The Bowling Green Falcons host the Toledo Rockets in four days and seek their first victory against their arch-rivals since 2009.
That task appeared to get much more difficult today when Falcons' head coach Dave Clawson announced that starting wide receiver Chris Gallon suffered a knee injury 10 days ago in the game at Mississippi State. The injury is season-ending.
Is this development as bad it seems when a team loses a starter, or is this a loss that Bowling Green can overcome?
If this had happened last year, I would argue for the former. As a redshirt freshman in the 2012 season, Gallon posted team-highs in receptions (54), yards (720), yards per game (55.4), touchdowns (6) and longest pass caught (81 yards). He was second on the team (behind Shaun Joplin) in yards per catch, with a 13.3 average.
It appeared as if Gallon was poised to have a breakout season as a sophomore in 2013, but his numbers have regressed in every category. Through seven games, Gallon is second on the team with 24 catches, but he has just 232 yards. That equates to just 33.1 yards per game and a mere 9.7 yards per catch.. Although he is tied for the team lead with two touchdown receptions, his longest catch of the season is just 21 yards. All this is true despite the fact that, behind Matt Johnson, BGSU is passing more often and receivers have a better yards-per-catch average as a team than they did in 2012.
Johnson isn't really spreading the wealth any more than Matt Schilz did in 2012, either. At any rate, Shaun Joplin has emerged as Johnson's top threat, and both Ryan Burbrink and Ronnie Moore have shown big-play ability when they get targeted.
While this injury certainly crunches the depth chart somewhat, depth at receiver has been one of the pleasant surprises of the 2013 season for Bowling Green.
Redshirt junior Jared Cohen, who is in his first season at BGSU, subbed for Gallon after the injury at Mississippi State and posted five catches for 51 yards. He is expected to start in Gallon's place. Aside from the aforementioned Joplin, Burbrink and Moore, you can expect Alex Bayer to potentially get more looks over the middle now. Heath Jackson, who has four catches and a touchdown in limited duty, could also see more playing time.
You never want to lose anyone to injury, especially if it's a starter and ESPECIALLY when that injury happens right before one of your biggest games of the season. But in this case, it's probably not as big a deal as it would seem. The Falcons have other players who they can plug in and expect to play at (or even above) Gallon's level. The Bowling Green offense should keep forging ahead without any real interruption.
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