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Spring Game notes

By mrasor Published: April 4, 2009

Football
I'm not going to talk about stats or scores from the Spring Game. I would rather read the phonebook than a list of meaningless stats or the final score of a game with an unconventional scoring system.

    Here are some notes...
    Manley Waller made the defensive play of the game. He popped Jeremy Bruce after Bruce caught a short pass. It was a vicious hit, and Brookhart fears that it fractured Bruce's clavicle. Brookhart discourages these blind hits in practice, but this was a game. So it's OK.
    At least 20 players sat out the Spring Game because of injuries. You can think of that as a negative, but I think it has its advantages. Young players need spring football more than veterans. More reps for the young linebackers, for example, could pay dividends in August.
    We have a kicker controversy -- not the bad kind, like when Igor Iveljic talked about his plans to celebrate the Kent State win with a boozefest. It's the good kind. Branko Rogovic improved a lot since the last we saw him, Brookhart said. He boomed a field goal that appeared to have enough juice on it to sail 55 yards. Iveljic was 10th in the MAC in field goal percentage last season, so the job is Rogovic's if his accuracy matches his distance.
    I talked with two people who toured InfoCision Stadium today. They talked about some of the features designed to give Akron a home-field advantage, such as the increased steepness of the upper stands, which makes the fans' volume seem louder. Word is, they will be laying the field surface in 50 days. It will look a lot more like a football stadium at that point. Brookhart has been preaching the importance of this season, considering the commitment that the university made to the team. "It's a pivotal, critical year," Brookhart said. "We have a large responsibility. We talk about it every day."
    Chris Jacquemain looks like the same player as last year. Right when I'm about to believe in him, he swallows his tongue. Jacquemain is a sturdy passer for about 95 percent of the snaps, but he has propensity for making a critical error that swings the momentum of a game. Tom Gaffney compared Jacquemain to Buffalo's Drew Willy, who led the Bulls to a MAC title as a senior. The important difference between Jacquemain and Willy, however, is that Willy kept his interception totals low during his entire career. Jacquemain's interception numbers were high as a sophomore and increased by four as a junior. Hopefully, the coaches will realize that Matt Rodgers deserves some game time to see what he can do. It seems like we are heading in that direction because by the end of spring camp, Rodgers began to get reps with the first-string offense.
    The running back situation became hazier during spring, as well. Brookhart cleared it up by saying Alex Allen and Dale Martin will top the depth chart, in that order. All of the other backs will fight for playing time behind them. It's no sure thing that either of the injury-prone players will be healthy. DeVoe Torrence played well today with a couple long runs. Says Brookhart: "We started to see what DeVoe can do in the last 10 days. He has to commit to the little things." My question is, why aren't we talking about Joe Tuzze getting about 10 carries per game?
    I asked Brookhart to list the inexperienced players who earned consideration for playing time based on their spring performance. He mentioned linebackers Brian Wagner and Troy Gilmer, defensive linemen Dan Marcoux and Marquinn Davis and offensive lineman Jake Anderson. In addition, Brookhart was impressed with Deryn Bowser's improvement.
    Now that the spring season has concluded, the coaches will re-enter the recruiting circuit. There can be no official team practices until August, but the players themselves will organize seven-on-seven drills, study the playbook and hit the weightroom (or at least Brookhart hopes they will).

Men's soccer
The Zips traveled to No. 1 Wake Forest Friday and won, 3-0. No team has beaten Wake Forest on the Demon Deacons' home field in three years.
Akron's spring schedule is a tough one. The Zips will play road game against national semifinalist North Carolina on Sunday and perennial power Indiana on April 18. Akron will conclude its spring schedule on April 26 when the Columbus Crew visits campus for a game against the Zips. That should be entertaining.
Will this be the year for Akron to win its first team national championship?
Men's basketball
Former Akron assistant coach Shaka Smart accepted the head coaching job at Virginia Commonwealth -- an amazing way to break into Division I head coaching.
At the press conference, Smart credited two of his mentors, Billy Donovan and Keith Dambrot.
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