April 21, 2010

Plenty of positives in scrimmage

Kent State's scrimmage on Saturday allowed the Golden Flashes to gauge just how far they've come this spring. With just over a week left of spring practice the squad continues to show improvement and several players are making the most of their opportunities, particularly junior wide receiver Sam Kirkland.

Kirkland has been recognized by both players and coaches for the outstanding effort he has put forth this spring.

On Saturday, Kirkland caught three passes for a scrimmage-high 50 yards and scored one touchdown.

But the player of that day was rising sophomore Dri Archer, who carried 14 times for 107 yards and one score. All of Kent State's running backs performed well as Jacquise Terry had 14 carries for 90 yards and Eugene Jarvis added 10 yards on just seven carries in his first action since lacerating a kidney at Boston College last fall.

"He's fast. It's so effortless. He just doesn't look like he's straining but he never gets caught. He's smooth," said head coach Doug Martin of Archer. "We really have got three really good backs here right now. He and Jarvis and Jacquise Terry, all three, boy those guys can play."

With so many weapons in the backfield Martin will be hard pressed to find enough carries to keep all his backs involved in the game. Martin said the coaching staff is working hard to find other ways to involve Jarvis, Terry and Archer, but they are very clear on their priorities.

"The main thing is to win games," he said. "We're working with Dri to return punts also. He's back there with Eugene. We're trying to get them on the field as much as possible.

"They all three have got different things they're good at. If you get into a game where your back has to be in a lot of pass protection Dri is going to suffer. He's just not big enough to do that. The other two guys can, particularly Jacquise is pretty good in that area. Jacquise is really good catching the ball. Eugene of course, he can make people miss. He's really pretty good at everything."

It wasn't all good news for the Flashes on Saturday.

The offensive line, particularly the second unit, struggled in pass protection and the backup quarterback job remains wide open.

"One thing I'm worried about offensively right now is two-fold, back-up quarterback and to develop some depth on the offensive line," Martin said. "I think we've got seven that could play in the offensive line right now and win. We've got to get at least two more guys on that offensive line that could help us and somebody's got to step up and take the quarterback deal. I thought Cedric McCloud is looking more and more comfortable as we go along. He's got a nice arm. He's only had five practices, so he's really ahead for as little work as he's had."

Giorgio Morgan, a rising junior, is the other player fighting to backup Spencer Keith under center.

Speaking of Injuries
The Flashes came out of the scrimmage healthy, but not without a couple of scares. Wide receiver Chris Gilbert was banged up after making a diving catch. He jammed his finger, but didn't miss a beat.

Cornerback Josh Pleasant wasn't as lucky. In an attempt to break up a pass, Pleasant suffered a big blow to the chest and knee. After being helped off the field Pleasant was able to walk on his own. In fact, it was the blow to the ribs that caused Pleasant the most pain.

"His knee's OK. He may have a bruised rib or something. They're looking at him," Martin said. "The knee is OK, that was the main worry. That was the only injury we had. That's a good day."

Watching Pleasant walk off the field left Martin wondering if he'd have his starting cornerback for the 2010 season.

"Any time you lose a kid this late to a knee injury you're going to lose him for the season, so that's a worry. And No. 2, the corner position is where we have the least amount of depth, but like I said they said his knee was solid. There's no problem with that," he said.

Pleasant was back in action on Monday, although he remains a bit sore.


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