Kent State and Miami are two of the lower-rung teams in the conference, and over the past two or three seasons, this matchup between the division foes has usually been a saving grace for the winning team.
This year, Miami took the W in a game that can best be described as a low-scoring affair and at worst, bleak and unwatchable. That being said, we watched the game and woo buddy, is there a lot to learn from Saturday’s festivities.
Gus Ragland: back?
Miami has had a lot of problems at the quarterback spot since the departure of Andrew Hendrix in 2014. While they stockpiled a lot of talent, most of the quarterback unit was extremely young and needed seasoning. Billy Bahl and Gus Ragland spent most of last year rotating the ball in a two QB system to moderate success.
This year has been mostly the Bahl Show as Ragland injured himself prior to the start of the season. Bahl would suffer an injury of his own, resulting in Noah Wezensky taking the snaps at starter for a couple games this season. Now, Ragland is back and after a good performance, might not relinquish the role.
Ragland led Miami in passing and rushing, finishing with 217 total yards of offense and two passing touchdowns. Ragland also threw no interceptions, which ended up being a key difference in the game. It might be too early to see Ragland as a permanent starter (he completed less than 50 percent of his passes), but if he builds on that performance next week, it just might happen.
That Miami run game needs help. Bad.
As previously mentioned, Ragland led the RedHawks in rushing yards yesterday. What wasn’t mentioned was that statline was 14 carries for 36 yards and no touchdowns. The rest of the RedHawk rushing attack wasn’t that much better.
Alonzo Smith was the second-highest receiver of carries, with 11. However, he finished third on the yards gained list with 23. Maurice Thomas had 27 yards on four carries with a long of 14 yards, to make up all but 13 yards of rushing offense. Those aren’t good numbers.
The offensive line looked overwhelmed by (an admittedly great) defensive line and just couldn’t get the push it needed to open up gaps for he running backs. In order for Miami to be a threat down the road, both sides of the offense must be adjusted.
For better or worse, Nick Holley is the QB moving forward.
The Kent State offense resembled an FBS-level offense the first two games of the season, putting up points and yards at a clip that hadn’t been seen since the days of Dri Archer and Travion Durham.
On Saturday, however, a scarecrow would have been best served at quarterback.
Holley struggled against the RedHawk defense to throw the ball downfield, going 7-of-11 for 91 yards and an interception. Holley once again led the Golden Flashes in rushing as well, scoring twice with 84 yards on 24 carries, but that is expected of him at this point as the best athlete on the field.
Holley was injured prior to the end of the game, forcing Myles Washington and George Bollas into action at QB. In their drives, it was shown that Holley is the best option the Flashes have going forward at the position, as Washington was unable to move the ball and Bollas went 1-for-3 with a game-sealing interception.
(Aside: It’s surprising that Colin Reardon, the previous starter over the last two seasons, did not see the field at QB given his experience, but alas. If Holley is indeed injured enough to be out of action next week, a fan could very well start at QB.)
The Kent State defense was too tired for its own good.
Kent State is known for being a fly-about defense. They make tackles and go all around the field to stop the action. It was clear yesterday that maybe, just maybe, seeing the field so much is wearing them out a lot.
That can best be seen in the number of tackles vs. time of possession. Miami had the ball for just over 27 minutes and Kent State total only had 52 tackles as a unit, with Nick Cuthbert and Nate Holley each leading the table with six apiece. Miami had 73 tackles with about 33 minutes of possession for Kent.
Miami reeled off 15 straight points starting in the third quarter, and Kent State could not prevent scoring opportunities in the fourth quarter when the offense once again failed to produce for the Golden Flashes. It’s a story that keeps repeating itself and it showed in full once again in a most dramatic fashion.
The MAC East race just got wacko.
Think on this for a second: the MAC East is so terrible that Miami, sitting at 1-6 on the season, could feasibly take over the East crown next week with a win and losses by Ohio and Akron, which sit at 2-1.
Miami and Kent now both sit at 1-2, tied for third in the division. Do the math for aminute. If Miami and Kent win and Akron and Ohio lose next week, it could potentially be a four-way tie for first, with poor Buffalo and Bowling Green straggling along at the bottom.
Oh and yes, it is currently possible that a team with a losing record could make the MAC Championship Game with a well-placed hot streak.
Good lord this season is weird.