August 13, 2010

Speed and tempo the key on offense

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KENT, Ohio-Through one week of camp one thing is clear: Kent State's
offense is in a hurry to get to the end zone.

The Golden Flashes don't run a no-huddle offense, it just seems that
way. The KSU coaches have pushed the pace, in individual drills and in team
situational work. The one-back, West Coast passing offense is designed to allow
the Flashes' fastest players to get the ball on the perimeter then make
plays with their speed.

That's why a fast tempo is so important.

"Our whole offense is built on tempo and speed. We want to be as fast
getting out of the huddle as we possibly can," said head coach Doug Martin. "We think we're faster coming out of the huddle than
no-huddle offenses are."

It's also important to have a quarterback under center that knows the
playbook inside and out and can make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.

Sophomore Spencer Keith fits that bill. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder
from Little Rock, Ark., started seven games in 2009. He set school freshman
passing records with 2,147 yards and 14 touchdowns, both of which stand fifth
in school annals.

"Spencer is so much farter along than he was last year," Martin
said. "All that experience he had last year is really paying off because
right now he's doing a lot of things at the line of scrimmage for us,
in pass protection and changing plays from one play to another. Run to pass
or run to run. He's just a real intelligent guy. He's fun to coach."

Keith isn't the only offensive player making a positive impression on
his coach. Martin cited sixth-year senior running back Eugene Jarvis and his position mates, junior Jacquise Terry and sophomore Dri Archer, as performing well in camp. He also likes what he sees in many
of his wide receivers.

"We've got a couple of young wide receivers stepping up. Chris Gilbert is stepping up as a wide receiver. Matt Hurdle has really
come a long way. I like him. Ed Cazenave is another guy that's
come a long way here recently. All those guys," Martin said.

On the offensive line, where the Flashes are desperate to build some depth,
redshirt freshman Max Plunkett has earned praise from Martin.

"Max Plunkett in the offensive line is stepping up a little bit," Martin
said. "We need some depth there, so that's definitely helping."

Ever since spring drills a battle has been brewing between redshirt junior
Giorgio Morgan and freshman Cedric McCloud for the backup
quarterback spot. Neither has gained an advantage but that could change come
Saturday when the Flashes will conduct their first intra-squad scrimmage of
the 2010 season.

"I'll tell you what I was really happy with today was the way
the two backup quarterbacks competed," said Martin after Tuesday's
practice. "Giorgio Morgan and Cedric both stepped up today and had better
days than what they've been having. I think it's still neck and
neck. We'll see after the scrimmage on Saturday. That will probably separate
one or the other, hopefully."

With so many talented offensive players, especially at running back, Martin
and the rest of the offensive coaches will have to get creative to share the
football. That means some players getting a look at other positions.

At running back, where Jarvis, Terry, Archer and senior Andre Flowers have proven themselves to be valuable weapons, Martin already has found a way
to get his talented players on the field together.

"I'm not worried about it. I think we've got to find ways
to get those guys on the field," Martin said. "Jacquise Terry is
our fourth wide receiver when we go to our four wide receivers set, so that
takes care of that right there. We definitely can get him some more balls there.
Eventually we'll probably kick Dri Archer out there a little bit also."

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