KENT – On September 14 when Kent State head coach Doug Martin met the media, he was emotional. The sixth year head coach was emotional because his star running back Eugene Jarvis would be out for the season with a kidney injury. His starting quarterback at the time, Giorgio Morgan, was suffering from a nagging ankle injury and was questionable for the upcoming game with Iowa State. Kent State had a lot of negative issues to deal with, and after a loss to Boston College two days earlier; Martin laid it on the line.
"Well let me tell you what they’re really saying,” Martin started. “They’re really saying Brian Lainhart’s not good enough to play without Eugene Jarvis. Andre Flowers isn’t good enough to go and play running back. Dri Archer’s not good enough to go and play running back. The rest of you Kent State football players, you ain’t good enough, and coaches too. You coaches aren’t good enough to get it done without Eugene Jarvis, he’s all you had. That’s what’s really being said there if you want to talk about that."
Martin continued in his emotional Monday afternoon press conference in the ‘Varsity K’ room at Dix Stadium. With Brian Lainhart seated next to him, Martin challenged his football team and made some bold guarantees. "I love history. The Vikings, you know how they used to conquer people? They used to sail those ships in there, get off the ships then burn them. There’s nowhere to run," Martin said. "So I’m going to tell you this. We don’t have our starting quarterback; we don’t have our starting running back; I don’t care. I’ll guarantee every Kent State fan right now this is going to be a winning football team and this football team is going to be in a bowl game. And Lainhart, I just burned the ships.”
Since then, the Flashes have gone 4-3. But since Mid-American Conference play began, the Flashes have won four out of six games and are playing some inspired football. The Golden Flashes are 4-1 in the MAC and sit a half game out of first place behind Temple. Kent State is playing with a confidence and a belief that they can make crucial, winning plays at crunch time unlike other Kent State teams of the past. The Golden Flashes are doing it with a solid mix of veterans and young players. It also helps that the talent level is improved as Martin and his staff have done a good job in recruiting in recent seasons. “Our players are really great together right now,” Martin said after Saturday’s victory over Western Michigan. “They’ve got a great belief in each other. You could see it this week in practice. They’ve got something special going right now. We’ll see if we can manage to continue it.”
On Saturday, Martin revisited his bold predictions that he made back on September 14. Martin said he thinks those statements were a real benefit to his team. “I have a deep belief in these players and coaches,” he said. “At that time we had just lost, in my opinion the best running back in the conference. Our starting quarterback was Giorgio Morgan, all of a sudden he was hurt and it wasn’t happening. We had a lot of things going against us. I just felt like our team needed something to rally behind. That’s why I stepped out and made that statement. I fully believed it, and I still believe it. I know our players believe it now. I think it was big for them that I made that statement. I think they’ve rallied behind that and they probably knew when we said that, people were laughing, but they’re not laughing now.”
So far, the Flashes are backing up their coaches’ statements. Kent State will look to extend their three game winning streak on Saturday at Akron as Kent State tries to recapture the Wagon Wheel. The Zips have won the last two meetings with the Golden Flashes.