The Kent State football team’s offense finally found some traction last weekend against Akron.
Behind solid play by sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith, the offense constructed touchdown-scoring drives of 90 and 63 yards without turning the ball over once in the 28-17 win.
The Flashes hope to build off that performance tomorrow on the road against Toledo (3-3, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) in their first trip to the Glass Bowl since 1999.
“It gave us a lot of confidence as an offense,” said Keith, who passed for 186 yards and a touchdown. “Now we know that we can do it game in and game out. We can’t focus too much on that next week, we still have to play aggressive. It is a good accomplishment for the offense to expand on.”
The game against Akron was the first time in 13 games that Kent State didn’t make a turnover. This season, turnovers have haunted the Flashes, especially in the passing game. Keith had tossed eight interceptions before last week.
“Keith managed the game really well,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “All I talked to him about was not turning the football over. He only had one throw the whole day that was even close to being questionable.”
Part of the offensive improvement can be attributed to Martin slimming down the playbook.
“We really simplified things for a couple of areas,” he said. “(We’re) trying to make things easier for our players and just tried to cut down on the mental mistakes and hope that we put ourselves in a position to protect the football.”
While the passing game took a step in the right direction against Akron, the Flashes’ ground attack spun its wheels. Running backs junior Jacquise “Speedy” Terry and sophomore Dri Archer ran for a combined 63 yards against an Akron team allowing 4.6 yards per an attempt.
“We’re not getting the productivity out of the running back position that we should be getting,” Martin said. “We’ve got some holes and some things that are there, and we’re not making people miss, we’re not making extra yards. If we block it good enough to gain four, that’s what we’re getting right now.”
The Flashes will go up against a Rocket defense fresh off a 57-14 loss to No. 4 Boise State. But while Toledo’s defense is ranked in the bottom half of the MAC, its numbers are skewed by a 41-2 drubbing by Arizona and the loss to the Broncos.
In the Rockets’ four other games this season, they’ve allowed just over 19 points a game.
On the other side of the ball, the Rockets are led by sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin. However, after a helmet-to-helmet collision during the Boise State game left Dantin with a mild concussion and sprained neck, freshman Terrance Owens could receive the start against Kent State.
Owens came in after Dantin’s injury and led the Rockets on an 11-play, 71-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Boise State.
Because of the playmakers on Toledo’s offense, Martin said the Flashes will be under the gun to score this weekend.
“We’ve got to go create some opportunities for ourselves this week,” Martin said. “We’ve got to score some points. To ask our defense to go up there and shut Toledo out, that’s a monumental task. For us to win a low-scoring game is not in our favor.”
Contact Josh Johnston at [email protected]