There are several important questions surrounding the offense of Bowling Green State University’s 2013 football team.
|Bowling Green’s Alex Bayer (82) is one of the top tight ends in the Mid-American Conference. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
If the answers are positive, the Falcons could be headed for a big season. Bowling Green was 8-5 overall and 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference, earning a berth in the Military Bowl, in 2012.
Dave Clawson, who is starting his fifth season as the Falcons’ head coach, wants to see more consistent quarterback and wide receiver play this season. In addition there is an opening at right tackle and there is plenty of competition for playing time at tailback.
“The gap where we say we’re not where we need to be to be a championship team, is with our offensive skill at quarterback. That production is not what it should have been,’’ Clawson said.
“Part of it was that we played consecutively (in 2012). But ... when we didn’t play consecutively we didn’t make plays.’’
Matt Schilz, a fifth-year senior, has started 35 games at quarterback over the last three seasons, throwing for 7,832 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Matt Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, is pushing Schilz for playing time. Johnson saw limited playing time last season.
‘‘It’s going to be a battle,’’ Clawson said. ‘‘It’s competitive and either one could be our starting quarterback.
‘‘Our quarterback play and our wide receiver play was very inconsistent (in 2012). There were times they looked great,’’ Clawson added. ‘‘We did not get the consistency from those positions that we need to be an elite team.’’
Clawson added that whoever the quarterback is this year he is going to have to make some plays with his feet in order to extend drives, to convert at times on third down and fourth down, and score points in the red zone.
“At times people aren’t going to be open and does the quarterback have the ability to tuck the ball and get a first down, or create time or create space to give guys time to get open?’’ Clawson said.
At receiver, Chris Gallon, Shaun Joplin and Ryan Burbrink are the top returnees. The trio combined for 133 receptions for 1,710 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012.
Herve Colby, Diontre Delk, Jermel Hosley, Heath Jackson and Jared Cohen are looking to earn playing time at receiver.
Alex Bayer and Tyler Beck both return at tight end and Beck can be used as the H-back. Bayer is one of the top tight ends in the conference and had 36 receptions for 410 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Gehrig Dieter, a wide receiver transfer from SMU, applied to the NCAA for a waiver to play this season, but the request was denied.
‘‘If that group can play better, I think we have a chance to be a better football team,’’ Clawson said about his receivers.
The Falcons worked on the passing game a lot in the spring knowing that it was an area in which they had to improve and also because of injuries at tailback.
Tailback Anthon Samuel, who rushed for 15 touchdowns and over 1,800 yards in two seasons with Bowling Green, left school after the fall semester.
Clawson was not sure if Samuel would return for the 2013 season, but said Samuel would be eligible as he is taking classes in Florida.
Also John Pettigrew finished his college career with a strong senior year rushing for 562 yards and six touchdowns.
Andre Givens is the starter at tailback when fall camp begins. Givens had 20 carries last season, but got a bulk of work during spring practice.
In addition there are three veterans and several freshmen who will be looking for playing time.
‘‘I could easily see us playing one or two freshman tailbacks, but I couldn’t tell you which ones,’’ Clawson said. ‘‘I think that is a position in college that a guy can come in as a freshman and help.’’
On the line, Fahn Cooper (left tackle), Dominic Flewellyn (left guard), David ‘Chief’ Kekuewa (center), and Alex Huettel (right guard) all return. Flewellyn will be in his fourth season as a starter.
‘‘At four positions you should be better because you have the same guys back, a year stronger, a year more experienced, a year more in the system,’’ Clawson said. ‘‘At one position you lost a guy to the NFL (Jordon Roussos) and you have to replace him.’’
Roussos, a mainstay at right tackle for more than two seasons, signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks.
Redshirt sophomore Christian Piazza is the front-runner heading into fall camp to replace Roussos.
Flewellyn could move to that spot and the left guard position would then be open.
The line has more depth this season with redshirt junior Darion Delaney and Logan Dietz, J.J. Beegan, and Jacob Bennett, all redshirt freshmen, making strides.
‘‘From six through nine, we are way better,’’ Clawson said. ‘‘We’re playing with guys who in the future will be really good players for us.’’
(On Wednesday, a look at the defense and special teams.)