Somehow, some way, the 4-8 Bowling Green Falcons were an impressive ninth in the country in passing yards per game allowed, only giving away 186.2 yards per game in 2021.
It wasn’t by sheer luck, either. Although a porous rush defense (103rd of 130 programs in 2021) did play a minor role, a combination of above-average pressure to the quarterback and a talented secondary which generated turnovers allowed BGSU to stay in many of the games they played.
They’ll have to equal that total once again in 2022 in order to keep the Falcons competitive, but they sure seem up to the task, with at least one all-MAC performer returning to action and some experienced depth taking over at the other spots.
Davon Ferguson was a force to be reckoned with in 2021, going off for 68 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four passes defensed and a forced fumble in just eight appearances (all starts) after transferring in from Kansas over the offseason.
It was a breakout campaign for the Baltimore native, who was the only player in the country with 60+ tackles, two-plus sacks and four-plus passes defensed prior to his injury. He also led the MAC and was Top 15 in the country in solo tackles per game as well, with 5.6. He earned first-team all-MAC for his efforts, and enters the 2022 season as a legitimate pro prospect in his final year of eligibility.
Beside and under Ferguson, however, are some younger prospects who will have to prove their respective worth over camps. Sophomores Deshawn Jones Jr. and Jalen Burton have the inside track, with both players collecting two and three starts, respectively.
Jones was a particularly good ballhawk, tying for the team lead in interceptions (three) in 2021, while also picking up 12 tackles and four pass break-ups in his first season of collegiate action. Burton was respectable in his own right, with 14 tackles (including five apiece against Buffalo and Toledo), two pass break-ups and two forced fumbles.
Other potential options include Marcus Sheppard (12 tackles in 12 appearances and six starts in 2021) and Samford transfer Jordan Oladokun, the younger brother of current NFL QB Chris Oladkoun, who was an all-conference player at South Dakota State.
Jordan Anderson reclaims his starting role as free safety in 2022 after a campaign which culminated in third-team all-MAC honors, finishing the season with 57 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, five passes defenses, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Anderson joined ECU corner JaQuan McMillian and Penn State safety Ji’ayir Brown as the only players who had three-plus interceptions, five-plus pass break-ups and two-plus fumble recoveries in 2021.
Junior Patrick Day slots in as a potential backup to Anderson at the free position, with 12 appearances in 2021, mostly on special teams, where he notched a blocked punt safety vs. South Alabama.
Strong safety should see a fight for starting reps between senior Chris Bacon and sophomore Trent Simms.
Bacon is a four-year contributor from Georgia State who transfers in to BGSU for his final season of eligibility after collecting 105 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, three passes defended and one forced fumble during his stop in Atlanta.
Simms is an on-roster option who saw four starts in 12 appearances in 2021, notching an interception and two passes defenses with 28 tackles. Simms certainly showed potential, with an 11-tackle effort against Toledo in the Battle of I-75 rivalry, and an interception in his first career start against Ohio.
Other options at the safety role include junior Davion Daniels (nine tackles in 12 appearances), and a pair of redshirt freshmen in Willie Jones and Victor Vazquez.