Kent State hopes to repeat last year’s success in rematch

Luke Plansky

Kent State has the worst winning percentage (.388) of any football program with more then six years at the Division I level.

The Golden Flashes have had two winning seasons in the last 20 years and haven’t made a trip to a bowl game for 36 years. But after beating Iowa State in the 2007 season opener, fifth-year head coach Doug Martin thought things were changing.

The 24-13 win was Kent State’s first over a BCS opponent since 1987.

“We really kind of thought we had turned the corner and would be very competitive in our conference,” Martin said.

But injuries and losses mounted, and the Golden Flashes ended a 3-9 season playing a fourth-string quarterback. Iowa State (1-0 overall) will get another shot at Kent State (0-1) Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

Martin said he thought the Cyclones are much better this year than they were in last year’s opener.

“To be honest with ya, we caught them at the perfect time last year,” he said. “It was their first game and their staff’s first game together, and had we played them later in the year, I don’t think we’d have been even close.”

The Golden Flashes return 15 starters from last year’s team, including dangerous scrambling quarterback Julian Edelman.

Edelman partially tore a ligament in his knee in Kent State’s second game of the 2007 season and broke his throwing arm six weeks later. The six-foot senior threw for 162 yards and a touchdown against the Cyclones last season, but also ran for 75 yards and a touchdown.

ISU coach Gene Chizik said the Cyclones will have to be a better tackling team to contain the dual-threat quarterback.

“I don’t know that there will be anything different that we’re going to do,” Chizik said. “Obviously, we are much more aware that tackling him is an issue than we were last year. I think we had way more things going on in our mind besides that.”

Edelman will again be flanked by Eugene Jarvis, the leading returning Div. I running back. Jarvis, a 5-foot-5-inch junior, ran for a school-record 1,669 yards last season, including 113 yards against Iowa State.

Jarvis didn’t start the game due to injury, but came into the game when replacement Darren Rogers left the game with an injury in the first quarter.

A stout Boston College defense shut out Kent State, 21-0, last week, but Chizik said he thought that Edelman and Jarvis always give the Golden Flashes a chance to win.

ISU players downplayed the role of last year’s loss to Kent State as motivation for this weekend.

“This is a new year and a new team, and we’re playing Kent State of ‘08,” said senior defensive end Kurtis Taylor. “So we’re not worrying about the Kent State of ‘07. We definitely can learn from last year, but we’re not playing the ‘07 team.”

Kent State graduated two offensive linemen, a wide receiver, standout defensive tackle Colin Ferrell and the Flashes’ lone NFL draft pick, cornerback Jack Williams.