Kent State football has turned a dismal unit into a positive unit that is helping them win games. Special teams used to be ugly to watch if you were a Golden Flashes fan. Now, KSU leads the nation in kickoff coverage, have a kickoff return for a touchdown, blocked punts, big punt returns, blocked field goals, etc. Stephanie Storm from the ABJ writes about the new emphasis on special teams and how it is helping the team to their 2-1 start in MAC play.
It hasn't been very often the Golden Flashes have been in title contention in late October. KSU is treating this week's game at Ohio as a showdown for first place, writes Dave Carducci from the Record Courier.
OHIO BOBCATS FOOTBALL NOTES
Kent State isn't the only team to flip the script from last season in an area that was haunting them. The Ohio Bobcats were -12 in turnover margin in 2008. In 2009 they lead the nation in takeaways (23), and fumbles recovered (12). They are also sixth in passes intercepted (11) and seventh in turnover margin (1.43).
Ohio's offensive line has really progressed throughout the season. The line hasn't given up a sack in the last five games. The Columbus Dispatch included this note about the Bobcats in today's Ohio College Football Insider.
Bobcats O-Line making the grade
With only two experienced players returning -- left tackle Chris Rodgers and center David White -- Ohio University coach Frank Solich predicted in July that the offensive line would have its struggles. The Bobcats didn't have a running back surpass 100 yards or score a rushing touchdown the first four games with sophomore Cole Bunner at right tackle and redshirt freshmen Vince Carlotta and Eric Herman at guard. Four of the five backups on the line are sophomores. But the line has come through in victories over Bowling Green, Akron and Miami University that have put Ohio in first place in the Mid-American Conference East. "We're running a multiple offense and we ask an awful lot out of our linemen," Solich said. "I think they feel confident as a group. They are a physical group. We can pull them and do some other things in the running game. David White and Chris Rodgers have shown leadership." The line has given up eight sacks. The one negative is a lack of efficiency on third down. The Bobcats have converted only 12 times in 40 chances the past three games.
Tom Gaffney from the ABJ spoke with Frank Solich on the MAC Teleconference and included a note about the Bobcats in his MAC Notebook.
Ohio (5-2, 3-0) — The Bobcats are off to their first 3-0 conference start since 1997 and are tied for first place in the East with Temple. But veteran coach Frank Solich, whose team defeated Miami 28-7 last Saturday, knows that five tough games remain. ''I am not jumping up and down yet. We, as a football team, have talked this through. We know what we want to get done,'' Solich said. ''We are not trying to pinpoint any one game or two. We are just trying to improve week by week and make sure we play our best game. If we play our best game, we will take what comes our way. So far, we have lined up and played hard for seven games and we need to continue to do that.'' Against Miami, the Bobcats held the RedHawks to 116 total yards through three quarters and did not allow a quarterback sack for the fifth consecutive game.