2022 Kent St. Golden Flashes Preview

by Matt Fargo

Kent St. Golden Flashes

2021-22 Season Record 7-7 (6-2 MAC East) - 7-7-0 ATS - 6-8-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 7

Overview

After playing only four games in 2020, Kent St. came into 2021 loaded with 10 returning starters on each side of the ball and it did not disappoint. After a 1-3 nonconference start, the losses against Texas A&M, Iowa and Maryland, the Golden Flashes righted the ship, going 6-2 in the conference and went to the MAC Championship for the first time since 2012 and while it lost that game and its bowl game by way of blowouts, positives were put in place. Head coach Sean Lewis took over a program that was mired in a losing culture with five straight losing seasons, posting a dismal 14-45 record including 9-30 in the MAC and while his first team went 2-10 with the leftovers of Paul Haynes, he has not posted a losing season over the last three years and has two bowl trips. A significant amount of starters are back this season but a lot of experience has left as Kent St. is ranked only No. 117 in returning production so there is work to do.

Offense

The offense did not get a lot of publicity last season, because it plays in the MAC, but the Golden Flashes were potent by averaging 482.2 ypg which was No. 8 in the country while averaging 32.6 ppg, good for No. 36 overall. Quarterback Dustin Crum had a very good season but was not asked to do a lot with his arm as the rushing offense led the way, averaging 243.2 ypg which was fourth best in the nation. Crum has departed Collin Schlee will take over the reigns after limited action last year. In might take him a while to adjust but the good news is that the rushing attack will be as powerful with Marquez Cooper and Xavier Williams both coming back after combining for 2,017 yards and 14 touchdowns. The receiving corps is loaded led by Dante Cephas who had 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns with plenty of depth under him. The cause for concern is the offensive line that is going through a rehaul and will get lit up early.

Defense

It was fortunate the offense was as good as it was because the defense was awful, finishing No. 122 overall and No. 119 in points allowed. They were able to shut out an awful Akron team and allowed only 10 points to VMI of the FCS but gave up 37 or more points in nine of their other games. It is going to be a work in progress as six of the top seven tacklers are gone, leaving holes just about everywhere. The most experience is on the defensive line but it has to improve immensely after registering only 23 sacks and finishing No. 108 in tackles for loss. They were also bad on third down and the back seven has to up its game in that regard as well. Safety Dean Clark was the team leader in tackles with 116 and he returns and the hope is everyone else can feed off of him. The remainder of the secondary is adequate and coming close to the 16 interception will be a bonus. The linebackers will be raw and need to adjust on the fly.

2022 Season Outlook

It seems that every year, there is a team from the MAC that emerges to the top but has trouble staying there and that looks to be the case for Kent St. with a lot of new faces in the mix behind some solid returning playmakers. Lewis has succeeded with similar rosters so he can get the best out of this bunch but the loss of Crum at quarterback is huge as he knew the system in and out and was the proven leader of this team. The 1-3 start from last season will be duplicated this year as Kent St. has a sure win at home against Long Island but the other three nonconference games are at Washington, Oklahoma and Georgia so while the paychecks will be nice, the morale could take a hit. The MAC slate is manageable but includes three difficult road games although they miss Northern Illinois and Western Michigan out of the West. The O/U win total is 5 and a 0-6 start on the road is likely meaning taking care of business at home is a must. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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