By Mike Perry
Kent State head coach Paul Haynes has one more out-of-conference test before his Golden Flashes enter Mid-American Conference play, hosting defending Conference USA champion Marshall Saturday at Dix Stadium.
The Golden Flashes (1-2) and Thundering Herd (2-1) have not met since 2004, although they have a decent history with each other. Kent leads the overall series, 18-17, but have not defeated Marshall since 1978…losing 10 in a row.
Fresh off a tighter-than-expected 10-7 road loss to Minnesota, Haynes is hoping his team will be able to put the disappointment of last week behind it.
“It was a tough loss,” he said. “We were close and had chances to win. They’re a very tough football team and there were a lot of positives that happened we can build on and to correct the things we have to to win these types of football games.
“The guys were very disappointed because they came close to pulling off a big win for this program. We just came up a little but short.”
The loss to the Golden Gophers proved one thing…Kent State’s defense is for real. The Golden Flashes currently sit third in the nation in total defense, allowing just 199 total yards per game. Reigning MAC defensive player of the week Demetrius Monday, a sophomore, had a pair of interceptions and returned a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota, and the Kent defense limited the Gophers to just 13 first downs and only 104 rushing yards on 44 carries…a 2.4 yards-per-carry average.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday knows his offense faces a stiff challenge this weekend.
“Defensively, they’re all over the place…and I mean that in a positive way,” Holliday said. “They’re very aggressive; they’ll blitz you, an awful lot of blitzing and getting after it. They’ll bring different players from a lot of different areas and they play extremely hard.”
Marshall’s offensive line isn’t very big for a Division I college program, but they are quick. Experience-wise they are all over the board. Sandley Jean-Felix, a redshirt sophomore at 6-5, 317 pounds, anchors the unit. He is joined by left guard Sebastian Johanson (RS-Sr., 6-5, 284), center Michael Selby (Jr., 6-2, 283), right guard Nathaniel Devers (RS-Fr., 6-3, 282) and right tackle Clint Van Horn (RS-Sr., 6-5, 314).
“It’s a huge challenge,” Selby said of facing Kent’s defense. “They’re No. 3 in total defense in the nation, only allowing 66 rushing yards so it’s a huge challenge for us as an offense and offensive line.
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