Flashes open season looking to build momentum

Nick Walton

When Kent State takes the field tonight against Coastal Carolina, the team will begin its season at Dix Stadium for the first time since 2006.

The Flashes will try to carry the momentum and intensity of summer camp into their opening game.

“Last year in practice we would have ‘shells’ (shorts and shoulder pads) and you could see that the pace from full pads to ‘shells’ went down in practice,” junior safety Brian Lainhart said. “This year we have ‘shells’ and it’s like we’re having a full scrimmage in full pads on a Saturday.”

After summer training, senior running back Eugene Jarvis said the team is eager to start the season.

The Game: Kent State vs. Coastal Carolina

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Dix Stadium

Radio: WNIR (100.1 FM), Blacksquirrelradio.com

Live blog: KentNewsNet.com

“Our summer conditioning went well,” Jarvis said. “You can tell it paid off. We don’t have a lot of people banged up this camp. We’re all enthusiastic and just ready to get out there.”

Jarvis, who enters the season 721 yards away from Kent State’s all-time rushing record, is coming off of an ankle injury and will return punts along with his normal running back duties.

For the first time in three years, the player handing the ball to Jarvis on opening day will not be Julian Edelman, as quarterback Giorgio Morgan starts for the first time since 2007. With Morgan’s passing ability, the Flashes hope they will have a more-balanced offense.

Want to cheer on the Flashes tonight?

Here’s what you need:

• Transportation: PARTA offers free shuttles from the student center to Dix Stadium. Shuttles will start two hours before kick-off and continue until after the game ends.

• Tickets: Students receive free tickets to all home Kent State sporting events. Just show your FlashCard at the student ticket gate at the front of Dix Stadium.

• Seating: The student seating section is on the east side of the stadium, directly across the field from the main entrance. It’s gold and loud. You can’t miss it.

• Food: Bring cash for the vendors. Your meal plan is no good at the stadium.

One of the biggest adjustments for the offensive line will be playing with a more traditional drop-back quarterback instead of a scrambler like Edelman. Martin said the coaches showed the team’s linemen film of Edelman bailing them out with his running ability, but they will not have the same advantage with Morgan.

“We wanted to make an impression on them that this is on them to take care of (Morgan),” Martin said. “He needs to be able to stand back there and get the ball thrown. We don’t need him scrambling around as much as what we had before.”

Martin said Morgan has helped the Flashes’ wide receivers improve because of his accuracy and timing with receivers. Martin stressed the play of the receivers will be important to the team’s success.

“However good our wide receivers are, that’s how many games we’re going to win this year,” Martin said. “I said that last year and we won four (games) so that tells you how they played last year.”

Even though Coastal Carolina is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, Jarvis said the Flashes are not taking the Chanticleers lightly.

“They have a winning tradition (and) last season was one of the few seasons they didn’t finish how they expected,” Jarvis said. “They’re a fast, physical football team on film, and I’m pretty sure they’re looking at this game as their Super Bowl to try to come in and make a statement the first game. We have to come in and be ready to play.”

Martin complimented Coastal Carolina’s team speed and their ability to stretch the field in the passing game.

“It is a spread offense so . they’re going to make you spread out and play,” Martin said. “At some point in here we got to lock up and play man-to-man coverage on people which we haven’t done in the past.”

Defensively, Martin said the Flashes will have to stick to an attacking game plan but still play man coverage.

On defense, Coastal Carolina plays multiple defenses to disguise blitzes. Martin said the offensive line and Morgan have to be sharp to execute properly.

“I kind of like the way it’s worked out because it’s made us work at a much faster pace on offense during camp,” Martin said. “Normally you don’t see that much pressure in the first game, but we’ll definitely see it (tonight).”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].