2009 CFN Kent State Preview
Kent State S Brian Lainhart
Kent State S Brian Lainhart
Posted May 29, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State Golden Flashes

Preview 2009 

By Pete Fiutak   

- 2009 Kent State Preview | 2009 Kent State Offense
- 2009 Kent State Defense | 2009 Kent State Depth Chart
- 2008 KSU Preview | 2007 KSU Preview | 2006 KSU Preview

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Head coach: Doug Martin
6th year: 19-39
Returning Lettermen
Off. 26, Def. 27, ST 6
Lettermen Lost: 13
Ten Best KSU Players
1. RB Eugene Jarvis, Sr.
2. FS Brian Lainhart, Jr.
3. DE Kevin Hogan, Sr.
4. LB Cobrani Mixon, Jr.
5. RB Andre Flowers, Jr.
6. QB Giorgio Morgan, Soph.
7. CB Josh Pleasant, Soph.
8. NT Sam Frist, Sr.
9. DT Aaron Hall, Sr.
10. SS Dan Hartman, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 4-8
2009 Record: 0-0

9/3 Coastal Carolina
9/12 at Boston Coll
9/19 Iowa State
9/26 Miami Univ.
10/3 at Baylor
10/10 Bowling Green
10/17 at Eastern Mich
10/24 at Ohio
10/31 Western Mich
11/7 at Akron
11/21 at Temple
11/27 Buffalo

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 4-8
2008 Record: 4-8

8/30 Boston Coll L 21-0
9/6 at Iowa St L 48-28
9/13 Delaware St W 24-3
9/20 at UL Laf. L 44-27
9/27 at Ball State L 41-20
10/4 Akron L 30-27 2OT
10/11 Ohio L 26-19
10/25 at Miami Univ. W 54-21
11/1 at Bo. Green L 45-30
11/12 Temple W 41-38
11/18 No Illinois L 42-14
11/28 at Buffalo W 24-21

For a program that has had one winning season since 1987 and a coaching staff that come up with 19 wins in three years, Kent State has proven to be an extremely interesting team with some great playmakers. But there hasn't been any consistency and there hasn't been enough success.

Every year, it seems like Kent State is just this close to being a major player in the MAC. The talent level hasn't been all that bad, the coaching hasn't been poor, and there have been several glimmers of hope, but it hasn't all come together. One year Kent State can't throw, and another it can't run. One year the defense is the best in the MAC, and another it gets steamrolled over by any offense that can field 11 live bodies. Now the job of head coach Doug Martin is to finally put it all together and come up with enough wins, and enough hope, to show that things are heading in the right direction.

The running game was the best in the MAC, and among the best in America, partly because it had a 1,300-yard rusher, Julian Edelman, at quarterback. As great as he was, Giorgio Morgan could take the attack to another level by pushing the ball down the field more. Four starters return to the offensive line to pave the way for the MAC's best group of running backs, led by Eugene Jarvis. A receiving corps that didn't do anything over the last few years has a few exciting players waiting to break through now that there's a passer under center. The mix has the potential to be just good enough to be what the team has been looking for.

Meanwhile, the defense has speed, veterans, and a secondary that could be special if CB Josh Pleasant can take what he has done on the practice field and apply it to game time. The defensive line has size, the linebacking corps is big and can tackle, and the run defense that got rolled over throughout last year could quickly become a brick wall if everything breaks right.

But Kent State hasn't been able to come up with too many good breaks over the years and there are too many question marks, from the lack of a proven gamebreaking receiver, to the suspect outside linebackers, to the corners that haven't picked off a pass in forever, to the worst overall return game in America, to put together a shocker of a MAC title run. But this team should be just good enough to hover around .500 and possibly come up with a winning season for the first time since 2001.

What to watch for on offense: More passing. It's not that Julian Edelman couldn't throw, it's that he didn't really have to considering his running talents. Giorgio Morgan can't run like Edelman, but he's a better pure passer with greater upside. The receiving corps didn't help the cause, but even with the loss of top target Shawn Bayes it should be better with the expected emergence of receivers Kendrick Pressley, Derek McBryde and Tyshon Goode into more dangerous playmakers.

What to watch for on defense: The corners. They've been able to tackle over the last few seasons, but they haven't been able to make too many big plays. The one new starter to the secondary, Josh Pleasant, is a fantastic-looking sophomore who could quickly become the team's top cover-corner. Danny Sadler is a decent veteran on the other side, but he has to come up with a few picks and make teams scared to go at him.

The team will be far better if … it can find one thing it can do really, really well on defense. KSU had one of the MAC's best defenses a few years ago, but it sputtered last year as it was consistently mediocre. The linebackers are suspect, but they're big and they have to hold up against the run. The line struggled to get to the quarterback, and while it came up with a few big plays behind the line, it didn't do it enough. After allowing 395 yards per game with a relatively even split of problems, if the D can hold teams to around 350 and start to keep points off the board in key situations, the offense should be able to pick up the slack.

The Schedule:
For almost any BCS team, the non-conference schedule wouldn't be that bad playing Coastal Carolina and Iowa State at home and Boston College and Baylor on the road. It'll be hard to go on any sort of a run with four road games in five over the second half of the season and five in seven. Getting Eastern Michigan from the West is a nice break, and while the other interdivisional matchup is against Western Michigan, arguably one of the league's top three teams, it's at home. The defending champs, Buffalo, have to come to KSU, but that doesn't happen until the regular season finale.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Eugene Jarvis. How good is he? He ran for 801 yards and nine touchdowns and it was a down year. He missed four games banged up, and that's the big problem for a 5-5, 170-pound back who has handled the ball 693 times in three years. He has 3,268 rushing yards with 22 touchdowns, and he has caught 64 passes for 705 yards and four scores. He's one of the MAC"s biggest weapons, and if he's healthy, he has the potential to run for 2,000 yards.

Best Defensive Player: Junior FS Brian Lambert. All the second-team All-MAC performer has done over his first two seasons is make 169 tackles with five tackles for loss. Last year he stepped up his play against the pass making six picks while he forced three fumbles. At 6-1 and 207 pounds, he has good size, great range, and is as physical as any linebacker.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Giorgio Morgan. If Kent State is going to come up with a winning season it'll need to get a good year out of Morgan, a promising 6-4, 207-pound passer who looked good in his limited time in 2007. He was able to redshirt last year, giving him three years to figure out what he's doing, but he needs to be good right away. With Anthony Magazu a fifth-year senior who can take over if needed, the coaching staff that desperately needs wins to stay on for next year might pull the plug if Morgan struggles.

The season will be a success if ... Kent State comes up with a winning season. The Golden Flashes were 4-8 last year and should be far better this season. Does that mean the team can be two or three games better? It'll be tough to do with some tough home games against Bowling Green, Western Michigan and Buffalo. While the road slate is manageable, it'll take a few upsets to pull off a winning campaign. However, KSU should be in every MAC game and it'll win a few tight ones it couldn't come up with last year.

Key game: Oct. 10 vs. Bowling Green. This will be a key swing game for the KSU season. If there's any hope of doing anything relatively big, the Golden Flashes have to pull off the home win here with four road games in the next five. Lose this, and that will mean there have to be wins at Eastern Michigan and Ohio over the following two weeks before dealing with Western Michgian.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 100 - Kent State 51
- Attendance for the 42-14 loss to Northern Illinois: 2,267
- Rushing yards per game: Kent State 230.6 - Opponents 178.7