Flashes running game prepares for test

Lance Lysowski

The Nittany Lions currently have eight linebackers playing in the National Football League — all of which were coached by the head coach of 44 years. But Penn State’s 17-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher ended last week against Alabama when sophomore Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson carried the ball 22 times for 144 yards.

Kent State will shoot for the success Alabama had against Penn State’s run defense last weekend, but the Flashes will have to do so without senior running back Eugene Jarvis tomorrow in Happy Valley. Jarvis missed last week’s game at Boston College with a groin injury and will not return until Oct. 2 at Miami.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said the Flashes have to be able to run the ball against the Nittany Lions for the team to see any success on offense.

“We have to do a great job of being balanced,” Martin said. “We can’t have any tendencies of being run/pass. We just have to present some new problems for them that maybe they haven’t seen the first two games. We’re going to be outmanned in this game, we understand that, but we feel that we are capable of winning this game. If we play appropriately, and Penn State doesn’t play their best game, anything can happen.”

The Kent State running game has struggled so far, rushing for only 141 yards in two games. Junior running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry leads the team with 64 yards but is only averaging 1.8 yards per carry.

With Jarvis injured, senior running back Andre Flowers will step in as the complement to Terry and sophomore running back Dri Archer. Flowers has seen time in spot duty behind Jarvis throughout his career, rushing for 804 yards and three touchdowns.

Paterno’s defense returns zero starters at linebacker, but the turnover has not been so evident. Senior Chris Colasanti leads the team with 20 tackles, while senior Bani Gbadyu and sophomore Michael Mauti have combined for 23 tackles.

Paterno said his linebackers’ inability to tackle last weekend allowed the Crimson Tide to run the ball effectively.

“Well, I didn’t think we played very well Saturday,” Paterno said. “It made the linebackers look bad. We haven’t really been an aggressive enough defensive football team. What we have to do now is make up our minds, have a good week of practice and see if we can handle somebody who is a lot more talented than people realize in Kent State.”

While the Flashes only ran for four yards last week at Boston College, Terry said the offensive line created holes to run through, but he did not do a good job finding them.

“We just have to read the defense correctly and run physical,” Terry said. “Hopefully, the (offensive lineman) will get on their blocks and push the linebackers up field so we just have to make one cut and get up field. We can’t be dancing around.”

The Flashes are 0-20 all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 and will look to reverse that trend when they kick off against the No. 22 Nittany Lions at noon. Penn State will look to extend their non-conference home winning streak to 21 games, which began in 2003 when they last played the Flashes.

“We still have to be mentally tough going in there and still execute the game plan with all the noise,” Terry said. “It’s going to be a fun experience, but at the same time, we’re still going on a business trip to get the job done.”

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].