Kent State hits the field for spring practice

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Video by Jon Jankowski, TV2 sports director

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The Kent State football team took to the field at Dix Stadium for the first time in more than four months Tuesday for the first day of spring practice.

A return of cold weather didn’t deter head football coach Darrell Hazell from getting his team out in the elements to get his first look at the 2012 Flashes. After enjoying his first full off-season, Hazell said the team is “way ahead” of where they were a year ago.

“You look back 365 days ago, and I think we are way ahead of where we were then,” Hazell said. “We’ve done some things to simplify some things, which helps.”

Hazell has nine starters on offense and eight on defense returning for the Flashes that finished last season 5-7 overall, 4-4 in conference and finished the season winning four of the final five games.

Heading into the season, Hazell has greatly stressed the importance of team unity. To conclude Tuesday’s practice, Hazell had his team run a piggy-back drill as a part of what he called the “MAC championship period” where players carried a teammate some 60 yards on their backs and had a team meeting on the Mid-American Conference logo. Hazell told his team that if they want to get a MAC Championship, everyone has to do their role.

“Those guys understand it’s going to take every single guy we need on the team to win a championship,” Hazell said.

Where Hazell has the most deciding to do is at the quarterback position. Senior and last season’s starter Spencer Keith and junior college transfer junior David Fisher have engaged in a quarterback battle that has already has Hazell excited.

“I thought they [both] had pretty good command of the offense,” Hazell said. “I thought they threw it pretty accurately. We missed a couple, but they threw it well for the first day.”

Although Keith got most of the reps with the offense, Fisher was right behind him taking mental notes of every move Keith made.

“Just us being out there together, pretty much brings the best out of both of us,” Fisher said. “That’s just what competition does. It’s fun. We can just learn off of each other and him having a year over me with this offense…I’m going to look up to him to ask him questions or what he thinks or what he sees.”

Last season for the Flashes, Keith threw for more than 1,600 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Fisher threw for more than 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns and added 403 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in junior college.

With day one in the books, both Keith and Fisher expect the competition to heat up every day. But for now, both players said they are getting back into the swing of practice and enjoying getting to know one another.

“[Fisher]’s good,” Keith said. “He’s got a great arm, and really, he’s a good guy to be around. Competition always helps. You always have got to be on top of your game to beat the other guy out. You can’t come in one day and be average and the next day be really good. You have to come in consistent day in and day out.”

The team will have 14 more practices before the April 21 spring game.

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected] or @MLofgrenDKS