2009 Akron Zips Football Preview
2008 Record: (5-7, 3-5)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: J.D. Brookhart (27-33 at Akron, 27-33 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Shane Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Fleming
Other Key Returnees: G Zack Anderson, C Elliott Bates, WR Jeremy Bruce, S Jalil Carter, S Wayne Cobham, WR Andre Jones, DE Shawn Lemon, WR Dashan Miller, DE Almondo Sewell, G Mike Ward, OT Corey Woods
Key Losses: CB Brandon Anderson, LB Kevin Grant, RB Andrew Johnson, OT Chris Kemme, RB Dennis Kennedy, DT Eric Lively, S Bryan Williams, S Doug Williams
Akron was really close to a 7-5 record instead of a 5-7 record. They lost four games by a touchdown or less, including a four overtime thriller against Buffalo. But as it is, the Zips lost the last three games of the regular season and failed to become bowl eligible yet again. It has been since 2005 since Coach J.D. Brookhart has taken his team bowling and that needs to end soon.
The Zips offense has potential. Chris Jacquemain is an experienced senior quarterback who should be in for a good year. Wide receivers Deryn Bowser, Jeremy Bruce, Andre Jones and Dashan Miller are all back and those four will give Jacquemain plenty of options. Bowser caught 64 passes for 785 yards and Jones is the big play receiver who averaged 14.4 yards per catch and caught seven touchdowns last year. Those two will grab a majority of the passes, but Bruce and Miller are both experienced seniors. With four starters returning to the offensive line, Jacquemain should have plenty of time to find all of his targets. The only concern on offense is the running game. Dennis Kennedy and Andrew Johnson are both gone and those two accounted for nearly all of Akron’s ground attack. With the experienced offensive line the rushing game should be fine as long as seniors Alex Allen and Joe Tuzze are capable of carrying the load.
The defense was average at best last year and ranked tenth in the conference in total yards given up. And now the Zips will have to do the work without leading tackler Kevin Grant. The secondary losses a few players as well, but the big problem last year was finding a way to get to the quarterback. The new 3-3-5 formation was supposed to help get the team into the backfield, but it did not work. The front three needs to get to the quarterback and that would allow the five in the back to do what they do best…stop the pass and intercept a few passes. The linebackers are where the biggest holes have to be filled. Mike Thomas will be the team’s leading tackler and the leader of the linebacker corps, but are sophomore Aaron Williams and linebacker Sean Fobbs ready to step into a starting role?
The Bottom Line for the Zips:
Akron’s offense could be very good as long as Allen or Tuzze can effectively replace Kennedy at the running back spot. Jacquemain might not be the next great Mid-American Conference quarterback, but he is a consistent and capable passer who has plenty of experience. The defense has some big holes to fill and they have to find a way to stop the opposition on third down. They did create quite a few turnovers and that is what kept the Zips in a lot of games.
By Joel Welser
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