Here’s the postgame chatter following the Kent State football team’s 45-20 loss at Washington in Saturday night’s 2022 season opener.
High on Schlee
Junior quarterback Collin Schlee made his first collegiate start against the Huskies, and flashed the talent and toughness that made him the talk of practices the past two seasons.
Schlee kept several plays alive with his feet, and showed some escapability in the face of a viscous Washington pass rush. He was Kent State’s most consistent rushing threat, gaining a team-high 47 yards on eight carries. Schlee also made some plays through the air, including a 47-yard touchdown strike to sophomore Devontez Walker that made it a 14-7 game in the second quarter.
Schlee completed 12-of-24 passes for 178 yards, and was even more effective than the stats indicate according to Golden Flashes head coach Sean Lewis.
“I was pleased with what Collin did,” said Lewis. “I was really pleased with the way he leveled out and the way he was able to settle into the game, make some explosive plays. He did some things within the confines of the offense where he wasn’t greedy, took what they gave him. Then when he needed to, he made the plays that he was capable of making. When you have a guy that creates plays on his own and makes plays off script, and the receivers know that, it’s going to bleed through every single play and they’re going to fight and strain for one another. I think the team feels that when the ball is in his hands good things are going to happen. He’s going to make good decisions, and has the ability to pull a rabbit out of his hat now and then.
“He’s fun to coach. He has a real confidence about him that the team can build off of.”
Schlee was intercepted twice, the first coming on the initial play of the game – a call that Lewis immediately regretted as Schlee threw into double coverage on a short pass over the middle.
“First play of the game is completely on me,” said Lewis. “Little too aggressive there from the jump, should have verified some things that I thought we were going to see on tape. They caught us in the right coverage and we were in the wrong call.”
Cephas Shows He Belongs – Again
Junior wide receiver Dante Cephas continued his rise into the nation’s elite by catching six passes for 105 yards against a stout Huskies secondary. Cephas, nicknamed “Slim,” showed some physicality during one particular catch-and-run that covered 33 yards.
“I really thought Cephas showed his physical strength and development from the offseason with what he was able to do, run after the catch,” said Lewis.
In his last three non-conference games, against Maryland, Wyoming and Washington, Cephas has caught 20 passes for 372 yards and two touchdowns. He has reached 100 yards receiving in six of his last eight games overall.
Other Standouts from Saturday
When asked which other players stood out against Washington, Lewis mentioned redshirt sophomore safety JoJo Evans (transfer from Marshall), grad student safeties Nico Bolden and Antwaine Richardson, junior defensive tackle CJ West and freshman running back Gavin Garcia along with veteran offensive lineman Sam Allan (grad student center) and Jack Bailey (redshirt sophomore guard).
Evans and Richardson led the team with seven tackles each, and Evans also forced a fumble. Bolden finished with six tackles, while West spearheaded a KSU rush defense that limited the Huskies to 132 yards on the ground in 34 attempts. Garcia returned a kickoff 52 yards to set up Kent State’s first touchdown, recovered a fumble on special teams, and rushed nine times for 30 yards.
“I thought our safeties played solid,” said Lewis. “JoJo was very active, very productive. Nico and (Richardson) when in the right fits did a really good job. CJ West was disruptive at the point of attack. I was pleased with Gavin Garcia. I thought he showed some natural quickness and ability. The stage didn’t look to be too big for him”
Kent State Injury Report
Grad student wide receiver Isaac Vance suffered a knee injury at Washington, and his status moving forward is uncertain.
“We’ve got to get an MRI and see where that’s at,” said Lewis. “We’ve also got a lingering leg issue with (senior defensive lineman) Saivon Taylor-Davis that we’ve got to see about.”
Lewis reported no other injuries from Saturday’s game against the Huskies.
Grad student running back Xavier Williams and senior wide receiver Ja’Shaun Poke did not play against the Huskies, and are questionable for Saturday’s contest at Oklahoma.
Familiar Style of Offense
On Saturday the Flashes will visit No. 7 Oklahoma, which features an up-tempo offense similar to the one Lewis runs at Kent State.
“When we look at their offense and what we do, it’s very much a mirror image in a lot of ways. We’re also both multiple defensively,” said Lewis. “So we’re going to work more good on good (first team offense vs. first team defense) this week than we have in the past in a normal prep week, to simulate that speed in the game. It just makes sense to me.”
Lewis decided to fly from Seattle to Tulsa following last Saturday’s game, rather than fly home to Kent then back to Oklahoma for this Saturday’s contest.
“We got into Oklahoma on Sunday. We’re spending the week in Tulsa,” said Lewis, whose squad is practicing at Union High School in Tulsa. “I felt like with Labor Day and our guys not having class (Monday) we could give them a life experience. We’re going to take them over to Black Wall Street this week for that educational experience.”
Black Wall Street was a two-day massacre that took place in 1921 in Tulsa, where the homes and businesses of African Americans were destroyed by white mobs.
Next: Kent State (0-1) at No. 7 Oklahoma (1-0), Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPN+
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