Kent State Preview 2006
Posted Aug 7, 2006

How is it that a team with players like defensive linemen Danny Muir and Colin Ferrell, corners Jack Williams and Usama Young, and a receiver in Najah Pruden can be so, so, so bad?

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Kent State has never set the MAC world on fire with only one winning season since 1987, but it wasn't brutally awful during the days when Josh Cribbs was at quarterback. Then Cribbs left, the coaching staff realized they didn't recruit enough decent running backs, and the ground game ended up averaging 45.9 yards per game as the Golden Flashes went 1-10 with the lone victory coming over SE Missouri State. There was the indignity of losing to Ohio, and the nadir with a 10-6 home loss to Buffalo.

Things should be on the upswing with the help of speedy new running backs Tony Howard and Eugene Jarvis, an experienced group of receivers and big Michael Machen throwing it, one of the league's best secondaries, and Muir and Ferrell up front.

Head coach: Doug Martin
3rd year: 6-16
Returning Lettermen:
Off 21, Def 20, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 13
Ten Best KSU Players
1. DE Danny Muir, Sr.
2. CB Jack Williams, Jr.
3. DT Colin Ferrell, Jr.
4. CB Usama Young, Sr.
5. WR Najah Pruden, Sr.
6. SS Fritz Jacquies, Jr.
7. FS Andre Kirkland, Sr.
8. QB Michael Machen, Jr.
9. RB Tony Howard, Soph.
10. OT Augustus Parrish, Soph.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

8/31 Minnesota
9/9 at Army
9/16 at Miami Univ.
9/23 at Bowling Green
10/7 at Temple
10/14 Toledo
10/28 Ohio
11/4 at Buffalo
11/11 at Virginia Tech
11/18 Eastern Michigan
11/24 at Ball State

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 1-10

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Michigan St L 49-14
9/10 SE Missouri St W 33-12
9/17 Miami Univ. L 27-10
9/24 at Ohio L 35-32
10/1 at Eastern Mich L 27-20
10/15 at Navy L 34-31
10/22 Northern Illinois L 34-3
10/29 at Western Mich L 44-14
11/5 Bowling Green L 24-14
11/12 Buffalo L 10-6
11/24 at Akron L 35-3

So why does it seem like things are going to go horribly wrong yet again?

After averaging eight points per game over the final five games, it's hard to believe the machine will instantly turn on. Even with the newcomers, the running game still has to prove it can move the ball, Machen has to prove he isn't a multi-interception game waiting to happen, and the linebacking corps needs time to jell. There might be talent to build around, but it didn't seem to matter last season.

Even with all the concerns, KSU plays in the MAC East, by far the easier of the two divisions with games against Ohio and Buffalo to offset the big boys like Bowling Green, Miami, and Akron. Finishing third in the division is very possible, and if all the pieces come together, this might be the team that makes college football's biggest turnaround in the win column.

The Schedule: Four of the first five games are on the road with the load home date in the opener against Minnesota. However, the last game in the four is at Temple to start another interesting four game stretch with Ohio coming to Dix Stadium and a trip to Buffalo to close it out. Eastern Michigan has to come to Kent before the season finale at Ball State. In other words, outside of games against the Gophers and at Virginia Tech, things aren't all that bad.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Najah Pruden. He's a 60-yard bomb waiting to happen, but the 6-3 speedster also has to be more of a steady target. He's the team's best receiver with game-breaking ability and has to make more big plays to open things up for the rest of the receivers.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Danny Muir. He bulked up to 285 pounds and has grown into a whale of an all-around lineman. He's able to play tackle and be among the best in the MAC, and now he'll move to the end where he'll hopefully grow into even more of a pass rusher.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman RB Eugene Jarvis and sophomore RB Tony Howard. How bad was the Kent State running game? It didn't just finish dead last in the nation, the second worst team, Ole Miss, averaged 27 yards a game more than the Golden Flashes. The 5-5 Jarvis and Howard, a Michigan State transfer, must use their speed to balance out the offense.

The season will be a success if ... Kent State wins five games. There's enough experience to expect a good year, and there's no reason not to get five wins when the schedule has at Army, at Temple, Ohio, at Buffalo, Eastern Michigan and at Ball State.

Key game: September 9th at Miami University. The RedHawks are much better, but this is an important MAC East game to see how the Golden Flashes stack up with the best in the league. There will be such a thing as a good loss if this is kept close before going to Bowling Green.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Yards per carry: Opponents 4.2 - Kent State 1.8
- Time of possession: Opponents 34:11 - Kent State 25:47
- Opening day attendance at Michigan State: 73,949 - Attendance at the five Kent State home games: 33,292:

The Last Time Kent State…
…played in a bowl game…1972 (Tangerine Bowl vs. Tampa)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1994 (Ohio)
…was shutout…2002 (Ohio)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Eastern Michigan)
…went undefeated…never
…won a conference title…1978 (MAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2002 (Joshua Cribbs)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1997 (Eugene Baker)
…had a first-round draft choice…never

Related Stories
Kent State Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Kent State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Kent State Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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