Here’s the catch…

Thomas Gallick

Kent State’s wide receivers need to hold on or sit out

The Kent State football team has played three games, and only one wide-out has more than five catches, leading coach Doug Martin to wonder if the rotation of receivers going into each game needs to be changed.

“When you play a team of equal talent in our conference, (dropping passes) is going to cost us the game,” Martin said. “We’ve got to find the guys that are going to catch the ball. Right now, we’re probably playing to many (receivers).”

Martin said the receivers need to get better for the team to be successful after the 24-3 win over Delaware State.

“Right now we still drop too many balls,” Martin said. “I don’t even count, but I bet we had at least five or six that were dropped (against Delaware State) that you’ve got to make those plays.”

He said the coaching staff will need to pick three or four receivers to consistently play for the rest of the season.

Senior wide receiver Shawn Bayes leads the receivers in almost every statistical category including touchdowns (one), yards (154) and receptions (nine). Junior running back Eugene Jarvis has the second most receiving yards on the team at 104, while the closest receiver, sophomore Leneric Muldrow, has only 57 yards.

Bayes said the unit certainly has the talent to be effective this year but needs to cut down on the drops and other mistakes during games.

“We are a strong position, although, when it comes to game time some of (the receivers) break down mentally by just dropping a couple of passes,” Bayes said. “Our receivers are strong – we just need to see it in games.”

Martin said he hoped to have the rotation of wide receivers down to five or six players by the Louisiana-Lafayette game Saturday. He said he was particularly happy with the way Bayes and freshman wide receiver Chris Gilbert have been playing, even though Gilbert is still looking for his first college football reception.

“Chris Gilbert is doing some really good things for us,” Martin said. “He almost made a great catch (against Delaware State). We’ve got to get him in more and get him that first catch (to) get him over the hump.”

Junior wide receiver Phil Garner sits in second among receivers in receptions with four. Martin said he thought Garner played well in the first two games, but has room for improvement after dropping two passes against Delaware State.

Sophomore running back Andre Flowers also has four receptions tying Garner for third place, while Jarvis sits alone in second place with seven. Martin said he might even move freshman running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry to wide receiver because of his excellent hands.

More Notes:

Big Challenge for Flashes: The fourth leading rusher in Kent State history, junior running back Eugene Jarvis, suffered a mild ankle sprain against Delaware State. As of yesterday, Jarvis was still listed on the Kent State travel roster and is expected to see action. If Jarvis, who has rushed for 2,674 yards in his career, is unable to play, it would prevent fans from seeing a rare match-up between two of the nation’s top-10 active leading rushers. Louisiana-Lafayette senior running back Tyrell Fenroy has 3,347 career rushing yards and is second behind Boise State senior Ian Johnson among active players.

Which Cajun will show up? The Ragin’ Cajuns have allowed 71 points in two games, but 51 came against Southern Mississippi of Conference USA. After taking a bye in week two, the Cajuns held 2007 Big Ten runner-up Illinois to just 20 points and 147 yards passing last weekend. The Cajuns, who own the 117th ranked rushing defense, have allowed 621 rushing yards, including 427 yards against Southern Mississippi. However, Louisiana-Lafayette nearly upset Illinois, losing 20-17, despite allowing 194 yards rushing.

In the unfamiliar swamp: Saturday’s Louisiana trip marks the first time in 33 years the Flashes have played in the state and the first meeting between the two schools. Kent State defeated Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) 31-29 in 1975. The state will be an unfamiliar place to the Flashes, considering there are no players on the roster that hail from Louisiana.

The Golden Ragin’ Cajuns? Kent State and Louisiana-Lafayette share many similarities. Both starting senior quarterbacks are considered running threats (ULL’s Michael Desormeaux was his team’s leading rusher with 1,141 yards, while Julian Edelman finished as Kent State’s second leading rusher in 2007 with 455). Both teams had disappointing 2007 seasons (both went 3-9) after a somewhat successful 2006 (both went 6-6). To top it off, both teams have not made a bowl game since the 1970s. ULL lost to Tennessee State 26-25 in the Grantland Rice bowl in 1970, which was then a Division II game. The Flashes lost to Tampa 21-18 in the 1972 Tangerine Bowl, which is now the Capital One Bowl.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].