Hear are the five things learned from Thursday’s opener between Bowling Green and the Morgan State Bears. Bowling Green won, 46-3.
1. Darius Wade is the starter at quarterback
Former Boston College quarterback turned Delaware transfer Darius Wade was a late addition to the Bowling Green roster this fall. It took a three way battle between Wade, a sixth year senior, the returning Grant Loy, and another transfer Matt McDonald from Boston College.
In the end, the NCAA didn’t clear McDonald, who is still awaiting his appeal.
After some gamesmanship of not announcing a starting QB until the start of the game, it was Wade under center and he would play the first three quarters despite a game very much in hand.
He played well, showing the poise expected of a sixth year senior. He was able to step up in the pocket to avoid the rush and even break a few decent gains against the overmatched Bears of Morgan State.
Wade finished 22 of 32 for 253 passing with three touchdowns. He was sacked just once while rushing for 45 yards on 14 carries, most of which were of the ad lib variety.
Grant Loy played well in the fourth quarter, leading a scoring drive and throwing a touchdown to Christian Sims in garbage time. He was most impressive running the football, finishing with 60 yards. He was 4-of-5 passing but when your team racks up over 600 yards of total offense, one wonders if anyone could have found success.
Most telling was the fact that Loy did not appear until late in the game. With the lopsided score, you would have thought that any quarterback competition would have seen more equal time.
Expect Wade to continue starting, or at least until word comes from the NCAA on Matt McDonald.
If he can produce, like he did in the opener Wade could be a sleeper all MAC candidate.
Honorable mention things learned: Keep an eye on Bowling Green tight end, Quintin Morris. The 6’4, 228 Junior had five receptions for 65 yards with two touchdowns. He seemed to be the favorite target for Wade and was a tough match-up for the defense, as a "move" tight end who will often go out wide.
2. Andrew Clair and Davon Jones are thunder and lightning-
We knew coming into the season that Andrew Clair was going to be a problem. As a third-team all-conference selection last year, success is expected of him.
He did not disappoint in the opener, running 14 times for 87 yards (good for a 6.1 yard per rush average) and adding a touchdown for good measure.
Reserve back Davon Jones was a surprise. The Boston College transfer was both a linebacker and tailback for the Eagles last season, settling in as a back for now BGSU head coach Scot Loeffler.
Jones ran for 76 yards on 16 carries and had both a receiving and rushing touchdown.
Standing five-foot-ten, 235 lbs., Jones did not have much wiggle to his game nor did he need it. He was a plant-and-go type back who was tough to bring down.
The Falcons showed dedication to running the football as Wade and Loy joined in on the act from their quarterback position. The shifty Bryson Denley also flashed for the Falcons.
Loeffler wants to run the ball as evidence by his time coaching some back named AJ Dillon out in Boston College. Clair and Jones look to provide contrasting styles but quite the tandem.
Again, there’s the caveat that the Falcons offense was working against a lower level FCS team. The question becomes if the Falcons are that good or if Morgan State is that bad moving forward.
3. The Falcons D looks improved
The Bowling Green defense left much to be desired last season as they were not only among the worst in the MAC, but also the nation. I won’t beat that dead horse as we have throughout our preseason coverage but they looked much improved in their first test of 2019.
The stats tell the story. With only three points allowed, 46 yards rushing, 24 yards passing, four sacks and 70 total yards allowed, the Falcons executed their gameplan to perfection. The Falcons defense also produced an intentional grounding penalty from the end zone which resulted in a safety.
The Falcons defense made MSU punter Nicholas O’Shea a celebrity inside Doyt Perry Stadium, as he punted nine times.
Yes, it was against FCS Morgan State, who is no offensive juggernaut but you can only play against who is in front of you. The positive return from the Falcons defense should give them some momentum, heading into their match up against power five Kansas State.
4. Tempo, Tempo
There has been a running joke on Twitter of all the new basketball coaches across America wanting to play with tempo and pace.
Well, Scot Loeffler would fit right in with those coaches.
Following in the foot-steps of Dino Babers and Mike Jinks with their air raid offenses and with the “Falcon Fast” era now several years in the past, the locals of Bowling Green might have been expecting three yards and a cloud of dust, like we saw from the Michigan teams in the late 1990’s that Loeffler coached on.
That was not the case. Yes, the Falcons offense was more pro-style than seen in recent memory. The ball wasn’t flying all over the field but Bowling Green was still running to the line. They were calling out signals before at the line before Morgan State could get set.
They marched down the field, running 12 plays in 3:53 on their first scoring drive.
Loeffler slowed it down later in the game as it became apparent that the Bears were over matched. He showed tremendous respect for his opponent and the game by throttling it down.
Expect to see the Falcons continue with their modernization of the pro-style offense throughout the season.
5. Falcon Fans
A common refrain from rival Toledo fans is that Bowling Green does not fill Doyt Perry Stadium.
Coming into the game, I was hesitant about what to expect from the crowd following a couple of down seasons, with a week night game, and against an FCS opponent.
Doyt Perry was not sold out, but it was probably at 80% capacity which was nice to see. The crowd was engaged and lively for much of the blow out.
The students themselves packed their sections, as they delayed the gratification which was waiting for them at the nearby establishments.
Halftime came, and most all of them returned to their seats that they didn’t sit in.
Most fans eventually began to leave during the early fourth quarter.
The crowd size was a promising sign for the once proud program. It shows that if Scot Loeffler can lead the Falcons to some wins, that the fans will come out in support.