KENT, OHIO- The Golden Flashes wrap up their spring practices with the annual Spring Game this Saturday starting at 9:15 a.m. at Dix Stadium.
The early start is first game of a Dix Stadium double header on Saturday, Kent State Lacrosse hosts Detroit Mercy at 1 p.m. on senior day.
Saturday’s spring game will not be open to the public and will fall under the guidance of the spring semester event policy. Fans not in attendance can follow along with the game on social media as well as listen to the radio call of the spring game. Links will be found at the top of the story as well as on the football schedule page.
ABOUT THE FLASHES
Kent State returns the majority of their starters from last year’s 3-1 squad including nine starters on offense and eight on defense.
The Golden Flashes’ 2020 offense led the FBS in scoring (49.8 points per game) and total offense, (606.5 yards per game). Kent State also finished top-five in several offensive categories: third down percentage (2nd-56.1% (32-57)), fourth down percentage (3rd-87.5% (7-8)), completion percentage (3rd-71.4% (90-126)) and rushing offense (3rd-283 yards/ game).
Leading the Kent State offense is quarterback Dustin Crum. The graduate student was named to six different pre-season watch lists ahead of the 2020 season and delivered a first-team All-MAC performance. Crum led the Mid-American Conference in yards per game (295.3), completion percentage (73.2). He also finished tied for third in touchdown passes, despite playing two fewer games, while recording a 12:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Crum also showed off his ability as a dual-threat quarterback, leading all MAC signal callers with 240 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns. He is part of a four-man rushing attack that saw all four backs average over 50 yards on the ground per game. As mentioned above, Kent State averaged 283 yards per game on the ground, good for third in the FBS.
While Kent State did lose Isaiah McKoy, who declared for the NFL draft, the Golden Flashes return 10 of the other 12 receivers who caught at least one ball in 2020. Roles could potentially expand for receivers Ja’Shaun Poke, Isaac Vance and Dante Cephus, after double-digit catch seasons in 2020. Syracuse transfer Nykeim Johnson will also be someone to keep an eye on in the offense as well as the return game.
Paving the way for the offensive attack is the offensive line. The front line returns the majority of the offensive line rotation from 2020 and is a veteran group led by a mix of graduate students, fifth-year seniors and fourth-year juniors with freshmen and sophomores providing added depth. The offensive line last season allowed just five sacks, while blocking for the top offense in the FBS.
Kent State returns its leaders in every defensive category including their top-four tacklers. Dean Clark led the defense with 28 stops last season and also led the team in fumble recoveries and blocked a punt in the Wagon Wheel victory.
The Golden Flashes’ pass rush brought down the opposing quarterback 12 times in 2020. Kesean Gamble and Brandon Coleman led the rush with three sacks each, a mark that was third in the MAC. Four Golden Flashes had at least two sacks last year and all return in 2021. Zayin West led the down lineman with two sacks and was second on the team with 23 tackles.
In addition to the sacks, Gamble led the team with six tackles for loss while Coleman added four of his own. Those two will be joined by Manny Lawrence-Burke who had a pair of sacks and Syracuse transfer Juan Wallace who will be eligible after sitting out 2020 due to transfer rules.
Clark was one of three players with a pick last year for the Golden Flashes and all three had multiple pass break ups. The play-making secondary returns incumbents Richie Carpenter, Elvis Hines and Montre Miller and is getting bolstered in 2021 with the return of K.J. Sherald from injury as well as a trio of transfers including safety Nico Bolden (New Mexico) and cornerbacks Antwaine Richardson (Maryland) and Heskin Smith (Virginia).
As mentioned above, the spring game will have photos and updates across the football social media pages. The radio broadcast will stream through Box Cast and feature play-by-play with Rob Polinsky and sideline interviews and features with players and staff.
While the game ends the spring portion of the football season, the 2021 regular season is only a few months away. Kent State opens the 2021 season at Texas A and M on September 4th. The home opener is set for September 11th against the Virginia Military Institute. Both kick times have not been announced.