To say that the Akron Zips are the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team of the Mid-American Conference in this season would be an understatement.
Zips' WR Andre Jones / Photo courtesy Akron Zips Photography
Akron (3-4, 1-2 MAC) is 3-1 on the road, but 0-3 at the Rubber Bowl including last Saturday when the Zips had a 27-14 lead on Bowling Green after three quarters only to see the Falcons score 23 points in the final 15 minutes to take a 37-33 victory, spoiling the Zips homecoming, and to put it in the words of former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer Taking defeat from the jaws of victory.
One main sticking point all season has been the defense.
The Zips allowed 419 yards on Saturday to the Falcons. It was the fourth time in the last five games, and third in the last four, including all three MAC games, that the Zips' defense has allowed 400 or more yards.
Akron also ranks last in the MAC against the rush, giving up 215 yards per game, and 12th in total defense at 400.6 yards per game. One nice surprise on the defensive side of the ball is that they rank fifth in pass defense allowing just 185.1 yards per game.
Surprisingly, head coach J.D. Brookhart is not overly concerned.
We have played a decent brand of football over the past three weeks," noted Brookhart. "We had several injuries to out SAM linebackers (for the BG game sophomore Mike Thomas got the start).
Brookhart added, But there have been some missed opportunities and blown assignments that have led to some big runs.
Bowling Green running back Anthony Turner rushed for 126 yards on 19 carries last Saturday, the third consecutive MAC game the Zips have allowed a 100-yard rusher.
Ball States MiQuade Lewis (154 yards-28 carries). and Kent States Julian Edelman (113 yards-18 carries) have also hit the century mark against the Akron defense so far in MAC play.
The offense again went over 300 total yards, the eighth consecutive game dating back to last season they have surpassed that total.
The running game amassed 202 yards last week against Bowling Green, representing the Zips' second-best performance of the season. Akron running back Dennis Kennedy, a senior from Fort Lauderdale, Florida rushed for a career best 182 yards against the Falcons and notched two first half touchdowns.
Kennedys previous best was in 2006 when he ran for 178 yards and two scores when the Zips defeated the Falcons at the Rubber Bowl 35-28. He currently ranks seventh in the MAC with 473 yards on 100 carries with six touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Chris Jacquemain however did not have a good day passing the football in the losing effort. He went 19-for-34 for just 161 yards with two touchdowns and one interception which came in the fourth quarter shifting momentum completely to Bowling Green which turned the pick it into a touchdown, as the Falcons scored following the interception, giving them a 28-27 lead, which they never relinquished.
On that game-changing pick, Brookhart remarked, We were up six at that point and a punt could have been a good play for us on fourth down. That play swung the field and they regained possession on the seven yard line and they scored. We responded with a touchdown, but that play had already given them more life than they had all game.
Edelman is fifth in MAC passing at 231.1 yards per game, seventh in passing efficiency at 122.3 and seventh in total offense at 230.6 yards per game.
Looking to put last week's collapse behind them, the Zips head west Saturday on the Ohio Turnpike and then north on U.S. Route 23 to Ypsilanti, Michigan and a date with the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-5,1-2 MAC) at Rynearson Stadium.
After opening the season with a 52-0 shutout of Indiana State (Missouri Valley-FCS) at home, EMU proceeded to lose four straight games, allowing 42.7 points per game in that stretch.
But then on October 4th the Eagles shocked Bowling Green at Perry Stadium 24-21. Last Saturday they traveled to West Point to face Army. The Eagles held a 13-7 lead at halftime, and 13-10 after the third quarter only to see the Cadets, thanks to 341 yards on the ground and a nine-yard touchdown run by Chris Bowden in the fourth quarter, record a 17-13 comeback victory on Army's homecoming.
I really like their quarterback (Andy Schmitt)" said Brookhart when assessing the Eagles.
"They have several backs that carry the ball and have a big wide receiver (fourth year junior Jacory Stone). They have several skilled guys that their quarterback (Schmitt) can get the ball to.
|EMU LB Daniel Holtzclaw is the NCAA's active career leader in tackles.
Eastern Michigan is third in the MAC in total offense at 374.4 yds per game. At the controls is Schmitt, a fourth year junior from St. Johns, Michigan who is completing 57.3 percent of his passes (782-for-142) and has passed for 805 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Eagles are third rushing the ball (175.4 ypg) led by running back Terrance Blevins. The senior from Detroit leads EMU and is tenth in the MAC with 380 yards (54.3yds per game) and seven touchdowns. The Eagles have also seen the emergence lately of another threat out of the backfield in sophomore Dwayne Priest who is averaging a team-leading 5.4 yards per carry and rushed for a season-high 118 yards last week against Army
Defensively, they have one of the best linebackers in the MAC in senior Daniel Holtzclaw.
The native of Enid, Oklahoma is third in the MAC with 68 total tackles (32 solo). He had 12 stops last Saturday against Army giving him 398 for his career (in 42 career games) placing him third on the EMU all-time list. In addition, Holtzclaw has the top total for an active player in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Zips have won three consecutive road games for the first time since 2000 and even with the loss Saturday are tied for second in the East Division, just one-half game behind the Falcons. They look for their four straight win away from home this Saturday against the Eagles.
NOTES: This is the 27th lifetime meeting between the two schoolsAkron holds a 15-11 edge with EMU holding an 8-5 advantage in games played in YpsilantiIt is the first meeting since 2003 at the Rubber Bowl (24-17 AKR) and first Rynearson since 2002 (42-34 EMU) Akron has not beaten EMU in Ypsilanti since 1992 (27-9)After the EMU game Akron will not play again for 17 days (November 5th vs. Toledo)...EMU is 0-2 at home so far this seasonDennis Kennedy-AKR 182 yards rushing last week against BG is the most by a MAC running back so far this seasonAkron defense leads the MAC in takeaways with 18 (13 fumble recoveries and five interceptions)..The 13 fumble recoveries leads the FBSAkrons +5 turnover margin is tied for second in the MAC with Central Michigan Chris Jacquemain-AKR has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game so far this season and eight straight dating back to last year..First ever meeting between J.D. Brookhart and EMU head coach Jeff GenykDeryn Bowser-AKR sixth in MAC receiving at 5.71 per game (40rec-510yds-3TD) and fourth in receiving yards 72.9 per gameJacory Stone-EMU is seventh in receiving yards at 62.1 and Corey Welch-EMU is sixth in kick returns at 22.4 yds per gameWith 26 lifetime meetings, only Kent State (51) among FBS teams have played more against Akron in their history