Win means more than just statistics

Deanna Stevens

No, ESPN BottomLine is not malfunctioning; the Kent State football team did indeed upset Miami, in Oxford no less.

The Flashes (1-2, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) are undefeated in the MAC after beating the RedHawks (0-3, 0-1 MAC) 16-14 on Saturday. Not to mention they got their first win at Yeager Stadium since 1988, against a team they have only beaten in 11 out of the 54 all-time meetings between the teams.

And the win means a lot more than just statistics.

Kent State coach Doug Martin has repeatedly commented on the fact that this team is much improved and more confident than ever.

However, confidence can only survive so long after being smothered by an 11-game losing streak.

The Flashes needed to break even further into the win column in order to prove to the NCAA, the MAC, this campus, and most importantly themselves, that the improvements haven’t been all talk.

For the first time this season, the Flashes’ production was cohesive offensively and defensively.

One play that stands out in particular is the fumble on a punt return. The Flashes’ defense recovered the ball after a collision forced Miami standout Ryne Robinson to mishandle it. Directly after retrieving the ball, sophomore quarterback Julian Edelman hit senior wide receiver Najah Pruden for a 16-yard touchdown pass.

Edelman also proved why he was such tough competition for the starting spot. His talent running the ball, avoiding defenders, and even passing has already been established. But his ability to learn is proving to be very impressive.

A blown snap, which ended up sailing above Edelman’s head, was eerily similar to one against Minnesota. However, instead of impetuously throwing the ball for a loss, he actually punted the ball into Miami territory to give the RedHawks possession at their own 20-yard line.

But, while the Flashes were able to earn the victory, it wasn’t all pretty.

Not to sound like a broken record, or beat a dead horse, even, but if the Flashes do not stop fumbling the ball in the red zone, they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot.

Hopefully, the Flashes will eventually get tired of seeing the ball go to the opposition when they are practically in the end zone.

But Kent State was not alone in its mistakes.

The RedHawks also sabotaged themselves, but they did it with penalties. They were flagged 10 times for 76 yards.

The Flashes still have plenty of problems to address, like the injury to star defensive-everything Daniel Muir at the end of the fourth quarter. Not to mention a sporadic kicking game, and not converting on possessions when they should be able to score.

But, Kent State has made accurate adjustments to the respective teams. The offensive line has done consistently well all season. Both the offensive and defensive units continue to show promise.

And a win, away from Dix Stadium, may just be the confidence-stabilizer they need to upset Bowling Green in another road game this weekend.

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].