KENT: Kent State football coach Darrell Hazell has told his players, and anyone else who’ll listen, during spring camp that he’s determined to make the Golden Flashes a smarter football team.
To do that, paying attention to every detail is crucial. The Flashes have spent a large portion of each practice performing even the simplest of drills to eliminate as many mistakes as possible. Hazell hopes the result is a fundamentally sound group.
“We’ve simplified everything,” Hazell said. “In doing so, we’re making sure the emphasis is on the details. The mesh between the quarterback and the running back, all the splits of the wide receivers on certain routes, [defensive backs] on their eye discipline.
“They were so consumed by the mass amount of information given to them [last year] that we missed a lot of those little details that are critical to the success of a play.”
The Flashes did similar drills at times last season but this year the players are doing them over and over every practice.
“It’s the same drills we did last year; it’s just more detailed,” said senior defensive back Norman Wolfe, a? Buchtel product. “It’s breaking down where you need to be exactly, and exactly what you need to do to get there. That’s how we’re going to become a better defense, a better team — focus on details. The more you focus on that, the more consistent you’ll be.”
Momentum carries over
The Flashes see no reason the momentum of winning four of their last five games last year can’t be carried over to this season.
“The energy and enthusiasm has carried over,” Wolfe said. “Guys have been working out more by themselves and a lot more guys have been focused on details, on the little things they need to do to improve.”
Wolfe’s focus has been running. “I’m trying to get my speed and strength up so I’ll be more explosive,” he said. “I’m also trying to learn the game more. I’m trying to get into the wide receiver’s mind, trying to anticipate what he’s going to do on different coverages and splits instead of reacting after he does it.”
No harm, no foul
The Flashes worked out Friday night in pads for the first time in camp. The extra protection made for a brasher style of play and some tempers flared and a small scuffle broke out toward the end of practice.
“With the pads on for the first time, I knew they were going to get a little feisty, which they did,” Hazell said. “You don’t want to see them take those penalty things at the end, but it’s all right to let it go for a little bit.”
While the Flashes practiced Friday, a handful of local senior recruits stopped by to say hello to their soon-to-be coaches and watch the action. Among those on hand to watch were defensive back Jordan Italiano from Canfield and offensive linemen Alex Nielson from Elyria Catholic and Tad France from Elyria.
Rain? No problem!
Mother Nature interrupted KSU’s Friday night practice under the lights at Dix Stadium. About midway through the two-hour session, a thunderstorm forced the team to move inside the nearby field house.
“It’s always hard when you transition from outdoors to indoors, changing shoes and all those things that are distractions,” Hazell said. “But those happen in a game. I remember last year when we played through a near monsoon. You just have to be ready to go when the whistle blows.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Flashes blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/kent-state. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.