Boston College begins life with out Matt Ryan Saturday night, but it's more than just Ryan. BC lost fellow NFL first-rounder Gosder Cherilus at left tackle, cornerback DeJuan Tribble, and safety Jamie Silva. Also out of the mix on defense is Jolann Dunbar and Tyrone Pruitt, who combined for 11 interceptions last year.
However, the Eagles are bringing back senior linebacker Brian Toal, who missed 12 games with a shoulder injury. They also return defensive tackle BJ Raji. Raji's brother is currently starring on the basketball team at BC. On offense, the Eagles also lost their two running backs, Andre Callender and LV Whitworth.
Kent State brings a strong running game in its offensive attack. Junior Eugene Jarvis is the nation's top returning rusher with 1,669 yards. He will have a tough time going up against a BC defense that ranked second in the nation in run defense. Julian Eldman, the Kent State quarterback, will have to do his job to open up possibly the best run game in the nation.
On defense, the Golden Flashes return seven starters. Senior linebacker Derek Burell will anchor the Kent State defense.
BC will start a new season with a new quarterback. This is the first time in three years the Eagles have had to deal with that, and the first time in second-year coach Jeff Jagodzinski's tenure.
Chris Crane is said to be faster, stronger, and more athletic than Ryan, but he lacks valuable experience. Crane could very easily make a name for himself. This is a good game for Crane to get his feet wet. We might get to see the BC redshirt freshman backup Dominique Davis. He is a multi-skilled quarterback with great touch, strength, size (6'4"), mobility, and speed.
Also, true freshman running back Josh Haden will make the start. Haden is only 5'8", but runs like he is 6'2". Haden performed well in scrimmages and could get his BC career off to a good start.
Kickoff return man Jeff Smith will be playing his first game in two years after a head injury. You may remember him from a Clemson game two years ago. The speedy Smith will also see some time at halfback.
We will find out what is more important to college football success on Saturday night: a strong running game or a run-stopping defense? Last year, a majority of BC's backups on defense held a powerful Clemson team to only 17 points. Don't be surprised if BC has the No. 1 defense in the land come November.
The Eagles take this one with their defense. BC shuts down the powerful Kent State running game and Chris Crane, Josh Haden, and Jeff Smith set the tone on offense and special teams. Smith will give the Eagles strong field position every time.
- BC 31, Kent State 10.
- Saturday, Aug. 30th, 7:30, ESPNU, Cleveland Browns Stadium