Here’s what Kent State football coach Darrell Hazell noticed after watching the tape of Friday’s 28-6 victory over Ohio University, which capped an 11-1 regular season — the best record in the program’s 90-year history — and a perfect 8-0 march through Mid-American Conference play:
WHAT STOOD OUT: “We continue to play really well on defense. Even though we gave up some third downs, our red zone defense has been very good. That’s why we’re keeping them out of the end zone. We played extremely well up front defensive line-wise. I thought we played very good team defense. We had some guys making plays in the back end, too. Our seniors are important to the whole process of changing this thing around, and it was nice to see them go out in the right way.”
WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: “We have to play better up front (offensively). I didn’t think we played as well as we had been for whatever reason. I didn’t think we handled second-level defenders very well. We need to stay on the blocks a little bit better. We weren’t executing as well as we had been. Our gameplan didn’t change any once we got out to the big lead.
We felt we could throw some play-action pass on first down and we kept getting into those bad situations on first down, which got us off schedule.”
INJURY UPDATE: “I think we’re pretty good. Obviously Dri (junior slot Dri Archer) had the ankle (injury) late in the game, but I think he’ll be OK after a day or two of rest. Tray (sophomore tailback Trayion Durham) is in good shape. We’ve got some little bumps and bruises, but nothing significant that will hold anybody out.”
NEXT: MAC East Division champion Kent State (11-1, 8-0 MAC) will battle West Division champ Northern Illinois (11-1, 8-0) in the MAC Championship Game on Friday at 7 p.m. at Ford Field in Detroit.
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE: The Flashes will practice tonight, take Monday off, then practice on Tuesday and Wednesday before departing for Detroit Thursday morning.
SPECIAL EVENTS: A special edition of the ‘Darrell Hazell Show’ will take place Monday at the Water Street Tavern in downtown Kent. Fans and community members are encouraged to stop by the show, which runs from 8 to 9 p.m.
In addition, a ‘Championship Send-Off’ will be held Thursday at 9 a.m. at the M.A.C. Center. Doors will open at 8:30 for the start of the program, and fans can get their official Kent State Postseason Rally Towels at entrances into the gym.
Coach Hazell and a few members of the team will then address the crowd before loading the buses for Detroit, where the Golden Flashes will seek their first MAC championship since 1972. The program is expected to last approximately 30 minutes.
— Allen Moff