2017 Hustle Belt Preseason Football Preview: Bowling Green Falcons

77-10. 77-3.

Bowling Green found themselves on the losing side of two of the most lopsided college football games of the entire 2016 season. The defense looked historically bad, one year removed from the program’s second conference title in two years. Recovering from the losses of head coach Dino Babers, quarterback Matt Johnson, and wide receiver Roger Lewis, the Falcons more than slipped from their summit; they nosedived below sea level.

After a 1-8 start, Mike Jinks and the Falcons finally figured things out. Bowling Green strung three convincing victories together over Akron, Kent State, and Buffalo to finish the season 4-8. Jinks starts 2017 on his first win streak as a head coach, hoping to build on it to compete in this year’s open MAC East race.

The Falcons found a promising young talent in quarterback James Morgan around midseason last year. The redshirt sophomore flourished through the air on several occasions, including a 335-yard, five-touchdown performance against a strong Toledo Rockets team. The pocket passer enters his first season as the leader of the offense, but he must limit his interception numbers to make it through 12 games. After the benching of former Camellia Bowl MVP James Knapke last season, Bowling Green quarterbacks must learn that no spot on the depth chart is permanent.

The running game will suffer a minor setback with the graduation of Fred Coppet, who gained plenty of mileage on the ground in his four years as a Falcon. Coppet’s replacements will be the senior tandem of Josh Cleveland and Donovan Wilson — two backs that showed capabilities of tearing up opposing run defenses at the closure of 2016. Wilson brings the power and Cleveland attacks with speed, creating the classic versatile backfield that often keeps front sevens on their toes.

In the receiving department, the team’s leading pass catcher, Scott Miller is ready to return to the gridiron. The junior finished 2016 with four games over the 140-yard mark, catching…

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