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Thoughts on this week's trouncing

By mrasor Published: October 31, 2010

Football
After the first nine Saturdays of the season, Zips fans would seriously struggle to say they are proud of anything that has happened on the field.
An optimist would say Akron hung with Temple, being down only 6-0 at halftime. Then, as most of us figured would happen, the Owls accelerated.
I think Rob Ianello's assessment of the second half was a fair one:

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Zips lose another, at Temple by 30

By mrasor Published: October 31, 2010

Football
I will have notes from the Akron-Temple game later this afternoon.
Men's soccer
I'm sure Michael Beaven will also soon have something about the Zips' stunning 2-1 loss at Cleveland State.

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Media picks Zips sixth in MAC East

By mrasor Published: October 29, 2010

Men's basketball
The liberal media is at it again!
(Sorry, I'm in campaign mode.)
But in reality, why won't the MAC media give Keith Dambrot's boys any credit? The Zips are predicted to finish third in the division, behind Ohio and Kent State.
Akron will kick off the preseason Thursday at 7 p.m. against John Carroll. I will have a season preview of sorts sometime next week.
Miscellaneous
I found out this morning I passed the Ohio bar exam, so that's a positive.
I'm working in downtown Cleveland at a law firm called Cavitch Familo & Durkin. We specialize in helping out owners of small and mid-sized businesses.
If you are thinking about law school, below is a funny (and unfortunately, mostly true) YouTube clip:

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Akron vs. Temple - Preview

By mrasor Published: October 28, 2010

Football
This is the first season I haven't actively followed recruiting. For instance, I can't tell you, without looking it up, whether Akron's recruiting class is racking up its fair amount of "stars" on Rivals.com.
It's because I've become jaded. Honestly, if you told me we just reeled in a four-star running back, I'd yawn. I've been hearing about stud athletes coming to campus since I came to campus.
When you're winning, it is justifiable to get excited about a high school player, because that person can be a piece of the puzzle. When you're this bad, it takes a lot more than finding a David Harvey or Nate Robinson to make a difference.
So my point is, I want to see Rob Ianello's staff coach this team up in the next few weeks. Fans will not be patient for Ianello's own recruits to come to maturity. They want improvement.
I believe Ianello learned this lesson at Notre Dame when the roster most years had top-10 talent but probably wouldn't have won the MAC. Talent wasn't enough there. If the "master plan" is solely to load this roster with BCS-level talent, I don't buy it. Talent won't be enough here.
I take Buffalo as a great example. They couldn't recruit liberals to an Obama rally. But Turner Gill built the program through solid, hard-working kids. He was a fantastic coach who milked the most cognizance and effort out of every single player.
That leads me to this week's opponent, Temple. Not only does Al Golden get the most out of his guys, but he's also getting guys with the most talent in the first place. It's a scary combination to face for the Zips, who appear to be low on talent and effort.
But things can get better and fast. Football is weird that way. It wasn't too long ago that you looked for Temple on the schedule, because it's a winnable game. Now look at the Owls.
For those of you who want to live vicariously through another fan, here is how Dave Gerson, the blogger at The Owl's Nest, sees his football prosperity.

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Akron football snags commitment from Firestone's Cody Grice

By Michael Beaven Published: October 28, 2010

Firestone High School senior running back Cody Grice gave an oral commitment to play football on scholarship at the University of Akron.
Grice, 6-foot and 240 pounds, said he plans to major in sports medicine at UA.
“I basically noticed that there are not many Akron kids on the Akron roster, and I want to help change that,” Grice said. “I want to contribute to Akron.”
Grice has rushed for 1,194 rushing yards on 153 carries and scored 14 touchdowns for Firestone this season. Firestone (6-3, 5-0) and Buchtel (6-3, 5-0) play Friday night at 7 p.m. in the City Series Championship game on UA’s campus at InfoCision Stadium.
“I think he liked the new staff and that they offered him last spring,” Firestone coach Tim Flossie said. “They showed their interest right away. It is an opportunity to play right away and kids are looking for. I also think the way Akron has fixed up the campus impressed Cody. They really have good academic programs, sports teams and facilities.”
The Zips are currently 0-8 this season under first-year coach Rob Ianello, but Grice is confident the team will improve soon.
“My pops and I are not really worried about them not doing too good this year because we already know it is going to take a couple of years before Ianello’s recruiting classes come in and make an impact,” Grice said. “I think I can come in and contribute to their success.”
Flossie said Grice and senior offensive lineman Tommy Brown, an Ohio State recruit, are two main reasons the Falcons are playing the Griffins for a City Series title.
“The big thing with Cody is his leadership,” Flossie said. “He and Tommy Brown have both been good leaders and captains.”
Grice said he plans to graduate from Firestone in January and then attend UA.
“They recruited me as a full back, but I have a chance to be the starting tailback,” Grice said. “I visited Akron and I have been to three games this year.
“I have been to some Big East schools and Akron’s facilities are better than there’s. I have been living in Akron all my life. I have seen the school evolve from just being mediocre to a high class school.”

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LIVE -- No. 1 Akron defeats No. 9 Creighton 1-0

By Michael Beaven Published: October 27, 2010

Please keep refreshing for updates
The No. 1 University of Akron men's soccer team vs. No. 9 Creighton, Wednesday night at Lee R. Jackson Field.
The Zips enter the match with an 13-0-1 overall record and the Bluejays come into play with at 11-2-0.
AKRON 1-0
Junior forward Darlington Nagbe scored a goal in the 63rd minute to give Akron a 1-0 lead. Senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong recorded the assist.
Kofi Sarkodie injured and out
UA junior defender Kofi Sarkodie leaves the match with seven minutes remaining in the first half with a hyperextended left knee. Sarkodie will not return.
UA Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: Sophomore David Meves.
Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie, sophomore Zarek Valentin and sophomore Chad Barson.
Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
Freshman Reinaldo Brenes, junior Michael Balogun and sophomore Ben Speas enter the Zips lineup as reserves.

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Caleb Porter talks University of Akron soccer

By Michael Beaven Published: October 27, 2010

Akron loses by 46 at home

By mrasor Published: October 24, 2010

Football
InfoCision Stadium is really a house of shame.
"We must protect this house" has become a battle cry for some football teams. Not at Akron. "We must lay down and play dead for 60 minutes, until the opponent loses interest and takes the bus home" is more like it.
If Rob Ianello wants to build a winning program, the pride of playing in front of the home crowd must be first on the list of things to improve. The Zips defenders might as well have done a dizzy-bat contest before each play. The looked confused, lost and abused -- particularly the secondary -- in Akron's 56-10 loss to Western Michigan.
The play that epitomizes the season was a TAINT (touchdown after INT) thrown by Patrick Nicely, who was trying to throw the ball away and avoid a safety. I think more Akron fans laughed than booed. After a hearty chuckle myself, I leaned over to my friend and told him, "This is what rock bottom feels like."
After a game like that, Akron deserves nothing less than the status as the worst team in college football. I still maintain that the Zips' talent is at least mediocre for the MAC. But if the secondary plays with that sort of mental incompetence, the quarterback throws more TAINTs than touchdowns, and the team in general looks like it has quit, you've got a great case for all-time futility.
Below is Ianello's press conference. He keeps his composure publicly, but I assure you that in the lockerroom, he was hollering and saying some of the foulest words known to man. And this team deserves it.
This really is rock bottom. You don't get any worse than a 46-point loss at home to a fellow MAC team, especially the manner in which the game progressed. WMU's receivers inexplicably had 10-yard diameters without a defender. They averaged 21.2 yards per completion. I wish I had more time to research if that's the best in the nation all season.
Despite all this, Ianello must not be fired. Maybe some tweaking on the staff is required. From a policy perspective, I would never support the state (through the university) paying a coach four years of six-figure salary NOT to coach.
Akron's season of dreams continues Saturday at 1 p.m. against Temple, which is a team that, if running at its peak, might put up 600 yards and 70 points on the Zips. That is a great reason to tune in. Go Zips!

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Akron vs. Western Michigan -- Preview

By mrasor Published: October 21, 2010

Football
In journalism, we try to come up with original things to say.
Repeating how bad the team has played is not really an option for those who cherish their jobs. I have always pitied Sheldon Ocker, who is forced to choke out game stores on the Indians after the All-Star Break.
It's also a lame approach to simply use clever words to say the same thing (that Akron sucks). But since cyberspace affords unlimited keystrokes, I'll toss out some one-liners.
Akron is so bad that:
-- Team parents are wearing paper bags over their heads.
-- The Zips don't know a pass from a hole in the ground.
-- InfoCision Stadium was voted the "Beacon's Best" library to visit on fall Saturday afternoons.
Now that we've finished with that unsavory business, we can talk about the Western Michigan game.
Tom Gaffney, whom I respect, does not make flippant conclusions. He argues that Akron should start Matt Rodgers at quarterback.
I think the more prudent course is to give Rodgers more and more playing time. Patrick Nicely earned the job in camp, and he's been hunted down without protection nor receivers all season. If Rodgers' style is better under such dire circumstances, then let's phase him in. No need to ruin a sophomore's confidence in an 0-7 season, or what's left of it.
On the other sideline you have another sophomore quarterback, Alex Carder, who is second in the conference in passing yards. But he has two senior receivers in Juan Nunez and Jordan White who are in the top five in the conference in receptions per game.
Since we are discussing journalism a little, let me direct you to one of the MAC's best beat writers. Reading articles by Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette is one advantage of playing WMU. On Wednesday, he wrote about Broncos coach Bill Cubit's two years as a running backs coach at Akron under Gerry Faust.
Couch also addressed the Shockeroo at Kalamazoo (or whatever dumb nickname I tried to coin it). For those who don't remember that game in 2007, watch the video below...

But back to the game ... Aside from the passing advantage and a couple of playmakers on defense, Western Michigan is only average. Probably a little better than Kent State and a little worse than Ohio. The Broncos are 2-4 and are coming off a trip to Notre Dame. (Think they'll notice the difference between our place and the Irish's?)
Oddsmakers favor WMU by 7.5. I think it's a winnable game (but I've been wrong a lot this season).
[poll id="138"]

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LIVE -- No. 1 Akron defeats visiting Michigan 7-1

By Michael Beaven Published: October 19, 2010

Please keep refreshing for updates
The No. 1 University of Akron men's soccer team defeated the University of Michigan 7-1 Tuesday night at Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field.
UA has a 12-0-1 overall record and UM is 8-4-3.
AKRON 1-0
Junior Kofi Sarkodie scores a goal in the 10th minute to give the Zips a 1-0 lead.
AKRON 2-0
Sarkodie scores his second goal of the game in the 18th minute to extend the Zips advantage 2-0.
AKRON 2-1
Freshman forward Soony Saad scores a goal in the 32nd minute to cut the Wolverines deficit to 2-1.
AKRON 3-1
The Zips responds quicky when junior forward Darlington Nagbe scores a goal in the 35th minute. UA leads 3-1.
AKRON 4-1
Freshman Darren Mattocks nets a goal in the 55th minute to give the Zips a 4-1 lead
AKRON 5-1
Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong scores a goal in the 77th minute to make the score 5-1.
AKRON 6-1
Sarkodie has a hat trick. He scored his third goal of the night in the 80th minute.
AKRON 7-1
Sophomore forward Thomas Schmitt scores a goal in the 88th minute.
*
UA Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: Sophomore David Meves.
Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie, sophomore Zarek Valentin and sophomore Chad Barson.
Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
Freshman Reinaldo Brenes enters the game as a sub. Sophomores Ben Speas and Thomas Schmitt also entered the match as a reserve with freshmen Eric Stevenson and Martin Ontiveros and junior Michael Balogun.

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Zips fall to 0-7 with loss at Ohio

By mrasor Published: October 17, 2010

Football
Coach Rob Ianello said "any and all positions are up for grabs."
That's how badly Akron played Saturday in a 38-10 loss at Ohio.
Ianello said he hoped the overall lack of effort was not a "hangover" from the Kent State game. I wouldn't say it was a hangover from the rivalry loss, but rather from the realization of a larger failure. The team has talked about a MAC Championship for eight months. The Kent State game told them they would not reach their ultimate goal.
Ohio has more talent than Akron, but not 28 points worth. The Bobcats averaged almost twice the rushing yards per attempt. Unless it's MAC vs. Big Ten or FCS vs. FBS, that statistic is rare. It shows the effort differential in the trenches on both sides of the ball. If you take away a 43-yard Patrick Nicely scramble, the Zips netted just 29 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
When things get this bad, Ianello can expect the die-hard fans will take extreme positions. Athletic director Tom Wistrcill and President Luis Proenza will also catch some shrapnel.
Fans who spend their money on this product are rightfully mad. There is nothing harder to watch than a football team that is overmatched by even mediocre teams and isn't showing strides forward.
But fans should also be realistic. Hiring a college football coach is a big commitment -- one that must last at least five seasons. Every coach should have the opportunity to lead a roster full of his own recruits -- particularly a coach whose strength is recruiting.
It's no fun defending a coach who has not won a game, nor showed any signs he is more effective than his predecessor. But why belabor the obvious?
Akron won't be firing Ianello in the next three years. Being the most negative fanbase won't score any points with recruits and their parents who read ZipsNation.org.
And think of it this way: Would you trade Akron's program for any other in the long-term? I'm saying, would you swap positions with a fan from Ohio? Kent State? Northern Illinois? Temple?
The facilities Akron has will give the program a long-term advantage that will survive any given coaching defection, star player graduation or disappointing season.
The Zips' long season continues next week at home against Western Michigan.
I will be fascinated to see if Ianello follows up on his vow to reassess every position. Will that mean Matt Rodgers plays earlier in the game? Does Jalil Carter finally move back to safety?
I will break down the Broncos matchup later this week.

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LIVE -- No. 1 Akron defeats Buffalo 4-0

By Michael Beaven Published: October 16, 2010

Please keep refreshing for updates
The No. 1 University of Akron men's soccer teams defeated the University at Buffalo 4-0 on Saturday night at Lee R. Jackson Soccer Field in a Mid-American Conference match.
UA has an 11-0-1 overall record and a 4-0-0 league mark. UB is 5-7-1 overall and 1-2-0 in the MAC.
AKRON 1-0
Junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff gave the Zips a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute when he scored off of a penalty kick. Nanchoff's shot went into the bottom right of the net past Bulls goalkeeper junior Nick Fetterman.
Freshman forward Darren Mattocks drew the foul in the box.
AKRON 2-0
Mattocks extended the Zips advantage to 2-0 in the 28th minute with a goal. Junior forward Darlington Nagbe assisted on the goal.
AKRON 3-0
Mattocks made the score 3-0 in the 41st minute with a goal off of a corner kick by senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong.
AKRON 4-0
Mattocks scored his third goal of the match to make the score 4-0 in the 63rd minute.
*
UA Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: Sophomore David Meves.
Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie, sophomore Zarek Valentin and sophomore Chad Barson.
Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
Freshmen Reinaldo Brenes, McKauly Tulloch, Eric Stevenson and Martin Ontiveros entered the Zips lineup as reserves along with senior Enrique Paez, juniors Michael Balogun and Matt Dagilis, and sophomores Ben Speas and Thomas Schmitt. Sophomore goalkeeper Anthony Ponikvar also logged minutes.
Tonight is the 100th match for Caleb Porter as UA coach. Porter has compiled a 78-12-9 record during his tenure and was named the 2009 NSCAA National Coach of the Year. Porter has guided the Zips to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish in the 2009 College Cup.
Porter is 22-1-1 against MAC opponents since taking over the UA program in 2006. UA is unbeaten in its past 30 home matches (29-0-1). That is the longest active streak in the NCAA and matches the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. Tusla holds the record, which is 39 and spans from 1988-1992.

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Akron vs. Ohio -- Preview

By mrasor Published: October 14, 2010

Football
Your 0-6 Zips are playing the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday.
Before I talk about the game, let's talk Zips in general.
I told you back in August that this season will test Rob Ianello's leadership skills. He runs an authoritarian regime. And that seems to be much more effective on a ship steaming full speed ahead. Based on my anecdotal evidence, players are quicker to "give up" when the team is getting clobbered and they have to be in bed by 8.
It's Week Seven, and things have gone as badly as possible on the field. Will the Zips keep pushing?
I'm making this point for a very good reason. Every year in the MAC, you can see that some teams quit. It's the Eastern Michigan effect. You're playing for a crappy MAC team ... in front of empty stadiums ... in miserable weather. The negative personalities on the team become loudest and it takes a mountain of character to keep pushing.
The 2010 Zips team will run into at least one of these floundering foes. Maybe Ball State. Maybe Buffalo. So I feel a hard-pushing Akron team can win some games coming down the stretch. And that's something to feel OK about.
I think the disappointing part of the end of last season was not only the current pain of losing, but the knowledge that more losing was on the way.
If the Zips can win three of their last six, this season won't be remembered so much for the loss to Gardner-Webb.
Having said all that, Ohio (3-3, 2-1 MAC) is going to be a tough opponent. The Bobcats are a well-balanced team. Akron must force turnovers to keep it close. I would say that Akron can stack the box because Ohio is more run-oriented, but Northern Illinois assaulted the Zips on that strategy.
Akron can also hope the Frank "The Tank" Solich's team will be looking forward to next week against Miami (3-3, 2-0 MAC). But I think "overlooking an opponent" is just a stupid media cliche to take up copy/airtime.
Solich says he thinks Akron has gotten better each week this year. He's in the enviable position of a coach who is being asked to say something nice about the huge underdog. Joe Paterno has patented it.
But let's test that "getting better every week" theory:
After Syracuse? No. Loss to Gardner-Webb. After Gardner-Webb? No. Although there was nowhere to go but up, it was very ugly. After Kentucky? Yes. Played a good game. After Indiana? No. After Northern Illinois? Yes.
I think the Zips will keep it close this week, but lose for the seventh time.
[poll id="137"]

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UA coach Caleb Porter talks Zips men's soccer

By Michael Beaven Published: October 12, 2010

Roo-Wards program seeks to lure students

By mrasor Published: October 10, 2010

Miscellaneous
The Plain Dealer featured Akron's initiative to increase student attendance. It's worth reading for those who think the university is doing nothing to get students involved.
Football
Akron plays at Ohio on Saturday. The Zips are a 16.5-point underdog. I'll have more on the game later this week.

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Mattocks continues to score goals for Zips

By Michael Beaven Published: October 9, 2010

Freshman Darren Mattocks continued his scoring surge Saturday with a goal to lead No. 1 ranked University of Akron to a 1-0 victory over host Northern Illinois.
‘‘Our No. 1 priority was to get out of DeKalb with a result,’’ UA coach Caleb Porter said. ‘‘We knew it was going to be a tough game. There style is extremely different to play against. The game was in the air a lot more than it was on the ground. That is not the style we want to play.
‘‘If you want to win, you have to deal with it and we dealt with it. It wasn't pretty, but there are games you have to win ugly.’’
Mattocks scored in the 16th minute for the Zips (9-0-1, 3-0-0 MAC) when he left-footed the ball past goalkeeper Jordan Godsey of the Huskies (5-4-2, 0-2-0 MAC). Mattocks, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, has scored a team-leading seven goals this season.
‘‘As a freshman, I knew it was going to be difficult to come in and play, but hard work and dedication make everything possible,’’ Mattocks said. ‘‘That was our most difficult challenge so far because they are so physical. I have to give our guys credit. Our players and coaches stayed focused and got a 1-0 win.’’
Mattocks has five goals in his last five matches.
‘‘He is just a striker,’’ Porter said. ‘‘For him to have seven goals as a freshman in the first 10 games is impressive. Steve Zakuani and Teal Bunbury each had six goals as freshmen for there entire seasons. For him to be at seven is a credit to where he is at. He still has a lot to learn, but he is getting better everyday.’’
The Zips shutout their third consecutive opponent and ninth opponent this season. Senior Chris Korb and junior Kofi Sarkodie played all 90 minutes defensively with sophomores Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
Meves and Ampaipitakwong are day-to-day
For the second match in a row, reserve sophomore goalkeeper Anthony Ponikvar played in a reserve role to sophomore David Meves. Meves left the game after 50 minutes with what Porter called ‘‘a deep muscle contusion.’’
Senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong missed the match due to a concussion suffered in the 5-0 win Wednesday at Oakland (Mich.). Porter said Meves and Ampaipitakwong are day-to-day.
UA plays Wednesday at Penn State at 7 p.m.
In case you missed it, here is the writeup from Wednesday night too.
The undefeated and No. 1 ranked University of Akron Zips (8-0-1) scored on four of their first nine shots against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in the first half for an easy win in front of 1,188 fans at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich.
Freshman striker Darren Mattocks scored the first two goals in the third and 14th minutes. Junior striker Darlington Nagbe assisted on each goal, and sophomore midfielder Ben Speas assisted on the second goal.
''We really talked about starting the game strong,'' UA coach Caleb Porter said. ''I was very pleased with the fact that we got an early goal and then after 15 minutes we were up 2-0.''
The other two goals in the first half came on a header by sophomore defender Chad Barson off a free kick by senior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong in the 23rd minute and an unassisted goal in the 25th minute by junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff, a free kick from 25 yards off that deflected off a Grizzlies' defender.
The final goal came in the 75th minute by freshman striker McKauly Tulloch with an assist from junior Michael Balogun.
UA held an advantage in shots (27-5), shots on goal (13-0) and corner kicks (9-1).
The Zips are 56-0-1 when scoring two or more goals under fifth-year coach Porter.
UA plays at Northern Illinois at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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Akron vs. Kent State - Liveblog

By mrasor Published: October 9, 2010

Football
Keep refreshing your screen for in-game updates...
Just before kickoff, a paraglider of sorts flew across the field at about sixty feet overhead. Not expecting it, I thought the guy was going to plow through the new Dix Stadium scoreboard. The Kent State personnel didn't blink so it must have been part of the Homecoming festivities.
The teams traded three-and-outs to start the game. Akron faced a third-and-long because Kent State stuffed Alex Allen twice for losses. On the next series, Allen hit a hole for 17 yards.
Akron is running the Wildcat offense. With it, Jalil Carter busted for a 34-yard run to the goal line. Obviously, Akron has been practicing that. I watched enough practices in August to see a good deal of Wildcat. I was in a tough position, where the coach asked me not to report it. Now that you've seen the formation, the secret is out.
Allen finished off the drive with a touchdown run. No one touched him.
After that first drive, I thought this would be a low-scoring game. Kent State was getting into the Zips' backfield simultaneously with the handoff. The difference might be running through the tackles, which Akron did on its scoring drive.
Spencer Keith had Dri Archer wide-the-heck open along the left sideline, and Archer dropped it.
Kent State backed Akron up with a beautiful punt to the 2-yard line. After a couple failed running plays, the Zips are wedged up against the goal line. They committed two false starts in a row, and I think they were wise to do so. The ball literally is not moving back because of the penalty. "Half the distance" is de minimus. So Rob Ianello is trying to draw Kent State offsides -- or so it seems.
Nicely threw a TAINT (touchdown after INT). In traditional football terms, Nicely sat in the pocket for about six seconds, not really having an option. He threw an interception to Dan Hartman, who returned it for six points.
More Wildcat from Akron. This time, it's Antoine Russell in the shotgun, who gained eight yards. It shows how much Ianello values a win against the rival that he waited this long to reveal the Wildcat package.
END OF FIRST QUARTER -- Akron 7, Kent 7
This game is going very slowly. I can't stand media timeouts. If I am running a football program, I wouldn't mind if none of the home games are televised. The long breaks take the crowd out of the game, and the fact it's on TV gives fans the option to stay at home to watch it. This game is on SportsTime Ohio.
Shawn Lemon has done a nice job rushing at Keith.
Keith threw a beautiful fade pass to Tyshon Goode as Goode sprinted to the right corner of the endzone. The touchdown gives Kent State its first lead.
It appears to be close to a sellout today. There aren't many open seats that I can see. Kent State set a meager goal of 90,000 fans, and it appears as if they're going to hit it. It definitely helps when the Kent-Akron game is at your place.
Zack Campbell is booming his punts today. From the Zips' 40-yard line, he flew it into the opposite endzone.
Back to the 90KSU campaign ... Maybe Akron can learn a lesson from this. Ianello and Tom Wistrcill have primarily big-college experience. At those schools, you would never set a goal so pathetic as saying, "Let's just satisfy the NCAA minimum requirement." And if you did set such a goal, you'd keep it internal. What Kent State did was broadcast the issue -- literally. If nothing else, it gave the community an idea of how attendance is critical to maintaining Kent State at football's highest level. KSU's athletic director Joel Nielsen is from the University of South Dakota.
Jacquise Terry ripped through the line for a rushing touchdown. That puts KSU up by 14 with two minutes left in the half.
The referee got jumbled up in a Cobrani Mixon tackle, which earned a gasp from the crowd. The ref got up OK.
The Zips just showed off some LSU-esque clock management. At the 30-yard line with one timeout left and 30 seconds on the clock, Allen carries the ball for a minimal gain. Twenty seconds tick off the clock. Nicely gets sacked on the next play and Ianello called timeout. Igor Iveljic made a 41-yard field goal, but the coaches eliminated any opportunity for a touchdown with the running play. I think most people would agree that Ianello has been too conservative at times this season.
HALFTIME -- Akron 10, Kent State 21
I can't remember ever liveblogging a football game. The reason is, if I'm going to be at a game, I want to tailgate. That's the best part about football in this part of Ohio. You can't count on winning, or even being competitive, but it's bearable with some delicious meats and beverages. I'm liveblogging this game because I was in Cleveland today.
Josh Cribbs is tweeting about the game. A lot of people think Twitter is silly, but it is probably the most useful thing I have on my phone. I can get my all of my news in one convenient place. You should try it. And follow me.
As a writer, I also enjoy this rivalry. It spikes my readership through the fan-to-fan debate. As you can tell, I do my best to throw gas on the flames, too. As much as the fans try to distinguish Kent from Akron, and vice versa, these schools are very similar. Both have historical significance for some reason or another and fields of strength academically. Both have problems (hippies for Kent, crime near campus for Akron). The athletic departments have even more in common -- great basketball teams, below average football teams, and at least one team in a "secondary" sport that is nationally prominent.
Speaking of basketball, Keith Dambrot suspended Brett McKnight for 30 days for breaking team rules.
Today's attendance of 24,221 is the third-highest in Dix Stadium history. The weather is flawless, and that must have helped attract a larger walk-up crowd than anticipated.
The refs called another personal foul for a late hit by Kent State. They have been quite liberal making that call today.
On consecutive plays, Akron was flagged for holding and intentional grounding. The Zips were looking at third-and-37. One of the Kent State pass rushers gave Akron a TARP-like bailout by tugging on Nicely's facemask. First down. If the Zips score here, that penalty will have been harmful for Kent.
The Zips faked a field goal and scored six instead of three. Jeremy LaFrance was the holder. He kept the ball and trudged 10 yards, through the line and into the endzone. Campbell, the punter, is listed as the usual holder. Doug Martin should have been alerted to one of Akron's playmakers taking that role. That facemask penalty could end up changing the outcome of this game.
It's becoming clear that Akron's secondary is really bad. At least three times, a Kent State receiver has been wide open -- no one within spitting distance -- and Keith has thrown to him.
The Zips stopped Kent State on a fourth-and-one try on Akron's 30-yard line. The momentum belongs to the Zips. This will be an important possession, where Akron has a chance to retake the lead. ... The Zips went three-and-out.
END OF THIRD QUARTER - Akron 17, Kent State 21
This is becoming a field-position battle. I get the feeling the game will swing on one big play.
And there it was. Nicely fumbled while scrambling. Kent State has the ball on Akron's 29.
Akron's defense really impressed me by minimizing the damage from the fumble. Kent State went nowhere, and its drive ended with a sack by Lemon, who is having an impactful game. The Zips did still lose some field position, as they'll now start on the 8.
The Zips almost gave the ball away again. It was a gimmick play where the ball was handed off twice and wound up with Nicely. The ball slipped out of his hand as he attempted to throw. A Zip fell on it, but Akron lost 12 yards on the play. Nicely was sacked again on third down, so the Zips will punt it back with 8:20 left.
This is a close game, but I have to admit I'm losing interest because of these long breaks. Rather, I'm reading which candidates the ABJ endorsed. I'm glad to see they picked my buddy Frank LaRose for Ohio Senate.
Kent State has a difficult choice on fourth-and-1. Martin called timeout to think it over. I would punt. You only go for it if the clock is low enough that a conversion means the game's over. Here, you're giving the Zips better field position, and they aren't moving the ball. Also, Akron already stuffed Kent State once. ... Martin's not punting. Kent got the first down, proving me wrong.
Akron forced a punt on the next set of downs. The Zips will start on the 5. With only 4:06 left, this might be a score-or-lose situation.
Nicely fumbled in the endzone. Kent State fell on it. Touchdown Flashes.
Carter returned the kickoff to the 45. Another personal foul on KSU moved Akron to the Flashes' 40.
Nicely threw a lob into the endzone into double coverage, and it was intercepted. Not a good game for Number 7.
Nicely has faced a lot of defensive pressure today, so some of the blame must go on the line. Still, the quarterback neglected to protect the ball.
The good news for you gamblers (in Vegas) is that Akron will probably cover the astronomical spread of 17 points.
They are playing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." That makes two of my most hated teams that play one of my favorite songs by my favorite band (Chicago White Sox is the other team).
Akron will be 0-6. The team looked better in many ways today, but we also were playing a one-win MAC team. Kent State is back in the MAC East race, but the defense did not impress me much. As we thought at the beginning of the season, this division will likely be Temple's to lose.
After a punt, Akron had another chance. And Nicely pitched it right back to them. That's the third interception to go with three fumbles (two lost). He was 16-for-33 with 133 yards. He was sacked seven times. Clearly the worst game of his short career.
After the buzzer sounded, a swarm of Kent State players and fans huddled around the Wagon Wheel. What a vomit-inducing sight.
You're going to hear a lot of people calling for Matt Rodgers to start. Don't join that crowd. Ianello and the staff did not have a tough choice in August. Nicely was far better than Rodgers in camp. It would be short-sighted to make that change and ruin a sophomore's confidence in a season where the team has almost no chance to play in a bowl.
Other stats of note: Akron rushed 35 times for 62 yards, compared to Kent's 75 on 32 carries. Keith was 17-for-34 for 186 yards, with a touchdown and no picks. Sam Kirkland caught five passes for 109 yards. LaFrance led Akron with six catches for 75 yards. Brian Wagner had 11 tackles. Mixon had nine. Kent State committed 13 penalties for 125 yards (Akron, 10 for 65).
I applaud Akron's coaches for their work today, aside from wasting a touchdown opportunity at the end of the first half. Kent State was unprepared for the fake field goal and Wildcat offense.
Next week, Akron plays at Temple. That will be a very difficult game, especially since Bernard Pierce will likely be healthy.
Rob Ianello quotes:
"I thought they just made a few more plays than we did. It's a great rivalry. I'm looking forward to us improving in the next six games."
"They had constant pressure. We knew they were quick. We went to a different protection where we slid it. We kept guys in, and they allowed us to have only three receivers running routes. We felt like we had to throw it because they put so many people in the box."
"I think it's a tough game for our whole team. We poured a lot into it this week. They understand how important it is to our university, our alumni and our fans."
"I would have to check the record books to see if there was ever a game with that many penalties."
"They presented us with a good look to run that (the Wildcat)."
"I'm proud of the way Jalil is playing. He's doing a nice job for us. I thought Jeremy did a nice job in the passing game for us also. When you coach offensive football, you have to get your playmakers the ball."
"We ended up running the ball not like I hoped to. Some of the sacks take away what we rushed for. It was a team loss."
Regarding not going for the touchdown before the half: "When you get in your two-minute offense before the half, you try to get a field goal for sure. When you get close enough to be greedy, you go for the touchdown. I wanted to at least get ourselves in position to get a field goal."
Final Score - Akron 17, Kent State 28

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Akron vs. Kent State - Preview

By mrasor Published: October 7, 2010

Football
What's at stake Saturday, you may ask.
Chiefly, the right to chant "Just like football" at opportune points during the basketball games. (At least someone gets bragging rights.)
Considering the teams are a combined 1-8 and 0-2 in the MAC, the above statement is a fair assessment of limited value of this week's rivalry game.
But I think there is more to this game. The winner becomes 1-1 in the MAC and has as much momentum as any other team in the division.
Suddenly, with a win against the rival and a win at Ohio (2-3, 1-1 MAC), Akron fans have a reason to -- you know -- show up at InfoCision Stadium.
Unfortunately, oddsmakers say Akron will lose by 17 points. In other words, if Kent doesn't rearrange Akron's incisors, experts will be surprised.
The Flashes' 2010 resume is better than Akron's, but it's still poor. The main difference is that Kent State took care of its task of beating a Division I-AA school (Murray State), while the Zips played patty cake with their friend Pedro and got their comeuppance for it. The Flashes were also more competitive in their road BCS games (losing by a combined 37 at Boston College and Penn State, while Akron lost by a combined 52 at Kentucky and Indiana).
Like Patrick Nicely, KSU quarterback Spencer Keith has struggled this season, aside from a strong opener against Murray State. Last week, Keith was 11-of-26 for 152 yards and two interceptions.
At running back, we might not see Eugene Jarvis. It appears that the sixth-year supersenior might not play because of a strained groin. He was cleared to play several weeks ago and decided to stay out. It probably won't matter, because Jarvis at 80 percent is equally effective as his backup Jacquise Terry at full strength.
Remember how coach Doug Martin threatened to "burn down" the NCAA if Jarvis wasn't allowed to return? You would think Jarvis would at least give it a go in the rivalry game for the man who threatened to commit a felony in his name. (Rob Ianello said he expects all of the "maybes" to play in a game like this.)
Speaking of felonies, Kent State features two convicted felons on defense. Cobrani Mixon and Brian Lainhart, who are Nos. 1 and 2 on the team in tackles, were accused of entering a dwelling that was not theirs without permission and beating the snot out of its inhabitants. They are a big reason that KSU leads the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (59).
(What's a fourth-degree felony in today's college football, really? They still know how to tackle, right? A Plain Dealer article this week praises Mixon's great physical attributes, so he's still got street cred.)
And in contrast to Jarvis, defensive end Monte Simmons returns on Saturday four weeks after breaking his fibula. Yeah, one of those two bones that connects your knee to your ankle. He tackles the player who throws the football, and probably does it as well as any player ever to put on the Kent jersey.
I don't know what kind of game to expect from the Zips. If they are awful on Saturday, it tells me that either the talent cupboard is bare or Ianello's staff has not maximized the value that is present.
Regardless, this game comes at a great time for both teams. It will be a springboard for one team -- and probably worth a little more than just bragging rights.
For instance, the results will be documented on Wikipedia.
[poll id="136"]

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Josh Cribbs roots on Kent State via Twitter

By mrasor Published: October 6, 2010

Football
Browns kick returner (and Kent State alum) Josh Cribbs posted this picture on his Twitter account:

Sources say that locker currently is being cleaned out by a Hazmat team and anyone who touched the shirt is being deloused.
I'll have a word or two about our friends to the northeast later this week.

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Akron names new assistant coach

By mrasor Published: October 6, 2010

Men's basketball
Keith Dambrot hired the replacement for Wisconsin-bound Lamont Paris.
He is Charles Thomas, a former Detroit Piston with ties to the MAC.
Here is his bio from GoZips.com:

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Freshman Giorgio Bowers leaves Zips

By Tom Gaffney Published: October 6, 2010

Giorgio Bowers has left the Zips for personal reasons, coach Rob Ianello announced Tuesday. Bowers, a freshman from Olympian Fields, Ill., played in all five UA games and was used at running back and on special teams. He had eight rushes for 27 yards, and had one tackle on special teams.

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UA volleyball looks to extend win streak to 10

By Michael Beaven Published: October 5, 2010

University of Akron sophomore volleyball player Chelsea Harvey earned the the Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week.
Harvey, a Stow High School graduate, plays libero and helped the Zips (12-4, 4-0 MAC) extend their winning streak to nine consecutive games with wins against Ohio and Kent State this past week under coach Ron Arenz.
Junior Courtney Jarvis won MAC Player of the Week honors the previous two weeks after UA defeated Colgate, Cornell, Connecticut, Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio) during that span.
Senior Jackie Goleman and junior Tina Dimitrijevs are also key contributors with sophomores Morgan Kuhn and Paiton Twitty, and freshmen Alex Cocklin, Alex Wiederholt and Jill Paluch.
UA's first two wins to start the streak were against Indiana State and St. Francis (Pa.).
UA plays at Buffalo on Thursday and hosts Toledo on Saturday.

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Zips housed on Homecoming night

By mrasor Published: October 3, 2010

Football
In the past 12 months, I have left InfoCision Stadium six times thinking, "What a waste of my Saturday."
If you were trying out the Akron Zips for the first time, it would be equivalent of a first date that talks nonstop about ex's, doesn't even pretend to pay attention when you're talking, intentionally orders the most expensive meal on the menu, and caps the night off with an "I love you."
You ain't calling that person back.
Similarly, Akron is continuing to push away fans. The crowds are getting smaller and smaller. They don't offer entertainment, just a metal seat for three hours.
Last night, 12,333 fans came to the "Homecoming Game" -- a night where multiple alumni groups strive to bring their members back to campus.
Those people have every right to check the "No thanks" box on next year's invitation. The product that Akron offered its fans was awful.
Akron competed for a little while. Mid-way through the second quarter, though, Northern Illinois scored three touchdowns within four minutes, capped by a TAINT (Touchdown After INT).
I have seen enough of this team to know the TAINT would finish off the Zips. And it did. Final score: NIU 50, Your Akron Zips 14.
But enough about TAINTs. NIU is a really, really good team. In the seven years I have followed the Zips, I haven't seen a single Akron team that could beat those Huskies, whom you will see playing for the MAC Championship in Detroit.
Last night reminded me a lot of the 2004 matchup between the Zips and Huskies in DeKalb, Ill. Charlie Frye's team looked way overmatched, and the Zips lost 49-19. Garrett Wolfe averaged 10 yards per carry.
That loss sent the Zips to a seemingly hopeless 1-4. It wasn't hopeless for the seniors on that team, though. They refused to let their teammates play lackluster football like that. The Zips won five games in a row after the loss to NIU. By the end of the season, Akron was bowl-eligible.
This season is not over, either. But leadership must improve, and the coaches must adjust. Some suggestions:
1) Can anyone seriously contend that Akron is a better team with Jalil Carter at receiver? He has caught eight passes in five games. Seventy-four yards. I like coaches keeping an open mind about position changes, but they must be equally open to aborting the mission at a certain point. The secondary made a running quarterback look like Dan Marino on Saturday (Chandler Harnish: 16-for-20, 3 TD, 0 INT, 281 yards). Carter is an All-MAC safety, and he will make a difference. Come on.
2) In college, I think coaches should pick the system they believe to be best, not worrying so much about current personnel, because personnel rotates so rapidly. So if Rob Ianello likes the pro-style offense, fans should give it a fair chance. But we need to start calling plays within that offense that suit our players.
3) Tell the seniors one simple message: Either you start leading, or you sit. If the seniors do not orchestrate a season turn-around like in 2004, they are not adding any value to the system by being on the field. Motivate your teammates, or move aside and we will play the underclassmen.
Next week is Kent State. If you are one of the fans who sees nothing but doom and gloom, envision this: Akron beats the Flashes on Saturday. Of the six remaining games, only Temple is a game Akron cannot win. The Zips win five of those games and become bowl-eligible. Or maybe they win three or four, which would be a nice stride toward next season.
It's not time to give up as fans. I think this team can make something of the season. The attendance issue is a more serious problem. With those six home performances (Indiana, Ohio, Temple, Syracuse, Gardner Webb, and Northern Illinois), I think the team has done irreparable damage to its hopes of expanding the fanbase.

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No. 1 Akron defeats Florida Atlantic 3-0

By Michael Beaven Published: October 1, 2010

Keep refreshing for updates
Florida Atlantic University Owls vs. No. 1 University of Akron Zips
at Lee Jackson Field
Sophomore defender Kofi Sarkodie scored a goal in the ninth minute to give the Zips a 1-0 lead. Junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff assisted on the goal by starting the play with a free kick.
Freshman midfielder Perry Kitchen netted a goal in the 11th minute to extend the Zips lead to 2-0. Nanchoff assisted on the goal following a corner kick.
Sarkodie scored his second goal of the game in the 53rd minute to make the score 3-0. Nanchoff recorded his third assist of the match.
UA's starting lineup is:
– Forwards: Junior Darlington Nagbe and freshman Darren Mattocks.
– Midfielders: Senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong, junior Michael Nanchoff, sophomore Scott Caldwell and freshman Perry Kitchen.
– Defenders: Senior Chris Korb, junior Kofi Sarkodie and sophomores Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
- Goalkeeper: sophomore David Meves.
Zips coach Caleb Porter was able to get several reserves playing time.
Sophomores Ben Speas, Thomas Schmitt, and freshmen McKauly Tulloch, Martin Ontiveros, Eric Stevenson, Reinaldo Brenes each entered the Zips lineup as reserves along with juniors Michael Balogun and Matt Dagilis and senior Enrique Paez.

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