Flashes prepare for major test against University of Kentucky.


Quarterback Spencer Keith, number 3, runs onto the field with the Flashes at their home opener against Towson. Keith completed 10 of 19 passes for a total gain of 82 yards in offense during the Flashes’ 41-21 winning game against Towson. Photo by Jacob Byk.

Tim Dorst


Quarterback Spencer Keith, number 3, runs onto the field with the Flashes at their home opener against Towson. Keith completed 10 of 19 passes for a total gain of 82 yards in offense during the Flashes’ 41-21 winning game against Towson.

After its 41-21 victory over the Towson Tigers Aug. 30, Kent State couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the 2012 college football season.

In the first game of Head Coach Darrell Hazell’s second year with the team, the Flashes’ offense put points on the board early and often while their defense kept the Tigers in check for much of the game. Kent State forced six Towson turnovers.

The Flashes have had over a week to prepare for their second game, and that extra preparation time will be a key when they travel to Lexington, Ky. to take on the University of Kentucky Wildcats Saturday night.

Kent State is catching Kentucky on a short week. The Wildcats played their season opener this past Sunday, in which they lost 32-14 against No. 25 Louisville. Hazell said his team has taken advantage of the extra time off and feels Kentucky will handle its own shortage of preparation time.

“Obviously for us, it’s nice to have those extra days to rest and put a lot of preparation in,” Hazell said. “When you’re in the situation that Kentucky’s in, you just adjust to whatever is thrown at you. They’ve known about it, so I’m sure they’re being smart and not running their guys into the ground.”

The Wildcats certainly know the level of preparation needed to compete at a high level.

Kentucky is a member of the Southeastern Conference, which includes college football powerhouses Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas and more. To win on the road against Kentucky, Hazell said the Flashes will need to stay sharp and play at the top of their game.

A team from the SEC has won the BCS National Championship the last six seasons.

“Whenever you play a team from the SEC, you’ve got to be geared up for the best,” Hazell said. “That’s the best conference out there. They’ve got great players and a good staff down there, so it’s definitely going to be a formidable task for us.”

The Flashes will look for improvement in their running game on Saturday. Kent State’s running backs totaled 118 yards against Towson, 102 of those yards coming from the backfield combination of sophomore Trayion Durham and redshirt junior Dri Archer. Hazell said he believes the running game will be the strength of the team, but he wants to see a little more execution from his offense this weekend.

Archer proved last week that he can impact a game in more ways than just running the football. Archer returned two kickoffs for a total of 155 yards, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown. His explosive performance earned him MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

The Flashes will have to keep an eye on Kentucky sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith, who threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns against Louisville. To combat Smith and the Wildcats’ pass offense, Kent State will depend on a defensive unit that forced four fumbles and sacked Towson quarterback Grant Enders four times.

Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Goode “questionable-to-doubtful” for Saturday’s game

The odds of senior wide receiver Tyshon Goode getting on the field for the Flashes Saturday do not look promising.

Hazell said Goode is “about 75 percent healthy” but listed him as “questionable-to-doubtful” for the game against Kentucky.

Goode has been battling a hamstring injury he suffered on Aug. 4 during the second day of training camp. Goode was in pads during the Flashes’ practice Wednesday afternoon but only participated in light workouts.

Cortez is ready to go for next game.

Senior kicker Freddy Cortez said he’ll be healthy enough to play after being injured in a collision during the game against Towson on Aug. 30.

Cortez was injured when a Tigers defender collided with him after Cortez kicked a field goal in the second quarter of Thursday’s game. Cortez’s right leg was pinned between the defender and the turf, but he was able to walk off the field on his own power.

Cortez said the injury reminded him of an MCL strain he suffered on the same leg last season.

“It was a little bit of a scare,” Cortez said. “At first, it seemed a lot worse than it came out to be. So I’m definitely grateful that nothing bad happened.”

This current injury is the last thing on Cortez’s mind, as he said he couldn’t be more excited about playing Kentucky this weekend.

“I love playing in big stadiums in front of big crowds,” Cortez said. “Just getting energy off that environment is really excited. I’m ready to show off my talents to these bigger schools and let them know that the mid-major schools like us can do it just like they can.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].