Week one is over and done with, as the Falcons fell to 0-1 on the very young season. But in a six-game season, every game counts. Having lost 38-3 to the Toledo Rockets, there is room to improve and manipulate this team into winning form. With another tough opponent coming up in another rivalry game against the Kent State Golden Flashes, it will be critical for the Falcons look at their mistakes in week one to have a different outcome in week two. Here are my three keys to the Falcons getting their first victory this week.
Control the run game
This goes toward my week one goal of controlling the time of possession, but different in its own way. Against the Rockets, the Falcons’ run defense allowed over 300 total rush yards, and six yards per carry. To say this defense was porous to the run is an understatement. Running the ball efficiently equates to controlling the clock, as behind this running attack the Rockets held the ball just under 39 minutes. You can’t hope to win games when your defense is getting worn down.
This task does not get any easier against a Kent State team that gained 212 total rush yards against Eastern Michigan in week one. Holding the Golden Flashes to around 60 yards in total would be huge for this team and allow for the defense to get off the field consistently.
Matt McDonald and Quintin Morris
As I mentioned in previous analysis, as well as during the preview to the MAC season, this team’s success starts with consistent quarterback play. Going 8 of 30 for 128 yards and two interceptions is not reason to maintain your stance as a starter, and in a short season, your leash is even smaller, because if you don’t produce, the coaching staff is going to want to see what quarterback talent sits on the bench for years to come.
Now, you may be wondering why Quintin Morris is attached here, and the answer is simple: the Falcons must give arguably their biggest playmaker the ball.
The best tight end in the MAC from a year ago was kept in check against the Rockets, only mustering two catches for 19 yards. Morris needs to see more targets if this team wants to succeed. Even though McDonald wasn’t sacked, it was clear he was uncomfortable and out of sync. The way to beat that is to get into a rhythm through the run game as well as through hitting passes. Completing more than eight passes is going to help too.
The Falcons had a solid showing against the Rockets on defense, but it’s time for the Falcons offense to meet them halfway. More completions equal longer drives, which equals more points and therefore more wins.
Winning the Turnover Battle
Turnovers. This is the most important statistic for all teams. If you win the turnover battle, you typically put yourself in the best chance to win. By not turning the ball over you don’t put your defense in a tough spot.
Last week against the Rockets, the Falcons were driving down by more than 10 points with a chance to get back in it, and momentum was taken because of a fumble. Good teams will make you pay when you turn over the ball, and that was evident as the Rockets were able to put up 38 on the Falcons. And that’s especially true when you turn the ball over three times.
Kent State is not without its own troubles in the turnover department, throwing two interceptions against Eastern Michigan last week. If, instead of giving the ball to the Golden Flashes, the Falcons can take the ball themselves, they will be in great shape to win this game.