The situation: Playmaker (n.) PLAHY-may-ker: An offensive player who executes plays designed to put one or more teammates in a position to score. I will expand that a little to say a playmaker can reverse the course of a game in a second from either offense or defense. In football, that translates to touchdowns caught, break-away runs, forced fumbles, interceptions and sacks.
Without question, the Zips' best playmaker in 2006 was receiver/kick returner David Harvey, who has left the team due to academic issues. Another exciting receiver, Jermaine Lindsey, also has left campus for similar reasons.
The question: Will Akron's offense have enough playmakers to outscore its opponents.
Discussion: Notice I didn't mention the defense. Last season, Andre Jones forced three fumbles. Reggie Corner grabbed four interceptions. Brion Stokes tallied 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Davanzo Tate broke up 13 passes and recovered two fumbles. Doug Williams and Brandon Anderson are exciting athletes who are poised to make plays. Kevin Grant and John Mackey are ... Kevin Grant and John Mackey. Whew. That's an exciting defense, that should have plenty of playmaking opportunities if the defensive line acts like a beaver dam, as J.D. Brookhart intends.
On offense, it’s not quite the same. There are solid players, mostly. Dennis Kennedy and Jabari Arthur are the cornerstones, but they aren’t gamebreakers by nature. Their chunks of yards will weather a defense, but I wouldn’t consider them playmakers. The same goes for Akron’s tight ends. Alex Allen has potential to break off long runs if he’s healthy. Carlton Jackson could be this year’s Dan LeFevour if he can avoid the big hits.
My main point is: One of about five receivers needs to step up and capture some of the excitement Harvey left behind. Possibilities include Stephon Fuqua, Brandon Williams, Gary Pride or one of the other freshmen. If Akron does not develop a player who demands double coverage, it will adversely affect the running game.
Prediction: I have not seen anything from the aforementioned receivers to make me believe All-MAC ability is on the roster. That puts more stress on Arthur to be the player we saw in the Motor City Bowl -- consistently.