Flashes to face off against Redhawks

Henry Palattella

Kent State (2-4, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) and Miami (OH) University (0-6, 0-2 MAC) will face off Saturday. When the dust settles at the Fred C. Yager Stadium, one team will walk away with a win — something that has been hard to come by recently for both the Flashes and the RedHawks.

The two teams have a combined record of 16-67 since the start of the 2013 season. To put that into perspective, top-ranked University of Alabama has won 20 games since the start of 2015.

Neither team has finished higher than fifth in MAC East since 2013, and each of them has finished in last place in that time. Miami came in seventh in 2013, and Kent State finished in seventh in 2014.

Kent State has been the better of the two teams, as they have gone 11-30 since the start of the 2013 season, which was head coach Paul Haynes’ first year behind the helm for the Flashes.

The RedHawks have gone 5-37 since 2013, and have gone through three coaches since. Current Kent State assistant coach Don Treadwell was the RedHawks coach at the start of 2011, but he was let go five games into the 2013 season. The RedHawks were 0-5 at the time.

“I have decided to make a change in our football leadership now in hopes of seeing improved performance for the rest of the season,” said Miami athletics director David Sayler after firing Treadwell, per Alabama.com’s Drew Champlin. “Don is a great man, nobody can disagree with that, but I felt a change was needed immediately in the direction of the program.”

Treadwell, who was a wide receiver for the RedHawks from 1978-1981, currently serves as Kent State’s offensive coordinator. Mike Bath served as the interim head coach for the rest of the season, and the RedHawks eventually finished the season 0-12. Chuck Martin was hired as the head coach in that offseason, and he has gone 5-25 in the two and a half seasons since.

Martin has done his best to try to bring the program back to relevancy, but he has hit some snags in the road. He has had some highs, like their last second win over The University of Massachusetts in 2014 to end the RedHawks 25 game losing streak. But he has yet to secure a win in 2016, as the RedHawks are 0-6 this season, and have been outscored by 74 points in those losses.

“We don’t act like an 0-5 team in practice,” Martin told the Dayton Daily News after they lost to Ohio two weeks ago. “They’re not down. They’re not moping. Our approach is right.”

Miami and Kent State have played each other each of the past three years, and all of those meetings were defined by the home team. They faced at Dix Stadium in 2013 and 2015, with the Flashes winning 24-6 and 20-14, respectively. The RedHawks squeaked out a 10-3 in 2014 in a game that game was played at Yager Stadium.

The Flashes will look to break that trend this weekend, and if they do, all signs point toward junior Nick Holley being a key part of that. Holley has breathed new life into the Kent State offense since taking over the quarterback job, and he’s been recognized for it. Holley threw for 285 yards and rushed for 117 yards two weeks ago against The University of Akron, and he followed that up by rushing for 224 yards last week against the University at Buffalo.

“(Kent State has) been much better since (they moved Holley to quarterback),” Martin said at his press conference on Monday. “It’s created a different dynamic for them running their quarterback 25 times a game.”

While the Flashes have found their rhythm on offense, the RedHawks are still looking for it.

Sophomore Billy Bahl started the season at quarterback for the RedHawks, but a shoulder injury has forced freshman Noah Wezensky into the starting role. Bahl had thrown for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns before going down the injury, while Wezensky has thrown for 307 yards and two touchdowns.

“They’re going through the same situation we are at quarterback,” Haynes said in regards to injuries behind center. “Really what hurts is when you talk about a guy going through all the spring, all the summer, and then you roll around during the season. And those guys get hurt, (quarterbacks) No. 3 and No. 4 haven’t gotten many reps.”

The RedHawks have a potent ground game with redshirt sophomore Alonzo Smith leading the charge with 354 yards on the ground this year. Smith rushed for 86 yards last week against Akron.

“I really like (Miami’s) running backs,” Haynes said. “It’s kind of like what he had with Buffalo. It’s an inexperienced quarterback but you have an experienced offensive line and a good run game.”

Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

Henry Palattella is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].