OVERVIEW: The Falcons and Golden Flashes are the first – and only – Mid-American Conference game on the schedule, so both will be looking to get off to a fast start in East Division play. … Kent State opened the season 1-0 with a 17-10 victory over FCS member Liberty at home on Aug. 29. Despite holding Liberty to just 33 yards rushing and 222 yards of total offense, the Flashes needed to score 10 points in the final quarter to post the come-from-behind victory.
OFFENSE: The Golden Flashes finished with 361 yards of total offense on 77 plays against Liberty, or 4.7 yards per play against the FCS school. KSU had 167 rushing yards on 49 attempts while adding 194 yards passing. Kent State did not have any interceptions, but the Flashes did fumble the ball three times, losing one. Starting at quarterback for the Flashes is redshirt freshman Colin Reardon, who completed 21-of-28 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns without an interception against Liberty. His favorite targets were senior Tyshon Goode, who caught eight passes for 75 yards, and junior Chris Humphrey, who made six catches for 88 yards, including the game-winning 42-yard TD catch. The running game has a “thunder and lightning” feel, with the thunder provided by junior Trayion Durham and the lightning striking with senior Dri Archer. Last season Archer scored 23 touchdowns – 16 rushing, four receiving and three on kickoff returns – and had more than 2,500 all-purpose yards. Durham, who weighs 248 yards, joined Archer with more than 1,300 rushing yards last season. Against the Flames Durham shouldered much of the rushing load and finished with 92 yards on 21 carries. The offensive line has two seniors in center Phil Huff and Pat McShane, although McShane did not play against Liberty. McShane is considered one of the leaders of the line.
“I think their new quarterback, Reardon, has brought a lot of energy to their offense,” BG coach Dave Clawson said. “I think they’re willing to throw the ball more with him. We’ve had respect for their wideouts. I think if [Tyshon] Goode and [Chris] Humphrey were in more passing offenses they would be dynamic playmakers you would talk about. They have a Heisman candidate [in Archer] and [Trayion] Durham is an absolute beast. Kent has as good a ‘change of pace’ as anyone in the conference.”
DEFENSE: The Golden Flashes had an underrated defense last season, a unit that was overshadowed by Archer and the big-play offense. Against Liberty, KSU allowed just 222 yards of total offense -- and while that is impressive, it may be more impressive to note that the Flashes allowed the Flames to run just 44 plays. Kent State did not force any turnovers, however, and did surrender an 88-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. The leader of the KSU defense is senior DT Roosevelt Nix, a three-time All-MAC first team pick who has 52 career tackles for loss (second-most among active FBS players). Senior left end Mark Fackler made four tackles against Liberty and also is highly regarded. The linebacking corps is led by sophomore Matt Dellinger at the “mike” position; Dellinger led KSU with 11 stops against the Flames. A pair of juniors start at the other two linebacker spots as DeVante’ Strickland is at the “will” and Nate Vance starts at “leo.” The secondary is led by senior strong safety Luke Wollet, a two-time All-MAC pick who has 10 career interceptions and led the Flashes with 119 tackles last season. Another senior, Darius Polk, brings experience to a cornerback position. Junior Calvin Tiggle is an experienced safety who did not play against Liberty and is not on the BGSU depth chart.
“My freshman year they brought a lot of twists, and the last two years they brought a lot of pressure, a lot of movement,” senior offensive guard Dominic Flewellyn said. “We’re trying to work on that. Their defense had a lot of speed last year, and they gave us problems with their movement.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore Anthony Melchiori is an All-MAC caliber punter who averaged 42.2 yards on his four punts against Liberty. … Melchiori also handled the placekicking in the win against the Flames. In his first game as a placekicker he made a 39-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and also connected on both of his PAT attempts. … Senior Dri Archer is listed as the Flashes’ kickoff returner and punt returner. If he is not able to return kickoffs, other options include senior Darius Polk and redshirt freshman Ernest Calhoun. … If Archer is unable to return punts, junior safety Luke Wollet has experience in that area.
BG KEYS TO VICTORY: 1. Another big day for the Falcons big “D.” BG's victory over Tulsa was forged by a defense that didn't allow the Golden Hurricane to do anything, and eventually the Falcons scored enough points to pull away. To allow a young quarterback time to develop, that may need to happen again. 2. Limit the big plays of KSU's big players. The Golden Flashes have some high-impact players, and limiting their impact on the game is important. Last year's loss was caused in part by two long TD runs by Archer; on defense, Nix and Wollet are two players to watch. 3. Winning special teams isn’t enough. The Falcons have started winning games thanks to big plays by special teams -- last week there was a fumble, a punt return TD and the fake punt stop. Those contributions need to continue.
Want more? Akron Beacon Journal sports writer Stephanie Storm answered some Kent State questions. Click here to read her answers.