August 17, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Kent State head coach Doug Martin probably went to bed Saturday night humming parts of the chorus to The Desert Rose Band's tune, One Step Forward.

Each step forward we took two steps back
One step forward and two steps back
Nobody gets too far like that
One step forward and two steps back

Earlier that day, the Golden Flashes conducted their first scrimmage of the 2009 season, and like the song says, "one step forward and two steps back."

"Typical first scrimmage I think, some good, some bad," Martin said. "The good side of things was no fumbles…our first and second team offenses. If we don't fumble the football, don't beat ourselves, you've got a chance to be pretty good."

It's never a good sign when holding on to the football is the highlight of a scrimmage. It's a good thing there were other areas where the Flashes showed improvement.

Like freshman Darius Polk returning the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, although that also could indicate a problem on kick coverage.

"The encouraging thing is that is Darius Polk against our best coverage team, so he obviously has some talent. He looked fast when he got down that sideline too," Martin said. "The negative was we didn't get him down."

One step forward, two steps back.

The first team offense failed to reach the end zone prior to moving into red zone drills. That was the bad. On the flip side, the first team defense played well, yielding just nine yards on 10 rushes and 38 yards passing on 15 attempts.

Kevin Hogan and Monte Simmons each recorded a sack and Brian Lainhart and Danny Sadler both knocked away a pass.

One step forward, two steps back.

Part of the offense's problems was due to the looks thrown at redshirt sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan.

"I thought for as many blitzes as we were seeing, we threw about every blitz known to man at our first offense today, they actually handled it pretty well for our first scrimmage and dealing with that," Martin said. "I didn't think Giorgio was quite as sharp as what he has been at practice but he had a lot of balls dropped on him today. That really hurts a quarterback when that happens."

And the drops, that's an issue that has plagued the Kent State receivers for the past couple of seasons. The problem is magnified when two fifth-year seniors and a junior were responsible for seven of the nine drops.

One step forward, two steps back.

The bad news for the players with slippery hands-other receivers took advantage of their playing time.

"We did have some guys that stepped up, made explosion plays at the wide receiver position," Martin said. "(Freshman) Tyshon Goode made some really electric plays. (Junior) Anthony Bowman is going to be quite a player. So we've got some guys that are getting things done. (Sophomore) Kendrick Pressley catches the ball very consistently. Those are all positives."

Goode and Pressley accounted for 11 of the Golden Flashes 20 receptions during the scrimmage.

"You know what, it's like I told these guys in the beginning, I don't care if you're a first-day freshman or a fifth-year senior, whoever catches the ball and whoever makes plays, that's who's going to play," Martin said. "We're going to play the best players. Just because you've been around does not guarantee you a spot. Those guys that dropped balls today, they're going to find themselves on the second and third teams starting (Sunday). Guys that made plays (are) the guys that will play."

Martin's policy on playing the best player will be challenged at placekicker. While starter Nate Reed was out with a quad injury, freshman Freddy Cortez was perfect. He converted all four point after attempts and was 5-for-5 on field goals (29, 30, 31, 39, 39).

"(Cortez) made a huge step today right now," Martin said. "Nate kind of hurt his quad again, so he's not kicking. He did that (Friday), so he's going to be out for a few days. Freddy is definitely in the driver's seat right now for that spot."

One step forward…

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