Kent State football focused, determined headed into opener


Kent State football coach Sean Lewis gives a speech to his team following the spring game on April 14, 2018. The defense won the scrimmage, meaning the offense had to clean up Dix Stadium.

Ian Kreider

When Kent State football coach Sean Lewis was asked how he was feeling leading up to the Flashes’ season opener against Illinois, he only needed one word to respond:


The season opens by facing three “Power-5”  conference teams on the road, something the program has not done in recent memory.

The team is a combined 0-15 in games against “Power 5”  opponents since 2010, getting outscored by an average of 34.9 points per game in those contests.

The team will look to break that streak when it takes on Illinois on Saturday. The last time the two teams met was in 2015, when the Fighting Illini came away with a 52-3 win.

The major story heading into Saturday’s matchup is the quarterback competition. Lewis was not giving away any hints about who will be starting between sophomore transfer student Woody Barrett and sophomore Dustin Crum.

“The guy who comes out will be our quarterback, and he will be the guy who leads our team,” Lewis said. “The guy who is the starter, the guy who comes out of the huddle first, is the guy who has the keys to the car to whip it on the weekend.”

This mindset is the same across all the positions. Lewis does not want the offense’s tempo to be bogged down due to constant substitutions.

“A lot of guys had a lot of chances to earn their roles through practice,” Lewis said. “Within games, a lot of people will play, but within drives it’ll be a similar cast of characters.”

The team is more focused on itself and what it can do heading into the tough matchups on the road.

“For us, we control our own destiny,” Lewis said. “We give guys tools, techniques, fundamentals and schemes that if we improve our best on a daily basis we’re going to be just fine.”

The team has had the same mindset all camp: Focus on your role, put yourself in a situation to be successful and execute. That seems to also be their thinking leading up to the season opener.

“If we approach each day, each rep, each walkthrough and each meeting like it’s a game, regardless of who’s lining up against us, we’re going to give them the respect they deserve, and we’re going to know about them and what their scheme is so that we know the best way to attack them,” Lewis said. “But our destiny is in our own hands, and our guys have a plan to execute so that they can be successful in those situations.”

The team will also incorporate new uniform combinations for each week, something the program has never done before.

“It’s something that is a big part of recruiting nowadays,” Lewis said of the uniforms. “Kids want to see different combinations; they want to have a lot of different options, so to speak, on gameday. To be able to have the agreement and the partnership that we have with Under Armour to where every single week we’re going to have 14 different combinations is a very unique deal to have.”

The new uniforms will be on display as the team opens its season at noon Saturday  as they take on Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois.

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