This game was fine. Like...it was just...fine. We did what we were supposed to do and covered a 4 TD spread against an overmatched team...and in some ways we did it pretty well. Kent State averaged 323 passing yards and 262 rushing yards last year, and we held then well below both of those averages. We racked up 600 yards of offense behind a first year starting QB and a retooled OL. Those are all good things.
But we also didn't look great for big portions of the game. That second quarter was pretty bad—0 points and 2 turnovers. But again we pulled it out and ran away with the game in the second half on the back of solid talent and adjustments.
It was fine. And I hate to say that given that we won by 30. But fine is fine for game 1 with this team. Fine gives us room to grow and room to work on things before next week.
Let’s break things down
Haynes finished the game 21/33 for 292 yards, with 2 TDs and 3 INTs, and 22 yards on the ground. Haynes is a first-year starter with a ton of athletic ability who’s going to have to grow into the offense and learn to minimize mistakes...and he played like a first-year starter with a ton of athletic ability who’s going to have to grow into the offense and learn to minimize mistakes. 1 of the INTs wasn't his fault—just bad routes by our WRs. But he should have done better on the other two. A good opening game for him with lots of room to grow
42 carries for 303 yards averaging 7.2 yards a carry. Thats really good. Achane and Spiller are a fantastic thunder and lightning combo. There was only one time where I was frustrated with our OL—Bryce Foster got mauled on a 4th and short [EDIT: He didn’t get mauled. It was a communication issue that resulted in him having to block two guys—my mistake and sorry Bryce pls don’t find me and kick my ass] but beyond that he played pretty darn well. Clean overall game for the OL.
This was a big question for me—could we push the ball out to the WRs and get some production in the passing game to guys beyond Wydermyer and Spiller—and the answer is yes. Smith finished with 8 catches for 100 yards. Chapman is back with 4 catches for 91 yards basically not even missing a step from the Florida game last year. Old faithful Chase Lane grabbed 3 for 41. Aside from the bad spacing on one of the Haynes INTs, it was a good night for the WRs.
I don't know much about football but Kent State throwing for 300+ per game last year made me a little nervous. We held them to 110 total on 12 completed passes—without our #1 corner in Myles Jones. And on top of that how about Leon O’Neal? Rebounding from the emotional low of a possible targeting ejection to turn the game around on a pick 6. Really proud of that kid and he deserves all the success in the world. Good night for our secondary.
We got after the QB as evidenced by the 110 passing yards and sacking the QB 5 times. A point of concern is the fact that we gave up 226 rushing yards on 45 carries. I don't know if Having McKinnley Jackson or Michael Clemons back would have made a difference there but that’s something we’ve got to clean up. Have to get better in that facet of the game and it’s a little surprising that we struggled as much there.
There were a lot of mental mistakes here. Ainias HAS to know better than to try and grab that ball at the end of the game on that punt. I know he’s trying to make a play but he’s got to do better than that and I am confident that he will. Haynes has to make better decisions with the football.
We need to be better than we were today but hoping to be better than a night where we won by 30+ points is a good place to be. It’s good to be patient but also it’s good to have something to push a sense of urgency. And it feels like this game gave our coaches enough to feel good about the trajectory of this team while also enough to ensure that our team knows that we have a lot of work to get to where we need to be.