Kent State strives for MAC and Bowl win in upcoming season

Sophomore running back Trayion Durham hurdles over an Arkansas State player during the 2013 GoDaddy.Com Bowl in Mobile Alabama, on January 6. Kent State was unable to beat Arkansas State losing the bowl game 13-17. Photo by Coty Giannelli

Cindy Deng

Last season, the Kent State football team lost the Bowl — its first bowl game since 1972 — mere months after failing to secure the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship.

Not this time, said Brian George, defensive coordinator.

“One of the big areas we’ll hit is working to finish what we started,” George said.

The Flashes started practice Monday.

Kent State was picked to finish third in the MAC East, according to the 2013 Mid-American Conference Football Preseason Poll.

This season, too, Dri Archer’s name has been thrown into the mix of Heisman hopefuls.

There’s a Twitter account — @Dri4Heisman — as well as a Facebook page and official website. There’s even a digital comic strip called “The Archer,” illustrated by Chuck Ayers of Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean.

“When you think about the Heisman and the best college football player, it should be someone who is exciting,” said head coach Paul Haynes in a news release. “When you look at how electric he is and the plays that he made, he’s a natural fit.”

Alongside Archer, Roosevelt Nix has also received national attention — the Maxwell Football Club named both players on watch lists.

The Flashes went 20-7 in the MAC and 11-3 overall in 2012, almost earning a MAC Championship against the Northern Illinois Huskies, 37-44.

In addition, the Flashes lost the Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves, 13-17.

Dri Archer was recognized as MAC Special Teams Player of the Year, First Team All-MAC and Consensus All-American last year. He had 1,429 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns, 561 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns in 2012.

Other returning star players include seniors Roosevelt Nix and Tyshon Goode and juniors Trayion Durham and Luke Wollet.

“We’ve got a lot of work to accomplish that, but that’s our goal and the only way we can accomplish that is to take steps in the right direction every single day that we’re preparing for the season,” George said. “When we prepare, we’re concentrating on today.”

Haynes, who is an alumnus of the university, replaced Darrell Hazell as head coach. Hazell accepted the head-coaching position at Purdue University.

Haynes was previously the defensive coordinator for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. George said Haynes brings a lot of energy, passion and understanding of the university as a former student and football player.

The Flashes will open their 2013 season at 6 p.m. on Aug. 29 at home against the Liberty Flames.

The team is ready to start the season on the right foot.

“Every year is a big year — no more so than the present,” George said. “When the lights come on … it’s go time.”

Contact Cindy Deng at [email protected]. Rex Santus contributed to reporting.