#88 Kent State Football 2013 Preview

Kent State Golden Flashes

Overall Rank: #88
#5 Mid-American

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Kent State ended the 2012 campaign with a thud, but prior to losing a thrilling double overtime contest to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game and the bowl game to Arkansas State, this was a team that was sitting at 11-1 and 8-0 in conference play. The Golden Flashes may not be able to repeat that success and their coach split for greener pastures, but this is a talented offense and Coach Paul Haynes will have a few new wrinkles to keep the rest of the MAC off balance.

2012 Record: (11-3, 8-0)
2012 Bowl: GoDaddy.com Bowl vs. Arkansas State (L 13-17)
Coach: Paul Haynes (0-0 at Kent State, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Rock
Defensive Coordinator: Brian George

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dri Archer, SR, 1,429 yards
Passing: David Fisher, QB, 230 yards
Receiving: Dri Archer, SR, 561 yards
Tackles: Luke Wollet, S, 119
Sacks: Roosevelt Nix, DT, 6.0
Interceptions: Luke Wollet, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Traylon Durham, WR Chris Humphrey, WR Josh Boyle, TE Tim Erjavec, LG Pat McShane, C Phil Huff, DE Mark Fackler, DE Zach Hitchens, CB Darius Polk

Key Losses: QB Keith Spencer, OT Brian Winters, OG Josh Kline, LB Luke Batton, CB Sid Saulter, LB C.J. Malauulu

Dri Archer could have taken his talent to the NFL, but opted to return to Kent State for his senior season. That gives Coach Haynes a dynamic, speedy playmaker to work with. Archer rushed for 1,429 yards in 2012 and led the team with 39 receptions for 561 yards and four scores. Counting his three kickoff returns for scores, Archer reached the end zone 23 times. This time around the Golden Flashes plan to use him more as a receiver in order to get him out in space where he can make people miss. With Traylon Durham in the backfield, who rushed for 1,316 yards as a sophomore, Kent State certainly has the luxury of moving Archer around. Josh Boyle and Chris Humphrey are quality young receivers who will help make it difficult for the opposing defense to key in on Archer too much. The return of senior wideout Tyshon Goode, who missed last year with an injury, gives the unit some much needed experience.

On paper replacing quarterback Spencer Keith may not seem too difficult. He completed 55.0 percent of his passes during his senior season, throwing a dozen touchdowns and ten interceptions. Those numbers do not pop out at all, but Keith was clutch. He made big plays in big games and that is going to be tough to replace. At least senior David Fisher has some experience. The bigger concern on offense is the offensive line. This is a young group now and the new look offense will need time and space to operate and it remains to be seen if the offensive line can provide it. On the other side of the ball, the back seven has to replace a handful of starters. Safety Luke Wollett and corner Darius Polk are a great duo to build around in the secondary, but the unit did allow 272 yards per game through the air in 2012. Linebacker Danny Gress is an experienced senior who should be ready to emerge as a playmaker, but there is not a whole lot of experience around him. The defense did an amazing job in 2012 creating turnovers. Overall the Golden Flashes had a turnover margin of 1.43 per game; good enough for fourth best in all of FBS football. That is an impressive number and winning the turnover over battle was a huge reason for Kent State’s success last season. They could do it again, but it just seems extremely unlikely that the Golden Flashes will be able to force that many turnovers and keep the number relatively low on the offensive side.

The Bottom Line:
However, as long as the front four continues to get pressure in the backfield, turnovers will happen. Roosevelt Nix has had an amazing career and the defensive tackle should go out strong during his senior season. Nix is undersized at 5-11 and 267 pounds, but he has an amazing motor and simply gets the job done. Ends Mark Fackler and Zack Hitchens are also returning starters and the line will be very good again this season. Kent State is not going to win 11 games again, yet the cupboard is not bare either. The previous regime left some quality depth across the board and that is going to help Coach Haynes fill the necessary holes in his lineup and help this team improve dramatically as the 2013 campaign progresses.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 225.79 (18th in nation, 2th in conference)
Passing Offense: 162.5 (110, 12)
Total Offense: 388.29 (73, 8)
Scoring Offense: 33.07 (35, 3)
Rushing Defense: 138.29 (33, 2)
Pass Defense: 272.00 (105, 11)
Total Defense: 410.29 (74, 6)
Scoring Defense: 24.50 (44, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.43 (4, 1)
Sacks: 2.50 (28, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.50 (41, 5)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#123 Dri Archer


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