No matter how many players step up in other positions, I won't be too optimistic until the defensive line is configured two-deep.
The line wasn't very good last year, even with experience.
Now that Jermaine Reid and Kiki Gonzalez are gone, Akron will need to fill two starting roles.
So far the depth chart reads: Jared Cecchetti, Nate Robinson and Eric Lively.
I asked J.D. Brookhart about his second stringers and he mentioned Shawn Lemon, Wallace Pendleton, Viktor Rajek and Mitchell Magloire, who is listed as a linebacker.
On the horizon for the fall are 2007 signee Joe Rash and possibly two unsigned freshmen, Brookhart said. The coach has even given offensive lineman Zach Anderson a crack at d-line, and he didn't fare too badly.
"There's numbers," Brookhart said, "just some unknowns."
I whined a lot last year about the 3-3-5 defense against the non-traditional MAC teams (in other words, MAC teams don't rely on pass-only offenses). With the lack of established depth at DL, it's hard to dispute keeping the system in place, even as the league it was built to combat is evolving.
The spring game will start Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Field House. UA had planned a carnival outside the event, but weather will wipe it away. Instead, there is
a skills competition for ages 8 and up at 3 p.m.
Brookhart said he will look for consistency, while his coordinators will root for either touchdowns or 3-and-outs. He will test the second stringers and against the first team and the first team against the starters on different series.
With live referees who will call holding, pass interference, etc., coaches can get a better feel for a player's ability. "The spring game reveals a lot," Brookhart said.
I asked Brookhart what players have impressed him most lately. He named Dennis Kennedy, cornerback Yamari Dixon and linebackers Brion Stokes and Doug Williams.
Kennedy and Andrew Johnson (you can call them the presidents if you like) broke away for 60+ yard touchdowns. Kennedy is great at getting large chunks, but Johnson is a straight-up home-run hitter, pardon the cliche. His breakaway speed is outstanding, and I can't compare it to any runner except LaDanian Tomlinson. (Hopefully, Sunday Morning Quarterback doesn't use that against me.)
I watched the kickers for a little bit today, but didn't see Igor Iveljic boot any. Matt Domonkos has improved his leg strength. It's hard to judge John Stec's punting because of the ceiling.
Although he hasn't come out and said it, Brookhart looks like he wants Iveljic to win the job. He already knows Domonkos can kick like a pro in practice. The jitters rattle him during games, though.
I suggest getting to the spring game about 30 minutes early if you want a decent seat. It has been standing-room only the past couple years, and I'd expect the same this time. If you've never watched a spring game, the format is always offense versus defense. It's kind of tricky to explain, but GoZips.com does an adequate job.
Akron lost to Central Michigan today, 6-1.
But the Chippewas cheated. Their starting pitcher, Josh Collmenter, is a spitting image of "Ravishing" Rick Rude.
The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday. I'm curious to see who CMU struts out to the mound next. "The Model" Rick Martel? Papa Shango? The Repo Man?
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