Hazell looks to lead Flashes in a winning direction
- Written by Lance Lysowski
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The former Ohio State assistant coach is hoping that installing a new offensive scheme and changing the image of Kent State football will speed up the reclamation project.
Coach Darrell Hazell hopes to drastically improve the football team and compete for the MAC East title in his first season with the Golden Flashes.
Offensive coordinator Brian Rock’s system requires a quarterback with the ability to throw downfield. Junior quarterback Spencer Keith struggled last season when former coach Doug Martin called plays that required the signal caller to stretch the field.
The offense rests on Keith’s ability to play to his strengths and use his signature accuracy to their advantage.
Hazell said Keith needs to drastically improve for Kent State’s offense to click.
“Spencer, I want to see his game step up as well,” Hazell said. “He’s just like the rest of them. It’s all new information for them. He’s got to be at another level this year than he was in any of the previous years.”
Senior wide receiver Sam Kirkland and junior wide receiver Tyshon Goode are Keith’s primary targets. Both gained all-conference honors last season and will be complimented by junior Eric Adeyemi. The former Kentucky Wildcat sat out 2010 because of NCAA transfer rules, but he adds a big play threat downfield for the offense.
Senior running back Jacquise Terry returns as the starter at tailback after starting seven games in 2010 and gaining 542 yards on the ground. Terry will be Kent State’s primary back. The Flashes suffered a significant loss when junior running back Dri Archer announced he would sit out the 2011 season to focus on academics. The team does have notable depth behind Terry.
The Flashes expect freshman fullback Traiyon Durham to be a force in short yardage situations.
The running game is aided by one of the conference’s best offensive lines, led by senior center Chris Anzevino and junior left tackle Brian Winters.
OffenseWR Tyshon Goode (Jr.)
WR Sam Kirkland (Sr.)
LT Brian Winters (Jr.)
LG Tyler Arend (So.)
C Chris Anzevino (Sr.)
RG Josh Kline (Jr.)
RT Kent Cleveland (Jr.)
TE Justin Thompson (Sr.)
QB Spencer Keith (Jr.)
FB Trayion Durham (Fr.)
RB Jacquise Terry (Sr.)
DE Jake Dooley (Jr.)
DT Dana Brown (Jr.)
DT Roosevelt Nix (So.)
DE Lee Stalker (Sr.)
OLB Luke Batton (Jr.)
MLB C.J. Malauulu (Jr.)
OLB Byron Tyson (Sr.)
CB Josh Pleasant (Sr.)
CB Norman Wolfe (Sr.)
S Luke Wollet (So.)
S Leon Green (Jr.)
K Freddy Cortez (Jr.)
P Matt Rinehart (Sr.)
KR Eric Adeyemi (Jr.)
PR Wollet (So.)
The Flashes’ defense ranked 10th in the nation in total defense (306.7 yards per game) last season, but defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis and several key players from the record-setting unit are gone.
Former Youngstown State coach Jim Heacock takes over the defense, which will be similar to Rekstis’ pressure-heavy scheme.
Heacock is aided by the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix. Nix finished fourth in the nation in tackles for a loss and eleventh in sacks.
Nix’s success will depend on his teammates on the defensive line and their ability to create pressure on opposing linemen.
“Teams know about me but there’s a lot of other great football players that I play side-by-side with that they have to watch out too, so I’m not really concerned about that,” Nix said.
Senior defensive end Lee Stalker brings a wealth of experience, while highly touted sophomore defensive end Richard Gray is expected to make an impact.
While Kent State’s defensive line is the team’s strength, the linebacking corps has lingering questions surrounding it. Junior college transfer C.J. Malauulu is expected to start in the middle, and will immediately give the Flashes a hard-hitting player to lead their defense.
Junior Luke Batton returns after a solid sophomore season, recovering fumbles for touchdowns against Akron and Ohio.
Senior cornerbacks Josh Pleasant and Norman Wolfe return as the team’s starting cornerbacks, while Wolfe led the team with five interceptions in 2010.
Cornerback Josh Pleasant tackles wide receiver Matt Hurdle during preseason practice.The Flashes begin their 2011 season at Alabama on September 3rd.
Junior kicker Freddy Cortez was perfect on extra points last year, but made 11-of-17 field goals. Senior punter Matt Rinehart was a first team All-MAC selection with a 42.7 yard average in 2010.
Hazell’s coaching pedigree and demeanor have pumped a new life into the Kent State football program. While the offense has the weapons to succeed, the unit is leaning on Keith’s arm. If the junior improved his arm strength and decision making, look for the Flashes to compete for the MAC East Title.
The team’s confidence seems high with the new coaching staff in-place, but they have to retain that attitude with tough out-of-conference matchups at Alabama and Kansas State.
The defense will play physical but it will be forced to rely on first-year players like Maulauulu to fill the void.
High-scoring, fast-paced offense on deck for football
- Written by A.J. Atkinson
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“We’re going to attack the defense,” Rock said. “We’re trying to put the defense on their heels, so spreading the field, using an up-tempo offense and using a variety of groupings and formations gives you that ability.”
To put the defense on their heels, the Flashes look to confuse their opponents by using the versatility of their players. Many of the players can line up and play more than one position. For instance, in a simple call, a wide receiver can switch to the backfield and a running back can become a wide receiver.
Kent State quarterback Spencer Keith will be leading a more complicated and hopefully more effective offense this season under new coach Darrell Hazell.
The offense is one Rock and head coach Darrell Hazell have used in their respective coaching careers. Rock and his players look at this new formula as an improvement from previous years’ offensive schemes.
“To be honest, I feel the offense we’re going into this fall will be better for us because it allows us to use all our weapons,” running back Jacquise Terry said. “It’s a fast-paced offense. We’ve been conditioning to go fast. Coach said we want the scores to just pop up. First half, first quarter, 14-0 real quick. Trying to wear out the defense.”
Another tactic to keeping the defense thinking is offensive calls at the line of scrimmage. Junior quarterback Spencer Keith will have more responsibility reading the defense, called checks, and seeing if he needs to change the play.
“The offense is definitely more complicated,” Keith said. “We’ve got a lot more checks to make based on what the defensive line does and the linebackers’ cover. I have to really know the offense like the back of my hand. But everyone plays a part in it. Receivers have a couple option routes where they have to figure out if they’re going to do a corner or a cut back. We just have to be more prepared.”
Though the Flashes are strong in the running back position, one of their most experienced running backs will not be putting on the blue and gold uniform this season. Running back Dri Archer is out for the season due to falling below the NCAA’s academic standards. The junior rushed for 140 yards in 40 attempts with one touchdown for the Flashes last season.
With Hazell’s wide use of players, the loss of one running back is not detrimental to the Flashes’ offense, for the team never planned to use just one running back this season. Freshman running backs Anthony Meray and Robert Holloman continue to impress coaches, as well as the junior transfer from Akron, Larry Dawson. The backfield will also be led by senior Jacquise Terry. Terry led the team in rushing last season, carrying the ball for 542 yards in 151 rushing attempts an average of 3.6 yards per carry. The loss of Archer just means more playing time for the other running backs.
How effective this offense is relies mainly on Keith’s ability to read the defense, get the offense in the right protection and execute the plays. Rock said he has full confidence Keith is ready for this added responsibility.
“We’re going to have a starting quarterback who can be smart and play to the level within himself and be able to run our offense,” Rock said, “and I promise you we have that guy.”
The returning players also believe they have a stronger bond due to the process of the school’s search for a new head coach back in November. “Players got together because there was a period when we didn’t know who our coach would be,” Goode said. “It was just us players keeping each other together. When Coach Hazell came, he enforced his rules and told us how he’d go about things. It just brought everybody closer.”
Men’s cross country ready for important season
- Written by Julie Sickel
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A: I think we’re really excited to kind of redeem ourselves. Last season we were a really young team, and we were defending our MAC Championship from 2009. We tied for second last year. So we’ve put in a lot of work for this fall. I talked to the guys, they’ve worked really hard, so I think we’re really excited to prove ourselves again and make a statement that we can hang with anybody in the conference.
Q: What could be the team’s biggest challenge this fall?
A: Experience still might be a challenge. We’re still relatively young. I think last year helped us a lot; we’re ready to start fighting.
Q: What would you say will be the “winning strategy” for you all this year?
A: Tactically, to race and win, we’re going to have to run together as a team in a pack. It’s easier to run together in a race than it is by yourself. I think that first race at Akron we’re going to see where we’re at, and that’ll be able to tell us a lot about how we’re going to race the rest of the season.
I think the conference itself is pretty wide open. I think it’s pretty even. I don’t think there’s a team that’s way more dominant than any other. I could be wrong, but that’s the way I see it. I think we’ve got a really good chance to win. Anything can happen.
Q: Your team seems like a really tight-knit group of guys. Tell me about that.
A: You spend over an hour a day, almost two hours, running together, and so you just start talking, and you learn about each other and you find out what everyone’s about. You’re working toward the same thing, so there’s a really tight bond that’s created.
I think we’re all like brothers. Me being the oldest guy on the team, I feel like the older brother a little bit. We’re just a big family. We all have fun and we enjoy being around each other.
Q: How did the team handle training while being apart this summer?
A: We did an online training log. Danny Bullard set us up with this website called running2win.com. It’s a like a running social network. You do your run and then you go online and blog what you did. So I can go and see what everyone else on the team did ,and I can read their comments about how they felt on the run. It keeps me accountable. It keeps (my teammates) accountable. I can see what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.
I think we’re all in pretty good shape. This summer for me has been my best summer ever, mileage-wise. I feel great. I think everyone else is feeling good about themselves as well. That’s the most important thing, I think; going into a season you’ve got to be mentally ready for it. I think we’re all excited, optimistic, refreshed and ready to have some fun and compete. Just run, like Bruce Springsteen, ‘we were born to run.’
Women’s cross country motivated to improve on last season’s disappointing MAC performance
- Written by Julie Sickel
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Senior Audrey Maheu
A: It’ll be nice to get to know the new freshmen and to improve on last season. And hopefully finish out my cross country career strong; it’s my last one. A first place finish in the conference would be great.
Q: Tell me about how you ended last season?
A: We had ups and downs. We didn’t finish on as high a note as we would’ve liked to. We sold ourselves kind of short at conference (meet), so we’re working toward bettering ourselves this year. We’re going to use that as motivation.
Q: You’re the sole senior on the team. Where do you think leadership is going to come from this year?
A: I don’t think you have to be a senior to be a leader. I think you can come in as an underclassman and lead by example, by encouraging your teammates and doing the little things right — not cutting any of the corners at practice. I don’t think you have to be the oldest on the team to lead people. It’s about motivation and having a good attitude; that shows a lot of leadership in itself.
Q: How did the team handle being separated for the summer?
A: There’s a couple of us that are local to each other and we can meet a couple of times over the summer, get a run in, workout together or just hang out. But it makes being reunited together here special. It brings us closer together after the summer.
Q: How do you think the team will come out for your first meet of the season?
A: It’s too soon to tell about myself personally. It’s hard to gauge where I come off from my summer training. Once we start training as a team together we’ll get some workouts in as a team and I think it’ll boost our confidence and get us really motivated.
I try not to focus on the first meet too much just because there’s so much time in between the first meet and the conference meet, which really matters.
Q: Do you and your teammates have any traditions to start out the season?
A: We come back a couple days before classes. It’s a nice time to hang out; we’ll do a couple team dinners or go to a movie or something. It’s a great time to have fun together before school starts — bring the team together and get to know the freshmen.
Men’s golf team drives deep
- Written by Michael Moses
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Coming off a very impressive spring season in which they made it to the NCAA Championship for the third time in four years and won their third consecutive MAC Championship, the team will try to fill the shoes of the 2011 MAC Golfer of the Year with increased depth.
Junior men’s golfer Kevin Miller.
Miller pointed out that this year’s team can replace Hahn with better overall play. A stellar recruiting class is also expected to join the program.
In his 34th season as head coach, Herb Page and his staff put together quite possibly the best freshman class Kent has seen during his reign as head coach. Incoming freshmen Charlie Phillips (Mount Vernon, Ohio), Nick Scott (Union, Ohio), and Taylor Zoller (Charleston, S.C.) will all be a key part of this year’s success.
“It’s always nice to have one or two freshmen to step in and contribute right away,” Miller said.
Other new faces on this year’s squad will include sophomore Kyle Kmiecik from Ole Miss and sophomore Jack Watson from Kansas State. Kmiecik (Kuh-meek), an Avon, Ohio native, earned American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Honorable Mention All-America honors in 2008 at St. Ignatius High School. In just six tournaments as a collegiate golfer, Watson finished in the top ten twice.
In addition to the recruiting, the Golden Flashes have had quite a busy and successful offseason on the links. Multiple golfers competed in the amateur circuit this summer, including rising senior Mackenzie Hughes.
Hughes was the brightest Flash on this summer’s circuit. He won the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, making him the national champion of his home country. This marked the second major victory for Hughes this summer, as he also won the Kinnear Glencoe Invitational in June.
Hughes wasn’t the only Flash to raise a trophy during the past few months. Juniors to be Nathan Tarter and Miller, as well as rising sophomore Taylor Pendrith each picked up victories in events this summer. Miller became just the sixth individual and the first in 23 years to win the Ohio Amateur Public Links Tournament in back-to-back years.
In addition to their busy summers, three current golfers represented Kent State at the U.S. Amateur Men’s Golf Championship Aug. 22. Pendrith, incoming freshman Nick Scott and Hughes joined former Golden Flash John Hahn at Wisconsin’s Erin Hills Golf Course for the 111th edition of the tournament.
Given the players’ success this summer, the transition into this fall should be rather fluid.
“Everyone is having good summers; we’re playing in the top amateur tournaments around,” Miller explained. “We’ll all be able to look back on the experience we’re gaining and use it to our advantage this season. We shouldn’t have a slow start; I expect the team to play well right away.”