LAST YEAR’S STARTERS LOST: The only starter lost to graduation was senior OL Jordon Roussos, an All-MAC second team performer who started all 12 games at right tackle. … Over the summer the Falcons lost sophomore Fahn Cooper, who started all 12 games at left tackle last season. … In the spring junior running back Anthon Samuel left school for personal reasons and did not return. Samuel led the Falcons in rushing with 998 yards and 11 touchdowns in 11 games.
RETURNING STARTERS: Senior Matt Schilz won the starting quarterback job. Last season the three-year starter completed 228-of-413 passes (55.2 percent) for 2,585 yards and had 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. ... Sophomore wide receiver Chris Gallon led the Falcons in passes caught (54), receiving yards (720) and touchdowns (six). … Senior wideout Shaun Joplin finished second in catches (40), yards (639) and TDs (four). … Sophomore slot receiver Ryan Burbrink caught 39 passes for 351 yards. … Senior tight end Alex Bayer had 36 receptions for 410 yards and three scores. … Senior guard Dominic Flewellyn was an All-MAC third team choice last season. … Two other starting linemen return in senior center David “Chief” Kekuewa and sophomore guard Alex Huettel.
NAMES TO WATCH: At quarterback, sophomore Matt Johnson pushed for the starting job throughout camp. Johnson is 10-for-28 for 119 yards and touchdown in his career. … At running back, sophomore Travis Greene won the starting job after shifting to the position from wide receiver during the spring. Senior Jordan Hopgood hopes to return after two injury-plagued seasons. He carried the ball nine times for 74 yards last year. Junior Jamel Martin had 39 carries for 205 yards last season before a knee injury limited him to seven games. Sophomore Andre Givens carried the ball 20 times for 134 yards and showed big-play ability. … At wide receiver, redshirt freshman Jermal Hosley caught five passes in two games before suffering a season-ending injury. Freshman Herve Coby played in four games and caught three passes for 40 yards and a TD. Junior Heath Jackson caught three passes for 32 yards in the only game he played because of knee troubles. … At tight end, senior Tyler Beck caught five passes for 60 yards and sees extensive action at fullback as well. Junior Chris Pohlman also sees action as a fullback. ... At tackle, a pair of redshirt freshman are the starters in Jacob Bennett and Logan Dietz, with junior Clay Rolf and sophomore Christian Piazza pushing for playing time. ... At guard and center, redshirt freshman J.J. Beggan has garned attention, while junior Darion Delaney is an option along with redshirt freshman Ben Steward.
NEWCOMERS OF NOTE: At quarterback, redshirt freshman James Knapke has shown enough ability to earn playing time at some point this season. … At running back, the freshmen standouts include Fred Coppet, William Houston and Marcus Levy. … At receiver, junior college transfer Jared Cohen and freshmen Ronnie Moore and Teo Redding have caught the attention of the coaching staff.
COACH'S COMMENT: “We’re missing a couple of pieces, but we have guys who are more than capable of backing them up,” offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero said. “If I’m being honest, I’m not worries about the running back position because we’re really deep there. We have a lot of solid players who know what they’re doing and have a lot of ability. On the offensive line, we have guys with the ability to fill in the spots that need to be filled. … I feel good that we have the players to get this done. We have a lot of experience at receiver, and I think we’re as deep there as we have ever been. And we’re deep at quarterback, and we’re deep at tight end.”
FALCON FODDER FEARLESS FORECAST: The offense should be –- and will be -– better than last season. But how much better? The answer to that question will determine the Falcons fortunes in 2013. Expect good play from the middle of the offensive line, especially in the running game. Speaking of which, there are a number of options at running back – enough options, in fact, to overcome the loss of Samuel and John Pettigrew, who had 562 yards and six TDs last season. The keys to success will be the play at quarterback, where Johnson is pushing Schilz for playing time, and at wide receiver, where more consistent performance is needed.
READ MORE: Click here to read an overview of the 2013 season, focused on the improvement the offense needs to make if the Falcons wish to push for a championship. Click here to read a story on the continuity of the BG coaching staff, and how it helps the team be successful.
Tuesday, Aug. 27: The defense.