Football pushes, shoves and improves

Deanna Stevens

Freshman defensive back Dan Hartman runs downfield during an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday. Coach Doug Martin said the team has “accomplished everything we set out to do” during the spring workouts. SAM TWAREK | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

The Kent State football team’s second scrimmage of the offseason combined an outstanding defensive effort, a steadily improving offensive line and the best kicking of the spring.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said Saturday’s “crisp” scrimmage at Dix Stadium proved the Flashes are right where they should be while nearing the end of the spring practice season.

“I was really thrilled with the overall scrimmage,” Martin said. “I thought the kids played very fast. I thought there was a lot of enthusiasm on both sides.

“What I wanted to see was improvement from the first scrimmage in terms of less penalties, no fumbles, less assignment errors, and I saw all of that.”

Defensively, the Flashes improved on their efforts of controlling the offense, especially when protecting the end zone.

“The defense has not scrimmaged well in the red zone, and today they came up with some turnovers and got some stops in the red zone, so that was a plus,” Martin said.

Kent State converted three straight interceptions during the red-zone drill.

But junior linebacker Jameson Konz said the defense has to thank its offensive counterparts.

“The only reason that we’re doing what we’re doing is because they’re pushing us to be better,” Konz said. “I think both sides of the ball are going to be solid. As long as they keep pushing us, we’ll keep pushing them.”

The Flashes held the offense to three touchdowns and came up with four sacks, one of which came from Konz.

While the offense pushes the defense to get better, the Flashes defense has no problem pushing back. And the offensive line is starting to benefit from the tough love.

“They were much better today,” Martin said about the offensive line. “Particularly the first group. There were very few missed assignments, and they handled the pressure really well.”

Even though they started off with two consecutive three-down performances, the offensive line improved as the scrimmage wore on, and the line even opened up enough room for sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis to make some plays.

Jarvis ran for 74 yards on 14 carries, including his game-high 19-yard rush, which was followed by a 1-yard touchdown run.

Last season, Jarvis led the Flashes with 798 yards rushing on 185 attempts. He said the experiences from his freshman season have made him more self-assured.

“I’m a lot more confident,” Jarvis said. “I know where to line up, I know my keys, where the ball should go, and things like that.”

But the kicking game is one aspect that all the Flashes have confidence in.

“Outstanding,” Martin said about the kickers. “That is the reason the sun’s shining today.”

Sophomore kicker Nate Reed went a 3-3 on field goal attempts and 2-2 on extra points, and Martin was also pleased with punter Jake Kilroy.

“When he hits a high spiral, it flips the field position on people,” Martin said.

With only a week left of spring practice, Martin said there were just a few finishing touches the Flashes need.

“We’ve really accomplished everything we set out to do,” Martin said. “Now it’s just polishing things up, repetition and getting out of this healthy. Right now we are very, very healthy.”

Contact sports reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].