Five Things Learned: Bowling Green vs Kansas State
The Bowling Green Falcons had rough road trip west of the Mississippi as they were beat up by the Kansas State Wildcats, 52-0. Here are the five things we learned:
1. Andrew Clair is banged up
The Falcons chances took a hit before the opening kickoff.
Star running back Andrew Clair, who was dressed, was unable to play.
The two-time third-team all MAC selection had been productive in the Falcons opener against FCS Morgan State rushing 14 times for 87 yards with a touchdown.
With all eyes on James Gilbert, it is not far-fetched to think that Clair would have been the best back on the field Saturday.
According to head coach Scot Loeffler, Clair was banged up all week. It doesn’t sound as if the injury is especially serious, but his absence was still a major loss for Bowling Green on the road.
The Falcons struggled on offense and struggled with the big play. Transfer back Davon Jones looks like a solid option in reserve and had a decent game in replace of Clair, against a stout defense.
Jones’ solid play should help the Falcons not rush Clair back, but Clair and Jones seemed to work best in tandem with their contrasting styles.
Expect to see Bryson Denley, and Nigel Sealey play an increased role if Clair’s injury lingers.
The Falcons have Louisiana Tech this week before traveling to Kent State for a rivalry game to start MAC play the following week.
If the Falcons start conference play without their standout back their longshot title hopes could take a hit.
2. Matt McDonald would be starting at Quarterback
In what was a generally negative day for the Falcons, from the final score to Clair’s injury, they also announced the news from the NCAA on the status of quarterback Matt McDonald.
The NCAA doubled down on their previous ruling of McDonald being ineligible.
The Boston College transfer followed his old offensive coordinator to Boston College this summer, after going two for two in two games with the Eagles last year as a redshirt freshman.
In the postgame press conference, in addition to lamenting problems with the transfer system, head coach Scot Loeffler mentioned that McDonald had won the starting quarterback job over Darius Wade and Grant Loy in camp but the NCAA ruling would prevent him from taking that role on.
There is a lot to unpack here.
For one, the problems with consistency in dealing with the transfer portal continues to show its ugly head and it seems to be having more negative effects on players looking to play at group of five institutions. Numerous big name QB’s like Josh Fields and Tate Martell received their clearances from the NCAA while not having adverse family situations and so on.
Also, the fact that it took until just before week one for the first ruling and now just before week two to rule on the appeal seems to be hurtful for both the team and the player.
For McDonald to have apparently outplayed a former starter at Power Five Boston College woth intimate knowledge of the playbook in Darius Wade says something about his skillset.
The Falcons seem to be in good hands with Wade quarterback as he won the MAC east player of the week in week one but one must wonder if they would have been in even better hands with McDonald, or never mind how much better their depth would be with McDonald eligible.
With Wade a graduate transfer senior, expect McDonald to be the likely starter next year.
3. James Gilbert is poised for a big year out of the MAC
James Gilbert was one of two high profile graduate transfers to leave Muncie, Indiana, and the MAC for the supposed greener pastures of the power five.
Well, so far so good for Gilbert as he is the starting halfback for the run obsessed Kansas State Wildcats. Gilbert flashed a power style enroute to 103 yards on just eight carries with two touchdowns and a long of 51 yards.
It was actually a step back for Gilbert who had 115 yards in the opener (albeit on 18 carries) with another touchdown vs FCS Nicholls State.
The Wildcats schedule gets tougher moving ahead but with Chris Kliemann’s run centric approach, expect Gilbert to keep getting his carries and if he can keep putting up similar numbers he could be in line for numerous post season awards and perhaps a shot at the NFL.
4. The Defense is not as great as Week 1
I could have just as easily titled this point as “Morgan State’s offense is not that good.”
Week one for Bowling Green was like a dream for a downtrodden Falcon fan-base. A dominating victory from start to finish, including a standout performance from a defensive unit which was a he question mark entering the season.
The Falcons entered the week as one of the top five defenses in college football.
But against Kansas State it was back to much of the same for the Falcons defense. 52 points allowed, 521 total yards, 333 rushing yards, 188 yards passing, 42:52 time of possession and big play after big play allowed.
Are the Falcons as bad as their performance yesterday defensively? No, but they are not as good as their week one defensive effort against Morgan State either.
Week three will feature the Falcons against a more honest opponent, meaning that Louisiana Tech’s roster should be more similar than what they will see throughout the MAC schedule and not like they saw this week against a Big 12 school who was hell-bent on imposing its will running the ball.
It did the defense no favors in the opener that the offense was not able to stay on the field long at all and had two quick turnovers (unrecovered kick, and a strip sack of Wade) which made for quick turnarounds for a defense who was being bludgeoned by K-State’s rush attack.
(Another note, Morgan State was on a bye this week so we can’t compare their performance from week one to week two.)
5. Room For Growth
The week one performance against Morgan State glossed over some issues for BGSU but the facts remain that this is a team which won three games a year ago, has a new coach with new schemes, that has suffered numerous defections this offseason and was playing against a much stronger opponent.
Its not going to be an easy season in Bowling Green and it was never going to be easy this first season of Scot Loeffler’s tenure.
Week one was somewhat of a fool's gold to think that this team was going to do that every week, but this week is similarly fools gold if people expect the Falcons to be this bad every week.
With all respect to their conference foes, but Bowling Green will not play another team as stout as K-State (other than Notre Dame).
The Falcons at times looked in awe of the moment, there was numerous signs of confusion, and numerous mental errors like the unrecovered kick. They will get those things ironed out with this experienced coaching staff.
We have already had highs and lows to this Falcon football season, now we are entering the part of the season where we can find out about who this team really is and where they stand against their MAC adversaries.