When Kent State hits the turf at Dix Stadium Thursday evening the Golden Flashes
will have more on their minds than impressing their friends, family and fans
that come out to enjoy the Fan Experience Night put on as part of the 90Ksu initiative
to promote the football program.
Even without new athletics director Joel Nielsen's marketing campaign
the Golden Flashes would have scrimmaged on Thursday in preparation for their
Sept. 2 season opener against Murray State.
"(90Ksu) hasn't figured in to our deal at all," said head
coach Doug Martin. "We do need our ones to go out there and
compete against each other. That's still two weeks out from the game
so we would have had a normal scrimmage at that time anyway. Obviously the
quarterback won't be live and that type of thing but we'll let
everybody else play and go and get better."
Martin's plan for Thursday's scrimmage is to play the first half-with
12-minute quarters-just like a real game with a live game clock. The
second half will give the Flashes the opportunity to improve in game-like situations.
"I'd like to get about 30 plays with each group if we could; somewhere
around that in the first half," he said. "The second half will
all be situational things: red zone, some goal line work, two-minute, maybe
a coming out offense and hit a couple of punts from back up in our end zone."
While most of the Kent State depth chart is set, at least in the starting
slots, there remains plenty of competition for playing time.
On defense the Flashes need some of their linebackers and cornerbacks to step
up and consistently make plays.
"We still got some linebacker things we'd like to see," Martin
said. "Kent Walker, we'd like to see a lot of. He's
made a lot of progress."
It's the same situation in the secondary where the starting corners
and safeties have been identified but younger players like cornerback Darius Polk and safety Leon Green have to continue to show they are
ready to play.
"We still need some depth at corner," Martin said. "Polk,
(and the backups), they need to come on and show what they can do. Leon
Green is another guy we'd like to see a lot of at safety that's
been in and out with injuries and things like that."
Now that redshirt junior Giorgio Morgan has separated himself from
the rest of the pack for the backup quarterback job Martin's focus on
offense is creating depth along the offensive line.
"Offensively, I'm still waiting for that second offensive line
to jell," he said. "There's a couple of guys in there that
are playing pretty good but as a unit it's kind of hodgepodge right now.
I'm waiting to see them play a little bit better as a group."
The Flashes aren't short on talent in its second unit up front, but
they are short on experience. During the early portions of camp several players
have stepped up but need to play well on a consistent basis for Martin to be
comfortable with the unit heading into the season.
Freshman Robert Kearney has impressed since moving over from the
defensive line after spring drills and his classmate, Phil Huff, has
done a nice job as the second team center. Redshirt freshman Max Plunkett also drew praise from Martin prior to being sidelined by a shoulder injury.
"Kearney was doing really well and Phillip Huff, the freshman center,
I think is doing really well," Martin said. "The other guy that
was doing great was Max Plunkett and then his shoulder popped in and out. He
won't be back probably until maybe Friday we'll get him back."
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