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           ***** NCAA Football Preview - Bowling Green Falcons *****
 
 By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
 
 2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Dave Clawson entered his fourth year as head coach of
 Bowling Green in 2012 after spending two consecutive bowl seasons at home. The
 Falcons looked like they were destined for another disappointing finish as
 they struggled through a difficult non-conference slate, but they rebounded in
 league action and went on to finish with an 8-5 overall record, which is the
 best mark of the Clawson era.
 
 BGSU could not get anything going offensively in its opener and lost, 27-14,
 at Florida. It bounced back with a 21-13 victory over Idaho, but suffered
 back-to-back road setbacks at Toledo (27-15) and Virginia Tech (37-0). The
 Falcons regained their footing the following week with a 48-8 rout of Rhode
 Island. They gained a reputation as the best defensive team in the conference
 as they reeled off five more wins in a row by holding Akron, Miami-Ohio,
 Massachusetts, Eastern Michigan and Ohio to an average of 7.8 points per game.
 BGSU had a shot at capturing its first league title since 1992, but it came up
 short in a key bout versus Kent State and fell, 31-24. It closed out its
 regular season with an easy, 21-7, decision over Buffalo, but San Jose State
 was too much to handle in the Military Bowl which led to a 29-20 Spartans'
 win.
 
 The Falcons' early season visits to Florida and Virginia Tech had them tuned
 up for their run at the MAC Championship. Clawson improved to 16-16 in MAC
 games for his career, but still has a 22-28 record at the school. He
 previously coached Fordham (1999-2003) and Richmond (2004-2007) at the FCS
 level and also served as the offensive coordinator at Tennessee in 2008.
 
 2013 ANALYSIS:
 
 OFFENSE: BGSU's excellence on defense made it a wise choice to play
 conservatively with the ball. It finished just 91st in total offense (365.5
 yards per game) and 92nd in scoring offense (22.9 ppg), but had an above
 average turnover margin (.31). Pounding away with the rushing attack will not
 be as easy to do this season without Anthon Samuel, who left school for
 personal reasons before transferring to FIU. Samuel was the 2011 MAC Freshman
 of the Year and gained 1,842 yards over his two seasons. Of the returners,
 sophomore Andre Givens and redshirt junior Jamel Martin are the top two
 candidates to become the primary ball carrier, but true freshmen Marcus Levy
 and Fred Coppet are both highly regarded recruits who could see action right
 away.
 
 With the exception of the right tackle position, the rest of the offensive
 starters from 2012 are back. Senior quarterback Matt Schilz has amassed 7,832
 yards and 50 touchdowns in his BGSU career, and is currently on a streak of 32
 consecutive starts. Sophomore scrambler Matt Johnson may be called upon if
 Schilz fails to improve his decision making (39 career INTs).
 
 Chris Gallon (720 yards, 6 TDs, 54 receptions) and Shaun Joplin (639 yards, 4
 TDs, 40 receptions) were the two most frequent targets in the passing game for
 the team in 2012. Senior tight end Alex Bayer (410 yards, three TDs) also got
 into the mix in the aerial attack.
 
 "The number one thing (that comes with experience) other than the knowledge of
 the offense and defense is our strength numbers," said Bayer on the high
 number of returning starters. "There are so many guys who are stronger than
 I've ever imagined possible on this team. That is going to help us the
 trenches tremendously. Cohesiveness is going to be really good this season."
 
 Senior guard Dominic Flewellyn earned third-team All-MAC honors last season
 thanks to his ability to clear running lanes. He is going to be a key player
 for the offensive line that also brought back three other starters.
 
 DEFENSE: The Falcons' defensive squad that stifled league rivals last season
 could be just as dominant in 2013 with nine starters returning. Replacing the
 graduated Chris Jones (12.5 sacks) on the defensive line will not be easy
 because he was such a big factor as a pass rusher, but defensive ends Charlie
 Walker and Bryan Thomas have both developed into quality linemen.
 
 Sophomore Gabe Martin was named to the first-team All-MAC in his inaugural
 campaign as a starting linebacker in 2012. He paced the team with 70 total
 stops which he accompanied with 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and an
 interception.
 
 The secondary may have a harder time keeping the opposition covered without
 Jones's consistent bombardment of the quarterback. It does return all four
 starters including the team's interception leader, Jude Adjei-Barimah, and
 senior strong safety Jerry "Boo Boo" Gates.
 
 SPECIAL TEAMS: The Falcons were really hurt by a lack of production in the
 return game last season, but that problem was very possibly solved over the
 offseason. Coppet will be competing for the starting tailback job, but his
 speed and elusiveness also make him a valuable asset as a return specialist.
 
 Senior punter Brian Schmiedebusch has a powerful leg with 18 punts that
 traveled 50 yards or further last season. He also placed 24 of his punts
 inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Sophomore kicker Tyler Tate had a decent
 rookie season in 2012, connecting on seven of his 10 field goal tries and five
 of his six extra point attempts.
 
 OUTLOOK: BGSU was picked to finish second, behind Ohio, in the East Division
 at the MAC's annual Football Media Day.
 
 "Regardless of the polls, we have high expectations for our team and our
 program," Clawson said. "We embrace those expectations and we look forward to
 playing it out on the field."
 
 The Falcons will not have to duel the Gators and Hokies again, but they only
 have one FCS opponent lined up for 2013. They will begin their season at home
 against a very tough Tulsa squad and have a difficult league battle the next
 week at Kent State. BGSU then exits conference action to matchups at Indiana
 and versus Murray State before hosting Akron and UMass. It will play its final
 non-league tilt at Mississippi State and rounds out the schedule with Toledo,
 Miami-Ohio, Ohio, EMU and Buffalo.
 
 The loss of Samuel on the offensive side of the ball will be easier to address
 than the void left by Jones's graduation. The Falcons seem to be heading in
 the right direction under Clawson, whose team may have been underrated at the
 conference's media day.
 
 
 
 08/19 11:44:24 ET