The Golden Flashes enter Saturday’s contest with the Cats winners of five of their last six games. While the play that received the most headlines in their opener against Towson was Andre Parker running the wrong way following a botched punt, they still jumped out to a 41-7 lead and eventually won, 41-21.
They have confidence. They have seen teams from their league go into bigger conferences and get wins. They believe they have an opportunity to do the same at Commonwealth Stadium. In doing so, they would achieve their first victory over an SEC team in school history.
The Golden Flashes most recognizable player is junior defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix (5-11, 245). Nix flourished in his first year in the program, being named the 2010 MAC Defensive Player of the Year and becoming the first freshman to be honored in the 45-year history of the award. He was also named first-team Freshman All-American by multiple publications, led the MAC with 20 tackles for loss, which tied for fourth in the nation, recorded ten sacks to set the KSU single-season freshman record and ranked 11th in the NCAA, and forced a fumble in four of first five games. Needless to say, the rookie had an impressive first campaign.
Last year he was named to the All-MAC defensive team for the second strait year. He ranks fifth among Kent State career sack leaders with 15.5 and has 41.0 career tackles for loss, which ranks sixth in KSU history.
In the opener versus Towson, Nix led the way as the Golden Flashes forced six turnovers, four fumbles and two interceptions, and limited them to 186 yards through the first three quarters. Nix finished with eight tackles, a sack, and four tackles for loss.
Junior running back Dri Archer (5-8, 175) led the way on the offensive end in their season opener. He bacame the first KSU player to score three times in a game since 2008. The speedster rushed for 57 yards, including touchdown touchdown runs of 15 and 18 yard and had two kick returns for 155 yards, including a 98-yard touchdown. He did not play in the 2011 season.
Kent State senior quarterback Spencer Keith (6-2, 215) completed 10 of 19 throws for 82 yards and added a rushing touchdown. He made his sixth straight start without throwing a pick and moved up to second place in school history with 559 completions. He ranks third all-time with 6,123 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns.
Head coach Darrell Hazell went 5-7 in his first season, tying for the second most wins in school history by a first-year coach, after spending the previous seven seasons at Ohio State.
The Wildcats opened as a mere 7-point favorite over the Flashes. To get the fan base back on their side following a rough 2011 season and a rough season opening loss to Louisville, they need to win this game decisively.
They must shore up holes on defense by limiting KSU’s rushing attack and forcing them to put the ball in the air. When they pass, they cannot allow receivers to roam free as they did last week. The UK coaching staff is excited about their young players and expect to see them in action this Saturday. Not only does this prepare the youngsters for SEC play, it is their best chance to win.
On offense they have to build off of last week’s momentum. They moved the ball better against Louisville last week than they did all season long in 2011. CoShik Williams is out, but their running game should still be able to move the football. They simply cannot turn the ball over like they did last week. And remember they are facing a KSU team that induced six turnovers in their opener. The UK offense cannot leave points on the field with costly turnover.
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