KENT, Ohio-With just a few weeks left until the start of the 2010 season
Kent State's defense is taking shape. Seven starters and about a dozen
letter winners return from the 2009 season, but there are some holes to fill.
Up front the Flashes have to replace departed seniors Kevin Hogan and Aaron
Hull but return team sack leader Monte Simmons at Buck end and nose
tackle Quinton Rainey.
There's a host of players vying to fill the remaining two spots including
several of the Golden Flashes' top recruits from the 2010 recruiting
Head coach Doug Martin is excited by the talent the Flashes added
in the off-season and he expects that several of those incoming freshmen will
find their way onto the field this season.
"The freshmen defensive line, Richard Gray is going to be a
tremendous player and Carlows Brown," he said. "There's
a lot of good young talent over there on defense."
At linebacker the Flashes have the luxury of returning two starters in senior Cobrani Mixon and sophomore Luke Batton. Martin's plan
for the 2010 season is to put his best three linebackers on the field at the
same time, regardless if a player is better suited for outside or inside linebacker.
Batton missed the beginning of camp with a hand injury but has since returned
to action. In his absence senior Dorian Wood picked up more reps.
Wood is a strong candidate to fill that third starting linebacker position.
"We're going to look at him at both (outside and inside positions)
right now," Martin said. "What we're going to do is put our
best three out there. When Luke Batton is here he's one of those three.
With him being out right now that kind of skews things a little bit so Dorian
will probably stay inside, at least until Luke comes back."
In the secondary the Flashes return one starting cornerback and both safeties.
The focus in camp has been to develop some depth at each position.
Again a freshman has earned early praise from Martin.
"On the defensive side, Luke Wollet is a freshman that we really
are high on," Martin said. "We really think he can help us. He's
got great instincts. I think he's just a younger Brian Lainhart.
He's really going to be a good player."
During practice the Flashes have focused on fundamentals, especially open
One drill saw one offensive player take on two defensive players. The players
are spaced 10 yards apart, with the offensive player in the middle. The offensive
player must pick a direction and try to elude both tacklers, one from the front
and one from behind. It's a physical drill but it does challenge the
defensive players to take the proper angles to the ball carrier.
"We've done that one for years," said Martin of the drill. "That
one really exposes whether guys can tackle in the open field and whether the
ball carrier can make people miss."
Another drill debuted in practice on Tuesday and probably won't be seen
again. That drill lined up one offensive player, a kick returner, on the goal
line while three defenders were positioned at the 17-yard line. The goal for
the offensive player was to reach the 10 before being tackled. The defenders
couldn't allow that to happen.
The drill surely didn't lack physical contact, but it rattle Martin's
"I don't know if you'll see that one again," Martin
said. "That one tested the head coach's sense of humor a little
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