Opponent Insider: Bowling Green's Top Defensive Players
Bowling Green brings one of the nation’s worst defenses into South Bend this weekend. That seems to have become a theme in recent seasons for Brian VanGorder, who is the first-year defensive coordinator for the Falcons.
The Falcons aren’t without quality players at certain spots, and there are defenders the Irish offense must be prepared to handle.
A look at the top defensive players for the Bowling Green defense.
#44 Karl Brooks, Defensive End
2019 Stats: 13 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack
2018 Stats: 32 tackles, 4.5 TFL’s, 3.5 sacks
Brooks doesn’t have sexy numbers, but he’s a long and disruptive defender with a lot of upside. The 6-4, 252-pound sophomore has the length and athleticism combination you want in an edge player. While his raw pass rush numbers won’t blow you away (1 sack), Pro Football Focus has him down for 13 pressures on 95 total rushes. Consider that Notre Dame senior Julian Okwara has 14 pressures on 107 rushes and Khalid Kareem has 12 pressures on 102 rushes.
Brooks shows an impressive burst off the edge, and he has a good punch for a young player. He can shoot gaps, he can come off the edge and he’s by far the best run defender on the Bowling Green front.
Notre Dame will need to be aware of Brooks this weekend, and the tackles will need to be on their game.
#7 Jerry McBride III, Safety
2019 Stats: 24 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 break ups
2018 Stats: 106 tackles, 1.5 TFL’s, 1 break up
McBride was the team’s best returning defender after racking up 106 tackles last season. The scheme change has limited his effectiveness up to this point, and like most of the Bowling Green defenders, he’s not playing as aggressively as he did a season ago, but McBride is still a talented player for the MAC level.
He has good size (6-2, 210) and is a willing hitter. McBride shows good range as a run defender and can play the alleys effectively, at least when he’s confidence in his assignments.
While McBride is a willing hitter, he’s not a great tackler. He takes poor angles and will go for big hits instead of wrapping up, but he still makes plays.
#1 Brandon Perce, Linebacker
2019 Stats: 38 tackles, 4.5 TFL’s, 1 INT
2018 Stats: Did not play
Perce isn’t an overly talented player, lacking size (5-11, 213) and athleticism to play in a game like this. But what stands out on film is how active Perce is on film, how aggressive he is for his size, how willing he is to mix things up and how versatile he is. He’s a hard-charging downhill player that also does a good job looking up routes and jumping them in coverage.
Perce struggles at the point of attack if he has to square up a blocker due to his lack of size, and teams that can get him working laterally can have success against him due to his lack of range. But Perce still manages to make a lot of plays for the Falcons despite having no previous experience.
#8 David Konowalski, Defensive Line
2019 Stats: 22 tackles, 5.0 TFL’s, 1 sack
2017 Stats: 56 tackles, 8.5 TFL’s, 3.5 sacks
Konowalski is the most consistent player for the Bowling Green front, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering his age (sixth-year senior) and experience (28 career starts). The former walk-on shows a good burst off the edge and when he keeps his pads down he’s a solid football player.
Konowalski isn’t as physically talented as other players on this list, but he’s the most dependable. Notre Dame’s blockers should be able to thrive against him, but if the Irish blockers aren’t locked in and play like they did against New Mexico, Konowalski could end up making a lot of plays.
Konowalski missed the 2018 season with an injury.
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