Ideally, Carlton Jackson will be Kellen Lewis one day.
More ideally, Jim Fleming concocts a scheme to contain mobile quarterbacks like Lewis.
Akron lost 41-24 today at Indiana, mainly because the Hoosiers' passer became a runner to the tune of 198 yards on the ground. However, in the wake of 14 consecutive punts at Ohio State, the Jackson-led offense kept the team in the game.
Despite the score, the Zips' defense played a solid game. On third downs, however, Lewis extended the drives by scrambling for large chunks of yard. On two other third downs, referees flagged Davanzo Tate for pass interference on star receiver James Hardy. The calls were questionable. No. Let's be honest. The calls were bogus. Both of those penalties extended drives on which Indiana scored touchdowns.
With Julian Edelman, Kent State's mobile quarterback, looming, Akron needs a plan to contain the passer. As we saw last week, the Zips have good talent on defense. Their base defense is effective against a traditional pro-style quarterback. When the passer scrambles, however, you might as well have a flag football defense on the field. Forget tackling the QB; Akron's defenders aren't even laying hands on him until he is 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. I repeat: This is a coaching issue, not a personnel issue. If it's not cured by Saturday, the Zips will lose. No question in my mind.
Here's another beef I have with the today's coaching. Down two scores with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, J.D. Brookhart opted to punt. These decisions are really aggrivating me. It's similar to last week when Akron refused to throw down field against Ohio State when the Zips were losing by two scores. Hello!?!? You play to win the game! Forget the final score. Either you win or you don't. It almost appears like Brookhart is playing to beat the spread, rather than the opponent. What happened to that maverick who went for the win at NC State last season?
But there were positives in today's loss. For one, Jackson's play elevated the expectations from the quarterback position. Brookhart has more than just a game manager. Jackson is a playmaker. The coaches "decided" the starting quarterback in August, but like I suggested, the competition never really is over until the platoon ends. Jackson took over for Chris Jacquemain after four unimpressive drives. Jackson threw two touchdowns and ran for a third. Unless the coaches are really stubborn, Jackson will start Saturday against Kent State.
While the passing game came together, Zips fans should be concerned about the running backs. What has been the problem? First down. The Zips are a running team. That's how the team was built over the spring and fall. When it's second-and-9 or worse, it forces Joe Moorhead's hand to pass. If the offensive line and backs focus on gaining at least four yards on first down, the entire offense will run more smoothly as the coaches intended.