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UMass Minutemen vs. Kent State Golden Flashes Football Preview

A combined record of 0-11 means that both of these teams are in desperate need of a win.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Massachusetts Minutemen will take on the Kent State Golden Flashes this Saturday at 2PM. This isn't exactly what you would call a must watch game, but it is a must win game for these two programs. UMass has lost four of its six games by a combined twelve points. They've shown that they can now be competitive but they need to show their fan base that they can put it together when it matters. Kent State played the Northern Illinois Huskies very tough last week at Huskie Stadium last week falling 17-14. Now on to some expert analysis of how this game will break down.

Golden Flashes Offense vs. Minutemen Defense

Kent State's offense is in a state of mystery as we have no idea who will be starting at quarterback. Colin Reardon went down last week with an ankle injury and a few plays later Nathan Strock also went down. Both quarterbacks are doubtful and it is a good chance neither will be ready to go. If that's the case than Jack Williams will most likely get the start but George Bollas could see some action too. Kent State's offense has already been struggling with their starting quarterback playing averaging a whooping 10.8 points per game with is good for 126th in the country. They are also 126th in the country in rushing with 51.8 yards per game. Nick Holley will probably see an increased work load if Reardon can't go and he will need to do better than his 3.3 yards per carry. Casey Pierce has been solid at tight end and will need would be a nice security blanket against the Minutemen defense.

The UMass defense of the other hand has problems of its own. They give up 40.3 points per game which is one of the highest numbers in the country. Facing an already poor passing game and with the possibility of an inexperienced quarterback the Minutemen should be able to hold their opponent below thirty points, something they have not done yet this year. Randall Jette and Trey Dudley-Giles will need to shore up the secondary and will need to watch out for Chris Humphrey and Ernest Calhoun. UMass' rush defense has been awful surrendering 204.5 yards per game. Joe Colton has been one of the best run defenders which would be nice except that he's a safety. They front line has struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks with just 6 sacks all season. Kassan Messiah is the best pass rusher but with only 1.5 sacks so far he hasn't shown it. Jovan Santos-Knox and Stanley Andre have been pretty good shoring up the line backers but they will need to do better to stop the run game and help get pressure on blitzes.

Edge: I would have to give the edge to the UMass defense if Colin Reardon can't go. If he can then it would probably be a wash but that might be good enough for the Minutemen.

Minutemen Offense vs. Golden Flashes Defense

The UMass offense has been much improved over last year with the 21st passing game in the nation. Blake Frohnapfel has really surpassed everyone's expectations this season despite his mental error last week against Miami. Frohnapfel's favorite target has been Tajae Sharpe who looks like a bonafide superstar, even getting put on the Biletnikoff watch list. Along with Jean Sifrin and Rodney Mills the Kent State secondary should have their hand fulls. This is a secondary that has been passable this year. They give up 246 yards per game which is about 80 yards less than UMass puts up per game. The two safeties Nate Holley and Jordan Italiano will need to take command of the defense as stopping the passing game will be key to keeping the Minutemen off the board. They won't be helped out by the pass rush, with just 2 sacks all year the UMass offensive line should be able to keep Frohnapfel upright.

On the ground UMass has been abysmal averaging just 77.5 yards per game and 2.5 yards per carry. With J.T. Blyden questionable for Saturday look for Shadrach Abrokwah to see the rock a lot as he is UMass' leading rusher with 179 yards on the season. Kent State on the other hand gives up more than 200 yards on the ground. Jontey Byrd will need to control the middle of the line if they hope to control the run. It will be interesting to see if UMass tries to get the ground game going, but based on what we've seen this year it probably would be a better idea to focus on the passing game.

Edge: UMass offense. I think UMass should be able to do what they want on offense and as long as they don't need field goals to win (or extra points) they should put up enough points to be in the position to win the game.

Prediction:

I think UMass wins it regardless of who plays at QB for the Golden Flashes. UMass should come out pissed after last weeks debacle and hammer Kent State. Kent State should be feeling pretty good after an impressive showing against the Huskies last week but UMass has fallen short too many times.

Prediction: 34-17 UMass. I'm predicting another missed extra point for the Minutemen because, well our kicker is Blake Lucas.