I don't know about the rest of you, but I am itching to watch the Zips practice in August. I want to see the new players, the new schemes, who's been working hard and who's been playing too much XBox.
I plan to report from as many practices as possible, but for now, let's examine three of the main issues this team will face...
Who plays quarterback?
Word from the team says Chris Jacquemain has improved quite a bit. Conventional wisdom says a starting quarterback will keep his job, particularly a young one who has room to improve. Count me as one of the skeptics. Last season, Jacquemain went from efficient to despicable over the course of each game, all while the more talented but character-afflicted Carlton Jackson watched. Jackson transferred, which would perpetuate the feeling that this is Jacquemain's job. But freshman Matt Rodgers has more upside. If Rodgers' arm is healthy, I expect him to start at Camp Randall Stadium on August 30. The winner of the job has the potential to look really good, considering the amount of talent on the offensive line, running back and *maybe* at receiver.
Can Akron stop the pass?
Almost every team in Division I-A has one of these areas. It makes you bite your tongue and grimace. Considering that this is the MAC, I can foresee some 500-yard passing days for opposing quarterbacks. The Zips probably can find five defensive backs to rely upon, but after that, it's anyone's guess. Some of the transfers, such as Kevin Funches, Kevin Davis and Mike Thomas, must work their way onto the depth chart. 2008 is certainly a transitional year after losing so much talent from last year.
Are these receivers for real?
Last season, it was Jabari Arthur and no one else. With Arthur gone, the uncertainty abounds. Of course, there is reason for optimism with Andre Jones showing great potential in the spring, Jeremy Bruce transferring from West Virginia after contributing for the Mountainteers as a freshman, and Deryn Bowser coming from California as a four-star junior college prospect. August will show which of these guys are reliable and which one will separate himself as Rodgers' (hopefully) go-to guy.
Which freshman(men) will step up?
Every fall, there is a freshman who surprises coaches and gets serious playing time as a freshman. Last year, it was Almondo Sewell. This August, I think there is a great opportunity for Manley Waller to work his way in at cornerback and Aaron Williams to find time at linebacker.
New scholarship offerees...
Kyle Zelinsky, inside linebacker, Bartlett, Ill. Offers: Akron, Air Force, Ball State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan Height: 6-foot-0 Weight: 220 Speed: Not listed Notes: Rivals gives Zelinsky three stars. The linebacker does not know much about Akron, but he plans to investigate. He is in no rush to decide on a school, but early playing time will be a major factor.
Nolan Procter, wide receiver, Birmingham, Mich. Offers: Akron and Bowling Green Height: 5-10 Weight: 175 Speed: Not listed Notes: Procter was on campus this week, according to Scout.com. He will decide between Bowling Green and Akron in the next few days. His factors include coaching staff, facilities and how he fits into the offensive scheme.
Scout.com's premium content is free through July 6. You don't need credit cards or anything. It's a great chance to scope out the site and see if it's worth the $100 per year.
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