Matt Murschel | College Gridiron 365
9:42 AM EDT, June 22, 2013
The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 125 to our projected No. 1 team.
Today at No. 64: Kent State
Coach: Paul Haynes (0-0, first season; 0-0 overall)
2012 record: 11-3 (8-0 in Mid-American Conference, first in East Division)
Look back: It’s been more than a decade since the Kent State football program found itself with a winning season. The Golden Flashes finally broke through last season in a big way. Kent State won 11-games for the first time in school history and the program captured its first-ever Mid-American Conference East Division crown. Along the way, the team earned a ranking in the Bowl Championship Series, once again a first for the school. The Golden Flashes went on to play in their first bowl game since 1972 when it took on Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. In the offseason, Darrell Hazell left to take the head coaching job at Purdue, opening the door for Haynes to return to his alma mater.
Offensive starters returning: 7
Offensive starters lost: 4
Defensive starters returning: 5
Defensive starters lost: 6
Key losses: QB Spencer Keith, LB Luke Batton, CB Sidney Saulter, LB CJ Malauulu, DL Dana Brown, DE Jake Dooley, LT Brian Winters
Top returnees: RB Traylon Durham, WR Dri Archer, WR Josh Boyle, WR Chris Humphrey, S Luke Wollet, DT Roosevelt Nix, CB Darius Polk, DE Zach Hitchens
Strengths: Kent State was second in the MAC in scoring offense (33.1 points per game) and fifth overall in total offense (429 yards per game) thanks, in part, to the duo of Dri Archer and Traylon Durham. The pair combined for more than 2,700 yards and 30 total touchdowns on the ground, making them one of the best duos in college football. Archer provides the Haynes and offensive coordinator Brian Rock with an all-purpose offensive threat not only in the backfield, but as a slot receiver as well. He could be the best overall player in the league next season.
Weaknesses: Finding a replacement for Spencer Keith (2,021 yards passing, 12 TDs) at quarterback will be crucial for the Golden Flashes. David Fisher was Keith’s backup in 2012, but was hampered by injuries in the spring. He should be fine by the fall with sophomore Colin Reardon taking a majority of the snaps in his place. … the offensive line only returns two starters: Pat McShane and Phil Huff. … The defense, which finished fourth in the league in total defense, only returns five starters with three of the team’s top tacklers gone. Roosevelt Nix, who was second on the team in sacks (6), anchors the front line while safety Luke Wollet (119 tackles, 4 INTs) commands the secondary.
Outlook: Darrell Hazell didn’t leave the cupboard bare when he left for Purdue and Haynes will have the luxury of having one of the best backfields in the country with Archer and Durham. While 11-wins seems out of the question, there is still plenty of talent for another run at a bowl game.
Aug. 29 Liberty
Sept. 7 Bowling Green
Sept. 14 at LSU
Sept. 21 at Penn State
Sept. 28 at Western Michigan
Oct. 5 Northern Illinois
Oct. 12 at Ball State
Oct. 19 at South Alabama
Oct. 26 Buffalo
Nov. 2 at Akron
Nov. 13 Miami (OH)
Nov. 19 at Ohio
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