Support From Fans

Lance Lysowski

Senior running back Andre Flowers can sense a different team in Kent State’s locker room — from the players’ attitudes before they step onto the field to their play in critical situations.

“It’s tremendously different from the previous teams,” Flowers said. “You can see it in the locker room, pregame. Everyone is all jumping up and down. In previous years, it’s been depressed, quiet, heads down. It’s just such a great attitude to be a part of. To see it and witness it with my eyes, it’s tremendous.”

Tomorrow’s game against first-place Temple holds playoff implications. With a victory over the Owls, the Flashes will continue their bid for the Mid-American Conference East Division title. Kent State needs to win their remaining conference schedule and receive some help from Miami’s opponents.

The Flashes started their first winning streak of the season last Saturday when the team defeated Ball State 33-14.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said as much as last week’s game against the Cardinals was a must-win, this week’s matchup with Temple is even more important.

“This is such a huge football game, and we talked to our team all of last week, preparing for Ball State,” Martin said. “Selling them that if they would beat Ball State — win that football game — they could put themselves in a great position against Temple. Playing in a very meaningful game, playing for a lot of high stakes. The winner of this game is going to have a lot to say about who the MAC East Champion is, so here we are. Our players, to their credit, got that done last week.”

With Kent State eight games into its season, injuries are continuing to develop. Last week, junior running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry, senior linebacker Cobrani Mixon, senior safety Brian Lainhart and sophomore offensive lineman Brian Winters all left the game with injuries. Although they are ready to play in tomorrow’s game, Martin said injuries are part of college football in November, and the Flashes have been luckier with the issue than in years past.

“We’ve been very fortunate, especially with the schedule we’ve played,” Martin said. “We came out of Boston College and Penn State with only one major injury. One backup linebacker had an ACL injury, but other than that we came out of that pretty good. A lot of that is credit to our training staff.”

After Terry left the game with a shoulder injury, Flowers stepped in. The 220-pound, power running back entered the game in the third quarter and helped the Flashes finish the Cardinals off with 80 yards on 16 carries.

Flowers said he’s always ready to step onto the field, and he has to continue to play well to get more playing time.

“I always want to be prepared for when my number gets called,” Flowers said. “Every time I went out and prepared as if I got the call. It’s unfortunate that Speedy went down and (sophomore running back Dri Archer) had a freakish fumble, and my number was called. Like I said, you just have to take advantage because you never know when your opportunity is going to pass up.”

Saturday’s game will present matchup problems for Kent State on both sides of the ball. The Owls’ offensive and defensive lines have an average weight of 300 pounds.

Temple has the best pass defense in the conference and rank fifth against the run.

On offense, the Owls’ offensive line will look to help the sophomore running backs stretch the Flashes’ defense. Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown have combined for 1,385 yards in nine games.

Junior cornerback Josh Pleasant, who aided Kent State with two interceptions last week, said the team is ready for the challenge of playing the top team in the conference and the players’ morals reflect it.

“You can just feel — not the pressure — but the atmosphere just coming together around the team,” Pleasant said. “Everyone is excited for what’s going to happen, and everybody wants to make big plays and everybody wants to do something that’s going to help this team win. Being able to play against Temple for such a huge game is big for Kent period.”

Tomorrow’s weather forecast will play to Kent State’s disadvantage. The Flashes are looking to use home field advantage with a large crowd on hand, but temperatures in the mid-30s and morning snow showers are expected, making a fan presence less likely.

Flowers said the team needs the crowd behind them, but Kent State will play no matter how many people are sitting in the bleachers of Dix Stadium.

“We’re going to play whether the crowd is there or not,” Flowers said. “We would love the crowd to be there, and I really hope that they will be because that feels like a lot of support. When it’s third down and the defense is out there and the crowd gets really loud, it’s hard for opponents to call a good play or something like that. Quarterbacks get nervous. Whether the crowd is there or not, we’re going to come to play.”

You can contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].