It's the last day of tryouts for the high school basketball team. Your steady jump shot has devolved into an uncontrolled fire hose. Your crisp passes find more gymnasium walls than open teammates.
Chris Jacquemain and Carlton Jackson commiserate.
With final cuts coming tonight, the performance of both candidates in today's scrimmage only was persuasive to show why they don't deserve the job.
"We looked like a broken machine," said coach J.D. Brookhart, who will decide his starter tonight. "I don't think the quarterbacks, either of them, operated well today."
Aside from one Igor Iveljic field goal, the offense failed to score in the hour-long scrimmage. Jackson was 4-for-7 for 18 yards. Jacquemain was 5-for-10 for 57 yards, including an interception.
The scrimmage began with a dropped pass from Jackson that Brion Stokes returned for a touchdown. A defensive offsides penalty negated that screw up. The offense gave it right back a few plays later on a fumbled option pitch.
Jacquemain's interception came on a deep pass to Alphonso Owen. With defensive back Amin Kabir running stride for stride, both players leaped for the ball and tumbled to the turf. The ball popped in the air without hitting the ground and Kabir nabbed it.
So, in a way, the quarterbacks weren't completely to blame for the huge errors, but they quite simply looked flat. The balls they did complete were dumpoffs or uncontested throws three yards from the line of scrimmage near the sideline.
Of course, you can always credit the defense for applying more effort than last scrimmage, when every Akron quarterback looked like an All-American.
"It was really the reverse of the last scrimmage," Brookhart said. The defense "responded and they played hard."
The quarterback decision will come down to which player won't lose the game. This is obviously a run-first team, and no playmaking ability will overcome a propensity for blowing it.
"I got confidence in Coach," Jacquemain said. "If I'm not the guy, hopefully CJ (Jackson) can lead the team to some wins."
Regardless of today's play, Brookhart's staff has been pleased with the passers' improvement since the spring. This may be a result of the battle between the sophomores.
"They say competition brings out the best in you," Jacquemain said. "This is one of the most competitive things I've ever done in my life."
The scrimmage included yardage chains and referees. The coaches even wore headsets.
Jalil Carter has looked really good, in my opinion. He intercepted a K.C. Patterson pass intended for Marcus Patterson toward the end of the scrimmage. His size and speed will make him a star in the MAC. Although it would be nice to have the impact Barry Church had on Toledo as a true freshman, it might make more sense to redshirt Carter, considering the secondary's depth.
Aside from not throwing interceptions, the quarterbacks also need to avoid falling into a rut of scrambling after the first receiver is covered. An awareness of the down and situation is critical for knowing when to rush for a few yards and when to look for the play's second and third options.
I hate watching Dennis Kennedy run during scrimmages where tackling is expected. It seems tacklers are twisting his legs on every play. An injury to the offense's only hope would devastate this season. We already know what the junior is capable of. Here's hoping Brookhart gives Kennedy the LaDanian Tomlinson treatment until Sept. 1.
The Zips will rotate eight players primarily along the offensive line. They are Chris Kemme, Mike Ward, Corey Woods, Zack Anderson, Mike Schepp, Keith Huebner, Elliott Bates and Jason Sekinger. A cross-reference of the roster shows that leaves Casey Estrada as the only non-true freshman to be left out of the rotation. I did, however, notice Estrada playing with the second string during scrimmage.
I spoke with a journalist who followed Jacquemain during his career at Mentor High School. He and his colleagues were surprised to see Jacquemain receive a Division I-A scholarship a couple years ago. They thought he played decent in his one year at quarterback, but not spectacular. Before playing quarterback at Mentor, Jacquemain was a receiver.
This journalist also watched Iveljic, who hails from Mentor as well. He called the Zips kicker an absolute stud in high school. Brookhart plans to decide the starting kicker tonight, too. During the scrimmage, Iveljic was 1-for-3. Matt Domonkos missed all three attempts. Walk-on Zack Campbell did not kick.
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