Kent State at Boston College: Defenses & Special Teams


The defense was the main area of concern for the Boston College Eagles this past Saturday against Weber State, particularly in pass coverage. For Kent State, on the other hand, theirs held up pretty well against another FCS team (albeit a weak one in Murray State – the same Murray State that let TOB and NC State hang 65 on them last year). Despite the lesser opponent, this will be a week where Eagles fans need to see some improvement out of this unit. Will we get it?


As I posted word-for-word last week, Boston College’s defense allowed 4,259 yards of total defense in 2009, which works out to 327.6 yards per game (26th in FBS). The Eagles gained 23 defensive turnovers, which was tied for 50th. BC’s 19.77 points allowed per game was 3rd in the ACC and tied for 19th in FBS. It’s 2010 however, and despite playing lowly Weber State, we do have some stats to work from now. BC’s defense allowed 381 yards in sum on Saturday: 277 in the air, but only 104 on the ground. Further, they gained three turnovers to neutralize the offense’s three, with the most flashy being DeLeon Gause’s lucky pick-six in the second half.

In 2009, Kent State allowed 4,272 yards of total opponent offense, or 356 yards per game (51st in FBS). They gained 26 turnovers, three more than BC last year, for a 29th-place tie in FBS. They were 40th in I-A in points allowed per game, coming in at 22.4. In their only game this year, the Golden Flashes allowed ten points to the Racers and held them to 198 yards of total offense. The rushing stats are actually pretty mindblowing: Murray State “rushed” for negative-65 yards on Saturday and their longest run play from scrimmage was five yards. I checked: they’re not typos. Of course, that doesn’t mean their run D is better than BC’s; it probably just means that Murray State is not good and that must have been one trainwreck of a game to watch.

We established yesterday that Kent State would probably go to the ground more often if they could (though last year they ran an equal number of rushing and passing plays), but Boston College’s stout run defense will probably make that difficult. As Weber State showed people last weekend, the way to hit BC is through an air assault. Cameron Higgins is on his way to becoming the Big Sky’s all-time passing leader, while Spencer Keith is a decent young player who had a good game on Saturday. Though we saw him last year, I’m still not quite sure what we’re going to get out of him as he’s just a sophomore cutting his proverbial teeth. You can probably bet on Kent State challenging this Eagles secondary, however; that is, if they got their hands on the game film (and I’m certain they have).

If you like cushion (reminded me a little bit of the Tim Lewis/Bill Sheridan “Cover Zero” scheme with the New York Giants, as fans called it), “bend but don’t break,” no blitzing, a defensive line that isn’t pulling their weight, and “giving” yards to the other team, I’m fairly certain the Eagles are for you. That kind of play isn’t really for me, however. It’s possible that BC is going vanilla on defense until they start facing real opposition, and if that’s the case, I won’t cry over another milquetoast defensive plan (but I have to admit, it would concern me). I guess we’ll have to see on Saturday.

Murray State ran 69 plays from scrimmage, and God love ‘em, they only turned the ball over once on the Kent State defense – a lost fumble. Jeff Ehrhardt, the Racers QB, wasn’t picked off once in 47 attempts, completing 30 of them. Looking back over his career log, you’ll see a guy who throws his fair share of picks relative to the number of touchdowns, but who knows. I don’t have my hands on any game film myself, but I expect Kent State’s defense to see Dave Shinskie, and to a lesser extent, Mike Marscovetra, throw the ball plenty of times. Just because that was the only way Murray State got anything done, however, doesn’t mean it’ll be that way with BC. Montel Harris will get the rock about 20 times, and provided the offensive line do their job, he’ll do far worse to the Golden Flashes than anything the Racers could cook up last weekend. Whereas BC had the 14th-best run defense in 2009, Kent State was in the middle of the pack at 51st.  Against that same unit, Montel only had 68 yards on 19 carries last year, but then again, Justin Tuggle threw two touchdown passes in the same game. A lot can change in a year.

Special Teams

Boston College is starting a freshman kicker, and so far, it seems to be working fine. Sure, the kickoffs are going to be a work in progress, but if I’m not mistaken, I did see some touchbacks. Further, Nate Freese seems to be doing alright with getting the ball through the uprights, which is always a good sign for someone with very few functions on the team. Eagles punter Ryan Quigley does appear to be getting better and better, especially after booming a 70+ yard punt this past weekend and averaging 57 yards per punt (although on only two punts).

Kick coverage seemed to be a bit of a different story. Bo Bolen had five kickoff returns and netted 114 yards. BC has to be a little careful on special teams: Anthony Bowman of Kent State had a 92-yard kickoff return last week which he took to the house, and Dri Archer had returns of 17 and 23 yards. The punt returns weren’t nearly as bad, though, with Jarvis averaging 9.2 yards and Archer 8.3.  I’m guessing some of that was Murray State as opposed to these guys being good, but still. Boston College’s Chris Fox and DeLeon Gause had some alright kickoff returns, longs of 30 and 26, respectively, but the punt return game was muted. On three punt returns last week, the Eagles averaged returns of only three and a third yards.

Golden Flashes kicker Freddy Cortez was perfect on all seven of his attempts last weekend (two field goals, five XP), with a long of 37 yards. Matt Rinehart, the punter, pinned four balls inside the 20 yard line last weekend and averaged 46.2 yards per punt.

Defensive Lowdown

This isn’t a critical game for the Eagles’ defense to come out in full force – that would be their third game against Virginia Tech (and beyond). It might be a good time, however, to start fixing some of the more obvious flaws from the Weber State game and become more aggressive. After all, I don’t think we can expect them to just flip a switch and instantly tighten up the defense against good teams – if they can, well, good for them. Despite this not being a major game this season, I still think Eagles fans would like to see something more out of the defensive line and secondary. The linebacking corps is the last of BC’s problems right now, and we can only hope for them to continue their success.

Kent State hardly boasts a top defense, but unlike Weber State, this is an FBS team and we can expect them to have a little more talent on that side of the ball when Shinskie or Marscovetra are on the field. They gained more turnovers as a unit last year than Boston College did, and assuming a similar coaching scheme and similar personnel, they’re going to do what they can to go after the ball early and often. They come into this game as a clear underdog with little to lose and plenty to gain, so I can’t picture them playing a conservative defensive game as the Eagles did last week.

Tomorrow: ACC Week 2 picks