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Zips lack leaders

By mrasor Published: November 21, 2006


If you haven't noticed, the seniors have let the team down this season.

My column explains the real reason why Akron is 5-6...

Three months ago, J.D. Brookhart coached the defending Mid-American Conference Champions, who many experts predicted to repeat.

Monday, Brookhart sat back in his chair at the weekly news conference, talking about his hopes to finish the season at .500.

"ItÕs hard to pinpoint why things went the way they did," he said. "You want to say your kids werenÕt playing hard, but they were. You want to say it was the scheme, but it wasnÕt."

The answer is more complex and less concrete. The past few months you watched a team that did the little things wrong. Basically, it was the opposite of 2005, when Akron relied on every good fortune and intangible to carry the team to a conference championship and the Motor City Bowl. It all harkens back to one fact: The team lacked leaders.

The Zips gave up the most penalty yards in the nation. The offensive line, in particular, struggled to avoid holding flags. Personal fouls, which are a sign of poor discipline, also were too prevalent.

Akron struggled to make extra points. Matt Domonkos and Jon McClain combined to miss six of 28... a sickening percentage for the equivalent of a tap-in putt.

Perhaps most devastating, the Zips transformed opposing quarterbacks into Barry Sanders clones. The 3-3-5 defensive scheme, known for deceiving passers, became just as fatal for Akron when that quarterback decided to run instead.

Brookhart agreed that this team missed vocal senior leaders, such as Jay Rohr and Brian White. He also said the team made more than its share of costly mistakes, such as interceptions in the red zone run back for touchdowns. Last weekend against Ohio, a botched snap on a punt turned into six points for the Bobcats.

"If you change a few plays, weÕre looking at 8-3," Brookhart said.

A lot of teams can look back to game-losing plays and say the same.

However, I still argue this yearÕs team was more talented than in 2005. Twenty years from now, it wonÕt matter. Fans will see the 2005 MAC Champions banner and wonder what happened the following year.

That stands to be this senior classÕs destiny.

Some might want to blame Brookhart for such a letdown. He is still a great motivator and terrific recruiter. A coach can only do so much when upperclassmen do not lead.

Friday will be the classÕs final chance to show its worth. Although the odds are highly against Akron reaching a bowl, a win would make 2006 the thirdstraight year Akron has been eligible for one.

For fans, it will be the last game to watch the Zips as defending MAC Champions.

They deserve better from this team.

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