To get some insight from the Kennesaw State side of things in advance of this weekend’s homecoming game between the Owls and Flames, we spoke with Jon Finer, creator of KSUOwlHowl.com.
Q: KSU is 4-1, albeit against a rather weak schedule, is this team better than its two predecessors?
JF: That’s a tough question. It’s 5 games in and I still don’t know where we stand. Our only real opponent thus far was Samford, and that was all the way back at game 1, on the road, and concluded with the second half being played after a 3 hour weather delay. Most teams would have come out flat after that. Our next 4 opponents were 1 D2 school and 3 FCS (combined 0-16 record). It could very easily be argued that the D2 was our second biggest test of the year besides Samford.
Last week vs. Texas Southern (2nd worst FCS team), we looked like our old selves. We created turnovers and had big plays from our slotbacks on the edges. It’s a weak opponent, but after grinding one out a week earlier vs. a D2, I’ll take anything to get the confidence going. But to answer your question — because of these circumstances, I think we’ll find out where we stand after Saturday’s game. We certainly miss Chaston Bennett on the outside, but redshirt freshman Shaq Terry is going to become a star in the Big South.
Q: The defense is the best in the Big South statistically, what makes the unit so stout?
JF: Redshirt freshman LB/S hybrid Bryson Armstrong. The local boy from Cobb County is easily going to be first team All Big South if he stays healthy, and is stuffing stat sheets in every category. LBs Anthony Gore and Izzy Sam are really playing well this season too. Redshirt senior cornerback Keon Roman is finally healthy and has become the new ballhawk corner replacing Dante Blackmon. Funny thing is, he started out this season as a backup safety. I’m a little bit concerned about the secondary as a whole once we face a solid QB like Calvert — I think our zones could be picked apart if we don’t get pressure, so it’s going to be up to guys like Armstrong, and all-conference players on the edges Tonarius Portress and Desmond Johnson Jr. to make Calvert’s life difficult.
Q: How has the KSU student body, alumni, and community reacted to the start-up football program? Is the excitement and momentum still building?
JF: It’s facing the challenges of a new program in the heart of SEC/ACC country, but it’s going about as well as expected. This year we have an improved fan section that goes shirtless and paints their bodies, so it’s good to see students take an interest and go all out. I think it’ll take a playoff appearance to catch the attention of anybody who’s not already all in at this point.
Q: What is the expectation of this program over the next 5-10 years? To become an FCS power or take the first available exit ramp to FBS?
JF: Shoot, I wish I knew. There’s a new president, and we don’t even have an AD right now. The new president said over a month ago he hoped to have named an AD by the end of September and we still don’t know who it will be. He is hellbent on fundraising, so I would hope he would hire somebody who has big aspirations to elevate the program. With that being said, I’d rather spend some time in FCS and becoming a powerhouse, instead of rushing it like Georgia State did.
JF: I can’t say how most feel or how the team feels, but I would say that’s not true this year for me personally. I view this as more of a must win, but not in a rivalry sense. With this being the final season as rivals, it takes the air out of the balloon for me. Plus, last season my most hated team in the conference became Charleston Southern. This year they lost their head coach and a bunch of talented players, and I just hope we kick them while they’re down a little bit, so they stay down :).
Thanks so much to Jon for joining us, and be sure to follow KSU Owl Howl twitter @KSUOwlHowl.