Flashes look to improve in all facets heading into battle with Ohio’s explosive offense

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Kent State quarterback Woody Barrett attempts a pass in the second half of the Flashes matchup against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois on Sept. 1, 2018. The Flashes lost 31-24.

Ian Kreider

Dual-threat quarterback.

Two words that strike fear into the hearts of college football defenses across the country.

Kent State is no different.

The Flashes (1-4, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) are 1-3 against dual-threat quarterbacks so far this season. Ball State’s  Riley Neal had 402 passing yards, 61 rushing yards and five total touchdowns en route to a 52-24 blowout win last Saturday.

The game was eerily similar to the Flashes’ early-season matchup against Penn State’s Heisman hopeful Trace McSorley. He was a problem through the air and on the ground, combining for five total touchdowns.

The Flashes will face a similar challenge this week against Ohio (2-2, 0-0 MAC). Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke is a dual-threat quarterback who has been shredding defenses every Saturday this fall. Last week he threw for 270 yards, ran for 189 yards and averaged 11.8 yards per carry in a 58-42 win against the University of Massachusetts.

“For them it starts first and foremost with their running attack,” Kent State coach Sean Lewis said of the plan to slow down the Bobcats’ offense. “They’re able to set up a lot of their play-action passes off of that.”

Penalties have plagued Kent State in every loss this season, averaging almost 10 penalties per game.

Penalties and tackling will go a long way in what could be a shootout. The Bobcats allow 518 yards per game (386.8 passing and 131.3 rushing) and 38.3 points per game. The Flashes had an impressive offensive showing against Ball State, finishing with 461 yards.

However, the performance was overshadowed by the team’s 17 penalties

for 142 yards.

“We have to do a much better job through our preparation and making sure that we’re locked in and that we’re focused,” Lewis said.

Penalties will be something to watch for Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Woody Barrett had a career day through the air against Ball State, but it was overshadowed by drive-killing penalties. Many of the penalties were for having an ineligible receiver downfield on run-pass option plays.

“We’re not going to change what we do,” Lewis said. “That’s a good combination of us getting great movement at the point of attack. That’s who we are and what we’re about. I am not going to put too much stock into those.”

The Flashes’ first home game in almost a month is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday inside Dix Stadium.

Ian Kreider is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]