Kent State prepares to take on the Crimson Tide

A.J. Atkinson

The Southeastern Conference in college football is as close to pro football as any conference. Alabama, who opens its season against Kent State, holds a winning record against every SEC school and has won the SEC Championship 22 times, the most wins of any SEC school.

Fittingly, SEC schools — especially SEC powerhouses like Alabama — have NFL-ready players. They don’t just have one or two good players like some teams in the Mid-American Conference, but nearly a full roster at that level of talent.

The Flashes are underdogs, undersized and not as talented.

None of this shows more than in the linemen.

The Crimson Tide offensive linemen outweigh the Flashes at the line of scrimmage, 1,563 pounds to 1,090. Even though there are five offensive linemen to four defensive linemen, the weight differential is extreme.

The Flashes’ defensive end Jake Dooley recorded the most tackles (35) among Kent State linemen last year. The 6-3, 238-pound junior will have to fight past Alabama’s Anthony Steen (6-3, 303 pounds) and D.J. Fluker (6-6, 335 pounds) to get to the quarterback.

Nose guard Ishmaa’ily Kitchen appears to be the only lineman that concerns Alabama. The 6-3, 334-pound senior lines up in front of Alabama’s lightest lineman, center William Vlachos (6-1, 294 pounds).

Sophomore defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix (6-0, 244 pounds) set a Kent State single-season freshman record for sacks last season with 10. As a smaller defensive lineman going up against a huge Alabama line, he will be a key figure going into Saturday’s game.

It is easy to see why Alabama is favored by ESPN to win by 38 points. Without pressure at the line of scrimmage, Alabama running back Trent Richardson should get a good start on his candidacy for the Heisman Trophy, and quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims should not have any problems sitting in the pocket waiting for passing routes to develop.

Saturday’s game will truly be a test on how well Kent State coach Darrell Hazell has his team prepared both physically and mentally. Hazell said all they have to do in order to win is to not be intimidated by size and to execute their jobs.

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aj_atkinson.