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2023 Football Preview: Offseason QB battle brings optimism to veteran roster

On Monday, Head Coach Scot Loeffler said that the starting quarterback will be announced on Friday.
2023+Football+Preview%3A+Offseason+QB+battle+brings+optimism+to+veteran+roster
Drake Harlett

It has been 247 days since we saw BGSU Football hit the field.

Well folks, game week is finally here.

Falcon football begins their season this Saturday, 9/2, on the road against Liberty at noon, and while this roster a lot of familiar faces returning on both sides of the ball, that doesn’t mean we won’t see anybody new in this system.  

 We start at the signal caller position- quarterback. Matt McDonald graduated this past spring, and with that brings a new face to lead the offense at the Doyt this year.

Senior Connor Bazelak transferred in this off-season from Indiana, where he played in 10 games for the Hoosiers last year. In that time, Bazelak threw for 2,312 yards and 13 touchdowns.

But Bazelak has not officially been named the starter, at least publicly, because battling him for the starting position is another senior, Camden Orth.

Orth appeared in 10 of the 13 games BG played last year. In that span, he threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns, including one in the Motor City Bowl against New Mexico State, when he had to come into the game in the first quarter to replace the injured McDonald.

Both signal callers have shown flashes of being very good over the course of the summer, leaving head coach Scot Loeffler with a tough decision.

We do have a starter and that won’t be announced until Friday (9/1), said Loeffler at the press conference on Monday. “Our team knows exactly who’s starting and it doesn’t give us any advantage whatsoever to say who is starting.”

The shoes to fill are relatively large, as McDonald was fifth in the Mid-American Conference in total QBR (quarterback rating), so both Bazelak and Orth, whoever is named starter, will be eager to surpass that in hopes to propel the team to the next level.

Staying with the offense, the running back room has received a boost this off-season with the return of Terion Stewart, who missed all of last season. Joining him are returning backs Ta’Ron Keith and Jaison Patterson. In games where the Falcons had over 100 yards on the ground, they were 4-1. 

Another key factor in this offense is the receiver room. Senior and captain Odieu Hiliare returns for his second year at BGSU. Hiliare is coming off of a year where he had 58 receptions for 747 yards and six touchdowns. Hiliare brings a lot of experience as he started his career at Alabama A&M before transferring to BG.

Fellow captain Levi Gazarek is gearing up for a breakout year at the tight end position. He played in all 13 games last season, starting in 11 of them, while also getting a few reps on the defense as well. 

On the defensive side of the ball, there are quite a few veterans returning, including captains Davon Ferguson, Darren Anders and Anthony Hawkins.

The defensive line took a hit this off-season, losing edge-rusher Karl Brooks to the draft, where he was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft at pick 179.

His missing presence leaves a big question: who will fill that role?

Hawkins mentioned at the Monday presser  how junior Ali Saad will surprise some people on the defensive line.

I could point out anyone in the room but I would say, Ali Saad, I feel like he’s a big guy that will turn some heads this season,” said Hawkins.

There is an anchor returning in the veteran middle linebacker Anders. Anders returns for a fifth year and is ready to put the country on notice. as last season, Anders was third on the team in tackles (77),  and appeared in all 13 games.

In the secondary, Ferguson anchors a secondary that lost an impactful piece in Jordan Anderson, who transferred to UCLA following the 2022 season. However, Ferguson does have fellow teammate Chris Bacon back, who led the orange and brown in tackles with 84 last season.

As for team goals, it was pretty obvious what the team wants to achieve by the end of the year; becoming MAC champions.

Winning the MAC championship is the main goal and I think anything short of that is a failure,” said Anders. “We’re really confident in this team and what we can do and I think we’ll be right there to win a MAC championship”.  

 The schedule is tough for the orange and brown. Don’t believe me? Have a look:

COURTESY OF GETSOMEMACTION.COM

Away Home Time Location Links
12:00 P.M.
Lynchburg, VA TV: CBS Sports Network Stats
Saturday, September 9, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
2:00 P.M.
Bowling Green, Ohio Stats
Saturday, September 16, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
7:30 P.M.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Saturday, September 23, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
3:30 P.M.
Bowling Green, Ohio  Stats
Saturday, September 30, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
TBA
Atlanta, Ga.
Saturday, October 7, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
TBA
Oxford, Ohio 
Saturday, October 14, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
TBA
Buffalo, N.Y. 
Saturday, October 21, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
TBA
Bowling Green, Ohio  Stats
Wednesday, November 1, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
TBA
Bowling Green, Ohio  TV: ESPN2/ESPNU Stats
Wednesday, November 8, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
TBA
Kent, Ohio  TV: ESPN2/ESPNU/CBSSN
Tuesday, November 14, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
7:00 P.M.
Bowling Green, Ohio  TV: ESPN2/ESPNU/CBSSN Stats
Tuesday, November 21, 2023 Football
Away Home Time Location Links
TBA
TV: ESPN2/ESPNU

 

Can BGSU repeat a berth in a bowl game? Absolutely, especially with the veterans returning on the roster. The biggest question mark this season will be at quarterback, but on Friday, we get the first piece of the puzzle.

For more information about the team and BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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