Football travels to Happy Valley to take on Penn State

Henry Palattella

This Saturday the Kent State Flashes will head to State College in Pennsylvania to face the Penn State Nittany Lions in the season opener for both teams. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2013, when Penn State beat the Flashes 34-0.

The Flashes are coming off of a disappointing 3-9 (2-6 Mid-American Conference) season that led to them finishing tied for fifth in the MAC East.

Penn State posted a 7-6 record in 2015 and lost in the TaxSlayer Bowl to the University of Georgia.

Kent State will start a new era behind center on Saturday, as head coach Paul Haynes named freshman Justin Agner as the starting quarterback.

But Haynes said that Agner will not be the only Flashes to get time at quarterback; redshirt freshman Mylik Mitchell and sophomore George Bollas will also play against Penn State.

“We told (all the quarterbacks) that they are going to play. How much (playing time) is kind of yet to be determined,” Haynes said Monday on the MAC coaches conference call. “It’s not a situation where they make one mistake, they get pulled.”

Haynes also elaborated more on his decision to name Agner the starting quarterback.

“Picking Agner, it’s not saying that he’s our for sure starter for the rest of the year,” Haynes said. “We’re still trying to wait and see which one of these guys takes the bull by the horns and moves

forward. Competition only makes you better.”

Penn State will also have a fresh face at quarterback after three-year starter Christen Hackenberg left for the NFL this past winter. Coach James Franklin’s options were between redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens and redshirt sophomore Trace McSorley, with McSorley eventually getting the nod.

“It’s how he went about meetings. It’s about practice. It wasn’t one thing,” Franklin said in an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It was spring practice. It was meetings. It was the bowl game. It was being a backup for two years. It was everything.”

The game will also be Joe Moorhead’s first game as offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions since coming over from Fordham University in the winter. Moorhead runs a spread offense, which Haynes admits will be a challenge to combat.

“The first game is always tough, but then you see new offense and things like that (and) it makes it even tougher,” Haynes said. “But again, it kind of goes back to what we do … making sure that we get lined up, making sure that we get our calls in, making sure our kids can play. But it’s hard to simulate (the spread offense) with a scout team because the speed of it is a lot faster.”

Henry Palattella is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected]