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Published: Saturday, 1/19/2008

BG places bar higher: Outright title is goal, Falcons' Brandon says

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Brandon Brandon
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BOWLING GREEN - Gregg Brandon is done talking about Bowling Green State University's embarrassing loss to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl earlier this month.

He doesn't intend to motivate his team by plastering the final score, 63-7, on the walls of the weight room this offseason. Brandon will instead remind his 23 seniors of the 2005 season, when behind a strong senior class, the Falcons failed to meet expectations, finishing 6-5 and without a bowl berth.

"I've already thought it through a little bit," Brandon said. "It's very similar to the team we had [in 2005]. We haven't arrived by any stretch. Sure we had the best record in the league, but the one thing that's eluded us since I've been here is an outright MAC championship. We've done everything else that you can do at a MAC school except just flat win it outright. I think that's a great thing to stress with these kids."

BG, which finished 8-5 and beat Toledo for the first time since 2003, will begin its winter conditioning program Jan. 28. Only six senior starters will not return from a team that won its last four games of the regular season and made a bowl for the first time since 2004.

"I think we can be as good as our seniors want us to be," Brandon said.

Brandon will not hire an offensive coordinator to replace Mick McCall, who has left for Northwestern, and will instead delegate play calling duties to offensive line coach Matt Campbell and tight ends coach Troy Rothenbuhler. Brandon, however, will hire a quarterbacks coach, a position McCall previously held.

"I've got a slew of guys that want this job," Brandon said, thumbing through a stack of about 10 resumes. "A lot of them I've interviewed in the past so I know what they're capable of. What I'm looking for now is a guy that can really be a great teacher of the quarterback position. He doesn't have to be a play-caller, doesn't have to have coordinator experience, and doesn't have to be young, old, whatever."

Whomever Brandon hires will not be working with redshirt freshman Anthony Glaud, who has transferred to Delaware State along with sophomore receiver Zach Charles. Glaud, the backup to sophomore Tyler Sheehan, played the entire second half of the GMAC Bowl after Sheehan suffered an ankle injury.

"He came to me before the game and said coach I want to play," Brandon said. "I said your time's coming. He said, no, I want to play now. I don't have a problem with what Glaud did. The kid wants to play and he's man enough to come in here and say, hey, I'm not going to be the starting quarterback until maybe my fifth year."

Glaud's departure leaves BG with two scholarship quarterbacks in Sheehan and freshman Nathan Brown. Macedonia Nordonia's Aaron Pankratz, who was named special mention All-Ohio in Division I, has committed to play quarterback at BG.

Junior college transfers Casey McHugh (offensive line) and Robert Lorenzi (defensive back) already are enrolled in school as is freshman defensive back Lane Robilotto, who graduated early from Riverside High in Painesville.

Brandon said guard Shane Steffy will not participate in spring practice because of a broken foot he suffered before the bowl game, while adding that Sheehan, John Haneline, Eric Ransom, Calvin Wiley and Jerett Sanderson should be recovered from injuries in time to participate in spring drills.

Sophomore D.J. Young has moved from defensive tackle to offensive tackle "and he's a natural," according to Brandon. Brandon admitted that the offensive line is a concern, though perhaps the only one on a team that could be described as loaded. Proven veterans Kory Lichtensteiger, Drew Nystrom and Kevin Huelsman have graduated, leaving three vacancies to be won by a host of inexperienced players. Freshman Ben Bojicic or junior Brandon Curtis will likely replace Lichtensteiger at center. Curtis started at guard this year but played center in the spring when Lichtensteiger was out with a shoulder injury. Aaron Kent and Tyler Donahue may be the frontrunners to win the tackle positions.

"The backup kids have virtually no playing time and we've never gone into a season since I've been here this inexperienced on the offensive line," Brandon said. "It's the tackle spot I'm most concerned with."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com



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