Murray Sate (0-0, 0-0 MVC) at Kent State (0-0, 0-0
Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010 - 7:00 p.m. EST
Dix Stadium (25,000/Fiel Turf) - Kent, Ohio
Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM (Tom Linder, Rob Polinsky & Ty Linder)
Television: None - Internet: K-Zone
It's been a long time since Kent State opened a football
season with such high expectations.
The Golden Flashes, with 15 starters returning, are not only expected to be
competitive in the Mid-American Conference, they are one of the favorites to
win the East division and play in their first bowl game since 1972.
With most of its offense returning from last season, including sixth-year
running back Eugene Jarvis, the Golden Flashes are loaded with big-play
weapons. Defensively there were few changes from a unit that ranked among the
best in the conference in nearly every defensive statistic.
There's also a lot of excitement off the field as new athletic director
Joel Nielsen has raised the bar in marketing the program. The 90Ksu program,
which seeks to sell 90,000 tickets this season, has been hugely successful
Visiting Dix Stadium on Thursday is Murray State out of the Ohio Valley Conference.
MSU is known more as a basketball school but new head coach Chris Hatcher,
a former assistant at Kentucky and a very successful Division II coach-while
at Valdosta State he won the 2004 national title and finished with a mark of
76-12 in seven seasons--has implemented his "Hatch Attack" offense, which could
give the Flashes fits.
Hatcher spent the last three seasons at Georgia Southern, where his 2007 team
was the FCS leader in rushing and in 2008 finished 20th in passing.
The coaching change at Murray State leaves the Flashes preparing for the great
unknown. The personnel has changed and surely Hatcher's imprint will
be all over the Racers game plan.
TEAM QUICK FACTS
- Head coach Chris Hatcher owns a career 94-27 mark in 10 seasons.
- The Racers finished 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the OVC last season.
- The Racers return 11 starters (four on offense and seven on defense).
- Murray State is opening its 86th season of football and enters the
2010 season with a record of 47-34-4 in season openers.
- The Thursday night opener marks the fourth-straight season the Racers
will open the season on a Thursday night. MSU is 2-1 in the previous
three Thursday openers.
- Senior Jeff Ehrhardt earned the starting job at quarterback in preseason
camp. This season marks the third time in his career that Ehrhardt has
been named the starter for the season opener.
- The Racers will be playing their first game in the state of Ohio since
the 1987 season when MSU traveled to Youngstown State. The Penguins
emerged with a 20-13 overtime victory.
- The Golden Flashes enter the 2010 season after finishing the 2009
campaign with a record of 5-7. KSU was 5-4 before dropping its final
three games of the season.
- The catalyst of the offense is sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith.
He set freshman records as he finished the season with 2,174 passing
yards and 14 touchdowns.
- Senior running back Eugene Jarvis enters the 2010 season just 564
yards short of breaking Astron Whatley's career rushing record of 3,989
- On the outside, Tyshon Goode set freshman receiving records for catches
(53), yards (755) and touchdowns (5) in 2009.
- Safety Brian Lainhart was named to the Thorpe Award Watch List, honoring
the top defensive back in college football. Last season, Lainhart ranked
fourth nationally with seven interceptions, while also registering
- Linebacker Cobrani Mixon is top returning tackler after recording
107 stops a season ago. He also added 10.5 tackles-for-loss.
STATE GOLDEN FLASHES
|SECONDARY || |
strength of Kent State's defense is in the backend where senior safeties
Brian Lainhart and Dan Hartman are
among the best in the MAC. Lainhart, a first-team all-MAC selection,
led the conference with seven interceptions and his 15 career picks
leaves him just four shy of the school record. Hartman had nine pass
break-ups last season. Junior cornerback Josh Pleasant enters
his third season with the Flashes and he has gotten better each year.
He's the Flashes' best man-to-man cover corner and led the team with
11 break-ups last fall. Kent State's lack of depth, particularly at
cornerback, will hurt the Flashes in the passing game.
Jeff Ehrhardt, the 2007 OVC Freshman of the Year, is expected
to get the starting nod for the Racers. He is the most experienced
of Murray State's quarterbacks but has suffered injuries throughout
his career. He has thrown for 4,953 yards and 35 touchdowns in his career.
When Ehrhardt went down with an injury last year sophomore Casey Brockman stepped
in to start the final three games of the 2009 season. He threw for 543
yards and three touchdowns. The top receiving threat for Murray State
is X-Receiver Marcus Harris. Harris and the rest of the MSU receivers
combined to catch 99 passes for 951 yards and eight scores. This will
be an active unit in the Hatch Attack.
|LINEBACKERS || |
of Kent State's three starting linebackers return including first-team
all-MAC selection Cobrani Mixon, who patrols the middle of the
Golden Flashes' defense. Mixon led the team with 108 tackles last fall.
Sophomore Luke Batton and senior Dorian Wood round
out the second level of Kent State's defense. They combined for 84 tackles
Racers' backfield is loaded with a pair of newcomers that will see the
bulk of the carries. Dexter Barnett, a transfer from UAB, won
the starting job in preseason camp. Barnett rushed for 101 yards last
season at UAB. He also returned eight kickoffs for 127 yards.
True freshman Duane Brady will serve as the backup to Barnett.
He was an all-state selection at St. Augustine
(Fla.) High School last season.
|DEFENSIVE LINE || |
one of the few times this season the Golden Flashes won't be out-sized
up front. The Golden Flashes defensive line has been known as a fast,
but undersized unit. They'll match up well against a smaller offensive
line. This unit is led by second-team all-MAC perfomer Monte Simmons,
who had 56 tackles and led the team with eight sacks in 2009.
Racers aren't big up front. Their starting linemen average just 6-foot-3
and 280 pounds. Junior Dylan Mundella is the most experienced,
having started nine games last fall. In all, four Racers have game experience.At
6-foot-5, 330-pounds, junior college transfer C.J. Matthews brings some
size to the unit, but he is listed second on the depth chart at right
|PASSING ATTACK || |
quarterback Spencer Keith returns after setting
KSU freshman records with 2,147 passsing yards and 14 touchdown passes.
weapon is classmate Tyshon Goode, who caught 53 passes for
755 yards and five scores a year ago. The Flashes are deep at the wide
receiver position, but that depth has not been very productive to date.
KSU returns six of its top eight pass catchers from a year ago.
four times in 2009 did Murray State allow more than 200 yards passing
to an opponent. But, they did allow over 150 yards rushing in nine
games. Led by senior John Jean-Baptiste, the Racers have
depth and experience at cornerback. However, they are young at safety,
should provide some opportunities for the Flashes to create several
explosion plays in the passing game. The Racers loaded up on junior
college transfers in the secondary, but how productive they can be
remains to be seen.
|GROUND ATTACK || |
State's deepest position is at running back where sixth-year senior Eugene Jarvis resides along with complementary backs in junior Jacquise Terry and sophomore Dri Archer. Jarvis has rushed for 3,426
yards in his career and Terry and Archer combined for 895 yards and five
touchdowns last season in Jarvis' absence.
Kutch returns for his fourth year as a starter on defense. He is the
leader of an experienced unit that features three seniors.Harry McCall,
a former cornerback and safety, moved to linebacker as did Justin Clark,
a defensive back last year. The trio combined for 126 tackles in 2009.
|OFFENSIVE LINE || |
State's offensive line is experienced for its relative youth. The problem
here is a lack of depth. The Flashes probably only go eight or nine deep,
which leaves them a couple players short of the comfort level. Three-year
starter Chris Anzevino was
named to the watch list for the Rimington Award, given annually to the
nation's top center. This unit as a whole is much bigger and more
athletic than in the past.
State lost its best player, Austen Lane, to the NFL, but the Racers
do have depth and talent up front. Jamal Crook, a three-year
starter,and Lamar Theus combined for 81 tackles and five sacks last season.
Racers also bolstered this unit with the addition of a couple of
junior college transfers. The Racers also welcome back Blake Booth,
who missed all of last season with an injury. He has 74 tackles in
|SPECIAL TEAMS || |
State returns both of its specialists in all-MAC punter Matt Rinehart and kicker Freddy Cortez. Rinehart averaged 40.9 yards per punt
with 17 landing inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Cortez had a strong
KSU debut as he hit on 13-of-19 field goals and provided some stability
in the KSU kicking game. He also averaged 53.5 yards per kickoff. The
Flashes were among the nation's best in kickoff coverage but lacked the
explosiveness expected in the return game.
kicker/punter Kienan Cullen, a pre-season all-conference selection
helped the field position last season
as he booted 15 punts over 50 yards. Two of his punts were over 70
yards, including a career-long 72 yarder in the 2009 season
finale against Tennessee Tech. Cullen also had 21 punts downed
inside the 20-yard line last season, and 33 in his two year career. He
was 14-for-17 on field goal tries and averaged 61.8 yards on kickoffs.
|COACHING || || |
Martin (Kentucky '85) is in his seventh season as a head
coach, owning a 26-48 record at the helm of the Golden Flashes.
Martin will go back to calling the plays on offense this season after
a one-year hiatus. He employs a single back west coast style of offense.
| || Chris |
Hatcher (Valdosta State) enters his first season as head coach at Murray
State. He owns a 94-27 (.777) career mark and won the Division II national
title in 2004. He employs a wide open offense, nicknamed the "Hatch Attack."
Expect to see plenty of wide receivers and perimeter passing.
State and Murray State enter the 2010 season with high expectations,
but for different reasons. Seven years ago first-year head coach
Doug Martin had a vision of what he wanted his team to look
like. He's closer than ever to achieving his goals and this is likely
his deepest and most talented team during his seven-year tenure in
Kent. The Chris Hatcher era begins at Murray State and Racers fans
are hoping his past success follows him so the school can become
known as more than just a basketball school.
Playing at home, in front of what should be one of the largest crowds
in recent years, Kent State will be fired up to kick off the season
in style. Murray State won't be intimidated and they'll be just as
eager to create some early momentum.
MURRAY STATE'S KEYS TO THE GAME:
- Don't be intimidated. Sure, Kent State is a Division I program, but
the Golden Flashes haven't had many winning seasons the last 30
years and they surely haven't proven they can handle adversity.
- Attack Kent State's vulnerable secondary. The Flashes have one of
the best safety tandems in the MAC and maybe the nation, but they
are thin at corner and depth at safety. Throw the ball downfield
and force Kent State's younger players to make plays.
- Control possessions. It's simple, hold on to the football and sustain
drives to win games. Murray State can't afford turnovers, but equally
important, they need to limit their three-and-outs. Drive the football
to create more scoring opportunities.
KENT STATE'S KEYS TO THE GAME:
- Score early. Break Murray State's spirit early and keep the momentum
on the home team's sideline.
- Limit explosion plays in the Murray State passing game. A thin group
of cornerbacks will be tested early and often.
- Run the football. Kent State's deepest position is at running back.
Between Eugene Jarvis, Jacquise Terry and Dri Archer, the Flashes
should combine for 40-50 rushing attempts.
KENT STATE 35, MURRAY STATE 16
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