Kent State head coach Doug Martin had a message for his players at his press conference on Monday. Either start performing on Saturdays or lose playing time.
The coach said the Flashes are in for a long week of practice following their 48-28 loss at Iowa State in which the Flashes committed five fumbles (losing four), and allowed two blocked punts, one of which resulted in a Cyclones touchdown.
The fact that Iowa State won does not bother Martin, but how the Flashes failed to play to their capabilities does.
"I told players after the game, if we had gone to Iowa State and they had just physically overpowered us or if they had more speed and we couldn't catch them, I'd come home and sleep like a baby," he said. "I have no problem with that but when you beat yourself, I have a problem with that and I'm fed up with it around here and the players need to start taking some ownership in that and that's my challenge to them."
Martin added that the Flashes, who allowed the blocked punts on plays where the Cyclones were not even aggressively trying to block the ball, will have their punt scheme corrected by Saturday's game against Delaware State.
The blocked punts were a result of breakdowns in blocking.
"At some point, the players at Kent State gotta' step up and take responsibility," he said. "This one is on the players, and I've never said that before around here and I don't like saying it, I'm usually a very strong advocate in protecting those guys, but I'm telling you that Iowa State is on them and they better rebound this week or they won't play again the rest of the season."
Martin wants consistency from his players like the consistency he gets from running back Eugene Jarvis. Jarvis is going to play the same way against Ohio State as he is going to play against Iowa Sate, according to Martin.
"[Players] can't go out there and just drop the ball on the ground, not do the right assignment, or run a blitz the wrong the way, all that stuff, if you do those things repeatedly then you can't play," he said. "I understand people are gonna' fumble, but it can't be every game, that's what disgusts me, particularly with the offense, the turnover deal has been going on for two years here now and that's enough."
Martin's sentiment toward turnovers means that he will be keeping an eye on Julian Edelman and whether or not he turns the ball over, despite the other positive things he does on the field.
"It doesn't matter how many plays you make, if you fumble twice, it's negated," Martin said. "[Julian's] up with the rest of them, if he's going to fumble every game he can't play and that's just the way it is."
As for punter Matt Rinehart, he never had a chance to get the blocked punts off, Martin said.
"I told the punt team, you guys got a freshman punter off to a great start, now you just brain damaged him."
Martin told Rinehart that bouncing back successfully would be a test of his character.
So far, Rinehart is passing the test. The Flashes coach had 22 defensive players rushing punts at practice Sunday evening, a practice Martin described as an aggressive, physical, padded practice.
Rinehart "did a great job" according to Martin and got the ball off in time.
Martin doesn't think the Flashes dismal performance was because of a lack of effort though, but the team's inability to make things happen on the field.
"It's performing under pressure when the game lights come on, you gotta be able to make a play," he said. "Some guys just can't play under that pressure and we've got to identify who they are and get them out."
Looking to Delaware State
The Flashes opener at Dix Stadium against Delaware State (1-0) can not come soon enough, for the players and especially for the coaches.
"It's going to be a long week for these boys," Martin said. "They're going to thank God when this game gets here on Saturday because practice is going to be a living hell."
Martin described the Hornets as a dangerous football team with an outstanding quarterback in Vashon Winton.
"Very much like Edelman, his strength is running," Martin added. "[He] throws adequately, makes people miss and is good at avoiding the rush."
The coach will also have starting safety Brian Lainhart perform duties on special teams as a personal protector for Rinehart in an attempt to remedy the squad's problems.
Martin said he trusts him and that Lainhart will put the punting unit in the right formation.
"Lainhart does that for our defense, puts us in correct calls all the time, so I'm hoping he'll be a guy bright enough and with enough football savvy to handle that team."
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