Updated Mon, Nov 19, 2012 4:13 pm
When asked if he’s ever seen a player from the Mid-American Conference as good as Kent State running back Dri Archer since he began coaching at Ohio eight years ago, Frank Solich began his response with a simple yet telling answer.
The 5-foot-8, 174-pound redshirt junior from Laurel, Florida has blown by opposing defenses through 11 weeks of play with his NFL-caliber speed. Archer is 13th in the FBS with 1,284 rushing yards despite registering the least amount of carries (125) among the nation’s top 40 leading rushers. He checks in at fourth in Division I in all-purpose yards, averaging 203.64 yards per game.
“I think Archer is special,” Solich said. “I think you could place him in any conference in the country and he would be special in that conference and what he’s able to get done.”
Archer shredded a Bowling Green defense widely regarded as the best in the MAC on Saturday, ripping off touchdown runs of 79 and 74 yards. He has also been a threat returning kicks this season, leading the FBS with an average of 37.3 yards per return to go along with three touchdowns.
“There were some runs there that maybe it wouldn’t have mattered who was on the field defensively,” said Solich on Archer’s most recent performance with a smile. “He’s going to have some big plays. You just hope that everyone else that’s built around him offensively doesn’t also have the big plays.”
To compliment Archer, the Golden Flashes boast another top running back in Trayion Durham, who ranks 29th in the country with 1,079 rushing yards.
Shutting down Archer and Durham will be an extremely tall order for an Ohio defense that ranks 65th in the nation in total rushing defense. Last Wednesday against Ball State, the ‘Cats conceded 357 yards on the ground.
Injuries sustained in the 2nd quarter to defensive linemen Carl Jones and Neal Huynh won’t figure the help Ohio’s cause, either, though Solich said one of the two might have a shot at playing against the Golden Flashes.
If Ohio is unable to contain Kent State’s ground game at Dix Stadium this Friday, it could be a Black Friday in every sense of the word for a slumping team searching for its fourth consecutive bowl appearance.
*Photo Credit: Associated Press