(Writer’s Note: Feel Free to Check Out the Full Backsportspage MAC Preview)
The Mid-American Conference was the first conference to decide to sit out the football season this year. The MAC seemed to be in good company, as the B1G and Pac-12 opted out of the season at that point as well. Those three conferences had an alternate idea to playing in the fall: they would play football in the Spring. With all the MAC teams being northern schools, it was a good idea as the weather would not be too hot to play. The MAC would have benefited financially as well, as they would be sure to collect a paycheck from ESPN and other networks to televise their games.
That idea was thrown in the garbage on September 25, 2020. At that time the Mid-American conference voted to play a six-game fall schedule, playing only conference games. Tonight, November 4, 2020, the MAC will begin play, with multiple good match-ups to get started. As stated above, you can check out the BackSportsPage’s full Mid-American Conference Preview. However, today we will preview the Kent State Golden Flashes, and their season ahead. (Kent State is only about 20 minutes from where I live).
Kent State Football Overview:
Kent State and head coach Sean Lewis are coming off historic season for the Golden Flashes football team. Last year Kent State finished the season with a record of 6-6 and played in the Miami Beach Bowl. In that game the Flashes defeated the Utah State Aggies 51-41, securing their first bowl win in program history.
Head coach Sean Lewis will enter his third season as the head man in Kent. He, along with other Kent State fans, will look to build off last season’s success, and continue their winning ways from 2019. Lewis will have multiple returnees on both sides of the ball, so Kent State looks primed for another successful season.
The Golden Flashes most important returnee on offense is star quarterback Dustin Crum, who is a senior this year. In 2019, Crum threw for 20 touchdowns to only two interceptions. He was also the teams leading rusher, as he totaled over 700 rushing yards. Crum has NFL aspirations, and this season could be a six-week tryout for NFL teams. According to PFF, Crum had the fewest turnover-worthy throws of any quarterback. PFF also graded Crum as the third best quarterback in the country. The signal-caller a real pro prospect, so coach Lewis will likely lean on him as much as possible in this shortened season.
Crum is great, but he also has some help from the rest of the offense. The Flashes return 2019 leading receiver Isaiah McKoy. However, Kent State lost it’s other three top receivers, so some play-makers need to step up this season for it to be successful.
The offensive line does return four of the five starters from 2019. However, that might not be a good thing for coach Lewis and the Flashes. Kent’s offensive line is very undersized, and ranked in the bottom-10 in sack-rate and tackles for loss allowed. The biggest departure on offense was center Nate Warnock, who had started the last two seasons as Kent State’s center. Having a good center is incredibly important for a fast-paced offense, which the Flashes run. It will be interesting to see if Lewis will move another more seasoned lineman to the center position.
As is the case with the offensive line, Kent’s defensive line is severely undersized and lacks the power and muscle to fight in the trenches. The defensive line finished 120th out of 130 FBS teams in line yards last year. The Flashes had a lot of trouble stopping the run in 2019. Kent gave up 5.1 yards-per-carry to opponents. On a more positive note, coach Lewis returns eight of their top-ten tacklers from 2019. A lot of work needs to be done to solidify the defense. However, it won’t be easy after losing third team All-MAC defensive lineman Theo Majette. For the Flashes to have another winning season, a couple new names must emerge on the defensive line.
In the secondary, Kent also lost third-team All-MAC cornerback Jamal Parker, who was a four-year starter for the Flashes. However, the secondary has a couple of guys that can fill in. Cornerback Elvis Hines and senior safety Keith Sherald, who both have all-MAC first team talent.
Finally we hop into the defense’s most consistent and solid position group: the linebackers. They should be the defense’s most reliable position group on defense. Senior Manny Lawrence-Burke is one of the best linebackers in the conference. Unlike the other defensive position groups, the linebackers have players that can step in right away and make a difference. Lawrence-Burke is the star the defense, but he should get consistent help from linebackers Kesean Gamble and Cepeda Phillips.
On a positive note, the Flashes return special teams player of the year, kicker Matthew Trickett. The returning kicker could also take on punting duties for the Golden Flashes. Last year’s punter Derek Adams transferred to Northwestern in the off-season. With that being said, Trickett is a real weapon for the Flashes.
Schedule and Predictions:
Wenesday, November 4th: Eastern Michigan at Kent State (Prediction: Kent State 24 Eastern Michigan 15
Tuesday, November 10th: Kent State at Bowling Green (Prediction: Kent State 31 Bowling Green 27
Tuesday, November 17th: Akron at Kent State (Prediction: Kent State 27 Akron 24)
Saturday, November 28th: Kent State at Buffalo (Prediction: Buffalo 34 Kent State 18)
Saturday, December 5th: Kent State at Miami (OH) (Prediction Miami (OH) 27 Kent State 13
Saturday, December 12th: Ohio at Kent State (Prediction: Kent State 24 Ohio 20
Final Record: 4-2
Kent State is hard to predict, mostly because the MAC is always full of upsets and big wins. However, if the Flashes can finish 4-2, that would be huge for head coach Sean Lewis and the Kent State Program going forward. The Flashes will lean on Crum as much as possible this year. If he can match the numbers he put up last year, this could be a special year for him and the Golden Flashes program
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