Flashes bound for Texas

Nick Walton

Football tries to get first road victory in Waco

After taking a trip longer than 1,200 miles, Kent State will play one of its toughest opponents in recent memory.

The Flashes (2-2, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) will face Baylor at 7 p.m. tomorrow night at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, before resuming MAC play next weekend. Kent State coach Doug Martin said the Flashes will be out matched in many areas against Baylor.

“We got a tremendous challenge ahead of us this week,” Martin said. “This is probably the best (Bowl Championship Subdivision) team we’ve played in my time as a head coach as far as talent.”

Martin said players will share playing time to deal with Baylor’s size and strength.

“We need to play a lot of people because physically we’ll get worn down in this game if we don’t,” Martin said. “We’ve got two quarterbacks that can play. We’ve got several running backs that can get in there. We’ve got a lot of wide receivers, so a lot those guys will rotate in, try to keep us fresh and hopefully have a chance at the end of this game to win it.”

Sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan and freshman quarterback Spencer Keith split time against Miami last weekend completing 5-of-11 passes and throwing one touchdown. Martin said Morgan will be the starter but will continue to share time with Keith.

“It’s a real positive now because at points in the game if Giorgio is struggling or not seeing things well, you can put Spencer in and have total confidence he’s going to execute the offense,” Martin said.

Martin said he doesn’t feel rotating quarterbacks will have a negative effect on the team because of the confidence the team has in both players, and the competition will make both quarterbacks’ play sharp.

Last Saturday, with Dix Stadium in the middle of a downpour, the Flashes depended on the running game to move the ball against Miami. Sophomore running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry led the team with 110 rushing yards on 15 carries as Kent State rushed for 173 total rushing yards.

Freshman kicker Freddy Cortez’s 34-yard field goal with 1:19 put the game out of reach for Miami.

After missing his first extra point attempt, Cortez converted on three field goal attempts in the rain to be named MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week.

Senior defensive lineman Sam Frist said the improvement in special teams has helped the team’s confidence.

“Freddy has done a good job for us, and our specialist have done a tremendous job turning around our special teams,” Frist said. “The past four years I’ve been here it’s been a mess. One side (of special teams) would come out strong, and the other side won’t, and that’s what made us lopsided every year.”

The Flashes won’t have to deal with Baylor sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin after tearing his ACL Saturday in a 68-13 win over Northwestern State. Last season Griffin had a breakout season for the Bears with 28 rushing and passing touchdowns while throwing for 2,091 yards.

Martin said there won’t be a large drop-off from Griffin to senior quarterback Blake Szymanski. Szymanski has thrown for 3,619 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career.

The Flashes’ first trip ever to Texas will have an impact on the team beyond this weekend. After playing Baylor, the team will fly back and prepare for Bowling Green.

“This is going to be a tough trip,” Martin said. “It’s a night game, and we won’t get back until 3 or 4 in the morning, and then we got another huge conference game coming right after that. Getting healed up, acclimated, rested and prepared for Bowling Green is going to be big.”

Martin said the key to winning the game is carrying over the few penalties and turnovers from the Miami game.

“I don’t mind losing to a team that is better than us, and if Baylor is better, then I’ll tip my hat to them. But I don’t want to give them the game,” Martin said. “That’s what we can’t do because you can’t win the MAC conference championship doing that.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].