Kent State at Arizona State, Aug. 29, 2019

TEMPE, AZ - AUGUST 29: Kent State Golden Flashes wide receiver Isaiah McKoy (23) catches a touchdown pass during the college football game between the Kent State Golden Flashes and the Arizona State Sun Devils on August 29, 2019 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

Defensive assignments will be key against a run heavy Kennesaw State. 

“You have to make sure that you’re gap sound and assignment sound so that you’ve got a dive player, a quarterback player and a pitch player every single play,” coach Sean Lewis said. 

Lewis is challenging his secondary to limit the run game.

“It’s one of those games where everyone has to be involved in stopping the run,” Lewis said. “Obviously, when you rush for close to 500 yards you’re going to have to get some of your secondary support players up into support.”

Junior defensive back Qwantrezz Knight and senior safety Akeam Peters led the secondary with a combined 18 tackles and one forced fumble against Arizona State.

“The secondary has to be willing tacklers, and they have to come up and defeat blocks,” Lewis said. “It’s everyone doing their 1/11 to make sure that you’re assignment and gap sound.”

Senior defensive linemen Theo Majette stressed the importance of physicality.

“They’re a physical offense,” Majette said. “They get downhill with the triple-option. A pretty big emphasis this week is exceeding their violence up front.”

The Kent State offense will need to be more productive than in their matchup against Arizona State. The Flashes finished with just 200 total yards, and ball security was a big problem. They fumbled the ball six times (two lost), including four times in the first quarter when the Sun Devils lead ballooned to 10-0.

“Ball security is something that we always stress,” Lewis said. “Our kids know ball security is job security, both theirs and mine. We need to do a better job, and be more conscious of it.”

The Kennesaw State defense limited Point (Georgia) to 129 yards total on 56 plays (2.3 yards per play). 

“We have to kind of get a feel for who they’re going to be because they have a new defensive coordinator and with how dominant they were they didn’t show a whole lot in their first game,” Lewis said. 

The Flashes also have questions on the availability of senior nose tackle Domnick Hill and senior wide receiver Mike Carrigan. 

“Hill’s got a shoulder deal right now that happened in the middle of (preseason) camp,” Lewis told the Record-Courier on Tuesday. “He continues to aggressively push treatment and rehab. It’s a day-to-day situation. Carrigan is a (team) matter that we’re taking care of in-house. It’s too early to tell (if he’ll play Saturday).”

Kickoff is set for Saturday at noon.

Ian Kreider is a sports reporter. Contact him at ikreider@kent.edu.

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