Reardon out, Fisher in as Flashes face must-win weekend


Senior defensive tackle Nathan Ollie attempts to bring down Kent State wide receiver Josh Boyle during the Homecoming game Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. Kent State lost the game 27-24. Photo by Ashlee Hayes

Nick Shook

Battered and bruised, Kent State’s football team trudges into Week 8 after its second straight loss. But despite the negatives of the latest losing streak and additional injuries to an already depleted roster, don’t expect the Flashes to concede defeat this weekend, because one fact remains true: Coach Paul Haynes’ men want to play football.

“Our guys are chomping at the bit to get out there,” Haynes said. “I say it as a joke, but we need straitjackets to keep guys off the field, because they want to get out there for their teammates. That is why you love this locker room because you’ve got guys like that who are going to go out there with one arm, one leg and just give it all they’ve got.”

They may need to find a larger jacket for defensive lineman Nate Terhune, who made a surprising return in Saturday’s loss — just four weeks after breaking his leg against Lousiana State — and a couple of other Flashes who were sent to the sideline in pain during Saturday’s 27-24 loss at Ball State.

Starting quarterback Colin Reardon hurt his ankle while backpedaling away from a play, and kicker/punter Anthony Melchiori aggravated a hamstring injury making a tackle on a kickoff. Both are considered doubtful for Saturday, Haynes said Monday.

That leaves kicker Brad Miller and punter Andrew Horning to fill in for Melchiori, and backup quarterback David Fisher to take over the offense for this weekend and the foreseeable future, as the severity of Reardon’s injury remains to be determined.

Many know Fisher only as the backup quarterback wearing No. 7 with a lengthy, curly mane flowing from the back of his helmet. But the senior signal-caller, who transferred to Kent State from Palomar Community College in California prior to the 2012 season, bears a similar playing style to Reardon.

Both quarterbacks are capable of making the throws needed to win games, and can also gain yards with their legs.

Now, with Reardon sidelined, it is up to Fisher to keep the Kent State offense from regressing at a point in the season where the Flashes cannot afford another loss.

It’s a tall task for any second-stringer, especially one who has been in the thick of quarterback competitions in the last two preseason camps, only to lose out to Spencer Keith in 2012 and Reardon in 2013. Although Fisher has remained a backup since he arrived at Kent State, his teammates have confidence in his ability to continue the offense’s gradual improvement.

“Personally speaking, I don’t feel the need to throw more reps with Fisher just to get more comfortable with him,” wide receiver Chris Humphrey said. “He came in last year, and that’s when I started to get more comfortable with him. I trust him. I know he knows what he has to do.”

A change in quarterback may warrant offensive game plan adjustments, but not for Fisher, Haynes said.

“Fish knows this offense really well,” Haynes said. “For us to change it would screw him up. Both of those guys are similar as far as athletic ability, so I don’t see us changing.”

Fisher was at the helm of the Flashes’ final drive in the last minute and a half of action Saturday and seemed flustered by pressure brought on by the Ball State defense. But fortunately for he and his teammates, four days of preparation await them before they travel to Mobile, Ala., to face South Alabama.

“In a normal situation, when you have a whole week to prepare and take the reps and slow it down, I think (Fisher) will be even better,” Haynes said. “You know, it was a quarterback battle for a long time. Those guys got a lot of reps, and just like Chris said, we feel comfortable with David.”

Now, with the Flashes sitting just one loss away from finishing 6-6 at best, it will be up to Fisher and the Flashes to spark a winning streak that they hope will land them a bowl invitation at the end of the season.

“We’ve got a five-game season, and we’ve got to go 5-0,” Haynes said. “For us to achieve our goal and make sure we’re bowl-eligible, we’ve got to go 5-0. Every game is a big game for us right now, and our guys understand that.”

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