Scouting report: Bowling Green

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida plays host to Bowling Green on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPN) to open the 2012 season. Here’s a look at the Falcons:


2011 record: 5-7 (3-5 Mid-American).

Coach: Dave Clawson, fourth season (14-23); 13th season overall (72-72).

Series record: first meeting.

Top returners: QB Matt Schilz (3,024 yards, 28 TDs, 13 INTs); RB Anthon Samuel (844 yards, 5 TDs); MLB Dwayne Woods (111 tackles); DT Chris Jones (47 tackles, 8.5 sacks).

Scouting the offense: Schilz is a dangerous quarterback who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm. Samuel was named the MAC’s Freshman of the Year. Had he not missed two of the Falcons’ final four games he would have surpassed 1,000 yards. Bowling Green is experienced at tight end but inexperienced at receiver.

Scouting the defense: Jones, who led the MAC in sacks last year, is one of 10 returning starters. Rover Booboo Gates had 73 tackles and two interceptions and also set a school record with 981 kickoff return yards in 2011. That earned him a spot on the Paul Hornung Award Watch List. The award is given annually to the nation’s top two-way player.

Three keys to victory

  1. Throughout the spring and preseason camp we’ve heard about how much the offensive line has improved. They’ve allegedly gotten stronger and tougher. Well, the players’ first chance to prove that comes against the Falcons. Jones (6-foot-1, 295 pounds) will be a decent early test for the interior of UF’s offensive line. He’s not an SEC-caliber player, but if UF can’t neutralize him we’ll know nothing has changed.

  2. Florida coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease have to figure out the best way to rotate quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett so the flow of the offense isn’t disturbed. Actually, it would nice for the Gators if they developed some rhythm on that side of the ball because it was missing last season. Whether it’s by quarter, drive or play, the rotation has to be done smoothly.