Every year new league winners emerge in the MAC. Could BGSU’s Odieu Hilaire continue the trend?
Founded in 1910 and a participant of the MAC since 1952, Bowling Green (BGSU) is one of the most traditionally successful programs in the conference’s history. The BGSU Falcons have won 12 MAC titles, tied with Toledo for second most and only behind Miami of Ohio at 15.
Few will remember that this program had a legitimate Heisman candidate not so long ago: dual-threat QB Josh Harris in 2003, who passed for over 3,800 yards, 27 TDs, and rushed for 830 yards and an additional 13 TDs.
While I don’t expect this program to be fielding any Heisman contenders this season, I think they have a WR — Odieu Hilaire, who could put up some video game numbers if the ball bounces correctly.
Coaching & System
Head coach Scott Loeffler is entering his fifth season as the boss-man of the BGSU Falcons. Unfortunately, his track record at WR is not ideal. He has had zero 1,000-yard receivers at BGSU, and in the last decade, he’s only had one — in 2015 while he OC’d the Virginia Tech Hokies.
His OC, Greg Nosal, has been with him at BGSU since 2020. Nosal joined as a position coach initially before getting promoted to co-OC in 2022.
The other co-OC — Max Werner, has been with the program since 2019. Werner also served in various capacities within the positional coaching ranks for the Falcons before getting promoted in 2022.
So, Nosal and Werner’s track records are basically the same as Loeffler’s.
You’re probably wondering at this point, ok, so why are we concerned with the BGSU WRs then if the track record of the staff isn’t good?
I’m going to commit a CFF cardinal sin here and ignore the patterns in the system, with a focus on another aspect of the BGSU program.
New faces and departures at BGSU intrigue me for Odieu Hilaire’s future
The first significant departure is QB Matt McDonald. Some of you from the CFF space will remember the name, as McDonald was CFF-relevant for a few weeks early in the 2022 season. McDonald moves on, and his replacement may be another familiar name in Connor Bazelak.
Bazelak’s been all over the place, beginning his career at Missouri before transferring to Western Kentucky early in the 2022 offseason, changing course again and ending up at Indiana for the 2022 season.
His first and only season in the Big 10 was forgettable, as he only passed for 13 TDs in ten games played.
In the MAC, the skill level should be more suited to Bazelak’s ability. I don’t expect he’ll be CFF-relevant, but he should at least be a serviceable replacement for McDonald.
He supported Indiana WR Cam Camper to CFF relevancy in 2022, targeting him 83 times in only seven games, in which Camper caught 46 of those for 569 yards and two TDs (16.1 FPG in 1-PPR formats). So there is a precedent of some serious target funneling from Bazelak when he locks onto his key guy.
Another note about this BGSU program last season is that McDonald averaged 34 pass attempts a game if you exclude the final game of the season, where he left early due to injury (he attempted only four passes). The season before that, he averaged 32.75 attempts in 12 games.
This is important because BGSU’s second and third leading receivers from last year’s roster — Tyrone Broden (32-506-7) and Christian Sims (45-458-2)- have departed the program. That means there are a lot of targets up for grabs for incumbent WR1 — Odieu Hilaire, who led the Falcons with 58 receptions (95 targets), 747 yards, and six TDs (13.4 FPG). The Falcons’ staff also got Hilaire involved on the ground with six carries in 2022.
The ratio of receptions to targets for Hilaire concerns me a little, and I don’t know whether Bazelak will be an upgrade from McDonald. However, with the above two mentioned names leaving the program, there should be plenty of opportunity for Hilaire to see his targets go over 100+ in 2023. The increase in volume, even if the conversion rate of targets to receptions is on the lower end, should benefit Hilaire’s CFF stock.
WR Odieu Hilaire – 6’0”, 180
Hilaire, a native of Belle Glade, FL, joined the BGSU program by way of the FCS program Alabama A&M in 2022. As mentioned above, his first season in the MAC was a success, as he led the Falcons in receiving. The year prior, Hilaire caught 71 passes for 918 yards and nine TDs in only eight games with AAMU, where he played from 2019 to 2021.
Now, in year two with the Falcons, Hilaire has an opportunity to take the next step and dominate inter-conference play in 2023.
Side note: I found this tweet about Hilaire, which I thought was amusing whilst perusing on Twitter:
Heeding that advice, I decided to look at the fabled Toledo game. Indeed, Hilaire had a monster performance, scoring 44.6 FPs as he caught eight passes (12 targets) for 246 yards and two TDs.
His performance vs. Toledo even landed him on Kirk Herbstreit’s top performers list for the week of Nov. 21.
He also had strong performances in weeks two and three, as he scored 23.5 FPs in each.
However, Hilaire will have to be more consistent in 2023 to lock down a spot on the All-VP squad. During the 2022 campaign, in five out of the twelve regular season games, Hilaire scored less than five FPs. Some volatility is inherent to the WR position, but we would ideally like to see him hover around the 15-point range with a tighter variance.
He’ll also be joined by his former teammate as former Alabama A&M WR Abdul Fatai Ibrahim transferred into BGSU this offseason. Ibrahim will likely take over as the WR2 in Broden’s absence and could soak up many of the vacated targets. This leads naturally into the last segment…
- The first is the obvious one: the track record of the staff isn’t great for 1,000-yard WRs.
- The second one is also probably obvious: the QB position is a big question mark heading into 2023. What we do know, however, is that this staff has no problem slinging the rock at a high clip, as former BGSU QB McDonald had strong pass-per-game averages in 2021 and 2022.
- Odieu’s teammate transferring in takes a bit of the shine off the departures of Boden and Sims, as Ibrahim will likely take up a lot of the vacated targets that those two leave behind. Ibrahim only played in three games last season, catching 13 passes for 138 yards. In 2021, however, Ibrahim went over 1,000 yards receiving on 67 passes and caught eight TDs in ten games. At the very least, I would assert that Hilaire is a good best-ball option, but I think he has the potential to be a star in CFF re-draft formats as well.