August 10, 2010

Flashes not short on talent




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KENT, Ohio-Before Kent State opens the season against Murray State at
Dix Stadium on Sept. 2, the Golden Flashes have some work to do to fill out
their two-deep lineup.


Many positions on both sides of the ball are locked down by veteran players
but the Flashes will need to count on some of their younger players, including
a few incoming freshman, to solidify the starting lineup.


Unlike in years past, when Kent State's talent level was among the worst
in the Mid-American Conference, head coach Doug Martin has a wealth
of talent to draw from.


"Our freshman defensive line is one of the best looking groups we've' brought
in here. That's what they're supposed to look like. That's
what Temple and Central Michigan have looked like the last couple of years,
so we're getting there," Martin said. "Our wide receivers
are looking the part now. I like our talent. Some of it's young but it's
got experience, so we've got everything ahead of us."


Even with talent similar to that of some of the Mid-American Conference's
top teams, Martin has some holes to fill.


Sophomore Spencer Keith[/db] has locked down the starting quarterback
spot but redshirt junior [db]Giorgio Morgan, who opened the 2009 season
as the starter, and freshman Cedric McCloud have been battling for
the backup spot.


"Backup quarterback, we've got to have a guy that's going
to step up there," Martin said. "I haven't seen either one
of those guys step up and take that role yet."


Kent State's offensive line is a young, but experienced group. The Flashes
have a solid starting group, but depth is a problem. To help out in that area
Martin moved freshman Robert Kearney from defensive tackle to offensive
line.


Kearney, a 6-foot-5, 275-pounder, arrived in Kent in time for spring drills
and spent the summer working out with the team.


During Saturday's practice session Kearney worked with the first team
at right tackle, which allowed sophomore Kent Cleveland, the projected
starter at right tackle, to slide over to right guard and moved sophomore Josh Kline down to work with the second team. Kline is one of Kent State's
most versatile linemen and can play any of the five positions.


"(The move) was to build depth and we're trying to get our best
athletes on the field," Martin said. "We felt like Kearney coming
out of winter conditioning and spring practice was one of the better athletes
so we wanted to give him every shot to jump in there and see if he could take
that job."


That move, if Kearney can win a starting or reserve job, should immediately
bolster the offensive line depth chart. So far Martin has liked what he has
seen.


"I think that's been a real good move for us," Martin said. "We're
probably at eight or nine (offensive linemen) right now that we're comfortable
with. We've got a couple of freshman that we think can help us in backup
roles, Phil Huff and Shawn Wheeler in particular. We'll
see how those guys can do."


Martin also hopes to create more depth at the linebacker position, especially
with sophomore Luke Batton missing part of camp with a minor hand
injury.


"Inside linebacker, we're trying to create some more depth; the
three spots," Martin said. "Luke Batton's out for a little
bit. That hurts us there. We've got to create some more depth there."


Rounding out the defense, Martin hopes to find at least one more cornerback
the staff feels comfortable enough sending into game action.


















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