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2021 MAC Positional Previews: Kent State Golden Flashes offensive line

The offensive dominance of the reigning FBS scoring leader all starts up front.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 28 Kent State at Buffalo Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2020 Kent State Golden Flashes only played four games in a COVID-19 abbreviated season, but they made an indelible mark on the program’s history. Kent State ranked No. 1 in scoring offense in the entire FBS while averaging 49.8 points per contest.

The glitz and glamor of Sean Lewis’ offense resides within quarterback Dustin Crum and his army of speed. But the five men up front have worked wonders in allowing the offense to achieve its fullest potential.

The Golden Flashes ranked 16th in the FBS in fewest sacks allowed at 1.25 per game, while dropping back an average of 32.8 times. They also blocked for the nation’s second leading rushing charge, a versatile unit which garnered 289 yards per contest — only trailing Air Force’s triple option based scheme in the category. Crum, the focal point for defenses, shined at the quarterback position thanks to his men up front. He used the extra time in pass protection to his advantage, completing 73.5 percent of passes while rushing for 5.5 yards per carry.

A slew of returning starters remain on the roster to command Lewis’ signature “Flash Fast” offense. The line earned two All-MAC selections last season, and both pieces are back. Right tackle Bill Kuduk qualified for Second Team, while right guard Nathan Monnin snagged Third Team honors.

The 6’4”, 295 pound Kuduk, a former Kansas State transfer, rotated between left and right tackle throughout the season, demonstrating a strong sense of versatility on the line. At right guard, the 6’5”, 295 pound Monnin has been a staple on the starting lineup since transitioning from tight end in 2018.

Senior left guard Adam Gregoire is from Canton, OH, and the Golden Flashes will need him to play like a Hall of Famer in order to build on 2020’s offensive explosion. Gregoire has been one of the veteran leaders of this team, serving as a starter since Paul Haynes held head coaching duties. The other interior lineman is center Jack Clement. Another experienced member of the roster, Clement spent time at South Dakota before seeing his first FBS action with the Flashes in 2019.

Rounding out the offensive line is the other tackle, Daniel Johnson. He flipped between right and left tackle along with Kuduk, and he’s been a bright spot in the program since joining the starting ranks in 2019. The Canada native is the lone non-senior starter on the offensive line and the team finished 4-0 with him as a starter two seasons ago.

With an established veteran group and minimal turnover from 2020, Kent State is a likely candidate to sport the conference’s best offensive line — a title which has belonged to Buffalo in recent memory.

The offensive line will be under the direction of Bill O’Boyle for the fourth consecutive season. O’Boyle joined Lewis’ inaugural staff in 2018 and achieved instantaneous success — inflating the rushing average and limiting the number of sacks. He also has trained them to flourish in Lewis’ quick-paced offense.

One key feature of Kent State’s offensive line is the ability to play fast. Due to the Golden Flashes’ up-tempo offensive nature, pristine conditioning and the ability to get set immediately after a play concludes are requirements. The offensive line play has considerably improved each year since Lewis’ arrival.

Kent State’s line must be well-conditioned for the Texas summer heat and humidity to open the season, as the Golden Flashes pay a visit to Texas A&M on Sept. 4 to launch their 2021 campaign.