New offense to premiere at Blue vs. Gold game

File photo by Rachel Kilroy.

File photo by Rachel Kilroy.

Lance Lysowski

Blue vs. Gold Spring Football Game


When: Saturday at 6 p.m.

Where: Dix Stadium

Free and Open to the Public

Senior quarterback Giorgio Morgan is ready for a fresh start.

Morgan entered the 2009 season as the Flashes’ starting quarterback, but a severe ankle sprain in the season opener led to junior Spencer Keith taking over as No. 1 on the depth chart.

The 6-foot-4-inch quarterback has not surpassed Keith since.

While Keith struggled through most of last season with accuracy and decision-making, former Kent State coach Doug Martin never turned to Morgan. It was not until Keith threw a crucial interception against Army when Morgan saw game action.

Morgan threw for 122 yards and a pair for touchdowns against the Black Knights, but did not play in the team’s last two games of the season.

When Kent State hired coach Darrell Hazell on Dec. 20, Morgan saw a chance to impress a new coaching staff that immediately declared the starting job open.

“Everybody has the same equal opportunity to go out every day and compete,” Morgan said. “Every day you come out to practice, it’s a competition.”

Morgan and Keith are the leading candidates to start Sept. 3 at Alabama with a new offense installed by Brian Rock, Kent State’s offensive coordinator. Rock, who is also the team’s quarterbacks’ coach, has a much different scheme than Martin did last season.

The system is designed to allow the team’s quarterback to rely more on his offensive players by making the best decision and giving the ball to the open man.

Rock referred to the quarterback in his offense as the “point guard.”

“We’re going to dish the ball off to the playmakers and let the scorers score,” Rock said. “To do that, they have to know immediately where to go with the ball.”

Several practice plays in spring football have involved Morgan throwing the ball 30 to 40 yards down field, and plays that rely on the speed of the team’s wide receiving corps.

“With the offense that we’ve got, like we were saying, it’s a lot to pick up in two weeks, but it was a lot of explosion plays,” Morgan said. “Not to criticize the previous offense, but the offense that we have this year is geared more to getting the ball out to our playmakers deep.”

“Not to criticize the previous offense, but the offense that we have this year is geared more to getting the ball out to our playmakers deep.” – Giorgio Morgan

Rock’s offense does take a different mentality than most Division-I schools have taken. He has preached to the team that the starting quarterback in his offense will “win with his brain first, and his arm second.”

While Rock knows that having a strong, accurate arm is important, he wants his players avoiding turnovers and stringing together quality decisions.

When Rock accepted the offensive coordinator job at Kent State, he took a look at previous Mid-American Conference offenses to see how big of a role lack of turnovers had.

The team that won the turnover battle in the conference, never finished lower than second in their division. In simple terms, they were bowl-eligible.

“I’ve been real excited about their desire to compete, and they’re pleasers,” Rock said. “They want to please the coaching staff, and they want to please the team.”

Morgan and Keith were chosen by the blue team in yesterday’s Spring Game Draft, while freshman quarterback Cedric McCloud will play on the gold team.

Rock and Hazell have praised McCloud for his throwing strength and is also a candidate to start, but Rock said tomorrow’s game is not about individual battles, it’s about the team.

“What we’re trying to do is put them in game-type situations,” Rock said. “The game is more about building team, being in a different situation. It’s a little bit more about teaching situations than it is about anything else.”

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].