Friday marked the first full pads practice of the season for the Kent State football team. What better way to celebrate then to put all the players into an Oklahoma drill. It’s one defensive player versus one offensive player crashing together at a midway point. It was great.
Linebacker Cobrani Mixon, a Michigan transfer, had no problems shedding an offensive lineman during his first drill. It didn’t take long for the attention to move over to the defensive backs and wide receivers though.
They seemed to get a little chippy with each other throughout the Oklahoma drill. By my unofficial count defensive backs coach Scott Booker had to separate players at least 10 times. There was plenty of trash talked spewed. If it were a game, flags and ejections would have been all over the place. The hastiness toward each other ended immediately with the conclusion of the drill though.
Coach Doug Martin said he loved the competitiveness as long as the players shake hands and take care of each other after wards, which they did.
It is a good sign to see the receivers showing passion and feistiness in the drill. The group seems to be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder after the unit was ranked at the bottom of the MAC. The ranking is now being used as motivation, Phil Garner said at Tuesday’s practice.
Big hitters in the drill for the defensive backs were junior Danny Sadler, sophomore J’Darrin Bell and true freshman Josh Pleasant.
Red shirting? I doubt it
The next few practices will help determine which players will be utilized this year and who will be red shirted, Martin said after practice.
Two plays I don’t expect to sit out this season are Pleasant and h-back Sal Battles. The freshmen seem to be all over the field in important positions and situations.
Battles already feels like a valuable part of the offense as he lines up at h-back. I also wanted to call him Chris Singletary most of the practice. Despite the obvious fact he wears No. 2, he also has a body type that is very similar to the basketball stars, just not as tall. Battles looks to be a viable option this season on offense.
Pleasant, who is also wearing No. 2, works out with the first string’s nickel package and hauled in an interception during Friday’s scrimmage. He showed tremendous speed after the catch. I wouldn’t be surprised if both players were excellent return men.
No question, it’s Edelman
Quarterback Julian Edelman looked better than ever running the football. He was wearing the red jersey that signifies he cannot be hit, but his legs looked fresh. He seemed to have an extra pep in his step that I haven’t seen for quite some time.
There always seems to be a lot of varying opinion of how good Julian Edelman is and whether or not Giorgio Morgan should now be the starter. For the naysayers, just watch one practice.
Although Edelman lacks the arm strength of Morgan, he is able to place the ball better than him at this point. He is the only quarterback who throws the ball to his receivers before their breaks. Morgan has a bright future, but that is after Edelman graduates. Morgan will get a series every half this season though to prepare him for that.
One has to like Edelman’s work ethic as well. During team sprints Edelman leads his group every single time whether it is the first sprint or the last. He also has clearly added more weight this offseason, but still looks very nimble.
This will mark the first time in Edelman’s injury-marred career that he was able to compete at spring practice and now summer practices. That will make a huge difference come Aug. 30.
Despite the issues with durability Edelman has quickly become one of the better passers in KSU history. He is ninth all-time in career completions (232), Ninth in attempts (431), sixth in yards (3,177), sixth in passing touchdowns (17), fifth in completion percentage (53.8) and second in passing efficiency rating (119.48). Josh Cribbs and Jose Davis, who is the older brother of Ball State standout quarterback Nate Davis, are above Edelman on most of the lists.
Running backs look good
The running backs could be a strength of this team. Eugene Jarvis was being his usual self has he skirted to the left on and broke a huge gain between the tackles. I am not sure if he was even touched when the whistle blew halfway down the field.
Andre Flowers looks as if he may have added more weight in the offseason as well. As the year progressed last year Flowers seemed to get a better understanding and improved with each game. As a sophomore this year he will once again get a lot of carries. True Freshman Jacquise Terry also looked sharp in practice and has a bit more speed than Flowers does.
The run of the day goes to red shirt freshman Jamar Cromwell who trucked through the right side on a goal line drill. He pan caked a defensive back at the goal line for the score.
I can see all four of them contributing this season.
A big scare
Perhaps one of the biggest fears of any coach is to lose a player to injury on the first day of hitting drills. That was nearly the case for two Kent State players Friday.
Freshman wide receiver T.J. Williams had to be taken to a local hospital shortly after the Oklahoma drill. The 6-foot 180 pound player complained of dizziness before losing consciousness on the side of the field.
Before Williams was taken away on a stretcher he did regain consciousness. By the end of practice. Williams was alert at the hospital. There was a chance he stayed over night of observation.
The hearts of the coaching staff had to be planted in their throats when standout defensive lineman Kevin Hogan laid on the ground clutching his knee during a goal line scrimmage. Things didn’t look good at all for the junior, but after a few minutes the training staff helped him up and he was able to put pressure on the knee.
The diagnosis I received as a tweaked knee and he will be good to go. He was held out of practice for the rest of the day. It is much better than being held out of Aug. 30 in my opinion.