5 factors heading into Saturday’s game against Miami

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Graduate linebacker Matt Bahr leads the team’s pregame huddle before Kent State’s game at Ohio University on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019

Kent State will matchup with Miami on Saturday. The RedHawks are 2-1 and are currently tied with Kent State for second in the MAC East.

1. Kent State needs to establish the run early against a solid Miami passing defense.

Miami’s passing defense ranks third in the MAC, allowing 211.6 passing yards per game. They also have six interceptions, with two being returned for touchdowns. 

A large part of that plan will likely be senior running backs Will Matthews and Jo-El Shaw. True freshman Joachim Bangda (hamstring) and sophomore Xavier Williams (ankle) are both still week-to-week.

“If Joachim’s available we’ll use him this week,” Lewis said. “Same thing with Xavier. He dressed and warmed up at Ohio, but as much as he wanted to play, he wasn’t himself (physically). When we get them all back, we’ll have a nice collection of backs that we can utilize.”

The Flashes will rely heavily on whoever is available at running back.

2. Dustin Crum will need to continue to take shots, while also taking care of the football.

Kent State’s offense relies heavily on the run and screen passes, but Crum took more shots down the field at Ohio. He was the first Kent State quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in a game since Josh Cribbs in 2004.

“(Crum) does a really good job overcoming some bad coaching (referring to himself),” Lewis said. “He’s doing a great job taking strides in that regard. We try and keep it as simple for him as possible. I feel like I say this every single week, but it’s just a byproduct of his process, where he has a routine that he follows every single week so that he knows his opponent. He knows the plan so very rarely do you see him get caught or get surprised or make a bad decision and the result of that is the production.”

3. Senior receiver Mike Carrigan and sophomore Isaiah McKoy will need to have productive days.

Both Carrigan and McKoy had drops against Ohio that would have likely resulted in touchdowns. 

Lewis’ response to the drops was simple.

“Pick your head up you’re our dude,” Lewis told them. “We’re coming right back to you. You’ve made that play numerous times. Clear it, and let’s move forward. Those guys are dynamic playmakers for us.”

McKoy and Carrigan have a combined 629 yards and seven touchdowns on 52 catches.

4. Offensive balance will be the difference.

The Flashes are 1-2 in games when they throw for over 200 yards.

However, they are 3-1 when they throw for 100 yards or more and rush for 100 yards or more.

Lewis stresses the importance of balance every time he talks about the offense.

“The balance and unselfishness of our offensive skill players (has been big),” Lewis said. “At this time last week, we were talking about the great job that Mike Carrigan and others were doing blocking. Last week, Ohio had to commit to the run because of what we had put on tape against “The School Down the Road” (Akron), and now we’re talking about how we were able to throw for 35 times. Everything balances itself out.”

5. Crum will need to scramble for some yards in order to keep the defense off balance.

Crum’s team-high 77 rush attempts is of no concern to Lewis.

“He does a good job taking care of himself,” Lewis said. “There was a scramble on third down where he came up a little bit short which led us into a fourth and short situation that we were able to go for and ultimately convert that led to a touchdown. He lowered his shoulder on that one but a lot of the other ones he’s doing a great job diving for daylight, getting down so they look a lot nastier than they are.”

Crum’s rushing attempts kept the Bobcats defense off balance. He finished with a career-high 96 yards on 16 attempts. 

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Dix Stadium.

Contact Ian Kreider at [email protected]