Kent State Preview
Penn State Offense vs. Kent State Defense
By: Brandon Musso
The Penn State offense is coming off an impressive performance last week against Pitt at Heinz Field. The Nittany Lions put up 51 points en route to a 51-6 win. It was a huge game as we all looked on to see how the team would bounce back after just narrowly escaping disaster in week one against App State. The team responded great on both sides of the ball and delivered big time to temporarily relieve any doubts.
Now they are on to week three of the season as they play in their final non-conference game of the season. Kent State comes into the game sporting a 1-1 record. In the first week, the defense allowed 31 points in a close loss to Illinois. The Golden Flashes were severely gashed in the run game as they allowed 284 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Look for Miles Sanders and the Penn State rushing attack to try and exploit that potential weakness and have a big game.
In the passing game, Trace McSorley should be aware of the secondary as they allowed just 190 passing yards against the Fighting Illini. Additionally, the defense comes into the game with two interceptions, one coming from impact player Jamal Parker. Parker is a junior defensive back that in addition to his interception, is second on the team in total tackles.
Upfront, Penn State should be aware of defensive end Theodore Eboigbe. The senior is experienced and leads the team with two sacks so far this season. Finally, linebackers Jim Jones and Matt Bahr are more impact players to watch, both players bring a great deal experience to the table. Jones is tied for second in total tackles with 15 while Bahr is leading the team with 18.
Kent State Offense vs. Penn State Defense
By: Kraigen Rasalla
Following a dominant second half effort where the Penn State defense shut Pitt out, Coach Franklin and DC Brent Pry have to feel much more confident in their defense than they did after week one. Defensive lineman Kevin Givens was a much welcomed addition back to the defense after he was suspended against Appalachian State. The defense was also much better in coverage and in tackling. Heading into week three, the Nittany Lions will face an interesting test from the Kent State offense.
Starting at QB for the Golden Flashes, Woody Barrett looks to continue his hot start to the 2018 season. Barrett is a sophomore who redshirted at Auburn then transferred to the junior college ranks for one season before settling at Kent State. Barrett threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns while running for 117 yards and a touchdown in a 31-24 loss against Illinois in week one. As seen against the Illini, the 6’2’’ 235 lb signal caller is a versatile dual threat QB with a tough skill set to defend. However, he is turnover prone as he already has three interceptions on the season.
After leading the team in rushing in 2017, Justin Rankin is also off to a hot start for the Golden Flashes in 2018. Against Howard, Rankin rushed for a career high 149 yards and found his way into the end zone, as well. Another junior college transfer from Lackawanna College, Jo-El Shaw also broke the 100 yard mark against Howard while notching three touchdowns, as well. Between Rankin and Shaw at running back and Barrett at Quarterback, the Golden Flashes have a variety of quality options on the ground.
On the outside, Kent State does not have a receiver with over 100 yards through the first two games. Some options that Barrett will work with on Saturday at Beaver Stadium will be Raekwon James (76 receiving yards), Isaiah McKoy (18.5 yards per catch), and Mike Carrigan (10 catches).
In order to move the ball, the Golden Flashes will certainly look to trust their running game while burning clock and keeping the Penn State offense on the sidelines. With Barrett, Rankins, and Shaw, the Golden Flashes have a variety of options to do just that against the Nittany Lions defense that silenced some doubters, but still has much more to prove in 2018.
Brandon Musso (2-0):
Despite playing a bit sloppy in the first half against Pitt last week, Penn State really showed the type of team they could be by pulling away in the second half. The team’s final non-conference opponent of the season looks to have inferior talent that Penn State should roll over. That combined with the impressive performance displayed last week, gives me the confidence to pick Penn State in a blow out.
Penn State 42 Kent State 14
Kraigen Rasalla (2-0)
Coming in as a heavy favorite, I expect the Nittany Lions to come out and get off to a fast start against Kent State. After struggling in the first half stopping the run against Pitt, the defense stepped up in the second half with a dominating performance. Despite the multiple playmakers Kent State has on the ground, Penn State will build off their second half shut out in week two.
On the offensive side, K.J. Hamler will see more and more touches as he keeps making plays every time he has the ball. Also, look for OC Ricky Rahne and QB Trace McSorley to incorporate both De’Andre Thompkins and Juwan Johnson into the offense to help boost their confidence after both struggled in the first two games.
Penn State 42 Kent State 17