“Falcon Fast” is the moniker always entertaining Dino Babers has used to describe his offense which takes hurry-up elements from both Baylor and Oregon. When done correctly, this up-tempo attack could be just as lethal as a real falcon.
On paper, this Bowling Green offense has everything you could want in an offense from a lights out kicker to a potential stud quarterback with an experienced backup to a fully intact returning offensive line. However, the question that needs to be asked is did the Falcons pull the wool over our eyes in 2014? Was the offense as good as it appeared on the surface? As usual when a question like this is inserted into an article, the answer is yes and no.
Bowling Green won 8 games in 2014, despite fielding a bottom ten defense. They averaged 30 points and 433 yards per game, which are solid stats. However, their Pythagorean adjusted win-loss was 3-11 (which is admittedly only important insofar as looking to the future). Plus, the efficiency numbers are significantly worse than the overall numbers.
Good news though for the Falcons, Matt Johnson returns to the helm after suffering a hip injury in last season’s opener. James Knapke was pretty good after being thrust into the starting role, but a fair amount of the offensive inefficiency can be attributed to his play behind center. Johnson could, and probably will, improve at least modestly from an efficiency standpoint.
Skill players won’t be hard to come by either for the Falcons, which should help as their pace almost requires offensive depth. Travis Greene, Fred Coppet and Andre Givens made up a formidable running back trio last season with a combined 2,200 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground. They also lost only a single fumble in over 400 carries.
The top four receivers from last season also return, including leader and 1,000 yard receiver Roger Lewis. They should also be helped out by Chris Gallon who missed all of 2014 and Baylor transfer Robbie Rhodes.
RG Alex Huettel and RT Logan Dietz lead what should be one of the best offensive lines in the MAC. Just to summarize, if this team struggles in 2015 it won’t be the offense’s fault.
Putrid defense could be a major hindrance in the Falcons’ bid to three-peat as MAC East champs. They were horrid last season, but good offense and even better fortune enabled them to win eight games and the division anyway. It’s never a good idea to count on luck, even if it is a necessary ingredient for every championship recipe.
The defensive line was at least reasonable against the run last season, and their top two interior linemen return with Gus Schwieterman and Taylor Royster, so running on the Falcons might not be quite like running through a wet paper bag. The edge is a concern though as the Falcons failed to break the top 100 in any of the pass rush categories and they are replacing both ends.
Play at linebacker may be the biggest concern with SLB James Sanford being the only returning backer to notch more than 50 tackles last season. The good news is that new MLB Nate Locke did at least see action in every game last season, so he isn’t completely raw.
While the secondary wasn’t completely dismal in 2014, they are looking at a lot of new faces this season. The top three tacklers a year ago were already gone, and CB Nick Johnson is currently facing assault charges for hitting a woman in a parking lot in April. Given football’s recent history with violence toward women it would be surprising if Johnson saw the field for the Falcons again, and even more so if it occurred this season.
This pick is probably way below any other prediction you’re likely to read this summer/fall, but it isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds. Luck usually regresses back to the mean, and this defense may be even worse than the bottom ten FBS unit that took the field last season. Add that to the fact that there are no gimmes in the non-conference schedule and this team could very easily underachieve this season. If you’re a gambling man (or woman) put a few dollars down on the under for Bowling Green’s wins this season. I doubt you’ll regret it.
Credit Cover Photo to Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports