Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Video Blog: Zack Tilves on the snow-filled trip to Buffalo

Director of football operations Zack Tilves gives you all of the details of the Golden Flashes' trip to Buffalo, from the bus trip in and avoiding the storm, to all of the delays, through a lightning storm in the snow, to cancellation, a snowball fight in downtown Buffalo, and finally on to Akron week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Video Blog: Paul Haynes on the challenges that come with preparing for Buffalo

Golden Flashes head coach Paul Haynes discusses the challenges of facing Buffalo and its multiple looks in tonight's Mid-American Conference battle at Amherst, N.Y.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Video Blog: Paul Haynes on film study

The Golden Flashes head coach explains how he and his staff break down film on the day after a game, and how players can use film study to improve.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Video Blog: Paul Haynes on Toledo week and scouting the Rockets

The head coach of the Golden Flashes discusses the week of practice leading up to the Tuesday, Nov. 4 game with Toledo at Dix Stadium and gives his scouting report of the Rockets

Friday, October 24, 2014

Video Blog: Paul Haynes on the win over Army and the return to MAC play at Miami University

In the second of our video blogs, head coach Paul Haynes discusses the transition from last week's big Homecoming win over the United States Military Academy to the return of Mid-American Conference play on Saturday at Miami University.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kent State vs. Army: A day in the life of a Homecoming victory

Take a look back at Saturday's win over Army as our photographers give you an inside look from Friday walkthrough, to clap session and Captains Meal on Saturday morning, to the locker room and then onto the field at game time.

We hope you like it.

Just click the image below:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Excitement for Homecoming and preparing for the difficulties Army presents

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

Getting prepared to play an option team like Army is always difficult. You have to be extremely disciplined in a game like the one we will play on Saturday. You need to have eye control and you have to stay poised because Army is are going to continue to come after you and come after you, almost like a dog biting at your knees.

It can get frustrating as a player to get cut play after play, so in addition to the mental part, this game requires quite a bit of poise. 

It is tough to stop the option. When playing Army, you almost need them to make a mistake every once in a while. You need them to drop a ball, or have two guys go in motion at the same time, or get called for a cut block, just to get their offense off schedule. 

And then, every possession is so important in this game because you don’t know how many you are going to get.

Cut blocking in the style of offense that Army runs is different than it is in other offenses. In this one, you have everybody cutting. You are getting cut on every single play that they can possibly run. That’s where you have to stay patient and stay poised.

We are a zone blocking team, and there is some cutting in it. I think the zone scheme is helping our guys get better, but we haven’t seen the impact of it yet. The teams that have been successful against us have been movement teams and teams that are quicker than us. We have also had to get away from the run occasionally as we have fallen behind in games.

We made a conscious effort during the last two or three weeks, though, to stick with the run game just so that we can get better. Remember that other than Terrell Johnson, we are going to have every guy on our offensive line back for at least two more years. We have to get better at establishing the run because in this day and age even spread teams like Oregon run the football very well. You have to be able to run the football well to win.

Our guys on the offensive line are working hard. All of our guys up and down the roster are working hard. There is a misconception within athletics. Just because this team is 0-6, it doesn’t mean guys are refusing to work their tails off. These kids are still going to school. They are still busting their tails to try to win. It will mean a lot to them when they look up into the stands and see the students and the community backing them this weekend for Homecoming. 

We are hearing from a lot of alumni who are coming back for this game, and that’s a big deal to our guys. The players know how important this game is, and they will go out and play hard for Kent State University.

It’s going to be great to have so many former players in town. We will have our Captain’s Breakfast on Saturday morning. I believe we have 26 captains coming back from as far back as 1956. Ray Carroscia, who was a team captain in 1989, will be the speaker at the breakfast. That’s special for the kids to be around the former captains. I know the captains appreciate it. 

This is what college football is all about. Homecoming is a big part of college football at every school, but being an Kent State alumnus makes it even more special for me. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Preparing for a very good passing offense in UMass

By Brian George
Defensive Coordinator

Massachusetts has a very good passing offense. Their quarterback isn’t a very super mobile, but he has a very strong arm. He knows where to go with the football within their offense.

They have very good skill players, including their wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, who is 6-foot-4. They also have a big, tall kid who is one of those wide-receiver-slash-tight-end kids. Against tall kids like that, we have to try to get jams on them, try to slow them down and not let them get going. A lot of their routes are timing routes, so you have to disrupt that timing with the receivers. Obviously, you want to add a little bit of pressure at times as well.

Those guys are long striders rather than quick, so the more you can disrupt them, the better chance they will get. It will help to get Najee Murray back at cornerback. He gives us more depth and another physical guy in there, which is good for a game like this.

Getting back Terence Waugh and Jontey Byrd on the defensive line is also a big is also a big help. It improves our depth tremendously. They are also two of our most athletic linemen so it is definitely a good thing for us in terms of having two guys who can pass rush and a do a lot of other things for us.

We played well defensively last week at Northern Illinois. The best thing that I saw on film after that game was that we played for four quarters. That may be one of the first times this season where I felt like we played the same way, consistently, through the entire game. 

We are looking forward to continuing that consistency tomorrow when we play Massachusetts at 2 p.m. at Dix Stadium.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Playing for the name on the front of the jersey

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

Everything is a process.

You can go back to 2012 when the process started for us, but we have lost a lot of the guys who were a big part of that start. Things change, and the process begins all over again.

Understanding that it is a process isn’t always easy. We live in a society when everyone wants things now, but you are not always going to get it now. It is going to come from hard work. It is going to come through sacrifice. It is going to come from commitment. That’s what our young men are showing. Unfortunately, the are young. 

Is that an excuse?


Any real football person will tell you, though, that you never want to line up with a young offensive line like we are doing now. That’s not what you ever want. But while we are in that situation, our young offensive line is showing great promise. Next year they will be better. The year after that they will be even better. That’s building a program.

We are also building a culture.

One of the most satisfying things to happen this season was Sunday night when DVSport had to upgrade our server because we have so many guys logging on to the system to study video. That doesn’t happen with a lot of 0-5 football teams. So, we are seeing the effort and the commitment every day. We just aren’t seeing it yet in the win column. 

When you come here every day and walk up and down this hallway seeing all of these guys watching film, then you go out to practice and see guys with high energy who love to be out there working to get better, that’s why you love coming to work as a coach here. 

We are getting there. We may not be getting there as fast as everybody wants us to. But the process is happening. 

A lot of NFL scouts have been here recently. They look up and down our roster and say, boy you guys are young. But they say they’ve been watching us play and they see that we have a chance to be very good.

I appreciate that there are also fans out there who are also seeing it. With the fans I’ve talked to, the one thing they say they appreciate is how our guys are showing up, they fight and they don’t give up. 

Those things are signs of great leadership within the team. That’s taking a pride in the school. That’s the result of guys playing for each other and for the name on the front of their shirts. 

We may not be getting the wins yet, but these guys are battling for Kent State. If you want to be proud, we can all be proud about that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Players can take a snapshot to process "Information You Can Use" on the field

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

It’s good to get back into Mid-American Conference play this weekend at Northern Illinois. 

We’ll be going on the road against a tough opponent that is arguably the best team in the conference year in and year out. We know it is going to be tough, but it is always tough and our guys are looking forward to it.

While we don’t want to put an overemphasis on this game, we’ve talked about all our goals in the MAC still being right there in front of us. What we are doing is focusing on what we can do better. Like I said it after the Virginia game on Saturday, we can’t beat two teams. Our achilles this season has been turnovers and penalties. We can’t afford to make those mistakes in any game, but especially on the road against tough opponents. To put ourselves in position to win, we have to clean up those things.

There are other things we can clean up. On the defensive side of the ball we talk about offensive formations as books. There is so much information an offense gives you in a picture, and players have to take a snapshot of that picture and communicate what you see to everyone else. Just like a book, people can take what they read in different ways. And that’s why the communication that needs to happen is so important for our guys to make sure they are all on the same page.

If you take Virginia as an example, their quarterback gave away run and pass all of the time just with his stance. It’s something that is simple, but as the game goes on you start to lose that recognition because your mind goes somewhere else. His stance was always staggered on pass and he was always square when the play was a run. On third down that may not matter as much, but on first-and-10 and second down, recognizing that and communicating it is huge. We may see it on the sideline or in the booth, but at that point it’s too late to get it to the field. The recognition has to come from the field. 

We call it "Information You Can Use." Our guys need to get better at recognizing that information. Teams give you that picture. Our guys have to process it and communicate it, and then go.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Veterans return helps depth and competition, plus scouting Northern Illinois

By Brian George
Defensive Coordinator

We are very looking forward to be Getting DeVante’ Strickland at linebacker and Calvin Tiggle at safety both back from injury this weekend at Northern Illinois. Being able to have some of these guys get back after being out with injuries adds a new dimension, most importantly to our depth. 

At this level you can get thin pretty quickly when you get two or three veterans banged up, and we’ve been dealing with that through the first four weeks of the season. The return of DeVante’ and Calvin will help our depth, help us get players in the best positions possible for them, and also helps us get our players back to feeling like they are challenged each week in practice for their spots.

DeVante’ gives us a guy who has played for us and has an understanding of what we are doing. Having a guy who has played a lot of football over the course of the last four years adds some leadership and some knowledge to that position. Any time he is working in with that group, he is able to give something in terms of understanding what he sees to the young guys who are working with him.

It’s the same thing with Calvin. He has played a lot of football. He is another experienced guy who you are not having to teach every single step from the beginning. He is also a guy who creates competition at the position and allows us to move some guys around a little bit and let them compete again for playing time.

We will start to work both guys into playing again and that will give us a little more flexibility starting this week at Northern Illinois.

Northern is very similar to what we have seen the last few years. They are an explosive, run-the-football team. They have the ability to put the ball in the air, but the throwing really comes off of their running game. Their passing game is a lot of three-steps with easy throws for the quarterback – screens, bubble screens, smoke screens. They will also run some play-action and try to get it deep off of the runs.

Everything starts with them in the running game, and they involve a lot of different guys in that running game, from their running backs, to the quarterback to the wide receivers. Defensively, that means we have to do a good job of being sound, adjusting to the formations and the motions, leveraging the football, and then doing a great job of getting off of blocks and tackling.

That kind of running game that incorporates the running backs, the quarterback and the wide receiver, is kind of becoming the norm now. While it may not be full scale the way Northern Illinois does it, we have seen aspects of that kind of running game every week this season. From Ohio University to South Alabama, and from Ohio State to last week at Virginia, all of those teams have all or part of that type of offense. Because of that, we have spent a majority of our time working on that offense this season, and this week should be a continued step in our improvement. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Video Blog: Brian Rock on Saturday's game at Virginia

Offensive coordinator Brian Rock signs on for the first of Kent State Football's video blogs.

This week, Rock talks about the challenges facing the Golden Flashes on Saturday when they visit the University of Virginia

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fundamentals and recruiting are priorities during the bye week

By Paul Haynes 
Head Coach

We practiced on Tuesday and we will practice today. Then we will come back and practice on Sunday. The players lifted on Monday and will lift again on Thursday and Friday. During this bye week we are focusing on fundamentals. We are going back to running base plays and doing a lot of individual periods spent on the fundamentals of the game.

On Thursday and Friday, our assistant coaches will be on the road recruiting. We have a plan to go out of state to Florida, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana. Our next bye week we be focused on recruiting our Ohio areas. We have one coach in Ohio this week, and I’ll go around in-state on Friday.

That’s our plan during the bye week. We’ll get back on Sunday and really start working on Virginia, hitting the normal week. 

We are a young team, but that doesn’t change what we are doing in recruiting. We still have to fill our needs. A lot of recruits will look at the roster to see who is playing and what year they are, but I always tell them it doesn’t matter. We have an obligation to put the best team on the field, so you will have an opportunity to come in and compete. 

When you look at our numbers, defensive end is a big need in this upcoming class. We lose two with Richard Gray and Nate Vance.

We are also looking for offensive linemen. We need to get our numbers up there. Right now there are 14 on the roster and we need to get back up to 16.

Offensive line and defensive end are our top priorities, and then after that cornerback is a need because we will lose some guys there.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A look ahead at week three and where Kent State's defense needs to continue to improve

By Brian George
Defensive Coordinator

Preparing to play Ohio State is like preparing for any game. You want to put your players in a position where they can win the game. 

Obviously, when we get that opportunity, we have to make the plays on the field that we need to make. We have to get off of blocks, make tackles, and cover their guys. But in terms of preparation, it is no different than how we prepare any week. If we did treat this game differently, players will figure it out very quickly.

In watching film on Ohio State’s offense this week, you can see they are very talented. They are also more youthful than they were last season, and so up to this point they have been a lot simpler in terms of what they do. I think they have some very talented guys, though, which is what you would expect. They are a top-10 recruiting class every year. They have some young players on their offensive line, and that’s one reason they are doing things simpler. But with Braxton Miller being out I think they are doing some things to make things easier on their young quarterback.

They had a tough loss last week, so they will probably make some adjustments. It will be interesting to see where they go and what direction they take with what they are doing.

It’s going to be good to see our guys go against very good competition. I think our guys have continued to improve from week one to week two. We have to keep improving in two ways. No. 1, we need to keep getting better fundamentally.

The second one is understanding situational football. Where are we on the field? How does offense and defense change the closer you get to the end zone. Recognition of the whole formation and not just what is directly in front of me.

Coming up as high school players, you aren’t asked to see the big picture. But at this level it can really help you if you learn to see the big picture. You have to study really hard, though, to know what is going on around you. We are getting to that point even though we are still a relatively young crew. The guys are very attentive and they are taking in what we are teaching. I’m hopeful we will continue to take steps forward in that area. 

Different philosophies going into a game like Saturday's at Ohio State

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach 

Do you do something totally different to catch them off guard, or do you try to get better at what you are doing?

Those are the two philosophies that you have to go with going into a game like Saturday at Ohio State.

I think you can be on the fence with that, though, and do a little bit of both. 

If you are not a fast-paced team, you can go fast paced. If you are an I-Pro team, you can line up empty the whole game. It’s becoming totally different than what you are. But, does that hurt you down the road because you are never going to do those things again? Now you have wasted a whole week of practice on things you are never going to do again.

I think there is a fine line with it.

If you are not a pressure team and now you are pressuring like crazy, or if you use a full back and all of a sudden you don’t have one, that changes the game a little bit for an opponent. 

When I was at Ohio State as an assistant, we didn’t see a lot of teams go totally different against us. There was nothing dramatically different from what you saw teams already doing.  A lot of people knew who we were, though, so they knew what would hurt us. They would put four receivers in the boundary and other things that gave us issues. But you never saw a team that never played wishbone all of a sudden come out in wishbone. 

Virginia Tech did some things last week that gave Ohio State trouble, but Ohio State has had a week to work on those issues. They know teams will continue to do some of those things Virginia Tech did until they have solved them.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The running game and "The Discipline of Football"

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

You always get a gauge of how your team is handling things after a loss.

I like to have guys try to grade themselves, and what you are looking for in that is to see if guys think they played better than how you think they did. 

When we look at our offensive line, their expectations are high. They’ll be the first to tell you, though, that they could have played better against Ohio University.

We are seeing them challenge themselves, which is a good thing. It is a very good thing.

The hard part for those guys is that you open up with a league game. There is so much on the line with needing to get a win, but there is still a lot of football to play this season. People who are unsure of themselves may want to change the whole gamut, but that’s not who we are. We know where we need to get better and it is a process.

There is also a misconception about what it takes to run the football. It’s a lot like the misconception that exists with stopping the run. When we visited the Pittsburgh Steelers, their defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau talked about how you have to include the secondary to stop the run. It’s the same thing if you want to run the football. You have to include everyone else. It isn’t just the five guys on the offensive line. It’s blocking on the perimeter and a whole lot more. As a whole, those are things you have to realize. 

You look at personnel, and then you look at schematic. We have our best personnel. Now we just have to do everything a little bit better. I was just reading an article by Dick Vermeil, and he talked about this. There is some good in what we are doing. So it’s not that we can’t do it. It’s just that the consistency wasn’t there. 

                                                                         Photo by David Dermer
There were a couple of runs in there that we had for 8-or-9-yards. When it is blocked right, you get the 4-yard average you want. It’s the same defensively. When we execute, things work.

It’s called “The Discipline of Football” 

The Discipline of Football is to be able to do your fundamentals and technique under pressure. The game doesn’t change. Your mind changes. 

Can I do it for 70 plays in a row … in a row … in a row? 

The only thing that changes is what you are thinking.

Whenever there is a tight game or you feel like you have to do something extra, usually thinking about that something extra is what screws you up.

You have to slow the game down. That’s what practice and film study is about. It’s putting yourself in the situation, like flight simulation. You put yourself in the situation so many times that the game slows down. That’s easier said than done when the bullets are flying, but that’s what you train yourself to do.

Friday, August 29, 2014

We need our fans to "Act a Fool" when we face Ohio University on Saturday

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

I love the attitude of our football team. Our guys are excited every day to go to practice and get into the preparation to play someone else. We are at that point where we are very excited to play another opponent.

We have been working very hard to get ready for Ohio University. The Bobcats are breaking in some young players, including guys at quarterback and running back, but when you have the same guy at the helm for as long a time as coach Solich has been there, you know he is going to put his footprint on the program. That means facing tough kids who are going to play hard. We are going to get a tough, physical game and we know it. They may have some different players, but they are who they are, and that won’t change.

While we’ve been getting ready for Ohio, this is also the first game of the year. And in the first game of the year you tend to focus a little bit more on yourself and your own mindset. That’s even more important this year considering the opener is a league game, and in a league game you can’t afford those first-game blunders. You can’t make mental mistakes. You can’t turn the ball over. Those are the things that tend to happen a little bit more in the first game. So, you have to try to slow the game down and play within yourself.

There’s still a lot to do before Saturday’s game. There is the Friday night preparation. I start to gauge where our team’s mindset is by seeing how much they are talking, how much they are communicating. The more the the players are talking and the less the coaches are talking, to me that’s a good way to know they are prepared and ready.

With it being a night game, we’ll do more on Saturday morning with some walkthroughs and get a feel for how they are acting, their communication, what they are talking about and what they know.

When we get to the game, we are really looking forward to seeing what we know is going to be a big and excited crowd at Dix Stadium. It’s going to be nice weather. We have all day to get riled up and get going. We need an electric crowd. With the situation that happened last week, hopefully we can have people come and show respect for this football team as we move forward, showing how proud they are of them for moving forward. If we can pack that place and have an exciting atmosphere for our guys to play in front of the fans, I know they are going to play hard.

It’s a league game, so it should be exciting for the fans. It should be a great atmosphere. We need the fans to be loud and rowdy. I said this in the freshman pep rally, that we need them to “act a fool.”

That’s what we need. We need our fans to “act a fool.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Expectations and depth on defense, and a look ahead to Ohio University

By Brian George
Defensive Coordinator

I think we have a group of kids on defense who understand what we are looking for in terms of doing the things we ask, pushing each other and showing leadership. That is something we really focused on as a defense and as a team. But as a group, our guys on defense have taken some positive strides in that direction. How closely their performance will follow that is yet to be seen, but it will be interesting to see. 

We definitely have a good feel for this group of kids, what they are about, the things that are their priorities, and their dedication to what they are doing. It will be exciting, and I think at this point we are all ready to see them play in a game.

As coaches, we have talked about depth and how many guys are ready to play. We have some good players up front who are ready to step up and fill some roles for us. Guys like Terence Waugh, Jon Cunningham, Jontey Byrd, and some of those guys have really stepped up their game. We could play seven or eight guys on the defensive line.

At linebacker we are a little bit short right now in terms of experience. Obviously, Matt Dellinger and Darius Redmond both have playing experience and those two will start for us. With freshmen Marques Moore and Matt Sommers, we are hopeful we can keep their role early on to special teams. Both could potentially see some limited action at linebacker. That’s obviously dependent on everyone else staying healthy. But right now we would like to introduce them to the game with special teams and a more limited role on defense, at least early in the season. We feel confident both of them have the ability to play. It’s just a matter of gaining some experience, and it’s different at this level with the preparation and some of the things we are asking them to do.

In the secondary, starting with the safeties, we feel really good about the three guys who played last year and are still pretty young when you think about it. Jordan Italiano played every game last year at star. Right now he is starting at strong safety. Elcee Refuge, who was Jordan’s backup last year and played in dime situations, is the star this year, and he has done a really good job. He is a real fit for that position. When you ask what you are looking for with that spot, Elcee fits that mold. He is like a linebacker who can cover. He is still young and he played a lot of football for us, gaining a lot of experience for us last year. And Nate Holley at free safety continues to grow and learn. He has an unbelievable work ethic. Our No. 1 guy competing for playing time at safety is Calvin Tiggle, who has fought through some injuries during spring and fall camp. He will start the year in a limited role, but as he continues to get healthy, he’ll contribute more and more. 

At cornerback, we have a good mix of guys with some experience and some good young guys. Obviously Malcom Pannell has played a good amount of football. He is doing a good job. Najee Murray sat out last year as a transfer, but he is also a guy who has played college football. He is a good player and a good tackler, who is not afraid to be physical at that position. Some of the younger guys have also come along and shown us some good things as we’ve gone through camp. Demetrius Monday had a very good camp, and we expect him to see some time at corner. Kerrick Rhone, who has spotted a little bit in the past, has continued to improve. Jerrell Foster as a true freshman will probably play on special teams, initially, but he is also in the hunt at corner.

We are looking forward to seeing all of these guys in action on Saturday against Ohio University. 

Ohio is a bit of an unknown with regard to personnel. Each team is shaped to its personnel to a certain degree. The coaching staff at Ohio has a philosophy of things they like to do and the things that fit within their system, but the personnel determines what you do within that system.

There are some new faces, but some of those guys who are filling roles for them have played a lot of football for them. The quarterback who is starting for them played 144 snaps last year at quarterback, so it is not as if he is completely green coming in to Saturday. It’s the same thing with their starting tailback. He has seen action in the last two seasons, so it’s not like he is a guy coming in off of the street. Both have had a role. It’s the same with their offensive line. They are replacing some guys, but all of those guys have seen some playing time. Saturday won’t be their first snaps of college football.

We have to stop the run. We can’t give up big plays. And we have to be great in the red zone. If we do those things, and we get some turnovers, we will have a great chance to win.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sorting out the depth chart

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

We get together every day and we evaluate our guys. We have told our guys that it’s not over. Even after this past Saturday’s scrimmage, we are going to continue to make sure we evaluate and find 30-to-35 guys we can go to war with.

We put a lot of time into the depth chart. We meet in between practices and then we meet again at night to go over that day’s and the personnel again. It’s a matter of making sure everyone is on the same page. Everyone has an opinion. It isn’t just the position coach. It’s the coordinator. It’s myself and it is the other coaches too, because those coaches are in charge of special units. And we are not talking about any guy unless they are on special units.

There are always healthy discussions. There are arguments, too, but those are healthy also. When you listen to Steve Jobs and people who have run major companies, all of them say that is healthy. If you are in an organization where you don’t have arguments, then you have a dictatorship where everyone is afraid to have an opinion.

As a position coach, it is like you are the dad of the players at your position. With every kid you have a super personal relationship. You want the best for that kid, and if other people don’t see things the way you do, you want to fight for that kid. That’s where some of the battles come from. And they are important. But at the end of the day, we all have to recognize what is best for the team. It comes down to how can that player help us. It’s the same at every level, from high school, to college to the pros. Who can help us win? Who can do the most for us? It all boils down to that.

The final depth chart should be set by Monday.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday's scrimmage and the last week of camp ahead

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

I liked the energy this morning during our scrimmage at Dix Stadium. We had quite a few playmakers on offense who did well, and we need that.

Whenever you hear people talk about us, they often bring up the loss of Dri Archer. But we still have guys out there who are capable of making plays, which is a good thing.

I thought James Brooks did a lot of good things out there this morning. He made some plays that were very good to see. I also liked what I saw from our freshman running back Miles Hibbler.

We held out Anthony Meray and Nick Holley at running back this morning just as a precaution. They are fine. But that gave guys like Hibbler and Tristin Boykin more chances, and I thought they did a very good job with it.

Now we go into our last week before we start our preparation for the opener. This week is still camp, so we'll continue to grind and keep things going. We'll continue to work on fundamentals and technique, but we'll also start to scale things down a little bit to get their legs ready for the opener.

That opener with Ohio University at Dix Stadium is Aug. 30 and we want to set an attendance record, so we are looking forward to seeing you all there.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On Saturday's scrimmage and position battles

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

Saturday’s scrimmage at Dix Stadium will be more like a regular situational practice instead of the Jersey Scrimmage we had on the original schedule.

We will go live in some of the situations, but not all of them. We’ll do basic situations – third down, red zone, short yardage.

There is still a lot of competition at pretty much every position. You look at linebacker, you look at wideout, and running back is still not solidified, which is injury based. We are still trying to determine who will be the first four on the defensive line. We haven’t been in many live situations, so when the lights come on, we may see something different.

We have talked a lot from the first day of camp about being efficient with our time. That’s part of why we decided to switch from the Jersey Scrimmage to more of a situational practice. We are not out here very long, but we are moving pretty fast and the guys have worked hard. So, I don’t want to have them banging for two hours.

We are going to be smart about it and start winding camp down and getting healthy for Aug. 30 vs. Ohio University.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Practicing with intensity and getting rid of the "I'm not sure"

By Brian Rock
Offensive Coordinator

Tomorrow is the first day in full pads and I want to see guys compete and go hard. Football is an intense game and you need to make sure you are practicing that the intensity as much as you are the individual techniques of the game.

Today we went through a drill where I didn’t get a very good evaluation of where we are up front simply because our guys were fooled. We saw a lot of blitzes and our guys weren’t sure. We have to get that “I’m not sure” out of us in the protection game for us to be effective. 

It’s hard to evaluate is this guy or that guy going to be able to pass protect if they are not able to come out and actually try to do it knowing what they are supposed to do it. 

Every team is different, so every year we have to evaluate what our guys can do. We’ve been trying to determine what we can be very good at since day one on Monday. Every day we have learned something new. There is always a guy who catches your eye or makes you think you can do something interesting with him. 

And while you get intrigued every day, Coach Haynes talked about it today with the team, though. It all comes down to production. You need to have guys show up after you identify who your playmakers are and find ways to get the ball to them. We are in the identifying stage right now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The challenge of being the best

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

I read a section from our Winners Manual to our team today after practice. It talks about what it takes to be the best and the things the best do better than anyone else. 

There are 11 traits to being the best. Reading through it again, I wanted our guys to understand what the standard is. What do you want to be? How do you practice? How do you want to play the game?

A lot of this game is about attitude and effort, and I want our guys to play and practice to a certain standard.

I could see a little bit of a letdown today in terms of the intensity. There wasn’t the same excitement today that we had on Monday. That’s part of camp. But that’s also part of the challenge of camp. You can’t come out here like that. That’s the mental part of camp.

There are guys out here that you can count on for the same effort every day. Right off the rip, I think of Najee Murray. He is a guy who comes out here and plays with excitement every practice. Nate Vance is also that way. Casey Pierce is also that way. That’s three guys. There are more, but we are not going to get where we want until all 105 guys come out here with that same intensity. 

There are guys out there practicing hard, and there are also guys out there who are passing on their knowledge to their teammates. You see that with guys like Najee Murray. That’s the kind of culture we want here, but that’s also the kind of culture he came from, too. 

We’ll be coming back out this afternoon for our walkthroughs, and we have to be better. We need better focus and better energy today and then for the rest of camp. That’s the challenge. You either get better or you get worse. You don’t stay the same. We need to make sure we get better.


Read David Carducci's "The Press Box" Blog for notes, photos and highlights from the first two day's of Preseason Camp:


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Priorities heading into preseason camp

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

Preseason camp starts next week at Dix Stadium and we will have several priorities in those first three weeks of August before we open up against Ohio University on Aug. 30.

We want to find out who are best 11 are on both sides of the ball. We want to set a tone for our attitude for the year. We want to come out of camp as a very fundamentally sound football team. 

This will be my second camp as head coach at Kent State and we will tweak some of the things that we did in year one. One of the things we tweaked is our message. We want everyone saying the same things and having the same message whenever we are in front of the team. That could mean the message from our leader committee that we have amongst our players and it also means our coaches.

We have also restructured our practices a little bit. We’ll make some changes in how we practice, how long we practice and what we will practice. 

Some coaches may think they have it all figured out. I’m the opposite. I was an assistant coach longer than I have been a head coach, and I know that nobody has all of the answers. I’m fortunate to have a good, experienced staff of coaches who have worked at a lot of different places. We like to kick around our ideas and come up with what is the best thing for the 2014 Kent State football team. That’s how we operate. It’s how we operate in practice. It is how we operate with our gameplan. 

It is extremely important to look back and examine the things you did right and you did wrong from the previous season. And then you have to be man enough to say these are the things we didn’t do well. We have been doing that since January.

Our players have also been working hard in the offseason. The thing I love about our team right now is our attitude. It should be that way after you are humbled, and we were humbled last year. Our attitude is awesome right now. Our guys are chomping at the bit to get out there next week, and that’s always a great thing when they have that attitude going into camp.

We’ll have several things we need to figure out between now and November to get to where we want to go. We need to be consistent with everything we do, with how we practice and how we prepare. I truly believe that you get what your work deserves. When we go back to last year, there are a lot of areas where you can place blame, but the reality is we didn’t work hard enough and we didn’t prepare hard enough at certain times. Those are the things we need to be consistent with. 

There are other things that are basic to football. You have to be able to run the football and you have to be able to stop the run. Those are things we didn’t do very well last year. We have to correct that to have a good season next year.

We also have to do a better job with turnovers. We didn’t get many last year, and at the same time we turned the ball over too often.

The game hasn’t changed over the years. Those are the things you have to do consistently to do well. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Josh Kline featured in story on ESPN.com

In case you missed it, ESPN has a great story on Kent State alum Josh Kline and the impact he is making with the New England Patriots.

It was on the network's website on April 21.

Here's the link: Josh Kline made impression on teammates

If you are a Kent State fan, the New England Patriots could be a good team to adopt in the NFL considering former Golden Flashes quarterback Julian Edelman is also there.

Fans can still get a chance to meet Edelman up close and personal on Friday if they attend the Third Annual Athletic Scholarship Auction at the M.A.C. Center. Edelman will serve as a celebrity co-host for the evening.,

Here's a link to more information on the auction.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Focusing on fundamentals, competing and identifying leaders as we start spring practice

By Brian George
Defensive Coordinator

There are a couple of things we need to do this spring from a defensive standpoint.

First, we need to get better fundamentally. I think that is going to be a big focus of our spring. We have reduced the amount of what we do in terms of calls, and therefore we are going to spend a lot of time teaching, coaching, learning fundamental parts of the game – pad level, tackling, block destruction. We are still going to teach the concepts, but we are going to focus more on becoming better fundamentally.

The other thing we want to do is figure out who are best 11 are. Who are the guys we can count on? It starts with those fundamental things, but also we have to find the competitors in the group. Better yet, if we find 22 of them or more, we need to find spots for those guys who are going to compete and finish, no matter what the situation.

If we find guys who want to compete but are a little behind in their understanding, well, we want the guys who will compete. So we are going to coach those guys and use this opportunity in spring to get them to the place where they are to where they need to be, because those are the guys you are going to win with. Technique and understanding the defense is important, but competing and finding a way to get things done is even more important.

There are a number of guys who can step in and take over some of the leadership roles that we lost to graduation. That’s the interesting part of college football. Guys graduate and leave. New guys are responsible for taking over that leadership role. We aren’t ready to stamp anyone yet as those new leaders because they haven’t been fire tested yet. But I think new leaders will emerge this spring. 

We have a lot of guys who have played and are doing all of the right things, and I’m anxious to see what kind of a jump they make this spring – guys like Nate Terhune and Matt Dellinger, who really played his first full season for us last year. Having an entire offseason in the weight room is going to help him. DeVante’ Strickland is in the same boat. He missed an entire offseason to injury, and by the time we get to the fall he will have had a complete offseason to develop.

Obviously we need Jordan Italiano to continue to grow. Nate Holley is a kid who played for us who has to continue to emerge vocally and in understanding. The more he understands, the more he plays and the more he can be a leader. Nate Vance is another guy who always does a good job leading by example and is never afraid to step out on a limb. He will be physically unable to play during the spring, but he can continue to develop in his understanding and as a leader.

We have some young guys who we believe have the ability to lead, but it is now a matter of putting them under pressure and seeing who rises to the top. The good thing for us is that this should be a very competitive spring. There is nobody slated as a starter at any position, and those guys will emerge through competition. You may walk out to practice on day three or four and see a completely different group out there when we call out the first unit. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thoughts heading into tomorrow's first day of spring football

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

As coaches, we will be focused on identifying our playmakers during spring practice.

We have a big push on competition. We want to find out who are the most competitive kids. 

We also want to build team chemistry. I told the guys that April is “Get To Know Your Teammate Month” for us. I expect them to do that. The only way we are going to become a championship team is if we truly care about each other. And the only way to truly grow to care about each other is if you spend the time. You have to spend the time with people you don’t know. We can all spend time within our own little clicks. 

I’m going to ask guys to tell me about their teammates. When I call on someone, he should be able to tell me something about another player. That’s part of building team chemistry. 

We need to decide, "What are we about?" "Who are we about?"

Every position is truly wide open and the guys who will be our starters are the guys who are going to earn it. We’ve started a thing where we ask our guys. I’ll ask Colin Reardon, “who is the starting quarterback?” And he will answer, “whoever earns it.”

There are going to be a lot of different guys moving around, working with the first group, the second group and the third group. We are going to give everybody an opportunity to play this spring.

We are also going to spend time figuring out what our brand is.

To me, a brand is this – when you say Kent State Offense, what do you think about? When you say "Kent State Defense", what do you think about? When you say Kent State Special Teams, what do you think about? 

It is about an identity. We have names we call ourselves, but if that name doesn’t take on a life of its own, then its because it didn’t mean anything. It was just a name.

I spent all of last week on spring break down at Florida State and I visited with some of their older players. They talked about how there is a certain way they play football down there or you are not going to play. They know who they are and what they are about. So now, who are we? What are we about? When people think of us, what are they saying?

I don’t like to talk a lot about the places I’ve been, but when I was at Ohio State, the “Silver Bullets” meant something. It was darned near alive. It carried with it a standard for how you play.

We have to get to that point where our guys taking pride in something that is becoming the brand.

In Cleveland, you’ve had the “Dawg Pound”, in Minnesota they had the “Purple People Eaters”, in Pittsburgh “the Steel Curtain.” When that stuff starts to come alive, you start taking pride in everything you do.

At Ohio State we had a guy named Nate Ebner. He plays for the Patriots now. He never took a snap for us at safety, but he took pride in every special unit and everybody gravitated around him. When that happened, our special teams started to come alive. That is what you need to have. Until you do, guys are just out there. They are just running plays and being compliant instead of being committed.

Offense will answer questions while building on momentum during the spring season

By Brian Rock
Offensive Coordinator

We need to answer some questions this spring.

We’ve had a great offseason and we need to make sure that we are continuing that momentum into actually being on the field and playing football. But we also need to label who are guys are going to be, especially at the offensive line and wide receiver positions. Those are some questions that need to be answered.

I am also looking forward to finding out what our depth is going to be like at running back. 

We have to find ways to make sure we get our 11 best on the field.

Philosophically, we will be working on our base offense. We are not experimenting and doing a bunch of different things. We are trying to get better at alignment assignment and technique and the base runs and passing concepts we have in our offense.

Our offensive line guys have a lot of experience under their belts. Guys like Reno Reda and Wayne Scott are a year older and a year better. Anthony Pruitt has come a long way. I’m excited to see those guys now that they have a year under their belts and to see what they can bring to the table.

We have to establish some wide receivers during this spring. Will Woods has had a great offseason. I’m anxious to see Ernest Calhoun and Josh Boyle take another step. Chris Humphrey is an established guy who has played a lot of football for us, but who will be the rest of that crew? That’s what we have to find out.

At running back, Trayion Durham is getting over an injury. Anthony Meray has played a lot for us in the last couple of years and he’ll be back again. He has some class conflicts this spring, and with Trayion getting healthy we have moved Nick Holley to running back. Nick and Tristin Boykin are going to get a workout this spring. 

I like the idea of Nick at running back in that he brings some toughness to the table. I like his work ethic. Nick has also had the football in his hands before. We’ve never had him at running back before, though, so we need to find out about what he can bring to that position. He can block and be tough to tackle, but also have some speed and elusiveness to create some big plays. 

We can be very good at tight end with Casey Pierce and Kyle Payton, who has had a very good offseason. The young guys there are coming along with Ryan Malone and Brice Fackler. And then the transfer from Ashland, Steve Nagy, we’ll see where he fits in. We have a pretty good nucleus of guys there. 

Our biggest thing is coming together as a unit. We need to get 11 guys all going in the same direction.all. 

TOMORROW: Defensive coordinator Brian George looks at the goals for spring practice

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dri Archer combine performance in review

By now most of you are aware of Dri Archer's big weekend in Indianapolis for the NFL combine.

We want to hear from you ... How much do you think Dri's combine performance will improve his stock? Where do you predict he will be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft?

For those who don't know about Dri's 4.26 and other numbers posted over the weekend, here is a link to our story on www.kentstatesports.com along with other stories from around the internet:

And here are some videos from Dri's big weekend: