THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Trey White, QB. White seemed most comfortable running the team's option offense during the Black and Gold spring game. Because he's a former player at The Citadel, he has the most experience of the quarterbacks, which includes redshirt freshmen Chandler Burks and Jake McKenzie. White rushed for 128 yards on 30 carries in the spring game and rushed for a touchdown and passed for another. The Gold team, which White led, rushed for 268 yards.
Prentice Stone, WR. Stone is one of a handful of fifth-year seniors, along with running back Ryan Godhigh, defensive lineman Mason Harris and offensive lineman Brett Gillespie. Stone played at Sprayberry before signing with Eastern Kentucky. Stone has the size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) to be an effective blocker on the edge in the running game or a post-up option on deep passes, posing a threat that should keep the safeties from creeping to the line to aid in trying to stop the run.
Mason Harris, DL. Good defenses start by those closest to the line of scrimmage playing well. Harris transferred to Kennesaw State after four years of mostly spot duty at South Carolina. A native of Fort Oglethorpe, Harris and Georgia Tech transfer Chaz Cheeks will be expected to provide some teeth to the Owls' pass rush, and athletic ability in the run defense.
HOW FOOTBALL CAME TO KSU
A 33-member exploratory committee, chaired by former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, was appointed by university president Dan Papp in 2009. The committee found that the university would benefit by adding football. A student fee increase was voted on, and the Board of Regents approved the university starting football in February 2013. Brian Bohannon, formerly a player at Georgia and an assistant at many colleges, including recently Georgia Tech, was hired as coach in March. Bohannon began assembling a staff to recruit the first class, which was signed in February 2014. The team held practices in the fall of 2014, before going through its first spring practices earlier this year.
THEY’LL HAVE A WINNING SEASON IF …
They get really lucky. Because of the move to the Big South Conference for football only, Kennesaw State wasn’t able to stack its schedule with 11 hand-picked teams to boost its win total and its confidence, a strategy used by other start-up programs.
Instead, the Owls will play five non-conference games and six conference games against already established teams, including two, Liberty and Coastal Carolina, that went to the FCS playoffs last year.
The Owls should at least be competitive in its games against East Tennessee State, Edward Waters, Shorter and Point.
THEY’LL COME UP SHORT IF …
They can’t execute the offense and defense. That may seem like a no-brainer, but keep in mind as a first-year program there’s no telling how well the players may execute the schemes because they haven’t faced anyone else.
Kennesaw State will run a version of the option offense that Bohannon learned as an assistant under Paul Johnson at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech. While some think it’s boring because of its emphasis on the run, it can be a very complex scheme that requires many players to react the same way to what they are reading from the defense. There are plays that aren’t easy to learn and execute in the first year.
It can’t hurt that Kennesaw State has had more than a year to install the offense.
Things could also get rough if the Owls, with a roster filled with underclassmen, can’t match up physically with most of their opponents, whose players may have had several years of strength and conditioning on the college level.
As interesting as playing Liberty and Coastal Carolina might be, the must-see game will be the first one against East Tennessee State.
The game will be played at Steve Spurrier Field at Kermit Tipton Stadium, at a high school in Johnson City, Tenn., with a kickoff time of 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
If you can’t make it there, the home opener against Edward Waters at 4 p.m. Sept. 12 is the next-best can’t-miss game.
HE SAID IT
“There have been a lot of exciting times at this university, but this is the one we’ve been shooting for. It’s amazing the last 2 1/2 years for me, how fast this has gone by. … I can’t tell you how excited our kids (are). They are tired of practicing. They are tried of hitting each other. They are ready to go play somebody else. It’s the same for our staff. This community and this university if excited about what’s going on. It’s going to be a fun time.” — Bohannon
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