Kent State Q&A

Friday, October 12, 2012

The fellows over at Hustle Belt contacted me to do a Q&A. Here are their answers to my questions. My A's to their Q's can be found here.

Right now the MAC looks good at the top of both divisions - how many MAC teams could you see going to bowls this year?

Hustle Belt: This is really nothing new for the MAC. It's been true for a while now that NIU and Toledo duke it out in the West, and that Ohio shows up strong under Frank Solich. I fully expect to see all three of those teams in bowls this year. Kent is the surprise participant, riding the wave that their defense creates as usual - but this year with the twist of Dri Archer's speed and vision keeping teams surprised and off-balance. I would like to see them make it to a bowl, but anything beyond those four dreams would be a reach right now given the inconsistent (and/or flat-out poor) play the rest of the conference has shown thusfar.

In the near future the Big East will take on a whole new identity. Boise State, Houston, Memphis, Navy, San Diego State, and SMU will be joining Rutgers, Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, USF and Temple. How do you think the MAC stacks up against the new Big East?

  Hustle Belt: Well, first I would like to point out that it was nice of Temple to go crawling back to the Big East and nestle back in at the bottom where they belong. That said, I don't see this as any stronger a conference than the MAC (which says a lot, I think, about the quality of teams that have left the Big East conference - and how desperately they scrambled to fill the gaps). You have a distinct upper half (Boise, SDSU, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Rutgers) and then a bunch of teams that are inconsistent, unproven, or just plain bad (yes you, Memphis). I also much prefer the MAC and its cozy geographic alignment to that giant cluster**** you just typed out. I can't wait to hear the horror stories the first time Temple plays Boise on the road.

Looking at a 4-1 Kent State team, they've beaten Towson, taken care of some MAC teams and dropped a game at Kentucky. Kent doesn't really jump out at me in any major statistical categories. What stands out about this Kent State squad?

Hustle Belt: You must look closer my friend. They may not be elite on the ground, but they are close - they rank, in terms of yardage, 30th nationally in rush offense and 44th in rush defense. Dri Archer is the main reason for that, but perhaps that's enough. Kent in the past has often been a great defensive team that just couldn't create enough offense to win, and Archer seems (at least so far) to have gone a long way in correcting that malady.

Kent's all-around weapon Dri Archer can do it all. He can catch, he can run, he's a dangerous kick returner; who else does Kent State have that can make some big plays.

Hustle Belt: That defense that has gotten them by before continues to be strong, and that's largely because of defensive playmakers like defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix and linebacker C.J. Maluulu, both very athletic and very capable of changing the game on any one play. That said, the one to watch out for is our kicker, Freddy Cortez. Since the start of the 2010 season, he is 24-for-27 from inside of 40 yards (the kind of near-automatic production you want to rely on as a team) and he's only 8-for-19 from beyond 40, but he has a dangerously strong leg that can make those middle distances an opportunity for points instead of punts,

 Kent State is doing a lot of things right - the Flashes are pounding the ball, they're taking care of the football and they have shown the ability to score late when they need it. What will Kent State need to do to beat Army?

Hustle Belt: Well, I don't know a lot about Army (even though I'm a veteran. Don't give me crap, you West-Pointyheads). But any fool who even follows them loosely knows that they run the ball. And run, and run, and run. I would say that Kent needs to be wary of their own weak secondary (ranked 88th defending the pass) but that's hard to make into a key focal point when your opponent only passes the ball seven times a game. You have a Kent team that, in terms of both rush offense and defense, may not be elite but is definitely good and productive. Army, on the other hand, is ranked 116th when it comes to defending the run.

   So as long as the Flashes can stick to a run-to-set-up-the-pass offensive plan, and not get so keyed in on stopping the run and crowding the box that they get soft to being beaten over the top, they should be just fine. Team A can run and pass the ball reasonably well, and can also defend both reasonably well. Team B runs the ball so well they never need to pass - but they also can't stop anyone else from running the ball either (or passing it, really, for that matter). Team B - that's yours - will probably go down, and it will be close, but not as close as previous ones. Kent 31, Army 21




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