Flashes focus on discipline, special teams heading into trip to Ole Miss

Kent+State%E2%80%99s+Woody+Barrett+attempts+a+pass+during+the+second+half+during+the+Flashes+matchup+against+Penn+State+on+Saturday+Sept.+15%2C+2018.+Kent+State+lost+63-10.

Kent State’s Woody Barrett attempts a pass during the second half during the Flashes matchup against Penn State on Saturday Sept. 15, 2018. Kent State lost 63-10.

Ian Kreider

Penalties.

A word that frustrates fans and coaches alike, and something that has defined the short FlashFast era for the Kent State football team.

The Flashes have averaged 10 penalties a game this season. Last week included 10 penalties for 83 yards, featuring a roughing the punter penalty that extended Penn State’s first drive, which ultimately ended with a long touchdown pass.

The second-half play has also been consistently poor; last Saturday, the Flashes were outscored, 35-0, in the third and fourth quarters. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley carved the defense up for five total touchdowns — three on the ground and two through the air.

The defense was shorthanded as junior linebacker Jim Jones was sidelined with an injury.

“He went through warm-ups and didn’t just quite feel 100 percent,” Lewis said. “We didn’t want to rush him back. We want to make sure that that’s right so that early season injuries don’t become nagging things.”

Junior running back/tight end Myles Washington was also sidelined with an injury he sustained against Howard.

“Jim and Myles are doing a great job, and I expect them to do more this week in practice and, barring any setbacks, hopefully this will be the week we get them back on the field,” Lewis said.

Kent State also struggled punting the football. Junior Derek Adams hasn’t played a snap since injuring his hip before the first game.

“The medical people give me the clearance on that, and they have not yet,” Lewis said.

The team has shanked multiple punts this season, having five punts of 30 yards or fewer so far. The lack of ability to flip field position has hurt the Flashes at times, especially in the season opener against Illinois.

Last week, the team replaced sophomore punter Grant Urenovich with freshman place kicker Matthew Trickett. Trickett averaged 36.8 yards per punt, while pinning the Nittany Lions inside the 20-yard line twice.

Punting will be a key factor in this week’s matchup at Ole Miss. The Rebels have a highly touted offense that has averaged 43 points per game, even after a 62-7 meltdown against No. 1 Alabama last week.

“They stress you out in a lot of ways,” Lewis said of Ole Miss’ offense. “They spread you out from sideline to sideline and stretch you vertically, and they do a good job with the RPO (run pass option) game as well. … They’ll give you some problems. Luckily, we have some good caffeine in our office, and I’ll do a good job of consuming that when necessary, and we’ll put together a good plan.”

The team will take the field at noon Saturday as they take on Ole Miss (2-1) inside Vaught Hemingway Stadium.

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