KENT: As Kent State prepares for its season opener on the road against reigning national champion Clemson, the Golden Flashes will be doing so without coach Paul Haynes, at least in person.

Kent State announced Monday that Haynes would be taking a leave of absence due to medical reasons.

Haynes is entering his fifth season as head coach but has yet to have a winning season, compiling a record of 12-35. In his absence, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell has taken over head coach responsibilities. Treadwell stated that though Haynes will not be there, his philosophy and messages will still be upheld. Haynes is expected to return in a couple of weeks.

“Coaches Haynes has already laid a tremendous foundation and routine that all we do is stay the course,” Treadwell said. “There are a few things that we’ll say in his stead when he’s not here physically, but trust me he’s laid such a great foundation. We know the routine when we wake up and so do the players.”

The Flashes are coming into this season looking to find some stability at the quarterback position after going through six different players, including a receiver and a running back, due to injuries to both sophomore Mylik Mitchell and Justin Agner last season.

That’ll start with redshirt senior Nick Holley who made the transition from wide receiver to quarterback midseason, throwing for 868 yards and rushing for 873 in seven games before a season-ending knee injury. The Flashes also return sophomore running back Justin Rankin, who ran for 511 yards and two touchdowns last season.

“This offseason, coach was pretty consistent,” Treadwell said. “Our players wake up every morning with the same vision, to be the best football player that they can be regardless of the circumstances and that’s kind of been our theme the whole time.”

Defensively, Kent State brings back redshirt senior cornerback Demetrius Monday after an injury-plagued 2016 season. Monday is excited to get a chance to play against the champions after missing last year’s game against Alabama.

“I’m just happy to be here with my team,” Monday said. “I was out last time, I’m blessed to be back so I’m just ready to be with my team and try to go win.”

In Monday’s last full season, the cornerback earned All-Mid-American Conference first-team honors along with ranking fifth in the nation in interceptions with six. He also scored two defensive touchdowns.

Monday stated that this offseason was about the team getting better as a whole and trying to be more “coachable.”

“We have a slogan that we use now that says, ‘doesn’t matter get better’ so whatever we have going on we’re just trying to get better,” Monday said. “I just want to win and anything I can do to help my team win … and do what we’re coached to do and try our best against every opponent.”

Clemson, which finished last season with a 14-1 (7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) record, comes into the season ranked fifth in the country and looking to replace quarterback Deshaun Watson after back-to-back national championship appearances. The Tigers lost in 2016 and won this previous season, playing Alabama both times.

Watson now plays for Houston Texans after being selected fourth in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Like any game, the Flashes want to win, but Treadwell would also like to see his team play at a high level to set the tone for the season.

“I think, like most teams, when you go into your first game you just want your young men to, number one, have prepared well and then perform well on game days.

Treadwell said. “So, you’re looking at fundamentals ... Just all the little things that you’ve [worked on] that you’re finally ready to say ‘OK let’s do it against another team now.’ That’s the things you’re drawing from because if you do the little things well, usually the big things follow.”

Kickoff is at noon Saturday at Clemson Memorial Stadium.