Two-A-Days: Kent State

It is game week and the Eagles are now in preparation for the opening of the season. In an effort to get everyone in game watching condition, we started our two-a-days with a look at Northeastern. The afternoon session today is dedicated to the Kent State Golden Flashes.

Last Year: The 2008 season was a tough one for the Golden Flashes. They finished 4-and-8 and won just three conference games. Three of their losses, however, came by fewer than seven points. They also beat Buffalo, the eventual MAC champion. The fact that they have been able to hang in with other teams in the conference suggests they have the talent to be a decent team.

The major issue for them last season was a defense that could not stop anyone. They finished 86th in total defense and 98th in scoring defense. Any team that gives up 395 yards per game is going to struggle. That was the big issue for them. Just about every opponent was able to get close to the 400 yard mark against them.

The other issue was the utter lack of a passing game. They finished 98th in passing. Throw in 25 turnovers and this was arguably the worst air attack in the conference. The only thing that saved them from a worse finish was having the best running back in the conference. Eugene Jarvis ran for 800 yards in just eight games, averaging close to five yards per carry.

Why They Could Be Better: The secondary has to be better than last season. They return three starters from last season in the secondary. They also have decent depth at the spot, which will allow them to rotate guys and stay fresh. That should result in an improved pass defense.

They also return two starters on the line and two others with experience. Kent plays a three man line in their base defense. So, they have a stable of experienced linemen. Depth and experience up front should result in improved run defense and take some pressure off their secondary.

The other area where they could improve is special teams. Last year they lost two games due to special teams mistakes. With veterans back at all of the special teams spots, improvement is expected. Last season Kent played a lot of their younger guys on the special teams units and that experience should result in better play overall.

Why They Could Be Worse: The offense was not great last year, but they did have experience at Quarterback. Last year's quarterback Julian Edelman accounted for 66% of their offense last season. Kent State is going with untested sophomore Giorgio Morgan over fifth year senior Anthony Magazu. In an offense without a ton of talent at receiver, it will be a rough initiation for the new quarterback.

The line has some experience, but they will be going with three underclassmen as starters. There are six underclassmen in the two deep. The left tackle is a red-shirt freshman and his backup is another red-shirt freshman. In other words, the line is very young this year.

The other factor that looks like a strength now, but could be a liability is the tailback situation. Eugene Jarvis is the best back in the MAC, but he is not a workhorse. The kid is 5'5" and weighs 170 pounds. For a team needing to rely on the running game to protect the passing game, having such a small guy carrying the load could be a big problem. There are only so many hits in that small body.

What To Expect: MAC teams have a reputation as giant killers, but it is somewhat overstated. Last season the MAC was 4-and-22 against BCS schools. Those four wins came against Syracuse, Indiana, Pittsburgh and Michigan. Not exactly murder's row.

Like last year, Kent is not going to rely on their passing game to move the ball. The passing game is designed to loosen things up for Jarvis and allow their QB to run out of the shotgun. Expect Kent to rely on the quarterbacks to look for shots to run out of the shotgun in order to catch BC over playing Jarvis.

Boston College will follow the same script as last season by taking Jarvis off the field as a running threat. He was limited to eleven carries and 51 yards. Facing a young QB, the goal will be to force him to throw the ball into the zone and look for the secondary to turn him over, setting up the offense for a short field.

On the other side of the ball, BC will run the ball and avoid going against Kent's secondary. Last year BC ran the ball 47 times against Kent. With questions at quarterback, establishing the ground game will be the priority. That said, look for Tranquill to open up more of the play book to get his quarterbacks ready for their big test at Clemson the following week.

Prediction: Kent may be a better team this year and BC is in transition, but the talent gap is too big to overlook. If this game was on the road, BC may have some trouble, but home cooking is the best thing for a young team with no reason to be overconfident. The ground game chews them up and the defense has a big day. BC 31 Kent 7.


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