Martin still sticking with Keith at quarterback

Lance Lysowski

Despite a poor second half against Toledo, Coach Martin believes in his starting quarterback.

Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith sat in the locker room with tears rolling down his face following Kent State’s 34-21 loss to Toledo on Saturday.

Keith apologized to teammates after completing 16-of-28 passes for 145 yards and an interception.

But the Flashes did not want Keith taking blame for the second-half collapse that dropped Kent State to fifth place in the Mid-American Conference East Division.

Senior wide receiver Leneric Muldrow said Kent State is behind their starting quarterback regardless of the loss or the interception late in the fourth quarter.

“We’re all behind Spencer, and we all think he can get it done,” Muldrow said. “The guy had a tremendous game last week. It’s just one bad mistake at the end of the game, and everyone makes mistakes. We’re not going to hang that on that guy. That guy can play football. That’s our quarterback, and we support everything he does.”

The sophomore signal caller ranks tenth in the conference in passing efficiency and has thrown eight interceptions against five touchdown passes.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said Keith’s issue is inconsistency, and that the young quarterback pushes too hard to make big plays.

“In the first half, he looked as good as anybody in the conference,” Martin said. “The second half, early on, he did not stay in the offense the same way. He was trying to make big throws when all he had to do was throw it where he did in the first half. It’s not major busts; it’s just not staying in the offense and trying to do too much.”

Junior quarterback Giorgio Morgan, who was the team’s starting quarterback entering last season, has the experience to step in for Keith, but Martin said the junior has not “closed the gap yet.”

In Morgan’s freshman season in 2007, he made his first career start against Central Michigan after multiple injuries to Kent State’s quarterbacks. Morgan completed 18-of-28 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

While the idea of playing Morgan came across Martin, he is afraid the move will have a negative effect on Keith.

“The danger in that is once you do it, you may lose him,” Martin said. “Last year when that happened to Giorgio, Giorgio didn’t come back the same player. At the same time, you’ve got to do what’s best for your football team, too. Right now, we just think that this is what’s right for our football team.”

Although Martin is hesitant to make the move if he feels it is necessary, he said if the time comes to play Morgan, he will make the call.

“There could come a time in this game coming up that if we feel like we have to do that, and we think that’s what is best for this team, we’ll pull the trigger and do it,” Martin said. “Spencer has proven that he can make plays.”

With the Flashes two games out of first place and five conference games left to play, Muldrow and the 16 other seniors on the team are looking to turn around their final season in a Kent State uniform. The senior wide receiver said Kent State has to figure out why the team has not scored an offensive touchdown in the second half of a game since their week two matchup against Boston College.

“I’m not sure what is happening or what’s going on,” Muldrow said. “That’s what we need to figure out. As a senior, that’s what I need to figure out because I’m not going to let this year be the 51st year. I’m going to make this year be that first year.”

Anthony Bowman out for the season

Senior wide receiver and kick returner Anthony Bowman will miss the rest of the season after breaking his fibula on a return in the third quarter against Toledo on Saturday.

Earlier this season, Bowman returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Murray State. Starting at split end, he has recorded four receptions for 29 yards this season.

Senior wide receiver Leneric Muldrow will start in place of Bowman on offense, while junior wide receiver Sam Kirkland will take over Bowman’s kick return duties.

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].