As September approaches, the AllSooners preview every game on the 2022 schedule.
Oklahoma’s 12-game regular-season schedule includes six home games, five road games and the annual neutral-site showdown at Red River.
After the opener against the UTEP Miners, the Sooners will have another tune-up game against Kent State in Norman.
Kent State Golden Flashes
- September 10, 6 p.m
- Head Coach: Shawn Lewis
- 2021 Record: 7-7, (6-2 MAC)
WR Dante Cephas
Dante Cephas was one of the biggest reasons Kent State experienced unusual success in 2022. The Golden Flashes have made it a priority to get the young playmaker the ball and will look to do the same this fall.
The athletic 6-foot-1, 178-pound powerhouse had 82 catches for 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns last season. His impressive play earned him First Team All-Mac honors. The problem for Cephas, however, is that its star quarterback has graduated. He and Dustin Croom there was quite a connection from the outside.
Cephas developing a bond with junior QB Collin Schlee is the biggest key for Kent State. Making sure your playmakers are on the same page early on will do wonders for the team later in the season.
RB Marquez Cooper
Cooper is lightning fast, and with Krum out, his workload could increase even more. The tailback gained 1,487 yards on the ground last season.
At 5-foot-7, Cooper uses his size to his advantage, showing off his quickness in open space. He also had 109 receiving yards and should be a bigger part of the passing game this season. The Golden Flashes will likely try to incorporate more short routes and checks to help a new face at quarterback, and Cooper should be a big part of that.
QB Colin Schley
Colin Schley has big shoes to fill as the Golden Flashs next signal caller. All the intangibles are there for the quarterback. Schley is 6-3, 220 pounds and has a strong arm.
The rising junior doesn’t have much experience on the field, but the coaching staff is confident he can achieve the same success. In limited action last season, Schley threw for 238 yards and one touchdown, completing 71 percent of his 24 pass attempts. He also ran for 127 yards and found the end zone three times on the ground. He is a versatile athlete and will have a chance to fully showcase what he can do this fall.
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S Dean Clark
Kent State’s defense was pretty uninspiring last season. With a good amount of experience returning, the unit will need to improve if the Golden Flashes want to repeat last year’s success. The player who could help the turnaround is the veteran safety Dean Clarkwho will look to build off of a tremendous 2021 season.
Clark has 150 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception in his three seasons with Kent State. He will now be asked to step into a leadership role as one of the team’s most talented and experienced defenders.
Top unit: Running backs
Marquez Cooper and Xavier Williams will be the focus of the offense. There is plenty of talent at receiver, but Kent State will try to establish the running game all year.
One of the most important things for a new quarterback is a reliable ground attack, which is why the Golden Flashes will make it a priority early on.
In addition to the two lightning-quick running backs, Kent State also has a bruiser Brian Bradford. The 243-pound back will be used for short-yardage situations and gives the Golden Flashes a unique change of pace if needed.
Last season was all about the Kent State offense. The Golden Flashes are averaging nearly 500 yards per game, good for fourth in the nation in total offense.
Yes, having an experienced quarterback in Krum was a big piece of the puzzle, but Kent State’s identity was found on the ground. The Golden Flashes boasted the No. 3 offense in college football last season and return the 1-2 punch of Cooper and Williams. The speedy duo should once again rack up plenty of yards, bolstering the offense. While it will be difficult to replace last season’s success in its entirety, Kent State is putting together an offensive season that will be effective year after year.
However, Kent State’s defense was one of the worst groups in the MAC a season ago. The Golden Flashes finished 2022 as a good underdog story due to the team’s ability to beat their opponents. But the defense struggled to slow down the offense and get off the field. Defensive line and secondary experience will have to go a long way for a relatively young unit.
The Golden Flashes will be thrown into the fire early as they have arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in college football. Kent State immediately faces Washington, Oklahoma and Georgia, three highly ranked Power 5 schools. The Golden Flashes will be $5.2 million guaranteed to start the season with the three-game gauntlet.
“Outside it’s the sacred cow coach, there’s only five teams in the country that have won 65 games in the last five years and you’ve got to play two of them this September,” head coach Shawn Lewis told Kent State reporters. “I remain very neutral in my thinking about all of this. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s good. As we go through this, we’re either going to win or we’re going to learn.
“Let’s get down to business and get it done. We’re going to get real high-level stress at the start of the season and know who we are, and that’s great.”
The Sooners will have a good chance to see how dominant the new defense can be against a new quarterback and an experienced offensive line. Search Brent Venables and Ted Roof to dial blitzes early and force the Golden Flashes to throw the ball. Kent State has the potential to be a fun team this season, but a week two trip to Norman is just a tough draw.