Kent State prepares for Saturday’s matchup at Kansas State

AJ Atkinson

Kent State head football coach Darrell Hazell gave an update on the team’s performance and attitude after dropping its second loss of the season Saturday against Louisiana, 20-12. Hazell put most of his time emphasizing the problems on offense and keeping the offense and defense playing together as a team.

Keeping the offense and defense together

One common problem the Flashes’ football teams have had is a separation in the offensive and defensive units. The offense and defensive teams have a tendency to hit heads, especially after a game like Saturday when one side—the defense—out-perform the offense.

“The defense has been great in embracing the offense,” Hazell said. “I told each side of the ball to give the other side a hug before they left for the evening the other day. It’s very important that we stay together and we have. They understand.”

Quarterback Spencer Keith handling his performance on Saturday

“There is no one that hurts worse about his performance than himself,” Hazell said of his junior quarterback. “There’s a lot of emotional investment in winning football games and a lot of time invested to winning football games. When you invest deeply in something and you don’t get the result, it hurts, and he’s hurting right now.”

Hazell said Keith’s pain was obvious after the postgame press conference when Keith came up and apologized for his play. Hazell said the team needs to get together to show their support in him. Junior linebacker C.J. Malauulu and sophomore tight end and fullback Tim Erjavec said they both still have all of their confidence in Keith.

“(The team is) going to rally around him,” Hazell said. “He needs some help. We all go through times when we need some help. We’ll help him as a coaching staff succeed better on Saturday. He’ll come out of it and play well.”

Reducing the package

The first change Hazell said they would make to the offense is condensing Keith’s play package. Hazell said he felt it was apparent Saturday that Keith was worried too much about making checks. Now, the Flashes plan to lessen Keith’s role by requiring fewer checks from him.

“We were going with a package where he had to check a lot of things,” Hazell said. “That’s where his mind was a lot of the time. Should I check or should I not check? He was standing up looking around. We talked about it as a staff to take some of that off his plate and not have to worry about those things.”


Sophomore defensive back Calvin Tiggle suffered a concussion and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Kansas State.

Sophomore defensive linemen Roosevelt Nix was taken out in the third quarter after re-aggravating his foot injury. The injury is said to stay with him through the remainder of the season. Hazell said the team will practice him light this week so he is available and ready to play Saturday.

Though playing the entire game, senior wide receiver Sam Kirkland went to the hospital after the game. After x-rays and a CT Scan, he was released at 4 a.m. Hazell expects Kirkland to be cleared and ready to play Saturday.

What did the team do during the rain delay?

During last Saturday’s home opener, the game was delayed an hour and 32 minutes due to lightening. Malauulu and Erjavec said the team went over plays as they waited for the storm to pass, while Hazell added a funnier note.

“We actually had some foresight to go out and get some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Hazell said. “A lot of guys took those during the break because they hadn’t eaten in five, six hours. So a lot of guys had some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during the break.”

Hazell more confident in team after watching Saturday’s film

It was obvious before Hazell’s opening statement in Saturday’s postgame press conference that he was upset with his team’s performance. As the room was being set up for the press conference, the first year head coach sat in a folding chair outside the room not speaking to anyone, crouched and staring blankly.

Hazell said after the game “you’re tied up emotionally and you’re drained and frustrated and angry. But when you take a step back and watch the film and see everything in the game, you see you have a chance and you’re not very far.”

Hazell said while reviewing the film he was most impressed with his team’s energy, especially on defense.

“The energy level was unbelievable,” Hazell said. “Just watching our guys run around and play as hard as they did on defense and the execution on special teams. You look for improvements on all those things and you could see it. We’re going to be a really good football team. There is a lot of guys in that locker room that think the same way. We need to figure out a way to win a game.”

Preparing for Kansas State

Hazell said he has looked at film of their defense but had not looked at the offense yet.

“They did a good job at controlling the ball (against Eastern Kentucky), and their defense is stout,” Hazell said. “They have good players up front, decent in the back end.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s game against Kansas State is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Kansas. The game will be broadcasted on Fox College Sports.

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected].