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Akron vs. Northern Illinois - Preview

By mrasor Published: September 30, 2010

Football
Oddsmakers think fans will walk away from InfoCision Stadium disappointed again.
Akron is a 14-point home underdog, which is one of the biggest MAC spreads I have seen Akron face.
The Huskies have played three BCS schools so far. They lost by 17 to Iowa State, lost by six to Illinois and then beat Minnesota by 11 last week.
They are getting better, for sure. Two of the MAC's best runners are in the Huskies backfield in quarterback Chandler Harnish and running back Chad Spann. Spann, a senior and former walk-on, put up video-game numbers on the Gophers (223 yards on 15 carries).
The Huskies average almost 100 yards more per game than any other MAC team. If I could increase font size in my blog software, I would do it for that sentence. To be exact, 96.5 yards MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE.
So there's the bad news.
The good news is, Akron's not a horrible matchup for a running offense. The Zips' weakness is pass defense, and I suppose football in general if you look at the statistics. But mostly pass defense.
You don't think "rivalry" when Northern Illinois comes to town, but Akron seeks to change that. The 2005 MAC Championship team will be honored on the field.

Fun fact: This will be the fourth different venue at which I have watched Akron play NIU (@DeKalb, @Detroit, Rubber Bowl, now InfoCision). Akron has won two of those three.
It's MAC season now, so "losing with improvement" is not good enough anymore. I think the Zips legitimately have a shot to win this one, but I will pick the Huskies because NIU's running game will eventually wear Akron out.
[poll id="135"]

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Former interim AD gets permanent AD job

By mrasor Published: September 30, 2010

Miscellaneous
Congrats to Mike Waddell, whom Towson hired to be its next athletic director.
Waddell was an associate athletic director at Akron for quite a while and fathered "Fear the Roo" along with dozens of other creative ideas to raise fan support. Come to think of it, this blog was his idea. So now Keith Dambrot knows whom to blame for "Coach Rasor."
Anyhow, let's hope Waddell puts the Colonial Athletic Association in the Figure Four.
I will be back later tonight to break down the NIU game.

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Zips play better, but fall at Indiana

By mrasor Published: September 26, 2010

Football
Twelve months ago, Akron's home loss to Indiana was the turning point of the season and was the beginning of the end of the J.D. Brookhart era.
This weekend, we might have seen another turning point versus the Hoosiers, but for the positive.
The Zips lost 35-20 and were never really in good position to win. But like I said on Thursday, the key wasn't so much winning, but improving.
The Zips offense showed a pulse. More than a pulse. It averaged 5.3 yards per rush. Patrick Nicely showed a better command of the offense.
Indiana coach Bill Lynch was asked after the game about why his team had problems tackling. Maybe it was just coachspeak, but he said, "We'll watch tape and we'll see. Part of that was when you play against a good offensive football team. They're physical up front. I thought their backs were good. I think their quarterback and receivers were good. They did a good job of mixing it. We'll see after we watch some tape. I thought we played with good effort and good energy."
Lynch knows the season statistics -- that Akron is in the bottom fifth in the nation almost every category -- but he saw a different team.
The defense put up a fight, as well. Indiana could only manage to gain 2.9 yards per carry. That sort of statistic is what we normally see MAC teams accumulate against the "three yards and a cloud of dust" Big Ten. After halftime, the Hoosiers only scored once.
As any Captain Obvious will remind you, Akron is still 0-4. And the Zips still blew it against a Division I-AA school.
It's about the MAC, and getting a trip to Detroit. That goal became more likely when the best player on the division's best team suffered what appeared to be a serious ankle injury. Temple's star running back Bernard Pierce had to be helped back to the locker room Saturday at Penn State.
Northeast Ohio fans are used to the same old excuse that the team needs to gel or learn a new system, or perhaps it's too young. I, like most of us, am skeptical when I hear that. But maybe that really IS the case for Akron in 2010.
The MAC quest begins Saturday at home against Northern Illinois, which will be coming off a win at Minnesota. It might be another game where the Zips are overmatched. It definitely is an opportunity for improvement.

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LIVE @ No. 1 Akron defeats No. 2 Tulsa 4-0

By Michael Beaven Published: September 24, 2010

Final Score: No. 1 Akron 4, No. 2 Tulsa 0, before a Lee Jackson Field record crowd of 4,744
The No. 1 ranked University of Akron Zips improve to 6-0-0, the No. 2 ranked Tulsa University Golden Hurricane drop to 6-1-0.
Junior defender Kofi Sarkodie scored a goal in the ninth minute to give UA a 1-0 lead. Sarkodie's goal came from 22 yards away and deflected off of Tulsa junior defender Blaine Gonsalves before going past freshman goalkeeper Ray Clark.
Freshman midfielder Perry Kitchen extended the Zips lead to 2-0 in the 13th minute with a goal from five yards away. Juniors Michael Nanchoff and Darlington Nagbe each got an assist on the goal. Nanchoff started the play with a corner kick and Nagbe got a touch on the ball before Kitchen put it past Clark.
Freshman forward Darren Mattocks made the score 3-0 in the 50th minute with a goal from six yards away. Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong got an assist after starting the play with a corner kick.
Ampaipitakwong made the score 4-0 in the 70th minute when he netted a goal from eight yards away. Nagbe tallied his second assist of the night on the goal.
The Zips almost scored in the 38th minute when sophomores Thomas Schmitt and Scott Caldwell each almost scored. Schmitt had a shot poked away by Clark and Caldwell followed that with a shot that sailed over the cross bar.
Mattocks almost added another goal in the 58th minute when a shot deflected off the crossbar. In the 63rd minute, Mattocks took a shot that sent Clark diving to his left to make a save.
UA shut out its sixth consecutive opponent this season and extended its streak to 11 in a row dating to last season. The Zips are tied for the longest shutout streak in NCAA history with Virginia (2009) and Furman (2002).
The Zips, which have not allowed a goal in 1,110 minutes and 59 seconds, held an advantage over the Golden Hurricane in shots (20-8) and shots on goal (8-1).
UA's starting lineup is:
Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie and sophomores Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
- Goalkeeper: sophomore David Meves.
Sophomores Thomas Schmitt and Ben Speas entered the Zips lineup as reserves along with freshmen Martin Ontiveros and McKauly Tulloch and junior Michael Balogun.

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Akron vs. Tulsa men's soccer match is sold out

By Michael Beaven Published: September 24, 2010

This from Gregg Bach, the Assistant Athletics Director for Communications for the University of Akron:
Tickets for the general public for tonight's soccer match between the No. 1-ranked University of Akron men's team and No. 2-ranked Tulsa at Lee Jackson Field at 8 p.m. ET have sold out.
Patrons who purchased in advance can pick up their tickets at the will call tent located at the southeast corner of the venue starting at 6:30 p.m. UA students, with valid university ID, will be admitted free of charge starting at 7 p.m. through the northeast entrance only.
Friday's game will be televised to a national audience on Fox Soccer Channel. The game can also be followed on GoZips.com via live webcast as part of the ZipsZone subscription package and live statistics free of charge.
Fans are encouraged to park in the new Exchange Street Parking Deck on the south side of campus, which is the closest parking area to Lee Jackson Field and will relieve potential traffic congestion. For convenience purposes, all four gates will be open to the public at Lee Jackson Field.
Fans should also be aware that there are two other athletics events on campus tonight. The UA volleyball team is in action against Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m. at Rhodes Arena, and East High School kicks off against Buchtel High School at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field at 7 p.m. as well.
Friday marks the second of three UA men's soccer home contests to sell out this season.
Tickets for the team's five remaining home games are currently on sale and can be purchases online at GoZips.com/tickets, by phone at 1-888-99-AKRON (25766) or in person at the Akron Athletics Ticket Office at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field (located at 375 E. Exchange Street, near Gate 1 at the southwest corner of the venue, at the intersection of E. Exchange and S. Union streets), Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET.
The Zips volleyball team enters tonight with a 6-4 record.

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Akron vs. Indiana - Preview

By mrasor Published: September 23, 2010

Football
For me, last year's Indiana game was devastating.
It had such great hype. We were favored. The crowd was supposed to be huge.
We came out flat, of course, and without our starting quarterback. Attendance was disappointing, as well. I had my first thoughts of, "Man, what if we just made a huge mistake building this stadium?"
To clear up my position, I'm glad we built the stadium. It was either that or pouring tens of millions into the Rubber Bowl. My point in saying this is, that was a depressing game.
Anyhow, Saturday at 1 p.m. should be a grudge match of sorts.
Indiana has started off against two lesser teams (Towson and Western Kentucky). Western Kentucky, ironically, has now played both Indiana and Kentucky. It lost to Kentucky by 35, and lost to Indiana by 17. The Hoosiers played that game on the road.
Let's delve deeper into the "WKU Factor." The Hilltoppers (yeah, I know their nickname) gave up 3.2 yards per carry against Indiana and 4.7 against UK. WKU gave up 366 passing yards against the Hoosiers and 276 against the Wildcats. The Hilltoppers managed about the same amount of yardage in both games. A lot of it was rushing.
I think the "teachable moment" of looking at the WKU numbers is that UK and IU are teams of similar talent. Like the UK game, Akron is a big (22.5-point) underdog.
Let's keep it real; the Zips deserve it. Akron's status in the college football world is bad. Here is what one writer had to say about the Zips, and I don't think he's even trying to be mean.

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Dambrot inducted into Summit's Hall of Fame

By mrasor Published: September 22, 2010

Men's basketball
As of tonight, Keith Dambrot is a Hall of Famer.
The coach was inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame.
Dambrot is as driven as they come. He's very smart, as well. That is what has led him to success in two different sports and at two different levels.
For every blowout football loss, count your blessings to have Dambrot on the Zips' bench (and Caleb Porter, too.).

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MAC attack: Ohio's Bobcat sacks OSU's Brutus

By mrasor Published: September 20, 2010

Football
If you're an Ohio fan, is this 19-year-old under the mascot outfit a hero or a loser?

[poll id="133"]

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Akron men's soccer defeats Cincinnati 1-0

By Michael Beaven Published: September 19, 2010

Please keep refreshing for updates
Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong scored a goal with 32:52 remaining in the first half to help the University of Akron men's soccer team defeat visiting Cincinnati 1-0 Sunday afternoon at Lee Jackson Field.
The No. 1 ranked Zips improved their record to 5-0-0 record and the Bearcats drop to 2-2-2.
UA's starting lineup is:
– Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
– Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
– Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie and sophomores Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
- Goalkeeper: sophomore David Meves.
Sophomores Thomas Schmitt and Ben Speas contributed as reserves along with freshman Eric Stevenson for the Zips.

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Kentucky stomps Akron, 47-10

By mrasor Published: September 19, 2010

Football
The Zips were tied with Kentucky until the 7:49 mark in the second quarter. Then the Wildcats went for 44 straight points.
Akron lost, 47-10.
Maybe it's time to admit this team has no chance to compete in the Mid-American Conference. Maybe the last three weeks showed the squad belongs in ESPN.com's "Bottom 10." It's hard to say.
I'll say this, though: Unlike previous games, nobody played well tonight. Nobody. Not the running backs, not the linebackers, nobody.
This is a game where Rob Ianello must make the following distinction: What parts of tonight's game would have caused a loss against an average MAC school, and which ones were simply because the Zips were physically mismatched?
Realistically, Akron needs to focus on the MAC season, where a relatively brief three-game winning streak can give you leverage over the rest of the division.

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Zips christen renovated stadium with a beatdown

By mrasor Published: September 17, 2010

Men's soccer
Akron beat up on hapless Cal State Northridge, 3-0.
The Zips got goals from Perry Kitchen, Darlington Nagbe and Chad Barson. Akron outshot Northridge 14-5. As a preview for a scene we are likely to see replayed over and over, the Matadors tried to go physical with the Zips and committed 20 fouls, compared to Akron's 10.
I'll bet that Michael Beaven will have more on this game later.
Football
Let's talk a little about Kentucky. The Zips kickoff against the Wildcats at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Strengths
1) Kige Ramsey is undoubtedly the best up-and-coming sports journalist since Jim Gray. He is a big time UK fan, and rather than going through boring statistics, I want to acquaint you to one of the most entertaining people on YouTube.



2) Ohhh OK. You purists want to know something good about UK football. Well, as that Kentucky blogger said, the Wildcats are stocked with offensive playmakers. Akron will need that "bend, don't break" attitude against the Wildcat formation starring Randall Cobb. That means the Zips must play with strict discipline -- no overpursuing, no missed tackles, no safeties forgetting they're on a football field playing tackle football.
3) You won't be passing the ball for much success against the Wildcats. In two games, they have allowed a combined 224 passing yards. That is all the more reason to hold on and don't get behind early. You won't pass your way out of that pit.
Weaknesses
1) UK gives up some big plays, and its coach Joker Phillips knows it. As badly as Kentucky has beaten its first opponents (Louisville and Western Kentucky by a combined 42 points), this is a team that hasn't established the self-belief yet. If Patrick Nicely strikes Jeremy LaFrance for 70 yards on the first drive, Kentucky has a fruitless drive, and Alex Allen allows Akron to sustain a long march to painted grass -- and those are big IFs -- will the Wildcats still know they'll win, despite being down 14-0?
2) The Zips will have to get a big lead early and hope for a close game. Kentucky is playing Musical Kickers after its starter missed two chip shots and an extra point in the first two weeks.
3) Oh, and if there was ever a sleeper game on the schedule for Kentucky, it's this one. Next week, the Wildcats are headed to the Florida Swamp.
4) UK is not impervious to good running attacks. Western Kentucky ran for 5.7 yards per carry for a total of 186 yards. Louisville had 5.9 and 190. Get an early lead, pound the ball, and maybe the Curse of Kige Ramsey will give Akron the first win of the Rob Ianello era.
[poll id="132"]

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Akron defeats Cal State Northridge 3-0

By Michael Beaven Published: September 17, 2010

The University of Akron men's soccer team defeated Cal State Northridge 3-0 Friday night at renovated Lee Jackson Field before a crowd of 4,200.
Freshman midfielder Perry Kitchen scored a goal with 40:40 to go in the first half to give the Zips a 1-0 lead. Junior forward Darlington Nagbe assisted on the goal.
Nagbe scored a goal with 17:30 remaining in the first half to make the score 2-0. Seniors Chris Korb and Anthony Ampaipitakwong each recorded an assist on the goal.
Sophomore defender Chad Barson extended UA's advantage to 3-0 with 2:13 to go in the first half with a goal off of an assist by Ampaipitakwong. 
The No. 1 ranked Zips enter the game at 3-0-0 and the Matadors are 0-3-1.
UA's starting lineup is:
-- Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
-- Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
-- Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie and sophomores Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
-- Goalkeeper: sophomore David Meves.
Zips sophomores Ben Speas and Thomas Schmitt contributed in reserve roles with freshmen Martin Ontiveros, Eric Stevenson and McKauly Tulloch, and juniors Michael Balogun and Matt Dagilis.
Pregame Notes:
-- UA recognized former coach Stu Parry prior to the match at midfield. Parry stood and took part in the ceremonial first kick alongside current Zips coach Caleb Porter.
-- Parry founded the Akron soccer program in 1954 and the Zips first year of competition was in 1955. Since the program's inception, the Zips have won 21 OSCA titles, 12 MAC titles and made 24 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. There have also been 42 All-American recognitions.
-- A banner was unveiled prior to the match to honor the national runnerup teams of 2009 and 1986.

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Akron Zips Soccer Team Prepares for Home Opener

By Michael Beaven Published: September 16, 2010

A word from a Kentucky blogger

By mrasor Published: September 14, 2010

Football
A Kentucky blogger and I had a discussion. First, here is what he, Rob Pedigo, had to say:

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No. 1 Zips men's soccer improves to 3-0

By Michael Beaven Published: September 12, 2010

The atmosphere and style of play were drastically different Saturday afternoon at Cochrane Field, but the University of Akron men's soccer team made the necessary adjustments.
The top-ranked Zips earned a 2-0 win in the Mid-American Conference opener for UA (3-0-0) and host Bowling Green (0-1-2) before a crowd of 513 fans.
UA entered the match after securing a 3-0 win at North Carolina and a 2-0 win at Wake Forest. UNC and Wake are each nationally ranked and play before crowds of thousands of people.
''We were bit a concerned about this game,'' UA coach Caleb Porter said. ''There is always a natural letdown after a couple of results like we had last weekend. We knew it would be a challenge, a different kind of game against a team that sits back, plays for restarts and is big and strong.''
Zips junior defender Kofi Sarkodie netted a goal in the 64th minute off an assist by freshman forward Darren Mattocks.
''It was our first conference game, and it is always important to start out with a win,'' Sarkodie said. ''I am happy with the win, but it is a long season and we have to just keep going forward.''
Mattocks scored a goal in the 81st minute.
“Bowling Green is very competitve,” Mattocks said. “I thought we totally dominated the game.
“I am happy we stayed disclipined and came out victorius.”
UA held an advantage in shots (29-6), shots on goal (13-3) and corner kicks (13-2).
''I thought we were pretty sharp in our buildup, but we could have been better in the final third,'' Porter said. ''We allowed Bowling Green to hang around longer than we wanted them to. In the end, we scored two goals and we got the shutout.''
Zips sophomore goalkeeper David Meves got the shutout in front of the starting defenders; Sarkodie, senior Chris Korb, and sophomores Chad Barson and Zarek Valentin.
The Zips starters at midfield were senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, redshirt junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
“Perry Kitchen in particular, was an animal today,” Porter said. “He won every header in the air.
“He did a good job of doing a lot of the little things for us.”
Mattocks and junior Darlington Nagbe started at forward.
“Darren gave a tremendous individual effort,” Porter said. “He has continued to show he is capable of producing goals."
Zips sophomores Ben Speas and Thomas Schmitt entered as reserves with redshirt freshman Eric Stevenson, freshmen McKauly Tulloch and Martin Ontiveros and red-shirt junior Matt Dagilis.
UA hosts Cal State Northridge at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
''We are looking forward to playing at home Friday,'' Porter said. ''Our guys are anxious to get back home.''

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Zips lose to Division I-AA team

By mrasor Published: September 11, 2010

Football
Akron lost 38-37 to Gardner-Webb today in overtime.
There are two ways to think about today's game:
1) How disappointing that Akron is turning InfoCision Stadium into a house of losers. Rather than building a winning tradition and having the "protect this house" attitude, the Zips permit opponents to walk in without wiping their feet, run up a big pay-per-view bill, make crude comments about their wife, and raid the liquor closet on the way out. Today was a day where Akron was SET UP TO WIN. Basically, Tom Wistrcill put the Brooklyn Brawler in front of Rob Ianello and marked out the spots. The Zips lack a killer attitude or a winner's mentality. OK. So maybe they don't have the talent to run up the score, but they also don't have the stones to step on an opponent's throat when it's time for the kill. Give me one good reason to come back to InfoCision Stadium this year. I'm waiting...
2) Let's keep our cool about this one. In the year that the men's basketball won the MAC, Keith Dambrot's beat an NAIA team, Walsh, only by two, and only because a last-second 3-pointer rimmed out. In the year that the football team won the MAC, J.D. Brookhart's squad was shutout at home by a bad Army team -- 20-0. If Igor Iveljic makes the kick at the buzzer, we aren't hearing these extreme statements. Is it rational to be satisfied about a team's future if a kick goes in, but to be all "let's fire everyone from Ianello to Luis Proenza" if it misses? No. If the Zips win a few MAC games before November, then we could legitimately play in the MAC Championship. No one will claim Ianello has the most talent in the conference, but the team has enough players to make a run.
Let's look at some key stats:
1) Akron gave up 290 passing yards (not good) and 101 rushing yards (pretty good). 2) The Zips ran for 224 yards (fantastic) and passed for 165 (crummy). 3) Gardner-Webb scored a touchdown every time it reached the redzone. Akron scored three touchdowns and no field goals in five trips inside the 20-yard line. 4) James Perry caught 10 passes for 125 yards for G-W. 5) Akron safety Doug Richardson had 10 tackles (two for loss) and he forced a fumble. 6) Attendance was 10,046.
Looking forward:
No one facet of the game lost it for Akron. It was an unholy collaboration to blame.
The obvious problem on the offensive side was the passing attack. Patrick Nicely played a decent game. He showed more poise in the pocket. His accuracy wasn't bad. The problem is that only one receiver seems to be able to get open (Jeremy LaFrance). That should be the focus for the next couple weeks: Run better routes!
A lot of people will blame Iveljic for this loss, but look at the defense. The Bulldogs accumulated 391 yards today. A team that should have inferior athletes and less talent marched over the Zips for the length of a PGA Tour Par 4. The secondary has given up way too many big passing gains. Ianello mentioned two safeties were hurt today. It's time to put Jalil Carter, a Third-Team All-MAC safety, back at that position -- especially since he has not done anything at receiver.
Overall
Ianello has the right attitude after this game. The tone of his voice and his word choice in the postgame interview were that of someone who expected this to happen. Of course, he didn't. But he did expect some setbacks. A big part of his success will rely upon his players believing in his plan. If the plan has crumbled by Week 2, this will be an ugly year and a short career at Akron for Ianello. Rather, he's treating this the right way.
Most fans won't see today like I saw it. I was disappointed, but not heartbroken. I would be heartbroken, however, if I saw the Zips not playing hard.
A lot of coachspeak is B.S. I will be the first to say that. But coaches are 100 percent truthful when they talk about the importance of the way a team plays and the attitude it emits. If those intangibles are awry, then success should not be celebrated any more than a loss like today's.
This season can go any which-way, so I was probably too quick to predict a winning season last week. But the foundation is there for it.
Regardless, the program has a lot of ground to repair fan-wise. Attendance was 10,046, which is 5,000 lower than the average needed to satisfy the NCAA's demands. A team that loses to a Division I-AA team at home is a hard sell to casual football fans or lukewarm alumni. But a win over Kentucky or Indiana will forgive many sins.
Men's soccer
Akron beat Bowling Green 2-0 in the MAC opener.
Men's basketball
Assistant coach Lamont Paris is heading to Wisconsin to be a Badgers assistant.
Lamont is a good guy. I have spent time with him several times socially. He doesn't have the basketball pedigree of other top assistants, but he will succeed because he is very good at establishing relationships.
Best of luck to him.

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Akron vs. Gardner-Webb preview

By mrasor Published: September 10, 2010

Football
I was starting to research Gardner-Webb, and I stopped. What's it matter?
Without attempting to be pompous, this game will be decided by how Akron plays. And really, it would take a series of turnovers, defensive vomits and coaching errors for this outcome to be close.
So let's focus on what matters -- what we need to see tomorrow at noon:
1) Chill out, Pat. Patrick Nicely must stay in the pocket and keep his poise. That Charlie Frye habit of squirming out of the pocket is going to get him killed, and, unlike Frye, it's not playing to Nicely's strengths.
2) A secondary concern. Let's get the safeties contributing more. It's a weakness on the team. If the current guys can't produce versus Gardner-Webb, put in freshmen. No sense in sticking with guys who should be producing more at this point in their careers.
3) Will they show up? Maybe, just maybe, the athletic department was saving its hardest sales for the non-Syracuse home games. Either way, Akron has to break 15,000 in attendance every game where the weather is halfway decent. You're looking at 70 and cloudy tomorrow. Come November...
p.s. If you want to make money, find a place to bet legally and put money on Akron, favored only by 12.5.
[poll id="131"]

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No. 1 UA secures 2-0 win over No. 3 Wake Forest

By Michael Beaven Published: September 6, 2010

The opening weekend of the 2010 season turned out to be a total success for the University of Akron men's soccer team.
The top-ranked Zips secured a 2-0 win over No. 3 Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on Sunday night after defeating No. 4 North Carolina 3-0 in the season opener at Chapel Hill on Friday night.
''I think we could have done a little better,'' UA coach Caleb Porter said. ''But I told the guys after the game, for us to come out here and get two wins against two of the top teams in the country that were both in the final four, it is hard to be disappointed.''
A crowd of 4,583 gathered at Spry Stadium to watch the Zips collect their second win of the season against an Atlantic Coast Conference school.
''We are going to take a lot of confidence from this weekend,'' Porter said. ''To come out on the road and not just beat them, but to handily beat them, I am very pleased.''
Junior forward Darlington Nagbe assisted on the Zips' first goal and scored the second one.
''We came out and I thought we dominated,'' Nagbe said. ''We had possession of the ball for a majority of the game. We just proved to the country that we can go into two ACC stadiums and win.''
Freshman forward Darren Mattocks scored his first collegiate goal in the 15th minute off Nagbe's assist.
Nagbe's goal came in the 53rd minute off an assist from junior defender Kofi Sarkodie.
''Darlington is one of the best players in the country, hands down,'' Porter said. ''He proved that this weekend. He was fantastic today. When he gets going and into a rhythm like he did today, there are not many teams that can stop him.''
UA held an advantage in shots (6-4), shots on goal (3-0) and corner kicks (8-3).
Zips sophomore goalkeeper David Meves got the shutout.
Sarkodie, senior Chris Korb, and sophomores Chad Barson and Zarek Valentin were UA's starting defenders. The Zips starters at midfield were senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, redshirt junior Michael Nanchoff, redshirt freshman Eric Stevenson and freshman Perry Kitchen.
Zips sophomores Scott Caldwell, Ben Speas and Thomas Schmitt entered as reserves with junior Michael Balogun and freshmen McKauly Tulloch and Martin Ontiveros.
UA will open Mid-American Conference play by traveling to Bowling Green to meet the Falcons at 1 p.m. Saturday.
‘‘We are pretty confident,’’ Nagbe said. ‘‘We will take on every team the same. We are taking each game one at a time and we will not try not to slip up.’’

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Zips' success continues at No. 2 Wake Forest

By mrasor Published: September 6, 2010

Men's soccer
Caleb Porter and the Zips finished their ravaging of the state of North Carolina with a 2-0 win over No. 2 Wake Forest.
On Friday, Akron beat No. 4 North Carolina. Tonight, the Zips held the Demon Deacons to only four shots on goal. Darlingon Nagbe scored another goal. True freshman Darren Mattocks logged his career first.
Could you have ever expected this weekend to go so well for Porter's Zips?

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Thoughts on the game

By mrasor Published: September 5, 2010

Football
To me, the Zips looked like a team that will be able to win six or seven games. Explanation following...
They committed too many penalties, and the passing game was out of sync. Patrick Nicely is a better passer than 12-of-35. Also, it seemed like every time you looked up, a flag was coming. Akron was called five times for false starts or illegal procedure/formation.
Nicely did not have much time to throw. Part of it is his fault. He did not look comfortable taking the ball from under center without the cushion of the shotgun. He abandoned the pocket too quickly, which makes it nearly impossible for the line to block. But the line had its faults, too. Run blocking was shoddy, and blitz pickup was not reliable.
The defense was pretty good. I don't think you can have much fault with the way the front seven played. Mike Thomas and Brian Wagner combined for 26 tackles. Wagner hauled in an interception. Shawn Lemon made a sack and recovered a fumble.
Attendance was poor. This was the opening game of a new coach's tenure. It was against a BCS team that brought a lot of its own fans. And yet somehow, we only managed to get 15,969 people in the seats. You can say the weather could have been warmer, I guess. But it's going to get a lot colder than this in the coming months. Plus, Ohio State didn't play today, so you are more likely to get a mild Akron fan's time.
Here's my take on increasing attendance.
1) Win. It's so obvious I shouldn't even say it. But look at the soccer team. If you don't win, you won't get big crowds. I wholly guarantee it. The reason I address winning is for people to keep expectations realistic. Fans, players, coaches, administrators -- everyone: If the team's not winning, don't expect more than 20,000 fans. It's the truth.
2) Focus on the walk-up crowd. Hone in on ways to attract the couple who might not decide whether to go to the game until Saturday morning. How do you do that? I have no clue, but these people should be the No. 1 focus in brainstorming sessions -- not season ticket holders, not mid-week sales. How do you get Jim and Jane off their couches and into InfoCision Stadium?
3) Grassroots. Being in politics, I know the ONLY way to be successful is to build connections with people. You can't do that with billboards, newspaper ads, and flyers. What about having a "Zips Day" for each subdevelopment in Akron? Or little league teams? Or Chambers of Commerce? Rob Ianello can surely spare a few hours a week to make appearances. If he can convince a five-star player to give his future to Notre Dame, I'm certain he will be successful in making pitches to the community.
4) Don't make people wait in long lines for their tickets. It seemed like the ticket booths were understaffed. I missed the first half of the first quarter because of it. Joe Akron will consider the hassle of waiting to get into the stadium next time he's contemplating a Zips game.
Back to football... It was also Syracuse's first game. The Orange are a team that hopes to play in a bowl game, and its defense looked good enough to make that happen. It's not always that "Akron sucks" or "the line blew it" or "why don't we have any real playmakers?" Sometimes, your opponent deserves credit. I think Syracuse will have a winning record this year. I also think Akron can.
You have to understand that the Zips are employing new systems on offense and defense. It's not as easy as Madden football on XBox to change your schemes. It's a new batch of terminology, new procedures, and new second-level thinking for players and coaches to work through.
Is it possible that this year "Akron sucks"? Yes. But that's not the picture I got from watching this game. It was a team that really hustled, but was physically overmatched, had some bad luck, and was not quite comfortable.

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The morning after

By mrasor Published: September 5, 2010

Akron lost to Syracuse 29-3 last night at InfoCision Stadium.
Click here to see Rob Ianello's postgame press conference.
I have to be in Columbus this afternoon, but I'll post my thoughts later this evening.

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No. 1 UA defeats No. 4 UNC 3-0

By Michael Beaven Published: September 3, 2010

The top-ranked University of Akron men's soccer team wasted little time to make a statement nationally against a highly touted opponent.
UA opened the 2010 season with a 3-0 win over No. 4 North Carolina in the Carolina Nike Classic at Chapel Hill on Friday night.
‘‘It was a very efficient result,’’ UA coach Caleb Porter said. ‘‘The game was a bit closer than the score might indicate, but that is soccer. We were opportunistic. We finished our chances.’’
Redshirt freshman midfielder Eric Stevenson scored his first collegiate goal in the eighth minute to give the Zips a 1-0 lead. Junior defender Kofi Sarkodie assisted on the goal.
‘‘Obviously this was a great way to start the season off,’’ Stevenson said. ‘‘It felt good to score the first goal. This is a big win for us.’’
Freshman midfielder Perry Kitchen extended UA's lead to 2-0 in the 22nd minute with his first collegiate goal. Redshirt junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff assisted on the goal.
‘‘It is always good to score, and to score a goal in the first game was awesome,’’ Kitchen said. ‘‘The victory for the team was great. We have been waiting for this game. We had this marked on our schedule, and to get this result is amazing.’’
UA junior forward Darlington Nagbe concluded the scoring with a goal in the 65th minute off of an assist from senior defender Chris Korb.
Zips sophomore goalkeeper David Meves made six saves and earned the shutout.
Sarkodie, Korb, and sophomores Chad Barson and Zarek Valentin  were UA's starting defenders. Senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong and freshman forward Darren Mattocks also started.
‘‘I thought it was a total team effort,’’ Porter said. ‘‘We played six guys off the bench. Every one of them gave us a spark and we will need that throughout the year. I am feeling really good about our depth.’’
Zips sophomores Scott Caldwell, Thomas Schmitt and Ben Speas entered the game as reserves along with freshmen McKauly Tulloch and Martin Ontiveros and junior Michael Balogun.
UA will travel to Winston-Salem and play No. 3 Wake Forest at 7 p.m. Sunday.

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Akron vs. Syracuse preview

By mrasor Published: September 3, 2010

Football
The Zips kick off the Rob Ianello era tomorrow against one of the highest-profile teams ever to visit Akron.
Of course, you'll want to thaw the chicken wings and buy your beer. But you should also read these links to prepare for gameday.
LINK -- Senior linebacker Doug Hogue sees this as Syracuse's coming-out party. Generally, you say that going into a game in which you are the underdog, but OK. That article talks about junior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who now starts after waiting behind Greg Paulus.
LINK -- Syracuse coach Doug Marrone has a file folder on both of the Zips' coordinators. On the other side of the ball ... The Orange defense has been raving about the diversity of attack that Marrone, who is also Syracuse's offensive coordinator, has delivered during camp.
LINK -- The Associated Press reports that Jose Cruz has been named Syracuse's starting tight end. Yes, that Jose Cruz. He landed with the Orange, after a short stint at Hofstra. Apparently, he's one of Marrone's most improved players.
LINK -- Akron is a 7.5-point underdog. I think I would go with the Zips. I really can't decide if Akron will win. It will probably come as a revelation while I'm playing golf tomorrow before the game.
LINK -- You should really know the story of Ron Powlus, Akron's quarterbacks coach who was in the national spotlight in the mid-90s as the QB at Notre Dame. The ABJ's Tom Gaffney wrote a really fascinating feature about Powlus and his career. Ianello told me a couple weeks ago that "We will all be working for Powlus someday." He's a guy to keep an eye on.
LINK -- Andy Alleman will take over for Frank Stams as the Zips new color commentator on the radio. Congrats to Andy. He has always been very media-astute. He would give me weekly updates during his mission to improve his NFL draft stock. Andy will do a great job in the booth with my favorite constituent, Steve French, who persistently asks for a Rec Center in Stow. (Unlike Barack Obama, we can't just print money, so the Rec Center isn't going to happen.)
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Men's soccer
Akron opened the season tonight with a big, bold, all-caps statement -- a 3-0 win at No. 4 North Carolina.
Two goals came from freshmen, Eric Stevenson and Perry Kitchen. Hermann Trophy candidate Darlington Nagbe logged the Zips' third goal. Goalkeeper David Meves, who should be a candidate for something, made some tough saves for a shutout.
The Zips travel to No. 3 Wake Forest for a Sunday evening game.

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