Has the offense transitioned from jayvee squad to the more dominant unit?
Not quite, but another week of progress and it could be that way.
In today's scrimmage, Akron's quarterbacks went 33-for-47, tallying four touchdowns. Chris Jacquemain and Carlton Jackson put up nearly identical stats, except that the former added a rushing touchdown and interception.
The running backs also played well. Dennis Kennedy rushed five times for 40 yards. Andre Walker took five handoffs for 23 yards. Bryan Williams struggled, running seven times for six yards (but there's good news coming for him later in the blog). Alex Allen has a minor hamstring injury and did not play. "We have a good idea of what he can do, J.D. Brookhart said.
The wide receivers may not have the same talent as last season, but their route-running ability has impressed me. Marcus Patterson is going to be a useful possession receiver. Alphonso Owen is adept at catches near the sideline. Jabari Arthur has reminded me of how he set a Motor City Bowl record for receiving yards. He is going deep and Jackson has looked his way several times during camp, including a long over-the-shoulder touchdown catch today.
Like with any scrimmage, both sides cannot receive rave reviews. Brookhart was upset with his first- team defense's effort, saying they should be shutting the first-team offense down at this point in camp.
Special teams notes:
Matt Domonkos and Igor Iveljic each missed two of three field goals. All kickers, including Zach Campbell, made their PATs. (Whew.) While the kicking duel is too close to call, Iveljic has proven to possess the stronger leg for kickoffs. He has that job locked down.
As for punting, John Stec and Andy Hildreth are very close. At first, Hildreth was performing better, but he hasn't gotten his punts off quite quick enough for the coaches' liking.
Andre Jones and Brandon Anderson probably will share the punt returner job, which Jones held last season. Although Jones' average was worst in the MAC, it appeared to be more of a special teams shortcoming, rather than his lack of skill. I think the same was true for the punting game.
Bryan Williams, as I mentioned before, will get his chance to shine as the kick returner. He has some fast shoes to fill in DH, but Williams could be really, really good.
There have been plenty of nagging injuries, but Brookhart expects to be at full strength by Sept. 1. Paul Simkovich had a concussion recently, but he, too, won't be out long.
The coaches will look at tape tonight and narrow down the quarterback field to two. My guess is it will be Jackson and Jacquemain. Although Matt Rodgers impressed coaches in camp, he needed to be healthy this week. Arm soreness isn't a tolerable excuse during the regular season, so it shouldn't automatically let him off the hook in the preseason. Talking about Jackson and Jacquemain, Brookhart said, "Both kids, looking at the stats, did well. That position doesn't need to win the game, though."
Mike Thomas, a defensive back transfer from UMass, recovered a fumble. The Columbus, Ohio, native will not be eligible this season.
Quotable from Jackson:
"I think we shouldn't rely too much on (quarterbacks running)." "Chris steps up and leads the guys. I think he's doing a great job." On playing a different position: "It hasn't been mentioned. If I'm asked, we'll go from there."
Quotable from Jacquemain:
"Competition is great for everybody." "Me and CJ, we're real close. We respect each other. We help each other out on mistakes we make." "CJ does things with his feet that I don't do. I do things with my arm that he doesn't do." On playing a different position: "If it comes up, I'm definitely for whatever helps the team."
Top plays from the scrimmage:
Jackson's deep ball for a touchdown to Arthur. Jacquemain's over-the-shoulder pass to Richard Sandilands, who ripped it away from Mateo Jimenez for a touchdown. Ray Siler's fumble recovery for a touchdown. (I swear this guy makes so many plays that eventually the coaching staff will have to consider him.) Click the link at the top of the page to read a narrative of the 90-minute scrimmage. Or you can visit ZipsNation.org to see Captain Kangaroo's thoughts. The ABJ's David Lee Morgan also showed up, so check out tomorrow's paper.
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