J.D. Brookhart has a problem.
A really, really good one.
He has about five running backs who would merit carries on a decent Mid-American Conference team.
Last year, that would have come in handy after first and second stringers Dennis Kennedy and Alex Allen suffered injuries.
"You better be three-deep minimum at tailback or you're in trouble," Brookhart said.
Along with a healthy Kennedy and Allen, the coaches can call upon Andre Walker, who has had a fantastic spring, Joe McDaniel, who looked pretty solid today, and Joe Tuzze, a capable bruiser.
That's not to mention Bryan Williams and Aaris Reed, who could earn carries during the summer.
When I asked Brookhart about Williams, he let out a good chuckle. He knows he has a great problem on his hands.
Brookhart said the lack of depth at wide receiver has made it difficult for the healthy receivers to keep up. When the team runs three- or four-receiver sets, fatigue becomes a major issue. Getting
Jermaine Lindsey and
David Harvey back should work wonders for the passing game.
Chris Jacquemain looked pretty good today. He threw some nice passes and led the team to the 4-yard line during the 10 minute scrimmage that concluded practice. Truthfully, it's the first time Jacquemain has impressed me all spring.
Brookhart called a holding penalty on the defense that kept that drive going in the red zone. Quipped big
Nate Robinson: "Take that guy off the payroll!" Actually, big Nate is still big. He's just not as enormous around the waist. It looks like the guy really shaped up.
Carlton Jackson captained the final drive of the day, which ended in a fumbled snap or some sort of confusion about the handoff.
Mack Rhoades was in attendance. I tried to pick his brain a little about conferences and such, seeing as how it's not a very well kept secret that Akron is unhappy with the MAC.
Rhoades was at Texas-El Paso when the university moved from the WAC to Conference USA. He said there are seven categories a conference looks for when choosing a new team (In parenthesis, I'll comment on how I think Akron fares): community support (poor), athletic success (below average), facilities (good, soon to be excellent with a new stadium and renovations to Rhodes Arena), TV market (decent, if you count Cleveland), geography (good, if we're talking about the Big East), athletes' academics (better than you would think) and transportation access (excellent with two airports within an hour).
So it's not really all about having a football powerhouse or 30,000 fans at every game. Mainly, you want a well-rounded institution. My concern is, how will Akron improve in community support? Rhoades said he's been working on that until 10 p.m. each night. While he was at UTEP, football attendance jumped from 15,000 to 47,000 in five years. His plan at Akron is to start a grassroots campaign, sending staffers out to the community and using a telemarketing company to make calls. The new slogan for this season is "Roo Town." I haven't seen any posters yet, but it seems like a good idea.
The team will practice without pads tomorrow. Every team must have three helmet-only practices out of the 15. It is one of the NCAA's silly rules about spring football. Since Brookhart has an ultimate frisbee game planned for tomorrow, I'm not bothering to show up.
Saturday is much different. At 11 a.m., the team will conclude the spring season with a 100-play scrimmage. Although it's outdoors, the event is closed to the public. Brookhart hopes to figure out the quarterback and offensive line position battles during the scrimmage.
talked to coach
Tom Porten about the team's historic string of success.
The team hopes to win its first-ever home event at Firestone Country Club and Windmill Lakes Golf Course on Sunday.
discussed the team's upcoming gauntlet of MAC East teams with coach
The most prominent of these games is the matchup against Kent State Tuesday at Canal Park. Proceeds will go to Akron Children's Hospital.