KSU tries to avoid Homecoming hangover

Nick Walton

Game against EMU provides next test

After losing a game in which they surrendered 19 points in the final quarter, the Kent State football team’s focus is on finishing games.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said, the Flashes (2-4, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) have to play better in critical situations against Eastern Michigan this Saturday.

“For 56 minutes, we played really good defense, and we had the last four minutes that we didn’t,” Martin said. “When we get to Eastern Michigan, we got to finish the end of the game no matter what the situation is.”

Against a winless Eastern Michigan team, the Flashes will try to be emotionally ready to play. Martin said he wants the team to move past the loss to Bowling Green.

“We can’t carry that (loss) with us all week into the Eastern Michigan game to where we’re just going through the motions,” Martin said. “I’ve told my players that happens here, and this has got to be the group that stops that.”

Despite playing a winless team, Kent State isn’t overlooking Eastern Michigan. Sophomore running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry said the Eagles are a solid team despite their winless record.

“Their record doesn’t show it, but they’re a pretty good team,” Terry said. “We can’t take the game off, go in there thinking we automatically have a victory. We just have to go in there and prepare like we do every week and hopefully come out there with a victory.”

Terry rushed for 81 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns against Bowling Green.

Martin said the coaching staff wants to simplify the game plan to fix problems on defense. Against Bowling Green, the Flashes gave up 505 passing yards, including 197 in the fourth quarter.

“It’s real easy when you’re playing a passing team to come up with all sorts of grand schemes that are going to stop (a team),” Martin said. “Sometimes you can outsmart yourself. At times, you need to just be who you are and let players go play and don’t make them think too much.”

Falcons wide receiver Freddie Barnes accounted for 278 receiving yards on 22 receptions and three touchdowns against the Flashes. On a 45-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, Barnes broke multiple tackles on his way to the end zone.

Martin said that if the team is emotionally ready to play and does a better job of tackling, the defense will be successful against Eastern Michigan.

Offensively, Kent State completed 1-of-4 passes in the fourth quarter, preventing the Flashes from maintaining possession. Martin said freshman quarterback Spencer Keith’s improvement has warranted more aggressive play calling in the passing game.

“He has proven to me that, starting now, he’s had enough (experience) under his belt to where we really don’t need to consider him a freshman anymore,” Martin said. “We can go play, and I can make calls and be a little bit more aggressive in those type of situations.”

Keith completed 10-of-20 passes with one touchdown last Saturday.

Even with Keith’s improvement, Martin wants the team to remain balanced on offense. Kent State rushed for a total of 219 yards on 31 carries against Bowling Green.

“We can’t become a 66-pass team per game,” Martin said. “Whether we throw it for more yards than we run it for, that doesn’t matter to me. At some point in the game, you got to prove you can run the football.”

Martin said he is pleased with the progression of the offense after dealing with injuries.

“We’re making really good progress offensively if we keep it moving,” Martin said. “That’s why this week is so crucial for us offensively – we got to get better again this week.”

The Flashes’ offense will also have to deal with the various blitzes Eastern Michigan’s defense brings.

Along with trying to stop a two-game losing streak, Kent State will try to get its first road win this season.

“I have talked to (the players) about this being our first conference game on the road, and if you’re going to win a MAC East championship or any type of championship, you got to be able to go on the road and win,” Martin said. “I’m sure we’ll be in some hostile environments on the road, and that really helps you – that really motivates guys to go out and play.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].