I played the role of lazy reporter. You asked the questions. J.D. Brookhart answered them.
Question: What will be the defensive scheme? Answer: "We are still going to be use a base 3-3, but we will be more multiple," Brookhart said.
Question: What does Walt Harris think of the quarterback situation? Answer: "I like them both," Harris said. "Chris [Jacquemain] is a veteran quarterback. He has tools to be an outstanding passer. Matt Rodgers is an interesting young man in terms of upside. Chris is a two-year starter. He has experience that you can't buy. But he has to get better. He has to be more confident in what his receivers are doing." Brookhart added this: "Jacq is the quarterback. Matt has to beat him out."
Question: What is the status of the running backs? Answer: DeVoe Torrence and Jeremy Bruce got carries, but the others were still out. Alex Allen dressed and verbally expressed his desire to play from the sideline, but I did not see him on the field.
Question: How is the defensive line looking? Answer: Only five linemen dressed today. In fact, Akron had 20 injured players on Thursday. Ryan Bain's back is bothering him, but he is eligible. (Brookhart stressed that, so it's not like that "foot injury" of last year.) Another lineman, who will go nameless, was cited by police for "driving too slow." On the positive side, Brookhart singled out Dan Marcoux as showing great improvement. Shawn Lemon is looking good on pass rush. Almondo Sewell, as always, is a terror to block, the coach said.
Question: How are the linebackers looking? Answer: Brookhart plans to play six or seven linebackers. The top two are Aaron Williams and Mike Thomas. The coaches have been really impressed with freshmen Troy Gilmer and Brian Wagner, too. Will Fleming might be a factor but they are being careful with his injured shoulder.
Question: Will Larry Dawson play? Answer: The Akron North High School product is listed at linebacker. He is not contending to start.
Question: Why Morgan State? Answer: Brookhart said, "Thank goodness, we get a [Division] I-AA game like the rest of the world." Brookhart was involved in the scheduling process. Division I-A teams get to count one win against a I-AA team for their win total regarding bowl eligibility, so this makes a wealth of sense. Why play a Middle Tennessee State and lose when you can schedule a local I-AA team that brings fans and a cupcake roster? Next time, UA might find an Ohio team to get that added benefit. This year, they were pinched and had to find a team quickly. When Mack Rhodes arrived, the schedule lacked flexibility, but now he is able to do that.
Question: How is Torrence coming along? Answer: He has "lots of learning to do. He needs to go make a lot of mistakes," Brookhart said.
Question: Are there any transfers since the end of the season? Answer: No.
Question: How has Marquinn Davis looked? Answer: Brookhart got excited when I asked this. "He has improved, yeah. He has been a nice surprise. Not there as a starter yet."
Question: Is Da-Von Moore healthy? Answer: No. He has had two surgeries on the same anterior-cruciate ligament since arriving at Akron. He tore the same tendon twice. Moore had his second surgery in September. Two ACL tears on the same knee is awful news for a football player at any position, much less a linebacker who has to move laterally.
Question: What are your thoughts on the coffin corner punt? Answer: Akron has used it a lot, but not as much toward the end of last season, Brookhart said.
Question: How did Pro Day go yesterday? (This is my question) Answer: "Impressive." Three former Zips ran in the 4.3s: Bryan Williams, Brandon Anderson and Andrew Johnson. Merce Poindexter clocked in at a solid 4.6.
Question: Will you name team captains? (My question) Answer: It turns out, Brookhart doesn't run a democracy. He will let the players vote at the end of spring. If he isn't happy with the results, he will wait until the fall.
I met Coach Harris. He's a nice guy, but more low key than I expected. He watched the game tape from last year. His opinion: "They are were real close to being an outstanding football team."
If this was the Kent State game, Jalil Carter would have earned a Silver Star for his hit on receiver Shawn Roberts, a walk-on. Roberts caught a 15-yard pass from Jacquemain while heading toward the sideline. Carter sprung a nasty lick on Roberts, which left Roberts down on the ground for a minute or two. Shortly after, Brookhart came over to me during practice and said: "It's stupid. He's a defenseless player. This is spring ball."
Rodgers threw a strike to Nadir Brown on a deep route. If the 6-foot-5 freshman can play, this receiving corps is even deeper than we thought.
In terms of passing, neither quarterback looked stunning. Both looked efficient. The tiebreaker goes to Rodgers because of his running. But when you have a running quarterback, it's helpful to have a dependable backup.
Deryn Bowser made a sweet move after catching a screen pass to elude a tackler. My ankles hurt just watching.
Rhyne Ladrach caught a 20-yard Jacquemain pass in traffic. If the freshman tight end can contribute, it would be a big plus. He is basically Akron's only hope at that position.
Junior defensive back Doug Richardson put a stamp on LeVon Morefield, who is one of the running backs pressed into service.
You will see above that Brookhart denies a change in defensive scheme. I reported that the Zips would abandon the 3-3-5. I stand by my source, who absolutely would know if Akron changed its defense. Brookhart is classifying it as "keeping the same scheme, but straying from it more often." It's about semantics.
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