By John Agovino, Associate College Football Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: The 2009 campaign was a tale of two seasons for the Falcons. Bowling Green opened the year with a dominating 31-14 victory at home
over Troy, but followed that with four consecutive losses, three of which were
by a seven-point margin. After a 44-37 setback to Ohio, the Falcons regrouped
and posted back-to-back wins on the road over Kent State and Ball State. A
24-10 setback to Central Michigan was a minor speed bump, as Bowling Green
reeled off four straight wins after that. Two of those victories came on the
road against Buffalo and Miami-Ohio, giving the Falcons four road wins on the
Winning six of their last seven games landed the Falcons in the Humanitarian
Bowl where they would square off against the Idaho Vandals. Bowling Green
fought throughout the matchup, and in the fourth quarter the team scored three
times, including once in the final minute of regulation to take the lead.
However, with a season-ending victory in their grasp, jubilation quickly
turned into heartbreak, as the Vandals scored in the final second to defeat
Bowling Green, sending the team into the off-season on a down note.
OFFENSE: Last year the offensive success funneled through Tyler Sheehan and
Freddie Barnes. However, that quarterback/receiver combo has since moved on,
leaving coach Dave Clawson with plenty of question marks this year. One area
coach Clawson does not have to worry about is the running game, which will
showcase very talented senior tailback Willie Geter. Geter will likely see his
role in the offense increase this year, but considering how impressive he was
down the stretch last season that should not be a problem for the senior.
"I finished the season last year pretty strong," said Geter. "So I'm expecting
to do much more this year and be a bigger force going into my senior season."
Geter is clearly the main ball carrier for the Falcons and he should have
plenty of chances to succeed running behind what appears to be a solid front
line. Although only two starters return in Ben Bojicic and Tyler Donahue,
coach Clawson has plenty of options with playing experience that can fill the
holes in the other positions.
While there will be a quarterback competition for BGSU, all signs at the
present moment point to Matt Schilz opening the season under center.
"Matt, I think, brings a certain savvy," said coach Clawson. "There's
something unique about west coast quarterbacks just because of how early they
throw the football."
If Schilz is the signal caller for BGSU in 2010, the young quarterback will
have to build a rapport with Adrian Hodges, who is the only receiver on the
roster with legitimate experience after hauling in 46 catches a year ago.
However, also look for Shaun Joplin to play a major role in the passing attack
because of his athletic abilities.
DEFENSE: What cost the Falcons more often than not in 2009 was the lack of
consistency on defense, especially against the run. The team ranked 103rd in
that category and unfortunately the Falcons could suffer through a similar
result this year with only four starters returning.
If anything the strength of this defense will be its frontline, which returns
two starters in Angelo Magnone and Kevin Alvarado. However, there are players
such as Andrew Johnson and Darius Smith who earned experience through the
years and will fill in nicely. Regardless of who will be on the front line the
Falcons will need to add more pressure if this defense is going to succeed. In
addition, adding pressure up front will help out the linebackers, who for the
most part are inexperienced. Eugene Fells will be seen as the leader of the
group, while sophomores Dwayne Woods and Tim Moore will likely find a starting
role. However, if either sophomore falters expect to see seniors Calvin
Marshall and Ryan Crow step into action.
In the defensive backfield there is Keith Morgan at safety, who recorded 68
stops a year ago. Adrien Spencer will return to his role as the team's top
corner, while senior Robert Lorenzi will likely man the other corner spot. As
mentioned earlier, the success of this unit in 2010 will likely rely heavily
on the play of the frontline.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Last season Jerry Phillips were performing admirably as the
team's kicker, but suffered through an injury-shortened season. However, now a
sophomore, Phillips looks to regain his position as the team's kicker and
could also have a shot punting for Bowling Green as well. Adrien Hodges has
the talent to be used as the team's top return man, but look for freshman
Shaun Joplin to also play a vital role in the team's return game because he
simply has too much talent, and is capable of making a game-changing play.
OUTLOOK: Oddly enough it looks like coach Clawson's second season could be
tougher than his debut in Bowling Green. The Falcons will have to roll with
the punches offensively, as Clawson will need to groom a new signal caller. To
make matters worse, the defense might not be strong enough to carry the team,
especially in the first month of the season. The first four games will not be
easy for this inexperienced team, as the Falcons will have to battle Troy,
Tulsa, Marshall and Michigan, and three of those matchups will be away from
home. However, despite the hurdles that sit on the horizon for coach Clawson
and his Falcons, this team will be ready to play come kickoff.
"I expect us to be a good football team," said Clawson. "I think anytime you
set your expectations lower than that you're doing your whole program, your
whole school an injustice."