August 28, 2009

Solid up front

Based on the performance of Kent State's offense during both camp scrimmages it would have been easy to write off the 2009 season. The offensive linemen couldn't protect their quarterback or open holes for the Golden Flashes' talented running backs in either intra-squad game.

But, that was without starting center Chris Anzevino and some question marks at other positions.

Anzevino returned to practice late last week, and coincidentally the offense has found the consistency it needs to turn in the program's first winning season since 2001. Head coach Doug Martin said the offensive line has improved in all facets, especially in protecting redshirt sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan.

"I think that we're doing a great job in pass protection, a much better job in pass protection than what we were, and that's opening up avenues for Giorgio, especially throwing the deep ball," Martin said.

A returning starter, Anzevino's presence in the middle of the line is crucial.

"He's so strong physically, when he's in there your pass protection gets better," Martin said. "He's had so many snaps under his belt he puts you in the right call all the time, run-blocking wise."

The Flashes also have received contributions from several younger players, especially redshirt freshman Josh Kline, and freshmen Tyler Arend and Brian Winters.

Kline has worked out at several positions, but seems to have found a home at back-up center, and his versatility could come in handy.

"We think Josh can even play tackle for us if we needed him to," Martin said. "He's really playing well."

Arend appeared on the first depth chart second at left tackle and Winters is the co-starter at right tackle.

"We really like Brian out there. Potential-wise right now, he's unlimited," Martin said. "The thing about him, he's going to get better and better the more he plays. We just need to force-feed the issue. He needs to get in there and play. He's done really well. He's handling things well."

Winters has studied his position under junior Pat Reedy, who has started 13 of the 23 games in which he has played. Reedy is another player with versatility.

"Pat Reedy's a guy that already knows what he's doing; he can play both sides," Martin said.

Kent State's starting offensive line is made up of redshirt freshman Kent Cleveland at left tackle, sophomore Michael Fay at left guard, Anzevino at center, fifth-year senior Dante Campbell at right guard, and Reedy or Winters at right tackle.

Getting production from so many younger players is a good sign for the future of the offensive line. Next season, the Flashes will return seven of 10 players listed on week one's two-deep, including four of five starters.

"That is a really encouraging," Martin said. "In fact, I was thinking about our offense the other day. Really, besides (Euguene Jarvis, one fifth-year senior on the offensive line, there's most of that whole offense is coming back for several years."

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