Kent Smith is 2-0 as the starting quarterback at Central Michigan. For a program that went 6-5 in 1998 for its only winning season in the last nine years, that makes the Start High School graduate a pretty valuable commodity.
Smith has accounted for seven touchdowns in the last two games, a 44-27 win over Southeast Missouri State, and a 24-21 win over Kent State on Saturday.
After Central Michigan (2-2, 1-0) opened the season with a loss at Indiana with senior Grant Arnoldink starting at quarterback, Smith took over for Arnoldink midway through a defeat at Michigan State, and has been the quarterback ever since.
Central Michigan head coach Brian Kelly likes what Smith brings to the spread offense Kelly has installed in his first season with the Chippewas.
"First and foremost, Kent has the ability to be that double-threat at quarterback - he can run the football, and he's got great escapability," Kelly said.
"He really gives us an upside - you have to account for our quarterback within our offensive system. I don't know if that was the case the last few years. They had a kid here last year that was really efficient, but you didn 't really need to worry about him outside of the pocket. You really have to concern yourself with Kent."
Smith, a 6-5, 205-pound redshirt junior, came out of spring practice in a dead heat with Arnoldink for the starting job. But Kelly said Smith's ability to run the football was ultimately what separated him from Arnoldink in the competition.
Smith was a three-year letterman in both basketball and football at Start, and was honorable mention all-Ohio in football as a senior. He set the Start career passing record with 3,071 yards.
WHITE RETURNS: Smith's teammate at Central Michigan, Asante White, a true freshman who like Smith is from Start, leads the Mid-American Conference in kickoff returns with a 31.2-yards-per-return average. White, a 5-9, 155-pounder who was a standout wide receiver in the City League, has taken back five kicks for 156 yards, with a long return of 39 yards.
HIGGINS HONORED: Toledo wide receiver Kenny Higgins is the MAC West Division offensive player of the week after he set a school record with 233 yards in pass receptions and tied another record with his three touchdown catches in the Rockets' 52-14 win over Ball State in the Glass Bowl Saturday night.
Higgins, a senior from Long Beach, Calif., caught 10 passes in the game, and his 96-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter gave him a third school record on the night. Prior to his explosion against Ball State, Higgins had just 15 pass receptions in 11 games for UT.
OTHER MAC: Central Michigan linebacker James King is the West Division defensive player of the week after he made 13 tackles in the win over Kent State, including three for losses. Central's Dan Bazuin is the special teams player of the week after he blocked two field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter to preserve the win over Kent. His last block came with 35 seconds left in the game on a 35-yard attempt. Ohio wide receiver Scott Mayle won offensive player-of-the-week honors in the East Division after he had 215 all-purpose yards in a 28-16 win at Kentucky. Mayle had four receptions for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns, and also led the Bobcats in rushing with 52 yards on five carries. Marshall defensive end Jonathan Goddard is the defensive player of the week after he totaled four sacks and 29 yards in losses in the Herd's 33-25 win over Miami. Goddard forced a fumble and recovered a fumble and had nine tackles. Buffalo punter Ben Woods took special teams honors in the East after he averaged 46.7 yards per kick on his three punts in a 48-20 rout of Central Florida. Woods beat out a couple of kickers who had big weekends. Bowling Green's Shaun Suisham tied a MAC record with 10 extra-point kicks in a 70-16 win at Temple. Toledo's Jason Robbins nailed all seven of his extra points in a 52-14 win over Ball State, and added a 36-yard field goal.
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