2021 Bowling Green Football Preview: Schedule, 4 Things

Bowling Green’s seen a fair amount of success since the new millennium with six divisional titles (four outright) and two MAC championships, but things just haven’t been the same since 2015 when Dino Babers led this team. Mike Jinks was hired in, but only had a 7-24 record (5-14 MAC) in his three years in charge.

Now, we’re in year three of Scot Loeffler being in charge of the BG Falcons, and it’s tough to say if things have noticeably improved. There’s a lot from 2020 I’m willing to throw out if this team starts earning respect on the field in 2021, but it’s not very easy to forecast this team as one with a lot of success at a program that can be very capable of running the table.

Schedule

2020 BGSU football schedule, final results

SP+ final rank: 126 (126 offense, 116 defense, 102 special teams)

  • L @ Toledo, 38-3
  • L vs. Kent State, 62-24
  • L vs. Buffalo, 42-17
  • L @ Ohio, 52-10
  • L @ Akron, 31-3
  • no contest vs. Miami

2021 BGSU football schedule

SP+ preseason rank: 125 (129 offense, 109 defense)

  1. @ Tennessee (Th.)
  2. vs. South Alabama
  3. vs. Murray State
  4. @ Minnesota
  5. @ Kent State
  6. vs. Akron
  7. @ NIU
  8. vs. EMU
  9. @ Buffalo
  10. bye
  11. vs. Toledo (Wed.)
  12. @ Miami (Tues.)
  13. vs. Ohio (Fri.)

4 Things

Scot Loeffler-coached QBs

Loeffler’s known for being two things. One, he’s from the Lloyd Carr-Michigan coaching tree. There’s a lot of like-minded Michigan guys on this coaching staff, which was to be expected. Secondly, he’s allegedly a quarterback guy. Loeffler’s first full-time coaching job was at Central Michigan for two years, then moved on to Michigan for six years — a job that’d give him plenty of new job opportunities down the line.

After coaching up John Navarre and Chad Henne, Loeffler coached the likes of Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky for the Detroit Lions. His stint as an NFL coach ended after the 0-16 season. Urban Meyer called and offered Loeffler to coach up Tim Tebow to improve his throwing motion as a senior. Following a two-year stint at Florida, Loeffler became the Temple offensive coordinator in 2011 (9-4 record, bowl win), Auburn in 2012 (3-9, Brian VanGorder was a 1st-year defensive coordinator for the Tigers too), and had three-year runs at Virginia Tech, then Boston College.

Bowling Green scooped Loeffler up after it let go of Mike Jinks — a good football coach, but positionally and geographically unfit for either; such an incredibly awful hiring process by the school to start with — and BG promise that it did a better job of doing its homework this time.

BG’s QB situation wasn’t great last year, and a lot of that falls on Loeffler’s shoulders. McDonald was wanted as the team’s starter in 2019, but had to sit out in the transfer year (NCAA denied waiver) and didn’t live up to the hype in 2020. How much of that was due to 2020 throwing the whole world off? And how much of that could’ve been expected?

Karl Brooks & Jordan Anderson

For all the team’s faults, Karl Brooks and Jordan Anderson have proven to be leaders on the defensive side of the ball for BG.

Brooks has played in every game since 2018 and has recorded 75 tackles (32 solo) with 15.5 for loss, 10 sacks, and 3 fumbles forced.

Anderson has played 15 games over his two-year career, and is maybe the best returning athlete on the BG defense this year. He’s got 76 total tackles (44 solo), 3.5 for loss, 1 sack, 11 passes defended, 1 INT, and 1 forced fumble.

Both players have two and three years of eligibility remaining, respectively, and have more than just All-MAC potential in their futures as football players. If more pieces fall into place around them, then BG might figure something out and at least humble a good offense in this conference.

All hands on deck

You and I both know that BG needs some help. In a lot of spots. The best 11 players will have to see the field, no matter how little or how much playing time they already have under their belts. Maybe they’ll be brand new to the college scene and get some early playing time.

Bowling Green has 60 freshmen on its roster, 33 of which are redshirt-freshmen. That stat alone should tell you that this team’s hands are tied in trying to find experience heading into this season. BG added a handful of transfers to be long-term offers; they’re not too interested in graduate transfers with only one year of eligibility left. Whoever steps up in 2021 will be expected to start being leaders in 2022.

Some new Falcons to watch out for:

  • LB Bryce Brand — Senior, two years of eligibility left. Spent two years at Maryland, then two more years at West Virginia. Is from Detroit, MI (Clayton Valley Charter HS).
  • CB Davon Ferguson — Senior, two years of eligibility left. Transferred from Kansas, started nine games (played in 20) with the Jayhawks.
  • QB Jayden George — Sophomore, transferred from Alabama after two seasons. From Indianapolis (Warren Central HS). Son of former No. 1 overall draft pick (1990, Jeff George).
  • TE Tommy Guajardo — Freshman, transferred from Michigan State after one season. Was ~top TE recruit in state of Michigan out of HS (Dearborn).
  • LB Diego Neri — True freshman. Flipped from Central Michigan during recruiting process, from Cincinnati (Cin.-Northwest HS). Is a pretty talented freshman, and one of many to watch out for.
  • DL Ali Saad — Freshman, transferred from Minnesota. From Dearborn, MI (Dearborn) was a three-star recruit out of HS.

Keep things close?

I doubt BG will come away with a winning record this season. But will BG still show improvement on the scoreboard?

BG is 3-14 in the Loeffler era, and hasn’t exactly found itself in any really close games yet.

In 2019, BG beat FCS-level Morgan State 46-3, stunned Toledo 20-7, and dominated Akron 35-6. The Toledo game was decided by 13 points, and that’s the closest game this program has found itself in over the two years. BG’s closest loss in 2020 was to Buffalo by 25 (42-17), and the closest loss in 2019 was to CMU by 18 (38-20).

Forget winning games for a moment. This group needs start figuring out ways to close the gaps between them and their opponents. Some of the best in-game reps freshmen can get are in the fourth quarter when the game’s so well-fought by both teams that things are only separated by seven-or-so points on the scoreboard. In the end, BG might only have two or three or maybe no wins at all through the 2021 season, but don’t undervalue how important it’ll be for BG to simply find itself in tight matchups against another team. Gotta get there first though.

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