Are you ready for some spring football?

Joe Harrington

The snow is melting, the birds are chirping and pastels are the in color. Spring is here.

And the Kent State football team plays Boston College at Cleveland Browns Stadium in 156 days, so they better get ready. Wednesday marked the first day of Spring football practice and the first time the players put the pads on since losing to Buffalo in overtime 30-23.

The 2007 season started with so much hope after being picked by some to win the Mid-American Conference East Division. The Flashes looked the part after beating a Big 12 Conference team, Iowa State, in Iowa.

But then came the Kentucky game, where junior quarterback Julian Edelman suffered a knee injury, and a broken arm against Central Michigan ended his season.

After beating Delaware State 38-7, the Flashes would go 1-8 the rest of the season with just one MAC win, a 33-25 victory at Ohio. The Flashes went through four quarterbacks. They lost to Bowl Championship Series runner-up Ohio State 48-3, and went on to play close games the rest of the season but couldn’t win any of those games in the fourth quarter. The team ranked 12th in the MAC in turnovers, with 26 compared to just 15 take-aways. They also ranked last in passing offense and last in punting.

But that was last year, and nothing screams “new season” quite like spring cleaning. For the next month, the team will be preparing for the 2008 season. The team loses eight starters, including two offensive linemen, a tight end and arguably their two best defensive players from last season – defensive tackle Colin Ferrell and cornerback Jack Williams.

The team also returns a host of players who saw significant playing time last season. Fifteen starters return along with utility players such as sophomore receiver Alan Vanderink. Other players are switching positions, such as Jameson Konz, who moves from linebacker to tight end.

Over the next month much of the 2008 season story lines will be constructed. Here are the top stories we will be tracking every sports page until the Flashes break for the summer:

1. Quarterback

Who will start? Edelman has the leadership skills, but struggled with consistency in 2007 while playing hurt. Meanwhile, soon-to-be sophomore Giorgio Morgan is back after tearing his ACL against Northern Illinois in his first start. Also, Anthony Magazu, going into his junior season, played well in the Buffalo game, and it will be interesting to see where his game is at now.

2. The running game

Junior Eugene Jarvis led the MAC in rushing last season despite the struggling passing game. But it’s not just Jarvis who will contribute; Andre Flowers will enter his sophomore year as an intricate member of the offense. Flowers’s playing time increased as the season progressed, so the Flashes should have one of the best running attacks in the MAC. It should be interesting to see where the running game is at this point.

3. The offensive line

The Flashes lost two starters and they will rely on transfer Mike Roder to fill a hole at tackle. The Flashes also return one of the best linemen in the MAC, junior-going-on-senior tackle Augustus Parrish. Along with Parrish, classmate and center Josh Perry is also back in 2008. However, Perry is sitting out spring practice because of injury.

4. Linebackers

Konz is now on the offense, but the Flashes will return every linebacker from last season. Stevon Moss, Derek Burrell and Cedrick Maxwell will provide senior leadership, while Kevin Hogan will provide pressure in his junior season.

5. Defensive back field

Games won before safety senior Fritz Jacques’ knee injury in 2007: 3. Games won after his injury: 0. Along with the departure of could-be NFL draftee Jack Williams, the Flashes will rely on Rico Murray having a stellar senior year to strengthen the defensive backfield. Brian Lainhart will have to put off-the-field troubles behind him if he wants to have a solid sophomore year. After those two Cincinnati natives, the backfield will be made up of sophomores Will Johnson and Dan Hartman and juniors Greg Keys and Danny Sadler. This group will be expected to have more interceptions than the nine the defense had in 2007. The interception numbers were the second lowest in the MAC.

Overall, the Flashes have the nucleus back from the third ranked defense in the MAC and many players back from a solid running offense. This spring may not be the final determination on how good this team can be, but every team has to start somewhere, and the Flashes’ 2008 season starts now.

Follow the Stater’s coverage of 2008 football Spring practice throughout the month of April, and contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington at [email protected].