Monday, June 6, 2011

Kent State 2010 Review

Kent State Golden Flashes
2010 Record: 5-7 (4-4), 4th MAC East
2010 Bowl Game: None

     Almost every year for the last decade, Kent State was hyped as a pre-season favorite for teams looking to turn a corner, joining the likes of Georgia, Cal, and Arizona State. As was the case with that group, Kent State mostly failed to live up to that billing. Last season was no different, and once again, Doug Martin failed to deliver the Flashes to the next level in the MAC. He was let go after last season, and Darrell Hazell, a former Ohio State assistant was brought in to start the process over again.
     For starters, the passing game fell short last fall. Spencer Keith was highly thought of, but he never materialzied into the front line future MAC star most hoped he would be. He finished the season by passing for 2212 yards, but only tossed 8 TD passes against 11 picks, and he never developed into a threat. He was only a sophomore last fall, but he has a long way to go to build himself into a top shelf QB.
     Only three receivers managed to break 20 receptions last fall, and much of that was a failure to build a large enough rotation, forcing Keith to lock onto his primaries much too often. Tyshon Goode and Sam Kirkland were the leaders, as Goode put together a line of 59-743-5, while Kirkland posted 56-599-1. RB Jacquisse Terry was the only other player to break 20 receptions, having posted 23-285-2 out of the backfield. The good news is that they all return next fall to give Keith a reliable group of targets. What remains to be seen is who will step up to provide depth?
     The run game never really inspired for Kent State. Terry averaged only 3.59 yards per carry, while rushing for 542 yards and 7 scores, but he only averaged 45.17 yards per game. Eugene Jarvis averaged 58 yards per game while rushing for 294 yards, but he was only available for 5 games last fall, and he moved on after the season.
     Defensively, the Flashes were actually quite stout against the run, only allowing 97 yards per game on the ground. Six defenders collected 50+ tackles on the season, so there was no shortage of production here. The bad news? four of those six players moved on after last season, leaving holes aplenty all over the field. LB Dorian Wood was the leader with 96 tackles, and the next tier consisted of Brian Lainhart with 88, and LB Cobrani Mixon with 82. The 3rd tier was better than some top tiers across America, as Norman Wolfe collected 75. Luke Batton and Dan Hartman were next up, as Batton grabbed 68 and Hartman totalled 59. Only Wolfe and Batton return.
     With the run defense being so strong, you know that Kent State applied incredible pressure up front. If you need one example of this, and an example of a reason to watch the KSU defense, it comes in the from of Rooselvelt Nix, who was a freshman last season, and was our MAC Defensive MVP. Nix collected 20 TFLs on the season as the leader of a quartet that all produced double figures in TFLs. Mixon and Wood both collected 11.5, while Monte Simmons added 10 in 9 games. Nix is the only member of this group to return, as he was just a freshman last fall. Nix had 9 sacks to lead the team, but the pass defense was not as stout as the run defense was.
     Despite the defense having given up 209 yards passing per game, the Flashes did have some playmakers in the secondary. Josh Pleasant had a very good season in which he broke up 8 passes, while Lainhart had 5 along with Wolfe and Wood. Kent State picked off 16 passes as a team in 12 games last season, with Wolfe collecting 5 of them. Nobody else came close.
     The Flashed did not get aboost from their kicking game. Freddy Cortez, a sophomore last fall, only hit on 11 of his 17 attempts. An open competition would benefit him this summer. He did connect on all 31 of his PATs. Matt Rhinehart was quite good at punter last fall, having slammed his punts to an average of 42.66 yards per punt. Anthony Bowman's departure will leave a hole in the kick return game, but Dri Archer will give it his best after averaging 20.5 yards per return on kickoffs last season. Luke Wollet was dynamic in limited chances when returning punts last fall, as he averaged 14.6 yards per punt return in just 5 games.
Final Notes
     In my 30 years of following college footbal in depth, Kent State has never been able to push themselves to another level. When you hear of perennial doormats, their logo pops up as an example. They did get better under Martin, but it became painfully obvious that he had done all that he could for the Flashes. They move on to Hazell, who has not experienced the game as a head man, but comes from in-state Ohio State, where I hope that he did not learn all the finer arts of cheating and lying from his former boss. I'll just let it be known that I was not a fan of this hire, as it is full of risk that Kent State can ill afford to take.

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