Last Season: 11-3 (8-1)
Kent State was pretty awesome last year, especially considering the history of the program (.394 all-time winning pct). Darrel Hazell, now at Purdue, was the catalyst of a team that nearly wound up in a BCS bowl a year after going 5-7. Of course, to Hazell's discredit, it helps to have two flat-out studs in the backfield in Trayion Durham and Dri Archer. The duo combined for over 2,700 yards on the ground in 2012, carrying an offense that was otherwise lacking (114th nationally in the air).
The aforementioned coaching move, from Hazell to longtime Ohio State defensive backs coach Paul Haynes, was the most drastic move of the summer at Kent State. Haynes was the defensive coordinator at Arkansas last season, which didn't work out so well, but his track record at tOSU for producing talented DBs is certainly nothing to scoff at.
One result of an 11-3 season was the loss of a head coach; surely they at least got a solid recruiting class out of it, right? Not so much - the 2013 class had just two 3-star recruits among its ranks, down three from 2012. Winning doesn't always pay off.
Archer is an incredible talent, but even he is rendered useless on the sidelines. Chalk it up to an ankle injury suffered early in the season opener against Liberty. He's doubtful for this Saturday according to Haynes.
So what else is there? Durham has been rather pedestrian this season (3.0 YPC), but the quarterback play has been a bright spot. Redshirt freshman Colin Reardon has only thrown for 548 yards over three games, but he's yet to toss an interception and is completing a high percentage of his passes (65.9%), most of them to receivers Chris Humphrey and Tyshon Goode.
The offensive line, while poor in run support (3.3 YPC as a team), has been adequate in pass protection - the unit has allowed nine sacks in three games, and just two against LSU last weekend. Though it doesn't appear the line is asked to fend off pass rushers for long - Reardon is averaging 6.45 yards per attempt.
Most of the problems early on have come on this side of the ball. Allowing ten points to FCS outfit Liberty isn't a capital offense by any stretch, and giving up 45 to LSU isn't exactly a fair measuring stick - but a leaky performance against conference rival Bowling Green is, so it's probably fair to conclude there are some deficiencies on defense.
Roosevelt Nix is not one of those deficiencies, despite his size for a defensive tackle (5'11", 245lbs). The senior registered six sacks and 15 tackles for a loss a year ago, placing his career TFL total at 52.
The secondary has been gashed a ton in the last two weeks, with opposing quarterbacks throwing for 14.4 YPA, five touchdowns and no picks. It's a case of chicken or the egg with the run game, which has relinquished over 500 yards during the same stretch. In summation: the Nittany Lions should have no problem on offense.
This is perhaps where Archer could've made his biggest impact, with no disrespect to Penn State's special teams unit. He was an All-American return specialist last season, taking three kicks back for TDs and averaging 36 yards per return. Anthony Melchiori handles kicking and punting duties.
Last Week (45-13 L at LSU)
LSU might be national-title-good, so looking into a bunch of stats isn't exactly going to tell us a lot about what Kent State can and can't do well. Just know that the Flashes were mistake-free, (if extremely conservative) with the ball and incapable of stopping a top-tier offense.
Gambling Advice from a Degenerate
As always, this section is brought to you by internet user @Kunk7. What do you have for us today, Kunkmeister?
Another MAC team, another big line. PSU is favored by about three touchdowns, depending on where you do your shopping. Because it's early in the season and there's little connectivity to work with, it may be hard for the casual fan to get a good grip on where PSU stands in the national picture. So let's look at Kent State's previous lines and maybe then we can get an idea of where they're at:
"PSU Football: Definitely better than Liberty! And somewhere in the middle between LSU and Bowling Green!" I know, very helpful, right? This is the hard hitting analysis you can always count on from me.
Anyway, for today's pick I wanted to throw it back to your problem gambler roommate, Tony, but he's still swimming in bottom shelf whiskey after cashing in an 8 team teaser last week. So instead, we're going with Jane from Accounting, the woman from your office who knows nothing about football but joined the pick ‘em pool because she thought it sounded fun. Jane, take it away!
"Haha, how funny, Penn State plays Kent State this week? They sound the same! Also, Kent State? Is that in Kentucky? LOL I don't know. What I do know is I heard Penn State is going to build another statue, this time for that Bob O'Brien guy. I think that's terrible. That's why I'm gonna take Kent State this week. And because my cat is named Ken."
Thanks, Jane! Great rationale as always!
Kent State alum of note, in order of importance to society:
The founding members of Devo
Liam Lynch, director of 2006's Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
Blog You Should Also Be Reading This Week
Hustle Belt. Again and forever.
Follow @BSDtweet on Twitter
And join us on Facebook
All BSD community members should review our current Posting & Commenting Policies before creating any posts or commenting.