August 25, 2009

Offense gains an edge

In what has become a recurring theme over the past few days, Kent State's offense dictated the tempo of the Golden Flashes' practice session at Dix Stadium on Tuesday.

After struggling to generate much offense in either of the team's two recent scrimmages, the offense has rebounded to show the consistency head coach Doug Martin has been looking for.

"All of a sudden offensively we're competing harder and making fewer and fewer mistakes," Martin said. "(We're) seeing more big plays from our wide receivers again, which is encouraging. If they can keep that consistency level up that would be huge."

Much of that consistency comes from the return of sophomore center Chris Anzevino, who returned to practice late last week after recovering from a foot injury.

"He's so strong physically, when he's in there your pass protection gets better," Martin said. "He's had so many snaps under his belt he puts you in the right call all the time run blocking-wise. Just leadership-wise, it's a lot better with he and (Mike Fay in there together."

Anzevino's return also has helped redshirt sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan find more success in the passing game.

"I think that we're doing a great job of pass protection, a much better job of pass protection than what we were and that's opening up avenues for Giorgio, especially throwing the deep ball," Martin said.

The Golden Flashes' wide receivers had another big day at the expense of a banged-up secondary. Senior B.G. Walters spent his time during practice on the exercise bike and sophomore Chris Gilbert missed time after turning his ankle.

"That's two of (the defense's) top guys," Martin said. "We were able to work some young guys. That will pay off down the line."

Captains Announced
Martin introduced the four captains for the 2009 season. Offensively, senior running back Eugene Jarvis and Morgan received the nod while on defense it was junior linebacker Cobrani Mixon and classmate Brian Lainhart, a safety, picking up the most votes.

Martin was encouraged that his sophomore quarterback was recognized by his teammates as one of the team's leaders.

"I was, and pleasantly surprised," Martin said. "I thought that says a lot about him particularly as a sophomore to get that."

Drills, drills and more drills
The Golden Flashes begin each practice with individual position drills. The coaching staff picked up many of those drills during off-season visits to other college and NFL teams. Many of those drills focus on helping the Golden Flashes in the turnover margin statistic.

"We went everywhere in the country we could about turnovers-preventing them and causing them," Martin said. "Every practice we've started off with the offense is doing a prevent turnovers drill and the defense is doing cause turnovers drills; we're really trying to emphasize that. We went to every NFL team we could to find different things they do. We incorporated a lot of that; a lot of new kicking drills and things like that that we're doing."

The drills also help to keep things fresh for the players.

"It's so hard right now, it becomes boring for the players…the repetition of everything," Martin said. "We're trying to find some different situations to put them in to create some excitement, like the fourth downs we worked on out here today. Tomorrow we're going to work on two-point plays, just all those situations we need to get through before the game gets here."

In this corner…
The season-opener against Coastal Carolina can't get here soon enough, at least for the KSU players. After nearly a month of banging helmets and shoulder pads against each other, the players have shorter and the slightest incident raises the intensity level on the field.

That was the case during Tuesday's practice as a wide receiver and a linebacker had some words after one play. Martin put an end to the "discussion."

"You two are wasting my time," Martin shouted.

But, it took a few moments for the head coach to call off the dogs.

"I'm not against seeing those guys compete. I want us to play with an edge," he said. "I like where our team is right now. They come out here every day with an attitude on both sides of the ball. I don't want them throwing punches and all that stuff because it's undisciplined, but I don't mind them in practice going after each other hard."

On the mend
Walters, Will Johnson (shoulder), Darius Polk (shoulder), Frist, Leneric Muldrow (knee) and Alan Vanderink (back) did not practice on Tuesday.

Walters is day-to-day, Vanderink is expected back as early as Friday and Frist and Muldrow should be back in time for the week two tilt at Boston College. Polk is out up to six weeks.

Practice Notes:

  • If the season started today the starting offensive line likely would include left tackle Kent Cleveland, guards Mike Fay and Dante Campbell, Anzevino at center and freshman Brian Winters at right tackle.
  • During Pass Skill drills Jacquise Terry, Kendrick Pressley and Chris Gordon hauled in touchdown passes. Terry's catch was a thing of beauty (see the photo above).
  • During fourth down drills the Flashes ran about 25 plays. They converted about half of them, with two others being quick kicks by the quarterback. On one play, freshman Dri Archer found a hole and raced 40 yards for a touchdown. It's been mentioned before, but he's fast-real fast.
  • Credit Luke Batton with the hit of the day. Freshman quarterback Spencer Keith tried to squeeze a fourth down pass into the hands of Derek McBryde in the middle of the field. McBryde ran into Batton's territory and the 6-foot, 200-pound freshman linebacker knocked the air out of McBryde and the football. To his credit, McBryde bounced right up after the play.
  • A scout from the Baltimore Ravens was on hand.

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