|Carle's Corner: Foundation in place for Falcons (8-28-13)|
|Written by By JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 28 August 2013 08:04|
The foundation is in place.
It was formed over the last three seasons when the Bowling Green Falcons’ football team was a combined 15-22.
Now, the players who learned tough lessons during those three seasons are the battle-tested veterans.
In the season-opener Thursday against Tulsa, there are six seniors set to start on both offense and defense for the Falcons, and there are another five redshirt juniors starting on defense. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. in Perry Stadium.
If those juniors and seniors perform at a high-level, the Falcons get their share of good fortune and take care of business, this should be the year the Mid-American Conference championship banner can be displayed in BG.
BG’s last out-right MAC championship was in 1992. The Falcons won the MAC West in 2003, losing in the MAC title game to Miami. In 1992 and 2003, the Falcons won bowl games.
‘‘Our theme this year is keep building,’’ BG head coach Dave Clawson said. ‘‘We are certainly proud of the year we had a year ago, but we really left some things on the table last year. We thought it was a good season, not a great season.
‘‘Two years ago, three years ago we were young, We hoped as we got older we’d get better, and we clearly took a step last year in that direction,’’ Clawson added. ‘‘Now, the next step is the most difficult step.
‘‘This football team is hungry, and feels like it has a lot or prove and the way you measure that is how you handle every challenge.’’
Paul Swan, a fifth-year senior linebacker and a team captain, will start for the 25th time in his career against Tulsa.
‘‘This season means everything,’’ Swan said. ‘‘We had a good season last year, but it wasn’t great. In my four years we haven’t won a championship; we haven’t won a bowl game, and we’ve only had one winning season of my playing time.’’
Swan was redshirted in 2009 when the Falcons went to the Humanitarian Bowl, now the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and finished 7-6.
Here are Carle’s Corners obvious keys to success in 2013:
• Quarterback play — fifth-year senior Matt Schilz won the starting job, but Matt Johnson is looming if Schilz falters. If Schilz can perform at his 2011 level (245-of-412, 3,014 yards and 28 touchdowns) then the Falcons will be winners.
• Receivers — Schilz and Johnson can throw it out there, but someone has to catch it. The top three returning wide receivers — Chris Gallon, Shaun Joplin and Ryan Burbrink — all have to be better than last year. They all have shown talent, but they all have to make the easy plays as well as the difficult catches. There are some other younger players who will provide another option, if the top three under perform.
• Running backs — There’s plenty of inexperience here, but from my limited knowledge, several of the backs have played well in fall drills. Look for four or five players to get a chance, until someone gets a hot hand. Even then there will be multiple options.
• Offensive tackles — The Falcons are also short on experience at the tackle spots and two redshirt freshman — Jacob Bennett and Logan Dietz — have earned the starting nods. They are going to be tested early and often by opponents, and how they hold up and improve will be a big factor.
• Defensive line — Seniors Ted Ouellet and Jairus Campbell have the ominous task of attempting to replace All-American Chris Jones at tackle. While it will be a group effort from the entire line, it’s up to Ouellet and Campbell, both seniors, to be the leaders and perform at a high level..
• Kicking — Brian Schmiedebusch was one of the best punters in the country in 2011. His performance fell off last season, but if he can cut down the bad punts, stay away from touchbacks and give the coverage team time to make a play, Schmiedebusch will again be a dangerous weapon.
While Schmiedebusch has proven he can do the job, place-kicker Tyler Tate is more of an unknown commodify. Tate had some success last season, making 7-of-10 field goals, but he has to be very consistent this season. In camp, he’s made 40-plus yard field goals and if he can do that when needed in a game, it will be huge.
So what’s it all add up to for 2013?
‘‘Our goal is to win every game this year, make it to the MAC championship and win it,’’ Swan said. ‘‘It’s a last chance for a lot of guys who have put a lot into this program. We’ve been working our tails off to get the job done, and accomplish our goals.’’
There are high expectations, but I look for the Falcons to be right there are the end of the season, still battling to reach those goals.
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