KENT: For football programs like Kent State, sometimes the toughest part of the aftermath of a double-digit loss to national powerhouse teams like LSU isn’t so much dealing with the emotional scars.
Often, what hurts the most in the long run is absorbing the loss of key players to injuries.
Heading into Saturday night’s 45-13 loss to the No. 8 Tigers (3-0), the Golden Flashes (1-2) were already playing without left guard Pat McShane (one of only two returners on the offensive line from last season), who suffered a knee injury in preseason camp that has left his availability limited in KSU’s first three games.
“Once Pat gets back, we’ll be able to settle on a core group up there,” KSU coach Paul Haynes said, “but it’ll be a judgment call as we go through the week’’ whether he’ll play even sparingly this week at Penn State.
Gaining even more attention for his injury and limited participation has been KSU’s versatile senior Dri Archer. The Flashes’ dynamic multi-purpose threat tried to play Saturday but lasted just one play before his left ankle sprain sidelined him again, leaving this week’s availability at Penn State up in the air.
“I would say right now he’s probably doubtful for this weekend,” Haynes said. “Unless he comes in and says, like he did last weekend, ‘I want to go. I want to try it. I want to play.’ Even if he does that, you’ve got to kind of make a judgment call on what’s best for the team, so we’ll see. By Tuesday or Wednesday we’ll probably make a definite decision on him. But it was good to see him go out there and play.
“It’s a nagging ankle on a sprinter. He’s a great athlete who has to be able to run. And when he can’t, it’s tough on him. It has nothing to do with toughness, it has nothing to do with him not wanting to or looking to the future — all those things that everyone had said.”
Archer started against LSU after missing all but the first quarter of play in KSU’s season-opening victory over Liberty. The injury put an end to KSU’s Dri4Heisman campaign.
That’s because after racking up 2,650-plus all-purpose yards, along with a school-record 23 touchdowns last year, Archer has been limited to just three rushes for 10 yards and Saturday’s 7-yard reception in the first three games this season.
Considering the key players the Flashes were already missing, it came as another tough blow when sophomore nose tackle Nate Terhune underwent surgery Sunday, a day after suffering a broken leg in the first quarter against LSU.
“He’s a tough guy to lose,” Haynes said of Terhune, who had three tackles for loss and a sack. “He was playing very well.”
Sophomore Chris Fairchild is expected to fill in for Terhune.
It was obvious as Saturday’s game went on that something was also wrong with Flashes’ defensive standout Luke Wollet, who was slow to get to plays and not tackling with his usual gusto.
So it was no surprise during Haynes’ weekly news conference Monday to hear him call Wollet’s status for this weekend doubtful. Wollet, a senior safety, has a sore shoulder and now a knee injury as well.
It would take a lot to keep the ultra-competitive Wollet from playing Saturday. But if he can’t go, Haynes thinks highly of freshman Nate Holley (Toledo) and could have him fill in for Wollet. Or sophomore Jordan Italiano (Canfield) could slide over into Wollet’s spot while senior Fabrice Pratt fills in for Italiano.
“We will continue to go to work,” Haynes said. “But we have a couple guys banged up that we’ll need to try to continue to get healthy for this week as we look forward to the challenge of going to Happy Valley.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.