2022 showed brought great promise for the rebuilding Bowling Green Falcons as they put up a 6-7 record, the most since the 2015 season. It saw the Falcons win the Battle of I-75 for the first time since 2019, and make their return to a bowl game, a 24-19 loss to New Mexico State in the Quick Lane Bowl. It also saw former Falcon defensive lineman Karl Brooks taken in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, the first Falcon drafted since WR Scotty Miller in 2019.
Scot Loeffler signed an extension in the offseason to keep him in Wood County through the 2025 season as well, an indication that current leadership approves of the progress the program has made.
So looking forward for the Falcons, what will be new for the season? A lot remains the same, frankly, but there is still some intrigue to be had on the roster to look forward to.
Here’s what’s happening in Bowling Green:
Who is slinging the football for BG?
The last three seasons saw Matt McDonald as the QB for the Falcons, and he got better season after season. Now that he is out of the picture, who’s the next man up?
One option is Indiana transfer Connor Bazelak. The Dayton native will return home to Ohio with two years of eligibility remaining. Bazelak started 20 games for Missouri from 2019-21, which resulted in 5,084 pass yards, 23 TDs, a 66.4 percent completion rate, and 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year. 2022 at Indiana resulted in 2,312 pass yards, 13 TDs, 10 INTs and a 55.2 percent completion rate. Bazelak is likely your penciled-in starter with all the Power Five experience he brings— but by no means is it his currently.
Another option is last year’s backup Camden Orth, who also has 2 years of eligibility remaining. In limited action, Orth had the one start against Mississippi State, and also played a majority of the Quick Lane Bowl after the injury to Matt McDonald. Orth has proven he can lead an offense in his very small sample size, throwing for three touchdowns and 378 passing yards, completing 34-of-57 passes last season. Orth also has experience dating back to his time at FCS Long Island.
There is also a young gun in the QB room for the Falcons in freshman Lucian Anderson III. The Athens, Georgia native joined the Orange and Brown in January to develop his game and learn the system to maybe take the starting job a couple years down the road. He’s a dual threat QB. During his senior year of high school, he threw for over 1,300 yards and ran for over 700 yards.
New coaches in town, with some shuffles
The Falcons retain most of their coaching staff from 2022. Only two staff members departed, as Chris Hedden (offensive run game coordinator/OL coach) left to take the OC job at Ohio Northern and Eric Lewis (defensive coordinator/DB coach) left to take a secondary coach position at Navy.
Most recently, in March, Loeffler announced the hiring of Beyah Rasool. Rasool will oversee the cornerbacks and will also be a special teams assistant. Prior to BG, Rasool served as a senior defensive analyst for the Arizona Wildcats the previous two seasons. Arizona took some major steps forward after a drastic 0-5 COVID season, and a 1-11 season in 2021. The Wildcats improved to 5-7 in 2022, thanks in part to a much-improved defense, which saw improved tackle and forced fumble numbers during his tenure.
Rasool comes as Hedden departs for Ohio Northern. With this move, co-offensive coordinator Greg Nosal will take over the offensive line and offensive run game duties. 2013 MAC Champion Alex Bayer will remain with special teams and take over duties with the tight ends, the position which he dominated under Dave Clawson.
Derrick Jackson will take over as a secondary coach. Johnson came to BG in February after spending four seasons at MAC foe Northern Illinois. He held the associate head coach, defensive coordinator, and safety coach titles while at NIU. Prior to NIU, Jackson hopped around the Power Five, with stops at Purdue, Wake Forest, Michigan State, and Syracuse. Jackson was a part of that 2021 MAC Championship NIU team whose defense counted up over 900 tackles and 19 sacks.
With the hiring of Jackson, and the departure of Lewis, Steve Morrison (inside linebackers) and Sammy Lawanson (outside linebackers) were named co-defensive coordinators for 2023. Morrison will call the shots on defense. In addition, defensive run game coordinator and DL coach Julian Campenni will serve as assistant head coach.
Despite leading the MAC in sacks one year ago, these staff additions look to work with the defense to improve from the bottom three in yards given up, points given up, passing and rushing yards per game.
This is the first in a series of BGSU football previews. The next piece dives deeper into the offensive skill positions. That piece is coming soon!
BG kicks off their 2023 campaign Saturday, September 2nd at noon ET, as they travel to Lynchburg, Virginia to face off against the Liberty Flames. As of now, the game is slated to be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.