BGSU football is ready to kick off their 2020 season.

Reese Lannon and Reese Lannon

Hopes are high around BGSU football in 2020 with it being year two of Head Coach Scot Loeffler’s tenure.

In year one, the Falcons faced a decimated roster from the Mike Jinks era and had primarily misfits to the scheme Loeffler runs on offense and defense along with young and inexperienced players.

The Falcons went just 3-9, and 2-6 in the conference but the silver lining to the season was a huge upset victory over Toledo in the battle of I-75.

A big problem last year was the quarterback position. Boston College transfer Matt McDonald won the job out of fall camp over Darius Wade and Grant Loy but was still awaiting a verdict from the NCAA on his appeal to play immediately after transfer, which ended up being denied two weeks into the season.

Sixth-year senior and former Boston College transfer, Darius Wade got the first crack at the position, and won the season opener against Morgan State.

But after that he lost his job to Loy after a blowout loss to Kent State ahead of the Notre Dame game.

Loy took over for the rest of the year, and although his numbers were not pretty (6 touchdowns and 11 interceptions), he did lead the Falcons to a couple of wins. He transferred to Auburn in the offseason, leaving just McDonald in the quarterback room.

Now, McDonald is the obvious starter with no camp battle, and with a chip on his shoulder heading into the season, will look to provide a spark to the offense.

“I think that’s what makes a team dangerous, I’ve had a chip on my shoulder my entire life, I mean most of the guys here have been counted out their entire life and we’re just a hungry football team and we know how good we can be,” McDonald said.

The Falcons in both offensive and defensive scoring last year were in the bottom five in the country. Now, with almost no expectations, they will have a chance to flourish.

Offensively, they get Andrew Clair returning to running back after an injury-riddled junior year where he was eventually redshirted. He is perhaps the Falcons’ most key-position player and the team missed him immensely last year.

Complimenting him will be the Texas senior Bryson Denley, who got a chance at extended playing time last year without Clair, and was the Falcons’ leading rusher and second leading receiver last year. He totaled over 800 yards from scrimmage.

In the passing game, it is hard to overlook Quintin Morris (55 catches, 649 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2019), and for good reason. One of the best tight ends in the country and a legitimate NFL prospect, Morris is a matchup nightmare at 6 feet, 4 inches and 250 pounds that runs well.

The offensive line returns two starters, and starts just two underclassmen in the front five. The group as a whole left a lot to be desired last year, and with a full year of experience under their belts, they have a chance to be improved in 2020.

But even with all the optimism, Loeffler knows that there is still going to be growing pains.

“We’re gonna play a lot of them. I think that the five that we brought in are good players … When Bowling Green has been right and when they have won here, the offensive line has been really good and so has the defensive line. We’re still not there yet, but the positive is that there is some youth that we think is very talented and they need to get bigger, stronger.”

As a group, the offensive returns five starters, plus Matt McDonald and a group of skill position players, such as Bryson Denley, who aren’t listed as starters.

Overall, this is a very young team and Loeffler knows that heading into the season.

“We’ve got such young birds out there right now. It’s youth everywhere, youth on the offensive line, youth at the wide receiver position. That is going to be the story for us for a little bit here. We are going to have a bunch of young players,” he said.

Defensively, the Falcons struggled a lot last year. They were at the bottom of nearly every statistical category and allowed almost 39 points a game. This was probably expected as it was a major transition year of defense, so going into year two under Loeffler the defense looks to be better.

The defensive line is the strength of this group. Karl Brooks returns after being the sack leader on the team last year, along with run stuffing nose tackle DeMontae Haigler and versatile defensive tackle Walter Haire.

At linebacker, leading tackler Kholbe Coleman returns off a more than 100-yard-tackle season along with Jerry Roberts, who finished fourth of the team in tackles per loss. 

Coleman is going to play a big part this season on the field, but also leading a young core of players as well. 

“I know as a freshman they are going to catch butterflies. I still catch that first play then it all goes away. But I just try to teach them that man this is football at the end of the day you’ve been playing it since you were in pee wee. We practice everyday for situations like this so just calm down … so just calm down, just breathe and just play ball man,” Coleman said.

In the secondary, rising sophomore Jordan Anderson could be a potential building block, as he earned starts down the stretch last year and had seven pass breakups and an interception, while they also return a starter at corner in Caleb Biggers. The Falcon defense returns seven starters overall.

Overall, the Falcons should show improvement. It won’t be drastic, but they return some nice pieces and are still a really young team. A lot of where the Falcons end up is going to be shouldered onto McDonald and what he can do, but with more experienced weapons many believe he will have something to work with.

They have a tough slate in the MAC East, but there are some games that if not winnable, could be competitive. The Falcons have 12 starters back that are now familiar to a new scheme, so time will tell to see improvement in the win column, and Loeffler and his team are looking forward to the challenge.

“We’re really looking forward to taking that next step. There’s areas of this program still that are not to the standards and expectations that we have and they have been addressed and our kids are really excited about trying to change them, to move that needle,” Loeffler said