University of Akron football coach Terry Bowden said in his weekly news conference that he might have to shuffle the offensive line because of an injury to left tackle Jarrod Pughsley.
Pughsley, who hurt his ankle in practice before the season started, played in Thursday’s opening loss to Central Florida, but had a noticeable limp.
“He was limping throughout. He’s getting treatment every day and doing what he can. That’s a game-time decision,” Bowden said.
Pughsley was riding an exercise bike at Tuesday’s practice and observed drills to pick up blocking assignments, Bowden said.
Bowden said that to get the best five guys on the field if Pughsley is unable to play, left guard Dylan Brumbaugh would move to tackle, center Travis Switzer would move to guard and Vinnie Rizzo would start at center.
“I’d rather he get well and play at full strength than play at half for six weeks. I don’t want him out there getting in work and having six weeks of a soft sprained ankle,” Bowden said. “We’re just going to have to suck up and bear the bullet and move the offensive line around. You can always say it’s still pretty good, but it’s not your front five. It does weaken us up in other places to do that.”
There wasn’t a lot of good to take from Thursday’s game, but nose guard and hometown guy Cody Grice impressed the coaching staff with his performance.
Grice was in on eight tackles (four solo) and a half tackle for a loss.
“It was one of the best performances by a nose guard that I’ve seen,” defensive coordinator Chuck Amato said.
Bowden praised Grice profusely.
“He was playing good in the preseason — but at 5-foot-11, 280 pounds, really stood up the center and got some push on the defensive line and also made eight tackles and was just very, very active,” Bowden said. “He was probably the surprise of the entire game.”
Grice’s ability to get movement on significantly larger opponents while being able to shed blockers to get to plays caught the coaching staff’s attention. Grice redshirted last year and started his first collegiate game, which made the effort that much more impressive, Bowden said.
There will be some movement on the depth chart this week.
Bowden said that Tyler Williams has moved ahead of Dee Frieson at one of the slot receiver positions.
“We’ll look hard at the [slots] to make sure the top four guys are lining up, but that could be a week-to-week thing,” Bowden said.
Complicating things is the return of Zach D’Orazio.
Before suffering a separated shoulder, D’Orazio left an impression on the coaching staff with his speed and hands. At 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, D’Orazio gives the receiving corps some size.
Not so special teams
Bowden offered his take on the change to kickoff rules. Teams now kick off from the 35 instead of the 30. In all likelihood, that will mean more touchbacks and fewer concussions. Since the NFL made the change, concussions are down 43 percent, according to reports.
“I don’t know why they don’t eliminate the play if they don’t want to have it,” Bowden said.
He is among those expecting touchbacks to rise.
“More and more what I think you’re going to see around the country and with us if a [team] has a kicker who can get it in the end zone, you’ll see us down the ball and take it at the 25,” he said.
Freshman linebacker Keionne Baines is done for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Thursday’s game after just two plays.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.