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Special to the Record-Courier
Kent State spent most of the second half of Friday's spring practice at Dix Stadium working live in a scrimmage setting that included some third-down and red-zone work.
The more the spring season goes on, the more time the Golden Flashes will spend working live in a full-team setting. That's the way head coach Paul Haynes likes it.
"We are going to do a lot less so-called individual work," said Haynes. "The game is played 11-on-11. I like those types of situations and kids learn from them a little bit more. Position coaches are always in individual (drills) trying to simulate (game situations). Why not just go out and do it?"
The Golden Flashes brought in officials to work the second half of practice. The players responded to the opportunity to scrimmage live with arguably their most productive session of the spring.
"The energy was good," said Haynes. "I thought we got better today."
The coach was particularly pleased with the work of seniors Phil Huff at center and Pat McShane at left guard.
"They are playing very well for us," he said. "I think they are good football players. I also love (junior wide receiver) Chris Humphrey. I love his energy. That energy has to spread."
Haynes compared Humphrey to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline, who played at Ohio State when Haynes was an assistant with the Buckeyes.
In an attempt to encourage the energy of some of those key players to expand to the rest of the roster, Haynes held a short meeting after practice with Humphrey, Huff, McShane, and running back-wide receiver Dri Archer from the offense, and defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix, cornerback Darius Polk and safety Luke Wollet from the defense.
"Those are the guys right now who have stepped out and they need to take on those major leadership roles," said Haynes.
Wollet enjoyed another impressive practice that included a diving interception of freshman quarterback Colin Reardon, who is still locked in a battle for the starting job with senior-to-be David Fisher. That competition promises to continue into preseason camp in August.
"So far they've both been pretty good," said Humphrey. "I haven't really seen a separation yet between the two of them. There are days when one guy will have a better day than the other. I feel like they are both progressing and they both need work, just like we all do. It's too early now to see one guy really pulling away."
Several receivers have joined Humphrey this spring in catching the eyes of their new coaching staff. Sophomore Evan Shimensky made some difficult catches on Friday. According to Haynes, the converted quarterback from Kent Roosevelt has a chance to compete for time at receiver.
"Shimensky is doing a good job," said Haynes. "I like his energy. He has a lot of energy and he is picking up on it. He'll have a chance to get himself into the mix. He really will."
The live work will continue on Saturday morning when Kent State holds its spring kick scrimmage.
Archer is expected to take over as the No. 1 punt returner in 2013, but the speedster probably won't see a great deal of action in that role on Saturday.
"He probably will only have one live (return), and then that's it," said Haynes.
Wollet, who jokingly calls himself the "fair-catch master" after serving as a steadying influence in the return game, is listed No. 2 on the depth chart on punts. Haynes said he could use Humphrey and promising redshirt freshman receiver Ernest Calhoun in the return game on Saturday.
"Really, to me the kick scrimmage is about seeing who will go out there and compete," said Haynes. That's because it is non-stop. Guys are really going. They are going, and then you'll see guys tap out. Those are the same guys who are going to tap out in the fall. Then you'll see guys out there who have their tongues hanging out. That's what I love to see, and that's all I'll be looking for in the kick scrimmage."