The Bowling Green Falcons' season has gotten off to a rough start. First running back William Houston is dismissed from the team, then Chris Gallon gets hurt again. On Friday, in the season-opener, BGSU got stunned 59-31 on the road at Western Kentucky. And to top it all off, on Wednesday head coach Dino Babers announced that starting quarterback Matt Johnson is likely done for the season after suffering a hip injury in the WKU game.
With Johnson out for the year, the offense now rests on the shoulders of James Knapke, who becomes the new starting quarterback for Bowling Green's high-powered offense. Who is this new BG starter? Let's take a look:
Knapke is a redshirt sophomore out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, measuring in at 6 foot 2 and 220 pounds. The only college playing experience Knapke has, has occurred in garbage time. His total stat line for the 2013 season was 4-for-10 with 71 yards and a touchdown. All of his completions happened at the Murray State game where he was a perfect 4-for-4.
Knapke had a decorated high school career highlighted by being the only quarterback in the state of Indiana's history to win three state championships. He was First Team All-State as a senior, and owns school and conference records for both passing yards and passing TDs. Knapke was recruited to BGSU by former head coach Dave Clawson. Knapke was a 3-star quarterback in the class of 2012, and considered a Top 60 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports. In this old interview with Clawson, the former Falcons coach said that he "felt more than anything, that James was a winner." Clawson also praised Knapke's character, work ethic and morals.
After watching his high school highlight clips the first thing that jumps out at you is his howitzer arm. Knapke was chucking balls down field with good accuracy as a teenager. He also showed a little mobility on option plays and had more of a power running style. He's got size, a good arm, and knows how to win; all the tools he needs to make plays, but it remains to be seen if he can run Babers' offense, which if brand new to this team.
While Knapke is the starter for now, he's not the only talented option BGSU has at quarterback. Should Knapke falter, here are some fo the other options available (and one that isn't, but is worth mentioning):
Other QBs on the roster:
Cody Callaway was announced to be backup behind Knapke today. Callaway was a two sport star who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 34th round of the MLB Draft this summer. Callaway is smaller than Knapke but also has a powerful arm. He's more of a pure pocket passer, and actually may be better suited to run Babers offense in the long term.
Nolan Dieter is a slender dual-threat quarterback, and yes, he's the brother of Gehrig Dieter. Nolan doesn't have the arm strength of Knapke or Callaway but is far more elusive, and adds another element to the Falcons' offense should he be under center.
Clayton Nicholas is another pro style quarterback with good fundamentals, and someone BGSU fans have asked a lot about since hearing about Johnson's injury. A redshirt sophomore, and a former 3-star pro-style quarterback out of Abilene, Texas, and was considered a Top 25 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2012. He transferred from Texas Tech over the winter, so while fans are anxious to see him, he is not eligible to play this year.