KENT: Until Spencer Keith or David Fisher displays the efficiency and the energy to take over the quarterback position, Kent State football coach Darrell Hazell has resigned himself to playing both.
He said that will be the case Saturday, when the Golden Flashes (2-1) open the home portion of their Mid-American Conference schedule against Ball State (3-1).
After he evaluates practice today, Hazell said he will decide his starter against the Cardinals. Hazell said Fisher took all the repetitions with the first team in practice Sunday, and Keith ran the second team. Those duties will be flopped today.
“You’ll see ’em both on Saturday,” Hazell said Monday during his weekly news conference at the M.A.C. Center.
As unsettled as the situation might appear, Hazell said he is not ready to turn to Colin Reardon, a freshman from Poland, Ohio.
“To me it’s still too early,” Hazell said. “It’s game four and both of those are competent guys to win football games for us. If I didn’t feel comfortable with it then I would say yes, Colin would be in the mix.”
Keith, a senior from Little Rock, Ark., carries a 15-19 career record dating to his freshman year. But this season, he has completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 381 yards and no touchdowns. Fisher, a junior transfer from Palomar Community College in San Marcos, Calif., has hit on 62.5 percent for 177 yards and a touchdown.
When Keith completed just 6-of-15 for 72 yards in the Flashes’ last game Wednesday at Buffalo, Hazell turned to Fisher to spark the offense. Fisher completed 7-of-13 for 93 yards with an interception in Buffalo’s end zone in KSU’s 23-7 victory.
Hazell didn’t see that as re-opening the quarterback competition.
“Not really. I don’t believe I am,” he said. “ I want someone to really step out and take it, though. I’m not sure we’ve done that exactly yet. We’re not getting the productivity that I thought we would be at this point.”
Hazell said Keith is “trying to be very careful with the ball.”
“You can’t blame him,” Hazell said. “Sometimes when you’re really careful with the ball you don’t always pull the trigger when you have to. David is still in the learning process.”
As well as deciding on his starter for this week, Hazell will give the backup an idea of when he’ll get into the game, at least in the first half.
“I think it’s easier for both of them,” Hazell said. “If Spence were the guy to start, and for some reason the ball doesn’t move down the field that series, I don’t want him to think we’re pulling him out because he’s not doing well. I want it to be prescribed.”
Cornerback Darius Polk was named MAC East defensive player of the week after having two interceptions, three solo tackles and two pass breakups at Buffalo. One of his interceptions in the third quarter stopped a long Bulls drive.
Polk, a junior from Lynchburg, Va., could have had a bigger game, getting his hands on four balls.
“The first one I jumped a quick slant, I didn’t even know the quarterback was throwing. I looked right at him, and I was surprised when he threw it, and I dropped it,” Polk said. “The second one was a deep ball, and I tried to catch it like a punt, and it went through my hands again. The third one, I went up and I grabbed it and came down in the end zone. The fourth one, I caught in the fourth quarter, he had bobbled it, and I took it from him.”
With sophomore Andre Parker battling a sprained ankle, Hazell moved sophomore DeVante’ Strickland from safety into the starting spot at strong-side linebacker three days ago.
“He was excited about the move,” Hazell said of the product of Marion-Franklin High School in Columbus. “Hopefully that lights a fire under him.
“I want him to get dirty. I want him to get nasty, do the things we saw him doing on high school film, really start hitting people pretty good and making some plays.”
Rely on the run
Against Buffalo, junior Dri Archer rushed 14 times for 227 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore Trayion Durham added 112 yards on 23 attempts. Hazell said the offensive line was begging for more.
“We had a long timeout and we had a pass play called and I was going over it with the offensive line. They all looked at me like, ‘Let’s run the ball on this play,’ so we did,” Hazell said. “We only got 2 yards … Right now they’re very confident in running the football.”
Archer said, “Every time we came to the sideline, all five guys would come to the bench, ‘Let’s run the ball, they can’t stop the run.’ All five guys kept telling coach over and over.”
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