By Paul Haynes
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.