After 15 spring practices nothing has been settled in Bowling Green's quarterback derby.
Matt Schilz, who will be a redshirt freshman in the fall, got the first series in the April 16 spring game and the majority of opportunities that night, but was inconsistent. He played seven possessions in the first half and for the game he had nine opportunities, going 15-of-28 for 133 yards with two interceptions. The offense had 18 first-half possessions and 24 in the game.
The starting quarterback battle will continue into the fall as BG head coach Dave Clawson attempted to give Aaron Pankratz, Schilz and Kellen Pagel, along with true freshman Caleb Watkins, as many reps as possible during the spring practices.
Whoever starts will be dealing with a young group on offense as only three linemen and the tailback return with much game experience.
So that leaves it to the defense to carry the load and that group, which will feature as many as six new starters, showed good progress in the spring.
The play of the defensive line, including Kevin Alvarado, Chris Jones, Jordan Roussos and Darius Smith, will be key as the back seven learn their roles.NOTES, QUOTES
--WR Kamar Jorden looks like he's ready to contribute. A junior college transfer who was redshirted in 2009, Jorden played well during the spring and had 10 receptions for 87 yards in the spring game.
--LB Dwayne Woods Jr. saw a good deal of playing time as a freshman in 2009 and he looks like he's ready to be a full-time contributor in the middle.
--RB John Pettigrew saw limited playing time as a freshman last fall and battled through some minor injuries during the spring. However, he played in the spring game and he looks ready to fill in as the No. 2 running back behind senior Willie Geter.
LB Paul Swan -- With the loss of all three linebacker starters from 2009, there are plenty of opportunities to earn playing time.
CB Robert Lorenzi -- A junior college transfer, Lorenzi sat out the 2008 season with a broken leg and saw limited action last season. He's played well this spring and put himself near the top of the depth chart.
TE Alex Bayer -- The No. 1 tight end from the last two seasons has graduated and Bayer, who was rated the third-best right end in Ohio as a high school senior, has moved onto the top unit. He was a redshirt in 2009.
RB Erique Geiger -- Geiger was also a redshirt in 2009 and with only one experienced back in the program, there are opportunities to play. Geiger has looked good in scrimmages, going to the outside and also running between the tackles.
WR Jordan Hopgood -- There are still a lot of options at wide receiver, but Hopgood's work in the spring has pushed him into the mix after redshirting in 2009. He was ranked among the top 100 receivers as a high school senior and with the Falcons using a rotation of as many as six receivers, Hopgood has a chance to contribute in 2010.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We don't even have it as a goal to settle that by the end of spring. There is going to be a pecking order that they come back in (for fall drills in August) in terms of who gets the first rep. But we want those guys to continue to compete for it through summer in their individual workouts and we want them to continue to compete for it in camp. I don't see anybody separating themselves enough to say, ‘Hey, they are the starter.' We're going to be very non-committal in that." -- BG head coach Dave Clawson on the quarterback battle.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: There's going to be plenty of questions asked about this young team from now until the end of the 2010 season. How those questions are answered will go a long way in determining Bowling Green's success.
The offense lost its top two playmakers, the defensive unit is being reshaped with young and somewhat inexperienced players, and the kicking game, both place-kicking and punting, is questionable.
With a tough non-league schedule to start the season, including games at Troy, Tulsa and Michigan, the Falcons are going to be hard-pressed to equal the 2009 record of 7-6 overall and a berth in the Humanitarian Bowl.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: With the loss of QB Tyler Sheehan and WR Freddie Barnes, the Falcons are without the offensive face of the program. Sheehan was the starter for over three years, throwing for over 10,000 yards. Barnes set the NCAA record for receptions in a season in 2009 with 155.
The starting quarterback battle will continue into the fall between Aaron Pankratz, Matt Schilz and Kellen Pagel along with true freshman Caleb Watkins.
At receiver, there are three players back who combined for 116 receptions for 1,063 yards and five TDs. Still there's going to be plenty of competition to fill the other spots.
The Falcons must improve their running game, although Willie Geter closed the season strong and he returns. Bowling Green averaged only 86.5 yards per game rushing in 2009.
Three starters return in the line, and although there were only nine linemen available for spring drills, the unit should be able to develop into solid performers.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The top six tacklers from 2009 have completed their eligibility as the Falcons look to fill spots at linebacker and in the secondary. Dwayne Woods, a freshman in 2009, and veteran Eugene Fells played well in backup roles at linebacker in 2009 and have emerged as starters this spring.
CB Adrien Spencer is the only returnee in secondary. Tim Moore, Keith Morgan and junior college transfer Javon Laecock will be factors at safety. The line returns the most experience on the unit, but the group was inconsistent in 2009. Even with new faces in the back seven of the defense, BG head coach Dave Clawson said the biggest improvement has to come from the line led by Kevin Alvarado, Chris Jones, Jordan Roussos and Darius Smith.
"The opportunity in our program to make the biggest jump, the biggest improvement, is on defense. We need to do that, and we're on track to do it," said Clawson.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: The main place-kicker and punter in 2009 have both completed their eligibility and the players hoping to replace them have been inconsistent in the spring. Jerry Phillips has the most experience as the place-kicker, but lost the starting job due to an injury in 2009. Phillips was 8-of-13 on field goals and 17-of-17 on extra points in 2009. He could also be the punter this fall. Kellen Pagel, a walk-on who is in the battle for the quarterback job, is also working at punter.
The top kickoff and punt returners have also graduated. True freshman Jerry Gates could be a factor there after he starts drills in August, along with senior running back Willie Geter and redshirt freshman wide receiver Shaun Joplin.
--Wide receiver Derek Brighton, defensive lineman Winston Etheridge and defensive back Marquese Quiles have had to give up football for medical reasons.
--Veteran wide receivers Tyrone Pronty, Calvin Wiley and Ray Hutson were held out of spring drills because of various leg injuries. Wiley was recently granted his sixth year of eligibility. He has missed three seasons because of injury.
--Nick Torresso, a three-year contributor on the defensive line, has been moved to offensive left guard.
--Two junior college players have joined the program as walk-ons. Javon Laecock, who came in as a wide receiver, looked good in winter and was moved to safety and has a chance to start. Eugene Cooper, a wide receiver from Hudson Valley (N.Y.) CC, has a chance to work his way into the rotation, but he will probably be redshirted.
--Tim German, an offensive lineman, and Vince German, a fullback, have left the team.
"They wanted to go to a school closer to home," BG head coach Dave Clawson said of the brothers, who are from Licking Valley High School near Newark, Ohio. "I don't know if there are going to continue playing college football or not."
Previous Report: 04/11/2010