Football program looks for execution, not change in style


Senior wide receiver Josh Boyle completes a pass in the end zone, scoring one of the two touchdowns at the game against the University of Massachusetts on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014.

Jimmy Miller

Most might think coach Paul Haynes and his coaching staff went into panic mode at the end of their 2-9 2014 campaign, but the fact of the matter is, Haynes said his team isn’t changing much.

“We don’t really need to change the way we practice, we just need to execute better,” Haynes said. “A lot of last year’s games came down to (how) we didn’t execute (the plays correctly).”

And he might have a point: Despite the abysmal record, and excluding the daunting 66-0 loss to Ohio State in Columbus, the Flashes only lost their games by a deficit averaging just over 12 points. What’s more, Haynes’ team didn’t lose a conference game by more than 10 points, and lost by just one score (a touchdown or field goal) three times throughout the entire season.

Granted, Haynes isn’t making excuses for his program, either — in the end, two wins isn’t going to get the Flashes atop the conference or to its second bowl game in program history — but for his team, consistency is going to be key.

The roster boasts 14 fourth-year or fifth-year seniors, and a number of players who picked up preseason accolades. Senior safety Jordan Italiano was named the country’s “Smartest Player in College Football” by, touting his 3.97 GPA in pre-medical biochemistry and his 195 career tackles. Junior safety Nate Holley also picked up honors with his nomination to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, an award for the best defensive back in the country, where he joins 41 other players. Senior punter Anthony Melchiori was also added to the Ray Guy Award Watch List for the fourth consecutive year. Holley, Italiano, Melchiori and seniors Nate Terhune (defensive lineman) and Matt Dellinger (linebacker) were all named to the Phil Steele’s 2015 Preseason All-Mid-American Conference team.

Offensively, the Flashes expect junior quarterback Colin Reardon to take the helm of the offense once again. Injuries rattled Reardon at the tail end of last season, but he managed to set the Kent State single-season record for most completed passes at 228. He finished with 12 touchdown passes and tacked on two more with his running game.

Despite the returning talent, the 2015 Media Poll selected the Flashes to finish last in the Mid-American Conference East Division, while rival Akron is tied with Ohio for second, only to preseason favorite Bowling Green.

Rankings mean little to nothing to Haynes, who said his team isn’t too concerned about the poll or what outsiders think the Flashes are capable of this season.

“I don’t think we sit there and use that as a chip on our shoulder so to speak,” Haynes said. “We’ve got to focus on us, and not worry about preseason rankings.”

The Flashes open their season Sept. 4 at Illinois, and play an interesting medley of non-conference opponents before their conference opener Oct. 3 versus Miami. The Flashes will host both Delaware State and Marshall University, a team that finished 23rd in the AP Top 25 Poll last season. Additionally, they’ll travel to Minnesota to take on the Gophers, a squad that finished 8-5 overall, 5-3 in the Big Ten Conference.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Haynes said of the early slate of games, referencing how his team played Ohio State last year. “We remind (our players) to just stay focused…and we can make (wins) happen.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].