Flashes not panicking following loss to Ohio


Freshman running back Anthony Meray is rushed out of bounds during the Flashes victory over South Alabama, 33-25. Photo by Matt Hafley.

AJ Atkinson

Beginning the year 1-4 was not the start Kent State coaches and players had in mind going into this year.

Sophomore safety Luke Wollet, junior offensive lineman Brian Winters and head coach Darrell Hazell said in Monday’s press conference that the loss just gave them more fire to turn their season around.

“It’s more hunger right now,” Wollet said. “Reality is we’re 1-4, but we know we’re not a 1-4 football team. We have to do something to win games. Whatever it takes, we need to find something someway somehow to win a game.”

After last Saturday’s first conference loss, Winters said the team had to remind themselves how open it is to win the Mid-American Conference Championship.

Wolfe out at least five weeks with foot injury.

Kent State’s stout defense took another hit on Saturday when senior cornerback Norman Wolfe Jr. injured his foot during the 17-10 loss to Ohio.

Wolfe, a 5-foot-8 former walk-on, starts on the opposite side of senior Josh Pleasant in the Flashes’ secondary.

“We need to keep our heads up because there’s still seven games left, and not every team that competed for the MAC Championship (last year) was undefeated,” Winters said. “We beat OU at the beginning of the year two years ago, and they came back and ended up winning it all. We need to start working a lot harder and taking our time with things.”

In past years, Kent State football teams have often split between an offensive team and a defensive team. Wollet said the new coaching staff is making it a top priority to keep the two sides together this year.

“We’re a 1-4 team, not a 1-4 offense or a 1-4 defense,” Wollet said. “We’re a 1-4 team. Both sides of the ball contributed to that. I think this year it’s been preached we need to stay together, and you see that. Sometimes the offense will struggle, and sometimes the defense is gong to give up 40 points and we need the offense to score 41.”

Winters, who is in his third year starting on the o-line, said offenses he has been a part of in the past walked off the field and goofed around instead of cheering on the defense like they do this year.

“There’s a lot more rally,” Winters said. “We’re all up there rooting each other on and giving each other motivation.”

Hazell said the team may have to make adjustments to produce more big plays on offense. After three weeks, the team has struggled mightily to make big plays, which is a running play for more than 12 yards or a passing play for more than 14 yards.

Hazell said before the Ohio game, he made a side note on his playbook to call four big passing plays.

“I was hoping we could get one out of four completions and maybe a pass interference within those other three attempts, but it didn’t happen,” Hazell said.

All four passes fell incomplete Saturday, and none drew pass interference calls.

One of those adjustments to capitalize on big plays already took effect against Ohio, as junior wide receiver Tyshon Goode was used much more in Saturday’s game.

Hazell is even considering making a change for a couple offensive series at the quarterback position. Based on how practices go this week, Hazell is considering using backup quarterback Cedric McCloud for a couple series against Northern Illinois this Saturday. Hazell said he likes the arm strength and poise in the pocket the sophomore quarterback displays.

Most football teams that use two quarterbacks have two quarterbacks who display two very different styles of playing the position. Often one is more a traditional drop-back passer and the other is a scrambler. That is not the case, as McCloud and junior Spencer Keith are both drop-back passers.

“The thing you have to feel is whether or not you need a spark and if the one can give you a spark,” Hazell said. “I don’t want to put pressure on anybody. I want them to compete, but I don’t want them to feel pressure.”

Kent State continues conference play on the road, as the team travels to DeKalb, Illinois this Saturday to face the 2-3 Northern Illinois Huskies. Two of the Huskies’ three losses were to Kansas and Central Michigan. The loss to Kansas was by a field goal, and the loss to Central Michigan was by seven points.

The Huskies are very similar to Ohio. Northern Illinois averages 37.2 points per game and its quarterback, Chandler Harnish, is second on the team in rushing yards with 377 yards on 57 carries.

Kickoff between Northern Illinois and Kent State is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Huskie Stadium.

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