MAC's most proven receivers in 2016, even though he was the No. 3 guy for BGSU last year.

Beyond Ronnie Moore, BGSU returns Teo Redding (17.1 yards per catch), former Baylor blue-chipper Robbie Rhodes (four catches, 194 yards), and senior running back Fred Coppet, who served as Travis Greene's backup last year but matched Greene in terms of per-touch productivity. [Update: Rhodes was dismissed from the program in June.]

You can craft a strong offense around those four players, and that's before we get into the younger guys who might be ready to play a sustained role: running back Matt Domer, receiver Scott Miller, incoming signees, etc.

Still, it's hard to imagine BGSU can avoid regression considering the loss of not only Johnson, but Johnson's favorite weapons. Gehrig Dieter (transferred to Alabama) and Roger Lewis (declared for the NFL Draft) averaged 19.4 targets, 12.8 catches, and 184.1 yards per game. Between carries and targets, Greene averaged 18.3 intended touches per game. Hell, No. 4 receiver Ryan Burbrink caught 56 passes; he's gone, too. This is just so much to replace, especially for an offense that tends to require depth. The starters on this offense should be solid and experienced, but it's all green after that.

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 123.9 3.29 3.9 41.0% 66.2% 16.0% 99.1 4.6% 7.5%
Rank 4 15 9 36 62 15 64 59 72
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Alex Huettel RG 14 55 2015 2nd All-MAC
Jacob Bennett LT 6'5, 319 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7693 14 42 2015 2nd All-MAC
Logan Dietz RT 6'6, 298 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8232 12 40
Tim McAuliffe C 6'0, 272 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7776 13 27
Ben Steward LG 6'6, 304 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7824 1 15
Ryan Hunter LG 6'4, 308 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7633 14 14
Austin Labus RT 6'6, 292 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7611 2 2
Spencer Cairo C 0 0
J.J. Beggan RG 6'3, 298 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7851 0 0
De'Angelo Ware RT 6'5, 331 So. 2 stars (5.3) NR 0 0
Jack Kramer OL 6'3, 307 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7948

JC Bartok OL 6'5, 294 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7867

Caleb Bright OL 6'4, 290 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8122


5. Babers' parting gift

At least the line should be fine. There will be new guys running, throwing, and catching, but BGSU returns most of one of the best mid-major lines in the country.

All-conference guard Alex Huettel is gone, but the other four 2015 starters are back, including all-conference left tackle Jacob Bennett. Including 2014 starter Ben Steward and key backup Austin Labus, six returnees have combined for 140 career starts, giving BGSU one of the most experienced lines in FBS.

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.21 39 IsoPPP+ 102.7 56
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 42.2% 73 Succ. Rt. + 95.2 86
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 28.9 93 Off. FP+ 30.2 59
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.4 59 Redzone S&P+ 102.8 59
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 18.2 ACTUAL 27.0 +8.8
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 86 66 86 56
RUSHING 79 67 88 58
PASSING 79 62 83 60
Standard Downs 36 53 27
Passing Downs 111 121 102
Q1 Rk 73 1st Down Rk 71
Q2 Rk 48 2nd Down Rk 34
Q3 Rk 64 3rd Down Rk 78
Q4 Rk 101

6. A Perry Eliano defense

If you didn't have anything in particular to offer offensively, BGSU could stop you. The Falcons were able to utilize a bend-don't-break routine to eventually force mistakes against bad offenses, but they had little to offer against teams that didn't make many mistakes.

In the MAC, that's fine; they were able to survive a little bit in shootouts because their own offense was so devastating (and because there aren't many impressive MAC defenses). But with the offense likely regressing a bit in 2016, the defense will have to pick up the slack if the Falcons are to win another East title.

Enter Perry Eliano. A safeties coach for UTSA's 4-2-5 defense for the last five years, Eliano will attempt to speed up the BGSU D a little bit.

Eliano is quite familiar with spread-'em-out offenses. He was a receivers coach at Central Arkansas, then changed sides of the ball and took a defensive backs position at Sam Houston State.

Obviously we don't know for sure what Eliano will try to do until he does it, but should he attempt more aggressiveness and efficiency, it bears mentioning that a high percentage of BGSU's most aggressive defensive players are back: sacks leader Terrance Bush, 2014 breakout end Gus Schwieterman, linebackers Austin Valdez, James Sanford, and Nilijah Ballew (combined: 21 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 18 passes defensed), corners Clint Stephens and Alfonso Mack. There are concerns along the backbone of the defense (tackle, safety), but there appears to be useful speed here.

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 96.3 2.81 3.95 38.9% 68.4% 20.2% 101.2 5.7% 4.1%
Rank 80 53 125 74 83 60 61 42 117
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Terrance Bush DE 6'2, 252 Sr. NR NR 14 50.5 5.9% 8.0 6.0 0 0 0 0
Taylor Royster DE 14 46.0 5.3% 11.0 6.0 0 0 1 0
Gus Schwieterman
(2014)
DE 6'2, 270 So. NR NR 14 37.0 4.1% 7.5 2.5 0 1 1 0
Zach Colvin DT 12 23.5 2.7% 9.5 4.0 0 1 0 0
Shannon Smith DT 6'0, 281 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8600 13 19.0 2.2% 6.0 3.0 0 0 0 0
Izaah Lunsford NT 6'3, 294 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 14 17.0 2.0% 3.5 2.5 0 1 0 0
Mike Minns NT 5'10, 327 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8289 13 13.0 1.5% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Bryan Baird DE 10 8.0 0.9% 1.5 0.0 0 1 0 0
Malik Brown DE 6'4, 266 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8387 9 7.5 0.9% 2.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
David Konowalski DE 6'3, 219 So. NR NR 6 5.0 0.6% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Brian Sanders DE 6'3, 255 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7619 7 3.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Nico Lautanen DT 6'3, 271 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7874
Kyle Junior DL 6'3, 267 RSFr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7700








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Austin Valdez MLB 6'0, 225 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7963 14 101.0 11.7% 11.0 1.0 2 5 0 0
Trenton Greene OLB 14 96.0 11.1% 7.5 1.0 0 2 0 0
James Sanford OLB 6'1, 196 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8417 13 70.5 8.2% 5.5 3.0 1 8 2 0
Nilijah Ballew OLB 6'0, 210 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8649 14 29.0 3.4% 4.5 1.0 0 2 0 0
Nate Locke MLB 6'0, 226 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7383 13 24.5 2.8% 3.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
Brandon Harris OLB 6'3, 204 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8055 10 16.0 1.9% 2.0 0.0 1 0 1 0
Zac Bartman LB 5'11, 214 Sr. NR NR 12 6.5 0.8% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Banks LB 6'2, 239 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893
Matthew Finkler LB 6'2, 232 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7793
Harrison Roberts LB 6'1, 216 RSFr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7764
Dorian Hendrix LB 6'0, 232 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8515








7. Letting your opponent off the mat

I guess calling BGSU's defense "bend-don't-break" isn't quite right. That might call to mind a defense that is a bit of a sieve on standard downs but pounces on psasing downs. The Falcons were the opposite. They were perfectly solid on standard downs but couldn't close a drive to save their collective life. They did the hard part but ended up too passive on passing downs. That meant that every BGSU game was likely to feature two offenses that were good at bailing themselves out.

The return of Schwieterman from 2015 injury can't hurt. He and Bush give the Falcons a decent presence on the edge. Last year, the pass rush didn't exist on passing downs, and while BGSU's corners were relatively active, they weren't quite solid enough to make up the difference.

The pass rush could improve, but the biggest question this year will come in the middle. Tackle Zach Colvin is gone, and nose Mike Minns is suspended indefinitely (and not listed on the roster) while he continues to deal with the repercussions of a December arrest. That leaves two 2015 contributors (Shannon Smith, Izaah Lunsford) and no proven pieces after that.

As with the skill positions, depth could be an issue here. If the injury bug is kind, all could be well. But one or two injuries could make BGSU very light and very young on the interior.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Eilar Hardy SS 14 65.5 7.6% 2 0 2 2 0 0
Dernard Turner FS 14 56.0 6.5% 5.5 0 4 4 0 0
Clint Stephens CB 5'10, 182 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8132 14 53.0 6.2% 0.5 0 2 7 1 0
Alfonso Mack CB 5'11, 178 Sr. NR NR 14 49.0 5.7% 3.5 0 6 3 0 0
Ben Hale SS 6'2, 197 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7533 12 22.0 2.6% 1.5 0 0 0 0 0
Will Watson (2014) CB 5'11, 179 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8100 12 16.5 1.8% 1 0 0 1 0 0
Jamari Bozeman FS 6'2, 192 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7859 11 16.0 1.9% 1 0 1 1 0 0
Darrell Hunter II CB 3 10.5 1.2% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Isaiah Gourdine CB 6'2, 196 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8282 10 6.5 0.8% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Robert Jackson Jr. CB 5'11, 168 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7826 11 4.5 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jack Walz III DB 5'10, 190 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7956 10 3.5 0.4% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Matt Robinson DB 5'8, 179 Jr. NR NR 11 3.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Marcus Milton DB 6'0, 189 So. NR 0.7000
Antonyo Sotolongo DB 6'0, 197 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8181
Bobo Jones DB 6'1, 181 RSFr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8013
Armani Posey S 6'1, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8462
Ty Redding CB 6'2, 155 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8116
Jerry McBride III DB 6'2, 200 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7824

8. All the experience you could want at corner

Alfonso Mack and Clint Stephens combined for four tackles for loss and 18 passes defensed last season, a solid total. Senior Will Watson missed 2015 with injury but was a decent role player in 2014. Senior Isaiah Gourdine and sophomore Robert Jackson Jr. were role players last season.

Even if a younger player like Antonyo Sotolongo or Bobo Jones isn't immediately ready, it appears BGSU will have solid experience and decent returning production at cornerback. But it's hard to say the same about the safety position. Juinor Ben Hale and sophomore Jamari Bozeman did combine for 38.0 tackles last year, but the loss of both starters, Eliar Hardy and Dernard Turner, hurts. If Eliano wants to create more havoc and disruption, it's nice to know you've got some solid safety valves in the back. BGSU might or might not.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Joseph Davidson 6'7, 222 Jr. 54 46.0 4 9 14 42.6%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Tyler Tate 91 61.9 44 4 48.4%
Nick Fields 5'11, 215 Jr. 13 44.8 0 0 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Tyler Tate 75-81 7-10 70.0% 1-5 20.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Scott Miller KR 5'10, 162 So. 24 19.0 0
Robbie Rhodes KR 6'0, 190 Jr. 7 16.1 0
Ryan Burbrink PR 11 4.6 0
Ronnie Moore PR 5'9, 170 Sr. 2 9.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 128
Field Goal Efficiency 123
Punt Return Success Rate 122
Kick Return Success Rate 109
Punt Success Rate 122
Kickoff Success Rate 74

9. Winning despite special teams

Hooray for regression to the mean! Bowling Green can expect its special teams unit to get better this year, if only because it probably can't get worse. In terms of play-for-play efficiency, the Falcons may have had the worst special teams in the country last year -- returns were neither consistent nor explosive, coverage units were atrocious (127th in punt return average, 62nd in kick return average), and Tyler Tate either missed or had six PATs and three shorter field goals blocked.

Punter Joseph Davidson, who has a booming leg that frequently outkicked its coverage last year, is back, as are the primary return men. But a little bit of new blood might not be the worst idea in the world.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep at Ohio State 14 -16.5 17%
10-Sep North Dakota NR 26.5 94%
17-Sep Middle Tennessee 90 11.1 74%
24-Sep at Memphis 77 -0.2 50%
1-Oct Eastern Michigan 121 21.5 89%
8-Oct at Ohio 95 5.0 61%
15-Oct at Toledo 58 -3.8 41%
22-Oct Miami (Ohio) 107 17.7 85%
1-Nov at Northern Illinois 79 0.1 50%
9-Nov at Akron 97 6.3 64%
15-Jan Kent State 104 15.4 81%
25-Nov Buffalo 109 18.1 85%
Projected wins: 7.9
Five-Year F/+ Rk -0.4% (59)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 103 / 97
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 12 / -3.7
2015 TO Luck/Game +5.6
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 46% (29%, 62%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 10.2 (-0.2)

10. A great/terrible schedule

Good news: The 2016 schedule features only four teams projected better than 90th in S&P+. That's a reminder of the general weakness of the MAC East and how far BGSU might have to fall for someone else to win the division.

Bad news: All four play host to the Falcons. That means two projected losses (Ohio State, Toledo) and two projected tossups (Memphis, NIU). Plus, BGSU must travel to Ohio and Akron, maybe No. 2 and No. 3 contenders in the East.

This is the hardest easy schedule imaginable.

Still, BGSU was so far ahead of the field last year. I can talk up Ohio's consistency and Akron's upside, and I can point out how good Kent State's defense is, but Bowling Green was leaps and bounds ahead of the East, and while regression is almost guaranteed, it would take at least a couple of road losses to make the Falcons anything but the clear favorite.

The Jinks hire is an interesting one, rather outside the box. Jinks brings head coaching experience (at the high school level) and air raid tendencies to a school that has grown accustomed to points and yards. But he's not from the region, he's never been a college head coach or coordinator, and since he's only been a college coach, PERIOD, for three years, we don't know much about his long-term recruiting and/or talent identification skills.

The hire certainly wasn't boring, though, and that's good. BGSU doesn't do boring.