Preview 2017: Is Bowling Green Back To MAC Title Form?
After a down year, is Bowling Green about to get back to being a major player in the MAC again?
In 2010, Bowling Green went 2-10 with an offense that didn’t go anywhere and a defense that got ripped to shreds by anyone and everyone.
Two years later, the Falcons went bowling, three years later they won the MAC title, and five years later they were the two-time defending champ and three-time defending East winner.
It might not take quite that long to bounce back from one rough 4-8 season. The 2015 Falcons didn’t exactly leave a full cupboard for 2016, but it wasn’t a total gut job for the new guys.
They lost head coach Dino Babers to Syracuse. Top receiver Rogers Lewis left early for the NFL, and No. 2 option Gehrig Dieter took off to Alabama. Four of the top five receivers were gone, along with all-star QB Matt Johnson, top rusher Travis Greene, a bulk of the pass rush, and too much talent on the offensive line.
Mike Jinks came into the head coaching gig after helping Texas Tech be all Texas Tech, but he wasn’t able to patch things back together right away. Now he should have that figured out.
The team came around late in the year when the schedule eased up, but that’s part of the deal in the MAC – beat the teams you’re supposed to. The Falcons went 4-0 against teams that didn’t go bowling, and 0-8 against the ones that did.
The offense couldn’t stop turning the ball over, the return game was miserable, and the defense couldn’t come up with a decent stop on third downs or against any passer that could throw.
But now Jinks might be able to settle things back down and make Bowling Green stronger in a big hurry.
There’s no need for a massive rebuild, but there’s plenty of tinkering to do.
The secondary wasn’t any good even when the team was great. The defensive backs have to come up with more picks and more stops, and that starts with more of a pass rush.
As long as the offense is able to do its job – and that’s what Jinks is in place for – it’ll make up for the defensive issues.
If James Morgan progresses and hangs on to the quarterback gig, and if there’s more help around all-star receiver Scott Miller, the passing game should blow up. It wasn’t bad, but it was inefficient. Chalk that all up to the growing pains.
The O line might need a little while to be solid, but the backfield is in place to help out Morgan – the running game will be along for the ride, but it’ll be more effective.
And there’s still the machinery in place overall to be a winner again.
Last year’s dud came off of three straight MAC East-winning seasons with 28 wins overall. But those teams were the culmination of a building process. The 2017 Falcons have the foundation in place, even after the problems.
It’s not going to be a breeze, but at least the team is in the easier of the two divisions. Win the home games – the toughest battles are mostly in Doyt Perry Stadium – pull off a few upsets, and everything is back to normal.
Get ready for the fireworks again.