Kent State RB/WR Dri Archer
To get you ready for Saturday's contest against Kent State, TSD is breaking down the Golden Flashes on both sides of the ball. Today we'll look at the offense, which is expected to showcase all-purpose star Dri Archer, though he's still battling an ankle injury.
To get you ready for Saturday’s contest against Kent State, we’re breaking down the Golden Flashes on both sides of the ball. Today we start with the offense, which averaged 388.3 yards per game a year ago but has struggled at times this year with star Dri Archer sidelined with an injury.
Before we get into the analysis, here’s how Kent State’s starting lineup will look on Saturday:
QB: Colin Reardon (6-1, 202, R-Fr.)
RB: Trayion Durham (6-0, 248, Jr.)
WR-X: Tyshon Goode (6-0, 183, Sr.)
WR-Z: Chris Humphrey (6-1, 194, Jr.)
WR-SLOT: Dri Archer (5-8, 175, Sr.)
TE: Tim Erjavec (6-2, 250, Sr.)
LT: Terrell Johnson (6-4, 302, Jr.)
LG: Pat McShane (6-5, 304, Sr.)
C: Phil Huff (6-3, 290, Sr.)
RG: Anthony Pruitt (6-2, 315, So.)
RT: Jason Bitsko (6-3, 280, So.)
Notable Backups: RB Anthony Meray (5-8, 186, Jr.), WR Josh Boyle (5-9, 173, So.), TE Casey Pierce (6-4, 230, Jr.)
Any evaluation of the Kent State offense has to start with Dri Archer, the Flashes’ jack-of-all-trades weapon. Archer was Kent State’s leading rusher, receiver and returnman in 2012, earning consensus All-America honors in the process. Archer totaled 23 all-purpose touchdowns, averaging 9.0 yards a carry and 184.1 all-purpose yards per game.
Expectations were high for Archer as he entered his fifth season of eligibility, but an ankle injury in Kent State’s first offensive series has sidelined him since. Without Archer, Kent State has averaged 331.5 yards in its first two contests, but limped to a 7-point victory against Liberty and lost to Bowling Green last week 41-22.
But Archer is expected to return to the field against LSU after practicing on a limited basis during the week. Kent State coach Paul Haynes told reporters that Archer is “going to try to play,” but it’s not certain how much he’ll factor into the game plan. Archer would provide a stiff challenge for the LSU defense if he’s able to resemble his 2012 form.
Archer’s speed and elusiveness make him a danger around the edge, an area LSU has struggled with in its first two games. Archer forces the linebackers and corners to help in run stopping, and that’s certainly something LSU can improve on before SEC play.
Without Archer, Kent State has called on 248-pound fullback turned tailback Trayion Durham to carry the rushing load. Durham ran for 87 yards and a touchdown in the opener, but Bowling Green held him to just 29 yards on 11 carries last week. A big bruiser, LSU will have no problem loading the box against the Flashes when Archer isn’t on the field, and Durham’s downhill rushing style plays right into the hands of LSU’s defense.
Under center is redshirt freshman Colin Reardon, who’s only appeared in two games on the collegiate level. Reardon won the quarterback battle in camp over senior David Fisher and has performed well in the early season. Reardon has completed 64.3 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s only averaged 179 yards per game though, so he hasn’t quite earned the coaches’ trust in opening up the passing game. Reardon can make some plays with his feet though with 22 rushing attempts and a 4.4-yard average.
In the passing game, veteran receivers Tyshon Goode and Chris Humphrey have been Reardon’s favorite targets. Each have double-digit receptions this season, and Humphrey leads the team with 172 receiving yards plus a pair of touchdowns. Neither WR has exceptional height, so LSU will need to cover the quick underneath routes that Kent State has focused on with a young quarterback.
Though Tim Erjavec is listed as the starting TE, junior Casey Pierce is the one that factors into the passing game. Two of Pierce’s three receptions have gone for touchdowns, and at 6-foot-4, he’ll provide a good test for the LBs in coverage, something LSU improved on against UAB after struggling with in the opener.
Kent State’s offensive line has suffered from some injuries this season. Though both played last week against Bowling Green, LG Pat McShane and RT Jason Bitsko are still struggling with leg injuries. Freshmen Wayne Scott and Reno Reda have played in backup roles and could be called upon if the injured veterans can’t go.
The Kent State line has had its success keeping Reardon upright, only surrendering a pair of sacks this season. If Archer can’t go and Kent State relies on Durham, that will force the offensive line to win the battle in the trenches as Durham relies heavily on running between the tackles.
Give us your take on the Kent State offense
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