Sunday, July 2, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Kent State Golden Flashes
Kent State Golden Flashes
It is purely shocking to me that Paul Haynes survived last season as head coach of Kent State football as we head into the 2017 season. Haynes is now just 12-35 as head coach of the Golden Flashes, and if you will remember, he took over from Darrell Hazell, who had this program on the verge of busting the old BCS. Haynes is out of his element as coach of this program, and it looks like 2017 could be the final nail in his head coaching career.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Let's just say that calling QB Nick Holley a passer is like saying that a Golden Labrador is a cat. He simply is just ugly throwing the football. He is, however, a solid runner, and that is what Kent State will concentrate on this season, is the power run game. Holley was, by far the leading rusher on this team last fall with 920 yards and 10 TDs, and carried an average of 17.73 times per game last fall, while attempting just 13.3 passes per game, and that probably is for the better. If he can get into the open field, he will generate some yardage. He still does have to win the job outright in fall camp, as he was in a competition that was limited by injuries.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Everything, including that QB situation (I had to find something to be optimistic about). Haynes is saying that all three QBs in the competition (George Bollas and Mylik Mitchell are the others) could be playing early in the season, and that is probably the worst idea I have heard from any one team in previews I have written this spring and summer.
There is no clear cut winner at RB either. Justin Rankin is listed as a probable starter, but was not exactly what I would deem impressive last fall. Will Matthews, Myles Washington, and Keon Singleton will all be making a push, with Singleton being the preferred short yardage guy.
Three starters return on the line, but there have been changes. Stefano Miller moves from C to LT, and the depth overall is not very good.
Shane Hynes is back to start at PK, but go figure, he had issues as well. He hit just 68.2% of his FG attempts.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
DTs Jon Cunningham and Kalil Morris will join LB Jim Jones as a group that coaches and media are high on when it comes to the front end of this defense. Cunningham finished with 34 tackles, and was active in the backfield to a point, and Morris will move the pile to open things up. Jones finished with 37 tackles last season, but has shown some significant improvement in spring ball. James Alexander will move up from the rotation to start at LB, while Matthew Sommers joins Theo Eboigbe at DE.
Derek Adams was a rare bright spot last fall, as he averaged 40.3 yards per punt as a freshman.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The secondary is depleted, with their best player in Nate Holley gone. Jarrell Foster (CB) and FS Juantez McRae (FS) are both back, and Foster did manage to finish with an impressive 11 PBUs. McRae finished with 59 tackles, but is not the best in coverage. Akeem Peters is back at the STAR spot in the 4-2-5 set, but again, is not much in the passing game defense. Demetrius Monday (CB) and Erik Simpson (SS) are in the lead for those spots as we head into fall camp.
The team also loses Terrence Waugh up front at DE, and that is a very challenging player to replace.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 at Clemson, 9/9 Howard, 9/16 at Marshall, 9/23 at Louisville, 9/30 Buffalo, 10/7 at Northern Illinois, 10/14 Miami (Ohio), 10/21 at Ohio, 10/31 Bowling Green, 11/8 at Western Michigan, 11/14 Central Michigan, 11/21 at Akron
It is hard for me to see any way that Haynes will survive past the end of September with the slate that the Golden Flashes are taking on, and it is hard to see how Kent State will be favored in any game between 10/7 and 11/14. The Golden Flashes are just lucky that they are in the same division as Akron and Buffalo, or else they would certainly be a basement dweller this fall. The talent level is a mess, the offense is a mess, and the defense is missing their two best performers from last fall. This could get ugly.