AP NEWS

BG football working on vertical pass game

October 6, 2016

There were more than one reason that redshirt freshman James Morgan was inserted into the starting lineup at quarterback over James Knapke last week.

One of the contributing factors is Morgan’s ability to throw the deep ball.

Knapke struggled when Bowling Green tried to push the ball down field, and while his receivers were partially to blame on some of the errant passes, it became a deciding factor in the benching of the fifth-year senior.

Just how important is the vertical pass game in Mike Jinks’ Air Raid offense?

“It’s everything,” he said, simply.

Morgan showed flashes of his down field ability in last week’s loss to Eastern Michigan. He connected with Teo Redding on a 46-yard strike, and Redding also had a two highlight-reel catches, although he was out of bounds.

“We needed it because we were very stale,” Jinks said of the deep ball. “(Morgan) kept the ball in bounds and pushed the ball down the field. He gave Teo a chance to show off some of his skill set.”

Redding, a 6-foot-1, 167-pound redshirt junior had four catches for 72 yards Saturday. While those numbers don’t particularly stand out, it’s the fact that Bowling Green is beginning to show it can have a deep threat that will allow holes to open elsewhere.

The Falcons (1-4, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) hope to see the passing attack continue to improve this Saturday when they take on Ohio. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. in Peden Stadium.

Ohio (3-2, 1-0) is allowing 353.2 yards per game defensively, including 242 yards through the air. Opponents are scoring 26.6 points per game against the Bobcats, and opposing quarterbacks have connected on 65.7 percent of their passes.

Redding, after being challenged by the coaching staff before last week’s game, will have another chance to have his breakout performance this week as he expected to make his second straight start over Deric Phouthavong on the outside.

At this point, Redding’s Achilles’ heel is his small stature.

“He made two unbelievable catches that didn’t even count,” Jinks said. “And that’s kind of his deal right now. I’m just pouring Muscle Milk down his throat because he’s freakishly talented in his ball skills and his vertical, he’s just lean and they run him right out of bounds.

“What he’s got to understand, OK, you’re making these catches and it’s great on the highlight video, but you’re three yards out of bounds. You get big, you get strong, you get like (Gehrig) Dieter was and you lean on that guy and you’re still able to do that? Guess what, you’re going to make some money one day.”

TOUGH TEST: Bowling Green’s offensive line will face one of its toughest challenges of the season against Ohio’s defense on Saturday.

The Bobcats, tied with Washington, are first in the country with 21 sacks. Michigan and Duke are second with 20.

Bowling Green has allowed nine sacks this season.

“Probably the most consistent group throughout the season has been the offensive line,” Jinks said. “They’re going to have to be big this week and keep James clean. Probably the best way to do that is to establish the running game.”

PRODUCTION ISSUES: Bowling Green’s defensive line has struggled to get pressure on the opponent’s quarterback through the first five games of the season.

The Falcons are tied for 115th in the nation, averaging just one sack per game.

“They’re a talented group and they have to set up,” Jinks said of the offensive line. “We’ve got to get better production out of our defensive line.”