I took the following picture this morning (as a break from my Tax reading). Tell me what is missing.
OK. Time is up. The giant "InfoCision Stadium" sign with the Akron emblem came down in the wind storm. I think it was yesterday, but I'm not sure. Anyhow, the university is lucky no one got killed by giant falling letters. If you pick up a copy of the Buchtelite, you will see the picture of smashed-up sign on the pavement.
The ABJ's Jonas Fortune wrote about what J.D. Brookhart has in store for the bye week. The coach will try to bolster the running game by getting DeVoe Torrence and Broderick Alexander carries in practice.
The coach also showed a willingness to play Patrick Nicely. I think that's a mistake, unless we see Matt Rodgers struggle behind a line that actually blocks the pass rush. If you're subbing in a true freshman with hopes to win now, I don't think you can assume that Nicely will be any more poised than Rodgers behind the Charmin line.
The University of Akron men's soccer team scored six goals in the first half and never looked back Saturday night in a 6-0 victory over Bowling Green at Lee Jackson Field.
The Zips improved to 7-0-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the Mid-American Conference and the Falcons dropped to 1-6-2 overall and 0-1-0 in the MAC.
A steady rain Saturday limited the crowd to 647 fans, but didn't seem to bother the Zips, the country's No. 1 ranked team according to all five national polls.
Sophomore Teal Bunbury led the Zips with two goals and sophomore Michael Nanchoff had four assists, which matched a 43-year-old school record.
Nanchoff is the third UA player to record four assists in one game. He joins Ed Bender, who first set the record in 1956, and his father, George Nanchoff, who accomplished the feat in 1974.
UA also got one goal apiece from freshman Chad Barson, sophomore Darlington Nagbe, senior Ben Zemanski and freshman Ben Speas.
Zips with one assist were Zemanski, senior Anthony Ampaipitakwong and junior Chris Korb.
Freshman David Meves and sophomore Josh Pantazelos were UA’s goalkeepers; and the Zips starting defenders were Barson, Korb, sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and freshman Zarek Valentin.
UA held an advantage over BGSU in shots (21-2), shots on goal (11-0) and corner kicks (7-1).
The Zips have shutout their last four opponents and Caleb Porter owns a 15-1-1 record against MAC schools since becoming UA’s coach in 2006.
UA hosts Ohio State on Wednesday. The match, which is expected to be a sellout, is set to start at 7:30 p.m. The Zips defeated the Buckeyes twice last season, 4-3 in a regular season match in Columbus and 1-0 in a double overtime match played in Akron. The second matchup came in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Saturday might be the most pivotal game in J.D. Brookhart's career.
After a turmoil-filled week, his team is up against a dominant offense that beat Michigan State and came within 13 points of Arizona. Both games were on the road.
Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour hasn't gotten the hype of MAC quarterbacks in the past because scouts don't believe him to be a sure-fire pro prospect. If I had to pick MAC quarterback (past or present) to win a game, I would take LeFevour. His leadership and ability to play running back and quarterback with equal skill have made CMU into a perennial power that consistently wins the close games.
It would have been nice for Akron to play a creampuff on the Saturday after the team suspended two players and a coach. Rather, the Zips will play a team that has a high propensity for embarrassing opponents. That is what Brookhart cannot afford.
I was checking out the three sports magazines I get in the mail - Sports Illustrated, Sporting News and ESPN - and suddenly as I read one story, a school name and coaches name jumped out at me.
The University of Akron is ranked No. 50 in the country in a Sporting News men's college basketball article.
SN college basketball writers Mike DeCourcy and Jeff D'Alessio put together a list of their top 50 teams in the country for the 2009-2010 season and UA made the cut.
Zips coach Keith Dambrot is quoted in the magazine, saying: "We are in elite company on this list, and that is proof that we have taken another step toward our goal of becoming a top-25 program."
DeCourcy and D'Alessio's projection means the Zips would be dancing in March for the second consecutive season. UA qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season after winning the Mid-American Conference tournament title by defeating Buffalo at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Kansas is ranked No. 1.
Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas, Purdue, Duke, Villanova and Mississippi State round out the top 10.
UNC is the defending national champion.
Other Ohio schools ranked in the top 50 are: Ohio State (19), Dayton (23), Cincinnati (26) and Xavier (30).
The Zips return four starters from last season: senior forward Chris McKnight, senior guard Darryl Roberts, sophomore guard Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens and sophomore forward Nikola Cvetinovic. The only starter lost was Nate Linhart, a four-year standout forward.
Key UA reserves returning are: senior forward Jimmy Conyers, junior forward Brett McKnight, junior guard Steve McNees, junior center Mike Bardo and sophomore guards Brett McClanahan and Ronnie Steward.
The 2009-2010 Zips will also feature highly-touted 7-foot freshman center Zeke Marshall, a consensus top-100 recruit and rival.com’s highest-ranked player to ever sign with a MAC school.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 41 in the article. The Bulldogs defeated the Zips in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Rose Garden in Portland last season.
You don't see good turn to bad so quickly unless you read the Bible's book of Job or (for the agnostics out there) Ron Burgundy in Anchorman.
Within 10 days, coach J.D. Brookhart saw the biggest donor in the history of the program suffer a serious heart ailment at a relatively young age. He learned the buzz of a new stadium would not keep people's attention, even when a Big Ten team visits. He kicked his starting quarterback off the team. He suspended a second player, who allegedly slugged a man in the face until the man stopped moving. He became embroiled in a possible NCAA recruiting violation.
Brookhart was serious when he said it's been the hardest time in his career.
Since 5 p.m., almost half of the visitors to this blog have said this season is a lost cause. They have given up. To pour gasoline on the fire, on Saturday the team faces the steepest challenge in the conference: Central Michigan.
For the first time since I started covering the team, I think it's more likely than not that the head coach of one of the major teams will be fired. Brookhart cannot always directly control the shenanigans of his players and coaches or the apathy of the fans, but this sort of thing tends to reflect back on the man who runs the program. His seat is scalding.
In times like these, teams often flop. They come out of the locker room with an "us against the world" attitude, but that adrenaline wears off. The team becomes demoralized after the first mistake, and then the wheels come off. Penalties. Blown assignments. Careless mistakes. Blowout score. You see it a lot at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
If that happens on Saturday, Tom Wistrcill should tap Walt Harris to take over. Harris will have a bye week to become acclimated and reverse the team's momentum. There will still be an opportunity to compete for a MAC title.
But! Some teams are vulcanized by these tribulations. Sure, they have the usual adrenaline boost; however, they sustain it because the team was built on discipline and teamwork, not inconsistency and big egos. Severe turbulence will show what sort of athletes Brookhart recruited and what impact his coaching has made.
If that happens on Saturday, Brookhart has earned an opportunity to at least finish the season. The Zips don't have to win, but they must play with dignity. They must play football with unrelenting passion and discipline.
That will be the test. And I think the Zips and Brookhart will pass.
Count me as one of the fans who believes the season is NOT over.
To read more or comment...
The up and down Zips career of Chris Jacquemain has come to a crashing end, according to the ABJ's Tom Gaffney. The 23-year-old senior quarterback was officially dismissed from the team today.
On the same day, assistant coach Reno Ferri was placed on administrative leave with pay. A review by the university will determine if Ferri violated NCAA recruiting rules. Ferri has held a multitude of positions at UA since joining the football program in 2004. He currently serves as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Because a review is ongoing, the university is keeping quiet.
"This has been the toughest week of my professional career," coach J.D. Brookhart said today.
Jacquemain, meanwhile, was one of the top quarterbacks in Zips history, when looking at the statistics. Starting 23 games, he completed 411-of-718 passes for 4,691 yards, 35 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. The completions, attempts and yards each rank fourth in school history.
"I would like to apologize to the university, coaches, team and fans for some bad decisions on my part," Jacquemain said in a press release. "Right now, I will try to put this behind me and concentrate on completing my degree."
Earlier today news about defensive linemen Cowles Stewart being charged with assault came out.
All this, however, has led Zips fans to look forward to men's basketball season. The season for the Zips hoops squad tips off Nov. 10 against Mount Union.
But we want to know, given today's bad news and a poor 1-2 start by the football team, we have this question for fans:
Defensive lineman Cowles Stewart has been charged with felonious assault after allegedly punching a man in the face until he went unconscious.
The team suspended Stewart following the charges, stemming from an incident last month.
The bad news continues for this team. First, it was major donor Gary Taylor having a serious heart problem. Next, it was Chris Jacquemain being suspended indefinitely. Then, it was a beatdown by Indiana in front of a lackluster crowd. Now, it's Stewart facing serious charges. Soon, you will hear about a recruiting problem.
When does this end?
It’s unanimous; the University of Akron men’s soccer team is ranked No. 1 in the country.
The Zips (6-0-0) are the consensus No. 1 college soccer team according to five polls; National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas, Soccer Times, Soccer America, Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News.
UA is one of just five schools in the country with a perfect record so far. The others are UMBC (7-0-0), Monmouth (6-0-0), Harvard (5-0-0) and Stetson (5-0-0).
“I am pleased with the diversity in the attack,” UA coach Caleb Porter said following a win Sunday. “We are getting goals from a lot of different spots, which makes us unpredictable to deal with. I think it's also a sign of the chemistry, the unity and the cohesiveness of this group. We defend as a team, we attack as a team and our leadership was tremendous.”
In other Zips men's soccer news:
Zips sophomore midfielder Michael Nanchoff was also named Soccer America’s National Player of the Week after being named Offensive MVP of the University of Akron Tournament last weekend. He scored a goal in UA’s 1-0 win over No. 8/10 Indiana University on Friday night and had an assist in a 4-0 victory over Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon.
UA sophomore forward Teal Bunbury and freshman defender Zarek Valentin were named to National Teams of the Week by Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News, respectively.
Bunbury scored twice in the triumph over Saint Louis and is tied with freshman forward Yoram Mwila for the team lead in goals with three.
Valentin has been key to a UA defense that has recorded five shutouts in six matches. The Zips lead all Division I programs in shutout percentage (0.83) and are second with a 0.17 goals-against-average.
“Definitely I am really pleased,” Porter said. “We are not giving many chances and our backline is solid.”
UA will open Mid-American Conference play Saturday night when they host Bowling Green at Lee Jackson Field for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
An injury to Matt Rodgers will mean a lot more than a normal quarterback injury for the Zips this year.
Akron pulled true freshman Patrick Nicely off the scout team; he will cover second-string duties, according to ESPN.com.
From the day that Nicely verbally committed, it was decided that he would redshirt this year. This move puts that plan in jeopardy, but you wouldn't want to risk a season on a non-scholarship player.
Whatever Chris Jacquemain did to get suspended, the coaches thought it prudent not to tell the rest of the team.
A player told me that coaches alerted the team, but they did not say why Jacquemain was suspended because it might cause the players to lose focus. That surprises me, because it indicates that the unspoken news could cause a bigger distraction than the spoken news -- that Akron would play its first home game against a Big Ten opponent without its senior quarterback.
Contrast this situation to last year. When J.D. Brookhart suspended Andre Jones last November, it was announced that Jones broke the class-attendance policy.
Tom Gaffney's story in the ABJ suggests that Jacquemain "will not be returning to the University of Akron football team soon -- if at all."
All of this tells me that it's safe to say Matt Rodgers will start at Central Michigan. Should he?
On the positive side... If you believe in the power of prayer, you will be uplifted by the story of Gary Taylor, who regained consciousness shortly after his family decided to remove his breathing tube and take him to hospice. Taylor, whose heart stopped beating from an arrhythmia on Sept. 13, donated $10 million for the construction of InfoCision Stadium, which is named after the company that he founded. It sounds like Taylor has a long road to recover from this illness, but he still has that power behind him.
The University of Akron men's soccer team concluded it's own tournament Sunday afternoon with a decisive performance.
Sophomores Teal Bunbury and Kofi Sarkodie led the No. 1 Zips to a 4-0 victory over Saint Louis in front of 1,150 fans at Lee Jackson Field. The victory over Saint Louis (3-3-0), coupled with a 1-0 win over No. 8 Indiana (3-2-2) on Friday night, allowed the Zips (6-0-0) to win the UA Tournament.
“It feels amazing,” said Bunbury, who scored two goals in the second half Sunday. “That was our goal from the beginning, to start the season off right.”
UA, ranked No. 1 in the country according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA/adidas), Soccer America, Top Drawer Soccer and the Soccer Times, led 1-0 at halftime and then put Saint Louis away with three goals in the final 45 minutes.
“I thought we played well,” UA coach Caleb Porter said. “I was a little concerned only from the standpoint that often times after a big win there is a letdown ... but we knew were going to have be at our best again because Saint Louis is a good team. That is sometimes hard, to bring it again when you have such an emotional game like we had on Friday.”
The Zips controlled the ball for a majority of the game and held an advantage in shots (21-3), shots on goal (12-1) and corner kicks (9-3).
“I thought we really came out from the start and dictated the game, which is what we wanted to do,” Porter said. “We knew if we could get on the ball and open them up, that on a hot day it's difficult to have to defend and chase the ball.”
Sophomore Darlington Nagbe scored the Zips first goal Sunday from nine yards away with 29:18 remaining in the first half. Sarkodie assisted on the goal with a pass up the field from about 50 yards away to Nagbe, who then used his right foot to kick the ball into the bottom right portion of the net past Billikens freshman goalkeeper Mark Pais.
“That was a good ball by Kofi, a great run by Darlington and a good finish,” Porter said.
Bunbury then scored goals with 36:58 and 19:31 left in the second half. Sarkodie assisted on Bunbury's first goal with a crossing pass that Bunbury booted into the net from 16 yards away. Bunbury's second tally came unassisted from 15 yards away after a Pais save.
“The gameplan is to try to dominate,” Bunbury said. “Keeping possession of the ball, being dominate in the attack and having a killer instinct, that is in the back of our minds.”
Freshman Yoram Mwila scored UA's final goal with 13:40 to go in the second half with a kick from 12 yards away in the bottom left of the net. Redshirt sophomore Michael Nanchoff assisted on Mwila's goal with a crossing pass from the left.
“We are a possession oriented team and we like to keep possession of the ball in the opponents half,” Sarkodie said. “This game is a perfect example of that.”
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves recorded his fifth shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders Sarkodie, junior Chris Korb and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
Bunbury, Sarkodie, Nagbe, and Zips senior Ben Zemanski were each named to the All-Tournament Team. Nanchoff was named the tournament's Offensive MVP and Valentin received Defensive MVP honors. UA junior Blair Gavin won the tournament's Sportsmanship Award.
“It was a great weekend,” Porter said. “We had two shutouts and scored five goals.”
Additional postgame quotes:
“I am pleased with the diversity in the attack. We are getting goals from a lot of different spots, which makes us unpredictable to deal with. I think it's also a sign of the chemistry, the unity and the cohesiveness of this group. We defend as a team, we attack as a team and out leadership was tremendous today, especially.”
“I thought today we put the game away early. It makes me a little more comfortable on the bench.”
“I think this is just the tip of iceberg for this team, which is scary. We can be better in every aspect.”
“Definitely I am really pleased. We are not giving many chances and our backline is solid.”
“Our coach is always striving for us to get the first goal and after that to open up the floodgates. We felt at halftime that we would come out and put them away.”
“We need to improve on all aspects.”
“Each day in practice, we try to be the best we can. Every practice is intense.”
“The main thing I think we have to work on is getting goals off of re-starts and corner kicks.”
“I hit the ball (ahead) to Darlington or Teal in the preseason and a couple of times in games. It is a ball that I am always looking for.”
“To be honest we are firing, we are moving really well and we are getting goals from everyone.”
Additional postgame notes:
Porter played 20 different Zips players on Sunday.
The starting lineup consisted of: Meves at goalkeeper; Valentin, Barson, Sarkodie and Korb as defenders; Gavin, Nanchoff, Zemanski and junior Anthony Ampaipitakwong as midfielders and Nagbe and Bunbury at forward.
The reserves who played were: freshmen Mwila, Ben Speas, Scott Caldwell and Thomas Schmitt, sophomore Matt Dagilis, junior Enrique Paez and seniors C.J. Kaufman, Stefan Ostergren and Ivan Sandoval.
Saint Louis has qualified for the past three NCAA Tournaments. SLU posted a 12-5-5 record last season and were ranked the entire season between No. 5 and No. 23. The Billikens have won an NCAA-record 10 national championships and have qualified for the NCAA Tournament 45 times. The national titles were won between 1959 and 1973.
Quarterback -- It's hard to defend a player who throws four picks. But for his first game, Matt Rodgers showed a strong arm and ability to make a great throw. To tell the whole story, however, Rodgers was up and down, but mostly down. I was hoping for more scrambling, which is Rodgers' strength at this point in his career. The poor blocking and tipped passes made him look worse than he should have. The real reason for a failing grade here is Chris Jacquemain, whose unexplained suspension had to put a shock into Akron's offense. It forced Rodgers into his first career start, in a week he presumably didn't take the first-string snaps in practice. Rumors about why Jacquemain was suspended are all over the board. I won't speculate here, but if the cause is serious enough to take him off the field in a game of this importance, is he worthy of leading the offense? Grade: F
Wide receiver -- There were some dropped passes, but Deryn Bowser had another big game. I really think the Zips need a second threat at receiver. You can't rely on Jeremy LaFrance to be a No. 2 receiver in his first year. We have seen enough from Dashan Miller to know he is not a No. 2 receiver. Jeremy Bruce has not been consistent enough. I hate to say it, but Andre Jones needs to move back. Grade: B-
Running back -- The Zips need one of their five running backs to emerge as the leader. Giving them all equal snaps will stall that. Because the run blocking is so shoddy, I don't know the emergence of one back will happen, period. The lack of running production put the Zips in third-and-long situations, and the Zips were 1-for-7 on third down. You can't win games doing that. Grade: D
Offensive line -- Was Chris Kemme really that valuable to Akron's line? What is wrong with this group? Indiana sacked Rodgers three times, but Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew were in his kitchen all day. Last year, they barely had to wash Jacquemain's jersey. Plus, on Saturday the Zips could not sustain a drive through running the ball. Last year, it seemed like anyone who touched the ball would flirt with a 200-yard game. Somebody has to snap these guys into gear. Grade: D-
Defensive line -- Almondo Sewell blocked a field goal and made four tackles. But all three of Indiana's running backs got about whatever they wanted. Chappell never felt even a breeze of pressure. Grade: C
Linebacker -- It's clear the Zips have great talent at linebacker. Now answer me this: How could the defense log only one tackle for loss, zero sacks and zero quarterback hurries. The three-man front necessitates an aggressive blitzing strategy. Brian Wagner still forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and made 12 tackles (eight solo). The Zips have five play-making linebackers. Let's see them put in positions to make the other quarterback uncomfortable. Grade: B
Secondary -- Ben Chappell completed 18-of-28 passes. It seemed like he had all day to find his desired receiver. In addition, Akron was giving Indiana receivers huge cushions after the snap. They were basically giving away eight or 15 yards per play. Akron really should have forced Chappell to throw downfield. Aside from some tackling gaffes, the individual members of secondary weren't bad. It was a passive strategy that held them from being more effective. Grade: C
Special teams -- The opening return for a touchdown was rough, but the unit made up for it with Jalil Carter's blocked punt that turned into an Aaron Williams touchdown. And I already mentioned Sewell's block. We saw Zack Campbell get an opportunity to punt, and he did well. Igor Iveljic was this week's kicker, but he was not tested with only three extra-point attempts. Grade: C+
Coaching -- The Rodgers offense must be different from the Jacquemain offense. Until Rodgers finds a comfort level, the coaches should focus on short passes and quarterback draws with the occasional deep strike. I think Rodgers showed he has the arm strength to make deep throws, but calling for these passes early is too much to ask. I do applaud J.D. Brookhart for suspending Jacquemain -- assuming the punishment fit the offense. I sincerely hope that the length of Jacquemain's suspension is not dependent on Rodgers' play. That's a great way to lose respect of the team and the fans. ... SOMETHING must be done about the offensive line's funk. ... Only three games into the season, Akron has plenty of time to fix its shortcomings. Was Saturday disappointing? Of course. Will it affect the MAC season? It doesn't need to. Grade: B
Akron remained perfect with a 4-0 win over St. Louis today at Lee Jackson Field.
Akron took first in the weekend tournament. Zips sophomore Michael Nanchoff was Offensive MVP and true freshman Zarek Valentin earned Defensive MVP honors.
Akron opens MAC play on Saturday at 7:30 at home against Bowling Green.
The atmosphere and intensity at Lee Jackson Field on Friday night was very fun and very exciting to experience in person.
The match between No. 1 University of Akron and No. 8 Indiana attracted a record crowd for a men’s soccer match at UA and the sounds of chanting, horns and drums were quite loud.
Zips redshirt sophomore Michael Nanchoff scored a goal off of a free kick with 12:56 remaining in the second half to guide the host Zips to a 1-0 victory over the Hoosiers in front of a sellout crowd of 2,443.
Nanchoff kicked the ball with his left foot from 23 yards away around a wall of Indiana players and past Hoosiers redshirt freshman Luis Soffner into the bottom right of the net.
UA was the aggressor for most of the match, especially in the second half. The Zips held an advantage in shots (10-7), shots on goal (5-2) and corner kicks (5-4).
Sophomore Teal Bunbury led the Zips offense with four shots, and junior Blair Gavin and Nanchoff had two shots apiece.
Bunbury and junior Anthony Ampaipitakwong each had shots on goal that required Soffner to make diving stops.
Ampaipitakwong’s shot came with 1:22 left in the first half and Soffner made the save by diving to his left and catching the ball with both hands. Bunbury’s shot came with the 41:40 left in the second half and Soffner made the save by diving to his right and slapping the ball away.
Zips freshman goalkeeper David Meves recorded his fourth shutout of the season with the assistance of starting defenders junior Chris Korb, sophomore Kofi Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson.
For more on the game, check out my story in today’s Akron Beacon Journal sports section or on ohio.com.
Here are some of the best quotes from last night:
UA fourth-year coach Caleb Porter won why he chose Nanchoff to take the free kick: “When we got that free kick, I knew he was going to take it because on that side of the goal the angle would be good for him.”
Porter regarding his happiness with the Zips focus: “We really focused on what's important, and that is performing well for 90 minutes. I thought we controlled the game and deserved to win. I was proud of the fact that we were the aggressor at the end of the game.”
Nanchoff regarding the crowd: “It was absolutely phenomenal. It was like a European atmosphere. It was beautiful with the horns and the AK-Rowdies.”
Nanchoff on the free kick that resulted in a goal: “I had a really good feeling about it. Our coach always talks about winning the moment. Our coach always talks about being patient. We really like to possess the ball and I thought we did a real good job with that. Eventually, with patience, the goal will come.”
Sarkodie on the fan support: “I thank the fans for coming out. They really gave us that extra 12th man on the field. It was great to have them.”
Akron's Michael Nanchoff scored a goal in the 77th minute to lift the No. 1 Zips above the No. 8 Indiana Hoosiers by a 1-0 score.
The sell-out game had a great atmosphere. Sitting behind the net with the AK-Rowdies was a unique experience, and I intent to do it again and again. I don't think I ever truly appreciated the speed and dexterity at which the nation's best soccer players operate. Forget the one-to-nil score; it was serious entertainment.
I know Michael Beaven will post something about this later tonight or tomorrow morning, but I didn't want you to think it's not a huge deal.
In a stunning move before the one of the biggest home games in team history, Akron suspended three-year starting quarterback Chris Jacquemain for a violation of team rules.
As a result, Matt Rodgers will lead the team against Indiana on Saturday. Presumably, the second-stringer will be walk-on Jared Wackerly from North Canton.
According to Tom Gaffney's story, team officials would not comment on the specific cause of the suspension. Jacquemain was also suspended in 2007 for an unspecified violation.
Jacquemain also seemed like a hard worker in practice. During camp, I asked coach J.D. Brookhart about potential offensive captains. He named the four senior receivers, the seniors on the offensive line and Alex Allen. There was no mention of his three-year signal caller.
In 2007, coaches gave Rodgers a good look at being the starter over Jacquemain and Carlton Jackson because of his ability to pick up the offense quickly. Rodgers redshirted that year. In 2008, Rodgers only saw the field in mop-up time. This season, Rodgers leads the team in rushing with 65 yards. He has completed 3-of-8 passes for 24 yards.
In my opinion, Rodgers has always been the player with the higher ceiling. Because of his inexperience and sporadic playing time, he has never found a rhythm with his receivers. But his scrambling ability was evident during the win over Morgan State. Wackerly played the final series against Morgan State, but he did not throw a pass.
The University of Akron men’s soccer team has a big weekend at Lee Jackson Field with games Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The Zips, ranked No. 1 in the country according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA/adidas), Soccer America, Top Drawer Soccer and the Soccer Times will host the annual University of Akron Tournament.
UA plays Indiana University (2-1-1) Friday and St. Louis University (2-2-0) Sunday. The Hoosiers are No. 8 in the NSCAA/adidas poll and No. 10 in the Soccer America poll. A sellout is expected for the UA/IU matchup.
The UA/IU matchup is also exciting because fourth-year Akron Zips head coach Caleb Porter was a four-year letterwinner and a three-time captain at Indiana from 1994-97. He then played briefly in the MLS and was an assistant coach at Indiana, helping the Hoosiers win national championships in 2003 and 2004.
Here are some comments from a conversation with Caleb Porter:
On the expected sellout crowd for Friday night’s UA/IU game: “I think it says a lot about this area and how important soccer is in this community. You have two of the best teams in the country and from what I understand people are going to come out and enjoy a soccer match. Akron can have a team in contention for a national championship. Anybody that is a sports fan should be at this game. You will have two of the best teams in the country going toe-to-toe for 90 minutes. May the best team win.”
On the UA campus, which includes the new InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field for the Zips football team: “There is a buzz around the school. It is a great time to be a Zip. Whether it’s soccer, football, basketball, track, cross country, etc., it’s fun time at Akron. It should be a great weekend. We hope to kick this things off right. This is an important game and we want to be successful. We want to perform well in front of our fans.”
On playing perennial soccer power Indiana: “You can't get caught up on the history. You need to focus on the reality, you are playing the current Indiana team. Having said that, the margin for error in these types of games is very slim. It will come down to who makes plays and who performs. Our players are extremely excited, ready and confident. We are focused on winning this game.”
Thoughts on coaching at Akron and coaching against his alma mater Indiana: “This is my job. This is my livelihood. This is what I do for a living. If you get caught up on the nostalgia, you could lose your bearings. This is my team, my players, and I love them. I will always appreciate what IU did for me as a player, a coach, and as a person. I would not be where I am without IU, but I am with Akron now and I am proud of. and I am excited about what we are building. I will always appreciate and have respect for my roots and what they have done for me.”
- The Zips have a 4-0 record with wins over Southern Methodist University, Tulsa, High Point and Cincinnati. UA holds an advantage over their opponents in goals (9-1), shots (63-17), shots on goal (33-7) and corner kicks (22-11).
- Freshman Yoram Mwila leads the Zips offense with two goals and sophomore Teal Bunbury has a goal and two assists. UA has five other players – juniors Blair Gavin, Anthony Ampaipitakwong and sophomores Kofi Sarkodie, Michael Nanchoff and Darlington Nagbe – with one goal apiece. Gavin also has an assist.
- Freshman Ben Speas and junior Chris Korb have each contributed two assists, and senior Ben Zemanski has been solid.
- Freshman David Meves has recorded three shutouts with the assistance of starting defenders: Korb, Sarkodie and freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson. Meves has 6 saves and allowed just one goal.
- The Zips are 41-2-4 at Lee Jackson Field since 2005 and 11-0-1 in the past 12 home games. Friday’s expected sellout crowd could possibly exceed the largest crowd at Lee Jackson Field. The record is 2,319 fans at the Akron/Ohio State game on Sept. 30, 2005. The Zips defeated the Buckeyes 3-0 that night.
- UA is 4-24-2 all-time against IU and 1-10-0 all-time hosting IU. The Zips are 67-58-10 all-time against teams from the Big Ten Conference.
- UA is 1-7-0 all-time against SLU. The Zips are 23-11-1 all-time against teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference.
- UA sophomore defender Kofi Sarkodie and IU senior defender Ofori Sarkodie are brothers and will square off on the pitch. They met last season when the Zips and Hoosiers played to a scoreless tie in Bloomington, Ind. Their oldest brother, Kwame Sarkodie, played soccer at the University of Cincinnati.
- The Zips are 33-0-0 after holding a lead at halftime since 2006.
- UA is 11-10-6 all-time against opponents ranked in the NSCAA/adidas top 25 poll and 6-2-1 at Lee Jackson Field.
- A special thanks goes out to UA media contact Paul Warner for some of the additional notes that are available on gozips.com.
Check out today’s Akron Beacon Journal sports section and ohio.com for a feature story on University of Akron freshman goalkeeper David Meves.
Here are some additional quotes that are not in the story:
UA coach Caleb Porter on Meves: “The scary thing is this is just the tip off the iceberg for him. He still needs work technically and physically. His presence, his experience and his confidence are tremendous. You just feel safe with him in goal. Some goalkeepers have that and some don't. He knows how to manage a game and he is really good on his feet. He is kind of a quiet kid off the field, but when he steps on the field he really comes to life.”
Porter on the comparison of four-year standout UA goalkeeper Evan Bush and Meves: “They both have that same presence. It comes down to we don't give up a whole lot of shots. We have only given up 17 shots (seven on goal), which is by far the fewest in the country. We defend very well. We don't need a high flying shot stopper. What we need is a very consistent and steady guy, a guy that has a confidence and a swagger about him. You have to be focused for 90 minutes and that can be difficult for a goalkeeper that doesn't face many shots. You go from standing around and not involved in the game, and then boom a shot comes your way. He is one of those guys that will make a save he should make.”
UA assistant coach Dave Giffard on Meves: “Goalkeeping, its a funny thing because they are not always involved in the game. His presence is impressive. Some guys look big in the goal and some look bigger than others even though they are the same size. He is very big in goal and he is very comfortable playing off his line and being connected to the back four. He reads the game well. His confidence and demeanor lead toward his presence.”
Giffard on the team: “I think we are very fortunate to have a lot of talented players. We defend very well as a team and we’re very good on the ball and at maintaining possession.”
Meves’ thoughts on replacing Bush: “There was a little pressure, he was definitely one the of big stars on the team the past four years. I think my defensive guys in front of me are some of the best in the country.”
After doing some snooping, I found out that ticket sales are lagging behind for this week's football game, when compared to the grand opening of InfoCision Stadium.
That should be no surprise. I think you'll see a big walk-up crowd, though. The home opener, by contrast, is a game that people believed would be a sell out, and it was to be such a special experience that nobody wanted to risk missing.
I'm confident it will be another great atmosphere at InfoCision Stadium, especially with the fans that the Hoosiers are sure to bring.
Behind an experienced offensive line, running back Demetrius McCray has picked up nicely as Indiana's starting running back. He ran for 134 yards against Western Michigan. McCray is no Evan Royster, but he is playing like a solid Big Ten back. The difference from the Big Ten style is that Indiana likes to run McCray off tackle, rather than the "three yards and a cloud of dust" strategy.
Two sophomore receivers have emerged as targets for new quarterback Ben Chappell, whose problem has been drives stalling in the redzone. Offensive penalties also have hindered many scoring opportunities.
Indiana's defense gave up 278 passing yards to Eastern Michigan and 266 passing yards to Western Michigan's Tim Hiller. EKU quarterback T.J. Pryor also had success running the ball, scrambling four times for 37 yards.
InfoCision founder Gary Taylor is in the hospital with what might be a heart attack, according to a vice president at the company.
Taylor is in stable but critical condition. The news comes just three days after the University of Akron unveiled InfoCision Stadium, to which Taylor's company purchased the naming rights.
I'm sure he would appreciate prayers from Zips supporters.
Opening Day was everything I could have imagined as a fan. Tailgating was supple in many areas of campus. The atmosphere was thick, particularly on Spicer Street. Oh, and the Zips won big.
My group tailgated in the law school parking lot. Some of my classmates were squeamish about that, but I think the police and administrators approached this day with a realistic view of what needs to be permitted on gameday.
I spent time at several areas of the stadium, including the west student section and south endzone's grassy hill. For Akron students attending their first game, it must have been an experience that will bring them back on Saturday.
Tomorrow is a day that we have anticipated for years. Literally, years.
When I was in undergrad, driving to the Rubber Bowl, I dreamed about how nice it would be to roll out of bed, walk to the tailgate site, watch the game and walk home. That is what college is all about, isn't it?
Along different steps of the way, I have felt the butterflies rustle in anticipation of tomorrow. It started in fall 2004, when President Luis Proenza first mentioned "on-campus stadium" to me. It continued that year when the university released a raw rendering of the stadium. It looked like a pile of Legos, but I'll be darned, those Legos were piled up on my university's campus!
The butterflies grew I first saw an actual rendering from the architect in July 2006. I thought: "Man, what a beautiful place!" Later that summer, Mack Rhoades threw a giant party in the Student Union when all of the renderings were posted.
The butterflies hit a crescendo last football season. I had actual dreams -- seriously, dreams -- about going to this new football stadium. Then I had accompanying nightmares of missing the first game.
Then, earlier this summer, I toured InfoCision Stadium. The furnishings were far from complete, but if your jaw doesn't drop at the majesty of this building, you are far too jaded.
Like I said, tomorrow is a day I have waited for. Talking to hundreds and hundreds of Zips since I started covering the team in 2004, I know my feelings are not unique (well, maybe the nightmares/dreams are).
This will be a day of great joy for the football program. A near sell-out will make it feel nothing like the Zips games of old. I don't know how to take that, but it can't be a bad thing.
As for the game, Akron is very lucky to be starting off against a Division I-AA team. When you have such a huge sideshow as a new stadium, it must be impossible to focus on the techniques you learned during camp and the strategies against individual players.
Morgan State is better than your run-of-the-mill D-IAA team. About 20 of the Bears have transferred from Division I-A teams, including two former Zips: quarterback Carlton Jackson and defensive back Rodney Etienne. Morgan State will run the ball effectively, and the team has playmakers on defense.
Like most games between a D-IA team and D-IAA team, the outcome will depend on how the D-IA team executes. Turnovers and excitement-related penalties can give Morgan State a window. Also, the fact that it's the first game in a new stadium might make the Zips coaches more passive. "Playing not to lose" is not the best strategy for Akron.
This courtesy of UA’s Gregg Bach on gozips.com:
The University of Akron men's basketball team's March 5 game against neighborhood rival Kent State at UA's Rhodes Arena, the regular-season finale for both squads, will be televised on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET, the UA Department of Athletics announced on Thursday.
The television assignment makes this the first time a Zips-Golden Flashes regular-season matchup will be available to a national audience. UA and KSU did face off on ESPN2 in the 2008 Mid-American Conference Tournament title game – a contest the Flashes claimed 74-55 (March 15, 2008).
"Playing this game in front of a national TV audience in a prime time slot is great for both programs and the league," sixth-year Akron head coach Keith Dambrot said. "This is a game that has a great college basketball atmosphere and usually has something more than just bragging rights riding on the outcome."
With their campuses located about 10 miles apart, six of the last seven UA-KSU matchups have taken place with either the Zips and/or the Golden Flashes being in first place or playing for first place in the league's East Division. The 2009-10 season marks the fifth straight in which the two teams will meet in the final game of the regular-season. Akron plays at Kent State's M.A.C Center on Jan. 23 as well.
The remainder of the league's TV basketball schedule, to include ESPNU and FS Ohio time slots, will be announced at a later date. The UA basketball program appeared on TV 12 times last season, including games carried by CBS, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Regional.
Akron returns the bulk of its roster from last season (13 of 15 letterwinners), when it posted a 23-13 record (10-6 MAC), won its first-ever MAC Tournament championship and made its second-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 1986. Included in the group of returnees is leading scorer (11.2 ppg) and MAC Sixth Man of the Year, All-MAC Second Team and MAC All-Tournament Team selection junior forward Brett McKnight, a key reserve last season.
The Zips return four starters from last season: senior forward Chris McKnight, senior guard Darryl Roberts, sophomore guard Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens and sophomore forward Nikola Cvetinovic. The only starter lost was Nate Linhart, a four-year standout forward. Key reserves returning are: senior forward Jimmy Conyers, junior guard Steve McNees, junior center Mike Bardo and sophomore guards Brett McClanahan and Ronnie Steward.
The 2009-10 edition of the Zips also features highly-touted 7-foot freshman center Zeke Marshall. The consensus top-100 recruit and rival.com’s highest-ranked player to ever sign with a MAC school, boasts a 7-foot-5 wingspan. Marshall averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots as a high school senior.
This courtesy of UA’s Paul Warner on gozips.com:
Less than 1,000 tickets remain for the much-anticipated match-up between the No. 1 University of Akron men's soccer team and national power, No. 12 Indiana University on Friday, Sept. 18th, the Akron Athletics Department announced Wednesday.
Fans interested in attending the event are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance as some may be turned away from the gates on the day of the game due to unprecedented presales and the anticipated high volume of walk-up traffic.
The only way to guarantee admission to the event is to purchase tickets in advance. To do so, stop by the UA Athletics Ticket Office - located in James A. Rhodes Arena - or call 1-888-99-AKRON. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $4 for youth, ages 3-17.
With large crowds anticipated for the entire eight-game home schedule, another option may be to purchase a season ticket package. For $50, fans will gain access to all games - including other key match-ups against St. Louis, Ohio State and Michigan State. Youth season passes (ages 3-17) are available for $30.
Furthermore, in addition to the cost savings, all fans purchasing a season ticket will receive a complimentary Akron Soccer Scarf.
UA students with valid ID will still be admitted free of charge. However, due to limited availability and the high demand for tickets, only the first 1,000 students will be admitted. Gates will open at 4 p.m., one hour prior to the start of the first match of The University of Akron Tournament.
The Zips (2-0-0), who defeated SMU and No. 14 Tulsa last weekend at the Radisson Tulsa Airport Classic, will face the No. 12 Hoosiers on opening night of The University of Akron Tournament. The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., following Florida Atlantic's match-up with St. Louis at 5 p.m. at Lee Jackson Field.
This courtesy of UA’s Paul Warner on gozips.com:
University of Akron true freshman goalkeeper David Meves, sophomore defender Kofi Sarkodie and junior defender Chris Korb each recently received an individual honor after leading the No. 1 Zips to a 2-0 start.
Meves was named Mid-American Conference Men's Soccer Player of the Week, Sarkodie was tabbed by both Soccer America and College Soccer News for their national teams of the week and Korb was named to the Top Drawer Soccer national team of the week.
Meves began his collegiate career with a pair of shutouts against two of college soccer's top programs last weekend as UA posted 1-0 victories against SMU, which was ranked as high as No. 2 in the NSCAA poll a year ago, and No. 14 Tulsa at the Radisson Tulsa Airport Classic. Meves was crucial to both one-goal wins as the native of Arlington Heights, Ill., posted a pair of saves in each contest. The first-year player logged all 90 minutes in both games.
UA is ranked No. 1 in the nation in four of five major polls, having been awarded the top spot by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas, Soccer America, Top Drawer Soccer and Soccer Times.
The Zips will look to continue their winning ways when they travel to the adidas Bearcat Classic on the campus of the University of Cincinnati this weekend. UA will match up with High Point (3-0-0) Friday at 5 p.m. before facing the host Bearcats (3-0-0) Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
This courtesy of UA’s Amanda Aller on gozips.com:
After leading the University of Akron (5-2) offensively in all three matches at the Magnolia Classic, senior Brionna Patterson recently earned Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career.
Patterson is currently third in the MAC in kills per game (3.83). She led the Zips in kills at the Ole Miss Magnolia Classic with 53 (4.08 K/G) on the weekend and landed on the all-tournament squad for the second consecutive week. Also stellar defensively, Patterson added 22 digs and ten blocks, including two solo.
Arguably Patterson's best performances of the year came in the Zips 3-2 wins over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. In the Zips tournament opening win against UWM, Patterson posted 16 kills and an astounding six blocks against the six-time Horizon league champion Panthers. Versus UAB, Patterson pounded out 20 kills, nine digs and three block assists in the victory.
The leading offensive player for UA the past three seasons, Patterson has led the Zips in six of the seven matches played thus far. On the year, Patterson is boasting 116 kills (3.87 K/G) totaling 1,226 in her career, which is just 68 kills from the seventh spot on Akron's all-time kills list.
The Zips will open up their home schedule this coming weekend (Sept. 11-12) welcoming St. Francis (Pa.), Bucknell, West Virginia and Texas Christian to James A. Rhodes Arena for the 2009 Akron Invitational.
Aller also pointed out that University of Akron senior defensive specialist Megan Rodriguez and Bucknell junior setter Rachel Rodriguez, sisters and graduates of nearby Walsh Jesuit High School, will meet when the Zips and Bison play at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Rodriguez sisters were key volleyball and softball players at Walsh.
Akron has sold out its general admission and student tickets for Saturday's stadium-opening game against Morgan State. Fewer than 1,000 reserved seats remain on sale.
This will be a crazy two weeks for the university's ticket office. The following week might sell out as well, because Indiana is sure to bring a chunk of fans to town.
I will break down the Morgan State game tomorrow and add some thoughts on the opening of InfoCision Stadium.
For those who care, I made it through my primary election on Tuesday for Stow City Council At-Large.
It was a gut-wrenching night, watching the results come in. I needed to be in the top six of eight candidates to pass through to the general election. I took fourth, only 55 votes away from second place. On Nov. 3, Stow will fill three seats, so I'm in pretty good position.
You can follow the campaign here.
The University of Akron men's soccer team earned the No. 1 ranking Tuesday in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas poll.
Coach Caleb Porter led the Zips (2-0-0) to 1-0 shutout victories over Southern Methodist and No. 14 Tulsa at the Radisson Tulsa Airport Classic last weekend to open the season.
"It's the opinion of the top coaches across the country," Porter said. "It's meaningful because it doesn't happen very often to this university. It means a lot to the community, the players, the coaches and the fans of the team.
"It's an honor and it's great we have earned the respect of the coaches. With that being said, it doesn't change our mindset and it doesn't affect our belief structure. We want to be No. 1 at the end. Our vision is to be national champions."
Zips junior midfielders Blair Gavin and Anthony Ampaipitakwong each scored a goal last weekend. Freshman goalkeeper David Meves keyed a defense that includes freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson, junior Chris Korb and sophomore Kofi Sarkodie.
Meves has played all 180 minutes in the first two games and posted two shutouts. Valentin, Barson, Korb and Sarkodie have also played all 180 minutes in each game.
UA is also ranked No. 1 in the Soccer America and Top Drawer Soccer polls, but the NSCAA/adidas poll is considered the most prestigious.
Zips senior midfielder Ben Zemanski and sophomore forwards Teal Bunbury and Darlington Nagbe have also started in both games. Zemanski and Gavin have both played in all 180 minutes.
UA is the first and only team in Mid-American Conference history to garner a No. 1 ranking in any sport after also accomplishing the feat during the 2005 season.
The Zips received 11 of the 21 first-place votes in the NSCAA/adidas poll. The schools ranked No. 2 to No. 10 are: Wake Forest, North Carolina, St. John's, Creighton, UC Santa Barbara, Maryland, South Florida, UC Irvine and Notre Dame.
UA next plays at the adidas Bearcat Classic at the University of Cincinnati, with games against High Point at 5 p.m. Friday and Cincinnati at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Here is the video from J.D. Brookhart's Monday press conference.
He acknowledged that the offensive line played an awful game. He mentioned that Matt Rodgers would continue to play in both halves.
Today is my primary election for Stow City Council At-Large. If you live in Stow or know somebody who does, I'd love to see a great turnout.
You can follow the campaign at .
Junior midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong scored a goal 10 minutes into the game to lead the University of Akron men's soccer team to a 1-0 win Sunday night over Tulsa at the Radisson Tulsa Airport Classic.
Zips sophomore forward Teal Bunbury assisted on Ampaipitakwong's goal, which came from about 12 yards away.
The Zips improved to 2-0 and the Golden Hurricane dropped to 1-1-1. UA held an advantage over Tulsa in shots (11-6), shots on goal(6-2) and corner kicks (7-4).
The Zips, ranked No. 1 in the country by Top Drawer Soccer, posted their second shutout of the season with freshman goalkeeper David Meves starting.
UA's defensive unit consisted of freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson, junior Chris Korb and sophomore Kofi Sarkodie.
Tulsa senior midfielder Joe Salem, a St. Vincent-St. Mary High School graduate, did not record a shot in 41 minutes of play. Salem scored a goal Friday for Tulsa in a 1-1 tie against Seattle.
The University of Akron women's cross country team opened the 2009 season Saturday by winning the Tommy Evans Invitational at Firestone Metro Park in Akron.
The Zips women won their second Tommy Evans Invitational title in a row, and the Zips men placed second to rival Kent State.
UA junior Kim Lorentz won her second consecutive Tommy Evans Invitational individual title. Zips Cassie Schenck, Danielle Sidell and Larisa Arcip finished sixth, seventh, and ninth respectively.
Zips junior Joe McCoy finished sixth in the men's meet.
The men's and women's meets each had five teams.
Penn State is an entirely different college football world. The amount of fans -- and not just lukewarm ones -- is astounding.
Fans donned "Tattoo the Roo" and "Whip the Zip" pins on their shirts, but it was a cordial atmosphere. Penn State fans are crazy about their football, but crazy in the respectful, welcoming sense.
I drove up there at 4:30 a.m. with two friends from undergrad, and we met up with five of my friends from law school. One of my law school friends is a season ticket holder at PSU (because he went there for undergrad), and you'll never guess how much his crew pays to tailgate in one of the main lots. Brace yourself -- $3,500.
That is a great example of how BCS football is just a different game than the MAC. Can the MAC ever field a team that competes with the BCS? Of course; we see it every week (and we'll see it Sept. 19). But the financial differences are almost as between high school and college.
With that said, it was a fun time and a great respite from my nonstop campaigning.
Here are the grades...
Quarterback -- Chris Jacquemain played OK. He didn't lose the game, for sure. He didn't do much to help the team, either. His slant route to Deryn Bowser was a nice throw. Jacquemain is not a mobile quarterback, by any stretch, but it's hard to say whether he could have done more to avoid pressure. If this is to be a successful season, we need a star quarterback, not one who blends in. I urge you to find more than one or two MAC Champions who had average quarterbacks. You won't. Is that Jacquemain? I think he's shown his competence and also his ceiling. Is it Matt Rodgers? No one really knows. Grade: C-
Running back -- When you're getting swallowed the moment you take the handoff, it's hard to make an impact. It seemed that happened to Norman Shuford at least four times. No fumbles is a good thing, I suppose. Except for Joe Tuzze's late burst for 16 yards, Akron's running game was a gigantic waste of downs. Grade: D
Offensive line -- If you have watched Akron play an upper-level BCS team in the past 10 years, this scene is familiar. The opposing defense normally penetrates the line so quickly that it's hard to blame the running backs for finishing with 0 or 0.5 yards per carry. Also, the quarterback is on his back frequently. Such was the case Saturday. A lot of fans, me included, thought this game might be close because Akron wouldn't be dominated in the trenches quite so badly. That was untrue. Penn State's front seven is mighty, and the Zips could not match it -- not even close. Grade: D-
Receivers -- With Andre Jones playing defense, Bowser was the go-to receiver. He missed some catchable balls, but he still had a strong game. Jeremy LaFrance was a pleasant surprise with five catches for 53 yards. There is no question he has starting capability. Grade: C+
Defensive line -- If you told me that PSU would rush for only 136 yards, I would say we would have a close game. The problem was, Akron didn't pressure Daryll Clark. In a 3-4 system, that's not necessarily the line's fault. Hasan Hazime and Dan Marcoux combined for 2.5 tackles for loss. Grade: B-
Linebackers -- I was impressed on several occasions with Sean Fobbs. He made some nice hits, including one that popped off Clark's helmet. Brian Wagner and Aaron Williams tied for the team lead with nine tackles. Mike Thomas intercepted Clark, recovered a fumble, broke up a pass, and made six tackles. Pretty good. Now if we can only design plays that get these guys into the backfield... Grade: B+
Secondary -- The secondary never really got scorched. Some nifty misdirection plays took advantage of Akron's poor field integrity, but you almost have to overpursue against such a good team. Akron's secondary only looked bad when Clark had time to lounge back into the pocket, sip his Arnold Palmer and fire BBs to his receivers. Even pro cornerbacks cannot keep their coverage beyond four or five seconds. The Zips MUST blitz more going forward. Grade: C-
Special teams -- The key play of the game was Penn State's fake punt that went for big yardage. You would never expect that from a home team that is leading by 14, but it happened. Branko Rogovic kicked well. John Stec averaged 39 yards per punt -- not bad. Grade: C
Coaching -- Sometimes I wonder if the coaching staff is so deeply entrenched with strategy that they miss the obvious solutions. Akron had no chance against Clark, who sat back in a comfortable pocket while his receivers had five seconds to get open. Their only chance was to blitz. After the first possession, it should have been obvious that Penn State was going to march back and forth down that field unless Clark felt pressure. It didn't happen. The pressure picked up in the second half, and (whadduya know?) Akron held PSU scoreless. On offense, wasn't it apparent that the running game was not going to work? Wasn't it apparent that Jacquemain needed another blocker? Why not have Alex Allen block, rather than take a handoff for a three-yard loss? Why not use the added protection to throw a few deep balls to Bowser and LaFrance, who were competing against green cornerbacks? The personnel just wasn't there for the running game to work. And if you want to pass the ball, an empty backfield is going to get Jacquemain killed. This grade would be worse, but for J.D. Brookhart's halftime adjustments. I hope (and darn near pray) that the coaching staff considers whether to give Rodgers the reigns next week. What do you have to lose? If he stumbles, you know Jacquemain is the guy, and Akron will still trounce Morgan State. If he excels, you might have your star quarterback. Grade: C-
One more thing... The ABJ is running a special section about InfoCision Stadium in tomorrow's newspaper. They asked me to write a column for it, so you'll see that in there.
Junior Blair Gavin converted a penalty kick in the 75th minute to help the University of Akron men's soccer team to a 1-0 win over Southern Methodist University in its season opener Friday night at the Radisson Tulsa Airport Classic.
The Zips, the nation's top defensive team in 2008, posted a shutout with freshman goalkeeper David Meves starting. UA's starting defensive unit consisted of freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson, junior Chris Korb and sophomore Kofi Sarkodie.
UA outshot SMU 7-4, and each team had two shots on goal. The Zips had a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Sophomore forward Darlington Nagbe paced the Zips' offense with three shots, one of which was on goal.
The Zips are ranked No. 1 in the country, according to Top Drawer Soccer. Soccer America ranks the Zips No. 2, and UA was voted No. 3 by the coaches in the NSCAA/adidas poll.
UA, which improved to 3-1-0 in season openers under coach Caleb Porter, plays Tulsa at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Hello again Zips fans, this is Michael Beaven and I will be providing additional soccer information and insight for this blog this season.
I recently talked to University of Akron men’s soccer coach Caleb Porter for a story that appeared in today’s Akron Beacon Journal and on ohio.com.
Porter is extremely confident in the team he has assembled and excited to kick off the season.
The Zips are ranked No. 1 in the country according to Top Drawer Soccer. Soccer America ranks the Zips No. 2, and UA was voted No. 3 by the coaches in the NSCAA/adidas poll.
UA opens the season at the Radisson Tulsa Airport Classic in Tulsa, Okla. UA plays Southern Methodist University at 6 p.m. tonight and then faces host Tulsa , No. 14 in the coaches poll, at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Zips advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season and posted a 17-2-4 overall record and a 6-0-0 mark in the Mid-American Conference.
Here is a breakdown of the key players on the 2009 team by position:
Goalkeepers: Freshman David Meves and sophomore Josh Pantazelos are expected to be the primary goalkeepers after the departure of four-year starter Evan Bush, is playing for the Cleveland City Stars in the United Soccer League First Division.
Defenders: Junior Chris Korb and sophomores Kofi Sarkodie and Matt Dagilis return with starting experience. Freshmen Zarek Valentin and Chad Barson have also emerged at this position and should be major contributors.
Midfielders: Senior Ben Zemanski and juniors Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Blair Gavin are returning starters at midfield. Sophomore Michael Nanchoff and freshmen Scott Caldwell and Ben Speas should also make an immediate impact at midfield. Nanchoff sat out last season with a medical redshirt.
Forwards: Sophomore Teal Bunbury and Darlington Nagbe return with starting experience. Freshman Yoram Mwila is expected to be a game-changer at forward and will help fill the void left by Steve Zakuani, the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Soccer Draft by the Seattle Sounders.
“This is a very deep team,” Porter said. “We have 15 to 16 guys that are capable of being starters. There isn't any dropoff when we make a substitution.”
Here are some additional comments from Porter that are not in the story:
On posting a 2-0 record in exhibition games: “I think overall we have done very good stuff in each of the games we played. The nice part about each of the games is that they were difterent types of games. We had hoped that would be the case when we scheduled them and they turned out to be.”
On the 3-1 win over visiting South Florida , in which Nagbe, Gavin and Nanchoff socred goals: “South Florida is a very explosive, attacking team and play an open game that we matched up well against. Our defense limited their attack to three shots and dictated the game against a top 10 team.”
On the 2-1 win over host Wisconsin , in which Bunbury and Ampaipitakwong scored goals: “With Wisconsin , we knew it would a little bit different style of game. They are more of a defensive team, which challenged us in different ways, such as restarts. They are very similar to teams we would see in the MAC and a few of the other opponents on our schedule.”
On the play of Speas: “I have been very pleased with Ben Speas, who has not been starting. He has gotten better each day. He brings things to the table that are hard to ignore. Ben Speas he is playing well enough to be a starter.”
On the forward position: “With Darlington and Teal up top, we think that is our best one-two scoring punch. They are very dangerous.”
On the play of Ampaipitakwong: “Ampai is our playmaker. He spearheads our attack.”
On the captains, Gavin and Zemanski: “Those two guys are our heart and soul. They make us go.”
On the defense: “In the back we have gone with Kofi and Korb as the outside backs. That is not going to change. They are our prototypical backs … The center back position has been a dogfight between Matt, Zarek and Chad.”
On the team overall: “We could be better, we’re nowhere near where we can be or will be at the end of the year. ... We are farther along this year at this time than we have been in past years.”
For more on Zips soccer, also check out gozips.com for stories that UA media contact Paul Warner put together.
I ran into coach Keith Dambrot while eating lunch at the Diamond Deli today. He said freshman center Zeke Marshall has looked very good during individual workouts. The players can't score on Marshall, who runs like a gazelle, the coach added.
Here is GoZips.com's transcript of J.D. Brookhart's pre-Penn State press conference.
I think the coach was on point when he talked about PSU's quarterback-running back-center combination. If Akron can neutralize those three, it might be close.
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