Hello University of Akron Zips fans, this is Michael Beaven and I am filling in for Mike Rasor on this post.
The No. 12 Zips men's soccer team concluded a successful weekend at the Indiana University Classic on Sunday with a scoreless tie against the host No. 7 Hoosiers at Jerry Yeagley Field in Bloomington.
UA, which beat No. 3 Notre Dame 3-0 on Friday, won the Classic title before a crowd of over 3,000 fans based on goal differential in the tournament. IU, the alma mater, of Zips coach Caleb Porter, claimed the runner-up spot.
Freshman Kofi Sarkodie, sophomore Chris Korb and redshirt freshman Matt Dagilis, a Firestone High School graduate, comprised the Zips starting defense for the second consecutive game. Senior goal keeper Evan Bush recorded six saves and posted his 37th career shutout.
Zips freshman Teal Bunbury appeared to have a goal in the 49th minute after Bush kicked the ball down the pitch and Bunbury kicked it into the net. The goal was taken away when an official ruled Bunbury made too much contact with a Hoosier defender to control the ball.
Sarkodie, junior Ben Zemanski (CVCA) and sophomores Steve Zakuani and Anthony Ampaipitakwong were each named to the 11 member All-Tournament Team and Zakuani was named the Offensive MVP.
Sarkodie, Zakuani and Ampaipitakwong each scored a goal in UA's exciting victory over Notre Dame.
UA will open the home portion of its schedule against West Virginia at Lee Jackson Field at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the Akron Tournament.
To read more or comment...
Mike is still out of town, so I thought I'd throw this up real quick.
The New Orleans Saints waived former Akron offensive lineman Andy Alleman yesterday. He was a third-round draft pick of the team last year. He lost his spot to rookie Carl Nicks.
The Chiefs waived wide receiver Jabari Arthur. He is expected to play in the CFL.
Cornerback Reggie Corner is listed on the second team on the Buffalo Bills' depth chart. He was drafted in the fourth round this year.
Hello folks, Dan Kadar here live blogging for an absent Mike Rasor.
Game over. Wisconsin 38, Akron 17. Not embarrassing, but there are some things the Zips clearly need to work on. The positives were Chris Jacquemain actually not looking awful, Dennis Kennedy and Andrew Johnson looking pretty good in limited carries and receiver Deryn Bowser. He finished with five catches for 76 yards. He kind of looked like a dependable receiver that this team really needs.
(2:52) Hey, the Zips just covered the spread! So, there's that at least.
(2:46) Chris Jacquemain just unleashed a calamity of errors which fortunately only ended up being an incomplete pass.
(2:44) It's a little surprising Matt Rodgers wasn't in this drive for the Zips. It's not like Jacquemain has been tering it up. It would be nice to see what Rodgers could do in real in-game action.
(2:42) Andre Jones is not having a good day. That is all.
(2:32) The pass by Andrew Johnson looked neat, but why in a game you're losing by 28 points, why unleash trick plays? Wouldn't you want to keep those in reserve for a game that will matter? Still, Johnson has probably been the most positive part of this game.
(2:25) Kiel is happy. Wisconsin is getting close to covering the spread. He is a true Zips fan.
(2:24) Brookhart needs to really decide if Tyler Campbell should be getting this much playing time on the defense. It seems like he's been on the bad end of a lot of plays. Each Wisconsin running back is averaging more than five yards per carry. That is a big problem.
(2:15) Having tasty pizza makes Wisconsin's 21-point lead a little more palpable (I bet Rasor never gives you valuable insight like that). Anyway, it's clear following this game, that the Zips need Ryan Bain to get healthy to anchor the defensive line.
(1:51) Just as the Zips were starting too look good stopping the run, they give up another huge gain to PJ Hill. That's reason enough for me to run out and pick up some pizza. Against a power runner like Hill, this shows some of the weaknesses of the 3-3-5. The Zips defensive backs are having a real hard time making tackles.
(1:47) One thing the Zips are going to be able to take from this game is the play of the offensive line. For the most part, Jacquemain has remained free of pressure. So that can't be the excuse for why he keeps over- and under-throwing receivers.
(1:21) 17-10 going into halftime, which is a much more positive outlook than this live blog might indicate. We'll see how much more PJ Hill gets the ball again in the second half. He did really well in the first quarter, but didn't get as many carries in the second half.
(1:17) I figured the Badgers would score and we'd call it a half. Instead, Bryan Williams gets an interception return to the Wisconsin 40-yard line.
(1:14) As bad as the game started off, at least the Zips defense has started paying a little better. The pass coverage, playing three or five yards off the wide receiver, is a little puzzling, but it's saved the Zips from getting burnt on any deep passes. It will be interesting to see how this defense does against a passing team.
(1:09) Andre Jones is already back on defense. That's odd. I wonder if that's alrady a permanent thing.
(1:03) Even if the Zips don't score here, the Zips are putting together a second straight nice drive.
(12:54) Nice drive by the Zips end with a touchdown to Merce Poindexter, the captain of the offense. It looks like the Zips did a lot of option read plays on that drive.
(12:50) In this game, is breaking the 50-yard line considered a moral victory? Bowser makes a nice first impression with a leaping catch.
(12:48) A plus! Andrew Johnson has looked pretty good at running back and Dennis Kennedy continues to get positive yards. On the negative, Andre Jones just got hit in the chest with the ball. And didnt catch it. Again, this team cannot afford to make stupid mistakes.
(12:39) After one quarter, the best thing to say is that at least the scoring pace has slowed down some. Maybe the second quarter will be better.
(12:34) It seems like every other Wisconsin play on offense goes for at least seven yards, which is alarming. The Zips are packing the line, but it's not doing much to help against the run. Even Wisconsin's backups are loking good against this defense.
(12:28) Penalties are starting to pile up for Akron on the second drive. Already two false start penalties. On a team that is going to be an underdog in most games, the Zips can't be committing stupid penalties like that. Jacquemain looked good batting the ball down after it was tipped. Maybe he has a place on the Zips volleyball team.
(12:21) It's already 14-0 and there is still seven minutes left in the quarter. This is going to be a long day. Hopefully no one gets hurt.
(12:19) Hill just broke a long run all the way down to the 1-yard line. That's a 47-yard run. He's gotta be near 100 yards. Will he hit 250 or 300 for the day? And where have teh Zips linebackers been all game?
(12:15) One Zips drive, one three and out. But hey, at least Chris Jacquemain has good pocket presence to throw the ball away. Oof. Dennis Kennedy looked good on first down, though.
(12:10) It's only Wisconsin's first drive and things already look poor. Their running back, P.J. Hill, is clearly going to have a big day. Oh, Wisconsin just scored. Watching compatriot Kiel Fleming thinks Wisconsin scoring 62 points is a conservative estimate.
Akron beat No. 3 Notre Dame 3-0 in its season opener.
To the best of my knowledge, it's the highest ranked team the Zips have ever beaten. Scoring goals were Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Steve Zakuani and Kofi Sarkodie.
Next up for the Zips is No. 7 Indiana, the alma mater of coach Caleb Porter. The Zips and Hoosiers will play Sunday at 2 p.m.
This is the most important season in Zips history.
1) The coach's job relies on it. Those of us who know J.D. Brookhart personally, we like him. He's a good guy, a better motivator and an outstanding recruiter who has a flash of bravado and flair for the unconventional. There is no question he's a tremendous position coach. He transformed a horrific special teams unit into one of the nation's best.
The problem: He isn't winning with his own recruits. Some people just aren't destined to lead a college football program. Heck, there's only 119 of these people. This season will determine whether the bulk of Brookhart's career will be as a college head coach or an NFL position coach.
Seven wins saves Brookhart's job. Six makes him pretty secure. Five, and it's 50-50. Four, and sayonara. Of course, there are intangibles to factor, such as whether the team improved over the season or regressed and whether the players stayed out of trouble (and eligible).
If you ask me, he'd be fine if he took a more active approach with his offense and got rid of that gimmicky 3-3-5 defense.
2) The "fear" is fading. Akron won the MAC Championship in 2005. This is 2008, and nobody really fears the Roo. That monumental year is fading into the past. Few of the contributing championship players are on the roster. Fans are beginning to forget the Zips once mattered. A winning season could get the program back on track and help advance the national perception that Akron is a successful mid-major.
3) InfoCision Stadium ticket sales. A perfect storm is possible. Can you imagine another bowl game, coupled with the knowledge that this up-and-coming team will have a shiny new home? The buzz surrounding the program would double that in December 2005. You saw how that combination helped the Indians in the mid-90s. Akron could similarly establish a tradition of sell-outs, and it could start in 2008.
Quarterback -- I want to believe, Chris Jacquemain. I really do. Until you prove to me otherwise, you will just be a low-ceiling, inconsistent player who makes bad decisions. Despite my predisposition, I cannot say Matt Rodgers looked much better this month. My only hope is that Brookhart will play the best passer, and that passer can move the offense, which will be dangerous if only it finds an above-average quarterback.
Wide receiver -- People around the team seem satisfied with the depth at receiver. To me, it's just a bunch of guys who have never impressed me in a meaningful game (but maybe could). I liked Dashan Miller and Jeremy Bruce, a lot. Alphonso Owen might be a good third receiver, but hopefully Deryn Bowser takes over that role. Andre Jones needs to play more defense -- at least until the secondary shows it floats. Look out for Gary Pride and Curtis Brown, too. Those two have a real future with Akron.
Tight end -- Merce Poindexter is the offensive captain. Hopefully he will bring some consistent pass-catching, as well as leadership, to the position. Brian Flaherty should get his nose in the action and grab some important first downs.
Offensive line -- With its youth and talent, Brookhart stocked the line for the next few seasons. The foundation is Chris Kemme, who should plow holes for the Zips running backs.
Running backs -- The coaching staff tried to figure out how to distribute snaps between Dennis Kennedy, Alex Allen and Andrew Johnson. You can be certain that the position is in good hands. (Watch out for DeVoe Torrence surging into the rotation, too -- sort of like Bryan Williams last year.)
Special teams -- All of the positions seem solidified, even down to the backups. The Zips could win two games solely from special teams supremacy.
Defensive line -- The depth of the d-line makes me even angrier about the 3-3-5. This way, however, the Zips are insulated from injury, like the setback to Eric Lively. The other problem with a 3-3-5 is that it won't allow Ryan Bain and Almondo Sewell to shine as much as they otherwise would. It's like having Rembrandt smothering beige paint in the projects. OK, not quite that, but you see what I mean.
Linebackers -- The team needs more playmakers here. Besides the steady Kevin Grant and Doug Williams, Akron needs someone to force turnovers and sacks like Brion Stokes did. Sean Fobbs and Aaron Williams are candidates for that.
Secondary -- Cross your fingers. Hope you play a lot of teams like Wisconsin, who prefer to run (but perhaps aren't as good at it as the Badgers). Pray for health. Rub your rabbit's ear for a few break-out athletes. What the team lacks in coverage, it must overcompensate in pressure on the quarterback.
Why I'm excited: The offensive and defensive lines are a strength, for once. In football, that's a formula for success. At the least, it gives you a chance to stay in the game.
Why I'm concerned: An experienced quarterback will pick apart our secondary like a week-old scab. Touchdown after touchdown; I can see it coming. Combine that with the fact that Jacquemain can't match that -- or at least he hasn't yet. That sounds like a lot of blowouts.
Why I'm excited: Depth at running back!
Why I'm concerned: No running game can survive when the defense stacks the box because it doesn't have to worry about a passing game.
Why I'm excited: Opposing secondaries will have to do more than double-team Jabari Arthur to contain the Zips' passing game.
Why I'm concerned: Arthur isn't even here anymore. That leaves the Zips with ZERO proven receivers and potentially no one who can find them open.
Why I'm excited: The media's gloomy predictions have lit a fire under the team.
Why I'm concerned: Every bad team says that. Early season motivation wears off like a cheap temporary tattoo anyhow.
Why I'm excited: The Zips have a favorable MAC schedule, dodging Miami and playing Bowling Green at home. They also have a two-week break to heal up before the home stretch.
Why I'm concerned: The MAC has as much parity as ever. Heck, Buffalo or Temple could play in Detroit. There are no cheap wins this year.
Why I'm excited: One last season of booze, burgers, brats and blistering cold at the Rubber Bowl.
Rodgers takes over before MAC season starts and slowly becomes one of the conference's better passers. The secondary is bad, but the Zips get a good draw against MAC teams that can't pass (Kent State, Toledo, Buffalo and Ohio). The team gets an extraordinary boost from the return games. The Zips go 7-5, play in a bowl game and head to InfoCision Stadium after regaining the excitement from 2005. (Yeah, I'm a homer. So sue me.)
@ Wisconsin: L @ Syracuse: W vs. Ball State: L @ Army: W vs. Cincinnati: L @ Kent State: W vs. Bowling Green: L @ Eastern Michigan: W vs. Toledo: W vs. Buffalo: W @ Ohio: W @ Temple: L
Two days before the football season opener, the university announced it supplemented its coverage with an FM station.
Along with 1350 AM, Akron fans also can listen to 106.9 FM.
For listeners who battled fuzzy signals on 1350, this must be welcomed news. Linking up with a popular music network might also add to the fanbase.
The trio of Steve French, Joe Dunn and Frank Stams will return this season. The Wisconsin game starts at noon, EST.
Tom Gaffney wrote a robust preview of the Zips season.
One interesting tidbit: Eric Lively is out at least three weeks with an elbow injury. The story also gives a depth chart of sorts at wide receiver, which I was interested in. Andre Jones, Jeremy Bruce and Alphonso Owen will get most of the playing time at first, until the juco guys get going.
You should definitely read Mr. Gaffney's story and be glad he's the beat writer.
Fear not, newspaper readers.
The Canton Repository's story is more positive about this season. Writing Mike Popovich featured Chris Jacquemain in its season preview.
If you're wondering about the Beacon Journal's preview, it's coming tomorrow.
Elton Alexander of the Plain Dealer wrote a couple of interesting articles to preview Akron's season.
First, he breaks down the team and seems pretty optimistic about most positions. The other story gives five predictions for the MAC season.
I plan to do some sort of season preview if I can get a spare half hour.
A ZipsNation.org member created a Yahoo! Pick'em League.
I won't be commissioner this time, but you should join for some healthy competition. I will keep scoring updates on my blog, too. Click here, then register with Yahoo and fill in the following data.
Group #: 21243 Password: zippy08
Yes, Kent State fans, you're welcome to participate, too.
Can you believe the college football season starts in five days?
The Zips will play at Wisconsin to open the season. The Badgers are ranked No. 13 in the nation. Here is a quick preview to get you up to speed on them.
The early line is Wisconsin minus 26. It's hard to say whether the Zips will cover until we see J.D. Brookhart's injury report. You already know my opinion: Rest the stars for a winable game.
I will not be in town this weekend to watch the game. My girlfriend surprised me with a trip to Cape Cod. I will have some comments when I return, however.
The ABJ's Patrick McManamon featured Steve Zakuani in his weekly column today, talking about how the uber-talented sophomore found Akron.
Believe me when I say that the team is THRILLED that Zakuani chose to return to Akron, rather than signing with a professional team. That was a realisitic scenario.
By the way, No. 12 Akron lost 2-0 to No. 24 North Carolina in a preseason match in Indiana. The real stuff begins Friday when Akron plays No. 3 Notre Dame.
Akron must have more consistent scorers, especially early in the season when the Zips play a strong schedule.
J.D. Brookhart told the ABJ's Tom Gaffney that the Zips stunk during yesterday's scrimmage, which was closed to the media.
The GoZips.com article paints a slightly different hue, saying the team worked hard, but injuries made the scrimmage almost fruitless.
In my opinion, the team will just have to suffer through these next couple weeks until some of the core pieces return. And there is NO reason, repeat, NO reason to risk further injury for Ryan Bain, Dennis Kennedy, et. all, against No. 12/13 Wisconsin.
While it may seem great to give Wisconsin all you can, how much good did that do for Akron last season? The Zips played even with Ohio State for a half, but that means little when you lose a bunch of games that you're supposed to win and finish 4-8.
I plan to drop by practice today and get a more specific rundown of the MASH unit.
My Kent State counterpart, Jonas Fortune, reports that the Flashes have added two interesting walk-ons.
First is 5-foot-7 Cameron Joyce, brother of Dru Joyce. Second is Tyree Evans, a talented, yet troubled, shooting guard who was on Maryland's roster last spring. He has been convicted of several serious crimes.
This might not be the smartest move, considering a first-year coach already has a huge task in conforming his team. However, if Geno Ford trusts his senior leadership to keep Evans in line, it might pay off.
Rivals.com boosted Zeke Marshall's ranking several slots to No. 39 in the nation. He remains the seventh-best center.
Marshall's mother posted an update on the progress of the 6-foot-11 (and growing) future Zips' center over at ZipsNation.org.
From what I hear, it makes no difference that Marshall has committed to Akron. Big-time coaches will still try to sway him away from the Zips. Obviously, they will point to attendance, among other things. Still, it's heart-warming to know that Marshall is not ego-driven and wants comfort over spotlight.
He has the maturity to realize that the NBA will find NBA talent, regardless of the college. Just look at last June's draft. You had four mid-major players go in the first round. A 7-footer has an even better chance to stand out, like Chris Kaman did at Central Michigan earlier this decade.
Zips fans should take additional solace in the fact that Akron's coaches have done everything possible to monitor Marshall. One assistant quipped that the only game that a Zips' assistant missed was a back-yard contest between Zeke and his brother.
Still, signing day in November cannot come soon enough for me.
Former Zip and current New York Giant receiver Domenik Hixon scored three touchdowns on a Monday Night Football exhibition against the Browns.
Hixon started while regulars Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer sat out with nagging injuries.
The past 10 months, Hixon has established himself as a rising star in the NFL. He definitely needed a change in location after the Kevin Everett injury. One of Hixon's three first-quarter touchdowns was a kick return, and that will be his main role in the immediate future.
The Browns' backups did close the lead to 3 after Cleveland trailed 30-3, but it's the starters whose performance really matters in these games.
Randy Greenwood committed to Akron last week, then he broke his leg.
The injury will cost the Lake Catholic running back his senior season. He expects Akron to honor its scholarship offer.
Greenwood runs (ran) a 4.54 in the 40-yard dash, according to Rivals.com. He also has interest in Cincinnati, Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State and Pittsburgh. His high school coach said colleges should look into using him as a receiver or defensive back.
The Zips offense came alive Wednesday morning.
Chris Jacquemain and Matt Rodgers combined for 32-of-58 for 463 yards and five touchdowns.
"Tremendous progress," coach J.D. Brookhart called it. "For the first time, we have two units that can operate."
How good were things going for the quarterbacks? Lineman Zack Anderson caught a tipped Jacquemain pass and rumbled 32 yards with it.
Brookhart and the coaches will talk about naming a starter tonight. However, the coach said Jacquemain is clearly the No. 1 at this point.
"He makes good decisions 99 percent of the time," Brookhart said.
The coach was also quick to prop up Rodgers, saying he was comfortable with having the freshman behind center.
Jeremy Bruce, Andre Jones and Dashan Miller were the main beneficiaries from the aerial attack. They should be the top three receivers on the depth chart.
The receivers and DeVoe Torrence impressed coach J.D. Brookhart during Friday's practice, according to GoZips.com.
It was the team's first practice in full pads. Torrence finished off the scrimmage with a long touchdown run. Dashan Miller and Andre Jones also made big plays.
I plan to drop by camp on Tuesday with Dan Kadar for another video update.
The team announced the arrival of blue-chip transfer Dale Martin from Louisville.
The running back was a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com and Scout.com when he came out of Bolingbrook, Ill. -- the same high school as Ryan Bain.
Louisville fans are calling this a big loss. They speculated that Martin may have been frustrated by some injuries, and he did not like his outlook to get playing time early. Also, Martin committed to Louisville shortly before coach Bobby Petrino left for the Atlanta Falcons. After Petrino left, Martin had to be talked into keeping his commitment.
Martin's highlight videos show me a speedy runner with a tremendous sense of balance. To take down Dale Martin, you must pop him AND wrap him up.
Martin had scholarship offers from Nebraska, California, Florida, Tennessee and many others. He will sit out 2008 and be eligible next season. GoZips.com lists him as a redshirt freshman.
The unusual part about the transfer is that the university announced it. Typically, you have to milk these things from coaches.
A few people have asked me what I think about Akron taking on Devoe Torrence. To be honest, I really haven't formed an opinion. I will talk it out through this blog post. Hopefully, I will have an informed take on it by the end.
Optimist: There is no disputing Torrence's talent. With the logjam of running backs this season, Torrence's arrival does not sound like a necessary gambit. Next fall, however, we could be talking about how sorely the Zips need a reliable back since Dennis Kennedy, Alex Allen and Andrew Johnson have left.
It would be the equivalent to the Zips having an All-MAC passer on the burner when Luke Getsy retired. Rather, Chris Jacquemain and Carlton Jackson played patty-cake on the way to a four-win season.
Pessimist: But what's the point if Torrence gets in trouble? J.D. Brookhart's team already has NCAA sanctions to deal with. And what about all of those troubled souls whom he ejected last fall? Isn't this just replenishing the supply?
O: But let's not get carried away. Torrence was never guilty of anything. There is no indication he will be a bad student or leave the program, which would hurt the team's Academic Progress Rate.
P: That may be true, but you have heard from a few people that Torrence is cocky. That won't play well on a mid-major team, especially if he leads the offense. Torrence showed that he is not the ultimate teammate when he refused to play linebacker after transferring to Washington High School from Canton South.
O: He's cocky. So what? Go up and down that roster and I'm sure you'll find some guys whose heads don't fit in the Airdock. I want to see you complain about cockiness when Torrence is trampling MAC defenses for 200-yard games.
P: Come on, Optimist. This stinks of desperation. Brookhart knows he'll get canned without a .500 season or better. Torrence is a band-aid -- and one that has more infection on it than medicine.
O: I stand by Brookhart. And I stand by this decision. The coaching staff has a lot to lose if it doesn't work. They investigated and thought it to be a prudent decision. How do you -- or any fan -- have the knowledge or experience to dispute that? The team knows it cannot have an image problem when it's trying to sell tickets for InfoCision Stadium.
P: OK. You win.
O: That's right, I win. At least we can agree that Paul Rodgers is the best singer of all time.
P: Amen, brother.
Coach J.D. Brookhart confirmed today that top-recruit Devoe Torrence has joined the team.
Before making the decision, the coaches investigated the opportunity and met several times with Torrence, who recently was acquitted of rape of a 12-year-old girl.
"We've always stayed in contact (with Torrence)," Brookhart said. "He was not signed because of an incident that the United States declared him innocent.
"We sat down and had a lengthy discussion. We investigated him, and we feel good about him."
Brookhart sees Torrence as a running back, where the Zips have a wealth of depth. However, the coach would not rule out seeing Torrence play this season.
"Everyone's going to get a chance," the coach said.
A reliable source tells me that Devoe Torrence, the nation's No. 6 athlete who was recently acquitted of rape charges, will join the Zips for fall camp which starts Sunday.
If true, Torrence would be the most touted recruit ever to play for Akron. He had scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan and other BCS schools before his legal issues arose. Torrence committed to Ohio State, but never signed a letter of intent in February because the Buckeyes retracted their scholarship offer.
Torrence was charged with having sex with a 12-year-old girl. The judge declared that evidence was lacking, mainly because the victim admitted her tendency to lie.
Torrence, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, played running back at Massillon Washington High School. Although some colleges felt he'd make a terrific linebacker, Torrence was slated to play running back for the Buckeyes, too.
Running a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, Torrence is not the fastest or shiftiest rusher around, but it takes a lot of manpower to tackle him. He is a physical runner who sheds tacklers with ease. Rivals.com gives him four stars and calls him the No. 66 player in the nation for the 2008 class. Scout.com is less praising, saying Torrence is only the No. 102 running back.
As I stated, this is from a source that I trust, but I cannot verify the story myself. Given that Torrence joined the team in the past couple days, the 2008 roster does not reflect his addition.
If true, Torrence would join a crowded backfield that includes incumbent (sort of) Dennis Kennedy, University of Miami transfer Andrew Johnson, reliable Alex Allen and short-yardage runner Joe Tuzze. His fastest route to the field might be on defense.