Senior leaders, other Flashes vow to improve

Thomas Gallick

KSU football searching for first win of 2008

Coming off of a bad loss at Iowa State and desperately needing to defend Dix Stadium against Delaware State, Kent State’s football players find themselves in a precarious position going into week three of the season.

Even though the Flashes (0-2, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) beat the Hornets 38-7 last season, Kent State football coach Doug Martin said his team should not be overconfident going into the game.

“(Delaware State is) going to play well and they’re well coached,” Martin said. “If we play like we did last week, they will beat us.”

After the Flashes lost to the Cyclones last week, Martin said the blame should be put on the players, who fumbled the ball four times and gave up two blocked punts. Martin said tomorrow’s home opener takes on greater importance because of the way the team played last week.

“We’re on a huge losing streak right here and, our players have got to change it,” Martin said. “This game is all on the players.”

Senior linebacker Derek Burrell said he looks at Martin’s challenge to the players going into the Delaware State game as a positive.

“I look at it as a good thing actually because we need to take ownership as a team,” Burrell said. “Coaches can’t play. Players play. I feel like, as players, we do need to step it up.”

Senior defensive back Rico Murray agreed with Burrell and said the players need to accept more responsibility.

“More individual players (need) to step up and accept the role of being leaders,” Murray said. “We can’t always rely on the coaches to be there. Sometimes coaches can’t bail us out of certain situations.”

The Flashes will be looking to rebound and prove their commitment against the Hornets, a team that won every regular season game except for the Kent State game last season.

“We’re the game that’s circled because last year they only lost one game and it was to us,” Burrell said. “Of course they’re going to come back this year and try to get that win. We’ve got to be prepared and ready for anything.”

Murray said the team needs to be especially prepared for Delaware State’s junior quarterback Vashon Winton, last week’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the week. Winton led the Hornets to a MEAC championship last year with five rushing and 12 passing touchdowns.

Martin said Winton, a mobile quarterback he compares to senior quarterback Julian Edelman, is a serious threat.

“Offensively, they’re similar to us in terms of a spread mentality,” Martin said. “The quarterback is very athletic (and) runs well.”

After the Iowa State game, Martin singled out Edelman as a player who needed to cut down on his turnovers after fumbling twice against the Cyclones. Martin said Edelman, who went 10-of-22 passing with three touchdowns last game, would be the starter against Delaware State.

Martin said Edelman, along with Murray, stepped up and told the team to take responsibility for the team’s performance in Ames.

Last season, Edelman threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns against an overmatched Delaware State squad. Senior wide receiver Shawn Bayes caught a touchdown pass and returned a 95-yard kickoff for a touchdown in the game.

Burrell said last year’s success against the Hornets does not mean Kent State can afford to overlook them this year.

“They’ve got athletes, so it’s not like they’re slouches or anything like that,” Burrell said. “They’ve got skill players.”

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].