116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Everybody wants to go fast. But few do that better than Kent State’s football team. At least offensively.
“FlashFAST” is the slogan for the Golden Flashes, who play Saturday at Kinnick Stadium against the fifth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Let’s just say the philosophy is to be up tempo and then some.
“As we continue to grow and evolve in the system … we’ve got a lot of guys who have played a lot of football, and they understand where to be efficient, so we can line up and play in pace, in tempo,” Kent State Coach Sean Lewis said, after his team’s 60-10 dismantling of VMI last week.
In his five seasons, Lewis has done a sensational job of building a moribund program the non-Power 5 equivalent of Kansas State. He was rewarded last month with a contract extension through 2025.
Kent State went 3-1 last abbreviated season, marking the school’s first back-to-back winning campaigns since 1976-77.In 2019, Kent State won its first bowl game, outscoring Utah State, 51-41, in the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl.
One of the youngest head coaches in the country, Lewis has installed a no-huddle, run-pass option (RPO) offensive attack that has posted some astounding numbers. Granted it was a limited number of games, all against Mid-American Conference competition, but the Golden Flashes led the FBS last season in total offense (606.5 yards per game) and scoring offense (49.8 points per game).
Kent State rushed for 494 yards last week against its FCS opponent, the most in a game for the school since 1954. It had 226 yards rushing in its opener two weeks ago at Texas A&M.
A&M won that game, 41-10.
“We’ve obviously got a veteran offensive line,” Lewis said. “We’ve got a group of running backs that we feel very highly about, tight ends that we felt going in that could be advantageous for us in the trenches and the line of scrimmage. When you can win in the trenches, you can dictate the tempo and the flow of the game. We ended up with something like (494) yards rushing. When you can do that, good things are going to happen.”
Quarterback Dustin Crum runs Kent State’s attack expertly. He has a 33-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio since taking over starting duties early in 2019.
Marquez Cooper and Xavier Williams are the team’s main running back.
“They’re an offensive-minded attack group,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “Coach Lewis, that’s his background. Up-tempo RPOs. They’ve got a good line … good skill players. Certainly the quarterback is an outstanding football player, a big part of what they do. He really kind of makes them go. Not the same as when we played Mississippi State a couple of years ago. Not the (same) attack, but similar in that the quarterback was the catalyst of that football team all season long.
“Definitely another multiple-front team. Give you a lot of different looks. They're unique compared to the teams we're used to playing. Kind of like we've had three very different preparations now. That's a challenge for us.”
Kent State also has eight interceptions in its first two games, three each by cornerbacks Montre Miller and Elvis Hines.
“I’m not a very smart man, but if we are able to come out ahead on the turnover margin, and we’re able to dictate the tempo and pace of play because we dictate the play because we dictate up front (and) be able to rush the football, those are two things that travel, no matter who you are playing,” Lewis said.
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