Kent State University held the first scrimmage of the season Saturday night, featuring the Blue Team (Offense) vs. the White Team (Defense) vs. Mother Nature.
Poor weather--a misting rain and some intermittent lightening--forced a delay and put a damper on most of the game.
Tell that to true freshman Robert Hollomon, who carried the ball 19 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
Hollomon (5'9, 170 pounds from Philadelphia), who will most likely redshirt this season with Eugene Jarvis, Jacquise Terry and Dri Archer in his way, turned several would-be negative gains into first downs on a couple of nifty moves and great quickness. He first found the on the tail end of an option play to the weak-side via Giorgio Morgan, and later spun out of a Will Johnson tackle for a short score.
Hollomon's numbers would have been a little better had it not been for a six yard loss accredited to his name, but not his doing.
The defensive line--nearly the entire line--blew through the second unit offensive line and swallowed Hollomon up before he ever had a chance.
The defensive line and front seven being in the backfield--regardless of which unit was on the field at that particular time--turned out to be the theme of the night, although the second unit struggled a bit more.
Senior defensive lineman Zach Williams sacked Spencer Keith on the second play of the game, and then pressured Keith into a hurried throw to plays later on third down.
Freshman and 2010 Big 33 Classic Defensive MVP Richard Gray (who attended the same high school as senior Monte Simmons), sophomore Kent Walker and sophomore Jake Dooley (who is behind Simmons on the depth chart) all added sacks of their own.
Each quarterback who took snaps was pressured on countless times, even when a sack wasn't recorded.
"Defensively, we're playing fast and we're playing physical," said Head Coach Doug Martin. "The one thing I really liked was a lot of young guys and backup guys stepped up and got better. That's what we need right now, some depth."
After the first play of the game--a 16 yard gain by Jarvis after he cut inside and then bounced it back outside--the first team offense failed to move the chains on it's next three drives.
Starting quarterback Spencer Keith threw the ball well, the offense was just never able to get into any rhythm, especially without Keith's go-to receiver Tyshon Goode on the field. Keith finished 11-21 for 64 yards and a touchdown. Starting flanker (at the moment), junior Sam Kirkland, also sat out.
The vast majority of Keith's throws were directed to the perimeter, but the middle of the field garnered the most success. Keith's only touchdown pass, a 20 yard beauty to sophomore Matthew Hurdle, split the safeties in the middle.
It appears Giorgio Morgan took bounds and leaps towards wrapping up the second-string quarterback spot, as not only did Morgan take snaps with the second unit, but the biggest threat to take his job, freshman Cedric McCloud, was the fourth quarterback to line up under center and threw just one pass.
Morgan was the victim of several drops, but still completed seven of 10 passes for 38 yards. Two of those incomplete passes were on down-field throws in the end zone.
Morgan also contributed to two safeties--the first on a fumble as he dropped back, and it appeared he tripped for the second gaff--but he was taking snaps from true freshman center Phil Huff, who filled in for junior Rimington Award Watch List member Chris Anzevino, who is playing through a hip pointer per Head Coach Doug Martin.
With that combination, some miscommunication is to be expected.
Eugene Jarvis carried the ball nine times for 54 yards, but would later pay for it. Keith checked down to Jarvis on a short pass to the weak-side, but led him a little too far. Senior strong safety Dan Hartman took advantage and laid Jarvis out, sending a surge through the defensive sideline.
"[Jarvis] getting popped like that is good for him at this stage, to know that he's back" said Martin. "He got hit pretty good on that one, but he looks like his old self. I thought he looked good."
Jacquise Terry gained 25 yards on six carries and a touchdown in addition to bringing in three passes for 19 yards.
Martin has repeatedly expressed his interest to find ways to get the ball in Terry's hands, saying, "[Terry is] one of our most versatile players, and we've got to find ways to get Terry on the field." For now, he's taking carries as the second head of a three-pronged ground attack, as well as acting as a wide receiver on four-WR sets.
Dri Archer was often swallowed up by Kent's defensive front seven, and finished with 14 yards on seven carries.
Senior Dorian Wood, currently playing weak-side linebacker, led the team with six tackles. True freshman Luke Wollet, who may be the biggest surprise of camp to this point, had four tackles. Wollet is listed as the second-string free safety behind maybe the best defensive player in the MAC in senior Brian Lainhart. Doug Martin has gone far enough to say he believes Wollet could be a young Lainhart.
Wollet could also see some time at cornerback opposite Josh Pleasant.
Sophomore Freddy Cortez was 3-4 kicking field goals, with a long of 41 yards. His only miss was blocked by redshirt freshman corner Darius Polk.
Junior punter Matt Rinehart punted the ball four times with a long of 46 yards.