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Recapping the Golden Flashes’ Jersey Scrimmage: My Eyes vs. the Scoreboard

Spring football is coming to a close for the Golden Flashes.This past Saturday, the team held its inter-squad Jersey Scrimmage in Dix Stadium,pitting offense versus defense to determine which side would earn the right to wear the coveted blue jerseys.  

The following system explains how scoring was recorded for each side, according to kentstatesports.com

Playing Rules:

Each drive will consist of six plays. If the offense has a drive sustained on its first possession, it will be a allowed to continue the drive beyond six plays to its conclusion. If the offense is stopped in the first three plays, the drive will stop at the end of the six plays, regardless of where the ball is.

Scoring:

Defense:

  • 1 point for forcing a punt
  • 3,7 points for a fumble recovered or interception (field position determines points: -50 is 7 points, +50 is 3 points)
  • 12 points for interception or fumble returned for a touchdown
  • 1 point for tackle behind the line of scrimmage
  • 2 points for a sack
  • 3 points for blocking a field goal
  • 1 point for blocking an extra point
  • 2 points for an unsuccessful 2-point play
  • 3 points for stopping 4th & 1 behind the 50
  • 2 points for stopping 4th & 1 inside the 50

Offense:

  • 6 points for every touchdown
  • 1 point for each first down gained
  • 1 point for each play over 20 yards\
  • 1 point for each extra point
  • 3 points for each field goal
  • 2 points for each 2-point play

The Golden Flashes offense won the Jersey Scrimmage 39-26 helped in part by a late touchdown pass from Colin Reardon to Josh Boyle. While the score indicates an offensive win, as an observer, I found the defense to be dominant for the majority of the day. Two early interceptions, the first by sophomore safety Nate Holley, and second, by redshirt freshman safety Jake McVay set the tone for the Golden Flashes defense.

Running lanes closed quickly due to a strong starting defensive line, composed of Terrence Waugh, Chris Fairchild, Nate Terhune, and Richard Gray, and a group of linebackers, led by DeVante’ Strickland and Matt Dellinger.

Defensive linemen Terrence Waugh and Nate Terhune seemed to be chasing down quarterbacks Colin Reardon and Nathan Strock throughout the entirety of the scrimmage.

Although the score indicates a different outcome, I saw more from the defense than I did offensively. This isn’t unusual though, as the the offense typically takes until fall camp to hit its stride and get up to speed with the flow of the game. I expect both sides to greatly improve during fall camp.  

The freshmen from last year are no longer inexperienced, and new to the college game.  Expect to see some members of last year’s class shine in the Annual Spring Game. My eyes will be on defensive end Terrence Waugh, safety Elcee Refuge, and offensive guard Wayne Scott.

The Jersey Scrimmage marked the last true test of the spring campaign leading into the Annual Spring Game, to be held April 26, in Dix Stadium. Come out to support the Golden Flashes and get a sneak preview of the 2014 Kent State football team. 

 

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A Brief History of Golden Flashes PR

Public relations has become an increasingly important practice in the world of sports. Professional athletes now rely on full-time publicists to seek media coverage, manage schedules, and coordinate events. While individual publicists have been involved in sports for many years, aggressive public relations efforts at the collegiate level seem to be a more recent phenomena.

I have just a brief personal history to call on, but as a former Golden Flash, I’ve seen first-hand, the benefit of a successful public relations campaign. Year after year, Kent State has done a commendable job developing public relations plans to increase community and campus involvement with its intercollegiate athletic programs. The public relations effort I most fondly remember during my time as a student-athlete is Joel Nielsen’s “90KSU- Everyone Counts” initiative. Joel Nielsen was introduced as Kent State University’s 11th Director of Intercollegiate Athletics in March of 2010 with a focus on football.   

Prior to the 2010 season, Kent State was charged with meeting a NCAA-mandated goal of 90,000 tickets sold; an average of 15,000 per home game. Kent State revamped the way it approached the entire Golden Flashes football experience. “I’ve said from day one that football is going to be a priority and the NCAA already had its attendance requirement in place, so we decided to take both notions and turn them into one campaign. Rather than running from the NCAA number, we’re embracing it,” said Nielsen, in a 2010 interview with Ohio.com

The 90KSU initiative included everything from an increased emphasis on marketing, to creating a game day atmosphere that started with a completely new tailgating experience, to making a trip to Dix Stadium not only affordable, but memorable and fun. In the same Ohio.com interview, Nielsen said, “I have a vision of parking lots filled with tailgaters, Dix Stadium packed with fans wearing their Blue and Gold and little kids running around on the field after a Kent State victory,” said Nielsen. “We’re going to do everything we can to make that vision a reality.”

Now four years removed from the 90KSU initiative, I’m happy to say I observed first-hand just how influential this plan was. Sold-out crowds at Dix Stadium were more frequent, and the overall hype surrounding each upcoming season was always electric. The historic 2012 season only added fuel tothe growing fire.

I’m eager to see what Joel Nielsen and the athletic department will churn out for the Golden Flashes’ upcoming 2014 season. Screaming fans, scoreboard highlights, and loud collisions await week one against the Ohio Bobcats at Dix Stadium.  


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Practicing for Second-Half Success

All coaches, from Pop Warner to Division 1-A, understand the importance of an explosive third quarter. Capitalizing on an adjusted game plan and a refocused team has proven year after year to be the deciding factor in college football’s biggest games. Kent State Head Coach Paul Haynes and the rest of the Golden Flashes coaching staff have implemented a teaching period roughly one third of the way through practice, and a short break period at the halfway point to help prepare for third quarter success in 2014.

These periods are meant not only as a time to learn and rest, but as a simulation for halftime. The typical 20-minute halftime break can take an athlete out of his zone and potentially cause him to lose focus. Once the teaching and rest periods end, the Golden Flashes jump right back into live drills and quickly refocus. My infographic below shows the Kent State coaching staff has good reason for the new-look practice schedule.

Watch closely to see how the Golden Flashes attack the third quarter against the Ohio University Bobcats week one at Dix Stadium.


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Spring Has Officially Sprung in Kent Ohio

For the Kent State football team, spring doesn’t officially start until spring practices begin. With a grueling winter of training behind them, the Golden Flashes set out to accomplish some of the goals set forth during the team’s first official meeting in early January.  The winter strength and conditioning program has prepared the Golden Flashes for what lies ahead of them over the next three weeks. Fourteen Golden Flashes squatted over 450 lbs. during the designated max-out week, four of which squatted over 500 lbs. Bench press numbers improved from last year as well, when twelve players reached over 330 lbs. and four over 400 lbs. While these numbers don’t translate directly to improvements on the field, and wins come this fall, it does show improvement from a young Kent State football team. Action shots posted on Twitter taken by strength an conditioning assistants show some of the faces of accomplishment from the culmination of winter training.

The Golden Flashes made a splash just before the start of Spring practices when they hired Running Backs Coach Don Treadwell; former Miami head coach, and Michigan State Offensive Coordinator.  Treadwell replaces former Running Backs Coach Ted Bahuur, who left the team for personal reasons. In an interview with kentstatesports.com, Kent State Head Coach Paul Haynes said, “we’re very excited to make Coach Treadwell a part of this program.  I know we just made this program better with the knowledge and experience Coach Treadwell brings. Without Trayion Durham in the spring lineup, Treadwell will be working toward improving a relatively young group of running backs.

With the preliminary helmets-only practices out of the way, the Golden Flashes are gearing up for two-and-a-half weeks of fully padded practices, complete with live tackling and game-situation drills. According to Head Coach Paul Haynes, the Golden Flashes will focus more of their time working on the basic fundamentals and technique required at each position in order to better prepare for a more productive fall.

The Golden Flashes will be an interesting team to watch progress this spring.  Although young overall, the 2014 Golden Flashes return eight players on defense with at least six starts from 2013. Four of the top six leading tacklers from last season also return to the defense. Five offensive linemen with game experience return to a group that will solidify more as spring progresses. Quarterback Colin Reardon will look to improve, and develop as a leader after finishing a respectable freshman season. All-MAC punter Anthony Melchiori also returns to a now experienced group of specialists.

Coming together as a unit will be an important task for the Golden Flashes. Over the next 11 practices, leaders will emerge, and players will prove they have what it takes to be in the two-deep rotation come fall.  Who will those players be? That’s what we’ll just have to wait on. The annual spring football game on April, 26th in Dix Stadium will showcase some talented freshmen from last season, as well as improved veterans. Stay tuned for more updates as spring practice continues.

 


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The Culmination of Winter Training: One-rep Maxes and 5:30 a.m Tests of Will

The Golden Flashes have spent the last 10 weeks training inside the James Harrison Strength and Conditioning Center to accomplish their main off-season goal; increased size and strength.  The entire off-season to this point has come down to 10 days of benchmark strength testing and a brutal gauntlet of 5:30 a.m. conditioning circuits.  Head strength and conditioning coach Antoine Sharp will be testing one-rep maxes for bench press, squat, and hang clean.

Each athlete who bests his lift from the previous testing date earns the right to proudly ring the Starner Victory Bell, which is placed in the weight room for that very reason. The Starner Bell is rung after each victory in Dix Stadium.  Bench press testing will be particularly exciting, as that day is set for March, 14th; Friday at 8:00 p.m. Evening team events always have a particularly high level of excitement, and this should be no different.

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Once strength testing has been completed, the Flashes will undergo a grueling test of adversity.  Unlike previous winters where the team underwent two to three weeks of conditioning three days a week at 6:00 a.m., the 2014 team will complete 5:30 a.m. conditioning circuits each day from March, 17th-21st.  While the total volume of work is less than it has been in previous years, the condensed version may prove to be even more grueling. As a former player, I think I speak for all of my teammates when I say 6:00 a.m. conditioning may be the most dreaded days of the year.

While the coaching staff has been relatively secretive about what these tests will entail, I’ve heard they will be truly challenging.  The Golden Flashes have refrained from a significant amount of conditioning until this point to ensure large strength and weight gains.  With that being said, any amount of conditioning may be difficult at this point.  The 5:30 a.m. tests are meant to challenge the will of the team, and see who can push through adversity. More importantly, they are about who brings others with him in conquering these tests.

For the freshmen, the upcoming 10 days are an opportunity to show they’ve come a  long way in developing their physical and mental strength. For upperclassmen, the winter offers a chance to increase strength, and more importantly, emerge as a potential leader moving into spring practices and fall camp.  I’ll be back at the end of those 10 days with a detailed report on both of these subjects. Until then, who do you think will emerge as a top performer in the weight room?


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Archer Flashes at the NFL Scouting Combine

If NFL scouts blinked during Dri Archer’s 40-yard dash, they missed it. This past weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, former Kent State running back Dri Archer ran a blistering 4.26; the fastest time of the entire weekend. Archer’s time was just .02 seconds from the record set by current Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson during the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine. The nearly broken record even drew attention from Johnson himself, who tweeted a sigh of relief when the official times came in.

Archer’s blazing 40-yard dash is arguably the biggest story of the draft, but he didn’t stop there.  Anyone who  saw Archer’s tape had to expect an outstanding 40-yard dash, but the times he recorded in the agility and position drills were icing on the cake. Archer spent the last two months in his home state of Florida training with renowned speed coach Tom Shaw, who’s helped Archer fine tune his speed and explosive power. After recording top-five finishes among running backs in the 20-yard shuttle, three-cone drill, and vertical jump, Archer garnered even more attention from scouts and analysts.    

The 2013 season was disappointing for Archer due to ankle injuries, but it has fueled his training. In an interview with Fox Sports Ohio, Archer was quoted saying, “I’ve been working my butt off down here, and I’ve learned a lot, too,” Archer said. “I’m in a good spot mentally. I’m hungry. I can play running back, I can play wide receiver. I’ve learned a lot about running routes, (worked on) catching the ball better. I just think I’m a better player than I’ve ever been and I want to show that.” Judging by Archer’s performance this past weekend, I’d say he’s proven that he’s very focused on his upcoming opportunity in the NFL.

Archer will attend Kent State University’s pro-day on March 20th with notable Golden Flashes like Roosevelt Nix, Luke Wollet, Darius Polk, and Tyshon Goode. University pro-days allow seniors who didn’t receive invites to the NFL Scouting Combine a chance to prove themselves in front of NFL scouts. Archer’s performance this past weekend will likely draw quite a crowd, and help some of the other participants garner legitimate attention. When will Archer be selected in the upcoming draft?


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The Off-season Approach

Coming off a 4-8 campaign in 2013, the Kent State football program is looking to make significant improvements this off-season. It’s never fair to compare college football teams from season to season due to the number of personnel changes each team encounters, but if there’s one thing the Golden Flashes and second-year head coach Paul Haynes expect, it’s improvement. The off-season strength and conditioning program is always critical to a team’s success, and it’s an area of even greater emphasis in 2014. It will be a long, grueling winter in the weight room for the Golden Flashes.

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“Size and strength gains,” according to head strength and conditioning coach Antoine Sharp, are the biggest points of emphasis this off-season. Some measures taken by the strength and conditioning staff to ensure those gains include limited distance conditioning, increased weight and volume of sets and reps within workouts, monitored protein intake, and a chaperoned trip to the grocery store. Proper training is significantly enhanced by disciplined nutrition. Sharp has implemented a more strict nutrition and training program to accomplish the individual goals set by each player prior to the start of winter training.

Each season has a central motto or credo the team follows.  In 2014, the Golden Flashes will live by the T.A.G. motto; TeamAccountability, and Gratefulness. These principles put in place by the coaching staff are to be followed and lived by. The 2014 Golden Flashes will instill within themselves that nothing comes before the Team, they will always be held to the highest standard of Accountability, and must be Grateful for every opportunity they’ve been given. The acronym has even been printed on each workout shirt the players wear during their training. Also printed on the shoulder of each shirt is the score of the 2013 loss to the rival Akron Zips; as if the Flashes needed any more motivation to bring back the Wagon Wheel trophy. I won’t harp on this rivalry too long for the sake of this post however. Just know, the 2014 squad has as big of a chip on their shoulder as ever, literally.

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In talking with some of the seniors, they expressed the need for an emphasis on their own personal leadership roles. They all agree the 2014 Golden Flashes must be humble and hungry. If the rest of the team adopts the seniors’ sentiment, it’ll be a great start to the off-season. While it’s too early to make any prediction on the upcoming 2014 campaign, it’s safe to say the Golden Flashes are doing everything in their power to ensure success.