August 15, 2009

Freshmen shine in scrimmage

Youth was served on Saturday at Dix Stadium in Kent State's first scrimmage of the 2009 season.

It started when freshman defensive back Darius Polk returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Classmates Spencer Keith, Dri Archer, Tyshon Goode and Luke Batton took it from there as each player turned in strong debut performances.

But, it was kicker Freddy Cortez that stole the show. The 6-foot, 200-pounder from Fort Meade, Fla., converted all four of his extra point attempts and was 5-for-5 on field goals, hitting from 29, 30, 31 and twice from 39 yards.

"For a freshman to go out there in his first scrimmage and do that is very, very encouraging," said KSU head coach Doug Martin. "He gets he ball up really fast. You can't hardly block it up the middle on him and that's been a problem for us in the past."

Cortez, filling in for starter Nate Reed, who was out with a quad injury, also excelled on kickoffs.

"One of our problems on kickoff coverage has been the hang time on our kicks," Martin said. "We've been about 3.2 (seconds) and I think the worst one he did today was 3.940, so that's real positive for us."

Although the Golden Flashes first team offense, led by redshirt sophomore Giorgio Morgan, struggled to move the football against the first team defense, the second unit found much more success behind Keith, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder from Little Rock, Ark.

Keith finished the day 12 of 18 passing for 140 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a three-yard score.

"I really like what Spencer did. Now take into consideration he didn't get blitzed hardly at all and that second group was much different than the first group as far as what they are seeing," Martin said. "He's got a great grasp of the offense. He's very, very bright and he's really accurate."

Keith's best play was a 17-yard touchdown pass to Goode during red zone drills. Keith saw a mismatch and took advantage of it.

"The fade route that he threw to Tyshon for instance, that particular coverage he should never be throwing the ball there," Martin said. "But (the defense) had a safety that was misaligned and he knew it. He came over to me, he said, 'I'm OK throwing that if that safety is lined up wrong, right?' But, I was interested to see why he threw it there and he had a great answer."

Archer, a 5-foot-7, 155-pound running back from Laurel, Fla., led all ball carriers with 10 rushes for 37 yards and a touchdown.

Goode had team highs in receptions and yards as he finished with eight catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot-1, 178-pounder from Syracuse, N.Y., caught the eye of the coaching staff during spring drills and hasn't let up since.

"That's one thing that's been consistent with him," said Martin of Goode. "He catches the ball well and catches the deep ball really, really well."

Batton, a 6-foot, 200-pound linebacker from nearby Macedonia, sparked the defense with five tackles and a 12-yard interception returned for a score.

"The kid makes plays, he's around the ball," Martin said. "He's been a pleasant surprise."

Click here for statistics from the scrimmage.

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