Bowling Green State University quarterback Matt Schilz, 7, throws a pass last season. This season, measuring the junior signal-callers improvement will be a more subtle thing. He may throw for fewer yards, and he may collect fewer touchdowns, but that doesn't necessarily mean he hasn't improved.
BOWLING GREEN -- Last season, gauging improvement in quarterback Matt Schilz was simple.
First, throw for more yards: Check, rising from 2,223 yards as a freshman to 3,024 last year.
Second, cut down on the interceptions: Check, dropping from 14 in 10 games in 2010 to 13 in 12 games a season ago.
Third, increase the number of touchdowns: Check, tossing 28 last year after having just eight a year earlier.
This season, though, measuring the junior signal-callers improvement will be a more subtle thing. He may throw for fewer yards, and he may collect fewer touchdowns, but that doesn't necessarily mean he hasn't improved.
"I want to improve the numbers -- but I want to win games," Schilz said. "That's the big thing for me. We've only won seven games in the 22 starts I've had.
"Less mistakes is important, but I want to continue the progression from last year."
One area in which Schilz has made obviously improvement is in his strength and conditioning. When he came to BG from Maranatha High School in Arcadia, Calif., he weighed just 175 pounds.
And weight lifting?
"My first time in the weight room, I squatted 135 [pounds] for four reps," Schilz sheepishly admitted. "I had never lifted in high school.
Saturday: at Florida, 3:30
Sept. 8: Idaho, 7
Sept. 15: at Toledo, 7
Sept. 22: at Virginia Tech, TBA
Sept. 29: Rhode Island, 3:30
Oct. 6: at Akron, 2
Oct. 13: Miami, 3:30
Oct. 20: at Massachusetts, noon
Oct. 27: Eastern Michigan, 3:30
Nov. 7: at Ohio, 8
Nov. 17: Kent, noon
Nov. 23: vs. Buffalo at Columbus Crew Stadium, TBA
"Now my squat is 470, and that's obviously a huge improvement, and my bench is 330. I didn't have a choice but to get strong."
On the field, the changes in Schilz are obvious as well.
"To me, the obvious [difference] is that he's taking charge," Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. "He's a lot more vocal, and he knows the offense better than any other player on our team.
"Because of that knowledge, he's able to make corrections on the field and fix problems for us. He has a lot better command of the locker room."
A perfect example of that came in camp recently when Schilz, while standing on the sidelines, yelled at a scout team player -- who was mimicking the Florida defense -- to move to the proper position.
"He's now the veteran," Clawson said of Schilz. "Last year he had a lot of senior receivers, and this year he's breaking in some new receivers.
"What's critical for him is managing the game, getting the whole offense on the same page, and taking care of the football.
"If we score fewer points and win more games, we'll be happy with the job he's doing."
Schilz said his knowledge of the offense is a product of hard work off the field, another subtle development.
"My freshman year, I didn't know how to watch film," he said. "I didn't know what it takes to prepare like I do now.
"And the more I play, the more I understand the game. I feel my decision-making is better. I know what the situation is, even on throw-aways.
"The game is slowing down for me. Pre-snap I get the play, I make sure everyone's lined up. Managing the game has gotten easier for me."
Both coaches and teammates have noticed that Schilz, who was voted a team captain during the spring, has become more vocal, something Schilz said is by design.
"It's something I have worked on," he said. "I'm generally a shy person, but these guys are my family. I know them, and they know me because we spend every day together."
Will these subtle improvements add up to more passing yards, or more touchdowns, or fewer interceptions -- in short, a better Matt Schilz? Clawson said he will use a simple guide to measure whether his starting quarterback has improved this season.
"It's wins -- the job of the quarterback is to help the team win," Clawson said. "I'd be thrilled if he threw for a 1,000 fewer yards and we won five more games."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.
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