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Published: Friday, 4/20/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

BG has questions after spring practice

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green State University WR Diontre Delk (84) runs the ball during a spring football scrimmage April 7. Bowling Green State University WR Diontre Delk (84) runs the ball during a spring football scrimmage April 7.
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BOWLING GREEN -- The Bowling Green State University football team entered spring practice with several questions that needed to be answered if the Falcons wished to improve on last season's 5-7 record that included a 3-5 mark in Mid-American Conference play.

Some of the those questions remain following the team's last practice, a closed session on Tuesday.

Some of those questions were answered, at least to an extent, by the Falcons' 15 spring practices.

Here is a look at five questions BG will wrestle with heading in fall camp in August.

■ THE RECEIVING CORPS: There is talent, to be sure, for quarterback Matt Schilz to throw to next season. With the team's top two pass-catchers lost to graduation, the coaching staff had to be hoping that several replacements would step forward this spring.

One receiver who showed improvement was sophomore Heath Jackson, who caught five passes in the spring game and was consistently one of the team's top receivers. Upperclassmen Shaun Joplin and Je'Ron Stokes showed glimpses of their talent, while freshmen such as Herve Coby and Chris Gallon also stepped up at times.

BG has had an All-MAC receiver each of the past three seasons, and no one showed that type of consistent play-making ability this spring.

That door is open if someone is willing to put in the work to walk through it.

■ LINE PLAY IMPROVING: Even though the Falcons returned five players with starting experience on the offensive line, there are questions about a unit that allowed 23 sacks and struggled to get the ground game going last year.

All of those questions surrounding that unit weren't answered in the spring, but one was: the Falcons are starting to amass a group of talented players that hope to turn the offensive line from a negative into a positive this fall.

The depth of talent is starting to reach a point that it's no guarantee the five linemen with starting experience will get to start against Florida on Sept. 1.

■ STOPPING THE RUN: The good news is that all but one starter is back on defense. The bad news is that this unit allowed 203.4 rushing yards per game, which ranked 104th out of 120 FBS teams.

The Falcons devoted extensive work to stopping the run in the spring. A 66-yard touchdown run in the spring game points out the fact that work still remains in this area.

■ RUNNING BACK QUESTIONS: The wrist injury to MAC freshman of the year Anthon Samuel kept him out for most of what would have been his first spring practice, and Jordan Hopgood also did not see action as he recovers from off-season surgery.

Another potential runner for the Falcons, Andre Givens, is solidifying his eligibility and won't practice with the team until the fall.

While that group gives the Falcons a lot of talented backs, there also is a lot of inexperience that would have benefited from springs reps.

The good news was that sophomore Jamel Martin and senior John Pettigrew were given a chance to show they deserved more reps at the position.

■ THE KICKING GAME: The punting is in the solid hands of Brian Schmiedebusch, but questions still surround the BG placekickers.

It was bad that Stephen Stein, who claimed the job last year, was injured and missed the end of spring practice. It was good that Tyler Tate, who was injured last season, proved he was healthy this spring.

The competition for this position will continue into the fall, with incoming freshman Anthony Farinella added to the mix.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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