The Eastern Michigan University football team enters the Homecoming contest Oct. 6 still looking for their first victory of the season. The task gets more difficult with the Kent State Golden Flashes coming into Rynearson Stadium. Kent State is 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference and boasts a very strong offense.
The Eagles went into the game against Michigan State University with a good defensive game plan, holding the stronger Spartans to only 23 points. The defense will need to continue to play well against Kent State’s running game, which is one of the strongest in the conference, ranked 56th in the country in rushing offense and scoring 30.8 points per game.
The key will be stopping Kent State’s top two running backs, Trayion Durham and Dri Archer. Durham will get the bulk of the carries, as he has 42 more than Archer, and he is very efficient with 4.3 yards per attempt. Archer has more explosion in his carries than Durham, gaining 8.7 yards per attempt.
With a solid running game, that leaves the passing game to be pretty explosive also, even though Kent State has only scored four times through the air. Wide receiver Josh Boyle and Archer are the top receivers for the Golden Flashes. Boyle has 14 catches and Archer has 10 out of the backfield. However, the key is that Boyle has a 14.6 yard per catch average while Archer has a 17.3 yard per catch average. For the defense to be successful, they will need to stop the running game while staying disciplined whenever Kent State drops back to pass, which will more than likely be through play action or screen passes.
Even though the offense for Kent State is tough, their defense seems questionable. The Golden Flashes are giving up 29.5 points per game, including 43 points in their win last week over Ball State University. Offensively, the Eagles will need to continue working on their strengths, as always, which is running the football. EMU has struggled all season on offense, and the stats show it, being ranked 118th out of 120 teams in the country in points scored with only 15.8 per game.
The Eagles shocked many people when they sent out sophomore quarterback Tyler Benz to start under center against MSU, rather than senior signal caller Alex Gillett. It is difficult to evaluate Benz’s performance because MSU has a very stout defense, but he did perform well. Benz completed half of his 26 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown.
There is no telling who will start at quarterback, but each player will need to perform well to give the offense a sense of balance. Whoever starts will need to find tight end Garrett Hoskins to have a successful passing game, because Hoskins is EMU’s best receiver. The key to the Eagles’ running game is the dynamic duo of Javonti Greene and Dominique Sherrer.
Even though EMU has started off the season with a record of 0-4, this weekend is Homecoming, so there is expected to be a good turnout in fan attendance. Perhaps the Eagles can feed off the energy of the home crowd to help them win. A good atmosphere helps give a positive flow to the game, and the Eagles should take full advantage of that.
If the team uses the same defensive game plan they used against MSU, along with more discipline, as well as their strengths on offense, EMU should come away with their first win of the season against Kent State.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Rynearson Stadium.