October 29, 2010

Flashes go for two in a row

Untitled Document

Ball State (2-6, 1-3 MAC) at Kent State (3-4, 2-2

Saturday, October 30, 2010 • 3:30 p.m. EDT

Dix Stadium (20,500/FieldTurf) • Kent, Ohio

Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM (Ty Linder & Rob Polinsky)

Television: WJW Fox 8 (Al Pawlowski & Hanford Dixon) • Internet:
K-Zone & ESPN3.com

It seems like forever since Kent State has played a home game.
The Golden Flashes have played just two games at Dix Stadium this season, both
wins, while hitting for their other five contests.

Beginning with this weekend's game against Ball State, Kent State
will play four of its final five games at home.

Ball State will make just its second trip to Kent in 15 seasons.
Ball State owns a 19-5 advantage in the series and has won the last three meetings
and 14 of the last 15.


  • Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith has completed 60.4 percent
    of his passes (137-227) en route to throwing for 1,352 yards and seven
    so far this season. He has spread the wealth to 12 different receivers.

    Junior wideout Sam Kirkland leads the Flashes
    with 34 catches for 421 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver
    Tyshon Goode is
    team with 32 grabs for 353 yards.

    Junior running back Jacquise Terry has rushed for 423 yards and
    a six touchdowns, while making 17 catches for 204 yards and two TDs.

    Defensively, senior linebacker Cobrani Mixon leads
    the team with 58 tackles, while senior free safety Brian Lainhart has
    51 stops. Junior cornerback
    Norman Wolfe is sixth in the country with four interceptions.

    Lainhart has contributed to 19 turnovers in the last 26 games. His 16 career
    INTs are three shy of the school record and are the most among current
    FBS players.

    Freshman lineman Roosevelt Nix leads the MAC in sacks (8.5), TFL
    (13.5), hurries (7) and forced fumbles (4).

  • Ball State has won 14 of its last 23 Mid-American Conference games.

  • The
    Cardinals won their final three MAC games in 2007 and all eight league
    contests in 2008 for 11 straight conference victories,
    which ranks as the second longest league winning streak in school

  • MiQuale Lewis, who ranks
    second on Ball State's career rushing chart with 3,620 yards, rushed
    for a season high 96 yards on a season best 19 carries at Toledo. With
    the 19 carries, he moved into third on Ball State's career rushing
    attempts list. He now has 723 career rushing attempts. Lewis needs
    383 rushing yards to become Ball State's all-time leader.

  • Travis Freeman tallied his
    second career interception and his first of the 2010 season at Toledo.

  • Jack Tomlinson caught his first career
    touchdown pass with 4:44 remaining in the first quarter at
    Toledo. Three minutes
    later, he tallied his second career TD catch with 1:43 left in the
    first quarter at UT to give the Cardinals a 17-0 lead.

  • Jason Pinkston recorded
    his third interception of the season and the sixth of his career in
    the first
    quarter at Toledo.


State allows just 213.9 passing yard per game, good for seventh in
the MAC. The Golden Flashes' 107.5 defensive pass efficiency rating
leads the conference. Kent State has picked of eight passes while allowing
just six touchdown throws. Much of Kent State's success in this area
can be attributed to its defensive line, which leads the conference
with 23 sacks, six more than any other league team. Junor Josh Pleasant is seventh in the conference with seven pass break-ups
and Norman Wolfe is tied for third in the MAC with four interceptions.
Safety Brian Lainhart has 16 career interceptions.

State's youth at quarterback is evident as the Cardinals rank dead last
in the MAC in passing offense. BSU averages just 131 passing yards per
contest while completing 53-percent of its pass attempts. The Cardinals
have thrown 11 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. Freshman Keith Wenning is expected to start. He has completed 76-of-141 passes
for 758 yards and nine touchdowns to eight interceptions. His best game
came last week at Toledo, where he threw for 224 yards and three scores.
Six BSU players have caught at least 11 passes, led by wide receiver
Daniel Ifft and MiQuale Lewis, both with 15.

Kent State's defense continues to make it difficult
for opposing offenses. Only two KSU opponents--Murray State and
Miami--have thrown for 250 yards or more despite no opponent
attempting less than 30 passes. Ball State has yet to throw for
250 yards in a game and four times has been held to just 109
yards or less. EDGE:


the weekend, Kent State's rush defense ranked second in the nation behind
Boise State. The Flashes allow 2.01 yards per carry and 65.00 yards per
game. Only Penn State and Toledo managed to rush for over 100 yards against
the Flashes. KSU held two opponents to minus yards rushing. The Flashes
are getting a lot of production out of linebackers Cobrani Mixon and
Dorian Wood and its defensive line, led by freshman Roosevelt Nix, who leads the team with 13 1/2 tackles for loss.

State's top rusher, Eric Williams, didn't play last week at
Toledo. He's expected to play at Kent State. He leads the team with 425
yards on 80 carries. Both David Brown and MiQuale Lewis will
see a fair share of carries as well. The two have combined for 573 rushing
yards and two touchdowns on 123 carries. Lewis rushed for 116 yards and
three scores in a 41-20 win over the Flashes in 2008. Ball State's offensive
line has been banged up and could have trouble against Kent State's pressure.

Ball State has had success running the football.
With 171.2 yards per game, the Cardinals rank third in the MAC.
It certainly provides an interesting match-up for Kent State's
league-leading rush defense. EDGE:


quarterback Spencer Keith played his best game of the season
last week at Bowling Green. Ball State's pass defense ranks 11th in
the MAC, one spot below BGSU's. That means Keith again should have
the opportunity for a big game, provided he avoids the mental mistakes
that plagued him early in the season. Sam Kirkland leads the
Flashes with 34 receptions, but it was Tyshon Goode that broke
out with a career high 12 receptions for 158 yards and two scores at

State allows 235.2 passing yards per game, third worst in the MAC,
but the Cardinals have in their secondary one of the league's top
thieves. Sean Baker is tied for third in the MAC with four
interceptions. In all, the Cardinals have picked of 10 passes. Defensive
lineman Robert Eddins leads the team with five sacks, but
the Cardinals only have 10 as a team. Charlie Todd has a
team-high six passes defended and he has broken up another five.

Kent State's passing game has struggled throughout
the season, at least until last week's breakout game at Bowling Green.
Ball State's pass defense ranks near the bottom in the MAC and the
Cardinals haven't been very effective getting to the passer. However,
Ball State has picked off 10 passes and has had their hands on over
a dozen more. EDGE:

State's running game has yet to flourish. The Flashes have rushed for
over 100 yards in just four games and have maxed out at 137 yards in
a week 1 win over Murray State. Even last week at Bowling Green the Flashes
rushed for just 128 yards against the second-worst rush defense in the
MAC. The Flashes average just 3.1 yards per carry and leading rusher,
Jacquise Terry averages just 60.4 yards per game, though he ran for 96
at Bowling Green.

not often Ball State will hold an advantage in this category, but
Kent State's rush defense has struggled so much that the Cardinals
should improve on their third-worst ranking in this category on Saturday.
The Cardinals have given up over 200 yards on the ground in five
games this season, including their last three. Eastern Michigan managed
to rush for 265 yarfds and three scores against the Cardinals. Robert
leads the Cardinals with seven tackles for loss.

This match-up is probably the most
evenly matched, as neither team is very good here. Kent State has
shown some promise in getting the run game going, but the Flashes
have yet to be very productive. Ball State has surrendered quite
a bit of yardage on the ground, but with a pass defense as pourous
as Ball State's, the Flashes likely will try to set up the run through
the passing game. EDGE:

State ranks third in the MAC in punting, fifth in field goals and allows
just 18.1 yards on kickoff returns and 4.8 yards on punt returns. But,
the Flashes will be tested by Ball State's special teams unit. The Cardinals
lead the league in kickoff returns and average 11.2 yards per punt return.
Junior Matt Rinehart leads the league in punting, but he'll
have to kick away from BSU's dangerous returners on Saturday. With Anthony Bowman out for the season, the Flashes have yet to find another
dynamic kick returner.

healthy Eric Williams means Kent State's kickoff coverage
unit will be tested. Williams leads the league with a 31.7-yards
per return average and Jamill Smith has returned 10 punts
for 123 yards (12.3/return). Punter Scott Kovanda is among
the best in the league and kicker Ian McGarvey has hit on
9-of-12 field goal tries with a long of 44 yards. Ball State's coverage
teams have held opponents to under 20 yards per kick return and just
4.4 yards on punt returns.

The Flashes have been strong on special teams
the past few seasons, especially on kickoff return coverage. Last
year the Flashes led the nation in defending kickoffs but dropped
to sixth this season. Ball State's Eric Williams is fifth in the
nation in returning kicks, so that should be an interesting match-up.
Matt Rinehart has helped KSU to see positive field position several
times this season, which has been a plus, but the Golden Flashses
haven't found a dynamic kick returner to replace the injured Anthony
Bowman and the Flashes have struggled to field punts. EDGE:

State hasn't won back-to-back games since winning three straight almost
a year ago. But, the Flashes do have the benefit of playing at home and
in front of what should be a full house thanks to the ceremony to retire
former quarterback Josh Cribbs' No. 9 jersey. KSU is 2-0 at home this
year and coming off its most complete game of the season. The Flashes
do have a dominant, albeit banged up, defense, which should keep the
Flashes in the game.
just his second season as head coach at Ball State Stan Parrish already
is on the hot seat. But, that's what happens when you win just four of
your first 20 games following a 12-win season. The Cardinals are young
and have had to deal with the injury bug. Several offensive linemen are
expected to return this week, which should help the Cardinals protect
their quarterback and run the football. Getting Mr. Everything Eric Williams
back also is a plus.

The Golden Flashes have played just
one complete game of football this season, but it was last week on
the road at Bowling Green. That dominating victory has created some
momentum the Flashes hope to ride to a miracle finish to the 2010
season. The Flashes need a lot of help to win the MAC East, but they
know they aren't out of it and they are playing with a lot of confidence
and pride. Ball State certainly has been in most of its games. The
Cardinals have four losses by a total of 25 points. But, the Cardinals
just don't have enough firepower on offense to overcome Kent State's
defense. EDGE:

game is a must-win game for Kent State. The Golden Flashes have been
in this position before and failed to get the job done. There's no
telling what will happen during the rest of the 2010 season, but
this group of Golden Flashes believes it can finish strong, despite
the failures of so many of their predecessors.

With the offense getting on track last week, the Golden Flashes could
be a dangerous team the next five weeks. But, if the team doesn't
play with the consistency seen in last week's 30-6 win at Bowling
Green they'll see their slim opportunity to win the MAC East disappear.


  1. Fly to the football. Ball State can run the football. The Flashes can't
    afford to miss tackles and turn short gains into explosion plays.
    Also, the Flashes need to maintain pressure on the quarterback.
    Wenning is a freshman and prone to misakes.

  2. Use the pass to set up the run. Spencer Keith played his best game
    of the year last week. Build off that performance by allowing Keith
    to do what he does best--pick apart a defense. There's no need
    to hit a homerun on every pass attempt. Use the short passes to
    soften BSU's defensive front then try to establish the run.

  3. Play fundamental football. Ball State has plenty of speed and several
    playmakers. Don't allow any of them to have a career game at Dix
    Stadium. Keep the short passes short and don't allow Eric Williams
    or any of the other Cardinals to break long returns on special


  1. Get to the quarterback. Rattling Spencer Keith early could cause the
    sophomore quarterback to lose the confidence he gained last week
    at Bowling Green.

  2. Win the field position battle. Ball State can run the football.
    They'll need to move the chains and chew up the clock to win the
    field position battle and either hold a lead or be close enough
    to take the lead late in the game.

  3. Exploit the Flashes weaknesses. Kent State has struggled to run the
    football and has been prone to turnovers. Force the issue.


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