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September 21, 2023

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Johnson exceeds expectations at Kent, resembles young Roethlisberger

When you think of a quarterback battle around the BG camp, you envision Matt Johnson and Matt Schilz fighting for the starting job.

Someone didn’t give Johnson that memo.

Instead, he took on another quarterback eager to prove himself in Kent State’s redshirt-freshman Colin Reardon.

Reardon looked good against BG, coming out early throwing for two touchdowns in the first half while orchestrating a wounded running game that was missing running back Dri Archer, that he lead with 58 yards.

Archer, toted as a potential Heisman candidate by the Kent State team, was unavailable to play nursing an ankle injury he suffered early in the first quarter against Liberty. Trayion Durham took his place, but the 248 pound back lacked the agility of the 5 feet 8 inches, 175 pound Archer.

Needless to say, the run game never really caught its footing Saturday. Kent finished with 138 yards on the ground.

This opened up the freshman the ability to pass the ball, to which he did quite accurately and calmly. But, like he did against Tulsa, Johnson stole the show.

Johnson had 357 yards on 19 completions with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Johnson looked poised in the pocket and not afraid to deliver the ball. He never rushed a throw despite being sacked three times.

Johnson’s passing yards were highlighted by his 92-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ryan Burbrink— the third longest in BG history. Not bad for his first ever start.

In a game against a creative and edgy team like Kent State, Johnson was able to put points on the board consistently enough to counteract the defensive struggles.

BG has now scored points every time it has been in the opponents red zone, mostly on the ground through running back William Houston, who now has four touchdowns this season despite recording negative yardage Saturday.

Kicker Tyler Tate has proven himself a confident kicker making two field goals Saturday, including one from 41 yards.

The offense has really come around Johnson who just sits back and makes the smart plays. He doesn’t rush, and he isn’t afraid of taking the hit. Johnson reminds me of a young Ben Roethlisberger in his days at Miami.

At this point, with the way the offense handled Kent State, I don’t see a team on the schedule that could easily beat the Falcons. Indiana, Mississippi State, Toledo and Ohio will all be tough tests, but only one of those games is a MAC East foe; Ohio.

As long as the team continues to find a rhythm, a MAC East title run should be expected, not hoped for. The Associated Press poll this week saw BG receive seven votes to be in the nation’s top 25, two less than this past week, and a future ranking should be in store.

I don’t want to count any chickens before they hatch but what a difference a quarterback can make.

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