Hazell addresses quarterback questions at Monday’s press conference

AJ Atkinson

Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said he felt everything was collapsing after the 40-10 loss to Northern Illinois last Saturday. After looking at the film Sunday, Hazell said in Monday’s press conference he sees hope.

Regardless, Hazell and his coaching staff are making many changes to try and get more offensive production.

The quarterback situation:

For the second time in six games, junior quarterback Spencer Keith’s second pass of the game was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Unlike the first, however, this all Hazell needed to see before putting in freshman back up quarterback Cedric McCloud.

Hazell said after watching McCloud play, he sees both quarterbacks have their areas to improve.

For McCloud, Hazell said the freshman signal caller needs to greatly improve on calling the play and getting everyone out of the huddle faster.

“We were getting the ball snapped with one to two seconds left on the play clock, which was scaring me on the sideline,” Hazell said.

Hazell said when Kent State had the ball, he actually had to keep following the side referee with his hands forming a “T” and watching the play clock, ready to call a timeout if McCloud waited too long to call hike.

“He has to work on getting them out of the huddle and getting the play called,” Hazell said. “I also didn’t think he threw it as well as he could have. Normally he rips it pretty good, which is his strong point. I thought he nursed a few throws in there.”

For Keith, Hazell said the three-year starter had to show more confidence and poise in the pocket. Hazell said on the intercepted pass where Keith threw it right to a defensive lineman, Keith looked flustered and lost.

“There’s room for improvement in the standing there with firm feet and delivering the ball for us,” Hazell said of Keith.

Hazell said they will look at both quarterbacks and decide after Thursday’s practice which should start Saturday’s homecoming game against Miami. Even then, Hazell said using both quarterbacks during a game is still an option.

Simplifying the offensive line’s role:

The offensive line struggled against Northern Illinois, allowing McCloud to be sacked seven times. Hazell said the problem is miscommunication and confusion at the line of scrimmage from the offensive linemen. Hazell said he is going to lessen the complexity of their role and go back to a lot of the basics.

“We need to make sure we can get our hats on the right guys,” Hazell said. “I don’t care what they do with their front or what they do with their linebackers—it doesn’t matter. You two have these two guys. Go block them. And don’t complicate it anymore than that.”

Homecoming match between (1-4) Miami and (1-5) Kent State:

Hazell said looking at Miami, he believes the RedHawks are a very similar team to Kent State in the way that they also often shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers. Unlike Kent State, many of the RedHawks’ turnovers are on special teams.

The Flashes main concern this Saturday will be controlling Miami’s junior quarterback, Zac Dysert. The 6-foot 4-inch, 214-pound quarterback is 121- for- 196 for 1,378 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. Dysert also has the ability to pull the ball down and run with it.

“That added dimension of him being able to pull it down and hurt you with his feet is something to prepare for,” Hazell said. “We have to stay in our rush lanes and our blitz lanes. When he does start to pull it down, stay in coverage.”

Coaching against Pete Rekstis, the former defensive coordinator for the Flashes:

The Flashes will be playing against a guy who knows their personnel well. Miami’s defensive coordinator, Pete Rekstis, was Kent State’s defensive coordinator not only last season, but also seven seasons before that. Hazell said he will bring some of his players into his office and figure out what plays and strategies Rekstis likes to return to.

“We’re all creatures of habit, and in certain situations arise, you go back to those calls,” Hazell said. “So I’ll pull some guys into the office a little bit later and see what he likes to do in certain situations.”

Hazell said the team will also have to try and disguise plays a little better because of the former coach standing on the opposite sideline.

The (1-5) Flashes are looking to acquire their second win of the season against the (1-4) Miami RedHawks. Kickoff for the homecoming game this Saturday is at 3:30 p.m. at Dix Stadium.