The banged-up Zips fell again today, getting plowed by the strong rushing attack of Northern Illinois.
Despite a final score of 27-10, Akron held a 10-6 lead heading to the fourth quarter. Northern Illinois packed the scoreboard with 21 points from there.
NIU outgained Akron in rushing yards 275 to 31 in a game where DeVoe Torrence did not play and Akron stripped the redshirt off Broderick Alexander.
The play of the game for Akron was when Alex Allen took a handoff and threw a pass to Andre Jones for an 80-yard touchdown. Hasan Hazime also blocked NIU's first field goal attempt of the game.
Mostly, the game was what I expected, except for the play of Patrick Nicely, who only completed 11-of-27 passes for 124 yards. Without a running game, though, it's hard to do much of anything through the air.
Akron will next embark on "Mission: Salvage the Season." Kent State visits InfoCision Stadium on Saturday for a 3:30 kickoff. If the Zips lose this rivalry game, 2009 will be a failure of Biblical proportions.
I was in DeKalb, Ill., the last time Akron traveled there to face the Huskies.
Garrett Wolfe trampled all over Charlie Frye's Zips for a 49-19 beatdown. The following year, Akron paid the Huskies back ten-fold with a last-second Luke Getsy-to-Domenik Hixon miracle Hail Mary for the MAC Championship.
The Huskies have been longing for a MAC crown since. Akron, meanwhile, went from Cinderella to cellar-dwellers.
As I said in an interview with NPR this week, Akron has a horrible record, but I would never count the team out from week to week. With a youthful, hungry core, the Zips are still a dangerous team.
Just not consistently dangerous. NIU isn't particularly consistent, either. But Jerry Kill's team has been better on its worst day this season than Akron on its best.
NIU wins its games in the trenches. It has averaged about 80 yards more per game in rushing yards than its opponents. Me'co Brown and Chad Spann have comprised a two-man run attack that is certainly the MAC's strongest. Both average 5.3 yards per carry. The run defense, meanwhile, held Miami to a negative 13 rush yards last week.
The other side of the coin is that the Huskies' pass offense and pass defense are among the MAC's least productive. Starter Chandler Harnish is questionable for Saturday's noon kickoff with a knee injury. The other option is an athletic sophomore DeMarcus Grady. The pass defense, meanwhile, gave up 348 passing yards to Miami last week.
Sophomore forward Teal Bunbury scored two goals and sophomore forward Darlington Nagbe added one goal to lead the host University of Akron men's soccer team to a 3-0 win Wednesday night over Penn State at Lee Jackson Field before a crowd of 1,563.
The Zips, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls, improved to 16-0-0. The Nittany Lions dropped to 9-5-2.
Bunbury's two goals give him a team-high 14 this season.
The Zips took a 1-0 lead 4:25 into the first half after Bunbury right-footed the ball into the net from 12 yards away. UA sophomore defender Kofi Sarkodie recorded the assist on the goal.
Bunbury extended the Zips’ lead to 2-0 with a goal from 30 yards away 23:34 into the first half. Junior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong received the assist on the goal after a throw in.
Zips sophomore forward Darlington Nagbe scored the final goal into the game from eight yards away 61:13 into the game from eight yards away.
Nagbe's goal came after a scramble in which several players got a touch on the ball in front of the goal. Zips senior midfielder Ben Zemanski got the assist.
The Zips held an advantage in shots (16-11) and corner kicks (8-4). Each team had five shots on goal.
UA shut out its 13th opponent of the season. Freshman goalkeeper David Meves earned his 11th shutout and had a collegiate career-high five saves.
Sarkodie, junior Chris Korb and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson were the Zips' starting defenders.
Junior Blair Gavin and sophomore Michael Nanchoff were solid at midfield for UA. Freshman forward Yoram Mwila and freshman midfielder Ben Speas contributed as reserves.
-- Postgame Quotes:
UA coach Caleb Porter
On Teal Bunbury: “He is an absolute handful. Physically, he is strong and he is fast. He is becoming a very lethal finisher … The nice thing about Teal is he is very aggressive. He wants to score goals and he is looking to get shots off. That is what a good striker does. They know that is their job.”
On David Meves: “David Meves was tremendous. He was up for the challenge, and that is what a good goalkeeper needs to do.”
Zips sophomore forward Teal Bunbury:
“It would be nice to get a hat trick. But as long as I can contribute to the team and we're winning, that is great. As long as we're winning, I am happy.”
“I thought we did well as a team. It's not a one-man show, obviously. I thought we did well defensively. That is a big part of our game.”
- UA has outscored opponents 45-3 this season and has a 4-0 record against Big Ten opponents. The Zips have outscored their four Big Ten foes — Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State — 12-1.
- The Zips have not trailed at halftime in 52 consecutive games.
- UA has not allowed a goal in the first half in 28 games in a row.
- Porter has been the Zips coach since 2006. Under his guidance, UA has a 61-11-7 overall record. The Zips are 42-0-0 when leading at halftime under Porter.
- The Zips' next game is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lee Jackson Field against Michigan State.
The University of Akron men’s basketball team was selected to win two Mid-American Conference titles in a preseason poll released by the league office Wednesday morning.
The Zips were picked to win the 2009-10 MAC East Division and MAC Tournament titles under the direction of coach Keith Dambrot.
UA won the MAC Tournament this past season and made the NCAA Division I Tournament for the second time.
The Zips also had junior forward Brett McKnight and sophomore guard Anthony “Humpty” Hitchens selected to the preseason All-MAC East team. They are two of the ten men's basketball players selected to the preseason All-MAC teams for the East and West Divisions.
Kent State and Buffalo were picked to finish second and third, respectively, behind UA in the MAC East.
Central Michigan was picked to win the MAC West title. Northern Illinois and Eastern Michgan rounded out the top three in the MAC West.
The poll was announced during the MAC’s preseason media teleconference and was determined by a 24-member MAC News Media Panel. UA was picked by 19 of the 25 voters to win the MAC East and MAC Tournament championships.
UA returns 13 letter winners, including four starters, to a team that compiled a 23-13 overall record and were 10-6 in the MAC.
The Zips returning starters are Hitchens, senior forward Chris McKnight, senior guard Darryl Roberts and sophomore forward Nikola Cvetinovic. The only starter lost was Nate Linhart, a four-year standout forward.
Key UA reserves returning are Brett McKnight, senior forward Jimmy Conyers, junior guard Steve McNees, junior center Mike Bardo and sophomore guards Brett McClanahan and Ronnie Steward.
The 2009-10 Zips will also feature highly-touted 7-foot freshman center Zeke Marshall, a consensus top-100 recruit and rival.com’s highest-ranked player to ever sign with a MAC school.
The Zips qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season after winning the MAC Tournament title by defeating Buffalo at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. UA then lost to Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
UA hosts Mount Union in an exhibition game on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Rhodes Arena. The Zips open the regular season at home against Austin Peay on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.
The University of Akron women's basketball team was picked to finish fourth in the 2009-10 Mid-American Conference's East Division in a preseason poll released by the league office Wednesday morning.
The Zips return all five starters from a season ago under coach Jodi Kest.
UA junior forward Kara Murphy, the MAC’s leading scorer last season, was named to the All-MAC Preseason Team for the second consecutive season. Murphy averaged 19.3 points a game last season and became the youngest player in program history to score 1,000 career points.
Murphy’s 1,029 career points through two seasons ranks her 10th on the school's all-time scoring list. She set a UA single-season record with 580 points in 2008-09.
Murphy became the Zips second All-MAC First Team honoree last season.
The Zips return eight letter winners from last season, including starters Murphy, Ayla Guzzardo, Jolene Tamboue, Amber Witt and Kyle Baumgartner.
Defending MAC East champion Bowling Green was picked to repeat in 2009-10 with 22 first-place votes and Kent State (12) was tabbed to finish second.
The Falcons were also picked to win the MAC Tournament. Toledo (18) is the preseason favorite in the MAC West and Ball State (14) was picked second.
The preseason poll and all-conference teams were voted on by 24 members of the MAC’s media and league head coaches.
UA, which posted an 11-19 overall record and 6-10 mark in the MAC last season will host Ashland in an exhibition game on Nov. 7 at noon at Rhodes Arena. The Zips first regular season game is at home against IUPUI on Nov. 13 at noon.
University of Akron sophomore midfielder Darlington Nagbe recently earned four honors his seven point-performance in a Zips 5-1 win at Michigan this Tuesday.
Nagbe scored three goals and had an assist to lead UA over Michigan. His seven points for the match are the most recorded by a UA player since the 2002 season.
Nagbe was named to National Teams of the Week by College Soccer News, Top Drawer Soccer and Soccer America and was tabbed the Mid-American Conference Player of the Week.
Nagbe became the fifth UA player to be named MAC Player of the Week this season, joining sophomore forward Teal Bunbury (twice), freshman goalkeeper David Meves and sophomore midfielder Michael Nanchoff.
The Zips, ranked No. 1 in the country in all five national polls, have a 15-0-0 record and will host Penn State tonight at 7:30 p.m.
This week's questions come from Mike Breese at Red and Black Attack (NIU blog):
1. Both Ball State and NIU took an early 1900's approach to offense in winning their games this weekend primarily through the ground game. This brings the question: Are you satisfied with the balance of your offense currently? Would you like to see more passing or more rushing?
Akron has freshmen playmakers at running back and quarterback. They both need experience. As one improves, it should help the other (because of the effect a good running back has on the passing game, and vice versa). I'm OK with the current allocation.
2. The two best teams in the MAC in Central Michigan & Temple take on non-conf opponents in Boston College and Navy respectively. What positives or negatives come from playing OOC opponents this late in to the season?
The positive for Central Michigan is that it gives them a chance to actually boost themselves into the top-25. The negative is for Temple, who just needs to keep their MAC rampage going.
3. For fun, predict the outcome of the impending doom the 0-7 Eastern Michigan Eagles face as they travel to Arkansas this weekend.
I'm trying my hardest to come up with a reference to old-school rasslin. Still working on it. My readers are more creative than me...
4. If your team/coach were to wear Halloween costume, what would they be?
There's no need to pile on poor J.D. Brookhart. I could say that his coaches could dress as a parole officer, paramedic and NCAA sleuth, but that would be over the top.
5. MAC Power Poll Time
1) CMU 2) Toledo 3) Temple 4) NIU 5) Kent State 6) BG 7) WMU 8 ) Ohio 9) Buffalo 10) Akron 11) Ball State 12) EMU 13) Miami
University of Akron junior Jordan Clark stepped toward the ball during a key moment Sunday and made the most of her opportunity.
Clark scored a goal following a free kick and helped visiting UA earn a 1-0 win over host Kent State in a Mid-American Conference women's soccer match.
Clark's goal came from 24 yards away in the 87th minute and extended the Zips winning streak to five games.
UA (8-6-2, 6-3-1) has clinched a spot in the MAC Tournament for the first time in program history.
KSU (7-8-2, 3-5-2) was celebrating Senior Day and remain in the mix for the MAC Tournament.
Each team has one regular season game remaining.
Clark kicked the ball over a wall of KSU defenders and past Golden Flashes sophomore goalkeeper Kelly Sherwood, who dove for the ball and slightly deflected it into the right side of the net.
UA shutout their fifth opponent in a row and have six this season.
Zips sophomore goalkeeper Jeny Wolbert had two saves. Senior Heather Rains, junior Alysia Virkler, sophomore Liz Cloutier and senior Kristen Gregg were the Zips starting defenders. Junior Kyra Petrole, freshman Kaitlin Flanagan, junior Katelyn Hausfeld and freshman Jillian Chenot also contributed to the shutout as reserves.
UA held an advantage over KSU in shots on goal (5-1). The Flashes had more shots (14-11) and corner kicks (6-2).
Juniors Jordan Baranowski, Leigh Cullen and Andrea Schweisthal and senior Britni Back were also key offensively for the Zips.
Flashes senior Lauren Evans and junior Annie Messer stood out offensively. KSU's defenders -- sophomore Jenni Stapleton, freshman Sara Henderson, sophomore Gabi Ingram and senior Jackie Barath -- each played all 90 minutes.
UA has set a program record for MAC wins in a season with six and the five-game MAC winning streak is UA's longest since the school started offering women's soccer in 2001.
The KSU women still own a 7-2-0 advantage against the UA women. UA is 1-3-0 at KSU.
Quotes after the game
UA junior Jordan Clark:
‘‘I just cleared my mind of everything and just wasn't thinking. I was just going off reaction, which is usually the best thing to do for me.’’
‘‘This is a huge victory for us.’’
‘‘We have just really put our heads together and have been focusing on defense a lot for the past couple of years. Basically, not making any mental mistakes, keeping strong and all being on the same page has been key for us.’’
‘‘Our coach has really helped us a lot. He is awesome. We have learned to really come together as a team and play together. We are like a big family working hard together.’’
UA coach Chris Pfau
‘‘That's a great win. Kent State is a really well coached team and this is a tough place to play. It's one of those seasons where we are weathering the storm and when we get a chance we are finishing.’’
Pfau said his players have been ‘‘maintaining their focus and concentrating’’ defensively.
KSU coach Rob Marinaro
‘‘Both teams played with high intensity. They capitalized on one and took the points home with them.’’
Interesting side note
I found an interesting note when I checked out the UA men’s soccer media guide.
The University of Akron men’s soccer team compiled a perfect a 15-0-0 record against Kent State in a series that started in 1955 and ended in 1980 when KSU did away with the program.
The Zips outscored the Golden Flashes 62-9 over the course of the 15 victories.
UA is currently ranked No. 1 in the country in all five national polls.
Here are some overall thoughts. I only listened to the game, so I don't feel comfortable giving a full analysis.
Offense -- Zero net rushing yards is a serious accomplishment for this offensive line. It's a collaboration of poor run blocking and Patrick Nicely getting sacked five times for 42 yards of lost ground. Maybe coach Joe Moorhead and tackle Chris Kemme were more valuable than we thought. Zero rushing yards is asinine. I could take Western Kentucky and put them against the Florida Gators. I bet WKU (the worst FBS team) would even gain a yard on the ground. Nicely had his first good game. Although he has improved each week, Saturday is the first day when his stat line justifies his playing. Andre Jones has picked up at receiver as if he never left the position. He never should have. Jeremy LaFrance and Nicely continued to build chemistry. Grade: D-
Defense -- Akron allowed Delone Carter (formerly of Copley H.S.) to prance for 170 yards. But they did a good job stopping Syracuse's passing game. Sean Fobbs made some nice plays, including two tackles for loss. The defense has not been the main problem this year, nor was it Saturday. Grade: C
Special teams -- Branko Rogovic blew both of his field-goal attempts. Zack Campbell somehow boomed a 76-yard punt. Dashan Miller returned a kick for a 98-yard touchdown. It's a mixed bag. Grade: B-
Coaching -- I pity J.D. Brookhart. This must be very hard on him because I know he cares deeply. I will say this in his defense: The team is not quitting. Contrast it with the Browns some seasons, when you sense the game should be played with circus music in the background. This isn't a team that I would bet against. It's not a team that is hopeless each Saturday. But it IS a team that was supposed to make its campus proud and "violently protect" InfoCision Stadium. It IS a team that had talent at one point to play in a bowl game. Syracuse isn't very good, so sticking with them is not even a moral victory, but the Zips are far from embarrassing themselves on the field. If the team picks up momentum and finishes with four or five wins, the bad taste would be cleansed from many fans' mouths. Grade: C
Sophomore Teal Bunbury scored his second game-winning goal in the past four games to lead the No. 1-ranked University of Akron men's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over host Buffalo in a Mid-American Conference game on a cold and rainy Friday night at UB Stadium.
Bunbury recorded his team-leading 12th goal of the season in the 13th minute, and the Zips defense tallied its 12th shutout of the season.
UA, the top team in the country in all five national polls under coach Caleb Porter, has a 15-0-0 overall record and is 5-0-0 in the MAC. The Bulls are 5-9-0 and 0-4-0.
“We've been on the road the last six of seven games and I thought we looked a little flat at times tonight,” Porter said in a UA statement. “But we still generated quality chances and possessed the ball for the entire game. Sometimes the goals don't come easily and the finishing touch is off, but once again our defending clamped down and we were able to get the result.”
The Zips held an advantage over the Bulls in shots (17-3), shots on goal (5-0) and corner kicks (4-2). UA did not allow a shot on goal for the second time in 2009.
Bunbury has scored seven goals in his past seven games, and he has scored a game-winner three times this season.
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves recorded his 10th shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders junior Chris Korb, sophomore Matt Dagilis and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
This was the Zips final regular season away game. UA’s final three games of the regular season games are all at Lee Jackson Field. The three-game homestand begins Wednesday against Penn State at 7:30 p.m. and also includes Michigan State and Hartwick.
“We will take a few days to refuel the tank for our final stretch of the regular season,” Porter said.
The University of Akron men’s soccer plays their final away game of the regular season at Buffalo tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Here some comments from UA coach Caleb Porter after the Zips, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls, defeated host Michigan 5-1 this past Tuesday:
on the win over Michigan: “Obviously we are pleased that we were able to get a result against a talented team that is battled tested. We knew it would be a little more open game. We have not played a lot of teams that have played toe-to-toe with us. A lot of teams we have played sit back and don't come at us. I was excited to play a team that would come out at us. I thought we rose to the challenge and our attacking unit was electric.”
on sophomore Darlington Nagbe, who scored three goals and had one assist against Michigan: “With Darlington, there is no secret. If you are in our training sessions or watch us play consistently you see that he is one of the best players in the country, hands down. He is capable of scoring a lot of goals.”
On Nagbe and sophomore Teal Bunbury at the forward positions: “Teal and Darlington are such a handful up top with their speed and skill.”
On the perfect 14-0-0 record and what lies ahead: “I think we are still just scratching the surface. I think the best of us is still to come. We have four (regular season) games to get better and then the postseason starts. We need to keep staying focused on the moments. We are really excited to end the season at home with two Big Ten teams (Penn State and Michigan State) and then we play Hartwick (a MAC opponent). The regular season could be decided in that Hartwick game. We need to take care of business and they (Hartwick) need to win out as well.”
“We want to be peaking at the right time and we want to enter the postseason at our best and make a run at the national championship.”
“We kind of control our own destiny ... if we take care of business we should be rewarded with a top seed.”
-- The MAC school with the best regular season league record is the No. 1 seed and will host the MAC Tournament. UA has hosted the MAC Tournament in four out of the past five seasons and have won the title each of those four seasons at Lee Jackson Field, including 2007 and 2008.
-- The top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament get a first round bye and then could possibly have three home games prior to reaching the College Cup, which the final four teams participate in.
-- UA is 5-0 at home with victories over Indiana, Saint Louis, Bowling Green, Ohio State and Northern Illinois.
-- UA is 9-0 away from home with triumphs over Southern Methodist, Tulsa, High Point, Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic, Illinois-Chicago, Western Michigan, Virginia Tech and Michigan.
The Zips continue a three-game road trip with a visit to Syracuse's Carrier Dome for a 3:30 kickoff.
The teams have a combined three wins, but this is a better Orange that the one the Zips faced last season. Still, Syracuse has problems. The team has committed nine turnovers in its last two games. The third-down conversion percentage is 117th in the nation (out of 120 teams).
It would be uber-redundant to go over the Zips' problems. There are excuses galore for the team sitting at 1-5. Regardless of the outcome Saturday, it would be great to see Patrick Nicely take another positive step against a team that doesn't stop the pass too well.
We are changing up the formatting for the MAC Roundtable. I will provide my answers on my blog, and somehow we're all going to share responses, or something like that.
Here is my response to this week's questions, which come from Alan Rucker at the Ball State blog.
Sophomore Darlington Nagbe posted the first hat trick of his collegiate career Tuesday and in the process kept the perfect season going for the University of Akron men's soccer team.
Nagbe’s three goals and one assist performance led the top-ranked Zips to a 5-1 victory over host Michigan at U-M Soccer Complex in Ann Arbor.
UA, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls under coach Caleb Porter, has a 14-0-0 overall record, which is the best start to a season in program history.
“Obviously we are pleased that we were able to get a result against a talented team that is battled tested,” Porter said. “We knew it would be a little more open game. We have not played a lot of teams that have played toe-to-toe with us. A lot of teams we have played sit back and don't come at us. I was excited to play a team that would come out at us. I thought we rose to the challenge and our attacking unit was electric.”
UA held an advantage in shots (22-8), shots on goal (8-4) and corner kicks (4-2).
It is the first time the Zips have defeated the Wolverines (9-4-1) at Michigan in four attempts and UA leads the overall series 5-3.
Nagbe assisted on the first goal of the game then scored twice in less than a minute to guide UA to a 3-0 lead at halftime.
“With Darlington, there is no secret. If you are in our training sessions or watch us play consistently you see that he is one of the best players in the country, hands down,” Porter said. “He is capable of scoring a lot of goals.”
Sophomore Teal Bunbury gave the Zips a 1-0 lead with a goal, his team-high 11th of the season, in the 31st minute. Nagbe and sophomore Kofi Sarkodie were each credited with an assist on the goal.
“Teal and Darlington are such a handful up top with their speed and skill,” Porter said.
Nagbe extended the lead to 3-0 with an unassisted goal in the 35th minute, and a goal in the 36th minute that freshman Ben Speas recorded an assist on.
Michigan cut its deficit to 3-1 when Justin Meram netted a goal in the 48th minute off of an assist from Hamoody Saad.
UA took a 4-1 advantage when sophomore Michael Nanchoff scored a goal, his fifth this season, in the 52nd minute. Senior Ben Zemanski and junior Chris Korb each received an assist on the goal.
Nagbe concluded the scoring in the 63rd minute with a goal off of an assist by breshman Yoram Mwila.
UA plays their final away game of the regular season at Buffalo on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Linebacker Aaron Williams is the latest to suffer a season-ending injury -- a broken arm. He joins Matt Rodgers and Deryn Bowser as recent additions to the inactive list.
Williams played about 50 snaps after breaking his arm in multiple places, coach J.D. Brookhart said in his weekly press conference.
Manley Waller is questionable for Saturday's game against Syracuse with a sprained ankle.
Sophomore Michael Nanchoff scored a goal in the 70th minute to help the top-ranked University of Akron men’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over visiting Northern Illinois on Saturday night at Lee Jackson Field.
The victory gives UA, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls, a 13-0-0 overall record and a 4-0-0 mark in the Mid-American Conference under coach Caleb Porter.
Nanchoff’s goal came off of a free kick after sophomore Darlington Nagbe was fouled near the penalty box. That set up Nanchoff’s boot from 19 yards away, which went around a wall of NIU players and into the net.
NIU’s record drops to 6-6-1 overall and 1-2-0 in the MAC.
Nanchoff has four goals this season.
The Zips held an advantage over the Huskies in shots (17-3), shots on goal (5-1) and corner kicks (8-4).
UA shutout its 11th opponent this season, which is four shy of the school's record of 15, set in 2005.
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves recorded his ninth shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders junior Chris Korb, sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
UA's next game is Tuesday at Michigan.
Patrick Nicely and DeVoe Torrence took steps forward, but the Zips dropped their fourth-straight game. Buffalo won 21-17.
Akron, now 1-5 and 0-3 in the MAC, has turned a high-potential season into a full-blown rebuilding year.
Nicely completed 17-of-34 passes for 200 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Despite not-so-good numbers, he continued to show why so many recruiters coveted him. Torrence ran for 90 yards on 13 carries, giving Akron the best performance from a featured back all season.
But it was not enough. With a chance to take the lead in the final minutes, Nicely threw an interception. And with half the season done, even an undefeated finish would make Akron a borderline bowl team.
Grades are coming tomorrow.
The Zips continue the nightmare season at Buffalo with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Zips are 0-2 in the MAC. A loss would put them a full three games behind division leader Temple. And that will all but clinch another season without a postseason.
Buffalo is a team with a disappointing record of 2-4, but the Bulls haven't really lost a game they should have won. Statistically, the team is top-five in the MAC in four important categories: pass offense, pass defense, run offense and run defense.
The differences between last year's Cinderella run and this year, however, are turnovers and special teams. Buffalo is second-to-last in the conference in turnover margin, after having the MAC's best margin last season (and third best in the nation). Sophomore quarterback Zack Maynard has thrown seven picks, compared to Drew Willy's six all of last season. The Bulls also have given up an average of 38.7 yards per kick return.
Maynard is playing well, though. He has 11 touchdowns and is the conference's fourth-leading passer. Junior running back Ike Nduka has played well while James Starks sits out the season with an injury.
This is a team that, to me, appears poised to pull everything together for the stretch of MAC games.
Men's basketball/Women's basketball
Here is a YouTube message from Keith Dambrot and Jodi Kest...
I'm glad the marketing effort is beginning. I have seen two billboards around town. With a MAC Championship and top-40 recruit, Akron alumni have no excuse for not getting season tickets.
There is a "Meet the Team" event Saturday evening between 5:30 and 7:30 at Rhodes Arena.
Sophomore Teal Bunbury and junior Blair Gavin each scored a goal to lead the top ranked University of Akron men’s soccer team to a 2-0 victory over host Virginia Tech Tuesday night at Thompson Field in Blacksburg, Va.
UA, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls under coach Caleb Porter, has a 12-0-0 overall record. The perfect record through 12 games is the best start to a season in program history.
The win over the Hokies (3-7-2) is also the Zips’ tenth shutout in 12 matches. UA held an advantage in shots (18-9), shots on goal (8-3) and corner kicks (8-3).
Sophomore Kofi Sarkodie assisted on Bunbury’s goal in the 37th minute and Gavin scored on a penalty kick in the 80th minute. This season, Bunbury leads UA with 10 goals and Gavin is 3-for-3 in penalty kick situations.
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves recorded his eighth shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders junior Chris Korb, Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
UA hosts Northern Illinois Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Lee Jackson Field.
Man, that was a disappointing game -- all around.
It was a beautiful day, yet we had attendance of 16,381. Last year's homecoming game (at the Rubber Bowl, for Pete's sake) had attendance of 17,119.
The Zips outgained the Bobcats in total yardage (346 to 292), but Akron lost by two scores. I'm not going to give grades this morning. I'm sick of watching bad football. Let's put it that way. Let's also put it another way: Almost every position on the team has underperformed. Is there a bright spot here and there? I suppose, but Brian Wagner can only play one position at a time.
J.D. Brookhart said the team will keep swinging and never quit. They better not quit; they're on full scholarship in exchange for playing A GAME they like to play in front of thousands of people. Is that really what this team has been reduced to? Not quitting. To me, that's a euphemism for: It can get worse.
I like Brookhart personally. It pains me to say this because Brookhart has a family, he has poured a lot of his heart into this job, and it's not completely his fault, but I have seen enough. This coaching staff has an incredible set of resources, and we still haven't seen a winning football team in four years. Whether it happens tomorrow or in early December, it is time for a change. My patience has expired.
I will gladly eat those words if a Patrick Nicely-led team finishes the season winning six or seven games, but I don't see it happening anymore. What a terrible month for Akron football.
Junior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong had two goals and one assist to lead the top-ranked University of Akron men's soccer team to a 4-0 victory over host Western Michigan Saturday afternoon.
UA, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls, has an 11-0-0 overall record and is 3-0-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The 11-0-0 record matches the best start to a season in program history. The 2005 Zips started with 11 consecutive wins.
‘‘To be honest, I had no idea about the record,’’ UA coach Caleb Porter said by telephone.
‘‘I think again, it's a credit to this team and how focused and hungry they have been to start the year. At the same time, we want to be known for being the best Akron team to end a soccer season.’’
The win over the Broncos (3-8-0, 1-1-0) is also the Zips' ninth shutout in 11 matches. UA held an advantage over WMU in shots (15-3), shots on goal (9-2) and corner kicks (7-3).
Ampaipitakwong gave UA a 1-0 lead in the game's 22nd minute with a shot from the middle of the box following a pass from junior Chris Korb. Ampaipitakwong then converted a free kick from 18 yards in the 45th minute to notch the first multiple-goal game of his UA career.
Zips sophomore Michael Nanchoff scored his third goal of the season in the 50th minute. Sophomores Darlington Nagbe and Teal Bunbury assisted on that goal.
Bunbury scored the final goal of the game in the 56th minute off Ampaipitakwong's assist. Bunbury has scored nine goals, has at least one goal in three games in a row and has five in his last six overall.
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves recorded his seventh shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders Korb, sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
Sophomore Matt Dagilis, senior Ivan Sandoval, senior C.J. Kaufman and junior Enrique Paez also contributed defensively for UA as reserves.
The Zips travel to Blacksburg, Va., to play Virginia Tech Tuesday at 7 p.m.
‘‘This season is a journey and each game is a checkpoint and an opportunity to grow,’’ Porter said. ‘‘I like the potential of this group. It is very exciting.’’
The No. 1 University of Akron men's soccer team remained perfect Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory at University of Illinois-Chicago.
Junior Blair Gavin, sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and sophomore Teal Bunbury each scored a goal for the Zips, who have a 10-0-0 record. The Flames, who dropped to 3-3-4, got a goal from Kevin Stoll.
UA, the No. 1 team in the country in all five national polls, took a 1-0 in the 72nd minute after Gavin’s goal. Sarkodie’s goal in the 86th minute gave the Zips a 2-0 advantage.
Stoll cut the Flames deficit to 2-1 with a goal in the 89th minute. The Zips responded 36 seconds later when Bunbury tallied a goal to make it 3-1.
This was just the second time this season an opponent scored a goal against the Zips.
The Zips held an advantage over the Flames in shots (12-5) and shots on goal (9-2). Each team had four corner kicks.
UA is one win shy of matching their best start in school history. UA’s 2005 team, which held a No. 1 national ranking for a month, started the season 11-0-0 and was unbeaten through 17 games.
UA plays Saturday at Western Michigan at 2 p.m.
Assistant coach Reno Ferri resigned amid an investigation into a possible recruiting violation.
Ferri, the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, was on paid leave while the university investigated whether he broke NCAA rules. The investigation was not complete by the time Ferri resigned.
I have run into Ferri on a few occasions. He is an energetic, humble and helpful person. I don't doubt he will find another position somewhere.
Athletic director Tom Wistrcill recently traveled to Toledo to visit its new downtown arena.
The company that built the Lucas County Arena invited him to take a look at it, so he went with associate athletic director Hunter Yurachek and a representative from FirstEnergy.
"We took a peek at it," Wistrcill said. "You can always learn."
Wistrcill said he has not had a chance to put much thought into building a new basketball arena. "It doesn't mean it won't happen sometime in the future," he added.
Building a new basketball arena has long been on the minds of Zips fans and people within the athletic department. While the University of Akron was the sole driver for a football stadium, the city might be the engine that helps land a basketball arena. The project would likely coincide with bringing to Akron a pro sports team, such as hockey or arena football. Major concerts and events would be sure to follow.
Within the next week, Lucas County Arena will host WWE Raw and a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. It is also home to an arena football team and independent hockey team. The arena is owned by a non-profit corporation that is set up to pay off its mortgage with the earnings.
Wistrcill denied a rumor that FirstEnergy CEO Anthony Alexander and Akron mayor Don Plusquellic also attended the meeting in Toledo.
One firm designed an arena that would sit on Main Street across from Canal Park. Click here, then click "indoor" to take a look. That does not necessarily mean that the city of Akron hired the firm to design that drawing.
Ohio is favored by five points at Akron, according to oddsmakers. If there was ever a line where you should bet on Akron, this is it.
Also this... Tom Gaffney wrote about J.D. Brookhart's new bye-week practice strategy. Gaffney does a good job of breaking down the ramifications of this week's game:
The No. 1 University of Akron men's soccer team defeated host Florida Atlantic 3-0 Saturday night in a Mid-American Conference match.
UA scored three first-half goals and never looked back. Sophomore forward Teal Bunbury scored two goals and freshman midfielder Ben Speas scored one goal.
The Zips (9-0-0, 2-0-0 MAC) extended their shutout streak to six games and have allowed only one goal this season. UA opponents have not scored a goal in the past 574 minutes of play, and the Zips hold a 20-0 advantage during this current shutout streak.
FAU drops to 4-3-2 overall and 0-1-0 in the MAC.
The Zips held an advantage over the Owls in shots (20-2), shots on goal (7-1) and corner kicks (2-0).
UA sophomore midfielder Michael Nanchoff and junior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong each tallied one assist.
Steve Zakuani story coming soon
I drove to Columbus on Saturday to watch former UA standout Steve Zakuani play in a Major League Soccer match between the Columbus Crew and the Seattle Sounders.
After the game I interviewed Zakuani, a Sounders rookie, and Sounders coach Sigi Schmid in the locker room for a story that will appear in the Akron Beacon Journal and ohio.com later this week.
I talked to Zakuani about his rookie season in the MLS, Coach Schmid, UA coach Caleb Porter, Zips soccer and more. Check out the newspaper and the website later in the week for the story.
Seattle defeated Columbus 1-0 on Saturday. Roger Levesque scored a goal in the first half for the Sounders (10-7-11). The Crew, the 2008 MLS Cup Champions, remain in first place in the Eastern Conference and have the league’s top record at 12-5-10.
As a side note, Crew Stadium is pretty nice. This was my third trip their after seeing the Crew defeat Kansas City 2-0 in November of 2008 and seeing the USA Men’s National Team beat Mexico 2-0 in February of 2009.
To rehash an old Browns bye-week deadpan: The Zips won't lose this week.
The bye week, however, gives Zips fans to take a look around the conference.
I often give the MAC a hard time because of the lack of respect that the NCAA gives it. But from a fan's perspective, the season's back-and-forth nitty-gritty is as good as any. A first-place team can look foolish. A last-place team can pull off a shocker. Except it's not all that shocking in the MAC, where parity reigns.
This year, seven MAC bloggers have combined forces to provide a larger perspective on happenings within the conference. Here is this week's edition.
This week has a few games worth watching:
Ohio at Bowling Green -- This game will give fans insight about both teams. Neither has played a MAC game. Both could compete for the division crown.
Temple at Eastern Michigan -- I was surprised to see Temple give such a beatdown to Buffalo last week, but now they get to prove themselves in a crossover game on the road. This is a must-have victory if the Owls are to win the East.
Western Michigan at Northern Illinois -- An exciting offense against a stalwart defense. This game will determine which team will be Central Michigan's best competition in November.
The University of Akron men's soccer team closed out the month of September with another record crowd and another impressive victory.
No. 1 UA defeated Ohio State 3-0 on a chilly Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 2,473 at Lee Jackson Field.
Junior midfielder Blair Gavin, sophomore forward Darlington Nagbe and senior midfielder Ben Zemanski each scored a goal for the Zips, and sophomore midfielder Michael Nanchoff had two assists.
The Zips, ranked No. 1 in the country in all five national polls, improved their overall record to 8-0-0. The Buckeyes, a consensus top-15 team in the five polls, drop to 5-1-3.
The second sellout crowd of the season at Lee Jackson Field enjoyed a spirited match, which featured physical play consistently from both teams. The previous largest crowd at Lee Jackson Field came earlier this season when 2,443 fans attended the UA/Indiana game on Sept. 18, a match the Zips won over the Hoosiers 1-0.
UA controlled the ball for a majority of the game and held an advantage in shots (20-3), shots on goal (7-2) and corner kicks (8-1).
Gavin gave the Zips a 1-0 lead after scoring a goal on a penalty kick with 20:37 remaining in the first half. Nagbe was fouled on the play in the box, which allowed Gavin to right-foot the ball into the net from seven yards away into the bottom left corner past a diving attempt by Buckeyes redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
Nagbe extended the Zips lead to 2-0 with 37:30 left in the second half when he headed the ball into the net from 10 yards away. Nanchoff got the assist after lobbing a pass over the OSU defense.
Zemanski gave UA a 3-0 lead with 22:23 remaining the second half when he kicked the ball into the net from seven yards away. Nanchoff received the assist after sending a pass.
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves posted his sixth shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders: junior Chris Korb, sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson. The Zips have outscored opponents 23-1 this season and shutout seven teams.
- UA is 3-0 this season against teams in the Top 15 and 2-0 versus Big Ten schools.
- UA is 24-6-2 all-time against OSU, and 14-1-1 at Lee Jackson Field.
- Nanchoff leads the Zips in assists with seven and sophomore forward Teal Bunbury leads UA in goals with five.
- The Zips starting lineup had Meves at goalkeeper; Korb, Sarkodie, Valentin and Barson as defenders; Gavin, Nanchoff, Zemanski and junior Anthony Ampaipitakwong as midfielders and Nagbe and Bunbury as forwards. The two reserves that played Wednesday night were freshmen midfielders Ben Speas and Scott Caldwell.
- Following the game, Nanchoff credited Zips assistant coach Jared Embick for working with the team on "set pieces" in practices.
- The Zips have shutout 44 opponents in 71 games under fourth-year coach Caleb Porter.
- The Zips are 36-0-0 when leading at halftime since 2006, Porter’s first season. Porter has a 53-11-7 record at UA.
- UA has out-shot its opponents this season 135-32.
"I thought it was a pretty dominant performance, especially against a good team. We were able to get on the ball and do what we want to do, and that's open them up. I thought our spacing was very good, and our speed of play and our movement really gave them problems once we settled in."
"They (OSU) got tired. I thought especially in the second half. We were able to wear them down quite a bit. I am very pleased, but the scary thing is we are just scratching the service. We can still get a lot better."
"We have got to continue to get better. The thing about this team that I am enjoying is they are getting better. They come to training with the right attitude and approach. It’s the little things that we need to get better at, it’s not the major things. The little things will add up over the long haul."
"We’re clicking. We are starting to gel on the attack."
"Defensively, we have been rock solid. A big part of that is we are possessing the ball so much and dictating the game … it’s difficult for teams to get close to our goal and get shots, but when they do break out, our backline is just their to put out fires. If there is a shot, our goalkeeper is ready to deal with it. There is not much, but there ready for the counter attacks."
"We haven’t given up a restart goal all year and those are areas where I think teams can get chances on us, but there not."
"One of our goals is to be undefeated at home at Lee Jackson Field. We feel like playing at home in front of our fans, and in front of the AK-Rowdies, we are very difficult to beat."
"We wanted to finish this stretch of our journey with a win and I was pleased we could do that. The record crowd was special. I can't thank the fans enough for their support. It means a lot to our players and it really helps drive us. Going into that second half, our guys were just licking their chops, knowing we were going towards that goal with the AK-Rowdies there. It gives us that little extra incentive and motivation to score."
"Now we have to go on the road for four games. We have two conference and two non-conference games. We have difficult tests ahead. We have to keep it going and take it one game at a time."
"A nice thing is we’re getting better and growing without losing. That is one thing we have talked about, you don’t have to lose to learn and grow. We’re learning while winning, and that is one of the things we want to do along this journey. It’s important to win these games in order to be in position, going into the NCAA Tournament, where we can get home games and be a top seed. When we’re at home, we’re a tough team to beat."
"We have a lot of confidence and technical ability. We want to keep the ball in their end because that is where we are dangerous."
"Consistency, that is what we talk about nonstop. Our coach talks to us about being the aggressor."
"The team trusts me to take those penalty kicks and once (Nagbe) went down I knew I had confidence to make it. I have confidence everytime that I am going to make it."
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