Aug 18, 2014 11:19 PM
MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) - Making last year's 3-9 finish a distant memory has helped Morehead State focus on contending for the Pioneer Football League championship.
That's a major challenge considering last season's streakiness by the Eagles, who wedged a three-game surge between four- and five-game losing streaks. They lost contests by averages of 45 and 39.6 points respectively during both slides, including three games by at least 50 points.
"Last year was tough," Tenyer said of changing players' mindsets. "I give them a lot of credit. We've had some guys give up and not want to be here, but the guys that are here have worked tremendously hard. ... You've just got to move on."
Rather than dwell on how they lost big, the Eagles are confident and committed with much of its roster sticking around during the offseason. That has helped Morehead State become familiar with each other and the system of second-year coach Rob Tenyer, who adds that the learning process has "slowed down" for him as well after a frustrating debut.
Here are five things to look for as Morehead State looks to improve:
REES' PIECES: Senior RB Rees Macshara is prepared to carry the ball more as the Eagles seek offensive balance. He led Morehead State with 534 rushing yards and tied for second with four TDs.
SCREEN TEST: Morehead State loved screen passes last season and the additions of TEs Jake Sutherland, Joby Embrey and Travis Jenkins suggest they'll be using it even more this season.
IMPROVED CONTAINMENT: Opponents averaged nearly 540 yards per game last season, one of several areas defensive lineman Ronald Cooper said the Eagles have focused on improving. Its success will start with him after he made 53 tackles and a team-high 6.5 sacks last season. "
SPREAD KNOWLEDGE: Tenyer said visits with coaching staffs at Oklahoma State and Michigan State to learn more about the spread offense have helped him "tweak" the scheme toward personnel such as quarterback Austin Gahafer, who completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,430 yards and 13 touchdowns.
HOME PROTECTION: Morehead State was 2-3 on the road but just 1-6 at home last season, something that must change if the Eagles hope to compete in the PFL.
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