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BATTLE OF I-75

BG players to watch: Doege an unlikely cornerstone of Falcon offense

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    Bowling Green's starting quarterback Jarret Doege (2) looks for an opening during the first quarter of a game against Akron.

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    Bowling Green's Andrew Clair fends off Ohio's Jamal Hudson.

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    Bowling Green's Nate Locke gives fans high fives before a game against South Dakota.

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    Bowling Green's Teo Redding (9) dodges Michigan State's Grayson Miller (44).

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BOWLING GREEN — Jarret Doege did not join the Bowling Green State University football program until January of this year. And when the season began, the idea was to redshirt the quarterback from Lubbock, Texas.

But when sophomore James Morgan struggled to start the season, Doege was inserted into the lineup in the Middle Tennessee contest. And while an injury has limited him to just five games, the 6-foot-3, 191-pound Doege has become one of the most important cogs in the Falcons’ offense.

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He has completed 66.1 percent of his passes this season (82 of 124) for 855 yards, and his passer rating of 171.0 this season would lead the Mid-American Conference if he had played in enough games. What’s more, Doege has thrown six touchdown passes with just one interception.

But BG coach Mike Jinks said the Falcons’ previous contest at Buffalo showed that Doege’s contributions on offense transcend his numbers.

“We had some turnovers early and trailed 21-7 [at Buffalo], but our guys felt [Doege] was going to keep us in the ball game,” Jinks said. “Lo and behold, he completed some passes, and we went 99 yards, and it was 21-14.

“We didn’t turn it over in the second half, and then it was 31-28 — and we had a chance. And that’s huge.”

Doege also showed his toughness in that contest, surviving three sacks and absorbing several other hits while standing in the pocket and making plays.

“There’s an aura about [Doege], a confidence about him that our kids rally around,” Jinks said. “They recognize his willingness to sit in the pocket and take the hit rather than getting happy feet.

“He’s got a long way to go, but it’s a great place to start.”

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Bowling Green's Andrew Clair fends off Ohio's Jamal Hudson.

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Andrew Clair

Another true freshman, Andrew Clair, has had a huge impact on the BG offense. The St. Louis native ranks second in the MAC in rushing with 600 yards in six league contests; his ability to make would-be tacklers miss, especially in the open field, has helped him average 7.6 yards per carry, a full yard greater than any other back. Adding in receiving and kickoff return yardage, Clair averages 143.3 all-purpose yards per game, third in the MAC. And Clair has shown a nose for the end zone, scoring five touchdowns in six games.

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Bowling Green's Teo Redding (9) dodges Michigan State's Grayson Miller (44).

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Teo Redding

When senior wide receiver Teo Redding has been healthy, he has shown a knack for making a highlight-worthy catch. Redding’s jump-ball touchdown catch at Buffalo last week was the No. 3 play on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top 10” highlights from the previous night. And a scintillating one-handed touchdown grab he made at Kent State was dubbed No. 8 by SportsCenter the next day — even though the play was nullified by a penalty. In MAC play Redding has caught 26 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns. 

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Bowling Green's Nate Locke gives fans high fives before a game against South Dakota.

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Nate Locke

Senior Nate Locke opened the season with a 15-tackle performance at Michigan State, and the Falcons’ starting middle linebacker has not stopped making tackles since. The 6-1, 238-pounder ranks second on the team with 71 stops, and he leads BG with 8.0 tackles for loss — four of which came in the win at Kent State — as well as two sacks and a fumble recovery. Locke, an academic All-American candidate with a 4.0 grade-point average, makes all the defensive calls when he is on the field and helped to make sure those around him are in the right position for each play.

Contact John Wagner at jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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