August 21, 2010

Safety Sense




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KENT, Ohio-Throughout training camp Kent State's defense has played
as expected, considering the unit returns seven starters from one of the Mid-American
Conference's top defenses in 2009.


The defense dominated the offense last Saturday in the Golden Flashes' first
scrimmage of the 2010 season but on Thursday it looked like the offense would
redeem itself. Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith connected on his
first eight passes of the scrimmage, including a 26-yard touchdown strike to
Tyshon Goode that closed out the offense's first series of the
evening.


But the defense responded and didn't allow another touchdown until the
final moments of the scrimmage, long after the first and second teams had called
it a night.


"We started off slow," said fifth-year senior safety and two-time
captain Brian Lainhart. "We came out here a little sluggish
in the beginning. They scored on the opening drive or the second one, but after
that we kind of settled down and played ball. We played really good defense
after that."


Lainhart, who is participating in his fifth training camp at Kent State, said
the team has high expectations for the 2010 season. But, those expectations
are different than he's experienced in any other pre-season.


"I definitely feel like it's different," he said. "I
can't really put my finger on it but I've just got that gut feeling;
it's gong to be a special year. This is my fifth year here and this is
the year I've been working for. We've got all these guys back on
offense and defense; I'm just excited. I'm ready to roll."


A member of the Thorpe Award Watch List, an award given to the top defensive
back in the country, Lainhart holds himself to a set of high standards. He
knows he's not yet where he needs to be at to be the leader of the defense
in 2010, but he's getting close.


"I still have a couple things I've got to work out," he
said. "The thing is not to try to do too much. Obviously the Thorpe and
all that are good but I need to play my role on the defense and not try to
do too much. I just need to play free safety the best I can and the rest will
come."


With so much talent on defense Lainhart shouldn't be expected to carry
the unit.


Defensive end Monte Simmons and linebacker Cobrani Mixon,
both seniors, are all-conference performers and several other veteran and younger
players have stepped up to play a role on the defense this year.


And Lainhart likes what he sees so far out of his defensive mates.


"Guys are running and flying to the ball and that's the biggest
thing. I got here and played with guys that had passion. I love playing with
guys that are just as excited as I am," he said. "Cobrani and Simmons
and the seniors in this class, then you've got the young guys. (Safety)
Luke Wollet is playing well, (cornerback) Darius Polk is
really coming along the last couple of days and you've got (Defensive
tackle) Roosevelt Nix up front. I'm excited about the depth
we're building. It's not just the seniors and experience we have
but the depth we're starting to build is really exciting."


Lainhart said the 90Ksu marketing program implemented by new director of athletics
Joel Nielsen and executive associate athletic director Tom Kleinlein provides
even more motivation for the Flashes to win big in 2010.


Thursday night's Fan Experience Night was another spark for the Flashes.


"It was great. The new AD and T.K. are coming in doing a really good
job promoting the season and tickets," Lainhart said. "Even (Thursday
night) I heard the tailgate went really well and the fans showed up. Just the
support they're giving us makes you feel that much more that you want
to play for them because of all the support they're giving you. You've
got to give and return."






















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