Sophomore quarterback Michael Machen passes to redshirt junior wide receiver Brian Bell on Sept. 17. The Flashes (1-4, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) have the weekend off before facing Navy on Oct. 15.
Credit: Beth Rankin
With the season half over, Kent State football is looking to solve the problems facing the team and try to produce a winning season.
“We’ve spent the last couple days as a staff really trying to identify the source of what’s holding our team back,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “I think we’ve kind of identified the problem, so now it’s finding the solution. The last two football games we’ve played against Ohio and (Eastern) Michigan, we have dominated the second half. We have absolutely not shown up for the first half of those football games.”
Martin couldn’t be any closer to the truth.
In the past two games, the Flashes (1-4, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) have come from behind in the second half to bring themselves to a place to win the game, but were far from even scoring in the first half.
Against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 1, the Flashes were unable to score a touchdown in the whole first half, falling behind to 14-0.
But a totally different team came out in the second half. The Flashes stopped the Eagles from scoring early in the third quarter and scored 20 points in the second half.
“There’s something there where our kids are not focused in the first half,” Martin said. “I challenged them that it is a self-induced choke. It’s something you have to get over. You can’t be afraid to play football games.”
Martin said he is trying to get the team to take its focus off the pressure and others’ expectations and begin to focus on winning so that the team can come out and dominate the whole game – not just one half.
To change the whole program this late in the season is hard. Martin said the team needs to focus on its attitude more than anything.
The coaching staff is looking for many ways to help change the team’s attitude. Martin said one of the things that will change is the team’s energy, especially in the locker room.
“In our locker room, it’s very quiet,” Martin said. “I’m going to just create some energy. I’m not going to sit there and just let it be what it’s been, which is morgue-like before the game.”
To Martin, changing the team’s attitude will also be hard because of the team’s history.
“The truth is this: Kent State does not have a winning tradition,” Martin said. “It just doesn’t. And these kids hear things, they read things in the media that they’re not good, they hear things from fans that they’re not good, students say that they’re not good. It becomes a barrier that you have to break. And at some point you just need to have a group of kids that are strong enough to believe in themselves.”
Contact assistant sports editor and football reporter Kali Price at [email protected]