October 7, 2009

Changes expected to kicking team

In last week's 31-15 loss at Baylor, Kent State's offense sputtered inside the red zone. On most occasions, a stalled offense in the red zone translates to an automatic three points. But, Kent State came up empty on each of its red zone attempts.

In the game, the Bears blocked an extra point and one field goal and hurried another three-point try that freshman kicker Freddy Cortez pushed to the left. That forced Kent State head coach Doug Martin to call for a fake field goal on the third trip deep into Bears' territory.

"That's why we faked the last one, because obviously we were having problems," Martin said.

The Golden Flashes struggled to counter the push from the Bears' two 300-pounders--Phil Taylor (6-foot-4, 355) and Trey Bryant (6-foot-2, 310)--lined up on the left side of the Bears' defensive line.

Martin said the Golden Flashes made some in-game adjustments to their kick protection unit prior to Cortez' miss, but even that didn't work against the Bears, who have blocked four kicks in as many games.

"We had (freshman) Bryan Wagner (6-foot-5, 290) there because he's a 300-pound guy and he got rolled out of there," Martin said. "So we put (redshirt freshman) Josh Kline (6-foot-3, 289) in thinking maybe he's a little stronger and could hold up. He still got pushed but at least we got that kick off."

Before playing Bowling Green on Saturday, the Golden Flashes are expected to have yet another new look up front on kick attempts.

"We're going to overhaul that whole team now even though we won't face another team that can do that with that type of size people. We're still going to go ahead and overhaul that unit and replace them with some other people, maybe even use some defensive people in there if we have to," Martin said. "Right now we're going to take all the tight ends out of it and we're going to use linemen. Where we got hurt were the tight end guys, it wasn't the line."

Taking out the tight ends limits what the Golden Flashes can do in terms of fake kicks. But, it's more important to convert on short field goal and point after attempts.

"We're going to get that fixed because we've got a good kicker," Martin said. "Right now our kicking game is really spectacular. We've got to make sure we protect Freddy because he can supply points for us."

Martin's strategy could involve some of the Flashes bigger defensive linemen, limiting the number of eligible personnel on fakes or in situations where a bad snap leads to a scramble for a first down or touchdown.

"A lot of people take the philosophy that they want to have eligible people in there, eligible numbers, in case you get a bad snap, you get a fire call and have to throw it. Some people just don't worry about that and they use linemen all across the board," Martin said. "We've always kind of gone the route where we'd like to have some eligible guys in case you have that problem or you want to do a fake. Once you use all linemen you're really limited what fakes you can use and the possibility of a fire call if you get a bad snap."

In creating a new protection unit, Martin will balance the need for giving Cortez a chance to get off a clean kick with the importance of keeping eligible personnel on the field in case of an errant snap.

"We just got to get better; we've got to get some different people in there, he said.

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