June 27, 2008

Eagles lose key players, still an impressive foe

College at Kent State

Saturday, August 30, 2008

7:00 p.m. EST

Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

(Natural Grass/Capacity over 73,200)

Radio/TV: WNIR 100.1 FM/ESPNU

This is the first match-up between
the two schools.

Jagodzinski's second season at Boston College will be a
little different from his first.

The Eagles lost
trophy candidate quarterback Matt Ryan,
who was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Falcons, and may
him with senior Chris

Despite winning the Johnny Unitas award in 2007, Ryan
threw the second most interceptions in the country with 19,
so a new
quarterback may cut down on turnovers. Crane impressed coaches
during the spring game, where he passed for 155 yards on
18 of 35 passing and had one touchdown.

Boston College also lost its leading rushers in Andre
and L.V. Whitworth. The Eagles suffered major losses on offense
and defense, including several starters in the defensive backfield.

After winning the ACC Coastal Division in 2007, the Eagles will
likely have a rebuilding year in 2008.


After losing two highly drafted players on offense
(Ryan and offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, a
first round pick for Detroit), Jagodzinski will have his work cut
out for him if
his Eagles are to produce like they did last season.

Cherilus had
tied for the most starts by a Boston College player ever, with
50, so it doesn't help the running game. Last year
on the ground, the Eagles produced just 1,389 yards, just
3.4 yards a carry, which was ninth in the ACC. However, the Eagles
finished with the best offense in the conference with an
passing game. With a new quarterback, and new receivers,
offensive coordinator Steve Logan has his work cut out
for him.

Unlike last season's opening game against Iowa State, Kent State
will have a good grasp on what the Boston College offense will
try to do, but the roles are reversed, as most of the Boston
College starters are unknown.

The Flashes did a tremendous job getting to the quarterback
during the spring. Facing the pass-happy Eagles should allow
sophomore Monte Simmons and junior Kevin Hogan
a chance for a big day. If Boston College's stats are any indication
year's squad, then Kent State fans should know a lot more about
the young defensive secondary. After losing two starters (including Jack
), arguably the most suspect unit--on what should
be a tough defense--is the secondary. The Flashes have done a
decent job stopping the run over the last two seasons, and with
all of the starting linebackers returning, along with Cobrani
Mixon's arrival, the Flashes may have success against the
Eagles' new running game.


This will be the day the Flashes know who their
starting quarterback is, after a summer quarterback competition
between the crafty veteran, senior Julian Edelman and
sophomore Giorgio Morgan.

Obviously, a quarterback's job
becomes much easier when they have a horse in the backfield
like Eugene Jarvis. The
junior, and Mid-American Conference's leading rusher in 2007,
will look to start the season out strong against a defense
that had success against the run last season. Jarvis rushed for
yards, and as Kent State coach Doug Martin loves
to point out, that was with a struggling passing game--thanks
injuries. Senior Jameson Konz (a linebacker turned
tight end) and an influx of new players on the offensive line
help with the passing game and the running game. Martin said
his line should be better at rushing, while Konz's speed
makes him a threat across the middle and down the field.

Boston College was the best rushing defense in the ACC in 2007,
allowing just 75 yards per game, a very stingy 2.4 yards per
carry. But its passing defense was the worst in the ACC, allowing
253.9 yards a game. DeJuan Tribble was drafted by San Diego,
which means a poor passing defense lost its best cornerback.
Senior safety Paul Anderson has the most experience
in the back field, but corner Deleon Guase saw plenty
of action after taking Tribble's place because of injury.

The defensive line could be the strongest area for the Eagles,
with three starters returning, along with plenty of depth. This
will come in handy as the Eagles look to replace standout end
Nick Larkin. The Eagles may struggle at linebacker with several
new starters, but with 12 backers listed on the 2008 depth chart,
they have plenty of options. New Kent State offensive coordinator
A.J. Pratt said he wants to pass more in 2008, which
could mean a long day for the Boston College defense, and would
hush any rumblings from Kent State fans that are unhappy about
the quarterback decision.


It would be easy to say that the most important
match-up is going to be Jarvis and the Boston College rush defense;
however, the Kent State pass defense will be tested all day. During
the Boston College spring game, Crane passed 35 times. Last season,
the Eagles had 276 more passing attempts than rushing attempts.
Even with all the new starters on the Boston College offense, the
one true thing coaches will know about BC's offense--in Jagodzinski's
second season--is that he passed a lot in 2007.

The Flashes have
plenty of talent in the secondary, lead by senior Rico
Murray, but after losing two cornerstones
of the unit, Williams and safety Fritz Jacques, they need
to show offenses that they shouldn't be picked on. Sophomore
Brian Lainhart looked impressive at times in 2007,
but still needs to improve. Junior defensive backs Danny
and Kirk Belgrave will be relied upon more than
ever before, as defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis will
more man coverage this season. Kent State's running game
against Boston College's staunch rushing defense will be key,
but the
play of the Kent State defensive backs and the Boston College
passing attack will likely decide the outcome.


Simmons and Hogan played like former New York Giants
standouts Harry
Lawrence Taylor this spring. The big question
though is: ae they that good, or is the line just that behind?
Against Boston College,
Kent State fans will learn the answer.

Simmons came on at the end
of last season, and has been unstoppable since. Hogan was solid
all year long. If the pair can continue
their play, Boston College's young offense could struggle.
As mentioned, Ryan threw 19 picks last season, which could present
a lot of turnover opportunities for a defense that didn't
many in 2007.

But it doesn't matter how well the defense plays, if the offense
is suspect. The fact that Boston College had success against
the run in 2007 shouldn't deter anyone from thinking Eugene Jarvis
could have a bad day. After all, Jarvis rushed for 84 yards in
one half against one of the best rushing defenses (Ohio State)
in the country last season.

Jarvis could actually get lost in the build-up to this game,
considering there may still be a question at quarterback. Right
now, coaches are sticking with Edelman, while Morgan impressed
a lot of fans and media types in his start against Central Michigan
last fall.

Regardless who starts, the key will be getting the ball in the
hands of Jameson Konz. He recorded the fastest 40-time this past
winter, and after playing linebacker the past three seasons,
there's no question he's tough enough to go across the middle.
Last season, the passing game struggled because of injuries and
poor receiver play, this year Konz should open up passing lanes
down field, which will help the plethora of speedy, under-sized,

Finally, there is Jarvis. Kent State needs him and sophomore
Andre Flowers to establish the running game to relieve
pressure (physically and maybe even mentally) from the quarterback.
If the Flashes combine Jarvis' steady play, Konz's over the middle
ability and possibly Edelman's scrambling ability, then the Flashes
could play-action the Eagles defense, play after play.

Then again, even though the Eagles have new players, it's not
as if they are short on talent. This means that even if Kent
State does execute the new offense perfectly, one turnover (which
they did a lot early in the 2007 season) could win the game for
Boston College.


Kent State head coach Doug Martin and Boston College head coach
Jeff Jagodzinski are friends. The two coached together under current
BC offensive coordinator Steve Logan when Logan was head coach
at East Carolina and Martin mentioned as early as late last season
about how much respect he has for Boston College. Routinely, Martin
will pepper his post game press conferences with "Steve Logan" references.
Hypothetically, this means that Martin probably knows more about
this staff then anyone he has coached against before. Either way,
expect Martin to be on his game, as he looks to impress his friend
and mentor.

Share your thoughts on this game in the Kent Sports Report
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