Tigers open season at Kent
The Tigers’ 2012 campaign begins tonight in Kent, Ohio, under the lights of Dix Stadium against the Kent State Golden Flashes.
For the fourth time in five years, the Tigers will open their season on the road against a Football Bowl Subdivision program.
It has been a little over seven months since the Tigers’ fairytale season came to an end in a loss to Lehigh University.
But senior All-American safety Jordan Dangerfield said he is ready to get back on the field.
“It’s going to feel amazing,” Dangerfield said. “I wasn’t really out here trying to hit anybody this whole camp so it’s going to be a relief. I can finally go and throw my body around and stuff, I can leave it all on the line. I can’t wait to hit somebody else.”
The Tigers’ defense will be going up against a balanced offensive attack and group of experienced players in Kent State.
The Golden Flashes will be without their No. 1 wide receiver, Tyshon Goode, who suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago.
Kent State, however, has plenty of other offensive weapons.
Standing at 6 feet, 250 pounds, sophomore running back Trayion Durham will be in the backfield for Kent State.
Last season, as a freshman, Durham rushed for 630 yards on 186 carries.
Durham will likely share carries with Dari Archer who sat out last season for academic reasons.
Archer is currently listed as the Golden Flashes’ starting slot receiver.
Kent State’s offense will be led by senior quarterback Spencer Keith.
The four-year starter threw 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, but threw no interceptions in the final five games of the season.
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers’ offense faces a tough challenge.
Kent State’s defense forces turnovers and was the strength of last year’s team.
“They have a ridiculously impressive defense,” Head Coach Rob Ambrose said. “One of the top defenses in the country. They’ve got at least two [NFL] draft picks on that defense and one of them is a possible first rounder.”
Roosevelt Nix was the 2010 MAC defensive player of the year – the first freshman to be honored in the 45-year history of the award – and continued to dominate last season.
The junior defensive lineman has recorded 37 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks in his short career.
“It’s all about technique with [Nix],” center Dough Shaw said. “He’s so fast but if you get your hands on him and move your feet, you can take him down pretty easily … I feel like people weren’t giving him a lot of respect. We know that he is their best lineman; we’re going to focus on him and we’re going to take him down before we do anything else.”
Quarterback Grant Enders will also face a challenge in the Golden Flashes’ defensive backs.
Junior safety Luke Wollet, along with senior cornerbacks Norman Wolfe Jr. and Sidney Saulter, are listed on Kent State’s depth chart as the defensive back starters and combined for 10 interceptions last season.
Enders, however, is not fazed.
He said he feels that he has played against players of the same caliber.
“They are good players, but to be honest they are very similar to the secondaries we face in the CAA,” Enders said. “The CAA has great secondaries, just like our team. They’re really comparable to what we play against every day in practice. They are good players, but we feel like we’re better than them.”
The Tigers have never defeated an FBS opponent in school history.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by Comcast-Plus and ESPN3 will offer a live stream.