2014 Kent St Preview: What You Need To Know
Kent State QB Colin Reardon
Kent State QB Colin Reardon
Posted Jul 10, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Kent State (Getty Images)

2014 Kent State Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Kent State Preview  
What You Need To Know About The Offense: The offense didn’t rock and roll two years ago when the team was on its way to a huge season, but it got handed several opportunities and it took advantage. Last year, the O didn’t get the same breaks, and generating points was like pulling teeth. There’s talent and experience returning with QB Colin Reardon growing more into the job and with bruising back Trayion Durham back to anchor the attack behind a decent line. Can there be more big plays for the passing game? The downfield air attack wasn’t there, averaging just 10.7 yards per catch, but WR Chris Humphrey and TE Casey Pierce are good veterans who can get open.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: The defense has to be more aggressive and more disruptive. After coming up with lots and lots of takeaways helped by pressure into the backfield, the pass rush wasn’t there last season and the overall production went down. It’s a quick defense with nice athleticism, helped by an active linebacking corps and with good defensive backs led by Malcolm Pannell and Jordan Italiano. Can the line start to camp out behind the line without Roosevelt Nix around anymore? Getting Richard Gray back on the end after missing all of last season will be a big help, but the line needs to generate production from all four spots.

Players You Need To Know
1. LB Matt Dellinger, Jr.
While he’s only 6-1 and 219 pounds, he’s a great hitter who gets in on everything, finishing second on the team with 77 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. While he can make the play in the open field, he’s better when he gets to pile in on stops, finishing with 12 against South Alabama and 11 in the opener against Liberty. He had the unenviable task of stepping in for Luke Batton, and he came through showing off nice quickness and great upside. If he can stay healthy, he’ll make at least 150 tackles over the next two years.

2. SS Jordan Italiano, Jr.
The secondary has a big hitter in the strong safety, who finished third on the team with 76 tackles with two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. A hybrid of safety and linebacker, even at his 5-10 and 201-pound size, he’s strong against the run and knows how to get around the field. The former quarterback quickly figured out what he was doing, but now he has to do far more against the pass after failing to come up with a pick and only breaking up one pass.

3. RB Trayion Durham, Sr.
At 6-0 and 248 pounds he has great size and bulk with the potential to be more of a workhorse. He ran 20 times or more three times, highlighted by a tough 26-carry, 154-yard, two score day against Western Michigan on his way to a team-leading 766 yards and six scores while catching 18 passes for 147 yards. A traditional back, he brings a ton of thump and is showing why he was one of the team’s top recruits over the last few years. Expect him to get more than 200 carries and be utilized even more to carry the offense.

4. WR Chris Humphrey, Sr.
An academic all-star, he turned into a steady receiver a few years ago spreading out 26 catches for 319 yards, but last year he started to show what he could really do with a team-leading 51 catches for 613 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 12 yards per catch. A good blocker, he does a good job using his 6-1, 194-pound frame on the inside, and now he has to be more dangerous with two of his three touchdowns coming in the first two games. He was great against Ball State with nine catches for 106 yards, but it was his only 100-yard game on the year.

5. TE Casey Pierce, Sr.
Originally considered a backup going into last year, Pierce turned into a weapon finishing third on the team with 33 tackles with 364 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns. At 6-4 and 230 pounds he looks the part and can run, spreading out his production throughout the season and getting hot late with five catches in three of his last four games.

6. P Anthony Melchiori, Jr.
A weapon who bailed out the team time and again for the nation’s 21st-ranked punting game, he’s a dual-threat option who can connect as a placekicker as well as a punter. A great athlete who was a high school receiver, he’s at his best as a punter, averaging 42.6 yards per pop with 28 put inside the 20 two years ago, and last year averaging 44.51 yards per kick and putting 14 inside the 20. Andrew Horning helped the cause by hanging it up for 17 fair catches on 24 kicks, with ten put inside the 20, but Melchiori is the blaster who can air it out for 50 yards or more without a problem.

7. CB Malcolm Pannell, Sr.
He took over at one corner and did a decent job, making 27 tackles with a team-leading three picks and with five broken up passes. While he’s not huge at 5-10 and 172 pounds, he can move and has nice hands. Hot late, he came up with two of his interceptions in the final two games, and spread out his tackles throughout the season. It’ll be his job to hold down the No. 1 corner job and handle everyone’s top target.

8. QB Colin Reardon, Soph.
Can Reardon start to make the passing game go? The 6-1, 202-pounder took over the job last year completing 59% of his throws for 1,957 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. A decent runner, he finished third on the team with 336 yards and two scores, but he’s going to be more than just a dual-threat player – he can throw. A great athlete, the former high school defensive back and quarterback can move, but he has to grow into the position more as a consistent and steady playmaker.

9. NT Chris Fairchild, Jr.
The Golden Flashes will be working between a 3-4 and a 4-3, but either way, they’ll need the 6-2, 312-pound Fairchild to be an anchor on the inside. Big, strong, and just active enough to get behind the line from time to time, he made 22 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. The biggest body up front, he has to be the main man that everyone works around on the nose.

10. WR/KR Ernest Calhoun, Soph
While he really, really struggled as a return man, he has the potential to blow up if he gets a little bit of blocking. He only averaged 5.17 yards per punt return and 17.72 yards per try on kickoff returns, but he showed a little bit of potential early on as a receiver with eight catches for 42 yards. At 5-6 and 150 pounds he’s tiny, but he can fly and can cut on a dime.

- 2014 Kent State Preview