• Coach: Darrell Hazell, first season (0-0 record at school)

• Last season: 5-7, 4-4 (fourth in MAC East)

Talent pool

It starts with sophomore defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix of Reynoldsburg - there might not be a better playmaker on either side of the ball in the conference. Four offensive linemen who combined for 48 starts last season are back. Receiver Tyshon Goode caught 59 passes as a sophomore. Defensive back Norman Wolfe is coming off a season in which he intercepted five passes and had 75 tackles.

Exclamation points

Nix has been added to watch lists for the Bednarik and Nagurski awards, both of which honor the top defensive player in the nation. Nix led the conference with 20 tackles for loss in 2010, and his 10 sacks set a team record for freshmen. Nix started only one game, but was voted MAC defensive player of the year. Wolfe and fellow defensive back Josh Pleasant (45 tackles, eight passes broken up) also are playmakers.

Question marks

Quarterback Spencer Keith threw for 2,212 yards as a sophomore, but he also was intercepted 11 times. Part of the problem in 2010 was a running game that averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Kent State converted only 31 percent on third down and had 27 turnovers.

Outlook

The Flashes have been picked to finish fourth in the division, which is where the team finished the previous three seasons under coach Doug Martin. Hazell, a former Ohio State assistant, has some heavy lifting to do. The program has sent a handful of players to the NFL, including Josh Cribbs of Cleveland and James Harrison of Pittsburgh, but there has been just one winning season since 1988. Hazell is the sixth coach in that time.