As the College sports season winds down, SportsTalkSC will invite beat writers who cover the opponents of USC and Clemson to weigh in on the 2017 football season. SportsTalk reached out to Bill Connelly with SB Nation to preview the Kent State Golden Flashes as they prepare for next year.
Listen to the full interview with Bill Connelly on SportsTalk:
The Kent State offense will return almost all of their starters from last year. For any other team that might seem like a good thing. Unfortunately for the Golden Flashes, improvement on their 2016 is about the only thing their offense can achieve. Last year the Golden Flashes finished 125th in total offense and scored only 29 total offensive touchdowns. To put those 29 team touchdowns in perspective, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson accounted for 51 touchdowns by himself in 2016.
A lot of the offense’s woes can be attributed to the lack of a clear cut starter at quarterback. Last year Kent State thrust four different players under center. The most likely starter for the opening game is QB/WR Nick Holley who is more of a running threat than a true quarterback. Holley led the Golden Flashes on the ground with 10 rushing touchdowns and 920 rushing yards. His passing stats are not as lofty. Holley threw for 898 yards on the season with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
In the interview Bill Connelly pointed out that Kent State does have a proficiency to get after the passer. The Golden Flashes allowed 4,638 total yards on defense which is tied for 51st in the NCAA (the Gamecocks defensive unit came in 62nd in the same statistic). Most prominently Kent State held opposing passers in check, they had the 25th best passing defense in the NCAA last year.
Coaching hot seat?
Winning results and unicorns might as well be the same thing for Kent State. The Golden Flashes haven’t won more than four games in a season under the tenure of four-year head coach Paul Haynes. Furthermore, Haynes hasn’t been able to maintain any kind of recruiting pipeline to his school. Outside of RB/WR Dri Archer Kent State hasn’t discovered a game changer that affects an opponents’ game plan. The lack of wins on their own could force Haynes out of office particularly since he doesn’t have any quality recruits to show for it.
The key of the game for Kent St. will be to make Clemson’s quarterback (whoever that might be) as uncomfortable as possible with their highly ranked passing defense…. but don’t think too hard about it Clemson is heavily favored to win.