Know the play you are about to run.
When you line up, be where you are supposed to be.
Know the snap count.
Then once the ball is snapped, have some idea of what is going on around you.
These are just a few of the basics things football players need to do just to be able to play their game.
They are the bare minimum, and they have nothing to do with the physical part of the contest that takes place after the snap.
Kent State couldn’t handle even those basics in a hideous performance Saturday at Dix Stadium.
The Golden Flashes lost 34-14 to Iowa State. They should have lost by more.
Considering the way these same mistakes pop up week after week and season after season, either the Flashes roster is filled with airheads who shouldn’t be expected to understand how to line up, or too many Kent State players simply can’t be bothered.
My belief is they just can’t be bothered. From what I’ve watched, KSU coach Doug Martin has assembled a group of players who possess enough talent to compete for a Mid-American Conference championship.
Unfortunately, not enough of those players have the heart it takes to play like champions.
They don’t care whether they win or lose. They don’t care what their fans or opponents think of them. They don’t care if they are a laughing stock. They don’t care if they squander their talent. They may not even care if they are signing their coaches’ pink slips with their devil-may-care attitudes.
They may say they do, but their actions prove otherwise.
To see a group of players who actually take some pride in their performance, Kent State should have taken a field trip to watch Crestwood High School’s 0-3 football team play Friday night. The Red Devils played almost an entire football game without committing a single penalty. They were finally flagged in the closing minutes of their win over Coventry, and by that time they had already turned the game over to their junior varsity team. The varsity team that played error-free had only three returning players from last year’s squad.
Twenty four hours later, Kent State was flagged twice on the game’s opening kickoff. That’s hard to do. Most of the Flashes mistakes were committed by veteran players who should know better. Those players are receiving a free education in exchange for playing a game on Saturdays.
By contrast, the kids at Crestwood who cared enough to know their assignments on Friday night all had to pay their school system $200 just for the right to play this season. Because of budget cuts, football at Crestwood is a pay-to-play sport.
With money problems leading to a leaner roster and thinned talent, Red Devils coach Tom Hannan has preached the importance of his players’ attention to detail.
I’ve watched Martin advocate the same thing for six years at Kent State. Unfortunately, his pleas always seem to fall on deaf ears.
After Saturday’s loss, KSU co-captain Brian Lainhart blamed himself and his teammates for another lackluster performance.
“Coaches don’t run the ball. Coaches don’t backpedal and play deep-half,” said Lainhart. “That’s all on us.”
But it is the coaches who will ultimately be held responsible for the sloppy performance of their players. The time has arrived when the Flashes need to understand they are playing not just for themselves, but for their coaches to keep their jobs.
KSU’s coaching staff needs to realize that, too.
Last week, Martin showed how much he loves his players by standing up for injured star Eugene Jarvis and demanding he be granted a sixth year of eligibility in the wake of his suffering a season-ending kidney injury.
Now Martin needs to engage in some tough love.
He has some veteran players on this team who make the same mistakes every week, every season. Those young men should never see the field again. Allowing them to play or even practice is an insult to players like Jarvis, who demonstrated a pride in his performance with every snap he played at Kent State, and who showed how much he cared about his coaches and his teammates by ignoring the recommendation of his doctors and leaving Robinson Memorial Hospital in a wheelchair just to be at Dix Stadium Saturday night.
Allowing players who suck the life out of a program the opportunity to keep playing is also an insult to alumni like Julian Edelman, Josh Cribbs and others who fought against the tide in an attempt to change the culture of Kent State football.
The message needs to be to this – live up to the standard set by Jarvis, Edelman, Cribbs and a few others, or just go home.
Martin doesn’t have the time to coddle players who don’t care.
It’s time for tough love. It’s time for fire and brimstone. It’s time for the wrath of God.
- Up to the challenge?
- Jarvis out for the season with kidney injury
- Depth chart out for week one…
- Random Notes, June 13
- KSU practice notes …
Category: General Discussions