Akron will play Niagara tonight at 7.
There are a lot of storylines surrounding the Purple Eagles, whom the Zips beat at Rhodes Arena in 2005's Bracket Buster game.
It's pretty obvious that Akron needs to pack in its defense and allow Niagara some space on the perimeter. Rebounding has been a problem for the Zips, but they might mitigate that issue by laying off the Eagles on the perimeter.
Oddsmakers are saying Akron will win by eight. That is a fair spread.
Terry Pluto covered the game for the ABJ.
One nugget interested me: J.D. Brookhart will ask John Mackey to step up into a leadership role next year. Maybe his staff is learning that you can't always expect leaders to emerge; sometimes you have to give them a boost.
As I consider what went wrong last night, I think a lot about the offensive line. But coming in, we knew Western Michigan's defensive front was its strength and that Akron's o-line was a weakness.
I suppose it's a broken record to attack the line. And maybe, you have to fault the coaching staff for not putting more blockers in the backfield. You can't just use a lack of talent as an excuse. Obviously, you must adjust for it. I did, however, see fullback Joe McDaniel on the field more than usual.
I still contend the 3-3-5 defense must go. Akron needs to analyze its personnel on the defensive line to see if such a switch is feasible. Looking at the roster, it's probably a close call. With a 4-3, however, a linebacker, such as Doug Williams, may be able to make a transition, sort of the opposite of what the Browns asked Kamerion Wimbley to do with their 3-4 scheme.
Brookhart told me the defense would stay. I still think he's going to look at some tapes and see his current scheme simply puts defenders in the wrong position to make tackles in rushing situations. It also hindered the pass rush.
A lot of your have commented that you wanted to see Carlton Jackson take over the offense in the second half once it became obvious WMU was taking a wrecking ball to the Luke Getsy statue in Akron's backfield. I agree with that.
However, I also see Brookhart's point of view. If you pull your seniors in their final game, with nothing really riding on the game, you lose trust. Younger players will see that and wonder if the staff will stab them in the back someday, too. Would Jackson have allowed Akron to win? Probably not. Would he have made the game more entertaining for fans? Definitely.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Jackson seems to have character problems. There have been whispers about the Florida product. Brookhart himself admitted Jackson didn't play one game because of an off-the-field problem.
Getsy, on the other hand, is an honor student and a good kid. Looking back, by leading the team to its first bowl game in decades, he probably earned a chance to finish out his career on the field. As a coach, what would you do?