Martin gets the system he wants

Joshua Hudson

Most coaches wouldn’t think of changing an offense that averaged 30.5 points per game, the second-highest in school history.

But most coaches aren’t like Doug Martin.

Martin, who is entering his second season at the helm of the Flashes, finally has the offensive system he is more comfortable with.

“This type of offense is what I am used to, but it is going to be a change for people to see,” he said. “I think people will enjoy our style of play as we get better and better.”

But why did he decide to change an offense that scored 182 points in its final four games?

The answer is simple for Martin: different personnel.

With the loss of Cribbs, who led the team with 893 rushing yards as a quarterback, leading receiver Darrell Dowery Jr. and starting running back David Alston, things had to change for the Flashes.

“Josh (Cribbs) was the best running back we had on the team last year and he carried the ball most of the time,” he said. “Now the running backs will pick up that slack and our quarterbacks are more of a drop-back passer. We are probably better in the passing game than we have been in the past couple of years.”

This year’s offense will rely on the arm of sophomore quarterback Michael Machen. The transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan., was named the starter of the team during spring practice.

Machen, a finance major, said he doesn’t mind taking over for Cribbs, and he actually is looking forward to replacing one of the best quarterbacks in school history.

“He put a lot of pressure on the position, but not necessarily on me,” he said. “Obviously he did extremely well and I hope to do as good as he did. My goal is to improve every game and get better.”

Martin said because of Machen’s maturity level, learning a new offensive system came easy. Machen, in fact, will be learning his fourth new system.

He went to the University of Alabama after high school and spent time under three different coaches.

He also spent some time with the Atlanta Braves organization before returning to football at Coffeyville Community College.

Machen said the time he spent away from the game has seemed to help him out on the football field.

“Playing baseball helped me deal with success and failure, which is something that everyone has to deal with,” he said.

Machen’s job should be made easier by the talent he has around him. But Martin is quick to point out the team is very young and inexperienced.

That’s especially evident in the backfield where redshirt freshman Tony Smith, making a change from wide receiver to running back, will get his first start against Michigan State.

Most freshmen might be nervous getting their first start on the road against a Big Ten team, but not Smith.

“I am excited because I got a lot of family coming up to watch,” he said. “I don’t care where I play as long as I get out on the field.”

Martin said the receiving corps might be the most talented group he’s ever had and added it could be the deepest unit on the team.

Najah Pruden, Derrick Bush, Cameron Bobb, Marcus Hill and Brian Bell all started games last year and will provide valuable experience.

Four freshman may see playing time at the receiver position against Michigan State. Martin said the speed they bring is too hard to pass up.

“If I was starting four freshman in the first game I would be a little worried,” he said. “But hopefully they can get playing time early and can continue to get better as the year goes on.”

Martin said the only way the Flashes will get better at this point is to play somebody, which will happen at noon tomorrow at Michigan State.

Contact football reporter Joshua Hudson at [email protected].