Comparable quarterbacks fight to prove skills

Lance Lysowski

Kent State’s game at Miami on Saturday is a battle between two of the more touted quarterbacks in the conference.

The Flashes’ sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith is a traditional quarterback who relies on accuracy. The RedHawks’ sophomore quarterback Zac Dysert uses his legs to extend plays.

Both have been picked as the top quarterbacks heading into the season by several publications.

Both played extensively in their freshman seasons, and Kent State coach Doug Martin said that experience is showing on the field.

“They’re both really intelligent players; they’ve both got a good feel for the game,” he said. “I think they anticipate throws really well. He’s a lot like Spencer (because) you can see the confidence of having played last year as a freshman. He’s going to be a force in this conference for a long time.”

While both quarterbacks played as freshman, the results were much different.

Keith threw for 2,147 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Dysert, who played behind the worst offensive line in the conference, managed to throw for 2,611 yards, 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Miami (2-2) allowed a conference-high 58 sacks, which forced Dysert to extend offensive drives on the ground. He rushed for 587 yards and five touchdowns.

Keith has struggled this season with his accuracy, throwing four touchdowns — and five interceptions.

Martin said the key for his sophomore signal caller to rebound from his poor performances is to find the line between being too aggressive and too conservative.

“It’s really important for Spencer to play his game,” Martin said. “I don’t want him to get consumed with throwing an interception and then play cautious, and obviously I don’t want him to play reckless.

“He’s got a lot of snaps under his belt. He’s got a lot of experience, he’s very mature and he handles himself well,” he said.

The Flashes (1-2) will attempt to turn around a running game that is averaging just 66.3 yards per game. For the third week in a row, Kent State will do so without senior running back Eugene Jarvis.

“The biggest thing for us offensively is we’ve got to go down there and run the ball effectively to take the pressure off of (Keith),“ Martin said.

Jarvis will sit out with a groin injury, which gives freshman running back Rob Holloman a chance at playing time. Holloman has yet to make an appearance but is similar to Jarvis in stature and playing style.

The Philadelphia native stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 170 pounds. Like Jarvis, Holloman compensates for his lack of size with speed and quickness.

“We’ve had times where we’ve run the ball really well and then we’ll take negative yardage,” Martin said. “That’s what we’ve got to eliminate. Especially with Miami because that’s the nature of their defense, they try to put you in negative situations.

“They’re going to give up some yards, but they’re also counting on giving you the 8- to 10-yard loss. And that’s what you can’t do if you want to be effective against them.”

The Flashes open Mid-American Conference play at 1 p.m. Saturday. Kent State is looking for its second three-game winning streak in the all-time series with the RedHawks.

Senior safety Dan Hartman said although the Flashes have played three games, their season starts Saturday.

“It’s a big opportunity for us. It starts our season,” Hartman said. “We’re excited to go out there and play. It’s a pretty big deal. Personally every game’s a must-win game. We want to start our season off right and get a W.”

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].