KENT STATE (0-0) vs. COASTAL CAROLINA (0-0)
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
It would be nice to see the Golden Flashes’ special teams unit come out and make a statement. A statement that says, “Special teams will now be a strength for us instead of a weakness and the days of this program losing football games due to poor special teams are over, instead our special teams will be a weapon for us.” It would be encouraging to see freshman place kicker Freddy Cortez boot a field goal in the first half, and look comfortable doing so, to see Eugene Jarvis make a big play in the punt return game and punter Matt Rinehart continue to build off a solid freshman season. It would be nice to set a tone early with special teams. If there is a mistake or a negative play early on, I’m sure most fans will be saying “here we go again” to themselves.
Much like the special teams units, this group also has been much maligned in years past. I would like to see big plays made down the field from highly touted newcomers to the fold such as Tyshon Goode and Anthony Bowman. Big plays from guys like Derek McBryde, Kendrick Pressley and others will be needed to elevate the Flashes’ offense. It would also be encouraging to see Jameson Konz make some plays in the passing game after sitting out most of 2008 with an ankle injury suffered in the first game of the season. At his Monday afternoon press conference Coach Martin said this football team would be as good as their receiver play. He said the same thing last year and they went 4-8.
The time is now for Giorgio Morgan. I am hoping to see him play a solid game on Thursday night, protect the football, and give the offense a dimension they didn’t have the last few seasons, and vertical passing game as well as a passing game that can be counted on to move the chains on 3rd down. A balanced offensive attack is a big key for the Golden Flashes in 2009. Fans will be looking for Morgan to flash the potential he showed in 2007, albeit for only about five quarters, this season. If Morgan gets help from his receivers, and he helps them out with accuracy and smart decisions, the Flashes offense could be a very potent one in 2009.
DEFENSIVE PRESSURE ON THE QUARTERBACK
Coach Martin has been preaching all spring and summer that he would like to see his defense be more of an attacking defense, and put more pressure on the quarterback. With edge rushers like Kevin Hogan and Monte Simmons, hopefully the Flashes can help out that secondary a little bit and make life difficult for Coastal Carolina QB Zach MacDowall, a Wake Forest transfer who was honored with All-Big South accolades in the preseason.
DEFENSIVE LEADERSHIP, INTENSITY
I’ll be looking forward to recently named defensive captains, LB Cobrani Mixon and FS Brian Lainhart to lead this defense. Kent State continues to put emphasis on the takeaway statistic, as it struggled in the first half of 2008 with that. One thing is for sure with the KSU defense, they will be solid up the middle this season with DT Sam Frist, MLB Mixon and FS Lainhart. Of course Frist won’t play on Thursday night due to an infection in his ankle but is expected back for Boston College.
College football is back and that is a great thing. Whether it is in Kent, Columbus or Alliance, Ohio, college football is a great game for all fans to enjoy. I am looking forward to being in the stadium Thursday night and enjoying the sights and sounds. Coach Martin urged the students twice on Monday to get to Dix Stadium on Thursday night and make a difference in the ball game. While critics of the Kent State football program will argue that there isn’t much of an atmosphere at a KSU football game, winning can change that. And that can start on Thursday night as the Chanticleers come to town. After opening on the road in past years against teams like Iowa State, Iowa, Michigan State, etc, Martin finally has a schedule in place that he prefers and is hoping to get the Golden Flashes off to a good start to build positive momentum and a positive feeling around the program.