April 15, 2011

Spring Game Preview: Blue or Gold?




Untitled Document






BLUE vs. GOLD

Saturday, April 16, 2011 • 6:00 p.m. EDT

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


Darrell Hazell ends his first spring practice session as Kent State's head coach on Saturday when the Blue and Gold squads meet at Dix Stadium.


Unlike in years past, the Blue isn't made up of the offense and the Gold the defense. This year, the seniors were split up as team captains then held a draft to determine which players would be assigned to the Blue and Gold squads.


The teams appear to be evenly split, though there are some advantages.


Here's a breakdown of each team's roster and a quick preview along with a game prediction.


































BLUE
EDGE
GOLD
QUARTERBACK
QUARTERBACK



With all the starting experience on its roster, the Blue certainly holds the advantage at quarterback. Keith was the first pick of all quarterbacks, but hasn't been the sharpest throughout the spring. Neither has Morgan, so the advantage is minimalized by the strong spring McCloud has turned in. Battles and Shimensky haven't seen many reps this spring, nor has Ronyak, the only other quarterback listed on the Gold squad. With McCloud obviously expected to get a bulk of the reps, he could single-handidly keep the Gold offense in the game. If he plays poorly, the Blue certainly wins the game. EDGE: BLUE


RUNNING BACKS
RUNNING BACKS



Again, a distinct advantage to one squad. The Gold has both returning running backs in Terry and Archer, while the Blue filled out the position with walk-ons Dawson, Washington and Ison, a longsnapper turned fullback. McCloud gets the benefit of having the top runners in the game, which could take pressure of him to have a big game throwing the football. EDGE:
GOLD

WIDE RECEIVERS
WIDE RECEIVERS

X-Receiver



Z/A-Receiver



X-Receiver



Z/A-Receiver




There's a bit of balance at the wide receiver position, though the Blue certainly has more returning contributors than the Gold. Kirkland is a consistent performer and Hurdle and Adeyemi have turned heads this spring. Adeyemi also is an X-factor in the return game, which really gives the Blue an advantage at two positions.The Gold has Goode and Pressley, then a bunch of unknowns. EDGE:
BLUE
TIGHT END
TIGHT END



Another good match-up in the passing game, as both teams have at least one to two productive tight ends. Simpson and Erjavec probably create the biggest mismatches, but Simpson has had a disappointing spring. Thompson has been consistent in both the run and passing game and Burton has primarily been a blocker, which sets up the Gold with its top rushers. EDGE:
GOLD
OFFENSIVE LINE
OFFENSIVE LINE

Center



Guards



Tackles



Center



Guards



Tackles




Creating two separate teams really becomes difficult at the offensive line position, thus these two squads are pretty even up front. The Blue features four-year starter Anzevino at center, three-year starter Cleveland at guard and three-year starter Kline at tackle. The Gold has probably the best lineman on the tam in Winters at tackle and the emerging Arend at guard and then there's the athletic Huff and Kearney. Because of the size factor to go along with the top running game, the edge has to go to the Gold. EDGE:
GOLD
DEFENSIVE LINE

DEFENSIVE LINE

Leo



  • Zach Hitchens


Ends



Noseguards



Leo



Ends



Noseguards




Everyone wanted Rosie Nix, but he ended up on the Blue squad, along with the big man in the middle, Ish Kitchen. That's a good thing, because the Blue will need some big, quick bodies up front to stop the Gold running game. With Keith and Morgan leading the Blue offense, the Gold was wise to recruit the pass rushers in Dooley, Fackler and Stalker. The massive Gold offense will have its hands full with the speed of Nix and the power of Kitchen. EDGE:
BLUE
LINEBACKERS

LINEBACKERS

Will



Mike



SAM



Will



Mike



SAM




The linebacker position was the weakest unit of all during spring practice. There just aren't enough experienced scholarship bodies in practice to really make an impact. There's an opportunity for several players to really create some momentum heading into fall camp as the Golden Flashes need to find a couple of consistent players out of this group. Luke Batton is on the Blue squad, but he won't suit up as he continues to rehab an injury. That leaves Gress and Tyson as the only experienced players on the Blue and Steward as the most veteran of Gold squad linebackers. The advantage here would have gone to the Blue, but because the Gold running game is going to be tough to stop, and Archer ran wild on the linebackers last Saturday in a scrimmage, the Gold gets the edge as it likely will see more pass coverage sets. EDGE:
GOLD
DEFENSIVE BACKS

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Cornerbacks



Safeties



Cornerbacks



Safeties




The defensive backs got split pretty evenly, with the top two corners being divided between the Blue and the Gold. The only real threat at safety, Wollet, landed on the Gold squad. Saulter has performed well this spring and Hummer is a hard-working player that recently went from walk-on to scholarship player, a reward for his hard work over the years. Gonosz has some experience and Green has been involved in some plays this spring. Ewing moved over to safety from quarterback. The Gold features Wolfe, who had five picks last season, an important stat considering the lack of a running game on the Blue squd. The Blue quarterbacks are best known for their aerial skills and likely will throw more than they'll run. EDGE:
GOLD
SPECIAL TEAMS

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter



Kicker



Punter



Kicker




When it comes to special teams, Kent State likely will punt more than it will attempt field goals, so the natural edge goes to the Gold, with Matt Rinehart in his position. If it comes down to a field goal, the Blue has the edge with Cortez. The Gold will use Rinehart as both kicker and punter. In the return game, Adeyemi is electrifying, but untested. The Gold features Archer, who saw plenty of action on returns. EDGE:
GOLD

SUMMARY: The teams are pretty evenly split, though there are some big advantages at quarterback and running back.


Obviously, with Keith and Morgan, and throw Battles into that mix, the Blue squad has the only quarterbacks with real live game experience. Keith started all 12 games last season and entered the spring as the logical choice to open the season under center. But, a tough spring has opened the door for the other quarterbacks, including McCloud.


Saturday night is McCloud's chance to shine. If he can lead his team to victory that has to earn some points with the new coaching staff, who is looking for any of the quarterbacks to really take a lead over the others.


McCloud has the physical tools to get the job done and he has both of Kent State's top running backs in Archer and Terry at his disposal to go along with two of the top wide receivers in Goode and Pressley and the returning starter at tight end in Thompson.


Defensively, Nix and Kitchen dominate up front and both appear on the Blue squad. But, the Gold has the speed to take the running game to the outside and a big, strong, mobile quarterback to make some plays outside the pocket.


Saturday's scrimmage likely comes down to which team can establish the running game--since no quarterback has thrown the ball consistently well this spring and with makeshift offensive lines the proteciton likely won't withstand the rush from either defense.


For that reason, the Gold has to be a heavy favorite.


BLUE'S KEYS TO THE GAME:



  1. Establish the short passing game to limit turnovers and high percentage receptions to move the chains.

  2. Don't rely on the big play downfield...it's too risky.

  3. Sell out to stop the Gold running game, while also forcing McCloud to throw from within the tackle box.


GOLD'S KEYS TO THE GAME:



  1. Run the football behind a massive offensive line and with the top runners on the team.

  2. McCloud has a rocket for an arm, but his accuracy and knowledge of the playbook need work. Don't ask him to do too much.

  3. Get after the quarterbacks. Keith and Morgan both have had their issues. Make them throw on the run.

PREDICTION: GOLD 34, BLUE 20

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