Kennesaw State better prepared to manage success, end of season

By Khadrice Rollins

krollins@ajc.com

After surpassing last season’s win total in just nine games, it is still business as usual at Kennesaw State going into the final two contests of the season.

The Owls (7-2, 2-1 Big South) are going into their final home game of the season riding a three-game winning streak. With a strong finish and some help, they could earn a playoff berth and possibly even a conference championship. Yet the members of the second-year program are doing their best to remain unfazed by the success.

“Yeah, we only got two more weeks, but we still got to keep everything the same,” running back Chaston Bennett said. “Nothing is going to change. We’re going to focus on this opponent this week, Clark (Atlanta) was last week, now we got (Presbyterian) this week.”

When Presbyterian (2-7, 1-3) comes to Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Saturday, KSU will have an opportunity to tie the program-record for consecutive wins and add another one toward the record for wins in a season.

The bigger picture has become quite alluring for this team, but focusing on the day-to-day grind is what got coach Brian Bohannon and his squad to this point. And they said that is what they will continue to do.

“In the moment we celebrate getting our seven wins, which is history in the making, but at the same time we got two more games to definitely make a bigger impression for upcoming Kennesaw players,” running back Darnell Holland said. “We were very excited for our seventh win, but we still got a lot to prove.”

The Owls now have their sights set on Presbyterian, the team that beat them in the final week of the season a year ago, and sent KSU into the offseason on a sour note. Similar to the matchup with Liberty on Oct. 15, this is a game the players said they’ve been waiting for.

Last season they were not prepared for the end of the schedule, they said. Whether it was letting their minds stray away from football or just not having adapted fully to the rigors that come with a college season, they didn’t have the focus or the energy to close out their campaign. That is no longer the case.

The mentality Bohannon has been trying to instill in his players is starting to sink in, and with an increased understanding of the college game and what they need to do to be successful, the players and coaches said they’re more equipped to handle November.

“Our kids are motivated for PC, I don’t think there’s going to be any issue about us looking ahead,” Bohannon said. “I think they understand the moment we’re in and what we got to do to take care of business. And I’m excited about where we are from an energy level. After last season, the way we finished, I put a lot of effort into getting us into a better position, and right now I think we’re in a better position.”