Experience doesn’t make Machen a given at QB

Deanna Stevens

Credit: Jason Hall

Quarterback Michael Machen is currently in a fight for his job.

The would-be returning starter has to prove himself worthy of the position again. He and his competition, sophomore Julian Edelman, are waiting for the final decision.

Martin said he is giving a slight edge to Machen but has yet to announce a definite starter for Thursday’s game against Minnesota.

“I want to win right now,” Martin said. “Whoever is the best one is going to play.”

• Style: The 6-foot-6 junior has a style reminiscent of Tom Brady.

His height gives him the advantage of looking over defenses, but he’s never proven to have much of a running game.

“Michael is more of a drop-back passer, he makes plays with his arm,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “He’s not quite as mobile (as Edelman), but I think he can be more mobile than he was last year. He should’ve run more. But he’s more of a thinking quarterback.”

• Strengths: His ability to throw the ball is undeniable.

He threw more than 2,000 yards last year, making him only the fourth Kent State quarterback to do so. As the starter last season, Machen’s experience with the offense could be important, especially early in the season.

“When it comes to knowing defenses and knowing mechanics, and knowing where to go with the ball, I’ve never felt more comfortable than I do right now,” Machen said.

One of Machen’s biggest strengths is his confidence in his abilities.

“I’m confident that I can get the job done. And I think my team is very confident in me also, which helps out a lot,” he said. “A lot of positive things happened during this camp. This is the best I’ve ever played as a quarterback, ever, the last three weeks. And if that makes me the starter, then good. If it doesn’t, then there’s really nothing else I can do.”

Martin agrees with Machen’s opinions about his game.

“Michael Machen is playing the best football he’s played since he’s been here,” Martin said.

• Weaknesses: Along with those 2,000 yards came 18 interceptions – over half of the team’s 31 turnovers last season.

The amount of turnovers caused questions about his decision-making skills. While the questions may be warranted, the circumstances of last year have to come into account as well. With the lack of a running game last season, it was a lot easier for the defenses to anticipate the pass.

Also, as such a big quarterback Machen’s mobility is limited. He rushed for negative 42 yards last season. How well the offensive line rebounds from last season’s injuries, along with the caliber of the defenses he faces, will affect his running game for better or worse.

• Improvements: While Machen may not be doing the running, the addition of a rushing game will improve his abilities as a quarterback.

“Having a running game, itself, is going to make me a better quarterback,” Machen said. “It’s going to allow my receivers to get open and allow me the time to throw the ball.”

Becoming more comfortable with the team and the offense are also improvements the quarterback has made during the off-season.

• Thoughts on Edelman: “Julian brings something else to the table that I don’t, and that’s running the ball,” Machen said.

The sophomore transfer from the College of San Mateo ran for more than 1,000 yards, almost twice the amount the Flashes totaled in 2005, and had 31 touchdowns.

“But we are just two different style quarterbacks,” Machen said. “And its coach’s decision, in certain times of the game what kind of quarterback he’s going to want to use.”

Contact assistant sports reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].