October 1, 2010

PREVIEW: Flashes open MAC play at Miami

Untitled Document

Kent State (1-2, 0-0 MAC) at Miami (2-2, 1-0

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 - 1:00 p.m. EDT

Yager Stadium (24,286/Field Turf) - Oxford, Ohio

Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM (Tom Linder, Rob Polinsky & Ty Linder)

Television: None - Internet: K-Zone

After opening the season with a 41-10 win over Murray State,
Kent State has lost back-to-back contests at Boston College (26-13) and at
Penn State (24-0). The Golden Flashes look to open conference play with a road
victory at Miami.

The RedHawks opened the 2010 season by giving No. 7 Florida a
scare before the Gators pulled away for a 34-12 win. Miami then went on to
win two straight home contests, including a 31-10 beatdown of Colorado State.
Last week Miami fell at Missouri, 51-13.

The Kent State-Miami series dates back to 1942, with Miami owning
a 44-13 advantage. But, Kent State has won two straight over Miami and three
of the last four games.


  • Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith has completed 62.6-percent
    of his passes (67-107) en route to throwing for 646 yards and four touchdowns
    the first three weeks of the season. He has spread the wealth to 11 different

  • Junior wideout Sam Kirkland leads the Flashes with 16 catches
    for 187 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Tyshon Goode
    is second on the team with 13 grabs.

  • Junior running back Jacquise Terry has rushed for 82 yards while making nine catches for 142
    yards and two TDs in the first
    three games.

  • Defensively, senior linebacker Cobrani Mixon leads
    the team with 31 tackles, while senior free safety Brian Lainhart has 29
    stops. Senior nose tackle Quinton Rainey leads the nation
    with three fumble

  • Lainhart has caused 17 turnovers in the last 22 games.
    His 15 career interceptions are four shy of the school record and
    are the most among current FBS players.

  • Sophomore kicker Freddy Cortez is 14-for-16 on field goal attempts over the last eight games.

  • Coach Mike Haywood's RedHawks attempt to start 2-0 in the
    MAC for the first time since 2007 when Miami got off to a 3-0 league


    Miami's senior wide receiver Armand Robinson ranks seventh in the nation in receptions per game with 8.0 and 17th
    nationally with 95.5 receiving yards per contest. He caught 10 passes
    on Saturday
    at Mizzou, the fourth time in his career he has reached double
    figures for catches.

  • Over the last nine quarters, RedHawk quarterback
    Zac Dysert has completed 45 of his last 57 passes,
    an amazing completion percentage
    of .789.

  • Coach Morris Watts' RedHawk offense has scored at least
    three points in all but one quarter this season. Miami has 75 first
    downs, six more than its competition, and is averaging 4.5 yards
    per play.
    Miami's 84 total points through the first four games of 2010
    are 39 more than it scored in a similar span last season.

  • Defensive
    coordinator Carl "BULL" Reese saw his team
    falter against Missouri, but the RedHawks' defensive unit has
    taken great strides overall in 2010. Miami ranks 23rd, nationally,
    in rushing
    defense (100.5 ypg) and 43rd in total defense (327.3). MU is
    tied for 15th in red zone effi cency as its opponents have scored just
    nine times in 14 tries inside the 20-yard line. The RedHawks
    47th in first downs allowed (17.3 per game).


State has allowed 232 passing yards per game, but held both Boston
College and Penn State under that average. Junior cornerback Josh
and senior cornerback Kirk Belgrave have
played well this season, and are tied for the team lead with two pass
break-ups. Senior safeties Brian Lainhart and Dan Hartman
are among the Golden Flashes top tacklers. The Flashes have allowed
four passing touchdowns in their first three games. Despite Dysert's
big game last season, the Flashes' experience in the secondary and
ability to get to the passer gives them a slight advantage.

offense averages just 212.2 passing yards per game. Sophomore Zac Dysert does
most of the damage. He has completed 66.9-percent of his passes (79-118)
for 764 yards and four touchdowns. He has thrown six interceptions.
Last season, in his first start, Dysert torched the Golden Flashes for
337 yards and a score in a losing effort. Dysert's favorite target is
Armand Robinson, who leads the RedHawks with 32 catches for 382 yards
and three touchdowns. Dysert has involved his wide receivers, running
backs and tight ends in the passing game. The RedHawks have allowed 12
sacks in four games.

The defense is the obvious strength of the Kent State football team.
The Flashes have made big play after big play this season. Meanwhile,
Miami still seeks a complementary receiver to Robinson and has given
up three sacks per contest. EDGE: KSU


Golden Flashes have been susceptible to the big play in the passing game.
That's not the case in the run game where opponents have averaged just
61.3 yards per game and 1.8 yards per carry. The Flashes held both Boston
College and Penn State to 4.0 yards per carry or less. The success of
Kent State's rush defense is due in large part to the pressure the Flashes
get from its defensive line and the play of the linebackers, led by senior
Cobrani Mixon, with a team-high 31 tackles on the year.

averages just 80.8 rushing yards per game and just 2.4 yards per carry.
But, those statistics don't tell the full story. Twelve sacks have accounted
for minus-65 yards, dropping the RedHawks' rushing average. Miami's top
ball carriers--Tracy Woods and Thomas Merriweather
each average over 4.0 yards per carry. Combined they have rushed 76 times
for a respectable 318 yards. The wild card here is Dysert, who rushed
for 107 yards in last year's loss at Kent State.

Kent State's relentless pressure from its front
four and the outstanding play of its linebackers gives the Flashes
a slight edge here. EDGE: KSU


quarterback Spencer Keith hasn't been at his best
during Kent State's two-game losing streak, but still he has completed
62.6-percent of his passes for 646 yards and four scores. The Flashes
completed just 5-of-11 passes in last year's win against Miami. They'll
need to put the ball in the air much more on Saturday, forcing Keith
to shake the sophomore slump he's in. Wide receivers Tyshon Goode and Sam Kirkland have to find a way to make to plays against a solid
Miami secondary.

secondary has played well this season, allowing just 226.8 passing
yards and seven touchdowns through the air in four games, and that
includes games against two ranked teams. But, senior safety Jordan Gafford suffered an injury last week and is not expected to
play on Saturday. Miami has depth at the position and sound secondary.
Sophomore safety Pat Hinkel leads the team with two picks
and cornerback D.J. Brown has broken up six passes.

Spencer Keith is in a slump and he'll have to
raise his level of play for the Flashes to be in the hunt for a MAC
title. Miami's secondary took a hit when Gafford went down with an
injury, but the RedHawks have plenty of depth at the position and
a strong group of corners. EDGE: Miami

the start of the season, Kent State's deepest position was at running
back. But, that was before senior Eugene Jarvis suffered a hamstring
injury and Jacquise Terry and Dri Archer have struggled
to produce. The Flashes average just 66.3 yards per game and 2.5 yards
per carry. With Jarvis expected to miss his third straight game, the burden
is on Terry and Archer to make something happen.

allows just a hint over 100 rushing yards per contest, but that was
before linebacker Ryan Kennedy went down with an injury.
Middle linebacker Jerrell Wedge continues to
be the model of consistency and is tied with Kennedy for the team
lead in tackles
with 27. While Kennedy isn't expected to play, Luke Kelly
is expected to return from injury, giving the RedHawks a boost.

With Jarvis expected to miss his third straight
game, Kent State must rely on Terry and Archer to produce on the
ground. So far that hasn't happened. Miami's defense has been tough
to run on and that likely won't change on Saturday. EDGE:

Golden Flashes' kicking teams have performed at a high level. Matt Rinehart averages 40.9 yards per punt with seven kicks landing inside
the 20 and kicker Freddy Cortez is 4-of-5 on field goal tries
and 6-for-6 on point after attempts. The Flashes average 28.1 yards on
kickoff returns, with one returned for a score. Meanwhile, the Flashes
hold opponents to just 16.6 yards per kick return.

Kent State, Miami's kicking units have been solid this season. Trevor Cook is 7-for-8 on field goal attempts and 4-for-4 on extra
point tries. The RedHawks have yet to see a big play in the return
game as they average just over 21 yards per kickoff return and a
dismal 3.2 yards per punt return.

In a game like this--one that is expected to
be a defensive struggle--special teams could be the difference. Both
teams possess solid kicking games, but Kent State's return game has
been just a bit better in the early goings. EDGE:
back-to-back losses, it seems as if Kent State is a team on the verge
of collapse. But, that isn't the case. Any sane individual would have
predicted the Flashes would enter this game with a 1-2 record. Can the
Golden Flashes get their offense on track and win on the road?
has dominated the series, 44-13. The RedHawks are playing at home and
they already have a MAC win under their belt. Even more important, they
have a win over a quality non-conference opponent, and it was a dominating

After opening the season with a dominating
victory over Murray State, Kent State lost any confidence it started
the season wtih. The Flashes played at Boston College and Penn State
as an underdog and never believed they could win either game. As
a result, they turned the ball over five times at Boston College
in a 26-13 loss and never had a chance in a 24-0 loss at Penn State.
Miami has been just the opposite. After finishing the 2009 season
with a 1-11 record the RedHawks played their season-opener at Florida
with a chip on their shoulder and gave the No. 7 Gators all they
could handle. EDGE:

isn't a must-win game for Kent State, it just seems that way. The
Flashes certainly could overcome a loss in their conference season
opener. But, turning a two-game losing streak into a three-game skid
could be too much for the Flashes, who already have an inferiority

Miami is playing like a 1-11 team should play. The RedHawks certainly
couldn'tt get any worse than they were in 2009 and they're playing
like a team that knows just how many games they gave away last season.
There's no shortage of talent in Oxford. Putting it all together
is the challenge for the RedHawks, who already have become the most
improved team in the Mid-American Conference.


  1. Don't be intimidated. The Flashes walked out of the tunnel at Boston
    College and Penn State in awe of their surroundings. They forgot
    they too were on scholarship and went out and gave away any chance
    they had of pulling out a victory. If the Flashes start out slowly
    at Yager Stadium, they'll likely lose their third straight game.

  2. Use the pass to set up the run. The Flashes haven't had any success
    running the football, despite a strong performance from their offensive
    line. Spencer Keith rarely has been touched this season, so it's
    up to him and the wide receivers to spread the field to give the
    KSU running backs some room to run.

  3. Lock down Dysert. Last year Miami's quarterback torched the Flashes
    for almost 500 yards of offense. If that happens again the Flashes
    can all but kiss goodbye their hopes of winning a MAC title. The
    Flashes have to contain Dysert and force him to throw out of the
    pocket. Dysert excels throwing the football on the run, and when
    he can't find a receiver he sure can run.


  1. Intimidate the Flashes. Attack on offense and defense. Create doubt
    among Kent State's players and the mistakes will come.

  2. Pressure Keith. Spencer Keith has struggled the past two games.
    Forcing him to make quicker decisions and throw on the run could
    shake his confidence.

  3. Win special teams. Kent State has had several explosion plays in special
    teams. Don't allow that to happen and win the battle of field position
    and the RedHawks can claim the victory.


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