Hazell, Flashes attempt to fix team’s sputtering offense

Kent State’s quarterback Spencer Keith looked for a pass while University of South Alabama’s Clifton Crews went in for a sack at Dix Stadium Saturday, Sept. 24. The Golden Flashes beat the Jaguars 33-25. Photo by Monica Maschak.

AJ Atkinson

Beginning the year 1-6 was not a mark Kent State fans wanted to see the new coaching staff make in its inaugural season. Ranking near the bottom, if not last in many of the offensive categories for NCAA Division I football, was especially not what was in mind.

Coach Darrell Hazell and his players said it has simply been a lack of execution and they have no explanation as to why many returning offensive players are not having as great a year as in years past.

Hazell said the key is to get everyone on the same page.

Junior offensive lineman Brian Winters said bad communication has played a major role in the Flashes’ ranking 116 out of 120 teams in sacks allowed with 25 in seven games.


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“You can have on any given play, nine guys doing the right thing, but if one guy is doing the wrong thing, it could be a 10-yard loss,” Hazell said. “We have to make sure we get all 11 guys on the same page.”

“We need to execute and none of us are executing well because none of us are talking,” Winters said. “Coach is really being specific about talking this week and how we can’t do anything without talking.”

Quarterback Spencer Keith said the offensive line breaking down does not make his job easy, but he said he does not put the blame on them.

“I just haven’t been making the plays that I made in the past,” Keith said. “I need to step up and change that and start making my reads better.”

Keith was pulled in his Oct. 8 start against Northern Illinois after his second pass was intercepted and returned 25 yards for a touchdown.

Hazell said the offensive line and the quarterback are what he and his coaching staff are concentrating on most during the bye week. Hazell said they are moving around the offensive line in practices to try to see what works best. And despite Keith starting last weekend against Miami, Hazell said they are still evaluating the quarterback position.

Hazell said the most discouraging statistic he has seen is the team’s third-down conversion, which ranks 114 out of 120 teams.

“Third downs are where you keep the drives going and get more play opportunities.” Hazell said. “You get so many more plays and opportunities to be successful if you convert on third down. We have to do a better job at doing that.”

Regardless of the poor offensive performance and the statistics to show it, Hazell remains optimistic and in full belief that after seven dismal games, his team will turn around and finish the season strong.

“Like I’ve said, I like this football team,” Hazell said. “I feel for us/them, because we have not been able to be successful in the win-loss column and we are so close. We are close. We had a chance to win some of those. I’m happy where we are in terms of preparation and our chances to win.”

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected] and @aj_atkinson.