Martin’s approach is uncharacteristic, but it may turn Flashes’ season around

Douglas Gulasy

Doug Martin has the right idea.

The normally mild-mannered Kent State football coach had strong words for his football team after the Flashes lost 48-28 Saturday at Iowa State.

“I’m probably an ardent defender of the players most of the time, but tonight’s over the top,” Martin said after the game. “They’ve got to take some ownership in this deal.”

Martin didn’t back off those words at a press conference Monday.

“This one right here at Iowa State is on the players,” he said. “I’ve never said that before around here, and I don’t like saying it – I’m usually a very strong advocate in protecting those guys. But I’m telling you, that Iowa State deal’s on them.”

Three cheers for Martin. It’s great to see a coach who knows and isn’t afraid to talk about it publicly when his team isn’t performing up to par. While the Flashes’ 0-2 start isn’t the end of the world, more troubling than their losses is the fact they had chances to beat Iowa State and just couldn’t do it.

Yes, Martin’s words are harsh, but they’re needed. For two seasons now, the Flashes have killed their chances to win by making mistakes. They’ve committed penalties, turned the ball over at the absolute worst moments they could have and made other mental errors that cost them games.

That’s what happened Saturday. With a 7-0 lead, the Flashes got a punt blocked that was recovered by Iowa State at the Flashes’ 1-yard line. One play later and the score was tied.

Later, wide receiver Leneric Muldrow fumbled at the Flashes’ 20. This time it took the Cyclones’ two plays to score and take a 21-7 lead.

The Flashes fought to get back in the game, but freshman Josh Pleasant fumbled a punt return at his own 5-yard line in the third quarter. Once again, it took the Cyclones just one play to score another easy touchdown to make the score 38-21.

Late in the game, the Flashes were down 13 but were driving deep in Iowa State territory when quarterback Julian Edelman – guess what? – lost a fumble at the Cyclones’ four yard line. That made for his second lost fumble of the game, both were in Iowa State territory.

If you’ve lost count, that’s four lost fumbles and a blocked punt that resulted in three touchdowns for Iowa State and two possible lost scores for the Flashes.

“I understand people are going to fumble from time to time – I understand that’s going to happen,” Martin said. ” … But it can’t be every game.”

Don’t believe Martin? Go back and read Joe Harrington (now known as Brock Harrington)’s football stories from last season on You’ll see that while the Flashes ended the season on a seven-game losing streak, they had a chance to win many of those games. But mistakes, mainly turnovers and penalties, cost them the games.

Many will and have pointed a finger at Martin for the losing. That’s understandable, as coaches often get that. But while I wasn’t at the game Saturday, I don’t think it was Martin who lost any of the fumbles or missed a blocking assignment in punt protection.

(And I’m not just defending Martin because we happen to share a first name, although I do feel a closeness to fellow “Dougs,” as I think the world Doug population is down to me, Martin and Doug Funnie.)

No, Martin didn’t lose the game. But the Flashes lost a game they very well could have won for a reason. Martin made it clear the players have to take blame for that and stop doing it.

And if they don’t? Well, Martin made that clear too.

“They better rebound this week or they won’t play the rest of the season,” he said.

Again – three cheers for Martin.

Contact assistant sports editor Douglas Gulasy at [email protected].