Question: Did the offensive line -- full of talent, low on experience -- gel quickly enough to protect a new quarterback?
Akron's offensive line displays a great diversity in terms of geography, experience and the level of recruitment they saw after high school. Will these five guys develop chemistry to prevent a repeat of last season, when Luke Getsy was constantly on the run? The spring was a mixed bag. Run blocking seemed fairly solid, but that wasn't the original concern. It's pass blocking that could ruin the Zips' new quarterback.
During blitzes, Brion Stokes and the Zips pass rushers typically found easy access to the quarterback. Soon, however, Chris Jacquemain found a way to beat it. Like all solid pros know, when the defense sends the house, dump off the ball to a running back or tight end and set up a convoy to take him 30 yards. This play fits perfectly into Jacquemain's skill set and should be an excellent weapon against over-aggressive defenses.
Against the normal base defense this spring, the offensive line held water. Of course, no one really can say whether that means anything. The defensive front couldn't sack a Barbie doll last year. As I have said, though, it proves the offensive line is prepared to stop at least a bad pass rush.
When compared to other head coaches, J.D. Brookhart usually is optimistic. Still, his quote Monday assured me a little more about the line's solidity. "We will have three freshmen starting on the offensive line, and I've said it a number of times -- they are going to be good," he said. (Psst. Coach, you only have two freshmen starting.)
Answer: Not quite, but it improved this spring. And where the pass blocking lacked, the offensive creativity picked up.
Tomorrow: Are there enough playmakers on this team?
A new offer...
Dwayne Beckford, outside linebacker, Irvington, N.J. Offers: Akron, Temple, Purdue, Connecticut, Michigan State, Syracuse and Toledo Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 215 Speed: 4.45 Notes: Beckford logged 88 tackles, forced four fumbles and sacked the quarterback 10 times as a junior. Likelihood: At the end of July, Beckford's top four schools were Temple, Purdue, Michigan State and Syracuse. If the Zips had offered before that, there's no hope. If they have offered since then, Beckford could always analyze a new option. A lot more teams have become interested in his services as well, such as Tennessee, Alabama and Rutgers. Likelihood: very low.
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