Jimmy Miller

KENT: Although Kent State ended its nonconference schedule with a thud, the Golden Flashes’ primary goal of success in the conference remains intact.

The Flashes, who have never defeated a Southeastern Conference team, were 45-point underdogs at top-ranked Alabama. The Crimson Tide (4-0) made sure that didn’t change. They had a 21-0 lead before the end of the first quarter and played their backup quarterback before halftime en route to a 48-0 victory.

Although the loss hurts, the Flashes’ main goal is to enter Mid-American Conference play with a better understanding of their team. Of course, winning a nonconference game is nice, but the MAC games are what truly matter.

“Alabama’s a good football team,” KSU coach Paul Haynes said at his weekly Monday press conference. “The margin for error is very, very small. We gave them a couple plays with bad discipline on the defensive side of the ball and then when they hunkered down on defense, man, it’s hard to move the football.

“[It’s] kind of what you expected from the No. 1 team in the country. ... Really, the concentration is ‘what do we have to do to move forward and get better?’ ”

Haynes said the Flashes (1-3) could have shown more discipline against Alabama, particularly on defense. The Crimson Tide accumulated 502 yards and didn’t turn the ball over against a Flashes defense that had forced a turnover in every previous game.

Haynes also said the Flashes’ offense, which tallied just 102 yards and picked up five first downs to Alabama’s 26, couldn’t move the ball against the Crimson Tide defense.

KSU had only a few chances to score, but it couldn’t come through. First, sophomore kicker Shane Hynes missed a 37-yard field goal. Then, sophomore backup quarterback George Bollas failed to cross the goal line on a fourth-down scramble when his knee hit the ground inches shy of the pylon.

During the loss, starting quarterback Mylik Mitchell, a redshirt freshman, suffered an injury to his non-throwing hand and will see doctors later this week for evaluation.

Haynes told reporters Saturday that Mitchell’s status was “not good” and offered the same phrasing Monday, but added his season could be in jeopardy if the injury is a broken wrist. Mitchell left Bryant-Denny Stadium with a makeshift cast on his hand.

Making matters worse, true freshman quarterback Justin Agner is still out from an injury suffered during the season opener at Penn State.

Defensive back Demetrius Monday is also still out with a day-to-day injury and didn’t play against the Crimson Tide.

“I feel good about the team, [but] I don’t like the injuries,” Haynes said. “We’ve killed ourselves injury-wise at really key positions in this four-week span. You always want to come out of these games healthy, and we didn’t do that.”

The injuries will make it tougher for the Flashes in their MAC opener at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against rival Akron at Dix Stadium.

Bollas will start for the Flashes on Saturday against the Zips (2-2) and fifth-year senior Colin Reardon, who entered the season intending to switch from quarterback to wide receiver, will be his backup.

Saturday’s game will be Kent State’s Homecoming and former Flashes quarterback and Browns special teams ace Joshua Cribbs will serve as grand marshal.

“One of the best things in being so disappointed in coming out of Alabama is starting Akron week,” Haynes said. “You forget about it, you wipe it clean, and then you get ready to go play your rival.”