Ohio State-Kent State: Week 3 Preview

The Golden Flashes of Kent State (0-2) roll in to the Horseshoe on Saturday at noon to face what should be a very angry Ohio State team (1-1). The Buckeyes are fresh off a tough loss at home to the Virginia Tech Hokies and will be looking to avenge said loss versus their MAC opponent. The Golden Flashes have had a tough start to their 2014 campaign as well, narrowly losing to in state and conference rival Ohio University in their first game, and being dominated by South Alabama in their second game.

The Golden Flashes, like Ohio State, are a young and inexperienced group led by former Buckeye assistant Paul Haynes. Haynes served as a defensive backs coach, as well as co-defensive coordinator, under former Buckeye coach Jim Tressel prior to taking over the Golden Flashes. In his first season, Coach Haynes and his team finished 4-8 and 5th in their conference respectively. The Flashes seem to be headed down a similar path this year, however an upset win on the road could certainly turn things around for the program. Lets take a look at what to expect from both teams.

What to Expect from Them

On offense Kent State will do its best to stay balanced, however in their first two games the Golden Flashes rushing attack has mustered a very threatening and terrifying 1.9 yards per carry. That being said, sophomore quarterback Colin Reardon leads Kent State’s attack attempting 40 and 41 passes in his first two starts this season. He also is second on the team in rushing attempts with 15. Reardon is the do it all play-maker for Kent State, and the majority of their success will depend on his arm and legs. He will need help from senior tight end Casey Pierce (8 receptions, 106 yards, 1 touchdown) and sophomore wide receiver Ernest Calhoun (14 receptions, 119 yards-leads team) to keep the chains moving and provide their defense with a breather. Needless to say, the key to the Golden Flashes success lies with Reardon and he has yet to lead this offense to any great deal of success, ranking just 68th in passing yards, and 120th in points scored.

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Kent State

The strength of this Golden Flashes squad is on their defense. The Golden Flashes has only given up an average of 20 points in their first two contests, and bolster the 20th ranked pass defense in the country. The Golden Flashes have also forced 5 turnovers in their first two games (4 fumble recoveries, 1 interception). They field a young and talented defensive front that has decent size for a MAC opponent and could cause problems for the Buckeyes young offensive line. That unit is led by senior defensive end Richard Gray who is a talented and versatile athlete. Gray missed last season due to ineligibility reasons, so he will be looking to leave a lasting impact on his lone visit to the Horseshoe in senior year.

The one area of weakness for the Golden Flashes is their run defense which ranks 90th in the country allowing around 200 yards a game. Due to its offenses inefficiencies the Golden Flashes defense has seen a great amount of snaps this season and I expect to see something similar in the game on Saturday. The lack of depth will begin to show for this defense later in the game and their stubbornness will wear off facing a relentless Ohio State attack.

What to Expect from Us

On offense expect to see a healthy dose of the run early on. This won’t be because Herman wants to play conservative versus a MAC opponent, but because the offense has yet to establish its power inside running style against an opponent. Carries will be divided among several running backs and h-backs, but there will be lots of carries early on to get the offense in a groove. The Buckeyes desperately need a feature back to step up so expect to see Ezekiel Elliott get plenty of touches and opportunities to earn that privilege.

You could see more Michael Thomas and Corey Smith in the game plan again this week. Meyer was adamant in defending Smith’s performance versus Tech and I think it was quite obvious the head coach is rooting for the kid. Smith has earned playing time and targets, and Barrett and Thomas have a good chemistry so I would expect those two to feature largely in the passing game Saturday.

As for the offensive line I don’t expect much movement at the center spot, but you could see Joel Hale and Jamarco Jones get rotated in Saturday to see if there are any better results. I do expect the offensive line to have a better performance on Saturday but take it with a grain of salt, I’m not 100% this will be the group that will start throughout the whole season.


The big story on the defensive side of the ball will be the return of Noah Spence. Spence has served his 2 game suspension and has found himself listed as the back-up for Steve Miller entering Saturday’s contest. I would expect Spence to enter the game early and for that first line unit to get plenty of reps to gel together. It will be important for them to generate pressure on Golden Flash quarterback Colin Reardon to disrupt their very one dimensional offense.

The secondary will be tested to tackle play-makers in space, trigger on screens, and force Reardon in to a couple of bad decisions. Expect them to have a solid performance against an offense that does not have a true play-maker on the outside.

I would also expect to see more of Raekwon McMillan this Saturday as the stage should be just right for him to receive some first team snaps. The linebacker play by Grant and Perry has been O.K. so far this season, but it lacks speed in space especially at the middle linebacker spot. This defense should play very well against the Kent State offense, and provide the Buckeye offense ample opportunities to improve their chemistry and identity.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 45, Kent State 13

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