Kent State Golden Flashes
Kent State doesn’t have a winning tradition in football and haven’t had a winning season since 2001 so new head coach Darrell Hazell doesn’t have much to live up to. What Hazell does need to do is find some middle ground between a good defense and challenged offense. With nine players back on offense the Golden Flashes need to score more consistently and win the field position battle to give this team a better chance at winning than in year’s past.
The offense wasn’t anything special in 2010 and the passing attack was just plain vanilla if that. Spencer Keith (2,212 yds-59%) took over behind center early on and did a creditable job but eight scoring tosses versus 11 interceptions won’t get it done. In fairness to the passing attack, the Golden Flashes tried to be more of a running team and they didn’t achieve the desired results averaging less than 115 yards per game. Jacquise Terry is the top option in the backfield and needs to improve upon his 542 yards and 3.6 yard average but he is also a threat coming out of the backfield as a receiver with 23 catches which can make him a dangerous threat with his speed. The receiving corps is a decent group but getting the ball to them is the problem. Tyshon Goode (59-743) is the number one option through the air leading Kent State in catches, yards and averaging 12.6 yards every time he touched the ball. Sam Kirkland (56-599) was right behind Goode giving the team a nice tandem to throw to. The problem here is finding production after these two as the third and fourth receivers a year ago were running backs. The offensive line brings experience and decent size to the table led by 305 pound LT Brian Winters. This group were actually good in pass protection but with several 300 pounders the Golden Flashes should be more of a factor on the ground.
The question is can Kent State duplicate last year’s numbers that produced the number four unit versus the run and were third in tackles for loss with several key contributors gone. It all starts up front with MAC Defensive Player of the Year DE Roosevelt Nix poised to wreak havoc in the backfield once again after a 2010 that saw him post ten sacks, 20 TFL and four forced fumbles. The entire line is very quick but not the biggest around so it will be a challenge to stop big power running teams. The line backing corps was very productive in 2010 but with Dorian Woods and Cobrani Mixon graduating and taking nearly 180 tackles with them there is reason for concern. More so if Luke Batton (68 T) gets hurt as the one starter back. This unit will likely be a mix of young and inexperienced players that will be a part of a rotation until the best combination is found. The secondary lost safeties Brian Lainhart and Dan Hartman but corners Josh Pleasant and Norman Wolfe give Kent State two good coverage players. Luke Wollet and Leon Green have seen the field and appear to be the frontrunners at safety.
Freddy Cortez made 11 of 17 with four of his misses from 40+ yards but he has the leg to hit those. Punter Matt Rinehart is a good one averaging 42.7 yards per boot and netting 38 yards which was second in the league. Kentucky transfer Eric Adeyemi will handle punt return chores and share kick return duties with Dri Archer.
I think this team will be better on offense while continuing to be a solid defensive squad. To me Kent State is a competitive MAC squad that somehow has fallen off late in their schedule the past few years and if that tendency can be avoided the Golden Flashes have a chance at a winning record. That said the success of this team starts and ends with their line play on both sides of the ball and if the O Line can’t produce in the ground game and the D Line doesn’t control running teams than all bets are off