September 24, 2008

The season starts now

The season starts now.

That was the message Kent State head coach Doug Martin was spreading in his weekly press conference Monday.

"We're treating this like our season begins this week," Martin said. "Conference games are obviously the most important for us, and this is what we've been pointing to all year long."

You can't blame Martin for feeling this way, especially since his Golden Flashes are off to a 1-3 start and open MAC play Saturday against Ball State, a team which the Flashes head coach described as the best in the conference right now.

Martin said the team is where he expected it to be at this point of the season, but added that he would have loved to be 2-2, pointing out that the Iowa State loss is the game that got away and the biggest disappointment of the season.

But don't fear Kent State faithful. The Flashes actually have some good history on their side.

"In '06, we were 1-3, and we went on a five-game winning streak and were one game away from winning the MAC East championship and that's right where we are again," Martin said.

Martin's "season starts now" attitude, describing the first four contests of the year as pre-season games, may prove to be an effective technique because rivals in the MAC East are not off to hot starts either. Akron and Buffalo are 2-2 overall, but Akron already has a conference loss. Temple and Miami share the same record as the Flashes while Bowling Green is 1-2.

"You've got to win in the conference if you're gonna' be successful," Martin said. "We're gonna' play eight conference games. All those games that you win right there dictate what happens with your season. You can go 4-0 in the non-conference, if you don't win those conference games, it's a losing season and a bad year."

Reflecting on the season so far, Martin said he was pleased with where the Flashes were offensively, although he knows that the turnover bug is still holding the offense back.

The Flashes turned the ball over three times to Boston College, four times to Iowa State and three times to Delaware State. The Flashes improved by only turning the ball over once to Louisiana-Lafayette.

Defensively, Martin said the squad had been playing great until it ran into Lafayette's mobile quarterback, Michael Desormeaux and speedster running back Tyrell Fenroy.

Martin said the defense needs to keep the team out of high scoring games.

"Once it gets up above 30 points, offensively, that's gonna' be a stretch for us because of our throwing game, we're not a dynamic throwing team right now. Hopefully, defensively, we can play better than that and we'd like to think that if we can score somewhere around 30 points, we're gonna' win the game."

To beat Ball State and give the offense a chance, the defense is going to have to stop a team that has averaged almost 42 points a game.

If this happens, Martin believes the first quarter of the season will be ancient history.

"If we go down there and beat Ball State, nobody's gonna' be talking about the first four games; we got to beat Ball State, it cures everything and that's the issue."

Martin is confident and his players are ready to play like Saturday will be the first game of the year, but as for me? I'll go with the coach on this one, holding my opinion until after I see the Flashes play a regular season game.

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