October 3, 2010

Making the Grade

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After needing just four plays for Jacquise Terry to cap a 56-yard
drive with a 39-yard touchdown run to open Saturday's game at Miami,
it looked like Kent State was on its way to its third straight victory over
the RedHawks.

Several Golden Flashes mistakes allowed the RedHawks to come from behind to
win their second straight Mid-American Conference game, 27-21.

Here's a look at how the Golden Flashes performed:


Spencer Keith finished the game 11-of-26 passing for 152 yards with
two interceptions, including the fateful one in the Miami end zone with just
56 seconds left in the game.

Keith struggled with his accuracy.

Keith was 0-for-2 in the first quarter, 2-for-3 in the second, 4-for-9 in
the third and 5-for-12 in the fourth quarter. His accuracy struggled throughout
the game.

His first interception came on a first down play in the third quarter after
the Flashes forced a Miami punt and took over at the RedHawks' 41-yard
line. He attempted to throw the ball out of bounds but instead threw it into
the hands of Miami's Dayonne Nunley.

Aside from Keith's continued struggles, the Kent State wide receivers
played well. Sam Kirkland caught four passes for 51 yards and Tyshon Goode had three receptions for a team-high 55 yards. Goode's biggest
receptions came on Kent State's final drive, a 24-yarder on 2nd-and-15
and a 25-yarder on third-and-18.

Tight end Justin Thompson made a crucial mistake in the third quarter.

The Flashes had advanced the ball to the Miami 41, where they faced a second-and-4.
Terry ran for the first down but Thompson was called for
holding. Three plays later the Flashes punted, squandering good field position.

Kent State's offensive line played very well, providing Keith with ample
time to scan the field for open receivers. Keith was sacked twice, but neither
was the result of an offensive lineman missing a block.

Grade: D

Even grading on a curve thanks to the strong effort by the Flashes' wide
outs, Keith's performance, and crucial mistakes, cost this unit.


Kent State head coach Doug Martin hoped to get his
running game going and it didn't take long for the Flashes to get on

Terry rushed for a game-high 86 yards.

On Kent State's first possession of the game Terry and Keith combined
for four carries for 56 yards. Terry ran for 5, 1 and a 39-yard touchdown,
Kent State's longest run from scrimmage this season, and Keith added
11 yards on an option keeper.

Terry finished with 23 carries for 86 yards and scored twice, but he did lose
10 yards on a fumble he recovered himself.

Keith was effective as well. He carried eight times for 44 yards and scored
the fourth quarter touchdown that pulled the Flashes to within six of the RedHawks.

Again, the Kent State offensive line performed well, opening holes and sealing
off the edge for the Flashes ball carriers.

At times, Miami's pressure from linebacker and safety blitzes resulted
in a tackle for loss. On one play, left tackle Brian Winters pulled
to lead block for Dri Archer, who tried to sweep around the right
end. Miami blitzed a safety from the spot Winters vacated, which allowed the
unblocked defender to make a tackle for loss before Archer was able to turn
the corner.

Grade: B

There were a few mistakes, but Terry rarely went down after first contact and
the option installed by Martin and his offensive staff proved very effective,
especially on third-and-short.


It's hard to believe holding Miami quarterback Zac Dysert to
294 yards passing is an improvement, but Dysert threw for 337 yards in a 29-19
Kent State win last season.

Zac Dysert
completed 31-of-46 passes.

Officially, the Flashes were credited with two sacks, one each by Cobrani Mixon and Roosevelt Nix, and three quarterback hurries, all by
Nix. But, Dysert was on the run much more than that.

Freshman Jake Dooley had just 3 tackles, but he spent all
afternoon in the Miami backfield. The grade for this unit would have been higher
had he been able to finish a few more plays with a sack or tackle for loss.

The Flashes' secondary broke up six Dysert passes, but dropped two would-be

After watching Dysert pick apart Kent State's secondary, it's
surprising he threw for just 294 yards. The Miami offense allowed Dysert to
drop two steps and release the ball quickly to slanting wide receivers. In
all, Dysert connected with nine different receivers.

Miami's Chris Givens entered the game with five catches for
48 yards. He finished with five catches for 104 yards.

Grade: C

The Flashes' bend-but-don't-break philosophy worked for the most
part. The secondary kept most passes in front of it and on most occasions tackled
the receiver as soon as he caught the football. Dysert broke containment a
few plays, which resulted in a first down run and a long pass to Givens for
another Miami first down.


The Kent State defense certainly lived up to its billing as one of the best
rush defenses in the country. The RedHawks carried 29 times for 52 yards,
a 1.8-yard per carry average.

Both Miami running backs-Thomas Merriweather and Tracy Woods entered the game averaging over four yards per carry. Only Merriweather
surpassed his average and that was thanks to a 23-yarder later in the game.
His other 10 carries netted just 21 yards.

Even quarterback Zac Dysert was held in check. Dysert rushed for over 100
yards in last year's game. On Saturday he carried seven times for minus-16

Grade: A

Shutting down Miami's running game forced the RedHawks to the air. That
helped the Golden Flashes to limit the RedHawks to just 20 offensive points.


Matt Rinehart really boomed some punts when the Flashes needed to
change field position. He also had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown,
though it certainly wasn't his fault. The game's biggest play
was the result of a missed assignment up front, a fatal error considering
Miami was in a field defense (they weren't sending more rushers).

Kicker Freddy Cortez missed his only field goal attempt, a 40-yarder
in the disastrous third quarter. He was much better on kickoffs, leaving Miami
inside its own 20 on two of four kicks.

Kent State held a slight advantage in the return game. Dri Archer's
39-yard return after Miami's field goal gave the RedHawks a 27-21 lead
set the Flashes up for a last-second victory.

Grade: F

Despite the positives, giving up a blocked punt for a touchdown, the difference
in the game, is unacceptable.

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