The Akron Zips defense had a reversal of fortunes of sorts in Tuesday morning’s practice.
After a rough outing in Saturday’s that saw them give up a couple of big plays and several touchdowns in goal line situations, they were having none of it Tuesday.
The defense played no favorites, sacking most of the Zips quarterbacks to see action during practice at some point. When they weren’t applying pressure, they defensed passes. In short: the respective offensive units never had a chance to work into a flow. Some highlights:
The linebackers in pass coverage: Justin March and Jatavis Brown are fast – very fast. Each of them at different times was able to defense passes on 20-25 yard patterns while covering wide receivers. Brown batted down a pass meant for junior wide receiver L.T. Smith and March, covering Smith on a different occasion got in front of him to knock a ball down.
Freshman defensive lineman Jason Stargel had an outstanding morning. If no one on the coaching staff knew who he was before, they do now after he stood out on three separate plays. In the first he batted a pass at the line of scrimmage right back into the face of backup quarterback Steve Franco. Moments later he sacked quarterback Dalton Easton and on a short pass play, he released from a block on the line at his right end position and dashed to the other side of the field to get in on the tackle.
The defense inside the five yardline was much better for the Zips with the assorted offensive units scoring once on approximately 10 attempts. One of the rushing attempts in the goal line offense saw former Firestone running back and current Zips defensive lineman Cody Grice get a shot at getting the ball in the end zone. He didn’t make it.
Any normal person wouldn’t have wanted to get the ball into the end zone either. Working with hardnosed, old school coach Chuck Amato, the team’s associated head coach and defensive coordinator, has its advantages (he makes you better), but it isn’t perfect. Amato believes, as many coaches do, in running to correct mistakes. Had Grice scored on that play he would have cost the defensive unit a gasser (four runs of the width of the football field).
Wide receiver L.T. Smith used an unorthodox method to work on his hand-eye coordination after practice Tuesday. Using a small, boxy machine that fires tennis balls, he worked on catching the fuzzy green spheres with each of his hands for about 10 minutes.