What worked and what didn't in Bowling Green's 2019 season

Falcons finished year 3-9, but also scored win against rival Toledo.

By Nicholas Piotrowicz / The Blade
Mon, 02 Dec 2019 18:56:43 GMT

BOWLING GREEN — The 2019 season ended with a second consecutive 3-9 record for Bowling Green and was the Falcons’ fourth straight losing season overall.

The Falcons expected a total overhaul that would take years, making coach Scot Loeffler’s first season all about building for the future. But there were more than a few surprises along the way this season, both good and bad.

WHAT WENT WRONG

1. Depth at almost every position

BG’s coaches knew very early on depth was a problem, and it certainly was during the season. The Falcons finished the season with the equivalent of one class — at least 16 players below the maximum 85 scholarship players in the finale at Buffalo — short of a full roster. That played a role at almost every position except for specialists.

2. Injuries

Every football team has injuries, but BG experienced them at a few positions where it could least afford them. Its top offensive player, running back Andrew Clair, played in just four games, his backup missed a month, the full offensive line played in three of 12 games, and the defense lost a nose tackle and a safety to season-ending injuries.

3. Playing high-quality offensive lines

The Falcons simply couldn’t match up with good running games. Kansas State and Notre Dame were the two best teams BG played, but the Falcons also saw both MAC division winners and quality running attacks from Western Michigan, Ohio, and Buffalo. In those seven games, all losses, BG allowed an average of 314.7 yards rushing.

4. Quarterback carousel

The end of spring practice until September was chaotic at BG. One of their few known commodities, quarterback Jarret Doege, transferred to West Virginia. The Falcons brought in two transfers, Matt McDonald and Darius Wade, lost reserve quarterback Bryce Veasley to the transfer portal, and eventually could not play McDonald, their preferred starter, because the NCAA denied his waiver request. It wasn’t an ideal few months, to say the least.

5. Just about everything during the final three weeks

Bowling Green allowed 159 points in its final three games and scored four touchdowns during the same span. The Falcons weren’t close to winning any of those games against three division rivals.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

1. Timing of BG’s quarterback switch

BG switched from Wade to Grant Loy at Notre Dame, and in the process saw a new path for their offense. Loy played important snaps at Notre Dame, and in hindsight, that mattered when he helped the Falcons stun rival Toledo the next week.

2. Toledo week

For the first time in a long time, everything seemed to go BG’s way against Toledo. A slumping offense hit for two big plays in the first quarter, which led to a 10-0 lead, the defense played its best game in years, both game plans worked, and the Falcons made fewer mistakes for a 20-7 victory against Toledo, their first since 2009. It was a model week from beginning to end that BG will use this offseason.

3. Transfer of Davon Jones

With Clair injured for much of the season, the Boston College graduate transfer was BG’s best back between the tackles. Jones missed most of four games due to injury, but still finished second on the team in rushing and played a major part in the Falcons’ victory against Toledo.

4. Moving Quintin Morris to tight end

The Falcons slid the receiver into a hybrid role, and he showed promise playing all over the field. He improved as a blocker and kept his pass-catching ability, leading the team with 55 catches, 649 receiving yards, and four touchdowns.

5. Recruiting

Arguably the most important thing that happened in 2019 at Bowling Green was a productive summer on the recruiting trail, followed by a host of true freshmen playing during the season. Playing time should help for future seasons, particularly in the secondary, and the Falcons currently rank third in the MAC in the next recruiting class. If BG aims to be a bowl team again, it starts here.

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