BOWLING GREEN — As a senior and three-year starter, Bowling Green State University quarterback Matt Schilz could be forgiven if he expected to be the Falcons’ starter in their season opener.
But Schilz still had to fight for his job with sophomore Matt Johnson, a competition that both quarterbacks learned Tuesday was won by Schilz.
"I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited [to win the job]," Schilz said.
Schilz, who will take the first snap when the Falcons host Tulsa at Doyt Perry Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 29, said he understood why he had to compete to remain the team’s starter.
"The way I played last year wasn’t at a high enough standard for this team," Schilz said. "I had to make progress and get better. ...
"I took the challenge, and it made me a lot better."
BG coach Dave Clawson said he and the staff talked to Schilz after spring drills about some technical issues that Schilz needed to correct.
"We addressed some things with him that had to get better if he was going to be our starting quarterback," Clawson said. "A lot of it involved his pocket presence and his ability to make plays with his feet.
"He did those things in this camp better than he has ever done them."
Schilz said he took those suggestions seriously.
"I got into some bad habits over the years, and I think I got rid of those [habits]," he admitted. "I’ve been more comfortable in there, and that has helped me a lot.
"And I’ve worked on running the ball more to play a more complete game."
While senior wide receiver Shaun Joplin said the team was excited to learn Schilz would be the starter, Joplin also thought both quarterbacks had played well.
"They both have been doing great during fall camp," Joplin said. "Whatever the coaches decided for the first game, that was what was going to happen.
"We receivers still have to catch the ball no matter who is throwing it."
Johnson was not allowed to speak to the media following the Wednesday night practice, but Schilz said the sophomore handled the decision well.
"Matt is an amazing guy — he has always been supportive, no matter what," Schilz said. "He’s always there for me.
"It’s hard to say I can see me doing that, so that’s really selfless of him. I’ve learned from him all the time, and I’ve learned from him about that."
HOUSTON ELIGIBLE: Clawson said that freshman running back William Houston, a walk-on who practiced at Ohio State this past spring, has been declared eligible for this season.
"There is a process you have to go through with his previous school, and we have received all the information we need that allows him to play this year," Clawson said.
While Houston is one of seven running backs seeing action with the first two teams, Clawson said the 6-0, 262-pound freshman may find a role this fall.
"He’s still got to get reps and get himself in shape, but in small spurts he has been pretty effective," Clawson said.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.