August 15, 2009

Week one in the books

Kent State head coach Doug Martin hoped to ride the wave of momentum created by his team's 24-21 win over Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo in the finale of the 2008 season.

Through one week of training camp that's just what Martin's squad has done.

"The intensity of practices has been great, the energy has been fantastic," Martin said after Friday's practice. "Our guys have really fought through the heat and things really well. We haven't had any conditioning problems; that's a sign they worked hard this summer."

One of Martin's primary concerns heading into camp was finding a replacement for graduated wide receiver Shawn Bayes, who led the team with 39 receptions for 642 yards and five touchdowns.

Several players have answered the call, including senior Derek McBryde, who finished last season with just 11 catches for 142 yards.

"I'm really thrilled with our wide receiver corps," Martin said. "Derek McBryde has made plays and he's playing the best he's played since he's been here."

Other pass catchers making a case for themselves include freshman Tyshon Goode, who practiced with the Flashes this spring, sophomore Kendrick Pressley, who had a breakout game against Akron last season (8 catches for 57 yards) before suffering a season-ending injury, junior Anthony Bowman, a transfer from Iowa via a community college, and senior H-Back Jameson Konz, who saw an injury end his 2008 season in week one.

"Pressley has been fantastic," Martin said. "Jameson Konz is picking up where he left off. Having him back is really helping us too."

Martin is equally impressed by his team's depth at running back. In addition to Doak Walker candidate Eugene Jarvis, second on the team in rushing last season with 801 yards in just nine games, the Flashes return both junior Andre Flowers (80 carries for 319 yards) and sophomore Jacquise Terry (34-174), and junior Alan Vanderink has moved over from wide receiver.

"You can win with any of those guys," Martin said. "They've all been playing really well."

The Golden Flashes offense will have a very different look to it in 2009. Gone is standout quarterback Julian Edelman, now a wide receiver for the New England Patriots. Edelman led the team in rushing last season with 1,370 yards with 13 touchdowns. He threw for another 13 scores.

Edelman's likely replacement, redshirt sophomore Giorgio Morgan, has played very well through one week of camp.

"He's made some really good decisions," Martin said. "His completion percentage is really high. He's got receivers making plays for him too, which helps. But, he's probably making them a little bit better too because of his accuracy."

On defense, several veterans including junior linebacker Cobrani Mixon and junior safety Brian Lainhart have raised their level of play and have taking leadership of the unit. Sophomore defensive back Josh Pleasant and junior linebacker Dorian Wood also were cited by Martin for their work during camp.

Martin has also been encouraged by the play of the newcomers.

"We're really thrilled with our freshman class," he said. "We've really got some guys in there that can help us win football games this year."

Freshmen working their way into the depth chart include offensive lineman Brian Winters, quarterback Spencer Keith, offensive lineman Max Plunkett and linebackers Kent Walker and Luke Batton.

"I knew (Keith) was going to be good, but a quarterback to learn as fast as he has has been really amazing," Martin said. "Defensively, Kent Walker's doing some really good things. He's going to play on a lot of special teams. Luke Batton has been fantastic. He's been one of the best tacklers out here in the open field and those types of things. I'm really pleased to see what he's done.

Martin also praised freshmen Dana Brown, a defensive lineman, Zack Gonosz, a defensive back, and kicker Freddy Cortez.

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