Bye week arrives too late for struggling Flashes


Junior running back Trayion Durham scores Kent State’s only touchdown in the Wagon Wheel game against Akron on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. The Flashes lost to the Zips 16-7. Photo by Rachael Le Goubin.

Nick Shook

After 10 weeks, two wins and a crushing loss to their rival, Kent State rested.

It was long overdue for a team that hasn’t won since Sept. 28, and surrendered control of the Wagon Wheel to Akron for the first time since 2009.

With 11 days between games, the Flashes (2-8, 1-5 Mid-American Conference) reviewed its 16-7 loss to the Zips, swallowed the defeat and collectively took a deep breath. Kent State coach Paul Haynes gave his players the day off Monday and planned to practice Tuesday through Thursday before designating Friday as another day off and then beginning preparations Saturday for a Nov. 13 visit from Miami (Ohio).

“It’s a much-needed bye week for us,” Haynes said. “We’ll kind of scale back; the practices won’t be as hard. They’ll be a little easier time-wise for us and kind of just go back to the fundamentals of football.”

While it isn’t the full 14-day length of a traditional bye week, the Flashes are more than happy to welcome the break to their schedule. Unfortunately, in terms of the season’s outcome, the bye came too late.

“During the bye week, you do a lot of things,” Haynes said. “You rest, for one. You re-evaluate where you are on both sides of the ball, and that’s why that bye is so important. Unfortunately, it’s at the end of the year, when it’s all said and done.”

Haynes has been stressing the focus on basic fundamentals with his young squad, yet as Saturday’s five turnovers demonstrated, it still isn’t sinking in entirely. Some of that might be chalked up to youth and inexperience, but a lack of fundamental discipline, something Haynes calls “eye control,” is also to blame. But above all, Haynes isn’t panicked about his team’s disappointing season because his guys haven’t quit, he said.

“I give credit to these guys that do (give effort) because there’s a lot of times when you’re in this situation at the end of the year, you’ve only got two wins and you can pack it up,” Haynes said. “These guys have not. They show up to practice, they show up during the week and we prepare to win. We just haven’t gotten the ‘W’ in the column.

“I don’t question their effort; I don’t question their fight,” Haynes said. We’ve just got to continue to do the little things a little bit better than what we’re doing.”

It is somewhat surprising that a team trudging through a difficult gauntlet of a schedule — which included road games at Penn State and Louisiana State — to eight losses in its first 10 games hasn’t just thrown in the towel, especially considering the unprecedented 11-3 campaign they enjoyed in 2012. But that’s not the way Haynes and his staff have prepared his players. Plus, there’s actually some incentive left, despite the fact that bowl eligibility and a conference title are entirely out of reach. For one, both of the final two games will be nationally televised on the ESPN family of networks, and they’re against conference opponents. Also for Haynes, it is never too late to build some momentum for the future, be it Week 1 or Week 12.

“I think these two last games are important for going into the offseason and next year, coming out with wins in them,” Haynes said.

Kent State is playing for pride and to finish the season on a positive note, but for seniors such as wide receiver Tyshon Goode, that leaves just eight quarters to play as a Flash.

“I think with this bye week coming and us playing next Wednesday, I think we can rest up, get some guys healthy and come out and give it all that we have,” Goode said. “These are the last two games of my college career. I love this game, so I’ll definitely come out with a lot of passion knowing that these are my last two games.”

The Flashes appear to have finally found a favorable matchup in their next game, in part because their opponent can’t get any worse when it comes to overall record. Miami is mired in a disastrous season that saw its head coach and offensive coordinator fired Oct. 6 after a 21-9 loss to Central Michigan dropped the RedHawks to 0-5. Miami has lost three more games since then, including a 41-16 defeat against Ohio University last week.

“Every week, you can get beat,” Haynes said. “It doesn’t matter who you play if you don’t do the little things right.”

The Flashes will take the week to rest, reflect and recover. But come Wednesday, the details will determine the difference between a ninth defeat and the end of a losing streak.


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Nick Shook is the football reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].