Football team to face pass-happy Falcons

Joe Harrington

ABIGAIL S. FISHER | DAILY KENT STATER Derek McBryde, Kent State sophomore wide receiver, runs upfield during last Saturday’s game against top-ranked Ohio State at Ohio Stadium. The Flashes were unable to match the Buckeyes, losing 48-3. This week, the Fl

Credit: DKS Editors

Jack Williams, Kent State senior defensive back, is ready for tomorrow’s game against Bowling Green at 4 p.m. in Dix Stadium – and he should be.

The Falcons are seventh in the nation with 327.8 passing yards a game and are first in the Mid-American Conference in passing.

They routinely use five wide receivers in their sets and rarely run the ball. In fact, Bowling Green averages just 76 rushing yards a game, which ranks 114th in the country.

Falcon sophomore quarterback Tyler Sheehan leads the MAC with 286.5 passing yards a game and has thrown for 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and 1,719 yards this season. Bowling Green has 291 passing attempts, more than anyone in the conference.

Sophomore Freddie Barnes and junior Corey Partridge both have 40 or more catches and are ranked 49th and 59th in the country in receiving yards per game.

“It’s a defensive back’s dream,” Williams said. “We love the games that we know the ball is going to be thrown.”

The Flashes’ pass defense is ranked second in the conference, but has struggled with play-action passes all year long. Despite the ranking, they have only six interceptions on the season, something Williams said needs to change in order to beat the Falcons.

“We’ve been waiting all season for this game,” Williams said. “We’re looking for interceptions; everybody’s going to strip the ball – any way we can get the turnover.”

The defensive back field has taken some hits the past few weeks. Against Ohio, they lost senior Fritz Jacques to a torn ACL. Freshman Dan Hartman is now at safety. The past two weeks, the Flashes have given up 573 yards through the air. Junior defensive back Rico Murray said the unit is confident against the Falcons, but must be prepared for the challenge of facing a spread offense.

“It can be a gift and a curse because it’s a lot of opportunities, but one mistake ends up in six points,” Murray said.

Kent State has a high-powered offense as well – they just choose to do it a different way. The Flashes are the best running team in the MAC with 1,544 yards this season and have the nation’s second-leading rusher, Eugene Jarvis. The sophomore has accounted for 935 yards this season.

The Flashes’ running game had one of its most impressive games of the season last week against No. 1 Ohio State, when they rushed for 161 yards against a defense that gives up just 62.9 on average.

“I feel good the way we’re running the ball,” Jarvis said. “Ever since the Miami game, the coaches really got back to the fundamentals – the way we were successful at the beginning of the season.”

The Falcons have the third worst defense in the MAC, allowing 435 total yards a game and 201 rushing yards per contest.

With the best passing and best rushing offenses in the MAC squaring off, the game may come down to the less-heralded units, such as Kent State’s passing game.

Julian Edelman, Kent State junior quarterback, has thrown nine interceptions and six touchdowns this season for a passing game that had just 62 yards against the Buckeyes, after gaining 260 yards through the air the week before.

Bowling Green (3-3, 1-1 MAC)

at Kent State (3-4, 1-2 MAC)

At Dix Stadium, 4 p.m.

Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM (Bill Needle, Tom Linder & Ty Linder) and Black Squirrel Radio

After being named an all-MAC freshman last season, Bowling Green sophomore running back Chris Bullock has rushed for just 160 yards this season. Anthony Turner is right behind him with 114 yards. Turner, a junior quarterback, has thrown just one pass this season and is used primarily for running situations.

Kent State must win this game in order to keep its MAC East title hopes alive. With two divisional losses and just five games remaining, the Flashes need to win Saturday in order to get back to .500 on the season.

“We’re getting ready to start a five-game season and we control our own destiny on how this season finishes,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “Everything is under our control right now about how this season finishes. We can be a really great football team, an 8-4 football team. We can be what ever we want.”

Contact football reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected].