Lead by a former Wisconsin player, up and coming head coach Sean Lewis, Kent State enters Camp Randall this weekend sporting a .500 record with two wins and two losses. Kent State’s results are as follows:
- Loss at Arizona State 30-7
- Win versus Kennesaw State 26-23
- Loss at Auburn 55-16
- Win versus Bowling Green 62-20
In the latest of edition of B5Q’s upcoming “opponent at a glance” we take a deeper look at how Kent State has looked so far this year.
The offense has not been the issue for the Golden Flashes so far this year. The team is averaging nearly 28 points per game, and was able to do so while taking on Arizona State and Auburn, both on the road.
While the offense does not have any standouts statistically, Kent State has shown the ability to run the ball fairly well during the season with their balanced attack. The main tailback is Jo-El Shaw. He has accounted for 278 yards on the ground with five yard average per rush.
Quarterback Dustin Crum is the second leading rusher on the team, and has 140 yards rushing. Overall the rushing attack, ranked 53rd in the nation has been solid.
Kent State's @Dustin_Crum14 set a career-high throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns in a 62-20 win over Bowling Green. Crum was 26-31 passing for 83.8% completion rate, the most accurate a Kent State passer has been since 2015 (min 20 attempts). #FlashFAST #MACtion pic.twitter.com/Vym1r5IWVO— #MACtion (@MACSports) September 23, 2019
While the ground game has been fairly good, the passing game is averaging 219 yards per game for the spread, no-huddle attack. Junior Crum has been the primary signal caller for the team, and has completed a little over 70% of his pass attempts.
Kent State distributes their targets across a wide variety of wide receivers, but Isaiah McKoy and Kavious Price are the biggest receiving threats. The duo each have 18 receptions on the year, while McKoy can be a big play threat as he is averaging 16 yards per catch.
The biggest area of strength for Kent State is in their ability to limit mistakes. Crum has yet to throw an interception in his 86 attempts, and the team has a positive turnover margin. While the Golden Flashes are one of the worst teams in the nation in terms of time of possession, their spread offense is very creative, and similar to Purdue, will deploy a number of trick plays.
After a bye week to prepare for the Badgers defense, there is no telling what Sean Lewis will concoct to keep Wisconsin on their heels.
Coming off a rough offensive game against Northwestern, the Kent State defense might be the remedy.
The Golden Flashes are dead last in the FBS for rushing defense giving up an average of 261 yards per game on the ground. The defense as a whole is No. 106 in scoring defense with an average of 32 points per game given up.
While those statistics must have the Wisconsin running attack salivating, KSU is middle of the road in pass defense at No. 50, an area that the Badgers will undoubtedly want to get back on track. One specific area that the defense does well is pressuring the quarterback. Kent State is averaging almost three sacks per game, good for No. 29 in the nation.
Defensive lineman Theo Majette and Zayin West are the key pass rushers, and although they are undersized they are very quick to get into the backfield with 6.5 sacks between the two of them alone.
At linebacker, the trio of Mandela Lawrence-Burke, Nick Faulkner, and Matt Bahr are sure tacklers. Bahr is a graduate student who has been one of the better defenders on the team the past two seasons.
The secondary is lead by Jamal Parker. The senior cornerback lead the team in interceptions last season, and already has two so far this year. The preseason MAC All-Conference player is a playmaker for the defense.
This game comes at the perfect time for Wisconsin, who had a sluggish win over Northwestern last weekend.
Kent State will look to be creative on offense in their no-huddle, spread offense, which should be a good test for the defense. The Golden Flashes have a very balanced attack, so I would assume that Wisconsin will look to make them one dimensional.
On defense, Kent State has really struggled against the run game, which is not a recipe for success with Jonathan Taylor toting the rock for Wisconsin. While Kent State is vastly improved from a 2-10 team in 2018, there will be a significant talent and size difference in this game. Kent State has 33 players under six feet tall, and only seven players weighing over 300 pounds, a far cry from Wisconsin’s 17 players of 300 pounds or more.
"This formation is made up of pastry-fed men who would like nothing more than to mash your ass. This is a formation that struggles to buy pants that fit & renders the term “big & tall” hopelessly inadequate." - @RJ_Writes in Read Option beautifully describing the Hippo formation— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 23, 2019
While Kent State and Wisconsin are very different stylistically, Wisconsin should be able to push them around with their offensive line, and it will be interesting to see if the defense can continue their early season dominance.