College Football Preview: The 2014 Kent State Golden Flashes
The Kent State Golden Flashes look to carry over last season's strong finish into 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
The 2014 Kent State Golden Flashes look for a return to the top of the MAC despite a roster with little star power.
Overview: Kent State won four games a season ago with an offense and defense that didn't exactly scare the daylights out of opponents although both improved towards the end of 2013. The offense was led by lightening in a bottle Dri Archer who was a threat to score everytime he touched the ball while Roosevelt Nix was a smallish defensive tackle that played in the opponent's backfield. Will HC Paul Haynes be able to improve in the win column without them?
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Offense: Colin Reardon completed less then 59% of his throws for 1,957 yards with 12 TD's and nine picks as a freshman. Not too shabby for a kid that was facing too many obvious passing downs as he was able to make plays with both his arms and legs which helped to keep opposing defenses at bay. The Golden Flashes liked to keep things on the ground but weren't great at it with Trayion Durham leading the team (182-766) with just over four yards per touch with Reardon adding 413 yards and Archer contributing 527 yards on only 68 carries. C Phil Huff and RG Pat McShane are gone and take a combined 52 starts with them but five players with starting experience are back. Top receiver Chris Humphrey (51-613) and #4 Casey Pierce are joined by a number of high recruits to give Reardon plenty of solid targets.
Defense: Even with Nix on the defensive line this group was too small overall and were overpowered in the running game. Decent at pressuring the quarterback but not big enough otherwise but this unit will be revamped with four of the top five contributors gone and whether that is a positive or negative remains to be seen. The opposite is true in the linebacking unit where the top three are back with a few redshirt freshman thrown in to the mix. Jordan Italiano leads an experienced secondary with a team high 59 tackles. This group has a lot of depth and on paper might be the most talented but we might never know if the guys up front don't contribute.
Special Teams: Anthony Melchiori was an outstanding punter with with a 44.5 yard average on 35 boots but he was only 9-15 on field goals. Ernest Calhoun will be the primary returner once again.
Outlook: The Golden Flashes certainly got better as the season ended and need to carry that over in to 2014. The schedule is an issue as it's front loaded so a good start isn't likely although once again a few wins could be found late in the year. I can see this team winning as many as five games but I think Kent State is still a year or two away from being a serious threat.