Opinion: Flashes could be bowl eligible for first time under Paul Haynes

Wide+receiver+Ernest+Calhoun+returns+a+kick+during+the+third+quarter+of+the+Kent+State+vs+Marshall+football+game+on+Sept.+26%2C+2015.+The+Flashes+lost+in+double+overtime%2C+36-29.

Wide receiver Ernest Calhoun returns a kick during the third quarter of the Kent State vs Marshall football game on Sept. 26, 2015. The Flashes lost in double overtime, 36-29.

Stephen Means II

On paper, the Kent State football team seems to be having yet another mediocre, subpar season. But, if you look closer, you see that this team isn’t nearly as bad as its record shows.

In his third year as head coach of the Flashes’ football team, Paul Haynes has established a clear defense identity. Junior Terence Waugh, third in sacks with nine, and sophomore Demetrius Monday, tied for third in interceptions with five, are statistically two of the nation’s best at their respective positions.

Obviously the defense isn’t the reason why this team is 3-5 and 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference this year. Everyone who has paid any attention to this team knows that a lot of its failures fall on the offensive side at the ball. but why?

Is it quarterback play? Is it youth? Or is it the lack of a constant threat every week?

Honestly, it’s likely a combination of all three.

From the look of things, George Bollas is going to be the man behind center from here on out. After a phenomenal performance in a win over UMass, he followed that up with an ugly loss to Bowling Green. Bollas is only a freshman, so inconsistency is something that is to be expected, especially when your second start is against the best team in your division.

Bollas isn’t the only underclassmen on this team who is in his first year of playing a big role for the Flashes. Antwan Dixon, Raekwon James, Kris White and P.J. Simmons are all either freshman or sophomore, as well.

This is a young team and with young teams comes a lot of undisciplined players. Haynes has constantly talked about how this team tallies up an unnecessary amount of turnovers that halt positive drives. These things can be corrected with experience and time.

What can’t be corrected is not having that constant go-to-guy. The Flashes don’t have an offensive threat that they have been able to count on week-in and week-out. The lack of having that makes it harder to execute offensively because there is no one on the scouting report that other teams feel they need to focus more on.

If someone can step up in these last in these four weeks, or even develop into that in the next two years, then this team’s future can be much brighter than its current record shows.

At the end of the day the Flashes have played surprisingly well in all but three games this season. Other than the games against Illinois, Toledo and Bowling Green, this team was in position to win every game if it weren’t for the lack of a solid offensive scheme.

Moral of the story, the Flashes have a legitimate chance to be bowl eligible for the first time since 2012 if – and only if – Bollas and the offense can show progression every week throughout November.

Stephen Means is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]