1.) MAC East is down, but not out
Much time has been spent on this space deriding the MAC East and for good reason. As a division, they have lost multiple games to FCS opposition, including Monmouth, Albany and Eastern Illinois.
Week 9 was the revenge of the Eastern division with the help of Kent State winning away at Central Michigan. There were upsets galore as both Miami and Ohio won on the road against heavily favored Western division teams. Sure this successful week for the East won’t change perception of the division, but a closer inspection has the two divisions trending in different directions.
With the Eastern division sporting a 13-15 collective conference record, they have certainly outplayed the non-conference expectations that were understandably built up. Next week will provide another stiff test for the East as they have a schedule riddled with difficult road trips.
2.) Cooper Rush can’t do it all by himself, despite trying
Today marked only my second game I’ve dedicated to watching just Rush without multiple screens on, the first being the OK State wacky win. I’ve come away not really knowing how to evaluate him on a professional prospect type level.
As an unfortunate Browns fan, I’ve become accustomed to seeing quarterbacks try to much because the rest of the team is just lacking in certain areas. This seems to be what is happening for Rush and Central’s offense. While they are better than the Browns against their respective competition, CMU still struggles despite Rush being really good.
At no time did I believe Central Michigan could run the ball and it appeared that the quality Kent State defense thought the same thing. The two primary running backs Central Michigan used, Devon Spalding and Jahray Hayes combined to average just slightly more than three yards a carry. That combined with Terence Waugh living in the backfield would lead me to believe that the Central Michigan offensive line needs some retooling. With three games to play and a bowl game should they qualify, Rush will surely surpass his career high in sacks for a season.
To conclude this point, Rush does force some throws but in my opinion that is a symptom of his environment rather than a regression on his part.
3.) Terence Waugh should be an interesting pro prospect
With pass rushing specialists becoming increasingly popular in the NFL, Waugh seems to fit the mold. Despite a listed weight of just over 260, Waugh shows good power on his pass rushing to couple with an obvious quickness off the line. Like his fellow senior defensive star Nate Holley, Waugh by in large held his own against the high level opponents this season as he registered a sack and forced fumble against Penn State.
I wouldn’t expect to see Waugh off the board early based on his smallish size for his skill set, but don’t count out him to become another in the line of Kent State defensive standouts in the NFL.
4.) This Kent State offense should give fans hope for next season
Ok hang with me as I take a look at the Kent State future.
With an offseason for Nick Holley to learn and create a more diverse offense playbook and the return of a more throwing quarterback Justin Agner, Kent State could have a much improved offense. Add to that, many of the key contributors should also be suiting up at Dix stadium in a year.
Star freshman running back Justin Rankin, Dri Archer like Kavious Price and the return of receiver Kris White (who was my pick to lead the team in receptions this season before his injury against Penn State) along with three returning starters along the offensive line lead me to believe the Golden Flashes might have an offense worthy of their typically strong defense.
5.) Kicker Shane Hynes has ice water running in his veins
After getting crushed earlier in the game when he got a kick blocked, Hynes returned to nail a 40+ yard game winning field goal. The sophomore kicker who grew up about an hour away from the Central Michigan campus, Hynes was not given an offer by the Chips, a detail that the Kent State radio crew delighted in repeating several times throughout the broadcast.
I have been effusive in my praise for Hynes throughout the year and for good reason as he has been about as good as any kicker in mid major college football this season. A small college football team that has a kicker who has range anywhere within 50 yards is an absolute luxury and that is the case especially for Kent State’s as their red zone offense isn’t always punching it in for touchdowns.