By John Agovino, Associate College Football Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: The 2009 season was supposed to be an exciting journey for the Golden Flashes, but before the season really took off coach Doug Martin's squad was hit hard by the injury bug.
After an 18-0 win over Coastal Carolina in their first game, the Flashes took
on Boston College on the road and not only walked away with a 34-7 setback,
but also left their opponent's field beaten and battered. Quarterback Giorgio
Morgan suffered and ankle injury that plagued him for the remained of the
season, and running back Eugene Jarvis suffered a lacerated kidney, which
ended his season. However, the season continued and after a loss to Iowa
State, the Flashes pull together and earned a tough 29-19 win over Miami-Ohio.
However, that was followed by back-to-back losses against Baylor and Bowling
Green. Once again though the Flashes never gave up and went on a three game
winning streak, and one of those victories came against the Ohio Bobcats, who
won the East Division. Unfortunately Kent State was unable to ride the
momentum through the rest of the season and simply fell off, dropping its last
three games, including an ugly 9-6 setback to Buffalo to finish the regular
OFFENSE: When Morgan and Jarvis went down last season it really hampered what
coach Martin wanted to accomplish offensively, which is why KSU finished 106th
in the nation with 19.3 ppg. However, if there was a silver lining for the
Golden Flashes it would be that both players return this year, while other
athletes had a chance to gain experience, making this year's squad very deep.
Unfortunately for Morgan though his injury opened the door for Spencer Keith,
who as a freshman proved to be more than capable in terms of working the west
coast offense. After throwing 14 touchdowns in his first season, Keith will be
back under center for KSU, but if he falters coach Martin has the luxury of
going to Morgan. Keith will have every chance to succeed and will have the
help of a solid receiving corps, which is led by sophomore Tyshon Goode, who
led the team last year with 53 receptions. Goode is an explosive receiver that
will give KSU a deep threat. Also look for Kendrick Pressley and Sam Kirkland
to play a large role in the passing attack this year. Coach Martin and the
Flashes will also have the luxury of a healthy Jarvis as well, who will
definitely be looking to get back to action after missing last year. Jarvis
should return to his 2008 form, but also look for Jacquise Terry to get some
carries since he filled in admirably for Jarvis last year. Both Jarvis and
Terry give the Flashes a talented duo in the backfield and with three starters
back up front, Kent State should definitely have a better ground attack in
DEFENSE: While the excitement for this season surrounds around the offense,
the defense for Kent State could be just as important, if not more. Coach
Martin has plenty of talented players back in the fold and he feels this could
be one of the top groups in the conference.
"I love our defensive team speed, especially in our front seven," said coach
Martin. "We're a little undersized, but our speed is as good as anybody in the
That speed begins up front with Monte Simmons, who led the team last year with
eight sacks. Simmons, who plays the buck position is a dangerous pass rusher
that plays with a relentless mentality. Simmons will be joined by Quinton
Rainey, who at only 235 pounds is clearly undersized, but still effective at
the nose guard spot.
At linebacker the Golden Flashes have possibly the best player up the middle
in Cobrani Mixon. The First Team All-MAC selection racked up 108 tackles a
year ago, and always seems to find himself around the football. Will Johnson
and Luke Batton will likely line up with Mixon, but look for Dorian Wood to
also contribute this year.
There is also talent outside the front seven, as the defensive backfield is
just as strong, especially with Brian Lainhart roaming the open field. The
All-MAC first team choice is a tenacious free safety and will make opposing
receivers think twice about going over the middle. However, Lainhart is more
than just a strong tackler, he also has 15 career interceptions and finished
last year with seven, making him the total package. Along with Dan Hartman,
the Golden Flashes possibly have the toughest safety combo in the league.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Special teams is also a strong suit for the Golden Flashes
this season, thanks to the return of kicker Freddy Cortez and punter Matt
Rinehart. Cortez connected on an impressive 13-of-15 field goals, while
Rinehart earned All-MAC First Team honors by averaging 40.9 yards per punt.
The return game will also get a boost with the return of Jarvis, who will
likely take over on punts and has the speed to go the distance at any moment.
OUTLOOK: Things did not go according to plan last season, but 2010 is a new
year and the Golden Flashes are primed to make a push in the conference.
While the season starts at home against Murray State, the Flashes' true test
will not come until week two when KSU hits the road to battle Boston College.
That game will be followed by a road game against Penn State and a conference
opening matchup at Miami-Ohio. However, the league slate for KSU is very
manageable considering they have the luxury of hosting Ball State, Temple and
Ohio. Kent State has the talent to crack the .500 plateau and maybe even earn
a bowl berth, but winning the tough West Division might be a tough task, even
with everyone healthy.