NEW ... 2010 Kent State Preview
Kent State LB Brian Lainhart
Kent State LB Brian Lainhart
Posted Aug 6, 2010 2010 Preview - Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State Golden Flashes

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Doug Martin
7th year: 24-46
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def. 23, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Kent State Players
1. RB/KR Eugene Jarvis, Sr.
2. FS Brian Lainhart, Sr.
3. LB Cobrani Mixon, Sr.
4. DE Monte Simmons, Sr.
5. SS Dan Hartman, Sr.
6. WR Tyshon Goode, Soph.
7. QB Spencer Keith, Soph.
8. RB Jacquise Terry, Jr.
9. P Matt Rinehart, Jr.
10. CB Josh Pleasant, Jr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 2 Murray State
Sept. 11 at Boston Coll.
Sept. 18 at Penn St
Sept. 25 OPEN DATE
Oct. 2 at Miami Univ.
Oct. 9 Akron
Oct. 16 at Toledo
Oct. 23 at BGSU
Oct. 30 Ball State
Nov. 6 Temple
Nov. 13 Army
Nov. 20 at Western Mich
Nov. 26 Ohio

There are losing seasons, and there's what Kent State went through last year.

Head coach Doug Martin has gone 24-46 in six years and likely would've been canned just about anywhere else, but 2009 showed tremendous promise and 2010 could bring a bowl game for the first time since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl loss to Tampa and the first winning season since 2001.

How bad has Kent State football been? That 6-5 campaign nine years ago was the only winning season since 1987 and was just the second since 1987. The program hasn't won more than six games in a year since 1976, but the potential is there for everything to change around with 18 returning starters, speed and explosion on both sides of the ball, and the hope that a more experienced squad will mean more close wins.

The Golden Flashes lost their star running back, Eugene Jarvis, to a lacerated kidney, had to throw a true freshman quarterback (Spencer Keith) to the wolves, and yet they still could've easily have finished with a winning record with a little bit of luck. They lost to Buffalo 9-6 on a last second field goal, blew a 28-13 lead late to Akron, and lost to Bowling Green on a nine-yard touchdown pass with five seconds to play. This year, the team will be looking to make its own big breaks.

Jarvis is back for a sixth season, Keith has a year of experience under his belt, and the offense is making a few tweaks to potentially be more explosive and more consistent. There's great speed among the skill players with too many good backs to get the ball to, there are excellent receivers that should make the passing game go (unlike two years ago), and there's depth at quarterback in case Keith gets banged up again (he suffered a separated shoulder last year).

The defense has three of the league's best player in DE Monte Simmons, LB Cobrani Mixon, and FS Brian Lainhart, and they form the core of an ultra-aggressive group that will get into the backfield on a regular basis and will cause big problems for most MAC offenses. Throw in, arguably, the best special teams in the league, and yeah, Kent State really could go from being a perennial also-ran to a MAC champion.

What to watch for on offense: The Pistol. The Nevada offense that ripped apart the WAC with a record-setting ground game should be perfect for the Kent State backfield. Spencer Keith isn't necessarily a running quarterback, and he's not Colin Kaepernick, but the speed of Eugene Jarvis, Jacquise Terry, and Dri Archer should mean an instant turnaround for a ground game that sputtered and coughed all last season. The passing game won't be forgotten with a top receiver in Tyshon Goode to stretch the field.

What to watch for on defense: A ton of sacks … again. Give head coach Doug Martin and the coaching staff credit; when the want to improve something, it happens. There was no passing game two years ago, and the receiving corps was instantly upgraded. The special teams stunk, and in one year they became among the best in the MAC. The pass rush struggled in 2008, and last year it was fourth in the nation in tackles for loss and 17th in sacks. With a pass rushing terror in Monte Simmons and pressure generated from every spot, Kent State will take plenty of chances to screw up offenses. The D can't hold up by playing it straight, and it won't with everyone swarming to the ball and lots of flying around. It's a fun defense to watch.

The team will be far better if … The offense can score. The attack did some nice things last year with Keith upgrading the passing game and with a strong season from the offensive front in pass protection, but it was like pulling teeth to score. The offense only scored more than 30 points once, was never consistent, and almost never came up with a clutch score. Step one to improve the problem will be to convert on third downs after capitalizing just 29% of the time.

The schedule: It's not going to be easy, but there are a few key breaks. KSU's biggest East division foe, Temple, is a home date, as is a key battle with Ohio in the season finale. The West will be the tougher of the two divisions, but if the Golden Flashes have any real thoughts of being good enough to win the title they should be able to win two of three interdivisional games against Ball State, Toledo and Western Michigan. There's a great stretch of three straight home games in the second half of the season and four of the last five games are in Kent, but the year starts out with five road games in six after the opener against Murray State. Forget about non-conference road games against Boston College and Penn State, but beating Army at home might be a must to pull off a winning season.

Best offensive player: Senior RB Eugene Jarvis. Only 5-5 and 170 pounds, he's not all that big and he might need a little while to feel comfortable after suffering a lacerated kidney two games into last year, but he's back, he's healthy, and he should be a lock for 1,000 yards in the new offense. With a 5.1 career rushing average and 70 carries for 743 yards and four scores, he's a deadly all-around weapon, and he's a dangerous punt returner averaging 15.4 yards per try last year before getting hurt.

Best defensive player: Senior FS Brian Lainhart … but LB Cobrani Mixon and DE Monte Simmons will be deep in the hunt for the MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Mixon cleans up everything against the run, Simmons is one of the nation's most dangerous pass rushers, and Lainhart is one of the country's best all-around defenders, period. The 6-1, 207-pounder has made 256 career tackles, has come up with 15 picks, and has forced seven fumbles. He's the tone-setter who makes things happen all over the field.

Key player to a successful season: Junior DT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen. The Kent State front seven is feisty, is great at coming up with stops, and is deadly at getting into the backfield. However, it's not all that big with a 235-pound nose tackle (Quinton Rainey) and outside linebackers playing on the end. That's why Kitchen, a 304-pounder, has to play a big role clogging things up on the inside. He's the beef the run defense needs.

The season will be a success if … the Golden Flashes come up with a winning season and a bowl game. The team is good enough to win the MAC, or at least win the East, with such a miserable history, just taking a big step forward with a winning campaign and a trip for a 13th game would mean everything. There's no excuse not to pull off at least seven wins.

Key game: Nov. 6 vs. Temple. Four of the first five MAC games are against teams that didn't go bowling (with a date at Bowling Green the exception), and then come the Owls. Temple is the most talented team in the MAC, but if the Golden Flashes can pull off the home win they should be the front-runner to be the East favorite through the final few weeks.

2009 Fun Stats:
- The biggest crowd Kent State played in front of was at Baylor. 27,047 was the announced attendance. The count at Eastern Michigan was 2,401.
- Third Down Conversions: Opponents 70-of-183 (38%) – Kent State 48-of-166 (29%)
- Sacks: Kent State 33 for 209 yards – Opponents 19 for 135 yards.

- 2010 Kent State Preview | 2010 Kent State Offense
- 2010 Kent State Defense | 2010 Kent State Depth Chart
- Kent State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006