Credit improved balance with fueling the success of the Kent State football team.
A strong defense helped the Golden Flashes take the first steps toward ending decades of losing in the past couple of seasons, but now the offense is doing its part.
It’s a concept that jumped out at Miami coach Don Treadwell when watching film of the Golden Flashes (8-1, 5-0 Mid-American Conference), who will visit the RedHawks (4-5, 3-2) at 1 p.m. today at Yager Stadium.
“They are on a roll right now and have proven they are hard to beat,” Treadwell said in his weekly news conference. “What stands out to me this year with Kent State is they are playing well on both sides of the ball. They’ve always had a dominant defense. But this year they’ve really turned it up on offense.”
The more film he watched, the more Treadwell realized that KSU also has balance in its running game with the combination of Trayion Durham and Dri Archer.
“They have a big back [Durham] and a smaller guy [Archer] who’s really gifted and can accelerate,” Treadwell said. “But they also have a system where they allow their quarterback to really manage the game. [Senior Spencer Keith] doesn’t have to play above his head because he gets enough help from that punishing running back inside.”
To Treadwell, facing Durham will be a lot like Buffalo’s Brandon Oliver, the running back the RedHawks just faced.
“We knew Oliver was the key in [the Bulls’] run game and [KSU] has a guy just like Oliver [Durham],” Treadwell said. “And there’s another guy [Archer] who kind of offsets that because he’s so dynamic and explosive. All he needs is a seam, whereas the big back is going to make the seams with his size.”
As if those strengths aren’t enough to make Treadwell a little nervous, the Flashes’ special teams just might.
While discussing Miami’s 27-24 loss to Buffalo, Treadwell said it was a big return that set up the game-winning field goal. He’ll see similar big-play ability from the Flashes’ return teams, bolstered by Archer’s speed.
That balance has made the MAC East Division-leading Flashes the second-hardest team in the league to beat — with only West Division-leading Northern Illinois (9-1, 6-0) a tad better.
Miami doesn’t have the same all-around balance, but the RedHawks do feature one of the league’s top quarterbacks, senior Zac Dysert.
“He’s all-time at Miami,” Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said of the 6-foot-4, 228-pound Dysert, who recently passed former Miami and current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the school’s all-time passing leader. Dysert has passed for 2,467 yards and 18 touchdowns in nine games this season.
“The thing you like about [Dysert] is he keeps the play alive, keeps his eyes downfield,” Hazell said. “So we have to stay in coverage when things break down. When I watched their last game against Buffalo, he made some plays to potentially put the game in overtime, in my mind.”
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 http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.