It might sound like sour grapes, but the Zips outplayed Buffalo last night.
They should have won if not for 1) Allowing Buffalo to go 5-for-5 on fourth down (What is this, Madden '08?) 2) Losing the turnover battle by two. 3) Not converting on three field goals -- two because penalties took Akron out of Igor Iveljic's range. 4) Offensive playcalling that made me pull my hair out all night. 5) More dropped passes than I can ever remember.
Regardless, Akron was the home team. It had a large crowd for motivation, yet still did not finish the game. There is no excuse for winning in such a charged atmosphere.
I'm sure Zips fans like me are completely disappointed. Football is funny in that way -- every fanbase expects to win every week. In reality, why should Akron win on any given week instead of another team and their fans? Is it the coaching? The players? Football is set up to destroy its fans' morale. Every week, the excitement of fans for both teams builds. Half of those people have to leave the stadium or turn off the TV/radio with a sour taste.
Anyhow, here are my grades...
Chris Jacquemain and
Dennis Kennedy botched the final handoff as a team. From the postgame comments, it sounds like it was Kennedy's fault. Regardless, it's too easy to focus on the final screw-up, rather than the 15 that led to it. In terms of accuracy, Jacquemain was inconsistent. Completing 20-of-38 passes is not a good game against a MAC team. However, he did throw some balls that impressed me, particularly over the middle. Also, the receivers were awful.
Running back -- Kennedy played a fantastic game until the last play. He had 142 rushing yards, 121 receiving yards and four touchdowns. One thing that Kennedy is not, however, is a short-yardage back. He tends to dance in the backfield on short yardage. This would be an A+ performance, but for the two fumbles.
Wide receiver -- In fairness to Jacquemain, there were AT LEAST five dropped passes. I was half-kidding last week about nicknaming
Deryn Bowser as "Braylon Bowser." It is sounding more apt by the game. It seems like the guy cannot concentrate unless the degree of difficulty is high.
Dashan Miller had two drops that I can remember. One of them would have put Akron at the goal line.
Jose Cruz dropped a certain touchdown. The ball must have hit him in the numbers. However,
Andre Jones played well. He and Kennedy were this unit's saving grace.
Offensive line -- The line protected Jacquemain from being sacked all night. It also opened some nice holes for Kennedy, particularly off tackle. For all it's effort, the line cost Akron six points. I cannot remember who was responsible for which penalty, but
Chris Kemme was involved somehow. This game would have been a blowout without the line playing so hard. Conversely, it would have ended in regulation favorably without the penalties.
Defensive line -- Something happened at halftime that made Akron better against the run. I wish I knew more about football so I could tell you what it is. I'll tell you this, though. This defense has far too much talent to be giving up so many points and yards on a weekly basis. (Consider that to be my weekly public service announcement against the 3-3-5.)
Doug Williams made 15 tackles. The three starters combined for 37. That is a lot of work. They started to plug the line better in the second half. Rather than allowing
James Starks to run east-west until he found a gap, the Zips began to wrap him up more frequently at the line.
Secondary -- The cornerbacks had a tough assignment with
Naaman Roosevelt, who is like Bowser with more height and hands instead of ping-pong paddles.
Drew Willy seemed very accurate, too. Each cornerback played well individually; it just felt like Buffalo had some great plays that could take advantage of the seams in the Zips secondary.
Special teams -- Iveljic missed two field goals.
John Stec's punting average of 30.3 was below his usual rate. However, his fake was well-executed. Besides one nice return from Miller, the return teams did nothing special.
Coaching -- As usual, I have some beefs: Where the heck was
Joe Tuzze on some of those short-yardage plays? What about
Andrew Johnson? Kennedy had to be exhausted. Give him a rest. He's not particularly good at short-yardage situations anyhow... Akron called some AWFUL plays on important downs. On the two-point conversion (that would have won the game), Jacquemain passed into a cluster of players and it fell incomplete. I would add more examples if I re-watched the tape... On kick returns, why have two guys back? When you have a returner as good as
Bryan Williams, isolate him like the Browns do with
Joshua Cribbs... I will give credit for the fake punt. I was wondering when
J.D. Brookhart was going to pull a trick... The team's discipline waned for the second-straight game, but at least the team played hard. If anyone thinks Brookhart is losing his job, they're nuts.