KENT: Since offensive lineman are often affectionately called “the big uglies,” it’s pretty fair to say the Golden Flashes have some big, ugly holes to fill this season.
Kent State lost both starters on the left side, tackle Brian Winters and guard Josh Kline, along with right tackle Kent Cleveland. Only center Phil Huff and right guard Pat McShane return to a unit that paved the way for dual 1,000-yard rushers in Dri Archer and Trayion Durham.
New coach Paul Haynes will have three new faces, and probably one face in a new spot as McShane is expected to slide to left guard. But from what Haynes has seen in the weight room and early on this spring and considering he brought in Shawn Clark to serve as offensive line coach, he’s not worried.
“Our offensive line is not a concern of mine at all,” Haynes said earlier this week. “I’m excited for our offensive line, I’m excited for the opportunity for Coach Clark to work with them. I’ve seen the body of work he’s done with so-called not-5-star guys. He’s developed them into 5-star players.”
Clark, who will coach the line and serve as running game coordinator, does have a nice track record. He spent the past four seasons at Purdue as offensive line coach. In 2011, Purdue rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 of 13 games. In 2010, the Boilermakers had 200 yards on the ground five times. Now coaching the big uglies tasked with blocking for Archer and Durham, it’s a safe bet he’ll do that again — if he can find the right pieces and put them in the right spots. Haynes says that will be a work in progress.
“We’ll move some guys around,” he said. “There’ll be a couple guys playing a couple different spots. But really, that’s what spring is all about. … Really [not] until after spring ball [is when] we’ll sit there and set the depth chart.”
In other words, for now, the offensive line is fluid.
Aside from McShane at left guard and Huff in the middle, the other three spots are up for grabs. Two possible front-runners for the tackle positions could be Reno Reda, who’s listed at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds but is said to have added 20 points in the offseason, and Terrell Johnson. Johnson has played guard, and like several others, could be moved inside or outside. During different drills, multiple players have lined up at multiple spots. Max Plunkett figures to be in the mix as well.
Anthony Pruitt has made the move from defensive tackle to the offensive line, and has a decent chance at nabbing the starting right guard spot.
“When the coaches first asked me for the switch, it was kinda like I didn’t want to go to the offensive line because I came to college to play defensive line,” Pruitt said. “I took it in. I’m just trying to learn the plays and do what the coaches tell me to do.”
Pruitt says he’s already getting ribbed about joining forces with the offense, which used to be the enemy for his comrades on the defensive line. Likewise, an opponent in practice is turned into an ally.
“It’s like going from my enemy to my brother,” Huff said. “Blocking him every day to him being next to me. It’s fun though. We’ll be bruising people out there.”
Pruitt’s still looking to dole out some punishment.
“One of the best things about offensive lineman is pulling,” he said. “So being downfield with Trayion and Dri will be fun, just trying to go down the field and kill somebody.”
KSU’s second practice under Haynes ran much smoother than the inaugural. Fewer balls hit the ground (including quarterback-to-running back exchanges) and practice ran much more efficiently. What didn’t change was Haynes, who again was active and wearing a plain gray sweatshirt and shorts.
Neither quarterback vying for the starting spot, David Fisher nor Colin Reardon, has looked particularly sharp this spring. Then again, it’s only the second day and timing is expected to come with repetition. That’s when one or the other might separate himself.
Goode not great
Wide receiver Tyshon Goode is still sidelined with a hamstring injury that robbed him of his 2012 season. Goode has spent the first two practices off to the side working on light footwork drills. His return to the field this spring remains in question.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.