Flashes show promise even in loss

AJ Atkinson

Okay, so the Flashes lost to Alabama Saturday. No surprise there. All of us knew they were going to lose. Kent State fans following the game online were almost hesitant to watch — afraid of the outcome.

Impressively, the Flashes were prepared. Kent State coach Darrell Hazell had his team ready to go. Despite the obvious size difference and 102,000 screaming fans, the Flashes looked prepared and confident — more confident than me sitting at home watching the team on my laptop.

Junior quarterback Spencer Keith looked more mature and calm playing at the big stage this year than he had in the past. Last year playing Penn State in Happy Valley, Keith completed 20 of 36 passes for 170 yards and threw two interceptions. The then-sophomore missed multiple opportunities and appeared to let each mistake bear down on his shoulders.

Though his stats were not as good at Bryant-Denny Stadium, completing 20 of 47 passes for 99 yards and throwing one interception and one touchdown pass, Keith seemed prepared and collected against one of the best defenses in the country. Hazell has said Keith’s biggest weakness last season was dwelling on past mistakes and being too hard on himself, so it was good seeing Keith not let dropped passes or missed targets affect him.

Hazell’s defense impressed me by settling in and handling the adversity of allowing Trent Richardson to run through and score two touchdowns in the first quarter. The Flashes’ defense got comfortable in the game and began putting adequate pressure on Alabama. The defense forced an impressive five turnovers, including four interceptions and forcing one fumble.

Seeing the Flashes keep their heads up and not get too frustrated gave me hope for the rest of this season. Though 48-7 sounds bad, the team’s effort to continue fighting against a team like No. 2 Alabama gave me confidence, thinking: What can they do in the Mid-American Conference?

Alabama is not the only tough non-conference school on Kent State’s schedule. The Flashes open at home against Louisiana, travel to Kansas State on Sept. 17 before closing their non-conference schedule at home against South Alabama.

As long as the Flashes’ running game improves and Keith can complete more deep passes, the team should be in for a good season. I did not see the Flashes of the past, but instead a promising glimpse of a developing football team—one that may be developing faster than we thought.

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected].