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Duck Tape: A Film Analysis of Bowling Green

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NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Bowling Green St Falcons

Final 2017 S&P+ ranking: #108 overall (#67 offense, #123 defense)

Projected 2018 S&P+ ranking: #97 overall (#76 offense, #110 defense)

I read a few previews of Bowling Green that were written in the spring and which predicted a jump in performance in 2018, so I was excited to do some film review of their returning players. Unfortunately, those were written before a wave of offseason suspensions, injuries, and transfers out of the program that has decimated the ranks of 2017’s most productive playmakers.

So, while I’m glad I didn’t rely on those previews and that I got a clean look at the play of those who do return, there are so few of them that this quickly got to be a bit depressing.

I reviewed two games for this article, BGSU’s 2017 opener against Michigan St (I’m fairly familiar with the Spartans’ tendencies and retain a few contacts with whom I consulted about both teams), and their closer against Eastern Michigan. I liked being able to see how the roster changed (in particular a QB switch), but fair warning, EMU’s grey field is kind of an eyesore and on a few clips from that game the video transfer was of poor quality.

I also hesitated to include their projected S&P+ rankings, since I believe those are still reliant on assumptions about returning production that are no longer operational. Thanks to Nick Piotrowicz at the Toledo Blade (@NickPBlade) for helping me with clarification of the Bowling Green roster.

Quarterback Jarret Doege

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The brightest spot on BGSU’s returning roster was true freshman #2 QB Doege, who replaced #12 QB Morgan as starter in the middle of the year. Morgan has since (you guessed it) left the team. I was impressed with Doege’s calm in the pocket and ability to wait for his checkdown to get open:

Doege’s ride of the mesh on the first read option was impressive and had the middle linebacker completely fooled (not to mention the reverse-angle camera operator), pulling him out of the play for an easy TD run. On the second play (at :15 in the clip), his throwing form is ... less than ideal, but ultimately he is able to make a ~35-yard throw from the opposite hash with a defensive end in his face and hit a spot where only his receiver can get it (#9 WR Redding, who’s since graduated). On the last play, Doege freezes both safeties with a nice play-action fake, then anticipates his receiver (#3 WR Guyton, formerly of Oregon St and since dismissed from BGSU as well) getting behind the one-on-one coverage with a well timed ball.

Receiver Scott Miller

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

As far as I can tell, Doege will only have one returning receiver to throw to, #21 WR Miller:

As you can see, Miller is primarily a possession receiver playing out of the slot, not really a burner but can read the defense (check out him filling the void of the retreating MSU safety on that first play) to get himself open, and I like his reliable hands and toughness. This clip also shows off Doege’s smarts in relation to penalties: he gets the throw off just before contact which draws a roughing the passer penalty, and he gets a defender to jump offsides on a hard count and takes advantage of the free play.

Running Back Andrew Clair

BGSU lost the two running backs to graduation who got the lion’s share of carries in the opener, but by the end of the year they had found an excellent true freshman back in #32 RB Clair:

There’s a lot to like here: speed, power, durability, and a heck of a jump-cut. This clip also shows off some fairly tricky zone blocking by the offensive line – they lose their best two players to graduation, but return #55 LG Bright, #65 RG Kramer, #64 RT Labus, and #77 RG Kurtz (who came in for Kramer after a season-ending injury mid-year).

Bowling Green v Miami Ohio Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

On defense, head coach Mike Jinks fired former defensive coordinator Perry Eliano after last year’s poor performance, and hired the colorful Carl Pelini away from his brother Bo’s Youngstown St Penguins. Pelini will have his work cut out for him as BGSU loses, among others, its best two defensive tackles and the three guys who impressed me most on the defense, #8 DE Konowalski, #24 S Ward, and #27 LB Locke. It was somewhat difficult to find any defensive highlights, much less ones which did not primarily rely on Locke making a great play at MIKE, but your dauntless film reviewer turned up a few:

Featured here are some nice plays by returners #19 LB Harris, #58 DE Sanders, and #6 CB Gregory. I’ll also say that Bowling Green, while sputtering on offense against the vastly more talented Michigan St in the opener, played a pretty admirable game on defense: they forced three fumbles during the game, two of them early on which helped BGSU to actually be leading 3-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, and the third was scooped up and returned for the Falcons’ only touchdown.

All in all, these games were enjoyable to watch and I think BGSU will continue to find playmakers among their freshmen. Their closer against EMU was a back-and-forth thriller which ended on a wild 4th down stop, and they gave MSU a much bigger challenge than I’m sure they were expecting. Here’s hoping Oregon doesn’t take them as lightly.