Dave Clawson pulled the switch, and Bowling Green hasn't looked back.
Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson has led the Falcons to a 4-1 start/BGSUFalcons.com
After relying on Matt Schilz for two-straight seasons, Clawson opened up the competition at quarterback this year. To outsiders, it seemed a bit odd: Schilz led the Falcons to an 8-5 record and was heading into his senior year with an even better team.
But Clawson saw something in sophomore Matt Johnson, and he handed over the keys. In five games, the Pennsylvania native has led Bowling Green to a 4-1 record and added a dangerous dimension to the Falcons' offense. While it's still early, Bowling Green's passing attack is 34th in the nation and Johnson has already been dubbed the Mid-American Conference's East Division Offensive Player of the Week, twice.
“Their quarterback is where it begins. The offense goes with him. Matt Johnson is a dual threat quarterback who throws the ball well. His completion percentage is over the top right now at about 67 percent and he has good command of the offense. Rarely do they run a bad play or does he make a mistake,” Molnar said during the weekly MAC Media Teleconference.
Of course, a quarterback's best friend is a quality running back, and the Falcons have just that in Travis Greene, a redshirt sophomore from the Sunshine State. Greene sat and watched for most of the 2012 campaign and only had one rush for 10 yards. His high school teammate, Athon Samuel, carried the load and led the team with 1,064 yards.
But, for personal reasons, Samuel decided to go back home. He transferred to Florida International and left the door open for his old buddy to take some starting snaps. Greene pounced on the opportunity, and has 551 yards and three touchdowns out of the gates.
Greene is just hitting his stride: He was named the MAC's East Division Offensive Player of the Week last week after breaking off 213 all-purpose yards in the Falcons' 31-14 win over Akron.
“I have not seen every running back from the MAC yet but I can tell you Travis Green is at the top end. The offensive line keeps getting better and I think they have the line exactly where they need it to be,” Molnar said.
Bowling Green has a big, tough offensive line, but the unit made some Falcons fans nervous against Akron. The Zips, which don't exactly have a great defensive front, sacked Johnson six times in the first half. Clay Rolf, a junior left tackle, came in to replace Jacob Bennett and looks like he may keep the position. While the tackle position is a little up in the air, BGSU has a tremendous center in Chief Kekuewa, and its guards - Dominic Flewellyn and Alex Huettel – are tough customers.
“When you have a running game based on Travis Green, a quarterback that can get you into good positions to run and a very capable offensive line it allows you to run the football and to grind down opponents,” Molnar said. “The fourth quarter is when good, veteran teams take over. Bowling Green is certainly a good team and a veteran one, so they are probably playing right to the style they would choose to if they could script the outcome.”
When discussing Bowling Green, you can't look past its defense, which has been the program's bread and butter – or more fittingly, the meat and potatoes – for the past few years.
This season, Clawson found himself in a position where he had to replace tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Dwayne Woods, two of the best players in the MAC. Luckily, he had guys waiting for their chance.
Defensive tackle Ted Ouellet was Jones' successor in waiting and is already looking pretty good. Mike Minns, Jairus Campbell and Zach Colvin are also available to fill in, and while the group lacks the off-the-blocks explosiveness that Jones provided, they are still a formidable inside presence. BGSU also has depth on the ends and has been pleasantly surprised by Kendall Montgomery, who already has 12 tackles and two sacks.
At linebacker, D.J. Lynch has stepped in after serving as the fourth man for the 2012 campaign. Lynch leads the team with 30 tackles and complements Gabe Martin and Paul Swan well.
Bowling Green's secondary is pretty much the same as last year, which should scare opposing quarterbacks. The Falcons only allowed five touchdown passes in 2012 and is allowing under seven yards per pass this year. The group's headliner is BooBoo Gates, who has game-breaking athleticism.
“This is our first opponent from the MAC this season, so this is the first team we have spent a considerable amount of time studying and looking at. I find it hard to believe there is a better defense in the Mid-American Conference,” Molnar said. “These guys are playing well. They pursue the ball and are sound in reading the gaps. Rarely do they make mistakes and it seems no one is out of position. They do not give up many big plays by making mental errors and they play incredibly hard.”
Tyler Tate has been kicking for points and has a pretty good leg. Brian Schmiedebusch is one of the best punters in the land.