Inevitably, injuries will wear a team thin at one position over the course of a season.
Last season, it was running back and kicker.
J.D. Brookhart is being proactive this spring by testing out some of his starters at other positions -- particularly on defense.
Chevin Pace, the starting strong safety, is playing some linebacker. Brandon Anderson, who is battling Davanzo Tate for a cornerback job, is taking snaps at strong safety. Rodney Etienne, a backup free safety, is getting some work at cornerback.
As far as the depth chart goes, nothing has really changed except some adjustments on the punt team.
Here are some other notes from today's practice...
- I asked Brookhart if the quarterback hierarchy still goes Carlton Jackson, Chris Jacquemain and Sean Hakes. He said the coaching staff is "juggling" the QBs.
- In 11-on-11 drills, Jackson showed repeatedly he has the athleticism to get large chunks of yards each time he runs with the ball.
- Hakes, too, showed the ability to plow over a defender. He absolutely trucked linebacker Michael Alphonse on one play. Hakes also showed a little more consistency throwing the ball. His only error, although a fatal one, came when he scrambled left and threw to a receiver about a second late. The defensive back picked it off. Brookhart approached Hakes, yelling "Why, why, why?" Overcoming Hakes' weakness of the occasional bad pass is clearly frustrating the coaches because of the great talent he shows otherwise.
- Jacquemain came in and looked solid, as usual. He has yet to impress me, but he also hasn't messed up. Craig Krenzel anyone?
- The Zips offense includes running a lot of option plays. This is obviously a result of having mobile quarterbacks. Akron also has a more athletic line. That should help the team save a few seconds here and there in hurry-up situations. It also makes the no-huddle offense more feasible.
- The best quarterback on the field -- at least to this point -- was Luke Getsy, who dropped by practice.
- Alex Allen made his spring debut today, wearing a red "don't hit me hard" jersey. I don't think the defenders noticed. Allen still took some decent shots. He did not appear to be favoring his repaired right knee, however. He showed he still has the ability to shoot through a gap like a boxer's jab.
- Andrew Johnson, the transfer from Miami (Fla.), earned the play of the day by busting through the Zips' defense for a 65-yard touchdown run. It happened so fast, I can't really explain much more than that.
- Jermaine Lindsey continues to shine. He is not afraid of taking a big hit. That's probably what impresses me the most about him, besides his leaping ability.
- Brookhart talked to me about a very critical NCAA rule change. Kickoffs will now start at the 30-yard line, rather than the 35. That means basically every kick will be returned. "Kickoff coverage is now the most critical part of special teams," he said. Luckily for Akron, both Matt Domonkos and Igor Iveljic likely have enough leg to take advantage of the new rule.
- After Johnson broke his 65-yard run, Brookhart looked at Iveljic, who is still nursing his injured back, and said "We're going for two. We have no kicker." Iveljic agreed to return by next Tuesday.
- The snaps today were awful. At least two probably would have led to fumbles. "The snap is so critical," Brookhart said. "When you're in the gun, you need a crisp snap."
- The defensive line is improving, the coach said. Both Viktor Rajek and Nate Robinson are making strides. Eric Lively and Jared Cecchetti have been solid, as usual. I sure would love to see the Zips get about six dependable defensive linemen before breaking summer camp.
- The next practice is Thursday at 3 p.m. Because of the expected snow (SNOW!?!?), practice will be held in the field house.
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