The theme -- Bowling Green loooooooves to pass. Its 300 yards per game was 12th in the nation. That said, their rushing offense hasn't been much to speak of, until the Kent State win two weeks ago. KSU's Doug Martin said, "I dare you to run." And they won the game by doing it. So to say the Falcons can only pass is incorrect.
Key players -- Quarterback Tyler Sheehan has entered the elite level of MAC quarterbacks, along with Nate Davis and Dan LeFevour. Sheehan's downfall is turnovers. He has thrown 10 interceptions. Lately, freshman running back Willie Jeter has made the offense more balanced. Sheehan has three pretty reliable receivers, led by Freddie Barnes. The Falcons have also hit Jeter out of the backfield quite a bit.
How Akron can stop them -- The Zips need to blitz a lot. Bowling Green doesn't protect Sheehan that well. This will be a very important game for Davanzo Tate and Reggie Corner.
Is this rock bottom?
Losing to Temple and Buffalo in consecutive games was unfathomable in August. However, Akron is heading one direction. The Owls and Bulls are going another.
The Zips politely declined to take advantage of scoring opportunities throughout their 26-10 loss today.
Akron outgained Buffalo, 327 to 280. Buffalo snatched each possible point. Akron whiffed.
That's the real story of this game. It's analogous to quarterback Chris Jacquemain's season. His stats aren't bad, but he rarely completes the crucial pass.
I wondered to myself today, how many wins would the Zips have if they played their best player at quarterback? I think the answer is four, including the most recent losses.
Matt Rodgers, whom I heard had minor shoulder surgery, is no longer an option, and the team wouldn't play him anyhow because it would result in the loss of a year of eligibility. But why, oh why, aren't we seeing Carlton Jackson?
The team decided to start Jacquemain after camp broke. They founded the choice on a presumption that the running game would be enough to carry the team, and the quarterback must be a solid game manager who avoids turnovers. Whether Jacquemain fits that description is debatable. What's certain is that Akron needs a playmaking quarterback to keep up. The running game cannot carry the Zips to wins alone.
I believe Jackson will start Friday at Bowling Green -- not because I have any inside information, but because common sense mandates it.
The defense played well enough to win. The Bulls' great running attack gained only 3 yards per carry. Akron's running game was effective. There were no huge gaffes on special teams. Do you see what I'm getting at? I'm isolating this loss completely on the quarterback.
You can look at the coaches, too. At first, I thought the second-half disparity was coincidental. At this point in the season, you have to say there's something else at work. Maybe other coaches are making adjustments while J.D. Brookhart sits on his hands. Maybe Akron isn't deep enough. Maybe Akron isn't well-conditioned for 60 minutes of football.
In all scenarios, the blame falls on the coaches. So does the quarterback decision. I refuse to praise Brookhart as a good coach one week, then a lousy one the next. Unless the Zips lose out and the team revolts, he should keep his job.
Although I've been critical of Joe Moorhead as the offensive coordinator, I liked his play calling today. He took chances and was creative.
As always, I'll have much more tomorrow.
J.D. Brookhart smartly says Akron has to stop James Starks to beat Buffalo.
On the other side, Turner Gill said his team will still focus its offense on the ground game.
The line is just about even now, according to bookmakers.
I think this will be a game that Zips fans will look back at and say, "Wow, that really defines the season." That thought can go either way, of course. An Akron loss makes Detroit seem continents away. A win gives the team momentum and some wiggle room for a MAC East loss later in the season, which the Miami game appears to be.
I believe the Zips will win. As I wrote in my column, they will play their most complete game of the year thanks to the bye week, the motivation of John Mackey's return and anger from the loss to Temple. Bryan Williams will rush for close to 150 yards and Akron's quarterback will connect with Jabari Arthur at a frightening pace. The defense will hold James Starks to fewer than 100 yards.
Prediction -- Akron 31, Buffalo 17
One-half of the job in Buffalo is complete.
Akron beat the Bulls 1-0 to take the lead in the MAC.
Steve Zakuani scored the deciding goal Friday night to give the Zips the conference lead.
The win will give the Zips the tiebreaker, which should make a big difference for the conference championship.
The theme -- Buffalo specializes in causing negative plays. If the Bulls sniff out the direction of the play, it's probably not going anywhere. The Bulls have 50 tackles for loss in their seven games. Scoring wise, they have been pretty erratic. They allowed 49 to Ball State but only 10 to Ohio and seven to Temple.
Key players -- Kareem Byrom was an Preseason All-MAC cornerback, but hasn't done much this season. Although he's second on the team with 56 tackles, Byrom has only broken up one pass and has no interceptions. The real thunder in the defense comes from linebacker Larry Hutchinson, who is third in the conference with 10 tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Trevor Scott frequently penetrates the line, as well. He has 9.5 tackles for loss.
How Akron can score -- Like Temple, Buffalo's defense doesn't have a particular strength or weakness. I really think the Zips need to throw downfield more, like against Western Michigan. So what if Chris Jacquemain throws a few picks? What is really the difference between an interception 30 yards down the field and a 35-yard punt? Bryan Williams, as always, needs to play his best to suck in the defensive backs.
The theme -- I've said Buffalo is one of the most consistent teams in the whacky MAC, mainly because the Bulls haven't lost to any teams they should have beaten. Credit a consistent offense. The Bulls protect the ball and win the field position game.
Key players -- Drew Willy has been one of the most surprising quarterbacks in the conference. He doesn't throw many touchdowns or interceptions, mainly because he's an accurate passer and Turner Gill keeps the ball on the ground in the redzone. That's where James Starks comes in. He's my favorite for All-MAC at this point in the season, considering what he's meant to the division-leading Bulls. Willy has two favorite targets in converted quarterback Naaman Roosevelt and Ernest Jackson. The offensive line has done a decent job in pass protection, too.
How Akron can stop them -- As I wrote in my column today, Akron has to make Buffalo win through the air. Stack the box, stuff the run, win.
Akron lost in second overtime against Michigan Wednesday night on a goal that broke Evan Bush's stint of more than 100 minutes without allowing a goal.
The Zips outshot the Wolverines 9-6, but UM's Jake Stacy kicked the only ball that mattered.
The Zips will play at conference leader Buffalo on Friday in a game that probably will determine the MAC regular season champion.
The PD's Elton Alexander writes today that Akron will be in control of the MAC East with a win over Buffalo, to whom the Zips have not lost since 1999.
The ABJ's David Lee Morgan wrote an interesting story about how the coaches grade players.
John Mackey is listed as backup to Wayne Cobham at rover in the updated depth chart.
I don't think he'll play. Jared Cecchetti was on the depth chart for two weeks (if I remember correctly) before he got serious playing time. And he never tore his ACL.
Still, this is an emotional boost -- even to me as a huge Mackey fan. I already feel more confident about the Zips' hopes against Buffalo just by seeing him on that PDF.
John Mackey might set an American football record for quickest return to the field after an ACL tear.
It was just three weeks ago when the Zips' defensive captain went down with the injury against Kent State. Today, J.D. Brookhart said Mackey participated in 20 plays and individual work.
Brookhart said it's not certain that he will be able to play at all, but the team will determine that in the next week. How incredible would his return be?
Other tidbits from Brookhart's weekly press conference:
The team doesn't want to tear off redshirts at this point in the season. That probably includes Matt Rodgers, whom I have heard will not play this season.
The coaches have been very careful to choose the proper regiment during the bye week. They realize the team will play three games in 12 days.
Brookhart is very high on Buffalo running back James Starks, and the Zips' gameplan will focus on limiting him.
A three-game lead is not insurmountable. Ask the Indians.
Still, it's nice to see Zippy overcome a large lead by Monte to stay undefeated at 6-0. Eight mascots are tied at 3-3.
Vote here for Zippy against Cocky from South Carolina. It's dead even as of 12:52 p.m. Monday.
(It's pretty absurd that this is my only Zips news of the day.)
The MAC scoreboard shows a few surprises...
First, Central Michigan gave up 70 points to Clemson. The Chips' disparity between effort in conference and nonconference games is incredible. The Tigers gained 656 yards (about 1/3 mile) of offense in their 70-14 win.
Temple helped out the Zips by knocking off Miami in Philly, 24-17. Unfortunately for the Owls, Adam DiMichele left the game on a stretcher after fracturing his shin bone. That leaves Buffalo alone in the driver's seat in the MAC East.
Bowling Green waltzed into Dix Stadium and further buried Kent State with a 31-20 win.
Toledo beat Ohio 43-30 on a last-second field goal.
I'll give my MAC rankings tomorrow. Will the mighty Bulls surpass our beloved Zips???
Seems pretty odd that you can come within an eyelash of winning the MAC Championship, lose two of eight rotation players and somehow show up at Media Day to hear you're going to finish in the bottom half of the division.
It's all moot. You know what will happen this season. Miami, Ohio, Kent State and Akron will all beat each other on their own home courts. They will meet in Cleveland as the 1, 3, 4 and 5 seeds. Whoever plays defense and makes free throws will go to the NCAA Tournament.
The voting was pretty close, with Kent getting the preseason nod, followed by Miami, Ohio and Akron. Each received at least five first-place votes. Western Michigan, led by point guard David Kool, was the MAC West's overwhelming favorite.
In the next few weeks, I plan to break down the MAC teams. I just have to find the time...
J.D. Brookhart should take his running back along on recruiting trips in Northeast Ohio.
Bryan Williams loves being home after a two-year stint at Valley Forge Military College. Vincent Dorsey wrote a fine feature about the junior's collegiate career.
Just try to cook up a worse nightmare for Zips football than this: Lose to Temple Saturday, find out your new stadium is delayed Monday.
The university still believes (publicly, at least) that InfoCision Stadium will be open for the 2009 season.
Talking to people in the know, it's would not be a complete surprise if the opening year gets bumped back to 2010. For now, though, 2009 is looking good.
More inside information: One of the outspoken property owners in that area is becoming more receptive to a buyout. As what often occurs in eminent domain procedings, everyone calls their lawyer and gets excited to fight at first. Then, one by one, dissenters start to fall off. I predict Ted Curtis and Co. won't have too much difficulty gathering the remaining parcels.
After tying Northern Illinois 1-1 on Saturday, Akron trails Buffalo for the MAC lead.
NIU's excellent student newspaper, the Northern Star, says the Huskies kept close with the Zips thanks to solid defense.
The Zips will travel to Buffalo on Oct. 26 in a battle for the regular season conference crown. As the team found last season, however, it's the postseason tournament that gets you a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
J.D. Brookhart is taking a decent licking from fans over last night's debacle.
Although the Indians redeemed Northeast Ohio, I'm still not in a great sports mood.
Whatever. Here are my grades...
Quarterback -- The stats weren't horrible. Chris Jacquemain threw two picks and two touchdowns with a total of 145 yards. That's no reason to run him out of town. But does anyone else get the feeling that you won't beat many good defenses with Jacquemain as the starter? We have two weeks before the next game. If Jacquemain is the starter, I'll be disappointed. Grade: D+
Running back -- Bryan Williams had another big day with 114 yards. No complaints here, for sure. Grade: B+
Wide receiver -- You've gotta love how Alphonso Owen is becoming a bigger part of Akron's offense. He caught three passes for 41 yards, including a touchdown. His Majesty Jabari Arthur caught six for 84 with a touchdown, which made him the school's all-time receiving leader. Grade: A
Tight end -- Merce Poindexter caught two passes for 16 yards. I have given up on this position ever contributing in Joe Moorhead's offense. Grade: C-
Offensive line -- Big rushing day + no sacks = excellent grade for the line. Williams still couldn't run much up the middle, but the team had bigger issues. Grade: A-
Kicker -- I'm buying an Igor Iveljic jersey. Two-for-two on field goals, including one from 46 yards. Grade: A
Punter -- John Stec averaged 30.8 yards on his six punts. That is awful. This is another position that needs close evaluation during the bye week. His average is 94th in the nation. Can we give Andy Hildreth one game to see if he's worse? Grade: D-
Defensive line -- The line had a great game. Individually, the stats were the best they've been all year. Almondo Sewell led the team with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Jared Cecchetti had his "I'm back" game, logging six tackles, including one for loss. Nate Robinson made five tackles, two for loss. If there was an ounce more depth, I would be picketing outside the football offices to abandon the 3-3-5. At this point, though, they can't go two-deep with a 4-3. Grade: B+
Linebackers -- Somehow, Wayne Cobham made only three tackles. Against Adam DiMichele, wouldn't it be prudent to assign Cobham as a spy? Brion Stokes and Kevin Grant played well. Doug Williams continues to be a non-factor. Grade: D+
Secondary -- Reggie Corner intercepted two DiMichele passes. Davanzo Tate broke up two. But when the Owls went to the no-huddle offense, the team couldn't keep up. In this case, take your hat off to DiMichele, who is the best passer Akron has faced this season. Grade: B-
Coaching -- Moorhead needs to take more chances with play calling. If he does a better job in the Zips' last drive, Akron moves the chains and wins. The defense was once again ill-equipped to defend a mobile quarterback. DiMichele ran for 62 yards, including a scamper of 34. How much longer must this be a theme??? I think fans are too hard on Brookhart. At this point, his job should not be in jeopardy. I have faith we will see some much-needed adjustments after the bye week. Grade: D
How does a team dominate for three quarters, then slumber in the fourth?
J.D. Brookhart preached avoiding a letdown after the Miracle in Kalamazoo. Yet that's exactly what his team did.
Temple won 24-20, despite the Zips holding a 20-3 lead after three quarters. Owls quarterback Adam DiMichele eerily looked like Charlie Frye in his elusive scrambling, throwing on the run and propensity to drive his team down the field.
The Zips knew Temple was going to pass, and they still couldn't stop it.
Reggie Corner did his part with two interceptions. Bryan Williams solidified his spot with 114 rushing yards. But when the team needed it most, Akron couldn't convert a third down or stop DiMichele's march east at the Rubber Bowl.
Chris Jacquemain played an average game at best. He was 12-for-21 for 145 yards, including two touchdowns and two interceptions. I've said it before. I'll say it again: He's not the best quarterback on Akron's roster. He might not even be the second best.
Still, it was the defense that blew the game in the end. Going into a bye week, Jim Fleming has to discover what changed between Week 2 vs. Ohio State and Week 7's loss vs. Temple. The subtraction of John Mackey doesn't cut it. The pass defense in particular lacks the swagger that carried the team the first few games of the season.
Here's my hypothesis: The 3-3-5 just doesn't work in college football today. High schools are pumping out mobile quarterbacks at alarming rates. Akron has one itself (although he's not the starter somehow). You are bound to face a scrambler at least six times a season. The 3-3-5 provides more opportunities for scrambling, and teams take advantage of that.
Regardless, this is exactly the type of loss that Western Michigan suffered last week. They played an inferior team and lost. That happens very frequently in the MAC, where talent levels are close. Akron can work its way back into the division with a win in two weeks at Buffalo, but not the way the team played tonight.
While coaching pushed Akron ahead last week, it was the sword that speared the Zips tonight.
The theme -- The Owls play a 4-3 defense with dual personalities. There's the one that kept Navy, UConn and Northern Illinois to respectable totals. Notice also the one that Bowling Green, Buffalo and Army abused for a total of 127 points. The team's stats are pretty skewed. Temple leads the MAC by giving up only 188.1 passing yards per game, but the Owls have played mostly running teams (UConn, Buffalo, Army, NIU, Navy). That said, the Owls' so-so stats against the run are better than they look. Temple particularly digs in its heels on third down, with opponents moving the chains only 35.1 percent of the time. This is a young team. I mean really young. Three juniors start, the rest are freshmen and sophomores.
Key players -- Defensive tackle Terrence Knighton seems to make the biggest plays. He has recovered three fumbles, including one he returned for a touchdown last week to defeat NIU. Defensive back Dominique Harris leads the team with 49 tackles.
How Akron can score -- The Owls will be pretty good in a few years. For now, Akron should be able to impose its will and play its own game, regardless of the Owl defense's strengths or weaknesses.
As a punt returner, Andre Jones earned second-team All-American status at midseason, according to Sports Illustrated.
Jones is third in the nation in return average at 20.4 yards a pop.
Eddie Royal of Virginia Tech is the first-teamer, having returned two punts for touchdowns, including an 82-yarder against Clemson. Jones and Royal are third and fourth, respectively, in return average in the nation. Certainly, the Miracle return played a part in the award, despite it not being classified as an actual return, because Alphonso Owen caught the ball.
The theme -- By putting up 35 points against Bowling Green, Temple showed it has an offense that at least can score on bad MAC defenses. Although Akron doesn't have one of those bad MAC defenses, this game all-the-sudden looks more competitive than it did two months ago. Quarterback Adam DiMichele might be one of the more talented passers in the league, considering what he has to work with. The running game is nothing to boast about, being No. 106 in the nation. Teams have sacked DiMichele 19 times, which is 105th in the nation. It's safe to say this offensive line, which includes two freshmen and a sophomore, is struggling to get to speed.
Key players -- QB DiMichele, WR Bruce Francis
How Akron can stop them -- This is a game where the Zips can get pretty creative with blitzing schemes. Send a cornerback here, a safety there. The lack of a decent running game should allow Akron to drop the rover into coverage the entire game. But put as many players as possible in the box and let the quarterback and inexperienced line figure it out. Although the secondary self-destructed against Western Michigan, it should be re-energized for the Homecoming matchup.
Click here to watch this spectacular play. It's even more amazing than I envisioned it.
Word has it, ESPN named the Miracle in Kalamazoo its No. 1 play for today.
J.D. Brookhart demands that his players "finish the play." Without Andre Walker and Evan Laube doing that, it's quite possible Andre Jones would have been dead meat around the 5-yard line.
Speaking of God's gift to Akron football, he had his weekly press conference today.
I haven't seen a lick of last night's game, not even the game-winning play. If anyone has a link to it, I'd appreciate it.
That said, here are my grades.
Quarterback -- I haven't been Chris Jacquemain's biggest fan. You can't complain too much about his performance last night, though. His stats were Dan LeFevour-ish (389 yards, four TDs), but the inexperience is still evident with his three turnovers. The way he played, it's a lot more palatable to keep the redshirt on Matt Rodgers' back. Grade: A-
Running back -- The Zips might have an elite rusher in Bryan Williams. The only downside is that the Zips didn't get him with a full four years of eligibility. How amazing will this backfield be next season when Andrew Johnson joins him next season? You're talking about A TON of speed. Williams gained a total of 140 yards last night, receiving and rushing combined. Grade: A
Wide receiver -- A heavenly choir sung when Alphonso Owen caught the 44-yard pass late in the fourth quarter. Hallelujah! A guy not named Jabari Arthur made a play!!! Hopefully that catch gave Owen confidence and opened Jacquemain's eyes to the other receivers. Oh yeah, and Arthur caught 15 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns. Sorry Brian Robiskie, Arthur is the best wide receiver in Ohio. Grade: A+
Tight end -- Another ho-hum game with one reception to Merce Poindexter. Give them some credit for blocking on Williams' rushing to the outside. Grade: C
Offensive line -- The Broncos have a pretty bad defense, but the Zips still prevented sacks and allowed the running backs to scamper freely. As Joe Dunn pointed out on the radio, these guys are young, too. Grade: B+
Kicker -- Igor Iveljic showed off his leg strength by booting a 51-yard field goal through the uprights. Although he missed a mid-range attempt, he drilled all four extra points. Once he won the competition over Matt Domonkos, he really settled down. A good long-ball kicker is an incredible asset against MAC teams. Grade: B+
Punter -- John Stec's season of inconsistency took an upswing. He drilled two punts for a total of 98 yards. Hopefully Stec will settle down like Iveljic. Grade: B+
Defensive line -- Not watching this game on TV, it's hard to say whether the line held its own. The Zips did a fine job in holding Mark Bonds to 3.2 yards per carry, but Brandon West averaged 5.9. Here's an important stat: Akron's linemen only made one tackle for loss all game. That was Almondo Sewell, who made eight tackles. Grade: C
Linebacker -- Steve French belabored the missed tackles. Still, Brion Stokes had two sacks and Wayne Cobham made 14 tackles out of the rover position. Grade: C-
Secondary -- WMU has an outstanding receiver-tight end combination in Jamarco Simmons and Branden Ledbetter. No one could keep up with Simmons -- another NFL talent. He caught 10 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Tim Hiller played a terrific game from the sounds of it. When you have to defend against a turbo-accurate quarterback and stud receiver, it's all about damage control. Regardless, the Broncos had their way with Akron's secondary. Grade: D-
Coaching -- J.D. Brookhart is making a great case for MAC Coach of the Year. His players do not give up. Considering he's coaching at a school that typically does not attract recruits who are super-talented and disciplined, that's a real feat. He took over special teams, and special teams has won two games for Akron this year (KSU, too). Joe Moorhead deserves credit for opening the playbook a little. Using Dennis Kennedy as a receiver out of the backfield looks to be a great niche for him. I also commend them for discontinuing the relief quarterback strategy in the second quarter. Give your passer confidence to take some chances and don't hang a possible substitution over his head. I'm saying this as someone who actually thinks Carlton Jackson is the better player. Just don't juggle the two.
J.D. Brookhart outcoached another victim.
Alphonso Owen lateralled a free kick return to Andre Jones that turned a certain 38-33 Western Michigan win into a 39-38 three-fingered shocker for Akron.
Thanks to a key block from Andre Walker, Jones completed a 89-yard return to end the game in the Zips' favor.
"I'm just so happy for the team," Brookhart said. "All I could think of was the Cal-Stanford game." (The band is on the field! The band is on the field!)
With 20 seconds remaining and a seven-point lead, the Broncos decided to run through their own end zone, taking a safety and free kick, rather than punting back to the Zips' offense, which had a boatload of momentum.
Brookhart dusted off another trick play that somehow got Jones wide open for a lateral and a free path to paydirt.
Frank Stams, the Zips announcer with an extensive football pedigree, said it was the best finish he has ever seen to a football game. He and Steve French turned the announcer's booth into a living room, shouting like madmen once Jones busted free. Who can blame them? Bill Morgan coined it the "Miracle in Kalamazoo." I will second that, conditioned upon a quick check that the nickname does not currently exist.
I was personally writing the Zips' obituary when the play occurred. In my notes, I wrote that WMU was stupid for taking the safety and introducing the possibility of losing in regulation.
Of course, the game never would have been close without career games from Chris Jacquemain and Jabari Arthur. Bryan Williams also picked up large chunks of yards in important situations.
Unfortunately, the game does not count for the division title. But almost undoubtedly, there will be a tie atop the MAC East standings at the end of the season, and a team's record in crossover games serves as the tiebreaker to see who goes to Detroit.
The theme -- Western Michgan has the fifth-worst run defense in the nation, allowing 245.8 rushing yards per game. Statistically, the pass defense looks good (40th nationally), but opponents have only averaged 25 pass attempts per game.
To be fair, the Broncos played West Virginia, who could probably run against the New England Patriots. WVU's Pat White, Steve Slaton & Co. ran for 316 yards, and the starters didn't even play a good chunk of the 62-24 blowout. Missouri and Indiana also are top-30 run offenses, and they, too, left WMU in the dust. Although the Broncos beat Toledo, the Rockets' running game is among the best in the MAC. So perhaps this is just one of the many statisitical anomalies that persists in nonconference college football. But maybe not, since Central Connecticut nearly ran for 200 yards, as well.
Key players -- Londen Fryar probably is the MAC's best cornerback. He makes game-changing plays. Defensive end Zach Davidson and linebacker Boston McCornell have combined for 10.5 tackles for loss. Those three players have been the only playmakers this season.
How Akron can score -- I would avoid throwing to whomever Fryar is covering. But you can forget that idea, because Akron has only one receiver. The real way to keep up with WMU's high-scoring offense is to keep them off the field. Bryan Williams needs to keep the chains moving. If the receivers are covered, Chris Jacquemain must get three or four yards wherever possible. I say "Jacquemain" because he is slated to start, but I don't expect him to play most of the game.
The theme -- The Broncos offense reminds me a lot of the San Diego Chargers, circa 2006. They have two strong tailbacks, a good quarterback, an outstanding tight end and a solid offensive line. WMU is capable of a multi-faceted attack and can put up huge numbers if it keeps turnovers down. So far that hasn't quite been the case, coughing up the ball 14 times in five games. Despite the talent at running back, WMU has passed more than I would've thought this season.
Key players -- Mark Bonds is an excellent tailback. The Broncos lose little when they substitute Brandon West. Branden Ledbetter, a 6-foot-5 tight end, is dangerous in the redzone. Stud center Robbie Krutilla leads an experienced offensive line. Quarterback Tim Hiller, who sat out last season with a knee injury, has come back strong, but the Zips will be relieved to learn they don't have to worry about any semblance of a mobile quarterback for once. His favorite target has been 6-2 receiver Jamarko Simmons.
How Akron can stop them -- Blitzing Hiller should be a priority, given his lack of mobility and propensity to throw interceptions. Other than that, WMU has too many weapons to focus on one aspect. The linebackers will need to regroup from a demoralizing second half at UConn. I hate to be a skeptic, but this offense is much more potent than the Huskies', so without the kind of effort Akron showed at Ohio State, this could get ugly in a hurry.
I interrupt this football-only blog to mention Jeremiah Wood made the Preseason All-MAC Team, as voted by the media and coaches.
(My ballot must've been lost in the mail.)
The rest of the MAC East team consists of Mike Scott (Kent State), Tim Pollitz (Miami) and Leon Williams and Jerome Tillman (Ohio).
Chris Jacquemain is now the starting quarterback, according to the updated depth chart.
J.D. Brookhart benched Carlton Jackson against UConn for skipping a morning's worth of meetings and treatments for his ankle on Tuesday, a source tells me.
Either the coach decided to extend that punishment, or he liked what he saw out of Jacquemain. My guess is probably the latter, given Jacquemain's decent stats against a staunch defense.
Westerrn Michigan, Saturday's opponent, is pretty good at pass defense, allowing opponents fewer than 200 yards per game through the air. The real weakness to exploit is the Broncos' run defense, which is 115th in the nation.
Check out what J.D. Brookhart had to say in his weekly press conference.
I wish I could attend each week, but class comes first.
Somehow, no one asked him about Carlton Jackson (or any stuff I actually wanted to know). Or maybe GoZips.com left it out of the transcript.