KENT: The plan was for Kent State’s players and staff to just get away from football for a little while during last week’s bye week.
It was time for the Flashes (1-6, 0-3 in the Mid-American Conference) to forget about their record and their three-game losing streak.
“I wanted to give them some time off and make them hungry for football again,” coach Darrell Hazell said.
So senior punter Matt Rinehart went home to Dover to spend time with his family, some of which was spent as a hunter in a tree stand staking out wild animals.
“I missed [football],” Rinehart said. “It was kind of weird having some time. I didn’t really like it. I’m always doing something with football. But it gave us a little extra time to think, to think about everything and what we need to do to get better.”
Freddy Cortez, a junior kicker from Florida, stayed on campus, catching up on his accounting homework and taking marketing quizzes.
“It’s always nice to have a break with anything,” Cortez said of his time away from football. “But I missed it a lot. It’s just fun to do and what we love to do. So time off is good, but [it was] too much time off.”
After focusing on recruiting for next season with his coaching staff, even Hazell spent Saturday away from KSU football.
He attended the Boo at the Zoo with his family before watching the Wisconsin-Michigan State game on television.
“I really tried to clear my head as well,” said Hazell, who spent the previous seven years as an assistant at Ohio State. “So, that was the only game I watched Saturday.”
The game ended with Michigan State connecting on a Hail Mary pass to break a tie on the final play.
“The guy made a play,” Hazell said. “You talk about a game of inches. It was a great football game between two great football teams.”
The Flashes’ bye week also gave some injured players an extra week to heal without missing a game.
Here are Hazell’s thoughts on a few of them:
• Senior defensive back Norman Wolfe (foot) — “Norm’s going to be out probably another two to three weeks. He’s getting better every day.”
• Senior defensive lineman Ishmaa’ily Kitchen (elbow) — “Ish is in between questionable and probable this week. He’s out running around and he’s been cleared to do some individual [work], so we’ll see how the week progresses.”
Hazell said he’s leaving it up to Kitchen to decide his status for Saturday’s game against visiting Bowling Green.
“It’s up to Ish,” he said. “It’s how much he can endure some of that pain. I’m sure he’s going to have some pain when he gets it hit. He hasn’t been hit in weeks, so it’s going to be how much pain he can tolerate. I feel comfortable playing him 20 to 25 snaps if he’s ready to go. I think that will help us immensely inside.”
• Freshman defensive end Anthony Pruitt (hamstring) — “He’s fine, he’s cleared to go,” Hazell said.
• Sophomore defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix (toe) — “Rosie gets better every week. Now, he’s completely out of the boot. We take him out of the inside run drill during the course of the week, but he does everything else. He’s running around like a mad man, just like you like him to be,” Hazell said.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.