We have whined a lot about the Zips' playcalling this season.
Joe Moorhead got a little more aggressive against Kent State, but it was still mostly a yawner.
I don't like reading journalists who complain and don't offer solutions. From my limited knowledge, here are a handful of ideas the Zips can use to exploit their strengths and keep the defenses honest. Oh yeah, and it should make for a more entertaining product.
1. Use Jabari Arthur's arm. The Zips' top receiver used to be a quarterback. You can either snap it to Arthur directly or throw him a lateral after the snap in the flats. We saw this used on special teams last week. Simply put, Arthur is the team's best playmaker and an incredibly difficult tackle in the open field. At this rate, though, he's only touching the ball about six times a game. That must increase.
2. Run the option. Akron's running backs are best suited running to the outside. Carlton Jackson is fast. Akron's tight ends are athletic and good blockers. Doesn't anyone else see this?
3. Unleash Jackson. Throughout training camp, coaches preached to their quarterbacks to give the play a chance before scrambling. Rather than waiting for a pass rush to compel Jackson to vacate the pocket, the Zips should proactively seek weaknesses in the defense. That's something Julian Edelman excels at, and that alone will win Kent State a few games this season. Give Jackson one primary target. The rest of the receivers should run deep to draw the defense back. If Jackson's primary target is covered, tell him it's OK to take off.
4. Find Arthur across the middle. This is only anecdotal, but it seems like the Zips' top receiver has caught most of his passes toward the sideline. Given his physicality, leaping ability, yet only so-so speed (for a receiver), that's not where he is most effective. I understand you want to preserve his health, but 20-yard chunks are ripe for the picking.
5. Get the tight ends involved early. I haven't spoken with Merce Poindexter or Kris Kasparek lately, but it's safe to assume their confidence is shot. Given their severe case of the dropsies, it's understandable. If Jackson makes it a point to find them early for short gains, the Zips might finally take advantage of what seemed like a great strength heading into the season. And if that doesn't work, give Brian Flaherty and Jose Cruz a shot. Akron might catch a spark with Flaherty's sure hands and ability to find seems in the defense or Cruz's size and athleticism.
Some changes to the depth chart for the Connecticut game...
Bryan Williams is the starting running back. Alex Allen will back him up. Dennis Kennedy is off the depth chart at that position. I don't know for sure, but Kennedy could be hurt. He hasn't played at all like the back we saw last year.
Mike Schepp and Eliott Bates both have a chance to start at center. It probably depends on Schepp's health.
Richard Sandilands or Andy Hildreth will be the holder. Hildreth did a fine job for Igor Iveljic against Kent State.
Flaherty has taken over on place kicking snaps in Schepp's absence.
Kennedy is the new backup punt returner, behind Andre Jones. I don't see why the team doesn't give Jones a break and just give the job to Kennedy until he works out of his funk -- unless, of course, he is hurt.
Jared Cecchetti returns as the starting defensive tackle. Shawn Lemon is second string.
Eric Lively moves back to nose guard. Behind him are Nate Robinson and Wallace Pendleton. That gives Akron some considerable depth.
Wayne Cobham is the new rover after John Mackey's knee injury. Mackey moves to head cheerleader -- a manly, ferocious, crutches-wielding cheerleader. As an aside, Mackey is my favorite Zips player. Seeing him go down against Kent was devastating, but he can still have an impact on the team. Winning the MAC for Mackey is a goal the team should rally around. Another aside: Is anyone else annoyed by the real cheerleaders throwing each other in the air in the middle of the game? They're good at what they do, but can we please tone it down except during timeouts?
Amin Kabir will backup Cobham. I am excited to see what this human cannonball can do, as well.
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