Bowling Green Preview

In case you couldn’t tell, the tweet below is about Brian VanGorder.

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What’s Their Deal?

Last year, the Falcons boasted one of the worst defenses in college football. To ostensibly solve that problem, they hired our old friend Brian VanGorder as their defensive coordinator. No bueno. They’ve lost their last three games by an average of 41 points, and sit at number 128 (out of 130) in SP+. New head coach Scott Loeffler used to play and coach at Michigan, and hired four other guys with ties to the program, but was most recently offensive coordinator at Boston College. Generally everything is just very stinky.

Football-wise, you don’t really need to know that much about them, because they are very bad, but in case you do, here’s a quick rundown. Last year’s starting quarterback transferred to West Virginia, and they lost the MAC’s best wide receiver and their top three defensive backs. Their offensive backfield is made of big hefty running backs and linemen. New starting and Boston College transfer QB Darius Wade was working at Home Depot after a serious injury to his throwing shoulder, but the Falcons needed a signal caller with experience, so here he is (at one point this summer, they had a sole quarterback on the active roster, and Loeffler more or less had to call up Wade).

Defensively, well, they’re giving up 49 points per game. There’s experience in the front seven to counter the gaping holes in the secondary, and hey, this unit’s ranked higher (118 and 127 in SP+, respectively) than the offense! That’s the extent of my positive spin.

One Scary Man: WR Quintin Morris

Nothing about Bowling Green is particularly scary, but the 6’4″, 228 pound Morris is a useful weapon. He totaled 42 catches, 516 yards, and 7 touchdowns last year, and is on pace to best those figures in 2019. He’s big and athletic enough to create matchup problems, so Irish linebackers need to be ready when he’s lined up at tight end.

A Few Things I Hate About You

  • On September 4, 2016, Notre Dame gave up 517 yards and 50 points in a loss to a Texas team that would finish 5-7. They were led by a true freshman quarterback, and the winning touchdown was scored by one of the most-maligned Longhorns of the 21st century. That was the highest point total for Texas in 2016.
  • On September 17, 2016, Notre Dame gave up 501 yards and 36 points in a loss to a Michigan State team that would finish 3-9. The Spartans would score more only in a loss to Northwestern and in a win against Rutgers.
  • On September 24, 2016, Notre Dame gave up 498 yards and 38 points in a loss to a Duke team that would finish 4-8. It was the most points the Blue Devils would score against an FBS opponent all season.
  • I could expand the scope of this list a couple years back before the first quarter of the 2016 season, which is when BVG got the ax, but the crux of our 2014 and 2015 grievances is that Jaylon Smith and his teammates (but especially Jaylon Smith) were robbed of something potentially really special by Brian VanGorder’s plain and obvious incompetence. It’s the worst hire Brian Kelly’s ever made, and it makes everyone appreciate what we have in Clark Lea that much more.

What to Expect

These two teams are not on anything resembling the same level. The Irish should throw for 400 yards easily, even if they mainly rely on the run game as the game gets out of hand. Phil Jurkovec will get snaps, it’s just a question of how many (ideally, he would play the entire second half). It’s all about tuning up before two of the biggest games of the season over the next three weeks. Let Chase Claypool and Chris Finke get healthy, allow Tony Jones and the other backs to continue gaining confidence, and figure out how to best fill Shaun Crawford’s shoes over the next month.

Prediction

Okay, yes, it’s about tuning up before Michigan and Southern Cal, but it’s also about revenge. Do it for yourself, Brian, but also do it for us. Cut the brakes and let Jurkovec throw deep to Braden Lenzy on every play. Let Kyle Hamilton fly around and grab another pick or two. Style points never hurt nobody. Irish in a laugher, 69-9.

Play ’em Out

Ohio’s own Twenty One Pil—haha, just kidding, they’re very bad, don’t try and tell me otherwise. Saintseneca is also a band from BGSU’s home state, but they’re good.

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