Patrick Nicely is the future. Unfortunately, he's also the present. He hasn't received first-team snaps most of the year. Heck, this time last year, he was playing against guys my size. The good news is that Nicely will learn more from playing than from sitting. The bad news is that there is potential to pick up bad habits at this stage. It appears that
J.D. Brookhart is personally taking the responsibility to push Nicely and that
Walt Harris is also taking a serious interest in Nicely's development. All of this rambling is to say that I don't care much what Nicely's stats say this year. He needs to get better each week. If he looks as good as
Chris Jacquemain by the end of the year, that would be a great building year. I think stardom is realistic, but it's also tenuous. What happens with Nicely this year may determine how he plays the next three.
Grade: B Wide receiver -- With
Deryn Bowser's career likely finished with a broken leg,
Jeremy LaFrance stepped up and claimed his rank among Nicely's featured targets. I thought
Dashan Miller ran a couple nice routes. And hallelujah!
Andre Jones is back at receiver. The Zips needed him there. That is the position at which Jones can make the biggest impact.
Grade: B+ Running back --
DeVoe Torrence's performance was probably the brightest point from Saturday. He ran for 94 yards on 13 carries. A few more games like that, and we'll know who's taking the carries in 2010.
Grade: B+ Offensive line -- The line showed significant improvement. Torrence had wide holes, particularly in the first half.
Grade: A- Defensive line -- The Zips did a nice job limiting Buffalo's run game.
Ike Nduka averaged only 2.3 yards per carry.
Hasan Hazime picked up six tackles and a sack.
Grade: B Linebacker --
Brian Wagner's engine never cools. This week, it was 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
Shawn Lemon looked good with his 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. (Someone will have to explain to me why he only played two or three snaps against Ohio.)
Grade: A- Defensive back --
Jalil Carter logged a team-leading 12 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup. The backs had a difficult task against
Naaman Roosevelt, who is one of the nation's best receivers. He caught 12 balls for 100 yards and two touchdowns, but Akron didn't let him burn the Zips on a deep strike.
Grade: B Special teams --
Branko Rogovic was 1-for-2 on field goal attempts.
John Stec's rugby-style punts averaged only 32.8 yards. The coverage units did fine.
Grade: C- Coaching -- Akron's talent is pretty close to Buffalo's. I haven't had much of a beef with the playcalling this year. The personnel decisions, aside from Lemon, have suited me OK. The problem is, this is Brookhart's team. He recruited everyone on the roster. He has a brand-new stadium. He has a coaching staff chock full of talent. What are we waiting for? There have been bad breaks, but that's football. Every team has injuries and a certain amount of off-field controversy. Do I think Brookhart can coach? Yes. Do I think he is a leader? Absolutely. But success simply hasn't happened since 2005. Eventually, someone has to be held accountable. Right? The next two weeks bring two road games against decent teams. Akron might be playing Kent State with a 1-7 record. Eeek.