Here is my Kent State/Akron preview with Jonas Fortune...
Hear audio of the complete, 10-minute uncut version of the preview.
You can run on Kent State, and they will try to do the same to you.
Eugene Jarvis and Julian Edelman are scary runners out of the Flashes' backfield. They take comfort away from third-and-long.
Problem is, Jarvis probably won't play. The star running back has a high ankle sprain, according to Jonas Fortune's blog.
It is Edelman's feet that make his arm look serviceable. His scrambling essentially forces defenses to devote a player as a quarterback spy, which means there is one less defensive back. Shawn Bayes has been the only receiver worth mentioning so far. He has caught three touchdowns and almost 60 yards of passing per game.
Edelman is a creative offensive player. He can strike and make you hurt. However, it will be very difficult for Kent State to consistently move the chains without Jarvis' four or five yards per carry.
On defense, the Flashes' linebacker corps is suffering a similar problem as Akron's defensive line. KSU's three starting linebackers are hurt. If Akron's offensive line can make holes, it will be smooth sailing for Dennis Kennedy and Joe Tuzze into the secondary.
The Flashes also have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 65 percent of passes, securing only one interception. With the Zips' backfield thinning, it would be good to incorporate more short passes to Jeremy Bruce and Dashan Miller to keep the clock moving and rest Kennedy.
The Flashes' greatest hope is that these rivalry games rarely proceed how we think. Two years ago, the Flashes pulled a stunner on Akron, derailing what Zips fans thought to be a follow-up on their MAC Championship. Last season, KSU beat Iowa State and held high hopes for the rest of the season. They came to the Rubber Bowl and lost, then dropped seven of their next eight.
Truth is, you never know. If motivation plays a role, you might give the edge to Kent State. I remember hearing some serious anger about the spray-painting incident. Unfortunately, that kind of motivation wears off after a few series, so the Flashes must find a better edge than that.
Oddsmakers picked the Zips to beat Kent State by four.
That probably will motivate the Flashes, considering they're at home for a rivalry game. Oh, and the AK-Rowdies (allegedly) tuned up their stadium with spray paint this summer.
I'm going to research KSU some more tonight. At this point, I think Akron will cover easily.
The way Akron lost today was disappointing.
Any college football fan would lament a 17-15 loss, but consider what the Zips accomplished today.
They played nose-to-nose with a team that might challenge for one of the nation's top conference crowns. They lost the game because Akron's kicker twitched (or whatever it was) and Cincinnati's did not.
That is a miniscule margin between two teams that clobbered each other for 60 minutes, and left each other a little less well off for the rest of the season. Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike apparently injured his wrist. Andrew Johnson was taken off the field on an ambulance.
Both teams made errors, so Cincinnati will say it shouldn't have been so close. In reality, the teams were evenly matched in the trenches and at the skill positions. The difference, like I said, came down to a twitch.
Also, please don't blame J.D. Brookhart for going for it on fourth-and-1, when the Zips were shut down and Johnson got hurt. The score was 14-9 and, for all we knew, Cincinnati was going to strike again. Nine times out of 10, the field goal would have been inconsequential. And who knows if Igor Iveljic would have made it.
I will have more on the game tomorrow.
The Zips must push the ball and get touchdowns -- especially early.
I can see Akron's defense getting in a groove later in the game, but early, watch for the Bearcats to march. That is why it's important that the Zips stay close in the first half.
Cincinnati's blogger thinks it will be a 35-13 blowout. With due respect, Akron was closer to Wisconsin than that. That game was on the road, and the Badgers are better than the Bearcats.
If Akron stays close early and dominates the turnover battle, it will be an upset. Because that's too much to ask, I don't think the Zips will win. However, I certainly wouldn't count them out. The 11-point spread seems fair.
Prediction: Akron 24, Cincinnati 35
Kristin Hill earned medalist honors at the Cardinal Classic last week.
Today, the MAC named her Golfer of the Week.
Hill shot an even-par 144 to lead the Zips to a second-place finish in the tournament that Ball State hosted and won. That is quite impressive for a team of six freshmen and one senior that did not compete at all this time last year.
I'm writing a term paper about Title IX, and how new regulations have made the gender-equality law easier to skirt (no pun intended). However, it's nice to see the law giving new opportunities and for women to take advantage of them, like Hill apparently has.
The ABJ's Tom Gaffney wrote a neat story about how the offensive line is gelling.
J.D. Brookhart said that the unit doesn't always get a great push, but it rarely misses assignments, which keeps Chris Jacquemain on his feet more often than not.
Akron's injured list shortened this week.
Eric Lively, Deni Odofin and James Harvey have improved enough since last week to play against Cincinnati. The only addition to the injured list is Brandon Anderson, who is doubtful.
However, as the ABJ's Tom Gaffney reports, Alex Allen (hip fracture) and Cowles Stewart (knee) are done for the season. This should not surprise you, because a player is not eligible for a medical redshirt if he plays more than three games (or 30 percent of the season, whichever is greater).
Gaffney also reports that Ryan Bain is seeing a specialist about his foot injury. (If my sources are correct, that might be coachspeak for, "Our legal team is still cooking up a plan to fight the NCAA.")
Regardless, it will be pleasant to have a workable two-deep on the defensive line again.
The Bearcats are 10.5-point favorites to beat the Zips Saturday at 3:30 at the Rubber Bowl.
The teams have only met four times before. The series is tied 2-2, but clearly Cincinnati has the advantage. In 2007, Cincinnati won the Papajohns.com Bowl and finished with 10 wins and a No. 17 ranking. Following the season, Cincinnati lost a long-winded battle against the NCAA to get quarterback Ben Mauk a final year of eligibility.
The Bearcats mauled Miami (Ohio) last week, 45-20, with a quarterback making his first career start. Tony Pike completed an audacious 20-of-24 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions. They also stuffed Miami running back Thomas Merriweather for only 2.9 yards per carry.
The RedHawks were, however, able to pass a little against Cincinnati. Oklahoma also threw for 395 yards. Considering that Akron's strength is the running game, it will take a balanced attack to keep this game close.
Besides Pike, the players to watch on Cincinnati's offense are receivers Mardy Gilyard and Dominick Goodman. Both have averaged almost 100 yards per game. They each have three touchdowns this season, too.
Cincinnati's defense is just so-so at this point in the season. Defensive end Connor Barwin has tallied three sacks. Linebackers Ryan Manalac and Andre Revels lead the team in tackles.
The fact of the matter is, the Zips will need to score at least 35 to have a chance to win. Cincinnati runs a spread offense, which, in theory, the 3-3-5 scheme is designed to stop. Still, it would be naive to think Akron's defense is good enough to hold down the Bearcats just because the Zips had their way with Army.
The Zips did almost anything they desired against Army offensively and held the Black Knights to only 223 yards of their own.
Akron won a snoozer Saturday, 22-3, but it could have been a lot worse. The Zips missed an easy field goal and an extra point. Also, they converted only one of nine plays on third down.
Army continued a season-long trend by fumbling six times (six times!). Akron recovered four of them, including one in the end zone. Manley Waller piled on with first career interception.
The Zips' running game was steady as usual. Andre Jones and Deryn Bowser have become a great one-two punch at receiver. They combined for 160 yards and a touchdown. Chris Jacquemain played a conservative game, but that's fine. His problems come when he thinks he's Brett Favre.
By the way, I have heard from multiple sources that Ryan Bain's problems are with the NCAA, not the foot. The reports I heard are conflicting as to the cause.
I asked assistant athletic director Mike Cawood whether it was related to grades. He responded (and I quote): "I have not been told he is academically ineligible." I hate to speculate beyond that. My point is, don't expect to see him in uniform this season, or maybe ever.
Putting Bain on the injured list, however, is misleading. The coaches are being less than forthcoming about this. Hopefully it will get cleared up soon.
I will grade the team tomorrow.
Coach J.D. Brookhart is worried about Army's veer-option offense, the ABJ's Michael Beaven writes.
Without hope of seeing Ryan Bain, the defense struggles stop the least of running games, much less a complicated one.
While Army lacks talent, the Zips still have prepared feverishly to learn to stop the option offense.
The Zips are now 10.5-point favorites. Oddsmakers quickly realized that their initial seven-point spread was not cutting it. The over-under is 47.5 points.
Army is fresh off a thrashing by Temple (35-7) and Division I-AA's New Hampshire (28-10).
The Black Knights have faced weak competition and still gotten their armor crumpled.
This game might not mean a whole lot to Akron's season, but if the Zips lose, it will be devastating to morale and J.D. Brookhart's future as coach.
But don't worry. It won't happen. Army is awful.
Quarterback Carson Williams has been efficient this season, but he has only attempted 21 passes in two games. With Akron's futility in stopping the run, we probably won't see much of him Saturday either.
In fact, Army recently implemented an option scheme on offense. Williams and backup quarterback Chip Bowden have combined for 27 carries -- more times than the two have passed the ball (24).
Their option pitches typically find Collin Mooney, a running back who has 42 carries for 138 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and no touchdowns. Or the option pitches find the turf. Army has fumbled seven times and lost six of them in two games.
All of that has added up to 17 points this season -- against weak competition, mind you.
Despite giving up 63 points against lowly competition, Army's defense has not completely been to blame. The Black Knights have held opponents to an average of 152 passing yards and 159 rushing yards per game. They have also recovered four turnovers. It seems to me like the typical Army defensive unit: undersized, slow, but they hustle and make plays.
ESPN.com has a feature on Akron and Steve Zakuani, saying the Zips came down to earth a little this weekend by losing to New Mexico and tying Missouri State.
The Zips will be home for the next three games. They play Florida Atlantic Friday at 12:30 at Lee Jackson Field.
The ABJ's Patrick McManamon wrote a great story about how Don Haskins had in impact on Mack Rhoades' life.
Haskins, known as the first coach to break the color barrier in college basketball, died recently. Rhoades worked with him and told some fascinating stories to McManamon.
Nike can terminate its three-year contract with the men's basketball program if the university fires Keith Dambrot for any reason.
That is the term that shocked me the most in the Zips' newly minted contract with the biggest sports outfitter in the world. Contract.pdf
Here's a riddle: What's the difference between Akron this week and Akron last week?
Lipstick? No. The answer is Sean Baker.
Baker, a defensive back for Ball State, caught three of Chris Jacquemain's four interceptions. The junior quarterback also fumbled, which Baker returned for a touchdown. Baker, who is auditioning for Chuck Norris status, also made nine tackles and broke up a pass.
The Zips lost 41-24 in a game that looked eerily like last week's win over Syracuse. Problem was, Akron couldn't protect the ball this time.
Were there good things about Akron's performance? Sure. The secondary limited Nate Davis' options by providing solid coverage, particularly downfield. Miguel Graham logged the play of the game with a one-handed interception in the endzone.
Akron's running game was healthy (although I would argue that the coaches didn't give Andrew Johnson nearly enough carries). Deryn Bowser also played well, catching eight passes for 117 yards.
The real problem was dropped passes and other mistakes in the passing game. Dashan Miller and Jeremy Bruce each dropped an easy catch that turned into an interception.
Although Alex Allen left the game on a stretcher, I have been told that his injury is not as serious as it appeared. Allen believes he can play next week (but what player doesn't?).
Jacquemain's stats are worse than they should be, but he still played awful. This was a game that the Zips would have won, if only they received adequate quarterback play.
For what it's worth, tailgating was fun. Although the intense rain created new rivers and swamps, yours truly and several others took the opportunity to slide through the mud. Good times.
I will have more on the game tomorrow.
It's been pouring rain the past 24 hours, and relief does not appear to be in sight.
How will that affect the game?
Normally, it is a detriment to the offense that relies heavier on passing, which would be Ball State. However, Cardinals quarterback Nate Davis wears a glove on his throwing hand, so maybe it won't affect him.
Typically, you are the first to hear my thoughts on an upcoming Zips football game.
Not this time.
I gave my two cents to Ball State blogger Phil Friend, who does a nice job reporting on the Cardinals. (He's also a sports editor at a newspaper in Indiana.)
After running for more than 100 yards against Syracuse, Alex Allen is now the starting running back.
J.D. Brookhart made some other changes to the depth chart heading into Saturday's game at Ball State. You might think they are minor, but I know the coaches wouldn't alter anything without a reason.
Akron darned sure better beat Kent State and Army.
Along with Syracuse, they are three of the nation's 10 worst teams, according to ESPN.com.
The Buchtelite's Vincent Dorsey traveled to Syracuse for the game. Read his column.
The oddsmakers think highly of Ball State.
The Cardinals are seven-point favorites at the Rubber Bowl. They should be.
Quarterback Nate Davis and his team are slowly becoming the MAC's darlings. His favorite target is Dante Love, a 5-foot-10 senior who is breaking school receiving records.
It's not just them. The Cardinals have several NFL prospects. Punter Chris Miller has been the nation's best for a couple years. Tight end Darius Hill is always there for a crucial first down. And that's not to mention some of Ball State's playmakers on defense.
Despite giving up 346 rushing yards, the Cardinals beat Navy 35-23 on national television last week.
There's a reason, however, why Ball State isn't a top-25 team. The Cardinals have struggled to stop the run. The performance against Navy didn't reassure anyone. That makes Ball State a better matchup for Akron than for other MAC teams.
After last season’s incompetence and the offense’s so-so performance against Wisconsin, the Zips exploded for 42 points, outlasting Syracuse 42-28.
I have been a harsh critic of Chris Jacquemain, but you can’t say anything about the junior quarterback except that he manned the pocket like a veteran, whipped the ball to open receivers and played like an all-conference passer.
Jacquemain completed 20 of 26 passes for 260 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He passed within the offense and let the running backs move the chains. Alex Allen led the corps with 103 yards and two touchdowns. Dennis Kennedy and Andrew Johnson also looked good.
It wasn’t all positive, though. Syracuse’s running backs shot through the Zips’ defense with ease. Both teams rushed for 218 yards. But the Zips were able to squeeze the vice when they needed to most, namely a 4th-and-1 from the Akron 46-yard line near the end of the game.
Along with Jacquemain, Andre Jones might have had his coming-out game at receiver. He caught seven passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. All the main receivers looked good, though.
The end result might be J.D. Brookhart’s effort leading to the end of his mentor Greg Robinson’s job at Syracuse. The Orange has lost consecutive games to, what many experts considered, the lowest tier of Division I teams.
Meanwhile, it might be a win that solidifies Brookhart’s job security by giving his team confidence heading into the home opener versus Ball State. A BCS win is a big deal for a MAC team.
What’s a big deal for me? Sitting next to Jerry “The King” Lawler at the Aeros game tonight!
As usual, I will analyze the game more thoroughly tomorrow.
Syracuse coach Greg Robinson replaced incumbent quarterback Andrew Robinson on Friday.
Enter senior Cameron Dantley, who did not appear destined to take a snap until Robinson's horrid performance at Northwestern.
The son of NBA hall of famer Adrian Dantley, Cameron is a walk-on who earned a scholarship just last year. Last season, he completed 48-of-90 passes for five touchdowns and three interceptions.
What this really means is that Syracuse will rely more heavily on its running game, which finally twitched after last season's coma.
Another shutout for the Zips defense and a deciding goal by Steve Zakuani led Akron to a 1-0 victory over West Virginia tonight.
The Mountaineers began the season ranked No. 15, but fell off the chart. Next up is Cincinnati at 2:30 on Sunday at Lee Jackson Field. It will be the Zips' third Big East opponent in 10 days.
A filmmaker with local roots created a documentary chronicling the senior season of LeBron James' St. Vincent/St. Mary's team that included Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce.
Kristopher Belman's film will open Saturday at a Toronto festival with the former Zips in attendance. Belman attended Walsh Jesuit High School.
If you're wondering why you haven't seen many recruiting updates lately, it's because this is a slow period.
Ryan Bain is doubtful for Saturday's game at Syracuse because of his injured foot.
Also doubtful are Paul Simkovich (head) and Joe Tuzze (leg). Eric Lively and Jerome Royal are out with arm injuries.
It's probably a good idea to get Bain rested up, but I'm excited to see what impact he has on the defense.
Associate AD Hunter Yuracheck told the Buchtelite that InfoCision Stadium will look 95 percent like what the specs showed.
That confirms a rumor I heard that UA is cutting costs on the stadium.
Speaking of the Buchtelite, Vincent Dorsey was inspired by the Zips' loss.
Keith Dambrot took a step forward with the schedule that UA released today.
Unfortunately, it was a few years too late (but that's a dead horse). Anyhow, next season's schedule features home games against perennial RPI boosters Dayton and Winthrop. The team will have upset opportunities at Pitt and Virginia Commonwealth.
Every year, I look to see when the Zips play Kent State. The teams will play at Akron on Jan. 24, the final game before MAC West play begins. The Zips will travel to Kent State on March 8 to conclude the regular season.
UA's assistant athletic director for compliance Kevin Klotz came into my Sports Law class to talk about NCAA regulations.
He did a great job explaining what he does to keep Akron in good standing with the NCAA. Our class ate it up.
Will this be the Zips' BCS shocker?
Oddsmakers think Akron has a puncher's chance, saying Syracuse is only a 4.5-point favorite in the Carrier Dome.
The Orange finished 2-10 last year under Greg Robinson, with whom J.D. Brookhart has a personal connection. The Orange gained only two yards per carry all season. The athletic director allowed Robinson to have another year as an opportunity to coach his own recruits.
Scout.com says the Orange plans to run more this season. That wasn't exactly the plan in week one against Northwestern, which Syracuse lost 30-10. The Orange passed more than it ran, and did neither particularly well.
Ryan Bain would actually give the Zips' defensive line an advantage against Syracuse's smallish offensive front (but we won't know the injury report until tomorrow). Quarterback Andrew Robinson has put up big numbers in games sporadically, but his favorite targets are gone from last year. He's not particularly precise with his passes, either.
The Orange defense got plowed by Northwestern's Tyrell Sutton, but not quite as badly as P.J. Hill buried the Zips. The team's defensive line is also small, and it should make for a big running day for Akron, as well.
The Zips jumped seven spots to become No. 5 in the national poll.
Congratulations go out to Jeff Boals, who is now an associate head coach.
The new title demonstrates how much he means to the basketball program. Oh, and he is the man behind the Zeke Marshall coup.
Zips fans might not like to hear this, but he is the next Shaka Smart, in that his career will take him much higher than assistant coach in the MAC. Smart is now an assistant for Billy Donovan at Florida.
Chris Singletary from Kent State got in a little trouble over the weekend.
Allegedly, he got "uncooperative" with the police. That might be his last straw.
Sorry I missed the action this weekend. I did get a chance to watch highlights from a bar in Hyannis, Mass.
Before I get to my thoughts, I'd like to thank Dan Kadar and Michael Beaven for stepping in. These are two University of Akron guys working at the ABJ who care about the teams and covering them.
Former Akron offensive lineman Andy Alleman was picked up by the Miami Dolphins yesterday. He was released by the New Orleans Saints just before NFL rosters had to be lowered to 53 players.
The Dolphins also added another guard/center in Nate Garner, who was released by the Jets.
Still, though, this could be a good spot for Alleman. The Dolphins are rebuilding, so if he can latch on here and impress coaches, he could have a decent career in Miami. Also, living on South Beach probably has its perks.
This post brought to you by Dan Kadar because Mike Rasor may or may not still be out of town and/or dead.
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